Jump to: navigation, search

The Independent (23/Jan/2013) - Who was the real Hitchcock?



Who was the real Hitchcock?

Director backs auteur against rival portrait of a 'monster'

The director of a new Hollywood film about Sir Alfred Hitchcock has defended his acclaimed subject's reputation, saying he was not the "sadistic monster" portrayed in rival accounts.

Hitchcock, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, is set to be released in UK cinemas next month. Its director, Sacha Gervasi, told The Independent: "He was a brilliant, obsessed director and he would push people. I don't think he was a sadistic monster."

His remarks follow the broadcast of The Girl, starring Toby Jones as the British director, on BBC2 over Christmas. That account portrayed Hitchcock as an emotional and physical bully in his dealings with Tippi Hedren, the star of his movies The Birds and Marnie. Hedren recently said working with the director was like being in a "mental prison".

Gervasi believes The Girl's account was "a little bit of an oversimplification. It seems a rare one-note portrayal of a man who was a little more complex than that. A lot of people, who were there, do not recognise this portrayal of him as this monster."

While the director conceded there were "elements of manipulation" to Hitchcock's character, he believes different sides to his subject, including an ironic sense of humour and mischief, have been overlooked. "To me it's become a bit hyperbolic and sensationalist." Gervasi said he found "this other human aspect to him that has been lost in this specific portrayal as a cold forbidding, aloof genius".

A website called savehitchcock.com has been set up to discuss the director's portrayal in the media. Most recently John Russell Taylor, who wrote Hitch with the director's cooperation in 1978, criticised The Girl, saying it was "totally absurd".

Hitchcock, who was born in Leytonstone, enjoyed good relations with other leading ladies including Janet Leigh, Doris Day and Kim Novak, who recently spoke out in support of the director. Eva Marie Saint, who starred in North by Northwest, said: "Hitchcock was a gentleman, he was funny, he was so attentive to me."

The forthcoming Hitchcock film explores the period he directed Psycho, one of cinema's seminal horror movies, and the director's struggle to get it made. It also shows the importance of his wife Alma to his career. It used a range of source materials, including Stephen Rebello's 1990 book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.