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Waterloo Daily Courier (17/Jun/1945) - Joseph Cotten Thinks Hitchcock Tops as Director



Joseph Cotten Thinks Hitchcock Tops as Director


Star Tells of His Efforts in New York to Break into Dramatics.

I interrupted Joseph Cotton digging in his garden, wearing a red flannel shirt. An old cap was pushed back on his head and he was as tired as if he had done a job as a day laborer.

"Come and see what I've done," he invited. I walked into the garden, saw the stone wall he had built around the swimming pool, the flowers he had planted, and I must say I would never have known the old house where Charles Boyer lived when he first came to Hollywood. The inside was just as charming. The Cottens have been collecting early American antiques for a long time and each chair, table and furnishing has been chosen carefully.

After we had walked around the garden Joe invited me in for a cocktail. We sat in a room lined with books, opening out on the vista of his carefully planned garden.

Plays Heavy Roles. I had decided to interview him in response to the many letters asking why I had never written a story about Joe Cotten. In the short time he has been in Hollywood — four years — he has made 11 pictures and has built up a surprising following; not exactly surprising because his success is deserved, but Joe isn't the accepted idea of a popular matinee idol. He has also played in many heavy-roles, which may be good or bad for an actor.

When I mentioned I particularly liked him as the murderer in "Shadow of a Doubt," he said, "Yes, I was pretty tough, but one reason I am so happy in Hollywood making pictures is because I have had so many different roles and have never been typed."

Then he went on to tell me. "Anyone who can make a picture for Alfred Hitchcock is lucky. He teaches the actor to relax. He is fun and he knows exactly what he wants. He inspires you to have confidence in yourself. I would give up almost any picture to have Hitchie direct me"

Becomes Understudy. That is exactly what Ingrid Bergman told me when I interviewed her. The smiling, once plump Englishman (Hitchie has lost 60 pounds) has certainly won a place in the hearts of all the actors who are in his pictures.

Joe's account of the years he spent trying to break into acting is very amusing, and a real human interest tale. He is a Virginian. His speech is slow, long drawn, with a delightful southern inflection. He was graduated from school in Washington and then went to dramatic school. He couldn't get anything in New York and went away for five years, taking a job in Miami, Fla., as an advertising solicitor on a newspaper. He did all sorts of jobs but couldn't get the stage bug out of his system, so he went back to Broadway.

He talked to David Belasco and said, "I want a job." "You've got it," said Belasco. "Of course," Joe said, "I didn't do any acting for Belasco. I was an understudy. But it paved the way for me to get a job in stock and I never had any job come so easy."

No Preference. I asked him which he liked better, the stage or screen. He told me he honestly had no preference. He loves the screen, radio and stage, but was sorry there wasn't a theater here where the actors could act on the stage. He had an idea that if the producers would build a playhouse in Beverly Hills they wouldn't have to go to New York in search of theatrical talent. Actors who were not making pictures could appear between their studio assignments, and it might be possible to discover screen talent without going to Broadway.

The one thing closest to Joe's heart is the blood bank. He has worked unceasingly in order to get people to donate precious blood plasma; so much so he received special praise from Washington. He went on tour with "Since You Went Away" and at the end of the picture stepped out on the stage and said, "Now will you give blood" People were in a sentimental mood and gave generously.

Joe is under contract to David O. Selznick, but he is a happy Selznick slave and believes Selznick has chosen wisely in his selection of pictures. In fact, Joe Cotten is a very happy boy in a beautiful home with a charming wife who was herself a professional before she married him — Lenore Kipp, associate editor on "Harper's Bazaar."