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American Cinematographer (1995) - Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism





Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism by Paula Marantz Cohen University Press of Kentucky, 298 pps., cloth $34.95. paper $14.95

And still they come ‑ books about Hitchcock, that is. This one, by a professor of humanities and communications at Drexel University, follows the director's development "from Victorianism to postmodernism." It is built mostly upon a scholarly study of four of his best ‑ Shadow of a Doubt, Hear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho. By tracing his career from his early British films to his later work in America the evolution of his films is linked to larger sociological trends.

Family modes, psychoanalysis, history, gender roles and feminism are utilized heavily in this study. Considerable reliance is placed on Richard Spoto's "The Dark Side of Genius," which dealt in large part with Hitchcock's harassment of women. The author springs to Spoto's defense, stating that his book has been accorded an "undeserved reputation as a muckraking exposé." Opinions vary on this point.

Emphasis is placed on what is referred to as a "daughter's effect" on the films, resulting from Hitchcock's relationship with his only child, Patricia. Mention is made of Jane Wyman's definite resemblance to Patricia in Stage Fright, but it is less easy to discern the "equally striking resemblance" of Wyman's screen father, the lanky, egg-eyed Alastair Sim, to Hitchcock. The author, however, succeeds in illuminating her main thesis of Hitchcock's development from Victorian gentleman to a master of modern cinema.