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American Film (1977) - Letters: Pro-Hitchcock






Richard Gilman's energetic attack on The Art of Alfred Hitchcock ("Cult and Puffery," February) has roused my ire. So there is a cult on behalf of Alfred Hitchcock (about time, when you consider the length and breadth of his career). Is it really so threatening? Gilman's one-man society for the preservation of American culture would do better to take a look at the seriousness with which Clint Eastwood movies are suddenly being consumed, for that is where the danger lies.

I admit to a tendency toward rapturousness when discussing Hitchcock, and I think Donald Spoto has accomplished a remarkable labor of love and respect in his book. But I, for one, would never take drastic steps to proselytize an anti-Hitchcockian into my way of thinking. Therefore, I must question the authority with which Gilman has written his review.

For him to assume the responsibility of cautioning the unknowing public ignores the intention of the book, that being it is directed toward Hitchcock enthusiasts. Why would anyone else want to read a book with that title? Who are the masses of unsuspecting, unconcerned readers that Gilman is protecting? He mocks the "evangelical zeal" that sets the tone of Spoto's writing, and then proceeds to blast the book with a zealousness Billy Graham couldn't muster.

He advertises his credentials for the review as his "proper mild measure" in his appreciation for Hitchcock. Did he think he was writing a review or a recipe? After accusing Hitchcock of not taking risks as an artist (as an example, the risk of being boring), he is overwhelmed by the gall of Spoto when he draws risky and interesting comparisons between Hitchcock and James, Dante, and Dostoevski. When, finally, Gilman vows that he is not attempting to put films "in their place," it bears the false ring of a misogynist saying that he's really for women's lib.

Richard Gilman may not care for Alfred Hitchcock, but I suspect that Dostoevski would have.

Elisabeth Karlin
Hollywood, California