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Anniston Star (24/Aug/1975) - Alfred Hitchcock is 75, busy directing new movie



Alfred Hitchcock is 75, busy directing new movie

"I never realized I would be working so hard at this age," commented a bemused Alfred Hitchcock as he turned 75.

The roly-poly master of movie suspense recently marked three-quarters of a century. By all the rules he should be slowing down his work pace. He isn't.

Before entering a birthday interview, he engaged in a long script session with Ernest Lehman, who wrote one of the director's biggest hits, "North by Northwest."

"I've been working on this script since the first of the year." Hitchcock explained "It's a very difficult script, because it involves two parallel stories which eventually come together."

The new project is based on a novel — "but usual I don't follow the novel's plot" — and is as yet untitled. He delighted in reciting the ironies of the plot, which concerns a dying dowager who seeks an illegitimate son she bore in her youth.

The son is elusive, the audience discovers, because he happens to be a kidnapper.

"This is not a mystery, because I don't make mysteries." Hitchcock commented. "I tell the audience everything, and then I make them sweat over how it will all come out."

Many directors do their creating or the movie stages. With Hitchcock the major work is done in his elegantly appointed office at Universal Studio.

"My films are made on paper." he remarked. "I plan every camera angle, every cut before the cameras turn.

"By the time I've finished the script. I wish I didn't have to make the picture.

"I don't even have to go or the set until we start shooting. I've already shown the cameraman what I want.

"I've spoken to the actors in their dressing rooms. All that is left is to put it on film.

"The only problem I encounter is with actors who don't want to work my way, particularly method actors who want to change things.

"I tell them. 'Do whatever you want, but always remember this; the cutting room.'"

At 75, Alfred Hitchcock appears in total control of his creative forces. He reported happily that his last film. "Frenzy," cost $2 million and earned $16 million. It also reassured critics, who had feared that the master's touch was slipping after a series of so-so films. Hitch has paid little heed to critics, even during the times they were proclaiming his genius. He is not the kind of fellow who takes advice, even when it comes from his longtime friend and star, Cary Grant.

They met recently at Hollywood Race Track, and Grant, who retired from films eight years ago, warned the director, "You're making a prisoner of yourself."

Hitchcock, who entered films in his native England 54 years ago, comments: "I don't feel like a prisoner, nor do I feel as if I have painted myself Into a corner. I am doing what I like to do."

He has also ignored warnings that being overweight was injurious to his health. Not that he doesn't diet.

He calculates that he has lost between 500 and 600 pounds in his lifetime and since December has dropped 35 to his present 223.

"In my case. I believe the overweight to be hereditary." he observed. "My mother, who lived to be 71, had what he called in England 'a cottage-loaf figure.'

"I thick also that I gain weight because of my placid temperament. I simply never have a row.

"Once Ingrid Bergman got very upset with me over something in a movie, and I simply crept out of the office and went home. 'That's the trouble with him he won't fight.' she complained."

The methodical Hitchcock guards his health by visiting bis doctor every Tuesday morning at 9:30. He has a routine checkup weekly and monthly undergoes a full blood test.

"I am a great believer in preventive medicine." he said.