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Calgary Herald (13/Aug/1999) - Hitchcock 101: What fans should know


  • article: Hitchcock 101: What fans should know
  • author(s): Terry Lawson
  • newspaper: Calgary Herald (13/Aug/1999)
  • keywords: Alfred Hitchcock


Hitchcock 101: What fans should know

Film director Alfred Hitchcock was born 100 years ago today.

Enthusiasts say he's the best that ever was. Whatever the case, you could spend the rest of your life watching Hitchcock, reading about Hitchcock and analysing Hitchcock, but someone would undoubtedly seek to have you psychologically evaluated.

Here, then, would be the essential additions to any home library or video collection.


-The Hitchcock Collection (Universal Studios Home Video, $159.99).

Thirteen newly mastered videos of films from the '50s and '60s, including Vertigo, The Birds and Psycho are included in this gift pack, along with a tape collecting four of the episodes directed by Hitchcock for his first television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The videos are available separately.

-Notorious, The Paradine Case and Rebecca (Anchor Bay Video, $12.99 each).

Anchor Bay lavishes its usual fine attention on these remastered video versions of the films made for producer David O. Selznick, which include reproductions of the original lobby cards and detailed liner notes. DVD versions will be available soon.

-The Hitchcock Collection (Medacy Entertainment, $59.99).

Not to be confused with the Universal box, this set brings together five of Hitchcock's 1930s British films on DVD, including the original The Man Who Knew Too Much and Secret Agent. Extras include an interactive guide to key scenes from the films.

(All of the above can be ordered from HMV; your favourite video store may have them.)


-The Dark Side of Genius, by Donald Spoto (Random House, $9.99).

Of the various biographies, this is easily the most thorough and readable, though its critics claim the facts are often subverted by Spoto's theory: His Hitchcock was a guilt-ridden, sexually dysfunctional neurotic who obsessed unhealthily over his cool, aloof leading ladies and spent the last years of his life and career in an alcoholic stupor. The detail, though, is astounding.

-Hitchcock/Truffaut, by Francois Truffaut (Distican, $27.50).

Not only is this series of interviews — in which filmmaker and critic Truffaut led Hitchcock through his films one by one — the best overall examination of Hitchcock's technique and style, it is one of the best books about moviemaking, period. While we now know some of what Hitch told his admirer was fanciful, he's still honest, engaging and self-deprecating. He refuses to spend time chewing on movies that aren't worth a nibble.

-The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, by David Sterritt (Cambridge University Press, $16.95).

Of the more critical film-by-film analyses, this volume by the astute Christian Science Monitor critic Sterritt is the most complete and thoughtful and doesn't get bogged down in film-school folderol.

-Hitchcock's Notebooks, by Daniel Auiler (Hearst Book Group Canada, $44).

Auiler was given access to the Hitchcock archives for his excellent Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic and returned for this fascinating look into the master's methods. It includes annotated shooting scripts, early drafts, transcripts of story conferences, photographs from the lost film The Mountain Eagle and a section devoted to thwarted projects, including Kaleidoscope, which morphed into the friendlier Frenzy, and Mary Rose, a mystery Hitchcock toyed with on and off for 60 years.

(All of the above can be ordered from Chapters, and other bookstores.)

On the Web


Of the hundreds of Hitch sites on the Web, Hitchcock Online may be the best designed, the most complete and the most maneuverable. Video and audio clips abound, and there's an illustrated guide to all the director's cameo appearances in his films.