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Journal of Popular Film & Television (1997) - The Films of Alfred Hitchcock




Review of "The Films of Alfred Hitchcock" - by David Sterritt



By David Sterritt. New York: Cambridge UP, 1993. 165 pp. $42.95 cloth. $12.95 paper.

One must admire the willingness of a scholar to take on yet another exhumation and autopsy of the Hitchcock corpse, just when we thought it was safe to relax and look at the master's work for the sheer pleasure of its mischievousness and terror. As part of the Cambridge Film Classics series, which is billed as "a forum for revisionist studies," David Sterritt's The Films of Alfred Hitchcock offers a clearly written and lovingly detailed analysis of six of the filmmaker's more prominent works, reaffirming Hitchcock's place among the pantheon of auteurs.

Hitchcock's genius can be measured through the myriad of narrative, stylistic, and thematic fixtures that can be cross-referenced in endless combinations through his entire oeuvre. In his book, Stenitt leads us into the web of allusions by such bridges as "evokes," "summons up," "prefigures," "echoes," "seen again," and "in anticipation of." The extent to which the use of those and other analytical tools can be considered "revisionist" may be questioned, but Sterritt does provide an intelligent overview of themes, influences, and stylistic hallmarks in a kind of montage construct, moving casually but comprehensively through a sampling of major works. One might question whether the choices are the best; Sterritt ignores important formative films of the British period in favor of films that have already had extensive analysis -- in spite of his suggestion that "a close look at seemingly minor efforts can pay surprisi...

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