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Lima News (16/Jul/1972) - Alfred Hitchcock Not a Male Chauvinist



"Woman Natural Target In Murders"

Alfred Hitchcock Not A Male Chauvinist

Alfred Hitchcock is not a male chauvinist pig. Still, three women are murdered most foully in "Frenzy," his first made-in-England film in 20 years. The first victim floats into view on the Thames, nude, a necktie knotted around her throat.

"These are sexual murders," he said. "That puts the woman as target. Women are, of course, weaker than men. There's a possibility if a man is attacked, he can fight back. I showed in 'Torn Curtain' how hard it is to kill even a man with bare hands.

"The woman is the natural target in sexual-psychotic murders, especially when the man is impotent. John R. F. Christie was a man inspired by his impotence to murder eight women.

"In 'Frenzy' the murderer is a charmer to women. I've always thought it a crazy idea to have a villain a mean-looking man with a black mustache. It makes far better sense to have the man attractive so he can get to his victims."

The Master

Hitchcock long ago adopted as his own the aim of Dicken's Fat Boy: "I want to make your flesh creep." He is the acknowledged master of thrillers. Beyond that, he has a brilliant visual sense, a distinctive Hitchcockian style. Francois Truffaut, the French film maker, places him "among such artists of anxiety as Kafka, Destoyevsky and Poe."

He knows a lot, but not all, about audiences.

"I've studied audiences all my life," he said. "But I still don't know why it is that when a man is burglarizing a house, stealing a woman's jewelry, and we see her coming in, the audience is rooting for him — 'Hurry up, get out, she's coming.' The sympathy is all for him. In diamond capers, the suspense is always based on the 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not be found out.'

"Most of the people in England were sympathetic to the great train robbers. Not a gun was seen in that robbery. Only one man was knocked out. But the robbers got 30 years in jail. The moors murderers — the young man and woman who murdered children — got life, which m England is only 20 years."

Undertaker Black

He wore a suit of undertaker black, at luncheon at the St. Regis. But his smile was seraphic, his mood sunny: "Frenzy" is a hit in London, Paris and New York.

With him was his wife of 46 years, Alma Reville Hitchcock, once a film editor and scenarist. He was noticeably solicitous of her. "I had a slight stroke in London while he was making the picture," she said. "It was awful for him."

He used a British cast in "Frenzy": Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Anna Massey (Raymond Massey's daughter), Vivien Merchant, Billie Whitelaw. Much of it was shot in and around Covent Garden Market, where fruit, flowers and vegetables are sold.

"It's a fascinating area," he said. "The Bow Street Police Court is nearby. They're going to move the market out near the airport, but London doesn't change much. The City of London, which is a Wall Street, has all new buildings and skyscrapers. From the top floor of the Hilton Hotel you can look down into the Buckingham "Palace gardens and see the queen cavorting around. American Ideas "The English are very self-centered in many ways and yet the middle class accept so many American ideas, like hamburgers. There's a Wimpy's right on Piccadilly. And Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken is springing up all over the place "

"Did you get a big welcome back?"

"When you go back, you get lost in the crowd," he said. "The English are not so demonstrative, they don't rush up for your autograph. Once in Copenhagen I was standing on the main square when an ambulance, siren screaming, rushed up and a man dashed from it with a pencil and paper and asked for my autograph. I don't know whether it was for the driver or the patient."

Anthony Shaffer, author of "Sleuth," the London-Broad-way stage hit, wrote "Frenzy. He adapted it from Arthur La Bern's novel, "Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square."


"The book was sent me by the publisher," Hitchcock said. "I was attracted by the market and by the central figure, an Air Force man who is always a loser. Today is the day of the nonhero, isn't it?

"Thee is a basic moral in all my films, the triumph of good over evil. Films ar more permissive today, you show more nudity. Someone asked me how long nudity will last on the screen. My answer was 'All breasts sag eventually '

"I try to be tasteful about it. In the scene in the potato truck, the man is wrestling with a nude body, but you don't see it. I arranged it so that you get the feeling of a nude body without showing it."

I dared ask him a question one would hesitate to put to a woman: "Do you ever try to lose weight?" He is 72, and looked fatter than when I saw him last.

'Very Placid'

"In my lifetime, I have lost 500 pounds. I always got it back. In one year, I lost 100 pounds. ("He looked awful," Mrs. Hitchcock said) I don't exercise. I've got a good circulation so why should I exercise? I'm a placid temperament. ("Very placid," said Mrs. H.) I'm not an enormous eater."

Nevertheless, there is a walk-in refrigerator in the kitchen of the Hitchcock home in Bel Air. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco have dined in that kitchen.

"We fly in sole from London and veal and baby lamb from New York," he said. "You can't get good veal in California.

"Our house overlooks the golf course. Golf balls fall all over my yard. We have wire over the windows and have to keep a supply of curved panes for the bay window."

Seminary Student

Their daughter Patricia, Mrs. Joseph O'Connell, has given them three granddaughters. Both Hitchcock and his wife were born in England but they have been American citizens for years. He studied in a Jesuit seminary and at the University of London.

His 53 motion pictures include such dazzlers as "The 39 Steps," "The Lady Vanishes," "Suspicion," "Lifeboat," Strangers on a Train," "Rear Window," "North by Northwest," "Psycho," "Rebecca," "Notorious" and "Spellbound," the first movie about psychiatry.

"My own favorite is 'Shadow of a Doubt.' You never saw it? Ah. It was written by Thornton Wilder. It's a char-acter study, a suspense thriller. The beauty of the film was it was shot in the actual town."