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Literature Film Quarterly (2013) - Shadow of a Debt: Hitchcock's Literary Sources




Review of Hitchcock at the Source: The Auteur as Adapter (2011) edited by R. Barton Palmer & David Boyd

[...]the collection more shows the value of adaptation studies to studies of auteurship, though scholars of adaptation studies will undoubtedly find value in the book's charting of the adaptation process as well as textual differences. The second chapter by Sidney Gottleib that tackles Hitchcock's first film The Pleasure Garden (1926), and Lesley Brill's final chapter on Family Plot (1976), Hitchcock's last film fifty years later, bookend a broad, yet fulfilling, survey of Hitchcock's career spanning six decades and providing readers with a professional biography of the director.


As the title of their 2006 anthology implies, editors R. Barton Palmer and David Boyd's After Hitchcock: Influence, Imitation, and Intertextuality collects critical essays examining Alfred Hitchcock's influence on his contemporaries as well as recent Hollywood and world cinema. Essays covering Michelangelo Antonioni, Claude Chabrol, Pedro Almodovar, Kenneth Branagh, and Jonathan Demme testify to the early impact and enduring legacy of Hitchcock. Their highly readable anthology, Hitchcock at the Source: The Auteur as Adaptor, however, reverses the direction by examining not Hitchcock's cinematic influence, but his literary influences. Twenty essays by prominent scholars in Hitchcock, film, and adaptation studies come together to present a career-spanning antliology that will surely prove indispensable to scholars and fans of Hitchcock.

The editors and several contributors make a point of noting Hitchcock's claim, "What I do is to read a story only once, and if I like the basic idea, I just forget all about the book and start to create cinema" (8). The book proceeds as a deliberate revision of this playful misrepresentation on Hitchcock's part. As Thomas Leitch notes in the first chapter, "In a fundamental sense, of course, Hitchcock is always becoming Hitchcock" (17), and the early chapters chart Hitchcock's debt to literature. The book progresses from the early influence of popular West End drama to Hitchcock's turn to fiction, especially novels. Mary Hammond...

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