Montreal Gazette (30/Aug/1969) - Alfred Hitchcock presents...
- article: Alfred Hitchcock presents...
- author(s): Vernon Scott
- newspaper: Montreal Gazette (30/Aug/1969)
- keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Carole Lombard, Kim Novak, Psycho (1960), Topaz (1969), Universal Studios
Alfred Hitchcock presents...
Alfred Hitchcock, rotund and rubicund, celebrated his 70th birthday this month filled with enthusiasm over the completion of his 51st motion picture.
Appearing surprisingly as he did 20 years ago, Hitchcock views today's young turks of film making as his contemporaries.
"I feel about 35 years old," said the master of suspense dramas.
"These new schools of directors are made up of young men who are given 16 mm. cameras and told to photograph something, so they come up with a lot of tricks.
"I don't believe in improvisation on the set. I can visualize an entire picture on paper from the beginning. It's better to improvise in your office before the film starts.
"You can compare it with a composer improvising a symphony with a lull orchestra. He can do it all better alone on paper.
"This saves time, money and gross mistakes.
"But I'm all in favor of innovation. They've called me the father of the nouvelle vague. I used a hand-held camera with a gyroscope in it all the way back in 1927.
"This multiple screen business and other visual tricks prove nothing. You get the same effect with a montage.
"In almost 40 years of directing I've only made 51 pictures. I can't churn them out because I work with the writer from the very beginning.
"The story, and how you tell it, is the only thing in films. And self-plagiarism accounts for style. I am guilty of that.
"I never start a script until I've visited every location. And I never begin a picture without a completed script."
Hitchcock, whose string of successful films is unparalleled in movie history, is just as meticulous about the musical scores. He sits in with the orchestra and oversees each bar of music.
Thereafter he works with the film cutter.
"I begin with the germ of an idea and stay with the movie until it is in the theatres," he said. "I don't believe a director should walk into a picture, do his job and walk out.
"This sex and nudity thing is transitional. So is violence.
"The most shocking effect in any of my pictures was the shower scene in Psycho. It was done entirely by suggestion. No knife touched any body. I used 78 different camera positions for 45 seconds of film. No breast or backside was exposed to the camera.
"And I made the film in black and white deliberately so people wouldn't see the blood. It demonstrates what a director can do without being blatant, and still achieve the feeling of shock."
Hitchcock is still the master of his set. No star pushes him around.
"I've been calling actors cattle for a quarter century," he said, grinning mischievously. "When Carole Lombard worked for me she had a corral built with three live cows in it. They wore signs around their necks, Carole, Bob (Montgomery) and Gene (Raymond)."
"When an actor attempts to change his lines or to direct a scene I tell him to do whatever he wants there's always a cutting room.
"Sometimes they question why a character will behave in a certain manner and ask what their motivation is. I tell them their salary is their motivation.
"Kim Novak told me before starting a picture she could wear her hair in only one color and her clothes had to be a certain hue. J explained she could wear anything she wanted and tint her hair any color provided they met the demands of the script. She agreed."
In his new Universal picture, Topaz, a story of intrigue during the Cuban missile crisis, Hitchcock has no marquee stars to worry about.
He still believes a good motion picture can be made for $2 million without having to pay an actor or actress half the cost of the film.
"I am convinced you must be economical in your pictorial statement," he said. "After all, it is motion pictures. Too often today you are seeing photographs of people talking on the screen.
"My pictures are visual. They are meant to be. That's why I dictate the first treatment of the script without any dialogue, telling a story of what takes place. That's what movies are all about."