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Ogden Standard Examiner (05/May/1946) - Alfred Hitchcock Disclaims Art in Mystery Films



Alfred Hitchcock Disclaims Art in Mystery Films


Alfred Hitchcock is one of that select company of top-flight directors whose own personality has created public interest, Hitchcock is what Hollywood terms a character; that is, a colorful person.

Hitchcock is considered Hollywood's number one mystery director, a reputation he achieved in his native England even before he arrived here.

The cherubic, rotund Hitchcock, however, blandly surveying Hollywood life from the second booth to the right at Romanoff's which has been his for years, modestly disclaims there is any great art in his suspense pictures.

"Mystery Everywhere"

"A mystery story," he says, "really is only a device to tell the same story in a more interesting manner. Daily papers are full of crime stories and all crime is mystery."

Hitchcock has an amazingly analytical mind which probably made him gravitate naturally to mystery drama. He never makes spectacle pictures. His field is the psychological story. His theory is that as audiences become more adult their interest centers in people and what makes them tick, not in crowds and lavish sets.

Although many of Hitchcock's efforts have been up for academy awards on one basis or another, he never has received one himself, "Always the bridesmaid and never the bride," he comments genially.

Directed Women

"Rebecca," Hitchcock's first U.S. picture, won the 1940 award for best production. Joan Fontaine won her academy award for "Suspicion." Two other Hitchcock productions, "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Lifeboat" received awards. Ingrid Bergman was well up in the running this year for her performance in "Spellbound," which he directed.

"Lifeboat" was a chalenger in the directorial field, for Hitchcock surmounted a difficult technical problem in holding all the action within the confines of a small boat. It was a problem few directors would have been willing to undertake.

Quiet and Calm

Hitchcock began his professional career as an assistant layout man in the advertising department of a commercial house. His first film job was as a title writer. He became an art director, writer and production manager before switching to director.

One of Hollywood's ablest workers, Hitchcock exhibits no fine directorial frenzy. He manages things with an assured air, winning maximum cooperation without once raising or lowering his voice.

His employer, David O. Selznick, an emotional and intense person, has the habit of many executives of striding rapidly up and down during conferences. "When does the heart attack come?" is Hitchcock's favorite stopper for this maneuver.

Proud of Daughter

Hitchcock's daughter Pat, an attractive 17-year-old red head who already has played on Broadway and now is in her junior year at a convent in New Jersey, works as-her father's assistant during vacations. Her father is inordinately proud of her, though he tries his best to conceal it. One of Hitchcock's friends said after meeting her, "I don't know whether to order her a dry martini or offer to play bears."

Hitchcock, who at one time was tremendously heavy, has reduced 100 pounds and keeps himself in shape on a diet of lean meat. He and Tallulah Bankhead, whom he directed in "Lifeboat," became great friends. Tallulah liked to keep platters of cold cuts in her dressing room icebox and it was no uncommon sight to see the pair munching together.