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WFTHN (2014) - Hitch and Alma: Partners in Crime




Hitch and Alma: Partners in Crime

Considering the contribution made by Alma Reville to filmmaking - with and without Hitchcock

When Alma Reville, wife of Alfred Hitchcock, died in 1982, Charles Champlin wrote in the LA Times that “the Hitchcock touch had four hands and two of them were Alma’s.” This time last year, two contrasting portrayals of Reville attempted to define their relationship, both on a work and personal level.

In the feature film Hitchcock, Helen Mirren played Alma as a forceful and decisive woman, saving the production of Psycho while Hitchcock languished in bed suffering from depression. In the HBO/BBC drama The Girl, Imelda Staunton cut a very different figure – physically more similar to the real Reville, she portrays a rather meek woman; aware of her husband’s infidelities (real or fantasy), she chooses to ignore them.

While the notion of Reville stepping onto the studio floor to direct Psycho is pure fantasy, there is no doubt that Alma was Hitchcock’s key collaborator on every project, a fact that has been generally acknowledged but barely explored in detail. How much of a part did Alma play in Hitchcock’s success? This is a question myself and academic Christina Lane tried to answer in a chapter for a new book, Hitchcock and Adaptation, to be published later this year by Scarecrow Press. We felt strongly that Reville should be represented in the book and given her due.

During her years in British filmmaking, Reville learnt many different skills, w...

Jo Botting is a Fiction Curator at the BFI National Archive, where she has worked for 15 years. Among the seasons she has programmed at BFI Southbank are Margaret Lockwood, Deborah Kerr, The Boulting Brothers and Vivien Leigh. She is currently doing a PhD on Adrian Brunel.