Some Refrigerator Talk about Alfred Hitchcock

By Flower, Dean | The Hudson Review, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Some Refrigerator Talk about Alfred Hitchcock


Flower, Dean, The Hudson Review


Some Refrigerator Talk About Alfred Hitchcock

WHEN FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT BEGAN HIS MARATHON INTERVIEW with Alfred Hitchcock in the summer of 1962, he expected to encounter an elusive and calculating man, secretive about his art and himself. Instead he found him "genuinely self-critical" and "completely sincere." After more than fifty hours of taped conversation, Truffaut concluded, "Under the invariably self-possessed and often cynical surface is a deeply vulnerable, sensitive, and emotional man who feels with particular intensity the sensations he communicates to his audience." Hitchcock's biographers-not to mention innumerable other memoirists and critics -have seldom been so lucid as this. John Russell Taylor, who wrote Hitch: The Life and Work of Alfred Hitchcock in 1978, found him a bundle of contradictory personae, running from dignified professional to "shameless publicist," and from devoted married man ("the epitome of English virtues") to sexually-obsessed fantasist, a man who could sometimes be a "grinning schoolboy" and at others a "connoisseur of slightly ghoulish jokes and deadpan outrageousness." Taylor decided he was all of these things and none of them-an engima, finally, an artist who simply disappeared into his work. He is "not so much in his films," Taylor wrote, "he is his films."

Then came Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock in 1983, which the New York Times described as "the picture of a severely repressed, even twisted, Victorian gentleman" and Time called a "portrait of a man whose character was as strange and shadowed as his films." Spoto found Hitchcock in his films all right-in his charming wife-murderers, sadistic misogynists, deranged voyeurs, and psychotic killers. Spoto emphasized Hitchcock's apparent cruelty on the set: his perversely repeated dunking and drenching of Tallulah Bankhead in Lifeboat, his relentless pressure on Vera Miles, the suffering housewife in The Wrong Man, his cruel domination of Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Marnie. In his wit and charm wasn't Hitchcock like the psychotic Bruno (Robert Walker) in Strangers on a Train? Or in his throttled sexual inhibitions akin to Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in Psycho"? Or in his need to control and direct the sexuality of women very like Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) in Vertigo and Mark (Sean Connery) in Mamie? Spoto appealed to those who readily assume guilt by association-Poe must have been a madman, Nabokov a pervert-so eager are they to explain the author by the work. Then too Spoto never misses a chance to depict Hitchcock's overweight as grotesque, and his huge appetite as proof of deep distress. His chronicle of Hitchcock's "Gastronomic Life" is relentless, with its most memorable item a description of the director rapidly consuming, at New York's elegant 21 Club, three complete steak dinners, followed each time by an ice-cream parfait. Surely this signalled desperation? But Hitchcock explained his behavior afterwards, quaffing a brandy with reporters: "I find contentment from food. It is a mental process rather than a physical." Truffaut would have understood this candor, but the ever-suspicious Spoto had to call it "uncharacteristic honesty."

The most recent Hitchcock biography, by Patrick McGilligan,1 does much to correct Spoto's excesses, without being quarrelsome. Only after 750 densely-packed pages of his own does he suggest why Spoto's portrayal has remained the popular one: "perhaps because it is easier to imagine a manipiulative egoist and monster, a shriveled soul inside a grossly fat man, than to understand the practical artist who gave his life to film." It turns out that Talullah was not sadistically or lasciviously used on the set of Lifeboat. The whole cast suffered three months of all-toorealistic rolling and pitching in a studio setup; everyone was wet and cold, and needed anti-seasickness pills, said Hume Cronyn, who endured two cracked ribs from the experience himself. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Some Refrigerator Talk about Alfred Hitchcock
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.