INTRODUCTION (1988)

THE QUESTION OF AUTHORSHIP

The project undertaken in this book has posed a problem to which there is probably no completely satisfying solution. Hitchcock's Films was written in the early '60s: it has been through three editions (accruing extra material in its different incarnations) and has been out of print for a number of years. When I wrote it the technology of film study was still in a fairly primitive stage (as was the critical apparatus): with most of the films I worked from memory, or from notes scribbled in movie theaters during public screenings: the most sophisticated machinery I had (occasionally) at my disposal was a standard 16mm. projector. Many Hitchcock films, including "key" works like Shadow of a Doubt and Under Capricorn were not available at all at that time in England; others were available only in errant formats (the chapter on Vertigo was written using a low contrast 16mm. black-and-white print).

More important, however, than the deficiencies of technology and availability is the fact that the book belongs firmly to a certain phase in the evolution of film theory/criticism whose assumptions are no longer acceptable without qualifications so drastic as effectively to transform them: the high point of auteur theory in its original, unmodified form, as developed out of Bazin and the early Cahiers du Cinéma. Those assumptions (to a degree new to the criticism of Hollywood movies, though not foreign to many of the forms of traditional aesthetics) can be spelled out quite crudely as follows: The critic's task is to discover great works and explicate their significance, acting as a mediator between the artist and the less educated, less aware public; great works of art are produced by great artists; the interest -- degree of success or failure -- of

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Hitchcock's Films Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - (1988) 1
  • Book One - Hitchcock's Films 53
  • 1 - Introduction (1965) 55
  • 2 - Strangers on a Train 86
  • 3 - Rear Window 100
  • 4 - Vertigo 108
  • 5 - North by Northwest 131
  • 6 - Psycho 142
  • 7 - The Birds 152
  • 8 - Marnie 173
  • 9 - Torn Curtain 198
  • 10 - Retrospective (1977) 206
  • Endnotes for Earlier Editions 229
  • Book Two - Hitchcock's Films Revisited 237
  • 11 - Plot Formations 239
  • 12 - Symmetry, Closure, Disruption: the Ambiguity of Blackmail 249
  • 13 - Norms and Variations: the 39 Steps and Young and Innocent 275
  • 14 - Ideology, Genre, Auteur (1976) 288
  • 15 - Star and Auteur: Hitchcock's Films with Bergman 303
  • 16 - The Murderous Gays: Hitchcock's Homophobia 336
  • 17 - The Men Who Knew Too Much (and the Women Who Knew Much Better) 358
  • 18 - Male Desire, Male Anxiety: the Essential Hitchcock 371
  • Bibliography 389
  • Index 391
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