Hitchcock on Hitchcock – Selected Writings and Interviews, Volume 2 – Edited by Sidney Gottlieb
2015 – University of California Press – 274 pages
Those who read Sidney Gottlieb’s first volume of collected writings and interviews of Alfred Hitchcock may wonder that there was enough quality material for a follow-up. As Gottlieb explains in his introduction, there was quite a bit of material that did not make the first volume for reasons of space limitations. Further, additional writings have come to light in the interval.
The origin and nature of the material in this volume is considerably varied, but the quality is consistently good. The pieces range from the Henley Telegraph stories (brief sketches Hitchcock composed for his first employer while still a young man), to film periodical articles, to in-depth interviews.
As in the first volume, there is occasional repetition of ideas or anecdotes; it is clear that Hitchcock had his “go-to” jokes or bon mot that he would trot out when appropriate. But this is understandable considering the numerous interviews he consented to give over the years.
As with the first volume, the pieces are grouped thematically in sections, and chronologically in each section. This volume has a few more pieces from later in Hitchcock’s career, which strikes a nice balance with volume one, that seemed laden with pieces from the British period.
One of the most interesting pieces in this volume is a transcription of a pre-production meeting for the film Stage Fright between Hitchcock and his production supervisor Fred Ahern. For around twenty pages, Hitchcock and Ahern go through the shooting script, discussing what the production needs will be for each set-up. It is amazing what a clear idea Hitchcock already had in mind for each individual shot. The reader can also get a sense of how much he enjoyed the planning phase of filmmaking.
Another great piece is a transcript of Hitchcock fielding questions from an audience after he has delivered a lecture. He talks about several of his films, and film techniques.
For anyone who enjoyed the first volume in this series, volume two is a welcome edition. I think I actually enjoyed the specific pieces in this follow-up work even more than the original. One can only hope that there is enough material for a third volume some day.
For the die-hard fan who can’t get enough of Hitchcock this book is highly recommended.