Friday, April 8, 2016

Truffaut on Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is now considered a master of the cinema. And deservedly so -- his 53 films are among the best ever made. Hitchcock had exceptional knowledge of the many technical aspects of filmmaking and a singular gift for creating suspense.

But he was not always lauded so highly. In the beginning and middle of his career, Hitchcock made films that were successful at the box-office but not praised by American critics. Those critics complained his films were too simple and they resented his commercial success. In France, however, astute critics saw the artistry in Hitchcock's films and extolled their virtue. One French critic (and filmmaker), Francois Truffaut, decided to make the case for Hitchcock's cinematic mastery. Truffaut spent dozens of hours in 1962 interviewing Hitchcock on the creation of his work. He published the interview in a book that became instantly and enduringly famous.

Truffaut cogently demonstrates Hitchcock's exceptional talent. My favorite line from the book is this one: "The nature of Hitchcock's cinema is to absorb the audience so completely that the Arab viewer will forget to shell his peanuts, the Frenchman will ignore the girl in the next seat, the Italian will suspend his chain-smoking, the compulsive cougher will refrain from coughing, and the Swedes will interrupt their love-making in the aisles."

Do you have any favorite Hitchcock films?


  1. Hitchcock is amazing! The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much are a couple of my favorites :)

  2. Psycho, of course - the first Hitchcock movie that I saw, introduced to me by my dad. And also the first movie where Hitch insisted that audiences show up for a specified start time (movies ran continuously on a loop, with newsreels, cartoons, etc. before then), and not give away the ending to people who hadn't seen it.

    The Birds, Marnie, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, Rear Window - love them!

  3. Rear Window. Love that film.

    I have to say though after I saw the more recent film, The Girl that focused more on the warped and misogynistic views he had it left a bad taste in my mouth. I suppose we need to look at the art and not the artist, but sometimes, as was often shown in his films, it is difficult to separate the two.


  4. The one when two men meet on a train and deside to kill eachothers wifes. I used to love Alfred Hitchcock. I had several books too.

  5. Hitchcock movies are exceptional. My favourite by far: North by Northwest.

  6. Hitchcock's work in the early 60s is as good as filmmaking will ever get. Killing your star half way through through the movie (Psycho), ending a film in the middle of the story (Birds), using psychoanalytical story lines (Marnie, Vertigo), this stuff was unheard of when Hitchcock first did it!!! You could criticize his child-like obsession with blond women, but other than that he was a genius! My fav will always be 'To Catch a Thieve', but not in the German version, where the entire Resistance background of the story was erased, because Germans where not ready to deal with WWII issues yet.

  7. That's a toughie! Strangers on a Train, To Catch a Thief, and North by Northwest all really jump out at me, but truthfully, I've yet to see a Hitchcock film that I didn't find myself thoroughly absorbed in. Might have to do a wee Hitch marathon one of these days, come to think of it. :)

    ♥ Jessica

  8. All of his movies are amazing. I personally love Vertigo the most. Can't eave without hillarious something's up with harry as well.
    my hubs adores The Birds the most)