Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alma & Alfred Hitchcock: The Dynamic Duo

During a summer trip a couple of years ago, I began to read "Hitch: The Life & Times of Alfred Hitchcock" by John Russell Taylor. I'd found the book some time ago and was glad to finally begin reading all about old Hitch.

Inside my (used) copy, first published in 1978, I found a page torn out of a British magazine, 'Country Homes', with listings and markings from the previous owner of the paperback. So this particular copy had made the rounds in Hitchcock's native England before finding its way to me in San Francisco. That was the first bit of intrigue in reading it. I felt as if it was left there for me to try to unveil a mystery of: who had this book before me? And what did that torn page with home listings mean? But that's getting into Agatha Christie territory.
The second bit of intrigue about this book was that the man who wrote it, John Russell Taylor, a critic, actually wrote the biography with direct cooperation of Alfred Hitchcock himself... as well as Hitchcock's inner circle. Since the book was written in the 1970's, it seems odd and interesting to observe how the writer refers to his friend, Hitch, in the present tense. And that also made for some fascinating insight into a rather mysterious person. 

The third bit of intrigue that came to pass was – and is – by far my favorite. That one is about Alma Hitchcock. I knew very little about her when I started reading, apart from knowing she had a good deal of involvement in the making of her husband's films. So everything about her was already of a heightened level of interest for me. 
I discovered that Alfred Hitchcock fell in love with Alma Reville, whom he'd met at a British film studio called Balcon-Saville-Freedman, where she was a film editor. She was editing films at the age of sixteen and needless to say, that was it for me. I was in complete adoration of Alma from at that point on. As was Alfred Hitchcock, for his entire life.

I even noticed now a striking resemblance between Alma and Joan Fontaine's character, Lina, in Suspicion (one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock heroines & plot.) 
Joan Fontaine as Lina in 'Suspicion'
People have so often noted Hitchcock's fascination with those memorable cool blonds who occupied his films, but his lifelong love was reserved for his own 'Monkey Face', Alma. On that note, how remarkable is it, even, that Alma Hitchcock was such a noteworthy filmmaker in her own right, decades before women were carving the slightest presence for themselves in the work force?

Alma Hitchcock was a very special lady, indeed. She is a great example of 'the-woman-behind-the-man'. In her case, much of what we equate to Hitchcock's genius was in part because of her talents and contributions.
Alma Hitchcock, the woman behind the man
Having been rather smitten with their story, my own husband recently shared the news that a movie is now in production called 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho' (not a very elegant title) in which Alma will be depicted alongside Alfred. And rightfully so.

Soon the general public will finally get to know more about the Hitchcocks' fascinating work relationship and marriage.

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