Find the Director and Other Hitchcock Games

Find the Director and Other Hitchcock Games

by Thomas M. Leitch
     
 

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Developing a model of narrative based on game theory, Thomas Leitch offers a compelling new explanation for the distinctiveness and power of Hitchcock's films. Games such as the director's famous cameo appearances, the author says, allow the audience simultaneously to immerse itself in the world created by the narrative and to stand outside that world and

Overview

Developing a model of narrative based on game theory, Thomas Leitch offers a compelling new explanation for the distinctiveness and power of Hitchcock's films. Games such as the director's famous cameo appearances, the author says, allow the audience simultaneously to immerse itself in the world created by the narrative and to stand outside that world and appreciate the self-consciously suspenseful or comic techniques that make the movie peculiarly Hitchcockian.

A crucial aspect of the director's gameplaying, Leitch contends, emerges in the way he repeatedly redefines the rules. Leitch divides Hitchcock's career into key periods in which one set of games gives way to another, reflecting changes in the director's concerns and the conditions under which he was making movies at the time. For example, the films of his late British period (the original Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes) pivot on witty situational games that continually surprise the viewers; the American films that followed in the next decade (Rebecca, Notorious, The Paradine Case) depend more on drawing the viewer into a close identification with a central character and that character's plight. These films in turn are followed by such works as Rope and Strangers on a Train, in which cat-and-mouse games—between characters, between Hitchcock and the characters, between Hitchcock and the audience—are the driving force. By repeatedly redefining what it means to be a Hitchcock film, Leitch explains, the director fosters a highly ambivalent attitude toward such concerns as the value of domesticity, the loss of identity, and the need for—and fear of—suspenseful apprehension.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Leitch (English, Univ. of Delaware) has written a substantial and interesting book which advances a theory of viewership and criticism regarding the ongoing split in the critical appraisal of Hitchcock: is he artist or entertainer? The value of his book lies in the proposal of a comprehensive theory that addresses not only this question but the more substantial one of subversion and order in the immoral complicity of viewers who enter into contract with Hitchcock. The challenge to viewers to spot him during cameo appearances in his films was Hitchcock's most obvious manipulative device. Leitch assesses the films and Hitchcock's development as game structures which involve the audience's entrance into contractual play with each film's strategy of obfuscation and revelation. Importantly, Leitch is conversant with contemporary film theory, and addresses each theory in turn. Essential for collections interested in contemporary film/art theory, and an important addition for those concerned with the movies.--Robert Rayher, Sch. of the Art Inst. of Chicago
Booknews
Developing a model of narrative based on game theory, Leitch offers a new explanation for the distinctiveness and power of Hitchcock's films. Games such as the cameo appearances, the author says, allow the audience simultaneously to immerse itself in the world created by the narrative and to stand outside that world and appreciate the self- consciously suspenseful or comic techniques that make the movie peculiarly Hitchcockian. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"Find the Director is a fascinating and engaging study of one of the most intriguing filmmakers ever. If you enjoy Hitchcock's films, you'll get an educational kick out of this book. You'll want to watch some vintage Hitchcock after you finish reading."--Meredith Maeyama, ILTV Book Break

"A long-standing problem in film scholarship involves the question of cinematic 'tone,' the way elements of style and narration can (often do) cut against the more obvious conventional 'grain' of the narrative without entirely undermining it. . . . Leitch's chapters on Hitchcock's British films contribute considerably to an understanding of this phenomenon while arriving at a number of strikingly revisionary conclusions regarding Hitchcock's early career."--Leland Poague, Hitchcock Annual

“Perhaps even more important than Leitch's general application of game theory to the canon are his perceptive glosses on individual films, particularly those which have been perceived as somewhat difficult. . . . A book every film scholar with an interest in Hitchcock should own.”--Greg Garrett, South Central Review

"Leitch knows Hitchcock's films inside out and can write engagingly and unpretentiously about them."--Paul Thomas, Film Quarterly

"Essential for collections interested in contemporary film/art theory, and an important addition to those concerned with the movies."--Robert Rayher, Library Journal

ILTV Book Break - Meredith Maeyama

Find the Director is a fascinating and engaging study of one of the most intriguing filmmakers ever. If you enjoy Hitchcock's films, you'll get an educational kick out of this book. You'll want to watch some vintage Hitchcock after you finish reading.

Hitchcock Annual - Leland Poague

A long-standing problem in film scholarship involves the question of cinematic 'tone,' the way elements of style and narration can (often do) cut against the more obvious conventional 'grain' of the narrative without entirely undermining it. . . . Leitch's chapters on Hitchcock's British films contribute considerably to an understanding of this phenomenon while arriving at a number of strikingly revisionary conclusions regarding Hitchcock's early career.

South Central Review - Greg Garrett

Perhaps even more important than Leitch's general application of game theory to the canon are his perceptive glosses on individual films, particularly those which have been perceived as somewhat difficult. . . . A book every film scholar with an interest in Hitchcock should own.

Film Quarterly - Paul Thomas

Leitch knows Hitchcock's films inside out and can write engagingly and unpretentiously about them.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820312941
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
06/01/1991
Pages:
296

Meet the Author


Thomas M. Leitch is a professor of English and the director of the concentration in Film Studies at the University of Delaware. His books include What Stories Are: Narrative Theory and Interpretation, The Encyclopedia of Alfred Hitchcock, and Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone With the Wind to The Passion of the Christ.

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