Hitchcock's Notebooks: An Authorized and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcook

Overview

From a couple racing across the top of Mount Rushmore to a woman's final shower at an isolated motel, no other filmmaker has given movie fans more unforgettable images or heart-pounding thrills than Alfred Hitchcock. Now you can share in the Master of Suspense's inspiration and development — his entire creative process — in Hitchcock's Notebooks.

With the complete cooperation of the Hitchcock estate and access to the director's notebooks, journals, and archives, Dan Auiler takes...

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Overview

From a couple racing across the top of Mount Rushmore to a woman's final shower at an isolated motel, no other filmmaker has given movie fans more unforgettable images or heart-pounding thrills than Alfred Hitchcock. Now you can share in the Master of Suspense's inspiration and development — his entire creative process — in Hitchcock's Notebooks.

With the complete cooperation of the Hitchcock estate and access to the director's notebooks, journals, and archives, Dan Auiler takes you from the very beginnings of story creation to the master's final touches during post-production and publicity. Actual production notes from Hitchcock's masterpieces join detailed interviews with key production personnel, including writers, actors and actresses, and Hitchcock's personal assistant of more than thirty years.

Mirroring the director's working methods to give you the actual feel of his process, and highlighted by nearly nearly one hundred photographs and illustrations, this is the definitive guide into the mind of a cinematic legend.

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Editorial Reviews

Charles Winecoff
...[B]oth fascinating and frustrating....he leaves the dizzying task of deciphering most of the material to the reader.
Entertainment Weekly
Los Angeles Times
A useful testament to one of this director's least well-kept secrets: his hard work and devotion to craft in every department.
Chicago Sun-Times
The irresistible bible for film buffs.
Gilberto Perez
Alfred Hitchcock was born on 13 August 1899. This volume of selections from his papers has come out to coincide with the centenary of his birth. Let us honor the poise of this great popular artist. —London Review of Books
Los Angeles Times
A useful testament to one of this director's least well-kept secrets: his hard work and devotion to craft in every department.
Chicago Sun-Times
The irresistible bible for film buffs.
Library Journal
In this 100th-anniversary year of Alfred Hitchcock's birth, the director's work has inspired several movie remakes and a whole new crop of admirers. These two tributes to Hitchcock's art offer something new to fans. Hitchcock's America focuses on Hitchcock as cultural critic, with essays from film and literature scholars. The pieces are randomly arranged and comment on family values, gender roles, and American ideals as they are reflected in a wide array of Hitchcock's American films. While most followers hail the psychological power of his cinema, this anthology successfully shows his ability to record the changing expectations of American society in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The stark contrasts between big city and small town, sexuality and purity, hidden desires and social mores are explored as Hitchcock filmed them. Auiler (Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, LJ 5/1/98) returns with an ambitious look at the creative process of filmmaking, from the director's early German films through the golden decade of his work in the Fifties and Sixties. Using Hitchcock's own copious notes, plus copies of studio memos, hand-marked scripts, and plenty of production photos and stills, he re-creates the step-by-step production of a movie. Chapters on the screenplay, visual set-up, production, post-production editing, and unfinished projects provide fascinating insight into how movies were made, Hitchcock-style. Those with no knowledge of the "behind-the-scenes" activity of cinema will be fascinated by this detailed accounting. Auiler's book is for general audiences, while Hitchcock's America would be a good purchase for film collections in academic libraries.--Kelli N. Perkins, Herrick Dist. Lib., Holland, MI
Gilberto Perez
Alfred Hitchcock was born on 13 August 1899. This volume of selections from his papers has come out to coincide with the centenary of his birth. Let us honor the poise of this great popular artist.
London Review of Books
Robert Sklar
Auiler's title is pure Macguffin. There is no notebooks as such, nor, strictly speaking, any secrets. What the compilation draws from is the director's archive of working materials—letters, memos, screenplay drafts, production notes, storyboards and the like...The most interesting revelations to be found among Auiler's reprinted documents concern Hitchcock's efforts to keep pace with the 1960s.
—From The Times Literary Supplement.
Kirkus Reviews
From The Mountain Eagle to Lifeboat to the never-produced Kaleidoscope, a rare and invaluable (yet also sometimes clumsy) fly-on-the-wall look at Hitchcock at work. Drawing on his authorized access to Hitchcock's files and notes, Auiler (Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, 1998) has assembled a fascinating trove of materials illuminating the master director's creative process. Hitchcock has always mattered immensely to auteur theory, for few directors have exercised his kind of control (or "authorship") over so many aspects of the movies. Here we can almost see him shaping and refining all the stages of production. From script changes to publicity stills to story boards to Hitch's notes on scoring, and even including his conversations with actors regarding character development (traditionally thought to have been one of his few weaknesses), the range and breadth of this collection is as astounding as the genius it so clearly reveals. Auiler has had to do a lot of culling to get the mass of material down to a manageable size; one only hopes that he hasn't omitted too many gems (a few of his selections are so perfunctory as to be nearly worthless). He largely and deliberately skims over most of Hitch's early career in England, and he completely ignores such films as Vertigo and Psycho (their creation has already been chronicled in other books). Auiler's own explanatory efforts are usually clunky and unremarkable. Like scratches on a film print, though, they may irk yet don't intrude too much. Still, you have to be familiar with Hitchcock's oeuvre for much of this to make sense. Scene-by-scene comparisons of various script versions, for example, are only worthwhile if you arealready reasonably familiar with the movie in question. For fans and film buffs, then, a no-questions-asked must-have. (photos and illustrations) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380799459
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Auiler is the author of Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, which the Washington Post called "savvy and mesmerizing" and Entertainment Weekly awarded an "A-." He began as a film critic for a Texas weekly and has taught cinema and drama courses for more than a decade. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Beginnings

Well, little boys are always asked what they want to be when they grow up, and it must be said to my credit that I never wanted to be a policeman.

-- Hitchcock to Truffaut


The world owes a debt of thanks to Hitchcock's able secretaries. For while he himself kept no diaries, journals, or meditations on his art, they helped create a lasting record of the building plans for more than fifty years of filmmaking. And as I began to sift through the enormous collection of personal papers that his daughter Patricia graciously donated to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (gracious, because the Academy's members only acknowledged Hitchcock's genius in his twilight), I found that if the material were placed into some kind of context, some kind of shape, profound lessons could be learned.

There is no doubt that many, if not most, of the important filmmakers of the second half of this century learned from looking carefully at his art. Virtually every member of the French new wave was an apt pupil of Hitchcock. In America his students are everywhere. The most powerful and significant were the seventies wunderkinds Spielberg and Lucas. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a filmmaker who was not shaped by Hitchcock and his work -- even among the few out there who often react against the kind of tension Hitchcock created in his films.

There was a second element to this collection that I found personally moving: the uncompleted Hitchcock ouevre, from the fortunately short list of films that didn't come to fruition from the pipe dream, the Cary GrantHamlet (just a well-publicized afterthought that ended in court), to the projects that fell apart because of star anxieties. Others fell apart for the usual reasons. But there were two deeply personal films that, despite his enormous power, despite his being one of the largest stockholders in MCA, he could not convince his friend and boss Lew Wasserman to let him make.

One project reached romantically back into his youth. The other, the one that perhaps caused Hitchcock the most pain, was a daring, provocative film that would have certainly been considered one of the great ones. This story of the unproduced Frenzy is the bittersweet connective tissue of this working "biography" of Hitchcock.

To begin to understand Hitchcock, you have to stand on the streets of Leytonstone, London, where he came from. The home that he was born into in August 1899 no longer exists. A blue oval plaque on a gas station marks the spot today. The town, though, is still the working-class community that it was at the turn of the century. His father was a grocer who died when his son was fifteen years old. His illness had forced the young Hitchcock out of school and into work.

The police station that his father allegedly took him to to be incarcerated for five minutes is also torn down. This well-known story was told so often by Hitchcock that even he wasn't sure if it had actually happened. It certainly reveals a certain ambivalence toward his father.

He may have been close to his mother and sister, but he said little about his family to journalists. His mother would die during World War II, and perhaps it is no coincidence that immediately after this he makes the only film with such a warm portrait of a mother: Shadow of a Doubt.

We know that Hitchcock was intrigued by the theater and film from an early age. He was an avid playgoer and his early films are certainly testament to that. So many of the films revolved around theaters and so many of his first actors were from the stage he had grown to love. The early British films are the most indebted to his middle-class upbringing: the films are almost documentary in their depiction of middle-class London life, and occasionally the biographical element creeps in -- like the greengrocer next to the cinema in Sabotage.

His interest includes the technical as well. An engineering student when his father died, he interestingly continued to drift toward the arts. His ability to draw stood him well at Henley Telegraph and Cable, where he worked for a time in their art department, creating advertisements. He used these same skills to convince the American company of Famous Players-Lasky (which would later merge with Paramount) that he could design their title cards. They were impressed, and the rest conveniently for us is a history that has been fairly wen documented. If we only knew as much about Shakespeare's early years.

At Famous Players-Lasky, Hitchcock would encounter the first of his teachers, and even though the company would collapse in a few years, he would have time enough to see just how motion pictures were put together. The early editor and scenarist who had the greatest impact on his career and his life was Alma Reville.

She was born in Islington and began her career in the new motion picture industry much earlier than Hitchcock. As early as 1916, she worked as a young actress for the London Film Company (according to Kevin Brownlow, a 1918 film has recently been discovered that features the young Alma). Beyond small parts, she was an editor and evidently one of the best in the nascent industry. Hitchcock would have learned from Alma. And as the photographs and interviews show, Alma was with the young Hitchcock from his first film to his last. During this run, she would also play the part of his wife. They married on December 2, 1926.

Their closeness in temperament and Alma's evident humility have obscured her contribution to what we know as the Hitchcock film. The record indicates Alma helped shape each film's fundamental story from his first film to well after World War II. The fact that she was continuing a position that she had before she married Hitchcock indicates that this was not just padding the Hitchcock family income...

Hitchcock's Notebooks. Copyright © by Dan Auiler. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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