A New Look at Hitchcock, Piece by Piece

17 10 2010

In his gorgeous new book, “Hitchcock: Piece by Piece,” author Lauren Bouzereau provides a new angle on The Master of Suspense. Rather than covering Hitch’s biography or looking at highlights of his filmmaking career, Bouzereau sorts Hitch’s works thematically into several lengthy chapters. The chapter “Wrong Men and Anti-Heroes” looks at Hitch’s male protagonists; “The Hitchcock Women” examines women of every sort as they appear in Hitch’s films. Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell, the master’s daughter, contributes a foreword to the book that looks at her father’s lasting legacy.

There’s more to “Piece by Piece” than just the categorizing of Hitchcock’s many motifs, though. The book features a fantastic assortment of photography, as well as pages that open up so the reader can access reproductions of storyboards, a telegram from Hitchcock to David O. Selznick, costume designs, photo albums, the proclamation of Hitch’s knighthood and much more. Like previous, similar books on Bob Dylan and John Lennon, these documents provide new insight into Hitch’s approach to filmmaking as well as his life.

The photography, too, takes us deep into Hitchcock’s life. Many of these pictures have never been reproduced before; my favorites may be the book’s opener, a formal portrait of Hitchcock from the early 1920s, looking serious and sporting a mustache, and its closer, in which a much older Hitchcock grimaces in mock pain as he plays with his dog. It’s all beautifully designed, and shows Hitchcock as a master of the camera, whether he’s shooting or being shot.

Books like this make a good case for another type of Hitchcock book: One of just photography, from his films and his life, in the style of  the “365 Days” series of art books – like “Piece by Piece,” also published by Abrams Books.

My only quibbles with “Piece by Piece” were fact-based. In discussing “The Birds,” Bouzereau both misspells Ub Iwerks’ name and provides no background about this legendary animator who first brought Mickey Mouse to life; also, the author notes the impact the finale of “Strangers on a Train” had on audiences in the forties, when the movie was released in 1951.

But these are small points. “Piece by Piece” is a treasure for fans of Hitchcock and film history in general, and is very much recommended. You can order a copy here.

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2 responses

18 10 2010
Shah Shahid

Very brilliant idea for a Blog. I’ve been a Hitchcock fan after only seeing a few movies of his for school. As an amateur filmmaker, consider him to be one of the great in terms of his vision and style and his contributions to filmmaking in general.

In regards to this post, it sounds like an exceptional book, especially with the insights it provides into Hitchcock’s life. I would disagree though about getting the film’s decade wrong, to be quite a big point. But that’s more due to me being trying to be anally accurate with my writing, so it’s hard for me to over-look such a big blunder. :p. However I can understand that in the grander shceme of the book, it’s a small blemish.

Looking forward to more of your posts. Definitely will follow this Blog.
Now pardon me while I ravage your previous posts.

22 01 2012
An Affectionate Portrait of Alma Reville Hitchcock « Hitchcock and Me

[…] “Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind the Man” is a sweet, anecdotal book crammed with photos and details that enhance our understanding of both Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock. Bouzereau’s hand in bringing O’Connell’s stories to life is evident without being overwhelming. (You can read my post on his recent book “Hitchcock Piece by Piece” here.) […]

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