The Persistence of Hitchcock: Hitch Meets The Crypt Keeper

16 05 2011

Back in the good old 1990s, Alfred Hitchcock made an appearance in the opening to “Tales from The Crypt.” The Crypt Keeper is doing a riff on Forest Gump, which is ironic when you consider that they probably used Gump-style special effects to put Hitch on that park bench next to C.K. Here it is, in all its silly glory:

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A Treasury of Hitchcock Images

8 05 2011

A cornucopia of behind the scenes pictures, the 2011 book “Alfred Hitchcock” (subtitled “The Complete Films” on the cover and “Architect of Anxiety” inside) lives up to the reputation of its publisher, Taschen, as a book that’s first and foremost a thing of beauty. Written by Paul Duncan, the book groups Hitchcock’s films by era and examines each – sometimes a bit too briefly – mining for theme and symbolism.

Duncan lays on the interpretations of these themes a bit thick, however; every time a film features a character in handcuffs, he points out the other instances of handcuffery in Hitchcock’s films in an effort to make the reader tune in on it as a theme – and yes, handcuffs do appear in several Hitchcock films, but to my mind, when one directs thrillers, they are a part of the larger milieu.

The still photography makes this book a treasure, though. These rarely seen

One of the many behind the scenes images in "Alfred Hitchcock"

images are often spectacular in their clarity, especially in the early films, where all we have to watch are scratchy prints. Many of the shots encompass the entirety of the set, including Hitchcock and his crew, and even reveal secrets of the Master’s technique. The sheer number of photos that include Hitchcock remind us that despite his weight, Hitchcock was an active, physical director. It was only as he grew older that he cultivated the image of himself as something of an immovable object.

At 189 pages, many of which are filled with photos, the book doesn’t delve into the movies nearly as far as one might want, though. And, for example, while Hitchcock’s propaganda films may not be very significant in the scope of his filmmaking career, dedicating a single paragraph to them hardly seems worth the effort. (By contrast, a photo featuring Hitchcock from a 1943 “Life” magazine takes up two pages.)

Still, there are many, many images here that most people will not have seen before, and they are reproduced so lovingly that “Alfred Hitchcock” is a book worthy of your Hitchcock bookshelf. You can order it here.

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