ISBN: 0671526014
ISBN 13: 9780671526016
By: François Truffaut Alfred Hitchcock

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About this book

Any book-length interview with Alfred Hitchcock is valuable, but considering that this volume's interlocutor is François Truffaut, the conversation is remarkable indeed. Here is a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on two cinematic masters from very different backgrounds as they cover each of Hitch's films in succession. Though this book was initially published in 1967 when Hitchcock was still active, Truffaut later prepared a revised edition that covered the final stages of his career. It's difficult to think of a more informative or entertaining introduction to Hitchcock's art, interests, and peculiar sense of humor. The book is a storehouse of insight and witticism, including the master's impressions of a classic like Rear Window ("I was feeling very creative at the time, the batteries were well charged"), his technical insight into Psycho's shower scene ("the knife never touched the body; it was all done in the [editing]"), and his ruminations on flops such as Under Capricorn ("If I were to make another picture in Australia today, I'd have a policeman hop into the pocket of a kangaroo and yell 'Follow that car!'"). This is one of the most delightful film books in print. --Raphael Shargel

Reader's Thoughts


This was such a fascinating read, and worked brilliantly as a conversation between one fantastic director to another. It was so interesting to hear not only about the ins and outs of each of Hitchcock's films, but to hear his own personal story, what he thought and how he thought. There are so many themes and tropes analysed and discussed and its refreshing to hear them.I haven't read every single page due to not seeing every single Hitchcock film, but I devoured the pages discussing films that I have watched and become a fan of. A must read for any Hitchcock fan.


What a treat! I knew that this book would be really interesting but was afraid it might be kind of dry or technical. Not the case at all. Truffaut's genuine respect and affection for Hitchcok permeate these interviews and they come off as informal and informative. What's particularly interesting is Hitchcock's alternative pride and occassional indifference to his work. Allowing Hithcock to speak in his own works gives the reader some genuine insight into the man and his metier that doesn't always come across in biography. I'm now an even fan or Truffaut and Hitchcock (is that's possible)!


François mainly plays interviewer role in this book, which is about all Hitchcock movies. They go chronologically from his first work to the last one and Truffaut asks questions. Although Truffaut sits in a dirver's seat of the conversation and jumps in with his opinions sometimes, there shall be no mistake, this book is NOT about Hitchcock and Truffaut movies, it's about Hitchcock movies.Personally I would prefer visa versa. I've been enjoying "400 blows" and "Jul et Jim" more then any Alfred Hitchcock movie (which I also love). But for someone who wants to get suspense basics in terms of constructing a scene, working with literature source, editing, this book is a must.


It's a book-length interview between nouvelle vague hero Truffaut (interviewer), and his hero, Alfred Hitchcock (interviewee). I found the book fairly interesting, but I love both their movies enough that I'd probably find a book consisting of them reading the phone directory to each other interesting. As a primer of Hitchock's thought processes, it can't be beat; that said, if you've read any other books on Fat Al, you won't find much here that you don't already know.

Roberto Hernando

Si te gusta el cine, tienes que leer este libro


Film director Mat Whitecross has chosen to discuss François Truffaut’s Hitchcock: the definitive study of Alfred Hitchcock, on  FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject – Film Directing, saying that:  “…Hitchcock is a great artist, but he hides his art behind these thrillers. So hearing Truffaut, who is another one of my favourite directors, talking to Hitchcock and having this conversation where they start to talk about his career in terms of art, rather than just entertainment, is fascinating. It is one of the best books on film ever written..…”.  The full interview is available here: The full interview is available here: http://thebrowser.com/books/interview... 

Mr. Gutiérrez

Me ha gustado mucho, muy humano, muy Hitchcock.Desconocía parte de la filmografía hitchcokriana y este libro ha sido para mi un acercamiento y ampliación del conocimiento y su tratamiento en las películas.La verdad es que la manera en la que trabajaba era magistral, por eso me ha gustado mucho el libro, descubrir de su propia boca como había trabajado con todas estas películas todo este tiempo y leer como era su forma de trabajar, es muy inspirador.Sin duda alguna, un libro del cual volveré a releer para contrastar mis impresiones como público de algunas películas que me quedan por ver y la opinión de un gran maestro del cine "Alfred Hitchcock"

Nicholas Kobach

a conversation with two masters.


IMPRESCINDIBLEEs un extraordinario diálogo entre 2 genios del cine. Y esto no quiere decir que sea una lectura para entendidos, al contrario es un acercamiento a la figura de Hitchcock, como ser humano y como cineasta. Truffaut hace un repaso cronológico a la extensa filmografía de Hitchcock (excepto 2 películas, he visto todas), desde sus inicios en el cine mudo en Inglaterra hasta “La trama”, su último film. De esta infinidad de preguntas, se puede sacar una pequeña biografía del director, con sus miedos y fobias (sobre todo a la policía y la cárcel), su obsesión por las rubias y el sexo, sus bromas y su gran sentido del humor, en especial humor negro. Sobre sus películas habla con gran detalle, describe sus impresiones que tiene de cada una, las técnicas que utilizó (muy curioso es la forma de filmar en “Psicosis” y “La soga”), la elección de los guiones (muchos están basados en novelas), la relación con los actores, su manera de crear el suspense, la situación social del momento de cada película, las bandas sonoras que son muy importantes, los “Mac Guffin”, etc. Hay una gran cantidad de anécdotas de su vida personal, así como con los actores y el rodaje. En definitiva, aparte de aprender de cine y sobre el “universo hitchcokiano”, es una lectura entretenida y muy agradable. Totalmente recomendable.

Abdullah H.

Many times, I got chills as if I was hearing a voice from the grave...the voiceof Sir Alfred Hitchcock, 32 years after his death, giving you the do's and do not's of show biz.He is a great teacher...a great master. Thanks to my great friend Arda for giving me the gift of Hitch.

Elvon Coleman

Hitchcock proves itself to be a very good biography and interview of the life and successful career of one of the proclaimed, greatest filmmaker of all time, Alfred Hitchcock. It starts from his childhood and goes along the ups and downs of his occupation in directing and producing. Mr.Hitchcock chooses not to be vague when he informs us of what he enjoyed as later on in his career, he finally got to make movies that felt like true Hitchcock movies. He is also specific about what he didn't like about the job from not wanting to do certain film to the actors he felt were bad and did not want to work with. This is a great book for people that keeps Alfred Hitchcock's movie in their head and spread on his legend by looking back on his films.

Alden Weer

Todo bien, pero no entiendo por qué todo el mundo considera éste un libro fundamental sobre el cine. Parece ser uno de esos libros de cabecera de los comunicadores/periodistas que se quieren convertir en críticos de cine. El libro es básicamente una entrevista larga a Hitchcock (realizada por un Truffaut que se muestra tan chupamedias como cualquier 'buen' entrevistador), en la que se tratan detalles de todas sus películas. Si sos fan de Alfred o al menos viste la mayoría de su obra, creo que es una lectura entretenida e interesante. Si no, leer sobre decisiones como por qué decidió mostrar o editar algo o desde qué ángulo sin conocer el contexto puede resultar futil y medio aburrido. Pero por sobre todas las cosas me parece un libro chato: no es sobre el cine, es sobre un solo tipo de cine, el de Hitchcock. Nunca habla sobre otros directores, y parece no haber visto a ninguno. Y capaz esto me pasó a mí solo, pero después de haber leído la mitad, sentía que ya conocía su visión o forma de encarar al cine, y ya seguir leyendo sobre sus decisiones me parecía redundante.Creo que mayormente se lo recomiendo a fans de Hitchcock o gente que quiera copiarlo.

Kyle Sullivan

I just reread this book, because it shifted my focus from being an artist to being a filmmaker (and now writer), and I'm not overstating. I was making a living designing and building backdrops for visual merchandising and doing display windows in San Antonio, as well as commissioned works of art, when I found an early edition of Truffaut's interview with Hitchcock and got my first idea of how films were made. In fact, this book should be a primer for all film classes; once you've read it, you've got a good foundation in how to make a movie.Now I'm not talking about the technical aspects of moviemaking -- lighting, sound, working with today's actors unlike yesterdays stars (who weren't really all that less difficult to deal with), things like that. I mean the visual needs and limitations of telling a story on film. Hitchcock and Truffaut do a lot of commenting on how to use images to forward the story and how much more important that in in this medium...and how you can trick the audience but you cannot lie to them.For instance, when he made "Sabotage" in 1936, Hitch has an anarchist give an innocent boy a bomb to carry to another location. The kid thinks it's just a reel of film in a movie canister. The bomb is set to go off at 1pm, during a parade, but the boy's delayed. He gets on a bus to make up time, sits next to a nice old lady and a puppy and plays with it. But the bus is caught in traffic (due to that parade) and the suspense builds and builds and builds until the bomb goes off, killing everyone on the bus. It's a horrifying reminder of what terrorism is all about.The audience was furious and the movie was a flop. Why? Because he'd ostensibly offered up a piece of fun entertainment and then, without warning, shoved the audience's face in the brutality of life. You don't tell someone you'll give them a kiss...then punch them in the face and assume they will accept that. I've seen other movies make this same mistake, and even though they're fine films they crash and burn with the moviegoers. Hitchcock would still toy with the audience's emotions in movies like "Vertigo" (which hurt its box office but not its standing as a work of art) and "Psycho" (where he was a bit more careful in leading up to the famous shower sequence), but he never flat-out lied to them, again.But then, Hitchcock knew film was an odd art form that didn't have the full freedom of true art and shouldn't be taken too seriously. Too many people were involved in its creation, and the audience is too important a part of the final result. This book backs up his assertions about that. His famous quote, in fact, is -- "It's only a movie." But by the time you've finished reading this extended version of the first edition of the book, you'll see that the medium is also one that is fit for artists who truly understand it. Reading this book will help them find that understanding.

Jeffrey Keeten

”To reproach Hitchcock for specializing in suspense is to accuse him of being the least boring of film-makers; it is also tantamount to blaming a lover who instead of concentrating on his own pleasure insists on sharing it with his partner. The nature of Hitchcock’s cinema is to absorb the audience so completely that the Arab viewer will forget to shell his peanuts, the Frenchman will ignore the girl in the next seat, the Italian will suspend his chain smoking, the compulsive cougher will refrain from coughing, and the Swedes will interrupt their love-making in the aisles.” Francois Truffaut and Alfred HitchcockFrancois Truffaut, a renown filmmaker in his own right, convinced Alfred Hitchcock to sit down for an interview that would cover the span of his career up to 1966. They recorded over fifty hours of tape over several days and the result is this book. It is written in interview form lending it a tennis match feel of the reader actually being there swiveling our head from one person talking to the next person replying. It is absurdly good. I lost sleep on more than one night because I just couldn’t bear to put it down...just one more chapter I would reassure the part of brain that was wanting to go to bed. The book is brimming with photographs of his films and also of Hitchcock working on set. Even if someone didn’t want to read the book, which would be a shame, the pictures alone are worth owning this book. ”During a Hollywood press conference in 1947, Alfred Hitchcock stated: ‘I aim to provide the public with beneficial shocks. Civilization has become so protective that we’re no longer able to get our goose bumps instinctively. The only way to remove the numbness and revive our moral equilibrium is to use artificial means to bring about the shock. The best way to achieve that, it seems to me, is through a movie.’” My son is getting ready to start, in a few short weeks, at the University of Kansas majoring in History, and minoring in film. He has always been interested in movies, but mostly recent movies so this summer under the guise of... well of course if you are going to study film you can’t show up to class not having seen at least the most important Hitchcock films. I convinced him to go on a tour of suspense films with me. It turns out he is a chip off the old block. The first Hitchcock film I ever remembering seeing was The Birds.It scared the crap out of me. I don’t know how old I was, but probably the perfect age to have my mind warped ever so slightly by experiencing this terrifying spectacle of birds, these creatures we see everyday that decided for no definable reason to start attacking people. I thought that Tippi Hedren was the most beautiful woman in the world until I saw Grace Kelly in Rear Window.*Sigh*Did anyone else feel the urge to boink Jimmy Stewart on the head every time he was dismissive of Grace Kelly? The joy for me was watching my son watch these movies. That famous scene when Grace Kelly is over at the murderer’s apartment searching for clues and we can see the murderer returning is probably still one of the most tension filled moments in cinematic history. My son pulled one leg up and pressed his face against his knee and put a hand to the other side of his face as if he were shielding himself from a blow. His eyes were of course riveted to the screen. Joseph Cotten’s wife had a similar reaction. Alfred Hitchcock Of course, when the character is attractive, as for instance Grace Kelly in Rear Window, the public’s emotion is greatly intensified. As a matter of fact, I happened to be sitting next to Joseph Cotten’s wife at the premiere of Rear Window, and during the scene where Grace Kelly is going through the killer’s room and he appears in the hall, she was so upset that she turned to her husband and whispered. ‘Do something, do something!’I can’t think of a better compliment to a director than to see an audience so caught up in your movie that they feel they are IN the movie. Hitchcock was famous for his blondes. I mentioned already Tippi Hedren, and Grace Kelly, but there was also Janet Leigh in Psycho. There was discussions about filming that movie in color instead of black and white, but lucky for us Hitchcock decided to stick with black and white. He filmed a scene that made the whole world afraid to take a shower. The details are spectacular and would have been lost in the garish splash of blood if color had been present. His leading ladies were elegant and sophisticated which lent more tension to the plot as their circumstances became more perilous. Hitchcock explains his views of his leading ladies.Hitchcock: Sex on the screen should be suspenseful, I feel. If sex is too blatant or obvious, there’s no suspense. You know why I favor sophisticated blondes in my films? We’re after the drawing-room type, the real ladies, who become whores once they’re in the bedroom. Poor Marilyn Monroe had sex written all over her face, and Brigitte Bardot isn’t very subtle either. Truffaut: In other words what intrigues you is the paradox between the inner fire and the cool surface.Hitchcock: Definitely, I think the most interesting women, sexually, are the English women. I feel that the English women, the Swedes, the northern Germans, and Scandinavians are a great deal more exciting than the Latin, the Italian, and the French women. Sex should not be advertised. An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she’ll probably pull a man’s pants open.Hitchcock and Truffaut discuss every film. One point in one film moves them to another point in another film. Hitchcock is very candid about what he did wrong and when he was right and when everyone else was wrong. They discuss nuances that even though I’ve watched a film several times I’ve never noticed. For instance: in Shadow of a Doubt when Joseph Cotten is arriving in town on the train, the smokestack is boiling out black smoke as if to herald the arriving of the Devil. At the end of the film when the train is leaving the station the smoke is white. Reading this book will increase your enjoyment when you rewatch his films. If you have not seen many of his films be sure to avoid the footnotes discussing the plots of the films being discussed. Watching these films with my son has been to quote the Mastercard commercials...priceless. TCM is devoting the month of September to Hitchcock and I wish that Caleb was still going to be at home to watch them with me, but we will be coordinating what films to be sure to watch with his school schedule and my work schedule and the discussions we have afterward will still be...priceless.


With supplementary details thanks to Armchair Hitchcock Scholar and friend Chuck M, this book becomes a fascinating window into the revisionist legacy that Hitchcock would create for himself. Truffaut is a great interviewer, using his keen observations and flattery to get Hitchcock to open up about his creative process and eventually, become very self-critical. Beyond its relevance as a synopsis of Hitchcock's catalogue, I think this book provides an amazing document for how the movie industry used to operate. Production companies seem to have a stable of actors that they treat like race horses, and cinema is treated as lowbrow entertainment. It hardly had the prestige it has today. Additionally, the way both directors speak of relations between the sexes and how to capture them on screen - and they do quite often - is a great reminder of how repressed this country was just a short while ago. This was my first cinema studies read. I really enjoyed it.

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