First episode of a two-part profile on the life and films of Alfred Hitchcock.

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Episode complete credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Jim Forster ...
Reconstruction Cast
Ronald Markham ...
Reconstruction Cast
Matthew Smart ...
Reconstruction Cast
Declan Smith ...
Reconstruction Cast
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roy Ward Baker ...
Himself - Assistant Director, The Lady Vanishes
Drew Casper ...
Himself - Film Lecturer
...
Himself - Actor and Friend
Robert Goold ...
Himself
Sidney Gottlieb ...
Himself - Film Historian
...
Himself - Actor, Rope
...
Herself - Daughter (as Pat Hitchcock)
...
Himself - Screenwriter
Ernest Lehman ...
Himself - Screenwriter, North By Northwest
...
Himself - Assistant Cameraman, Blackmail
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First episode of a two-part profile on the life and films of Alfred Hitchcock.

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30 May 1999 (UK)  »

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Connections

References Blackmail (1929) See more »

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No One Can Like the Drummer Man
(uncredited)
Written by Samuel Lerner, Al Goodhart and Al Hoffman
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Above Average Biography.
14 September 2014 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock was born a greengrocer's son in a London suburb. He entered the movie business, married a film editor, Alma Reville, and went on to become a famous director -- probably the most easily recognized movie direct ever.

There have been continuing arguments over whether he was a genuine artist or a commercial hack, as if it were impossible to be somewhere in between.

But this is a biography, not a history of the movies. We follow Hitchock, his family, and his career from its humble beginning in London, through his British successes like "The 39 Steps", and his emigration to Hollywood in 1939, where he was simply instrumentalized during a seven-year contract with the pill-popping, workaholic, egomaniacal boss, David O. Selznick. This is part I of a two-part BBC series and ends with Hitchcock's contract, somewhere around 1950.

There were, let's say, creative differences between the two. Yet Hitchock produced some of his most powerful films under Selznick's rule. "Shadow of a Doubt," for instance. Not one of Hitchcock's blockbusters but compare it to what else was being shown on the screen in 1943. It's conspicuously subtle.

Finally, the indentured servitude ended and Hitchcock was on his own. He made two films according to his wonts at the time -- one in which there were very few cuts and another in which there were no cuts at all -- and both promptly flopped.

Time to move on, showing a bit more respect for the commercial director and a little less attention to the experimental artist within. In Part II, we see Hitchcock's greatest films, including "Rear Window", "Psycho," and the rest. At this point he became the great auteur to French critics, the genius who leaves his indelible prints on the film, perhaps partly because, as one observer suggests, the French critics wanted to be directors themselves.

At any rate, after a disastrous relationship with another of his blonds, Hitchcock's talent seemed to flag. Except for "Frenzy," it was one failure after another. The last film he worked on, "Kaleidoscope Frenzy," was completely outside the mainstream, full of nudity and blood, and he was told "No, definitely not," by the studio. After a belated knighthood he died at 80 and Alma two years later. The production doesn't get into it, it's just mentioned in passing, but according to Donald Spoto's biography, the director was an alcoholic by this time, hiding bottles here and there, and barely able to function. A shame, because it's bad enough to possess genius, but it's even worse to lose it.

It's one of the most intelligent and candid biographies I've seen on television, a dignified treatment of a remarkable man.


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