Film Review: Hitchcock/Truffaut Dissects The Directors
In the 1960s, director Alfred Hitchcock was seen by many as a mass entertainer rather than a master craftsman. This prompted avant-garde filmmaker Francois Truffaut to rehabilitate Hitch's reputation with a book based on a week of interviews he had with him in 1967.
These days, Hitch’s reputation has dipped again, being seen by many as a thigh-rubbing pervert who liked to harass his leading ladies. So here, just in time to salvage his image once again, is a new documentary by Kent Jones which picks up more or less where Truffaut left off.
The film steers largely clear of Hitch’s private life and instead uses the 1967 interviews as a springboard to examine the cinematic techniques pioneered by the Leytonstone-born director. Kent replays the two directors talking over clips and pictures and also pulls in a few big names from today such as David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater and Paul Schrader.
While some of them are more insightful than others — Martin Scorsese pops up a lot but doesn’t really say much — the comments do serve as a reminder of Hitch’s skills and there is a constant delight in learning the secrets behind his best magic tricks. In Suspicion, for example, Hitch had Cary Grant carry a glass of possibly poisoned milk upstairs through the shadows, sticking an electric light inside the glass to make it stand out more menacingly.
As a movie, Hitchcock/Truffaut is bound to be more interesting to film buffs than a general audience, but then it does tend to tread over quite a bit of familiar ground — do we really need another analysis of the shower scene in Psycho?
The best bits are when Hitch gets saucy as he describes his own work. The scene in Vertigo, for example, where Kim Novak dresses up for James Stewart so she looks more like the woman he fell in love with, is akin to stripping, purrs Hitch, but since she won’t do her hair right, he pauses... it’s like she won’t take off her knickers!
There are a few moments when Hitch is about to tell Truffaut something even more salacious but then he asks for the tape to be turned off just as we are leaning in. It's a cute way of proving that even now he has his audience exactly where he wants us — ears pinned back in suspense.
Hitchcock/Truffaut is at cinemas on limited release from 4 March.
Last Updated 09 March 2016