Wednesday March 10, 2021
“In the last years, his drinking had increased while his ability to handle it had shrunk. He already had had a pacemaker for quite a while. I could tell that last time, he was in and out—not quite with me as he always had been: his mind and attention seemed to drift. Both his most loyal assistants, Peggy Robertson and Suzanne Gautier, had left, unable to handle his mood swings and depression. He told me he didn't know why they'd left him. [His wife] Alma's continued incapacitation only made things worse. After we had been talking for a while, Hitch noticed the stains on his jacket and knew I had seen them; this seemed to bring him back again and he began trying to rub off the stains, which didn't totally disappear. He seemed humiliated to have been seen this way and soon excused himself to use the bathroom. After nearly half an hour, I told his new secretary what had happened and she took it as normal. He did that often, she said, and went and knocked on the bathroom door. Hitch called out that he was fine. She left. He called out my name. I called back. He said he was sorry, he couldn't talk anymore; could I ask his chauffeur to come help him. I said I would and thanked him and said I hoped he felt better. He thanked me and asked again for the chauffeur. I said goodbye. He called goodbye. I got the chauffeur, who went in to help. Less than four months later, while I was shooting a scene in New York's Plaza Hotel lobby—a location I chose because of Hitch's use of it in North by Northwest—the assistant director told me that Hitchcock had died ...
”The quality I remember most about Hitch was a sense of his loneliness, his isolation. Since he never saw his films with audiences, I asked him once if he didn't miss hearing them scream. 'No,' he said, 'I can hear them when I'm making the picture.'"
-- Peter Bogdanovich in “Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors.”
Sunday December 09, 2018
Something You've Never Seen Before, 1960
Norman, looking at truly secret things.
“The movies had always been based on a tension. On the one hand, the form says, ‘Look, I can show you something you have never seen before’: it could be an act of violence, a sexual suggestion; it might be a beautiful man or woman alone with their thoughts, unaware of being spied on. Much of the charm of pictures lay in this privileged opportunity granted to us. For instance, do you want to look at Garbo or Harlow at your leisure so that you can speculate over whether they are wearing underwear? Here you are. At the same time, the business apparatus of movies was always backed up by a guardian-like sternness that said, ‘Don’t expect to get a look at truly secret things. Don't think we‘re going to let Garbo or Harlow take off the dress—that outer cover—so that you can see whether you were right or wrong. Yes, we’ll show you ”murder,“ but don't expect us to be cruel or bloodthirsty or murderous about it. Because that would be too naughty—and would put film too close to sadism or torture.'
”No country lives as blithely or as uneasily with the opposed ideals of orgy and restriction as America. No other country has such warring impulses toward libertarianism and restraint. No other country required so detailed or comical a code of what could be seen on public screens and what could not. And no other film business so encouraged the ingenuity of directors, photographers, and actors to see what they could get away with.“
David Thomson, ”The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder." My review of the title film.