Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: 'A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock'


Although Thomas Leitch and Leland Poague don’t dare say as much in their introduction to A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock, they certainly seemed to have compiled their essay anthology to be a sort of final word on Hitchcock scholarship. Now this is no more likely than the idea that Mark Lewisohn’s sprawling All These Years series will put an end to Beatles books, but there is a similar sweeping scope to A Companion that could keep a lot of students from bothering with another Hitchcock study.


Our two editors are well aware of all the other anthologies on the market and selected their essays accordingly. There have already been ample discussions of Hitchcock’s macguffins and his storyboarding and his theories about suspense vs. surprise and his cynicism, misogyny, and so on. Any new volume can only serve its purpose by approaching this well-exhausted topic in fresh ways without overreaching. A satisfying number of the thirty essays contained in A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock accomplish that, as when Lesley Brill counters the usual accusations of cynicism by convincingly repainting Hitchcock as a romantic both in his treatment of love and his charming reliance on fairy tale structure. Richard Allen reaches beyond the usual noir suspects to look at the director’s influence on less recognized followers, such as Last Year at Marienbad, Blow Up, The Tenant, Something Wild, and Jurassic Park. In general, the writers also do a decent job of looking beyond the most over-analyzed Hitchcock films (Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, etc., which are well-represented here too) and into such relative obscurities as The Pleasure Garden, I Confess, and The Lodger, making for a fuller picture of his work than we often receive.  Teachers and students alike will find much to keep themselves busy in A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock... at least until the next heavy-duty study of his work arrives.

Get A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock at Amazon.com here:
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