One of the best ways to get to know one of your favorite auteurs, besides watching their films, is to read their biographies. The better the director, the more books available about them. With all the choices out there for Hitchcock biographies, I thought I would take a look at them and find 3 that are worth checking out.
1) Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan
This was the first Hitchcock book that I read and it does everything that it needs to. I prefer biographies of filmmakers that doesn’t get too deep into their personal life and choose instead to focus on what events affected their attitude at the time that they were making certain films. Here’s an excerpt from Amazon: “The gist of the volume focuses on its subject’s inventive filmmaking in detailed accounts on the making of each of his 60 movies, with particular attention paid to the screenwriters, many of them relative tyros, with whom Hitchcock collaborated. McGilligan’s valuable discoveries include short fiction by a 19-year-old Hitchcock; his insights, illumination on Hitchcock’s flawed final films. So detailed and readable that it is hard to imagine another Hitchcock biography will be needed 20 years hence.”
2) Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut and Helen G. Scott
A master interviews a master. Francois Truffaut engages Alfred Hitchcock in a book-length interview about his life, his work and the art of film. Here is an excerpt from Amazon: “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.”
3) The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of Motion Pictures by Donald Spoto
This was one of the first comprehensive biographies of Alfred Hitchcock and it has been revised a few times since its initial publish in 1981. It is one of the only books you will find that goes through Hitchcock’s career chonologically, film by film and examines his life and attitude at the time. Here is an excerpt from a user review on Amazon: “What makes this book a must for Hitchcock fans and, in particular, those interested in studying his mastery of the film craft, is that Spoto, bolstered by many interview hours with Hitchcock, is able to get inside a creative film genius’ mind and give us an idea of how he explored his basic themes as well as the manner in which he manipulated audiences through exploiting his unique brand of suspense.”
There are many other Hitchcock books out there, but these 3 probably won’t leave you wanting more.