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Alfred Hitchcock
Cover of Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
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Alfred Hitchcock's childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father's shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century? As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press's portrait of himself, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. This biography wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.
Alfred Hitchcock's childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father's shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century? As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press's portrait of himself, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. This biography wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 13, 2016
    “Why another book about Alfred Hitchcock?” is the question readers may ask themselves before beginning the latest offering from Ackroyd (Wilkie Collins). The answer becomes clear in the opening chapter, which stresses the significance of the acclaimed director’s strict Catholic upbringing in early 20th century London. Hitchcock, “the Master of Suspense,” is introduced as a fearful, eccentric, and solitary figure whose life and work were profoundly impacted by his Jesuit education. The author, himself a Londoner who was raised as a Catholic, is the perfect candidate to explore this fascinating aspect of the director’s character, but Ackroyd often changes course while trying to cram his subject’s 80 years into a single slim volume. The book’s pacing feels rushed as Ackroyd introduces an array of Hitchcock’s famous friends and collaborators, including producer David O. Selznick, costume designer Edith Head, and filmmaker François Truffaut. Despite the limited scope of this condensed account, it should find an audience with Hitchcock novices eager to consume a vigorous and immensely readable study of a consummate film craftsman.

  • AudioFile Magazine The familiar landmarks, timelines, and guideposts in the life of the "Master of Cinematic Suspense" are artfully chronicled in this biography. With his warm baritone and cultured British accent, narrator Gildart Jackson provides an excellent narration. His understated and successful portrayals of key figures such as David O. Selznick, the producer who brought Hitchcock to the U.S., are marvelous. Hitchcock's silent films are given more extended examination than usual as is his odd but incredibly close marriage and artistic collaboration with Alma Reville Hitchcock. While little new ground is explored in this concise volume, both new readers and those familiar with Hitch's life story will be entertained and informed. W.A.G. � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
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