In 1962, film critic and French New Wave director François Truffaut sat down with Alfred Hitchcock to record a week-long interview about Hitchcock’s entire body of work. I would have given anything to just stand in the corner and listen.
And now I don't have to, because all 25 audiotapes of the interviews are on YouTube, thanks to user French Moviegoer. Take a listen below:
These sessions inspired one of the best books on filmmaking, Hitchcock/Truffaut, the first edition of which was published in 1966 and has been in print ever since.
It was a testament to commercial filmmaking being taken seriously, and to the influence of American cinema on the rest of the world. At the time, Hitchcock had been deemed a director of entertaining movies, but many said he lacked substance.
Sure, he got his fifth directing Oscar nomination for Psycho, but was being a storyteller who was focused on the audience actually artistic?
In 2015, documentarian Kent Jones made a documentary about the book and the interviews.
But the raw material is even better.
Listen as Hitchcock details how he worked on silent films as a part of his job at the Henley Telegraph Company in London. How he rose up the ranks to a specialist with electrical cables and related to his education as an engineer.
His journey into directing was not planned, but Hitchcock seemed to fall into on the suggestion of a director at the local studio where he gained employment.
The stories in here are priceless.
And every single one of his films is discussed, starting with his first film, Woman to Woman, and going through Psycho, which was out at the time.
Some of the more personal anecdotes are about working with his future wife as well as the various stars (and starlets) at the studios. What surprised me were the choices made by Hitch versus the ones the studios demanded. You hear how he takes notes and limitations and works them into his own success.
Have you read the book or listened to the tapes? What are some of your favorite parts?