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August 13, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

What are the very best/most essential books about Alfred Hitchcock?

I'm looking for books that are comprehensive and scholarly. I'm looking more for books that focus on an analysis of his films (both artistic and technical), but I'm also interested in his films' history. Biography is perhaps the least essential element.
posted by fryman to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Hitchcock/Truffaut. (related)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:32 AM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stitcherbeast pretty much sums it up. There is no better.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Robin Wood's Hitchcock's Films. Wood is an extraordinary film critic, one who really interacts with films and all-any of their implications. He's also huge influence on some of the best film writers today.

(The second link provides more reasons to check out Hitchcock's Films better than I could ever squeeze them into words.)
posted by MPnonot3 at 9:02 AM on August 13, 2010

The biographies are all very flawed, so it's perhaps for the best that you're not that interested in them; I'd also warn against treating any of the books by Donald Spoto as accurate, though they're sometimes interesting. For a bit of background on the production of the films in a lovely photo-heavy format, the recent Hitchcock at Work is great. For criticism, you'll want to take a look at Robin Wood's Hitchcock's Films Revisited; and don't miss Murray Pomerance's An Eye for Hitchcock. In addition to the Truffaut interviews (which I find largely pretty superficial, if still required reading) you could definitely check out Rohmer and Chabrol's book on Hitchcock, The First Forty-Four Films. There's also a nice anthology: A Hitchcock Reader, ed. Deutelbaum and Poague, which you could use to look at snippets of the more approachable critics — that is, it omits the more abstruse writers like Zizek or Tom Cohen in the interest of student-friendliness; if your taste runs in that direction you could seek out those authors separately. Past this, the history of Hitchcock criticism is almost inseparable from the history of film criticism as a whole, so you might look at film criticism/theory anthologies for the most commonly assigned essays, things like Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema."
posted by RogerB at 9:02 AM on August 13, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan: But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock ed. by Slavoj Zizek might be helpful.

It's heavy theory on the films as opposed to fine technical analysis, but there's lots of great observations and stuff to make you rethink old favourites if that's what you're into.

And it's really really funny!
posted by girlwonder at 9:17 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder, by David Thomson.
posted by hot soup girl at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2010

The Murderous Gaze by William Rothman. I took a few courses from him at Harvard. Seemed to know what he was talking about.
posted by Gungho at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2010

I only came in to make sure someone mentioned Truffaut. I can see I needn't have worried.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:35 PM on August 13, 2010

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