Alfred Hitchcock rarely granted interviews. He did so only when it was required for publicity for his TV series and his movies. But in the late 1960s, French director Francois Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock at length (something like 2 or 3 hours a day for five days straight) and from a director-to-director standpoint, the book covers each and every one of Hitchcock's movies and "in-his-own-words" format. So Hitchcock is constantly commenting about his films. Truffaut thankfully, lets Hitchcock do much of the talking. There is no other book like this one and of the three must-have books on Alfred Hitchcock, this is on the top of the list.
Examples: When Truffaut asked Hitchcock why he appears at the close of the opening credits of NORTH BY NORTHWEST, the director commented that his in-joke of appearing in "almost" every movie distracted audiences spending time looking for him, shortly after the success of the TV show, hence the reason why the director made his on-screen appearances in the beginning of each of his movies after 1956, and not in the middle or end. Remember the scene in which Eva Marie Saint pulls a gun out and shoots Cary Grant towards the end of the picture? Hitchcock commented that a blooper is in that scene. A young boy in the background puts his fingers in his ears BEFORE she pulls the gun out of the purse. When Truffaut commented that Hitchcock won his only Oscar for Rebecca, which won the Academy Award for best picture of the year, Hitch corrected him saying he did not. He wold have had he won best director. The best picture Oscar went to Selznick, the producer.
There is no other book like this. It's filled with page after page of info.
(The other two must-reads are the Donald Spoto's "Art of Alfred Hitchcock" book and Wikstrom's "The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion". Together with these two and this book, you have the essential library and all-you-really-need references for all things Hitchcock.)
I just finished "Hitchcock/Truffaut" and I am ready to watch all Hitch's movies again. (Of course, I'm always ready to watch all his films again...well, maybe not "Juno and the Paycock"). I appreciated many of the special aspects of Hitchcock's movie but now I have even greater insight to those scenes and many others that I didn't appreciate at the time. This is all thanks to Francois Truffaut who knows quite a bit about movie-making. Truffaut started out as a movie critic with his partner Jean-Luc Godard and both eventually went into directing with highly acclaimed results. This knowledge from the point of view of critic AND director helps lead us along a meaningful conversation that gets into the specifics of the craft of movie-making. Credit both parties for being able to inform us without belaboring us with all the inside technical mumbo-jumbo. Truffaut has seen just about all of Hitchcock's movies and freely critiques those aspects that he did not enjoy in the various films while accenting those aspects that he did enjoy. Alfred Hitchcock responds informatively to either perspective. There are a few times that Truffaut gets a bit pushy on a subject but Hitchcock is generally ready with an insightful retort or an accepting acknowledgement. Actors and actresses generally come across as mere pawns in the game much as how a baseball manager picks his lineups, relief pitches and pinch hitters. This merely underscores the director on director nature of the dialogue. Thus we are spared the question, "What was it like to work with Paul Newman" even though, to make a point, Hitchcocks actually discusses that subject.
I rated this book with 5 stars for several reasons; it was so interesting to read, it was very informative, and it was a unique look into the career of a very private person.
I read this as part of my research for a screenplay that's gone on for two years, and alongside Campbell's "Hero With A Thousand Faces," it's the only thing I've read that I think made any difference to me. It doesn't instruct you how to do a thing so much as provide examples through dialogue - sort of quasi-socratic, in a strange way - full of engaging writing and the type of experiential modeling that every burgeoning or aspiring screenplay writer (or anyone interested in cinema) should read.