From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this enthralling third installment of his Hitchcock trilogy (after The Dark Side of Genius and The Art of Alfred Hitchcock), Spoto paints a portrait of a man as talented as he was troubled. Spoto examines each film in terms of its leading lady, but focuses especially on the three cool blondes with whom Hitchcock was famously obsessed: Ingrid Bergman (Spellbound, Notorious and Under Capricorn), Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief) and Tippi Hedren (The Birds and Marnie). While Bergman never returned Hitchcock's romantic advances, the pair struck up a lasting friendship. With Kelly, Hitchcock felt he had molded the young actress into his ideal woman with just the right mix of elegance and sexuality. When Kelly left Hollywood, Hitchcock sought a replacement and found newcomer Tippi Hedren, whom he both fawned over and humiliated during their two films together. Relying on hours of personal interviews with both Hitchcock and his various players, Spoto shines an admiring yet unflinching light on one of the most celebrated directors in history. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Spoto’s third book about Hitchcock includes material he “felt obliged to withhold” from his widely praised biography, The Dark Side of Genius (1983), in deference to sources who told stories they didn’t want repeated while they were alive. It focuses on Hitchcock’s sometimes troubled, sometimes perverse, always manipulative relationships with his leading ladies. Some of its revelations are well-known among cinephiles, including Hitch’s fetish for blonds—so strong that even blond actresses had to have their hair lightened to fit the director’s ideal—and his attempts to play Svengali to young, beautiful blonds, especially Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren, and subsequent frustration when they incompletely submitted to him. But Spoto also brings to light aspects of Hitchcock’s life and personality unsuspected and, some of it, unprintable in his lifetime, including overt and subtle sexual harassment dating as far back as Hitchcock’s earliest films, during the production of which he told dirty jokes and pretended to expose himself to actresses to provoke (and film) their shocked reactions. According to Spoto, Hitchcock’s perversity increased as he grew older, culminating in his twisted, tragicomic relationship with Hedren. The chapters on his behavior during the filming of The Birds and Marnie are riveting and deeply troubling, revealing an artist at once losing his touch and losing touch with reality. --Jack Helbig
See all Editorial Reviews