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Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies Paperback – October 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
One particular discrepancy stands out for me and it's related to the author's description of the alleged "make yourself sexually available" incident with Tippi Hedren: In "The Dark Side of Genius" this incident is stated as having taken place in "late Feburary" of 1964. "Alone with Hedren in her trailer after the day's work, he made an overt sexual proposition that she could neither ignore nor answer casually, as she could his previous gestures." In "Spellbound by Beauty" Hitchcock's and Hedren's relationship is stated to "have reached its breaking point in March 1964, near the end of production on the day Tippi was drenched with water for the closeups in the scene in which Connery saves her from an attempted suicide by drowning..." Regarding Hedren's recollection of the incident, Spoto states "Her memories are acute and indelible. 'We were ready for the scene when Hitch called me into his office on the set.' She then goes on to describe his request she be sexually available to him and her reaction to that statment.
So which is it, in February or March? Alone in Hedren's trailer at the end of the day or in Hitchcock's office on the set during the workday? Spoto, who claims to be a responsible journalist in presenting a less than flattering portrait of the director, makes no attempt to reconcile his previous account with his newest one. How is this disregard for reporting facts responsible and how, as a result, are we expected to accept any of his reporting as accurate and responsible?Read more ›
(This is the same Donald Spoto to whom Hitchcock gave the rare privilege of watching him direct his last feature, "Family Plot." On the book jacket of "Spellbound" is a photo of Spoto with Hitchcock, who is smiling, unaware that that this writer that he has befriended would repay that kindness years later by savagely attacking him and his family.)
After Hitch died, Spoto's claws emerged and he wrote "The Dark Side of Genius," in which he construed every aspect of his subject's life in derogatory ways, using pseudo-psychology to paint a portrait of a mean-spirited serial lecher. The book has an abundance of gaffes, probably because many of those closest to Hitch suspected Spoto's motives and didn't speak to him. Ultimately, it is more fantasy than serious biography due to the author's fabrication of murky sexual motivations for virtually everything Hitch did - on screen and off. Like all artists, Hitch was human and had flaws but Spoto's portrait is simply not the man that his friends and colleagues knew.
Following publication of "Dark Side," friends like James Stewart (who said that he "never saw a dark side"), Cary Grant, Norman Lloyd and numerous others vehemently denied Spoto's horrendous portrait.Read more ›
Apparently he can't quite get off the subject, because he got around to writing a third -- "Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies," a seething little memoir about Hitch's assorted leading ladies and his reputed sexual obsessions with them. But he can't quite keep the vitriol out of his writing.
The women themselves are an intriguing bunch -- they range from cinematic legends such as Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich to lesser-known actresses like Alida Valli, Margaret Lockwood and Teresa Wright. This exploration of these assorted actresses stretches from the very earliest movies of Hitchcock's fledgling career to his last few movies.
That, for the most part, is the good stuff.
Unfortunately Spoto clearly has some issues with Hitchcock himself. Not only does he lovingly pore over the accounts of Hitchcock's sex life, blonde fetish and crushes on his actresses, but also over any sexual jokes or pranks he played to get the required response from them. Oh horrors -- he brought a pumpkin pie to make someone look grossed-out on set.
And Spoto's obvious contempt for his subject explodes all over the pages with the birds. Spoto seems almost infuriated with Hitchcock for his crush on Tippi Hedren, and works hard to portray him as a revolting old pervert who wants to utterly control the beautiful women in his movies. And his rather lackluster last movies are portrayed as being the sole result of a man who got rejected and fell to pieces. Spoto must really have a crush on Hedren.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a great read on a mat interesting subject. Highly recommend.Published 7 months ago by cynthia banks
A really great companion book to Hitch "The Dark side of Genius" . Priced right and not too bad to get hold of. A must have for the Hitch fan's out there. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rocky
I mostly read towards the end of the book as I'm interested in Doris Day, Grace Kelly, and Tippi Hedren. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Tiffy
a great read with apparently some pretty solid info. yes, the title lives up...you will be spellbound by the great Hitchcock, the truth behind his legend, and the fascinating... Read morePublished 22 months ago by johnnyjohnny
I know Donald Spoto. I interviewed him years ago in Manhattan. He was writing his first book abut Hitchcock which was terrific.
This one was good. Read more
This is actually what one might expect from Spoto. His "biography" writing (if one can could call it that) is always wrapped around his own pet theories. Read morePublished on June 15, 2013 by ANDE
Wow, the controversy raised in these reviews really seems totally misplaced. Spoto's "Spellbound by Beauty" is meant for a wide audience--and does not begin to match the more... Read morePublished on April 14, 2013 by jcappy