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The Dark Side Of Genius: The Life Of Alfred Hitchcock Paperback – August 30, 1999


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The Dark Side Of Genius: The Life Of Alfred Hitchcock + Hitchcock's Films Revisited + Hitchcock (Revised Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Centennial edition (August 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030680932X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809323
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How is it possible to paint a portrait of an artist who left behind none of the notebooks and journals that provide most biographers with important personal details? After exhaustive researching and interviewing, Donald Spoto came to the conclusion that "Hitchcock's films were indeed his notebooks and journals ... [they] are astonishingly personal documents." This account of Alfred Hitchcock's life reads the mind of the man through the making of his films. Spoto argues powerfully and convincingly that movies like Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho can be appreciated not only as masterpieces of entertainment but also as subtle, revealing autobiography. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Spoto's 1983 biography is being reproduced in honor of the famous director's centennial. The book was well received at the time of its publication, even managing to snag an Edgar Award. For this anniversary edition, Spoto has added a new introduction. The text is buttressed with numerous photographs and a detailed filmography.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Very well written and researched.
Angie2
I recommend this book to fans of Hitchcock the man because it goes a long way in explaining why he made the films he did.
Kebmo
The truth cannot be sacrificed to support ones own agenda.
ANDE

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I truly cannot explain why so many are giving this book low ratings. It is a critically acclaimed, deeply researched, well written biography. Nearly every aspect of Hitchcock's life and art is discussed, ably and literately. The only thing that I can think is that some people are upset that the book also explores the more disturbing aspects of Hitchcock's life, primarily his increasing obsession in the fifties and sixties with his leading ladies. These are disturbing to read about, but the problem is not Spoto's. Hitchcock was, like many highly creative individuals, a very complex, many-sided individual. Not everything about him was admirable and his weird, disturbing fixations on some of his leading actresses, in particular Tippi Hedren, can not be blamed on Spoto. As a biographer, he would have been remiss in not reporting this aspects of Hitchcock's life.

As far as claims that the book was dull or poorly written, this says more about specific reviewers than the book itself. I found it fascinating, a real page turner, and read through it in only a few days.

I will temper my review by pointing out that this is only one of the three major biographies of Hitchcock that one wanting to know more about Hitchcock should consider reading. If you want a superb but shorter biography, you could consider John Russell Taylor's HITCH: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK. If you are willing to read a biography much longer than Spoto's, you could consider Patrick McGilligan's outstanding ALFRED HITCHCOCK: A LIFE IN DARKNESS AND LIGHT. But the Spoto is definitely an elite biography, completely undeserving of the ill-considered low ratings some are giving this. It is meticulously researched, well-written, and hugely informative. This book will remain on the short list of the most crucial studies of the life and films of Alfred Hitchcock, and deservedly so.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Webhed on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Some of our most exquisite murders have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like the kitchen table."

...and here is the Master of Suspense. While Hitchcock happens to be one of the better-known directors of the 20th century, he surely is the only master of enigma. Spoto has done an admirable job in depicting the life of a man always shrouded in mystery.

The book follows Hitch from his childhood. A rather unattractive mother's boy, he was an outcast at public school. It continues his story from humble beginnings, through the discovery of genius, and ends at his death in 1980, at the age of 81. Throughout the pages, Spoto covers Hitchcock's life in detail, including his many quirks, obsessions bizarre sense of humour.

Hitchcock's life was indeed bizarre - his personality and obsessions manifesting themselves in his over-eating and his dry, often macabre sense of humour. However, as the author rightly points out, the director also revealed this side of himself through the images of his movies. This makes a fascinating study once you have read the book and you'll never view Hitch's films at face value again.

Because of her desire to protect her father's privacy, Hitch's daughter, Pat, refused Spoto any assistance in the writing of this book. He went instead to a veritable legion of actors and screenwriters who knew him and worked with him. The result is an extremely revealing and often very dark portrait of a man whose character was as shadowed as his films.

But not all is dark and foreboding. There are several amusing anecdotes, which highlight Hitch's macabre sense of humour.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kebmo on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Took a little time to get going but once it did I read the book in two days. Extremely well researched and insightful. Have always been a Hitch fan, but was never aware of what a disturbed and internalized individual he was. The depth of this portrayal of the subject is surprising. Typically, a story like this will delve into relationships in the subject's life but Hitchcock really didn't have any. The author does a nice job of explaining the probable reasons for this. I recommend this book to fans of Hitchcock the man because it goes a long way in explaining why he made the films he did. Not to be confused with a technical "anthology", it's more like a psychological analysis into the twists and turns of the inside of Hitchcock's head. He was a strange dude!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ANDE on June 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am sad to mention that like many works by Spoto; this book contains some highly questionable content. It is a very compelling book, but it is also a fabrication. Spoto is a very talented and engaging writer and I find it extremely frustrating that he has no scruples when it comes to fact versus his own pet theories. He is convincing because of his skill as a writer, but his pet theories are presented as fact. This is not an isolated indecent. Other Spoto biographies are guilty of the same sin (for example, his book on Laurence Olivier and his other Hitchcock biography, "Spellbound by Beauty"). If you want to read a compelling book about Alfred Hitchcock, there are many other more accurate books available. The one Spoto book that I would recommend is, "The Art of Alfred Hitchcock" (if you are into film theory and analysis). Biographies should be held to a higher standard. The truth cannot be sacrificed to support ones own agenda. People buy biographies hoping to learn about someone's life and not to learn about someone's theories about the person's life.
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