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5.0 out of 5 stars A New Look at Hitchcock, Piece by Piece (Abrams), November 24, 2010
This review is from: Hitchcock, Piece by Piece (Hardcover)
Guest Review by Adam Philips

In this gorgeous new book, "Hitchcock: Piece by Piece," author Laurent Bouzereau provides a new angle on The Master of Suspense. Rather than covering Hitch's biography or looking at highlights of his filmmaking career, Bouzereau sorts Hitch's works thematically into several lengthy chapters. The chapter "Wrong Men and Anti-Heroes" looks at Hitch's male protagonists; "The Hitchcock Women" examines women of every sort as they appear in Hitch's films. Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell, the master's daughter, contributes a foreword to the book that looks at her father's lasting legacy.

There's more to "Piece by Piece" than just the categorizing of Hitchcock's many motifs, though. The book features a fantastic assortment of photography, as well as pages that open up so the reader can access reproductions of storyboards, a telegram from Hitchcock to David O. Selznick, costume designs, photo albums, the proclamation of Hitch's knighthood and much more. Like previous, similar books on Bob Dylan and John Lennon, these documents provide new insight into Hitch's approach to filmmaking as well as his life.

The photography, too, takes us deep into Hitchcock's life. Many of these pictures have never been reproduced before; my favorites may be the book's opener, a formal portrait of Hitchcock from the early 1920s, looking serious and sporting a mustache, and its closer, in which a much older Hitchcock grimaces in mock pain as he plays with his dog. It's all beautifully designed, and shows Hitchcock as a master of the camera, whether he's shooting or being shot.
Books like this make a good case for another type of Hitchcock book: One of just photography, from his films and his life, in the style of the "365 Days" series of art books ? like "Piece by Piece," also published by Abrams Books.

My only quibbles with "Piece by Piece" were fact-based. In discussing "The Birds," Bouzereau both misspells Ub Iwerks' name and provides no background about this legendary animator who first brought Mickey Mouse to life; also, the author notes the impact the finale of "Strangers on a Train" had on audiences in the forties, when the movie was released in 1951.
But these are small points. "Piece by Piece" is a treasure for fans of Hitchcock and film history in general, and is very much recommended.

Reviewing 52 thrillers in 52 weeks [...], Adam Philips is blogging the bible of all things Hitchcock. From the early classics to masterpieces like "Rear Window" and "Psycho," Adam provides an intelligent, modern perspective on the most influential filmmaker of all time, encompassing television, books, live theater and other media. For updates on new content, subscribe at [...]
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