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Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by [Mcgilligan, Patrick]
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Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Length: 864 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 2783 KB
  • Print Length: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Dey Street Books; Reprint edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Publication Date: October 19, 2010
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003SHDP3G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,886 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Phillip O. VINE VOICE on December 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Exhaustive, rich and incredibly detailed, this is sure to please the film enthusiast who enjoys scholarly film biographies. The text is over 700 pages and each film of Hitchcock's career is covered in detail, with particular attention to his relationships with his collaborators (screenwriters, costumers, musicians, actors, etc.). Hitckcock's creative genius was unique - he could visualize his film down to the most minute detail before the cameras even rolled (indeed after the script was completed he felt that filming the work was the most boring aspect of it). Script conferences were lengthy and detailed and Hitchcock's mulling and proscrastination often drove many screenwriters to distraction. Those who perservered however, earned respect and dedication from Hitchcock. Despite the book's meticulous attention to detail (some readers might find the analysis of Hitchcock's contract details with David Selznick exasperating), the personal character of Hitchcock shines through. He was a devoted family man, faithful and respectful of his wife Alma Reville, whose opinion he valued above all others when it came to criticism of his work. But he was also a passive admirer of beautiful actresses, often becoming obsessive with them, with sometimes devastating results. He was also a highly sensitive man and despite his own tendency to be unforgiving when crossed and boorish on the set, he was easily hurt by comments about his weight, habits, etc. And he loved animals and would not watch a film that depicted cruelty to animals (one of his favorite films was "Benji".) A lover of life, travel, good food and wine but most of all his work, his life is shown here as an exuberant one and not as dark as depicted in Donald Spoto's earlier biography. A wonderful read and highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
As with John Ford, Orson Welles and a few other monument-like auteurs, one wonders if there is anything else to add when library shelves already groan under the weight of books about these great directors. In the case of Alfred Hitchcock, a proverbial household name, the challenge for a writer seems to double. And yet McGilligan as he did with Fritz Lang, Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood has pulled it off. In addition to seamlessly blending new research with a compelling narrative, this biography allows the reader to rediscover the familiar. McGilligan humanizes the director in the best way. Hitchcock is neither the repressed almost deviant sadist that Donald Spoto painted back in his controversial bio nor a droll, almost Santa Claus-like teller of ripping yarns, as mytholgized in Time-Life articles, but a highly talented man, a flawed, but essentially decent husband and father, and a complex artist caught between serving the demands of mainstream Hollywood and fulfilling his creative instincts. This is a big book, but it reads as briskly as one of Hitch's best films. Essential for any serious film book library.
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Format: Hardcover
The American Film Institute chose four of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces --- Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo and Rear Window --- for its list of the top 100 American films of the century. In a narrower category --- the top 100 thrillers --- Hitch ran away from the crowd with nine selections. He was, in his way, the Beatles of filmmaking.
Patrick McGilligan, whose previous biographies on cinematic legends include Fritz Lang, George Cukor, James Cagney and Clint Eastwood, has compiled another masterwork of research and insight. He concentrates on Hitchcock as an adult rather than trying to analyze what might have happened in his younger days to account for his "twisted genius." For example, much has been written about the way Hitchcock depicts women in his films (e.g., his predilection for "icy blondes"). "Hitchcock's male heroes generally do all right," writes McGilligan. "His women must kill or die, be humiliated, or endure a frustrating romance with an important hero on the run. One way or another the beautiful women always suffered." Yet he remained devoted to his wife, Alma, until his dying day.
Hitchcock began his career at a time when everything was open in film. He was a master of both sides of the camera, bringing out the best from his performers as well as developing new filming techniques, whether for the sake of art or to keep the accountants happy. He loved to "tinker" and figure out how to make an image on a storyboard into reality.
McGilligan draws a fascinating picture of the movie industry, pitting artiste against tyrannical studio mogul; the battles between Hitchcock and David O. Selznick are at once amusing, picayune and frustrating.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book for:
- Fans of Hitchcock movies, or at least people familiar with the movies and the actors/actresses from the decades of Hitchcock's body of work.

- Fans of very detailed, microscopic biographies. Make no mistake, this one takes awhile to get through and would be much more rewarding for film aficionados and fans of the great director.

- Those looking to expand their vocabulary. Have a dictionary close by!

Unfortunately for me, I fall in none of these camps, but I was able to soldier on and finish it. Parts of it are very interesting (Hitchcock's relationships, his wife Alma, the personalities of the movie stars) other parts were very monotonous and difficult to wade through (Hitch's every minute of the day detailed, the entire script writing process of nearly every one of his films).

In the end, I look at it as a difficult journey. Hard to get through at the time, but I'm happy for what I've learned on the trip. For me, the big payoff was the sad and almost anticlimactic ending. I read as this young couple (Alfred and Alma) fell in love, had experiences, grew up together, grew old together, and ultimately, Hitch's passing due to the grief of not having his rock and not being able to do the job he loved. A sad end to an interesting genius.
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