Release Date: February 15, 2022
Creator(s): Noël Simsolo (writer); Dominique Hé (artist)
Cover: Matteo Mancini
Format: 312 pgs., Black & White, 7.5" x 10", Hardcover
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
This is an odd book, a mildly fictionalized biography of Alfred Hitchcock done without real clues as to which parts are fiction. Much of the story is told in flashback, in a supposed conversation between Hitchcock and Cary Grant, but other parts are told in a style reminiscent of Hitchcock’s own movie work.
Hitchcock’s story, as told here, is of a man working very hard to create real art in the movie medium, but realizing that his efforts were not always recognized. Many of the films he made won Oscars, for example, but not for him as their director.
There were also the films he never made, or that he made and were not released. For example, during World War II he worked, along with many others in the movie field, on documentaries. In his case, he did one on the concentration camps, but it was considered too harsh and brutal to show in theaters at the time. One of his other films, never made, was an odd one that became his "Rosebud" over time, a film called Mary Rose, which was based on a ghost story play by J. M. Barrie of Peter Pan fame. Hitchcock saw the initial staging of it and loved the story, but repeatedly producers refused to help him make a film out of what he saw as a possibly brilliant work.
Some of his conflicts with actors are included here, but none in a form as blunt as the accusations against him by various performers. He wanted what he wanted, even if it conflicted with the whims or wishes of others involved with creating the films. When an actor or an actress did things he didn’t like, even in their regular lives, this book suggests they were permanently off of his list.
The personal foibles of Hitchcock are suggested here, but not dwelt on. His weight and food habits, his tendency to obsess on a particular look of actress, and a host of other things are all mentioned, but many only in passing. The book is long enough as it is, covering many years of a very busy life, so anyone interested in more can certainly look for text biographies, and a suggested list of those is included.
There is a wonderful set of lists in the book relating not only to his completed films, but to the projects abandoned or not released. Some of these lead the reader into wondering what might have been, if Hitchcock had indeed made a film about the sinking of the Titanic, or one based on a story by the amazingly talented Lord Dunsany.
It’s still not quite fair of the book’s creator to not let us know if the "seagull incident" was true, though. Even if it was made up, it was an excellent little insert, but readers would probably want to know…
The book is clearly aimed at adult readers, but older teens who are film buffs will find a lot here.
--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.