"My intention with this small book is to raise new questions and considerations, challenge viewers to look at Hitchcock's wonderful films yet again, and see in his work an illumination of American form and life that has perhaps not been shown in this way." - page 14
I have always considered him to be the most fascinating public figure of my lifetime. During a half century of filmmaking in his native Great Britain and here in America director Alfred Hitchcock produced some of the most stylish and compelling movies ever made. I have always been a huge fan. That is why I jumped at the chance to pluck a copy of Murray Pomerance's new book "Alfred Hitchcock's America" off the Amazon Vine. Starting with 1939's "Rebecca" this book concentrates on Hitchcock's work here in the U.S. Despite the fact that I lack any formal education in filmmaking I was able to gain some fresh insights into the work of this most remarkable director.
In "Alfred Hitchcock's America" I discovered that Hitchcock never proceeded with a film until he had done intensive research on all of the locations he was going to shoot. He was all about detail. Every single element -- casting, performance, lighting, camera angle, construction of setting and even the music were painstakingly woven together to create just the impression he was looking to make. For example, in preparing for "Rear Window" Hitchcock recorded more than 2 minutes of typical Greenwich Village sound made on the small side streets of the community. Such attention to detail is what gave Hitchcock films their authenticity. Speaking of "Rear Window" I loved the author's characterization of this film as "an intriguingly-detailed portrait of American life, less a full-fledged landscape and more a set of artist's sketches delicately flashed out in detail." A very apt description indeed! Murray Pomerance also offers some perspective of scenes Hitchcock shot at some of this nation's most iconic places including Mount Rushmore, the George Washington Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Hoover Dam and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Throughout the pages of "Alfred Hitchcock's America" Murray Pomerance offers informed observations about dozens of Hitchcock's American films including some of the more obscure ones. Despite the fact that I am a huge fan I was unfamiliar with quite a few of them including "The Trouble with Harry", "The Wrong Man" and the 1956 remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much". While I certainly intend to view these films in the not too distant future I had absolutely no context for what the author was talking about. This happened numerous times over the course of the book. In addition, I found that some of the author's observations went right over my head. My lack of formal education about film-making started to become an issue. Having said that, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the marvelous photos that the author culled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. At the end of the day "Alfred Hitchcock's America" is certainly worth a look-see but in all honesty I would not recommend it for general audiences. I could easily see this book being assigned reading in a college-level Film Appreciation course. The bottom line is that the more you know about film the more likely you will appreciate what Murray Pomerance has to say in this book.
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