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The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures

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This completely revised and updated edition of the classic text describes and analyzes every movie made by master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.


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This completely revised and updated edition of the classic text describes and analyzes every movie made by master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

30 review for The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I read this when still in college (the original 1976 edition)and it has remained a touchstone for me as a movie critic. First, it offers great insights into Hitchcock's films and is a great companion as you watch or rewatch them. Second, Spoto makes sure that it is the films, and not himself, who is the center of attention here, something that can not be said of all critics. It is an example I try to follow in my own writing and reviewing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    I'm a big fan of Hitchcock and this book was pretty good. It boils down his films and why they stand out. My Rating: 4 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom Stamper

    Spoto is known more as a Hollywood biographer than a movie critic so I was surprised at the depth of his exploration of these films. Much like an Ebert or even a Scorsese he goes beyond the cast and even the script to talk art direction, color tones, and binding themes within and between the films. Unlike the typical critic he tends to defend the lesser films rather than add to the chorus of disappointment. He'll admit that Torn Curtain is a bomb or that Under Capricorn was a misfire, but it's t Spoto is known more as a Hollywood biographer than a movie critic so I was surprised at the depth of his exploration of these films. Much like an Ebert or even a Scorsese he goes beyond the cast and even the script to talk art direction, color tones, and binding themes within and between the films. Unlike the typical critic he tends to defend the lesser films rather than add to the chorus of disappointment. He'll admit that Torn Curtain is a bomb or that Under Capricorn was a misfire, but it's the exception. He's more likely to say that Marnie was a latter day classic and Frenzy and Family Plot were great efforts that were in form with his earlier work, while Stage Freight and I Confess are misunderstood. It's a refreshing take even though I disagree on many of his apologies. Hitch has moments of greatness in nearly every movie and Spoto reminds us of these nuggets of genius through his praise. This may be the book I have waited longest to read. I first saw the reprint edition in B Dalton Bookstore more than 20 years ago, but a poor college kid couldn't afford the purchase price and no library in town owned a copy. The fact that it remains in print is a testament to the important contribution Spoto made in studying Hitchcock.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim Berkin

    Spoto, who also wrote an excellent bio of Hitchcock, methodically goes through all of his films here in a collection of short essays. His analysis of each film ranges from good to excellent, both in discussing some behind the scenes material as well as thematic discussion of the films themselves.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Loyalhistorian

    I have seen every Alfred Hitchcock film available to audiences...yes, I'm a nerd. That's what I did as a kid. My "reward" for finishing my homework each night was to watch an old movie with my dad. We went through all the classics (stand-alones and series), especially mystery movies. So, for example, all the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, all the Charlie Chan films, all The Falcon movies, Mr. Moto, Mrs. Marple, Poirot, etc. Of course, that meant we had to watch all of the Master of Suspe I have seen every Alfred Hitchcock film available to audiences...yes, I'm a nerd. That's what I did as a kid. My "reward" for finishing my homework each night was to watch an old movie with my dad. We went through all the classics (stand-alones and series), especially mystery movies. So, for example, all the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, all the Charlie Chan films, all The Falcon movies, Mr. Moto, Mrs. Marple, Poirot, etc. Of course, that meant we had to watch all of the Master of Suspense's movies, too. Hitchcock is by far my favorite director (followed by Frank Capra), with Rear Window being my all-time favorite movie. I found this book years ago at Barnes and Noble and immediately purchased it. I started reading it four years ago, but then it got lost (boxed up) when we started remodeling our house. I came across it again earlier in the year and haven't been able to get enough of it. This is an excellent book if you are an Alfred Hitchcock fan. It goes in depth as to the psychology, symbolism, and artistic layout of each film. It's awesome. Even for films that you have seen dozens of times, this book is going to bring to light something that you have not noticed yet. I already thought Hitchcock was a genius as a director, but this book helped me realize just how amazingly creative he was. This book was originally published in 1976, and the author actually interviewed Hitchcock, many of his screenwriters and crew, as well as actors from his films. Each chapter discusses a different film, in chronological order. I seriously recommend this book. Pick it up...you won't regret it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda L

    I've made it a [very] long-term goal to watch (or re-watch) as many of Hitchcock's films as I can get my hands on and to read Spoto's accounts to reflect after each viewing. So far I've just gotten through his account of The Birds (1963) and, while frank and insightful, I feel he could benefit from some additional edits. I also don't particularly appreciate his repetitive third person references to self. He seemed to bounce around, dropping snippets of information that would be better received al I've made it a [very] long-term goal to watch (or re-watch) as many of Hitchcock's films as I can get my hands on and to read Spoto's accounts to reflect after each viewing. So far I've just gotten through his account of The Birds (1963) and, while frank and insightful, I feel he could benefit from some additional edits. I also don't particularly appreciate his repetitive third person references to self. He seemed to bounce around, dropping snippets of information that would be better received alongside some other aspect that is independently addressed much later in the text. Fortunately "this reader" has seen the film enough times to follow his disjointed train of thought. Also Rope (1948) and: The Man Who Knew Too Much ('56) Psycho ('60) Marnie ('64) Spellbound ('45) [personal tally]

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Allen

    This film-by-film analysis finds unexpected depths. Spoto was ahead of his time in his love for "Vertigo," which merits the most attention here. Stairs, birds and the power of the dead to influence the living are among the images and themes Spoto highlights. He makes too much of some lesser movies, but as I watched each one, his book was an illuminating guide.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tonya

    This was the textbook for the Hitchcock film class I took in college and I loved it. I wish I knew where my original copy was, but I bought another copy for my library not too long ago. Because of that class and this book, my passion for Hitchcock films remains strong and I've passed it down to my kids.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nathanial

    oh this book is a collagist's dream. plenty of thoughtful analysis for the film buffs, too. main draw for me is the thick mix of scripts, interviews, b&w stills, and best of all the STORYBOARDS with pen-and-ink sketches of what will appear on the screen, complete with arrows indicating camera movement, etc. oh this book is a collagist's dream. plenty of thoughtful analysis for the film buffs, too. main draw for me is the thick mix of scripts, interviews, b&w stills, and best of all the STORYBOARDS with pen-and-ink sketches of what will appear on the screen, complete with arrows indicating camera movement, etc.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Roy

    Excellent insightful look at Hitchcocks films , great detail and criticism by Spoto makes for a good read especially if you are a fan of Alfred . My copy was signed by the author so i cherish this publication .

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    I will probably be currently-reading this book forever. I enjoy Hitchcock quite a lot, and with this book as a companion to his films I can get much more out of them. My only criticism of this book is that it can be a bit dry.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam Philips

    Enjoying this overview of Hitchcock's career so far, although Spoto does go a bit heavy on the analysis of symbol and metaphor for my tastes.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    An excellent book about all of Hitchcock's films.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tayler K

    We read chapters 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 26, 31, 32, 33, and 34.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    good overview. but just good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Teri Temme

    Extremely informative. I tended to like Truffaut's better but this book is very detailed about Hitchcock's films.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emilia Hamra

    A series of extremely detailed essays on Hitchcock's films. My eyes have been opened! I can appreciate Hitch more than ever after reading this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Teddy Farias

    A superb book that connects dots, summarizes films, objectively covers motifs, it's amazing. will have to buy since this was a library loan :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kassie

    essays formally analyzing hitchcock's work. so far, so interesting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M

    A meticulous biography of Hitchcock's films, but not the man himself.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Russell Fisher

    Donald Spoto could make sense of the most complicated of Hitchcock's ideas. Awesome book and wonderful counterpart too "Hitchcock Truffaut".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dan Humphrey

    Surely dated by now, but this was one of the books that first got me really interested in film as a serious art form.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan The Book Dragon Campton

    Author Donald Spoto was extremely ambitious in his subject matter when he took on Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock. In The Art of Alfred Hitchcock he gives us an excellent view of a movie career that started in a small London Studio and ended in Hollywood. Starting with Hitchcock's silent film days Spoto uses the artful movie stills of Hitchcock himself to illustrate Hitchcock's biography from birth through those early movie days. He lays bare Hitchcock's own inspirations, aspirations and str Author Donald Spoto was extremely ambitious in his subject matter when he took on Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock. In The Art of Alfred Hitchcock he gives us an excellent view of a movie career that started in a small London Studio and ended in Hollywood. Starting with Hitchcock's silent film days Spoto uses the artful movie stills of Hitchcock himself to illustrate Hitchcock's biography from birth through those early movie days. He lays bare Hitchcock's own inspirations, aspirations and struggles to become over the next 50 years the Master of Film and Television Suspense. Thirty-seven of Hitchcock's films are covered in detailed back stories, that include quotes from those who worked with Hitch to those fantastic artsy, creepy angles and perfect close ups that made his films more than just a movie. Those films were absolute Suspense Gold. Names that no longer grace the Silver Screen are here, Hitchcock only worked with the best. In stunning black and white we see those brilliant beautiful stars. in many cases we see them before they were household names. Leslie Banks and Edna Best in 1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much. Charles Laughton and a young, gorgeous new starlet in her first role - Maureen O'Hara in Jamaica Inn. Farley Granger and Robert Walker as two sophisticated Strangers on a Train that will turn into a murderous journey. All the way to the very last Hitchcock Masterpiece, 1976's Family Plot with Bruce Dern and Katherine Helmond. Spoto was indeed ambitious in his choice of subject matter, but he pulls it off beautifully, creating the Must Have Book for Hitchcock's devoted fans.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    Read this as part of my Hitchcock marathon here: https://letterboxd.com/johntai/tag/hi... This book analyzes Hitchcock movies one at a time (excluding his earlier films, which are discussed together), so it was perfect for my marathon. After watching each movie I’d read the chapter dedicated to it where Spoto analyzes the themes present in the story and characterizations. These are very detailed, especially most famous movies. At times he might dig a bit too deep and come up with theories that go Read this as part of my Hitchcock marathon here: https://letterboxd.com/johntai/tag/hi... This book analyzes Hitchcock movies one at a time (excluding his earlier films, which are discussed together), so it was perfect for my marathon. After watching each movie I’d read the chapter dedicated to it where Spoto analyzes the themes present in the story and characterizations. These are very detailed, especially most famous movies. At times he might dig a bit too deep and come up with theories that go way over my head. He also gives some anecdotes and facts about Hitchcock’s private life and some behind the scenes accounts. I would have liked even more behind the scenes stuff, but that’s not the focus of this book. As for Hitchcock’s private life, he goes deeper in his companion book The Dark Side of Genius, which I’m planning to read next. Overall I’m happy about this book, it helped me process these films and write my own reviews.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    Excellent breakdown of each film.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Desiree · 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚.

    I kind of stopped reading it halfway through because it’s a bunch of dates and facts I don’t really need.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Annika

    A must for any film or Hitchcock fan. Unfortunately, I've not seen enough of his movies to appreciate this book in its entirety; however, the few I have seen, this gave great insight and background to the artistry. Every time I read some kind of trivia about "Psycho", I learn something new. This is no exception.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Merrill

    Love his movies saw the bio picture about him now reading this book. One of a kind storyteller quirks and all...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Very informative Plot summaries of all Hitchcock's films with additional information on the making of them. Also critical reviews. A nice touch was a gallery of photos at the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Casscaye

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