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Introduction: Re-viewing Hitchcock's Films

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2024

Gary McCarron
Affiliation:
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
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Summary

Two Questions

During the time that I worked on this book, two questions occasionally cropped up when I spoke to friends and colleagues about what I was writing. The first question was beguilingly simple while the second was rather more challenging. These were also questions I had addressed to myself periodically as I moved on to fresh ideas in the development of my position on Hitchcock's work. I don't believe that I ultimately arrived at satisfactory answers in every instance, but in the effort to appease my interlocutors I travelled part of the way toward eliminating most of my self-doubt. So, I will start with these questions – and with my attempts to answer them – to draw a frame around the text that follows.

The first question, which I initially took to be simple, asked what the book was going to be about. More specifically, people wanted to ask me about my method. How did I plan to approach Hitchcock? Was the book going to be an original series of analyses of Hitchcock's films, analyses that until now no one had attempted? And if so, which of Hitchcock's films would I be examining? Was I writing about Alfred Hitchcock with the plan of rescuing a filmmaker from the void of forgetfulness into which popular icons are sometimes swallowed up? Was the book to be a fresh take on Hitchcock's already well-covered biography in consequence of recently unearthed material that showed him to be quite different from traditional accounts of his life?

Questions concerning my approach did not stop there, for I was also asked if my book was to be an account of Hitchcock's role in the history of cinema, the enduring influence of his work on contemporary filmmakers, or possibly a demonstration of the latest film studies trend – I don't think that a particular trend was ever specified – in the task of explicating the master's works. One colleague wanted to know if I was writing a book that used some new psychological theory to make sense of Hitchcock's infamously enigmatic personality, while another asked if I would be arguing against the conventional interpretation of Hitchcock as an important and inspirational figure in cinema.

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Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

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