Oral History: Alfred Hitchcock’s Cinema Wisdom

by Jack Tewksbury April 17, 2019
Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock at the Golden Globes, 1960s

Hitchcock and wife Alma at the Golden Globes, 1960s.

hfpa archives

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors and filmmakers. The world's largest collection of its kind - over 10,000  items- is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.

In this excerpt from our archives, master filmmaker, Golden Globe winner and Cecil B. deMille recipient Alfred Hitchcock reflects on industry trends and strange people behaving strangely.

 

“Well, I can only say that when I first went to see movies, I was about 15 years of age and a lot of people 15 to 18 were great moviegoers in those days. But they weren’t making films for people of that age, they were making them for grownups. And I think the error that is made today is to think that you have to play down to the 18-year-old audience. It isn’t true. You have to make them for adult people and don’t forget that your young people today, through communication, are much older than they used to be. But then, you see, young people always want to be older than they really are. I know that our own grandchildren when they were tots, the first thing they would do would be to go to my wife’s wardrobe, take out the high heel shoes and the long dress and then parade around as grownups.  So…I make a film for every audience and every age for all parts of the world.

I think that the more normal looking people are, the stranger they are. In other words, they don’t look strange, they behave strangely. It’s like casting say a murderer, we have a cheerful, lively man, or an attractive man. Most people forget that,  unless the man is of this type, he’d never get near any of his victims. People would run a mile if he looked sinister with a sort of a kick-the-dog look on his face.

I have a favorite bit which I’ve never been able to do. And that is I want to walk by in a street scene and talking with my hands to a girl and she slaps my face. It would give offense to deaf-mutes. That’s why I never did it.”