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Hitchcock's Magic

Hitchcock's Magic

Neil Badmington
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Hitchcock's Magic
    Book Description:

    Why are we drawn to the work of Alfred Hitchcock so long after his final film appeared? What is the source of Hitchcock’s magic? This book answers these questions by focussing upon the films themselves, upon how they hold our attention by constantly withholding something from us. Combining close analysis of a number of Hitchcock’s most famous films with more general discussion his work, the volume takes issue with the biographical and psychoanalytic approaches that have dominated studies of Hitchcock’s films to argue instead for the significance of textuality.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2371-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Neil Badmington
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: Hitchcock’s Magic; or, How I Starred in Saboteur
    (pp. 1-20)

    When I was twenty-one years of age, I starred in Alfred Hitchcock’sSaboteur

    It was March 1993, and I was a visiting student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. During the Spring break, my parents flew out from Wales to visit, and we spent a memorable week working our way down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles. When we arrived in Hollywood, we decided to spend a day at Universal Studios. After a tour of the backlot — during which we were shown the iconic house and motel that featured inPsycho— we attended a presentation about the...

  6. 1 Ps/zycho
    (pp. 21-46)

    Eee! Eee! Eee! Eee! Eee! Eee! Eee! Eee!

    You probably recognize this sound. It is cuttingly familiar, sharply suggestive, perhaps even to those who have never actually witnessed the most notorious moment in Alfred Hitchcock’s most notorious film, for ‘Psycho’s shower-murder scene has passed into the consciousness of the world. An uninitiated viewer — one who does not already know Norman’s story or Marion’s fate — can scarcely be found.’² Sometimes it takes very little to call up the ghost of the bathroom at the Bates Motel, as I discovered when, while taking a break one afternoon from working on this chapter,...

  7. 2 Frame Tale: Rear Window and the Promise of Vision
    (pp. 47-66)

    Whatareyou looking at? Why is your gaze still drawn toRear Windowmore than five decades after it first stole into view? What could there possibly be left to see?

    Many critics have, of course, already asked these questions, and their answers have regularly focused upon the film’s formal unity, its ‘harmony, completeness and consistency’.² From this per-spective, audiences continue to look at Hitchcock’s most commer-cially suc cess ful production because they are in the presence of artistic perfection, the work of a master ‘at the height of his cinematic powers and in the midst of his greatest...

  8. 3 SpectRebecca
    (pp. 67-84)

    Last night I went to Manderley again. No dreaming was neces-sary; I simply slid the silver disc into the DVD player and found myself once more under the spell of Alfred Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film. I can never resist going back again, that much is certain.

    It would seem that I am not alone. The dark tale of the second Mrs de Winter’s struggle to make herself at home in Manderley and to shake off the inherited weight of Rebecca has a curiously un-dying quality. Daphne du Maurier’s novel, first published in 1938, has, unlike much of her other work,...

  9. 4 Stories of ‘O’: North by Northwest and The Man Who Knew Too Much
    (pp. 85-106)

    What do you call a film with a hole in the middle?North by North-westorThe Man Who Knew Too Much.

    This, I wholly accept, is probably the world’s least amusing and most inelegant punchline, but it nonetheless has the advantage of identifying and linking the two films with which this chapter ofHitchcock’s Magicis concerned. More specifically, I want in what follows to build upon the previous chapters’ discussions of whatPsycho, Rear WindowandRebeccahold in reserve, and I want to do this by falling headlong into a hole. Two holes, to be wholly precise....

  10. 5 The Animals Who Knew Too Much: The Zoopoetics of The Birds
    (pp. 107-146)

    Call it a case of animal attraction.

    In 1997, during a ten-hour address to a conference at Cerisy-la-Salle entitled ‘L’animal autobiographique’, Jacques Derrida began doggedly to catalogue ‘the innumerable critters’ that peopled his vast body of work.³ Although the ‘zoo-auto-bio-biblio-graphy’ was described as ‘brief’, it included a silkworm, a hedgehog, an eagle, a monkey, a spider, a mole, a hare, swans, birds, dogs, snakes, sponges, wolves and horses.⁴ As the animals gathered, it became increasingly clear that Derrida constantly wrote with, around and about non-human creatures. ‘They certainly do not form a family’, he stressed, ‘but they are the critters...

  11. Postscript: Into the Mystery
    (pp. 147-148)

    ‘Mystery is the attractive condition a thing (an object, an action, a person) possesses which you know a little about but don’t know about completely. It is the twiney promise of unknown things (effects, interworkings, suspicions) which you must be wise enough to explore not too deeply, for fear you will dead-end in nothing but facts.’¹ Frank Bascombe, author of these words and troubled hero of Richard’s Ford’s Sportswriter trilogy, never reveals an interest in the work of Alfred Hitchcock, but his description and defence of mystery reminds me in many ways of my position concerning the tenacity of the...

  12. Appendix: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
    (pp. 149-152)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 153-192)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-202)
  15. Index
    (pp. 203-208)