Two (and Twenty) Alfred Hitchcock QuotesPosted: February 5, 2014
“I’m not the sort of fellow you’d want to go camping with.”
“Conversation is the enemy of good food and wine.”
I’ve always been fond of quotes, and epigrams, and have an odd habit of memorizing them. (though my memory is not always accurate, quotes are often misremembered, I hope I have these two preserved correctly) The first one I probably read in Reader’s Digest when I was a kid. The second one is a personal favorite.
The quote is revealing, too, because Hitchcock—not a small man—obviously loved good food. But also, hated unnecessary dialogue. The director viewed actors as chess pieces. Or spoiled children. Dialogue was almost a necessary evil, secondary to the visual story. As a director, Hitchcock was more of a technician than a dramatist.
This idea has always fascinated me. The two kinds of directors. One more interested in mastering the medium of film, the other more interested in cultivating the performances. Humans are less predictable than some directors would prefer. George Lucas is a technician. He admitted he was drawn to animation and special effects because of the control and precision it offered. Or perhaps because he was shy, and didn’t feel as comfortable dealing with actors as he did with the technical side of filmmaking. Francis Ford Coppola is a dramatist, interested in actors, and their egos, and concerns. Though a masterful technical director, Coppola‘s strength as a dramatist—working with actors—characterizes his approach to the medium.
Most directors are either one, or the other. Stanley Kubrick is technically brilliant, formal, mannered, and distant. Clint Eastwood isn’t obsessed with technique, he’s an actor’s director. An actor first. A dramatic storyteller. There are lots of other examples.
Though Hitchcock had a legendary weakness for blonde actresses (obsessive, controlling, fetishistic) and respected actors more than he pretended to, he often spoke dismissively of actors, and openly mocked their concerns. As a director, Alfred Hitchcock was as cool and technical as you can get.
Also, Hitchcock has a point, about dining…
…If the food is really good, conversation interrupts the pleasure, rather than enhancing it.
It’s not as anti-social as it might sound. I’ve had that experience. There’s one restaurant I like so much, I don’t go there with friends to socialize. It gets in the way of the food. If I’m ordering salt-and-pepper crab, it’s me, and one dining companion. One time we included a few friends, and I regretted it. Talking, and listening, was the enemy of the pleasure of dining. In short, too much talk ruins things.
Perhaps true same could be said of movie dialogue. For directors like Hitchcock, the visual medium is served by dialogue, but in moderation. He viewed dialogue as just part of the soundtrack. He preferred (and was a genius at) non-verbal storytelling to drive the story.
Besides revealing Hitchcock as a lover of food and wine (and film) it also reveals Hitchock as a solitary figure, as depicted in this LIFE magazine photo, of the director dining alone.
For a collection of Hitchcock quotes I haven’t memorized (my two favorite don’t appear in this top-20 list, but there are some good ones)
- The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock (archdaily.com)
- Parveer Mahal Alfred Hitchcock (slideshare.net)
- Alfred Hitchcock (westcovmedia.wordpress.com)
- Hitchcock and the Architecture of Suspense (metropolismag.com)
- Indie Horror Game White Night Is Essentially Alfred Hitchcock’s Alone In The Dark (kotaku.com.au)
- Academy Monday – Watch: Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941) (seminalcinemaoutfit.com)
- Film Quizzes: Alfred Hitchcock (alexraphael.wordpress.com)
- TV: TV Club 10: Alfred Hitchcock Presents showed how rotten respectable people could be (avclub.com)
- Hitchcock Film Review: Alfred Hitchcock’s Biopic Starring Anthony Hopkins And Helen Mirren (sashankkini.wordpress.com)
- Tribute to Alfred Hitchcock (pollockoflight.wordpress.com)