By 1962, Alfred Hitchcock was revered as a ‘master of suspense’ and had become a household name in America, thanks to his hugely popular TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the massive success of his taboo smashing 1960 feature Psycho. But while Hitch was wealthy and very famous, one thing that eluded him was critical reverence; he was generally regarded as a great entertainer rather than a filmmaker of intellectual depth.

Critic and filmmaker François Truffaut set out to change that with a series of interviews conducted with Hitchcock over the course of a week in ’62. The pair, via an interpreter, discussed the body of his work film by film; Truffaut sought nothing less than a complete re-evaluation of Hitchcock’s work and the elevation of his status to the very top of the pantheon. The results of the interviews were published in Hitchcock/Truffaut, one of the most influential books about cinema ever published, and it cast such a long shadow over Truffaut the critic that one of the last things he finished before his premature death at the age of 52 was an updated edition of the book.

While Hitchcock/Truffaut updates the book’s legacy in the manner of a new introduction that includes contemporary contributors, one can’t avoid feeling that the film is rather redundant; the proof of this pudding lies in the reading, and the film adds nothing to a text that is universally acknowledged as a classic. Of the talking heads, David Fincher is the most engaging, particularly when he discusses Hitchcock’s embrace and showcasing of his ‘perverse’ side, something which Fincher himself seemingly hasn’t shied away from on occasion. Other contributors include Wes Anderson (who adds little other than an enthusiastic endorsement of the book) and Martin Scorsese, who is his usual erudite self, as well as the inclusion of directors Olivier Assayas (Carlos the Jackal) and James Grey (The Immigrant, We Own The Night). 

In its favour, Hitchcock/Truffaut does what any good music or film doc should do: it makes the viewer want to reach for Hitchcock/Truffaut the book. Though to be frank, it may just be more worthwhile to cut to the chase and go straight to the text.

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I've worked in entertainment product development and sales & marketing in the U.S., UK and my native Canada for over 20 years, and have been a part of many changes during that time (I've overseen home entertainment releases on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-ray). I've also written and commentated about film and music for many outlets over the years. The first film I saw in the cinema was Mary Poppins, some time in the mid-60s: I was hooked. My love of the moving image remains as strong as ever.
hitchcock-truffaut-reviewThe film adds nothing to a text that is universally acknowledged as a classic.