I've heard a story about your having been put in jail by your father at an early age. Did this have any particular effect on your development, do you think?   It could have--I must have been five when I was sent along with a note to the chief of police, who read the note and promptly put me into a cell and locked the door for five minutes; and then let me out, saying, "That's what we do to naughty little boys, you see." What effect that had on me at the time I can't remember, but they say psychiatrically if you can discover the origins of this or that, it releases everything. I don't think it released me from a natural fear of the police.
What influence, if any, do you think the Jesuit schooling has had on your work? The Jesuits taught me organization, control, and to some degree, analysis. Their education is very strict, and orderliness is one of the things that come out of that, I suppose. Although my orderliness is spasmodic. I remember when I was at the age of eighteen or nineteen I was a senior estimator at an electrical engineering firm, and the requests for estimates used to come in, and I was kind of lazy so I'd pile them up on my desk and they'd go up to a big pile. And I used to say, "Well, I've got to get down to this," and then I polished them off like anything. And used to get praised for the prodigious amount of work I'd done in that particular day. That lasted until the complaints began to come in about the delay in answering. That's the way I feel about working. Certain writers want to work every hour of the day: they're very facile. I'm not that way. I want to say, "Let's lay off for several hours, let's play." And then we get down to it again. I'm sure the Jesuits did not teach that. As far as any religious influence, at the time I think it was fear. But I've grown out of religious fear now. I think I have. I don't know. I don't think the religious side of the Jesuit education impressed itself so much upon me as the strict discipline one endured at the time.
Number 13
(1921) [Hitchcock worked on production and direction of this film, which was never completed.]
I was talked into Number Thirteen by the publicity woman of Famous Players-Lasky, who began to see something in me even before I'd got to writing or art direction, when I was just a young man around the editorial department. She had worked with Chaplin, and in those days they thought anyone who'd worked with Chaplin knew everything. She wrote this comedy and we tried to put it together. It wasn't any, and it never saw the light of day.
Always Tell Your Wife (1922)
[When the director of this film became ill, Hitchcock completed it, in collaboration with the producer.]
The interesting thing was that I gravitated from the American film training at Famous Players into a position with a new company, so I didn't have to move into an existing company which had certain rules and organizational patterns. I really was fortunate in that sense, because as a young man and as an art director, I was quite dogmatic. I mean, I would build a set and say to the director, "Here's where it's shot from."
Woman to Woman (1922)
[Hitchcock wrote the scenario with Graham Cutts and acted as designer and assistant director.]
All my early training was American, which was far superior to the British. The London Daily Express had a review of this film which was headlined "Best American Picture Made in England." Now of course Cutts directed, but I was art director and writer, and my wife was the editor.
[After listing credits for five films which Hitchcock said could not be labeled as "Hitchcock picture[s]," and briefly mentioning his association with Erich Pommer and experience making films in Germany, Bogdanovich includes the following comment on how Hitchcock became a director.] I had no intention of becoming a film director, you know. It was quite a surprise to me. Sir Michael Balcon is really the man responsible for Hitchcock. At the time, I had been a script writer, and when I finished that job I became the art director or production designer. And I did that for several pictures, until one day Balcon said that the director (I worked with the same director all the time) didn't want me any more. I don't know what the reason was, some political reason. And it was then that Balcon said, "How would you like to become a director?" I had been quite content at the time, writing scripts and designing. I enjoyed it very much.
The Pleasure Garden (1925) The Pleasure Garden was just an assignment, but again there was the American influence. Balcon came out to Munich, where I had shot it, to see the first cut. He hadn't seen the rushes or anything. And his first remark was, "Well, it doesn't look like a continental picture. It looks like an American picture." The cameraman, although he was Italian, had worked with American directors and was very conscious of American techniques. I think the headline in the Daily Express on The Pleasure Garden was "Young Man With a Master Mind." That was the first picture.
The Lodger (1926)
Did you want the audience to believe without doubt that Novello was the murderer?
That was one of the commercial drawbacks one encountered. Of course, strictly speaking, he should have been the ripper and gone on his way. That's how Mrs. Belloc-Lowndes wrote the book. But Ivor Novello was the matinee idol of the period and could not be the murderer. The same thing was true of Cary Grant in Suspicion many years later. So, obviously, putting that kind of actor into this sort of film is a mistake because you just have to compromise.
In The Lodger you were quite conscious of the German school of filmmaking, weren't you? Very much so. You have to remember that a year before, I was working on the Ufa lot--I worked there for many months, at the same time as Jannings was making The Last Laugh with Murnau. And I was able to absorb a lot of the methods and style.
How did you achieve the shot of Novello pacing back and forth above their heads? I had a floor made of one-inch thick plate-glass, about six feet square. This was the visual substitution for sound, you see. Just as much as the set I had built for when the lodger went out late at night--almost to the ceiling of the studio, showing four flights of stairs and a handrail. And all you see is a hand going down. That was, of course, from the point of view of the mother listening. Today we would substitute sound for that. Although I think that the handrail shot would be worthy of today in addition to sound.


©1999 The Museum of Modern Art, New York