Alfred Hitchock Never Read the Novel “Psycho”

Alfred Hitchock Never Read the Novel “Psycho” (photo)

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“Hitchcock” by Francois Truffaut was one of the very first books about film I ever bought, the summer after my junior year of high school. I read it over and over. I practically memorized parts of it. I’ve still got my copy: it’s yellowed and frayed, the way a great book should look. If you haven’t read it — well if you haven’t read it you need to get a freaking copy right now. But the book is a lengthy interview of Alfred Hitchcock conducted by Truffaut in 1962, in which the French critic and director lays out his theories about Hitchcock’s work, and Hitchcock responds with his own thoughts and anecdotes about his storied career. It’s awesome: funny, insightful, and a truly illuminating work of film criticism. This book literally changed my life when I was 16. I started looking at Hitchcock’s work — and all films — differently. The subtitle calls it “The definitive study of Alfred Hitchcock.” I don’t disagree.

So I beyond excited to find that Filmdetail had linked to MP3s of Truffaut’s original audio files from his conversations with Hitchcock. Over on their site you can listen to (or download!) twenty-five different half-hour long chunks of their conversation, including portions on “Notorious” and “The Birds.” That’s over twelve hours of audio. It’s like the greatest podcast series in history, made some thirty five years before the invention of podcasting.

I’m going to listen to the whole thing, but just to get a taste, I turned on the segment on “Psycho” and read along with my copy of “Hitchcock” by Truffaut. Viewed and listened to side-by-side, you get to see how much Truffaut massaged the manuscript to make the conversation flow more naturally — because he didn’t speak English, the entire 12.5 hours were conducted through translator Helen G. Scott — and even where he fleshed out or completely changed his own comments. For example, on page 282, Truffaut asks Hitchcock “Would you say that ‘Psycho’ is an experimental film?” to which Hitchcock provides his very famous answer about the fact that when he made “Psycho” he didn’t care about the acting or the subject matter, merely the fact that he was able to evoke a physical response in the audience (“They were aroused by pure film.”) But the original audio reveals that Truffaut didn’t ask about experimental film at all. What he really asked (at around the 24 minutes mark) was “Do you have anything else to say about ‘Psycho?'” In other words, Hitchcock didn’t come to that incredibly famous description of his film over the course of the conversation; he had it fully formed in his mind already and was simply waiting for the opportunity to share it!

My other favorite moment is this exchange from the very beginning of that same conversation about “Psycho” (obviously the emphasis added is mine):

Francois Truffaut: I read the novel, “Psycho,” which I thought was, frankly, very poor. In fact, worse than bad. In fact, I am surprised it was even written at all. It’s so absurd and even almost dishonest, since there are constant descriptions of Norman sitting down next to his mother and talking to her. And this convention works very well in cinema and not at all in a novel. Isn’t that your opinion?”

Alfred Hitchcock: Sure. Well I probably — you see, when I look for an idea sometimes I read the novel right through and sometimes I don’t. I don’t think I ever read that thing.

FT: Someone gave you a reading of it?

AH: Yes. Or I might have read it very quickly once, that’s all. And never looked at it again.

FT: But what attracted you to this one then?

AH: I think the murder in the bathtub coming out of the blue.

I’d love to see a “Harry Potter” fans reaction to that statement. And I can only imagine what other fascinating tidbits the rest of the conversations contain. All I need is, like, a twelve hour subway ride to find out.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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