Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: August 19, 2008
Ken Mogg’s coffee table book is better than similar books about the director. The title might lead one to believe that the book is another biography, but it is really a tribute to the director’s film output. There are similar books about the director available, but The Alfred Hitchcock Story stands out for a number of reasons.
The text of Mogg’s book benefits from an easy-to-read style, and will certainly expand the reader’s appreciation of the films discussed. Readers should also be suitably impressed with the vast amount of photographs that are included on each page. I would venture a guess that readers will find at least a few photos that they have never seen before.
The book’s structure is somewhat unusual. It is broken up into five different units (The Early Years 1899-1933, Classic British Movies 1934-1939, Hollywood 1940-1950, The Golden Years 1951-1964, and Languishing 1965-1980). Each of these units includes a four page introduction written by Dan Aulier (who wrote Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, and Hitchcock’s Notebooks). These introductions provide the reader with a little biographical and ‘behind the scenes’ information that place the films in a certain period of the director’s career. This context enriches Moggs chapters on the individual films (which are usually either 2 or 4 pages in length).
Articles written by various other writers are also scattered throughout the book. These include:
“Behind the Scenes Collaborators” by Philip Kemp
“Hitchcock’s Cameo Appearances” by David Barraclough
“Hitchcock and His Writers” by Steven DeRosa
“Famous Locations” by Philip Kemp
“Hitchcock on Radio” by Martin Grams Jr
“Hitchcock and Film Technique” by Philip Kemp
“The Icy Blondes” by Philip Kemp
“Alfred Hitchcock Presents” by J. Larry Kuhns
“Remakes, Sequels, and Homages” by David Barraclough
“The Short Story Anthologies” by Martin Grams Jr
“Unrealized Projects” by Dan Aulier
Most of these diversions are either two or four pages long, and all of them should interest readers. I imagine that die-hard Hitchcock enthusiasts will probably know a lot of the information provided by the book, and some will likely disagree with some of Mogg’s theoretical analysis. That’s the nature of these books, and I feel that this should be considered a strength rather than a weakness. It is beneficial for readers to have their own notions challenged. It forces them to think beyond their initial analysis (which creates a better understanding of the film in question). There is certainly enough here to recommend the book to Hitchcock fans. The photos alone provide an adequate excuse to add it to one’s library.
Review by: Devon Powell