The June 2010 issue of Sight and Sound magazine asked fifty-one film writers and critics to list the five film books most “most useful and/or inspirational and/or important to them.” Tied for number two on that list is Hitchcock by François Truffaut.
Truffaut’s 1966 book bears the subtitle, “A definitive study of Alfred Hitchcock.” The text is the byproduct of a 1962 conversation between the two directors that spanned fifty hours over six days. Hitchcock is the work’s proper title, but one may encounter it as Le Cinéma selon Alfred Hitchcock or, as it appears on the cover of the most recent edition of the book by Simon and Schuster, Hitchcock/Truffaut. Truffaut also called it “the Hitchcock.”
I first encountered the book in the fall of 2017 in the course “The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock,” taught at Middlebury College by Professor John Bertolini. “The Hitchcock” was our only textbook.
Whether Hitchcock is the definitive study of Hitchcock is certainly up for debate. (I would say, no. There are far greater critical analyses of his work. This text really only scratches the surface, and suffers from Hitchcock’s tendency to be more interested in the technical side of his films than, say, story, character or theme. But, that is a topic for another, longer post.) However, what is indisputable is that the book changed film.
To learn more about that effect, I recommend:
A marvelous essay by David Bordwell on “the Hitchcock’s” legacy and impact, the 2015 documentary on the book, Hitchcock/Truffaut, and the relationship between the two directors.
The trailer for 2015 documentary on the book! I would recommend, of course, watching the whole film. The cast includes: Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, David Fincher, James Gray, Wes Anderson, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, and more.
“François Truffaut and His Influences”
Part of a wonderful video essay by Kent Jones made for The Criterion Collection as part of the rerelease of Truffaut’s The Soft Skin (1964).
It is my hope to eventually build an archive of materials related to Hitchcock/Truffaut. If you have any recommendations,
please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.