The First True Hitchcock: The Making of a Filmmaker

Henry K. Miller. Univ. of California, $26.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-520-34356-6

In this illuminating chronicle, historian Miller (The Essential Raymond Durgnat) zooms in on the 1920s film industry to tell the story of how Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger came to be regarded as “the first true Hitchcock movie.” Differing accounts of the movie’s creation have obscured the truth about the source of its style, and Miller sets the record straight by looking closely at Hitchcock’s influences, as well as the film culture in which he came of age. Miller covers two major parts of the myth: first, that the film placed Hitchcock’s career in jeopardy, and second, that Hitchcock borrowed techniques from Soviet cinema. In fact, Miller writes, the director had already released a successful feature before filming The Lodger (and had signed a lucrative studio contract), and was inspired by German cinematic motifs (he later mentioned in interviews that German “angles of photography, the visual ideas” were key in his making of the film). Miller is best at describing Hitchcock’s directorial talents, namely, his ability to “make his audiences doubt the evidence of their senses, especially—and appropriately—their sense of sight.” Packed with cinematic insight, this will hit the spot for film buffs. (Jan.)