Stephen Rebello is the author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, and his book largely contributed to Hitchcock, one of the one-two punches audiences got this year that revived interest in the master of suspense. That film landed on screens merely weeks after The Girl premiered on HBO and suddenly 2012 became the year of Hitch.
We caught up with Rebello for an exclusive interview to close the book on the year that spawned mountains of new interest in the man who gave us The Birds, North by Northwest (one of our Top 100 Movies of All Time) and numerous indelible classics. “There are so many Hitchcocks and I knew a few of them,” he said and laughed.
“What I mean, there are so many ways of looking at him through so many different prisms in which to look at his work and his life. There’s nothing definitive. Look at the numbers of books on him. Look at the great number of movie makers who talk about him and he is many things to many people. So, I’m excited that we’re a part of this new surge in Hitchcock interest.”
Hitchcock, Rebello said, takes audiences inside the world of a film master and shows why the filmmaker was given so much attention in 2012.
“This film provides an interesting view of Hitchcock in terms of the different methods to his madness. He could be cruel and kind. He could be a genius, but a genius who was unsure of himself. He could be enormously gracious and enormously focused on his own issues,” he added. “I think it’s amazing that there are many looks at him that are brought to bear this year. It’s a man who will never be pinned down. He can never be wrapped up in a neat little package.”
The focus of the film, and Rebello’s novel, was on a specific period of time: When he was making Psycho. “The book, and the film, is meant to be a fly on the wall. He never thought we’d be talking about that movie all these decades later,” Rebello said.
It’s hard not to notice that the heart of the film, and his book, is how Hitchcock’s wife Alma was integral to his success. “He was a genius who had a perfect collaborator in his life partner. She preceded him in the movie business. He often deferred to her about casting and material. She was extraordinarily brilliant and what audiences wanted. He trusted few people, but trusted her in every way,” Rebello said. “He would have been a great filmmaker without her, but he was a better human being and filmmaker because of her.”
Hitchcock is a fascinating look at a movie master and his muse, and that is why it was one of our honorable mentions in our Top 10 Movies of 2012. The film also shows an aspect of Hollywood that even the great Hitchcock was not immune to… its unfriendly relationship with the passage of time.
“Here was Hitchcock at a time in his life, age 59, hitting 60, top of his career, and yet dealing with a new generation of filmmakers nipping at his heels,” Rebello said.
Making Psycho after North by Northwest was a very unpopular choice. In fact, the couple had to mortgage their home to get the movie made… as shown in the Hitchcock trailer. “What was it like as he took a nose dive into a different kind of material? He put his own financing on the line, his reputation on the line. And who did he trust above all else? The answer was Alma.”