Alfred Hitchcock
Film Night Frenzy interview


date: May 27, 1972

interviewer: Sheridan Morley

main topics: Frenzy, cliche, thrillers, leisure

link to video: Youtube

A certain amount of the press reviews are commenting on the comedy of those scenes and have also commented on the violence of the first killing in particular suggested that you needn't have been quite as explicit as you were.

Why not? What is worth doing is worth doing well.

There wasn't a feeling that you had to live up to Straw Dogs, or to a new feeling of violence...

I've never seen Straw Dogs, so I wouldn't know anything about that. I never copy other films, ever, because I usually spend most of the time avoiding the cliche. For example, in North by Northwest I had to put the hero Cary Grant on the spot. So, the cliche would have been putting him under a lamp, wet roads, a pool of light, a black cat slithering along the wall, a face peering from the window and the black limousine coming along. And I decided against all that as being the worst kind of cliche for the scene. So I decided to do it in the open, bright sunshine without a tree, or a house in sight. And then out of nowhere comes a crop duster and chases him around. Well, immediately that has now become a cliche because the next time you saw it was in a Bond picture, where Bond was chased by helicopter. And you saw a French picture called That Man from Rio where a man is chased by a motorboat. Then, in a later film you saw a man chased by a car. So what was once the avoidance of a cliche has become a cliche.

I don't think anyone would doubt the tremendous amount of influence you've had on other films and other filmmakers, but this in fact is the first film you've made in England for something like twenty years. What made you come back now?

The story lent itself to that occasion. No other reason.

But now you've cast this film with a great many distinguished character actors, but no stars.

It wasn't necessary. I thought the story would benefit by being a little bit more realistic, especially in America.

Is there a feeling that the film will be your film and that you will be the star in it?

Entirely, yes, sure.

And that's the way you'd like it?

I think so, yes.

Looking back on the film now, are you completely happy with the way it turned out?

Pretty well, yes. It was laid out very meticulously, to start with. And it followed the desired pattern.

How much do you mind where critics do talk about in the context of your films?

Well, they tend to talk about content rather than the treatment. They worry about the content, I don't any more than if I were a painter painting a plate of apples, worrying whether or not the apples are sweet, or sour.

The reason I asked was that very often your films open to a mild reception and then after about five years, they are suddenly rediscovered.

They're always... it takes a year for them to become a classic. Psycho is a typical example. When that film was reviewed, it was said of it that this film is a blot on an honorable career, and yet within a year it's a classic.

Do you think the same thing will happen to Frenzy?

Not quite so much. There have been rather responsible reviews on the picture. You've probably read them all.

Yes I have, but where do you rate it in your own hierarchy of films?

I rate it alongside Rear Window and pictures like that.

But what got you into thrillers in the first place?

The same that got other literates into the field. After all, in England, the thriller, or a suspense story, if you go to John Buchan, or [Arthur] Conan Doyle - see, it's first class literature, whereas in America it's not.

And yet once you made your name in this country as a maker of thrillers, you did in fact go to America (?).

That's right.

Was that by choice, or...

Oh yes, because it was a challenge to go there. My problem getting to America was to make them recognize that the thriller was an important genre of a film to make and need not be a cheap thing.

When you are not making thrillers in California, what kind of life do you lead away from the studios?

I stay at home and go to bed at nine, and read... not thrillers.