The Dark Side of Genius : The Life of Alfred Hitchcock

Donald Spoto

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The Dark Side of Genius : The Life of Alfred Hitchcock

The Dark Side of Genius The Life of Alfred Hitchcock Absolutely compulsory reading The New York Times Book ReviewNo one but a tortured genius could have created such brooding suspenseful and utterly original films as SPELLBOUND PSYCHO and THE BIRDS

  • Title: The Dark Side of Genius : The Life of Alfred Hitchcock
  • Author: Donald Spoto
  • ISBN: 9780345314628
  • Page: 219
  • Format: Paperback
  • Absolutely compulsory reading The New York Times Book ReviewNo one but a tortured genius could have created such brooding, suspenseful, and utterly original films as SPELLBOUND, PSYCHO, and THE BIRDS Now Alfred Hitchcock, the intensely private and often bizarre creator of these masterpieces, is fully revealed in a masterful biography that traces the roots of his obsess Absolutely compulsory reading The New York Times Book ReviewNo one but a tortured genius could have created such brooding, suspenseful, and utterly original films as SPELLBOUND, PSYCHO, and THE BIRDS Now Alfred Hitchcock, the intensely private and often bizarre creator of these masterpieces, is fully revealed in a masterful biography that traces the roots of his obsessions back to a childhood in which the seeds of his future films were sown.

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      Published :2018-06-08T20:27:28+00:00

    One thought on “The Dark Side of Genius : The Life of Alfred Hitchcock

    1. Paul Bryant on said:

      A very fine biography which spreads out Hitchcock's unhappy psychology like a banquet for us to dine on. What was this fat ugly film director going to do but hire a succession of lovely blonde actresses and then sexually assault them by proxy in his movies culminating in Tippi Hedron's brutal rape-by-birds scene - he insisted on take after take, it went on for days. Well, this book fingers that scene as the nadir of Hitch's horribly creepy treatment of women - because at the time he was also att [...]

    2. Sketchbook on said:

      Cher maitre, Hitchcock. From his 5-decade career, I can cite at least 12 pix that are outstanding for me. Fr other giants - Hawks, Lang, Lubitsch,Sturges, Wilder - I spot about 4-5 each. My favs: "Notorious." Sublime Bergman, s&m. Cary forces her to sleep w enemy agent who does nightly bedside reports to mummie as Hitch, Spoto notes, did w his own. This is his most visually sublime, too. Then, "Strangers on a Train." Ray Chandler, signed to sc, didn't connect w Hitch, said his work was 'eras [...]

    3. Evan on said:

      HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! A tour-de-force, un-put-downable biography, and thus far the best Hollywood bio I've ever read.When Donald Spoto's ambitious, daring and provocative biography on the "master of suspense" appeared in 1983, it blew all previous efforts out of the water. It also engendered controversy. Some fans of Hitch were outraged and scholars and critics were uncomfortable with the level of speculation, artistic license and psychoanalysis Spoto engaged in to match the bizarre content of [...]

    4. Kathrina on said:

      A while back, while reading Mr. Peanut, I was distracted by a small side-story of two lovers who meet in a Hitchcock seminar. Regardless of these characters and their roles in that story, I became increasingly jealous of their enrollment in such a course. I never got to study Hitchcock in school! But I want to! I do! Spoto's Hitchcock bio (this one, I mean. He's also written two more) was the perfect overview of Hitchcock's films and his at times creepy, pathetic, inspired and always melodramati [...]

    5. F.R. on said:

      On a recent flight to the US I sat and watched Toby Jones in ‘The Girl’, while next to me the other half fixed her attention on Anthony Hopkins in ‘Hitchcock’. Our side by side pursuit of the dark side of Alfred Hitchcock inspired me to get Donald Spoto’s tome out of storage and read it again for the first time in 20 years.‘The Dark Side of Genius’ is both an apt and unapt title. Without a shadow of a doubt Spoto sees Hitchcock as a genius, being unstinting in his praise of his mas [...]

    6. Nick Smith on said:

      How does one get inside the head of a major director? In his films, he really places a lot of himself, and so it was in this biography of my favorite director ever. Now I can go enjoy more of his films I've not yet seen armed with intricate commentary and critical review. I am a cineaste in the pure form and always will value art above box office value. But it is curious and interesting to note when those two coincide and when they diverge. One could "write a book about it."This biography of Hit [...]

    7. Andrew Farley on said:

      An incredible look into the life and works of one of the worlds greatest filmmakers.It is easy to tell that huge amounts of research went into this detailed work of the life and movies of Alfred Hitchcock. Each chapter represents a group of years listed chronologically. Within a chapter you may jump forward or backward at the mention of a certain work, but overall you follow the timeline from his birth through his death. However, this book is not so much a biography of Hitchcock's life as it is [...]

    8. Eric on said:

      This book is as much a treatise of early film and television as it is a biography. Hitchcock is revealed to be a learned visual artist inspired by his own perverse fears and masochism. The film and television industry rewards his films' financial success by allowing him to wield his vicious, carte blanche control over his writers producers and actors. In the early days, actors did not have a union and were contracted to a production company for their unspecified use on whatever picture they desi [...]

    9. Maria E on said:

      What I got out of this book is that I haven't seen as many Hitchcock movies as I thought I had and the author talked about what a sick SOB Hitch was but without analyzing it. Soto gave enough of the background to assign blame to a repressive Catholic upbringing, the Hollywood scene, post-Victorian London, and just being a sadist (but aren't all directors?)I did wonder though about the focus on Rape/Murder scenes toward the end of Hitch's life and Hitch's belief post The Birds that the American p [...]

    10. Jason on said:

      This was a tough one. Since there is very little known about Alfred Hitchcock, most of this biography was speculation gleaned from a few facts and reading into his films. A lot of it I found repetitive, in terms of going into how he worked on each films-it was pretty much the same, but there were pages devoted to his process for each and every film, over and over again. Some information I didn't have have and that was interesting, but I found this one to be kind of blah-which is rare, having rea [...]

    11. Andy on said:

      I had a great time revisiting this book after 30+ years. Essential reading for fans of Hitchcock or movies in general. I also highly recommend the Attaboy Clarence podcast which features the 3-part series The Adventures of Alfred Hitchcock.

    12. Michael on said:

      Whenever one delves into the background of someone famous, one runs the risk of finding out things that one might not wish to know. The question becomes, does one want to know the potentially tarnished portions of the individual’s past or stick with the unsullied image?Obviously, if you are going to stick with the unsullied version, you probably do not want to read a biography which has the phrase “dark side” in it.The Dark Side of Genius: The Art of Alfred Hitchcock is a fascinating explo [...]

    13. Elaine on said:

      If your interested in Alfred Hitchcock this is a very informative book!

    14. Chad on said:

      Definitely an interesting read. I think that a film student would get more out of the technical aspects of the book in terms of specific films of his. I have only seen a small percentage of his massive filmography but i enjoyed getting little glimpses at the man behind the name. I was intrigued go find out more about his cameo appearances in his own films. I had always taken it as just a unique calling card but it was actually much more deliberate and calculated. Hitch was generally of the opini [...]

    15. Anna Burke on said:

      I am fascinated by Alfred Hitchcock's work. He's an early master of the macabre, yes, but skilled at so many aspects of film-making: direction, lighting and cinematography, the ability to weave humor into dark and even desperate situations. He also benefited from the skilled expertise of his wife Alma who was, among other things, a skilled film editor. His work is iconic, but the man remains a mystery. My hope is to find a biography that will reveal something more about the man behind the legend [...]

    16. Robert on said:

      Alfred Hitchcock is quickly becoming one of my favorite film directors, and for good reason. He was able to tap into primal emotions in a way that many couldn't. And for this same reason I love this biography by Donald Spoto. Seeing as he featured prominently in the various retrospective documentaries packaged with the fifteen films I watched last month, I knew I had to get my hands on this book because he seemed to be the definitive interpreter of Hitchcock's oeuvre and personality. While arran [...]

    17. Elmwoodblues on said:

      As a kid, I ran home after school to watch Alfred Hitchcock walk into that rotund silhouette, the iconic 'bum-da-ba-de-DUM-be-bum' signalling the start of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. As a teen, watching 'Notorious', the thrill was commensurate with the hormones: hinted undercurrents of sex and death, submission and sadism, power and things out of control. As an adult, there always remains, after countless viewing of the canon, some new thing to see, some trick to observe, some 'I see what he di [...]

    18. Vicky on said:

      Wow. This is a heavy book - in terms of length, certainly. It would be a terrific doorstop, although in my case I listened to the audiobook. But also heavy in terms of minutiae of Hitchcock's filmmaking and pseudo psychoanalysis of his films and life. I give it 4 stars because it succeeds on the film minutiae end but falls short a bit under the weight of the amateur psychology. I have Spoto's The Art of Alfred Hitchcock - another great doorstop - and it certainly seems Spoto has taken on a negat [...]

    19. Tomerobber on said:

      This was an interesting listen of a biography of one of my favorite movie makers. Narrated by Jeff Riggerbach. 23 hrs. 26 min. long. It was a glimpse into what made "Hitch" run. I have DVD's of almost all of the movies and several of the TV shows as well . . . some of my most favorite movies are the ones he created . . . REAR WINDOW, FAMILY PLOT, SPELLBOUND, NOTORIOUS, PSYCHO, THE BIRDS, so many I can't even name them all here. A great peak into the mind of a person who created the moments that [...]

    20. Nicole on said:

      I first heard of this bio when I took a graduate film class on Hitchcock, and my professor didn't assign it because he felt it was too psychological and conjectural. We read McGilligan instead. But I finally got around to this, and my professor wasn't wrong. It's certainly a darker and more brooding story than McGilligan's, and there are rather upsetting connections between Hitchcock's films and his own personal issues, which were legion. He had to have been difficult to know and to work with, e [...]

    21. Elizabeth on said:

      The book examines Hitchcock during the making of his most popular films, utilizing the observations of the actors who were involved with these films, and Hitchcock's other associates in the film industry. The author has created a psychological study of Hitchcock with these observations and the content of his films. The first part of the book can get a little tedious, as the author put's forth facts about Hitchcock's family line and childhood, but in the end, all these things are important to Hit [...]

    22. Dav on said:

      The biography is about 600 Pages--seemed much longer. These are the tales of Alfred Hitchcock's life growing up in Europe, his career beginning in England, eventually becoming a US citizen and making a bunch of memorable movies. There's a lot of detail on the beginnings of the movie Biz, silent films, talkies, Hollywood royalty and Hitchcock's involvement in that changing world. He became England's famed and favored director. Later in life he moved to Hollywood and continued his success as a phe [...]

    23. Ramie on said:

      I think all I really needed to know about Hitchcock could have been summed up in a magazine article. A 20+ hour audiobook was definitely overkill. Hitchcock was an excellent filmmaker, an awkward human being around most, around those he had some power over he could be downright mean -- a trait that seemed to get minimized as "practical joker". This book gives you examples of all of that, but too much time is spent speculating on why Hitchcock did what he did, guessing at how he felt, etc with no [...]

    24. Ricardo on said:

      Esto debe de ser lo mejor que escribió Spoto pero no el libro que se merecía este genio. Aunque para el momento en que apareció es cierto que había poca literatura sobre Hitch, dejando de lado sus entrevistas con Truffaut, algún análisis suelto y el por entonces -y todavía hoy- casi inhallable libro de Robin Wood, editado en los 60 por Cineclub Núcleo y dificilísimo de encontrar usado (tengo fotocopia).Donde más trastabilla es al intentar relacionar las obsesiones sexuales de toda su f [...]

    25. Bacon Stopar on said:

      Part film history and part film theory, this is an intriguing look at not only Hitchcock's films, but also his motivations, inner turmoil, and relationships. Some people may find the author's tangents about the history of things like silent film distracting, the cinephile will enjoy the synopsis. The author makes assumptions and analysis that occasionally feel a bit far-fetched, but regardless warrant discussion. He sometimes too neatly ties together Hitchcock's films with his real-life relation [...]

    26. Jane Night on said:

      What I liked- This book was very interesting. It asks many questions about Hitchcock and his art. It was a very interesting and often entertaining read.What I didn’t like- I felt that the author tended to overemphasize Hitchcock’s weight when it wasn’t necessarily appropriate to the points he was making. Hitchcock’s obesity was certainly relevant in his relations with women and how he viewed himself. It was also a result of using food as a drug to heal emotional wounds. The problem was t [...]

    27. Sistermagpie on said:

      I suppose any biography comes down to the person it's describing and Alfred Hitchcock is quite a subject. To call him darkly complex would be an understatement. Spoto really gives you an idea what it must have been like to work with the man, sometimes entertaining, but increasingly dark. There's a fascinating twisted psychology woven throughout the book that you can't help but recognize in his movies as well. Reading his biography is definitely going to make his movies even more interesting to w [...]

    28. Mark on said:

      As engrossing as one of Hitchcock's movies, I loved this book. Not only is it an illuminating pyschological portait, but also an in depth look at this technique, his obsessions, his art and his world. I not only learned about his films but about film in general, film as art and film in a historical and cultural context. Those juicy enough to be thought speculative, its as well documented and researched as it possiibly can be. I'd heard this was a contreversial take on Hitchcock but I would imagi [...]

    29. Alberto Lopez on said:

      Clearly the most exhaustive analysis of Alfred Hitchcock's person and his innovative art. At times, the book felt too long. Other times, it seemed as if the author was once again addressing a previously covered subject. In other words, I felt the author had a hard time curating the massive bundles of information he wanted to deliver. Yet, the fact remains that the book left nothing uncovered. There is nothing missing. If you want to know all there is to know about Hitchcock, this is the book for [...]

    30. Jonathan on said:

      It's well written. Even though I knew some of these things, I didn't know the majority. Some of the stuff made me question my respect for the director while others deepened the respect for him. After all, it illustrates Hitchcock as what he was in life. He was a deeply flawed person who happened to also be a cinematic genius.

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