2015 French-American documentary film directed by Kent Jones about François Truffaut's book on Alfred Hitchcock, Hitchcock/Truffaut, and its impact on cinema.
Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock over eight days in 1962 at his offices at Universal Studios to write his book, and the documentary features reflections from directors including James Gray, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, and Olivier Assayas.
It was first screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was shown in the TIFF Docs section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Kent Jones
Produced by Charles S. Cohen
Written by Kent Jones
Based on Hitchcock/Truffaut
by François Truffaut
Starring Alfred Hitchcock
Music by Jeremiah Bornfield
Cinematography Nick Bentgen
Mihai Malaimare Jr.
Edited by Rachel Reichman
Distributed by Cohen Media Group
19 May 2015 (Cannes)
2 December 2015 (US)
Hitchcock/Truffaut is a 1966 book by François Truffaut about Alfred Hitchcock, originally released in French as Le Cinéma selon Alfred Hitchcock.
First published by Éditions Robert Laffont, it is based on a 1962 exchange between Hitchcock and Truffaut, in which the two directors spent a week in a room at Universal Studios talking about movies. After Hitchcock's death, Truffaut updated the book with a new preface and final chapter on Hitchcock's later films.
The book is the inspiration for the 2015 documentary, Hitchcock/Truffaut.
In Hitchcock, film critic François Truffaut presents fifty hours of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock about the whole of his vast directorial career, from his silent movies in Great Britain to his color films in Hollywood. The result is a portrait of one of the greatest directors the world has ever known, an all-round specialist who masterminded everything, from the screenplay and the photography to the editing and the soundtrack. Hitchcock discusses the inspiration behind his films and the art of creating fear and suspense, as well as giving strikingly honest assessments of his achievements and failures, his doubts and hopes. This peek into the brain of one of cinema’s greats is a must-read for all film aficionados.
Review: ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ Revisits the Master of Suspense
Hitchcock/Truffaut NYT Critics’ Pick
By JEANNETTE CATSOULISDEC. 1, 2015
“Psycho” (1960) was the first film I saw in a movie theater, an experience that my 7-year-old self was ill-equipped to parse. Surrounded by jittery adults, I puzzled over everything, and not just the frantic screaming that mimicked Bernard Herrmann’s devilishly clever musical cues. Why, I wondered, was Janet Leigh wandering around in her bra in the middle of the afternoon?
That juxtaposing of sex and terror was as essential to Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic style as his meticulous deployment of icy blond actresses. Disappointingly, Kent Jones’s documentary “Hitchcock/Truffaut” — though not nearly as dry as its title — barely tickles Hitchcock’s fascinating fetishes. Despite a promising nod to the brilliant perversions of “Marnie” and “Vertigo” (which few can deny is one terrifically sick movie), Mr. Jones remains rigidly focused on hammering home the director François Truffaut’s motivation for writing the 1966 book on which this film is based: To lead Hitchcock, then widely considered a mere commercial entertainer, out of the shoals of populism and into the cineaste spotlight. Truffaut knew that hindsight was better than no sight at all.
Just as a snooty reader might be enticed to the novels of Stephen King by a thumbs-up from The New York Review of Books, movie buffs were likely to view Truffaut’s enthusiasm for Hitchcock as a sufficient entree to their discerning fold. But the book, an engrossing record of Truffaut’s dayslong interview with his idol in 1962, did more than just reposition its subject’s reputation. It also provided riveting insight into the art and craft of moviemaking, revealing Hitchcock’s mastery of time and space and his unwavering preference, honed by his period of making silent movies, for image over dialogue.
Curating a selection of the original interview recordings (whose sound quality is damn near pristine), Mr. Jones fashions an unfaltering encomium that’s entirely free of the highfalutin monologues that might deter noncinephiles. Bob Balaban’s intermittent narration is soft and unintrusive, and a chorus of lauded directors, mostly American and all male (I can’t help thinking that a woman might have dug deeper into the significant contributions of Hitchcock’s wife and collaborator, Alma Reville), chime in with acuity and ardor.
What they don’t do is show how their own movies might have been influenced by Hitchcock’s technique, which Mr. Jones lovingly illustrates in dissections of a few of the master’s most memorable scenes. Though merely a tasting menu, these moments add jolts of pulpy fun and allow their creator to speak for himself. The man who embraced many of the characteristics that movie snobs love to denigrate — his genre; his prolific output (at the time of the interview, he was just completing his 48th film); the constraints of the studio system — is finally his own best argument for the happy coexistence of art and entertainment.
“Hitchcock/Truffaut” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Have you seen ‘Psycho’? Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.