Mr. & Mrs. Hitchcock
February 3–April 10
Following the recent release of HITCHCOCK, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, viewers may have a renewed interest
in the cinematic savvy of Alma Reville, aka Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock. An invaluable creative contributor to her husband’s films, sometimes credited on screen, more often not, Reville was an established script supervisor and film editor when she met her future husband, then employed as a title designer, in 1920s London. And she was with him every step of the way as he moved up the ranks to the director’s chair and on to one of the most prolific and celebrated filmmaking careers.
This series focuses on a selection of Hitchcock films with screenplays credited to Reville (she declined credit on dozens more, as did her husband, despite the extensive work done by both of them on the scripts for nearly all of Hitchcock’s films). Additionally, two silent films written by Reville but not directed by Hitchcock make for intriguing comparisons—most notably the suspenseful melodrama THE FIRST BORN, directed by Miles Mander.
“I beg permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen. And their names are Alma Reville.” –Alfred Hitchcock, accepting the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all screenings in the Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock series.
Alfred Hitchcock's landmark 1960 thriller has lost none of its power to shock, despite its familiar place and frequency of reference within the pop culture firmament. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), impulsively fleeing a dead-end job with $40K of her employer's money, stops at the Bates Motel for the night. Motel keeper Norman (Anthony Perkins) seems nice, but his mother is another story. Hitchcock deploys his entire arsenal of suspense- creating skills, honed over four decades of moviemaking, but in surprising, expectation-defying, even iconoclastic ways. Bernard Herrmann's celebrated score remains one of the most powerful examples of the fully integrated use of music in the cinema.
DIR/PROD Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch. US, 1960, b&w, 109 min. NOT RATED
RICH AND STRANGE
Sun, Feb 3, 5:15; Mon, Feb 4, 5:15; Tue, Feb 5, 7:00; Thu, Feb 7, 7:00
After an exquisite opening sequence of cleverly choreographed tedium, office drone Henry Kendall declares to wife Joan Barry that he's had enough. Luckily Kendall's rich uncle has offered them funds, and they leave on a world cruise. Putting in to exotic ports of call—first to Paris, then Marseille, Port Said, Ceylon and Singapore—Barry and Kendall each find themselves courted by, and falling for, more worldly fellow passengers: she, Commander Gordon (Percy Marmont) and he, "the Princess" (Betty Amann). Will they lose each other in their search for adventure? Hitchcock teasingly told interviewers the script was inspired by his and Alma Reville's own honeymoon cruise.
DIR/SCR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Alma Reville, Val Valentine, from the novel by Dale Collins; PROD John Maxwell. UK, 1931, b&w, 92 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 9, 1:00; Sun, Feb 10, 4:45
His death at the front faked for the papers, novelist-turned-soldier John Gielgud accepts a new identity and a spy mission to Switzerland, where he's teamed with high-living assassin "the General" (Peter Lorre) and the beautiful Madeleine Carroll, a fellow agent assigned cover as his wife. Seeking to disrupt a German- Ottoman military deal, the team must battle through red herrings, double crosses, self-doubt and a fatal case of mistaken identity. Dynamic set pieces and a scene-stealing performance by Lorre make for crackling screen entertainment.
DIR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Charles Bennett, Ian Hay, Alma Reville, Jesse Lasky, Jr., from the play by Campbell Dixon and the novel "Ashenden" by W. Somerset Maugham; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1936, b&w, 86 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 16, 1:00; Sun, Feb 17, 5:25; Wed, Feb 20, 7:15
Suspecting London cinema operator Oscar Homolka of terrorist activity, Scotland Yard detective John Loder goes undercover. He ingratiates himself with Homolka's American wife, Sylvia Sydney, and her young brother Desmond Tester, but not in time to uncover Homolka's latest plot—a bomb hidden in a birdcage, carried unwittingly by Tester through the city. Hitchcock's command of suspense, combining the audience's knowledge of a threat unknown to the characters with little feints and digressions to ratchet up the tension, is masterful. Based on the Joseph Conrad novel "The Secret Agent," Hitchcock had to change the title because he'd just used it for his previous film.
DIR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Charles Bennett, from the novel "The Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1936, b&w, 76 min. NOT RATED
YOUNG AND INNOCENT
Fri, Feb 22, 5:15; Sun, Feb 24, 5:15; Mon, Feb 25, 5:15; Tue, Feb 26, 5:15
Aspiring screenwriter Derrick De Marney is wrongly accused
of murdering an actress he was involved with, and goes on the lam in the English countryside until he can clear his name. But the constable's daughter, Nova Pilbeam (daughter Betty in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH), enamored of the dashing young fellow and convinced of his innocence, tags along. An underappreciated gem!
DIR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood, Anthony Armstrong, Gerald Savory, Alma Reville, from the novel "A Shilling for Candles" by Josephine Tey; PROD Edward Black. UK, 1937, b&w, 82 min. NOT RATED
THE FIRST BORN
Live musical accompaniment by Andrew Simpson
Sat, Feb 23, 11:45 a.m.; Sun, Feb 24, 3:30; Thu, Feb 28, 7:00
Unable to conceive, young bride Lady Madeleine Boycott (a pre-blonde Madeleine Carroll, in one of her earliest roles) takes in an illegitimate child, while her caddish husband Sir Hugo Boycott (writer/director/star Miles Mander) is off carousing in North Africa, and passes the boy off as her own. But no good comes of this deception. A thrillingly conceived, expertly edited suspense sequence late in the film can only be described as “Hitchcockian” and is most likely a contribution from screenwriter and former editor Alma Reville, and thus fascinating evidence of the cinematic vision she shared with her husband.
DIR/SCR/PROD Miles Mander, from his book and play; SCR Alma Reville; PROD Michael Balcon, C. M. Woolf. UK, 1928, b&w, 101 min. Silent with live accompaniment. NOT RATED
Tinted 35mm print restored by the BFI National Archive with additional material from George Eastman House.
Hitchcock's follow-up to the blockbuster REBECCA once again sees Joan Fontaine marrying impetuously and coming to regret it. This time, it's to charming playboy Cary Grant, who has become cold and distant. Rumors of her husband’s gambling debts and a bad real estate deal cause Fontaine concern, and when one of his friends turns up dead, she worries she could be next. Best Actress Oscar for Fontaine, with many theorizing it was payback for the one she didn't win for REBECCA. The production is notorious for the meddling of producer David O. Selznick—it was not the ending Hitchcock wanted, nor the one Grant, seeking to shake up his light comedy image, signed on for.
DIR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville, from the novel "Before the Fact" by Francis Iles; PROD Harry E. Edington. US, 1941, b&w, 99 min. NOT RATED
SHADOW OF A DOUBT
Fri, Mar 15, 7:05; Sat, Mar 16, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Mar 19, 9:30
Joseph Cotten drops in on his sister's family in the quiet little town of Santa Rosa, California, for an extended stay. News of a bluebeard killer of wealthy widows has the town—including Cotten's mystery-buff brother-in-law Henry Travers, nosy neighbor Hume Cronyn and his niece Teresa Wright—in a tizzy. To them it's an entertaining game to be puzzled out, but for Cotten it's much more: he's the killer. Hitchcock's innovative inversion of crime story convention begins as a gentle satire of small-town life but, as Wright starts to suspect that her uncle is hiding a terrible secret, becomes a dark and terrifying film noir.
DIR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, Alma Reville; PROD Jack H. Skirball. US, 1943, b&w, 108 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Mar 22, 7:00; Tue, Mar 26, 5:15, 9:10; Wed, Mar 27, 6:30 (Montgomery College Show); Thu, Mar 28, 5:15, 9:20
London drama student Jane Wyman hides her friend Richard Todd, suspected of murder by the police, at her father Alastair Sim's country cottage. According to Todd, the real killer is stage diva Marlene Dietrich. Curious, Wyman begins an investigation of her own, going undercover to work as a maid for Dietrich. After his success in the US, Hitchcock's return to England was ballyhooed in the press, and he gives generous screen time to the British supporting cast—all wonderfully hammy, befitting this spoofy, theater-set caper—including Sim, Michael Wilding, Sybil Thorndike, Joyce Grenfell, Kay Walsh and, in her first screen role, daughter Patricia Hitchcock.
DIR/PROD Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Whitfield Cook, Alma Reville, from the novel "Running Man" by Selwyn Jepson. UK, 1950, b&w, 110 min. NOT RATED
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
Sat, Mar 30, 7:20; Sun, Mar 31,11:00 a.m.
"Criss-cross. I'll kill yours, you kill mine." Tennis champ Farley Granger meets mysterious, overly admiring Robert Walker on a train from New York to Washington, DC, and receives a startling proposal: Walker will kill Granger's unfaithful wife in return for Granger killing Walker's father. Hitchcock's ingeniously choreographed thriller begins like a farce, but through tightly scripted narrative turns and masterful cinematic design, the suspense is ratcheted up toward a show-stopping finale.
DIR/PROD Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Raymond Chandler, Czenzi Ormonde, Whitfield Cook, from the novel by Patricia Highsmith. US, 1951, b&w, 101 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Apr 5, 7:15; Sat, Apr 6, 7:30; Sun, Apr 7, 3:40; Wed, Apr 10, 6:30 (Montgomery College Show)