Kent Jones has made a documentary about the writing of Truffaut’s seminal book about Alfred Hitchcock, published in the mid 1960s just as Truffaut was beginning to rise as a master of the Nouveau Vague. Truffaut knew he could learn from a master — a sign of his intelligence and hunger for all things cinematic. For how different these two men were:Truffaut petit, rangy, intuitive; Hitchcock large, careful, controlling, supremely in command.
The documentary besides lavishly quoting from the book and using the carefully preserved soundtrack of the men’s voices, includes interviews with contemporary directors, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Manual Assayas, James Gray, Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson who comment on Hitchcock’s technique and subject matter.
Watching Sylvia Sidney in an early thriller, carefully eyeing a knife, and some of the silent pictures, made me want to revisit his early work. As one of the directors points out, you can watch most of his movies with no sound, and pick up 90% of the meaning. Such are the advantages of working in the silent era.
But who would want to miss Claude Rains confess to his screen mother, “Mother, I’m married to an American agent.”