*. There was a time when you could expect to find certain volumes on every cinephiles bookshelf. The time I’m talking about being back when people had bookshelves with books on them. Among these were David Thomson’s Biographical Dictionary of Film, William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, Halliwell’s Film Guide, and the collection of interviews conducted by François Truffaut with Alfred Hitchcock in 1962 and first published in 1966 as Hitchcock/Truffaut. The silver cover with the orange-to-yellow lettering (this was for the updated edition done after Hitchcock’s death) was iconic in itself.
*. The interviews were refreshingly free of puffery and claptrap, instead focusing on a series of entertaining and informed discussions about the practical creative decisions Hitchcock had made. For students of film and aspiring filmmakers it became a sort of Bible, setting a standard for how we talk about movies.
*. That said, I’m not sure why you’d want to make a movie out of it. Nor am I sure that’s what director Kent Jones was aiming for here. Instead it’s more of a general appreciation of Hitchcock’s major work, using excerpts from the interviews to go with clips from the interviews (there were 27 hours of tape to draw from, so no end of material). Other filmmakers like Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, and Richard Linklater also appear as talking heads to give their thoughts.
*. None of which adds up to much. If you’ve read the book, or really any book on Hitchcock, I don’t see how you’d get much out of this. Frankly, there isn’t much more to say about Hitch than has already been said, and if you want close film analysis on a nearly frame-by-frame level you can find it online with more detailed and perceptive breakdowns. Hitchcock/Truffaut plays more like a slickly-produced tribute video, which is fine as far as it goes but that’s not very far. You’d learn more just from re-reading parts of the book, and if this movie is meant to be a substitute for that then I can’t recommend it.