Hitchcock on Style

Source: Extract from ‘Hitchcock on Style: An Interview with Alfred Hitchcock’, Cinema, vol. 5 issue 1 (August & September 1963), p. 8

Text: H: You know the young film director always says, oh, let’s do a scene where the audience is the camera. That’s the prime cliché of all clichés. Bob Montgomery did one called Lady in the Lake. It’s quite unnecessary. You might just as well do a close-up of who it is. You know, it’s a trick and there’s nothing to it. You’d much better have a close-up and then what they see. Move with them — do anything you like — make them go through any experience — anything.

I: But Chabrol and Truffaut have in a sense imitated this style of yours, or learned from it.

H: Yes, they have. But after all, the greatest example of that which has been traditional, I think, in movies is the experience of a person on a roller coaster. You know when they brought that out with Cinerama, people said “Oh, my God, isn’t Cinerama wonderful? Nothing, of course, nothing like it at all!” That old roller coaster angle has been shot ever since silent films — way, way, back. I remember when they made a film years ago called A Ride on a Runaway Train and they put the camera up front and looked the world in the face. I can go back as far as 1912, maybe earlier, maybe 1910, when they used to have a thing in London called “Hale’s Tours.” And the audience paid their money and they went into a long car, like a pullman car, with rows of seats and a screen at the end. So you sat there, and all they did, they back-projected a film taken on the front of a train in Switzerland. Going through the Alps and so forth, and you sat there, and you were taken for a ride on a train. This is the same thing. This is purely subjective treatment.

Comments: Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) was a British film director. He was brought up in London and was a regular cinemagoer from an early age, including experiencing Hale’s Tours of the World, an entertainment in which films were projected from the front of a mocked-up train carriage. There was a Hale’s Tours in London’s Oxford Street, as well as other locations. It opened in May 1906 and was still being exhibited in 1909-1910. A Ride on a Runaway Train was made in 1921 by American travelogue producer Lyman Howe.

Links: Copy at The Hitchcock Wiki