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Hitchcock in a Beret: Bon Voyage & Into Thin Air

Friday, September 14, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

French directors and Parisian cineastes loved Alfred Hitchcock. His films, always in English, would draw crowds in Paris, where Hitch and his wife vacationed, mostly because, Hitchcock confessed, of the great restaurants. He was summoned to London twice in the 1940s, first during the War to make propaganda films for the French Resistance and second to make a Holocaust documentary using film footage shot by Allied cameramen as the European concentration camps were liberated.

The French returned the love: the leaders of the French New Wave in the 1960s were imitating Hitchcock’s films, especially François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Henri-George Clouzot. One of the most highly regarded film books of all time, according to the British Film Institute, was Hitchcock/Truffaut, a book of interviews Truffaut conducted with Hitchcock that became a best-seller and is still in print.

Tom Zaniello has been talking about Hitchcock ever since he saw the first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on TV in the 1950s. Since then, he has taught several Hitchcock courses and organized Hitchcock film series at Hill Center. In addition to publishing a number of film studies books, he has also written a true crime book, California’s Lamson Murder Mystery: The Depression-Era Case that Divided Santa Clara County. Zaniello will be screening three films and a television program and discussing the influence of Hitchcock on French film and vice versa.

September 7: Diabolique, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Diabolique is probably the closest the French ever came to making to make a film like Hitchcock’s Psycho, but this time it is a body in the bathtub and a dead man who won’t stay…dead. It provided Hitchcock with one of his best stories: when a man complained that his daughter was afraid to take a shower because she saw Psycho and afraid to take a bath because she saw Diabolique, Hitchcock told him to send her to the dry cleaners.

September 14: Bon VoyageInto Thin Air, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s Bon Voyage, made for the French Resistance, is a convoluted tale of a British pilot’s escape from a fascist prison camp in France. It was too ambiguous, the French thought, and they refused to show it. Hitchcock’s work on Memory of the Camps, his concentration camp documentary, was also shelved because it was too convincing. We will conclude with a Hitchcock TV program, Into Thin Air, about a woman in Paris, played by Hitch’s daughter, Patricia, whose mother disappears, but no one will believe her. Hitchcock is re-visiting a French urban legend, a Parisian variation of his popular film, The Lady Vanishes. 

September 21: The Trouble with Harry, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

The Trouble with Harry is the absurdist comedy that solidified Hitchcock’s reputation in France. French directors argued that it was the epitome of a Kafkaesque view of characters who are not innocent people suspected of being guilty, but people who believe themselves guilty of murder and in fact want to be guilty. It’s a convincing argument, in part based on the idea that the film Hitchcock actually filmed in Monaco, To Catch a Thief, which included French Resistance characters, was not quirky enough. Its worst consequence was losing its star, Grace Kelly, to Prince Rainier, who did not want his wife to continue to make films for Hollywood.


Sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation


Friday, September 14, 2018
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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