Creep or Craftsman? Alfred Hitchcock Was Both

30SHONE-Hitchcock-blog427Tom Shone at The New York Times:

These are good times for Alfred Hitchcock. The refurbishment of the director’s reputation, which began in 1966 when François Truffaut published his landmark book of interviews, “Hitchcock/Truffaut,” reached its conclusion in 2012 when the film critics polled by Sight and Sound voted “Vertigo” the greatest film of all time, kicking Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” from a top spot it had enjoyed for decades. Wellesians bit their knuckles, and the rest of us scratched our heads. “Vertigo” is not Hitchcock’s best, but rather, with its lush morbidity, somnolent pace, poor box office and relative scarcity of jokes, the Hitchcock film for those who most wish he were French. Flops make film critics feel useful — they are the film-crit equivalent of the deserving poor. What else can you do with a gleaming hit maker except overpraise his misses?

It’s just one poll, but beneath it, broader tectonic shifts can be detected. If a director who was repeatedly slighted by the academy during his lifetime is today the most acclaimed and certainly the most watched director of classical Hollywood, it may well be because modern Hollywood has largely rebuilt itself in his image. Back in 1976, when Hitch’s last film, “Family Plot,” was dragging itself from theater to theater in search of an audience, his virtues — string-of-pearl set-piece construction, perpetual-motion plots, coupled with a healthy disrespect for American landmarks — seemed as cobwebbed as Norman Bates’s ma. “Jaws” had come out the year before. “Young Spielberg,” Hitchcock said after seeing Steven Spielberg’s perversely gleeful frightener, “is the first one of us who doesn’t see the proscenium arch.”

more here.