The Late Movies: The Hitchcock Interview, 1973

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"I'd like not to talk to you this morning about movies, but rather about ideas. I may not be successful at that, but, I'm going to attempt it. All the pictures that you do scare people. What frightens you?" With this question, Tom Snyder opened an hour-long interview with Alfred Hitchock in the fall of 1973 on Snyder's Tomorrow Show. Hitchcock began his reply by saying: "Most things. I'm scared of policemen. I never drive a car, on the theory that if you don't drive a car, you can't get a ticket. ... I'm scared to death of anything that's to do with the law. Though I'm fascinated by it, I'd hate to be involved with it myself."

The resulting hour-long interview is riveting, largely because it's just so quiet, erudite, and placid -- but Hitchock is one of the men, so you can't help but think something terrible is about to come out up any moment. These are two men speaking quietly, carefully, sitting in big armchairs in the early 70's. If you can get past the slightly dour pacing, I think you'll find Hitchock and Snyder both very interesting characters. There are a lot of jokes here, good quiet humor, including one notable potty joke.

Part 1

Part 2

Hitchcock: "You know, I saw a terrible thing once, I'm not kidding, in a French magazine, and it was one of those satirical French magazines, and it was a picture of God sitting on a cloud, a bearded old gentleman, and just slowly coming up through the clouds was the figure of Christ, with hands held out, and a woebegone expression, with holes in each hand. He's looking to his Father, and God is poking his tongue out at him, he said, 'There, you see? I told you not to go down there!'"

Also, possibly the first instance of a "that's what he said" joke by Tom Snyder. (He does it twice.)

Part 3

Snyder: "Does Albert Hitchcock ever tell jokes? ... You're a rather imposing gentleman." Hitchock: "...I used to indulge very much in practical jokes of a very high order, and I used to have very great pleasure from them."

Part 4

Snyder: (referring to the famous bathtub scene in Psycho) "Can you feel what you think the audience is going to feel -- when you're putting that together?" Hitchcock: "Um. I hope so.... I've been around long enough to say how audiences...how shall I...may I say something vulgar? To make the audience feel, uh, you know, there's not a dry seat in the house. I mean that's the aim."

Part 5

Snyder: "How long will you keep making movies?" Hitchcock: "I have no reason to stop, I have many more pictures to make." (After 1973, Hitchcock would make only one film, Family Plot.)

Part 6

Snyder: "I know from reading about Alfred Hitchcock that he is a man who loves grand food, and good wines, and he's now on a diet. He's lost 14 pounds in the last two weeks?" Hitchcock: "Oh yes, 14 in the last 10 days. I would say that in my lifetime I must have lost altogether 500 pounds. Truly." (He reveals that he's on a 750-calorie-a-day diet of "meat and string beans" and that he doesn't believe in water, because "that's what you're trying to get rid of.")

Many thanks to Kottke.org for pointing out this wonderful interview.

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January 20, 2010 - 5:00pm
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