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HITCHCOCK AND SELZNICK The Rich and Strange Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick in Hollywood by Leonard J. Leff (Weidenfeld & Nicolson: $11.95)

January 01, 1989|ELENA BRUNET

The collaboration of director Alfred Hitchcock and producer David O. Selznick forged such remarkable films as "Rebecca," "Spellbound" and "Notorious."

Yet a more unlikely pairing would be difficult to find, even in the movie industry. The deliberate Hitchcock, whom Selznick would call "the slowest director we have had," told Life magazine to characterize him as "a fundamentally lazy man." Selznick, on the other hand, worked excessively, "ruled his studio . . . by the thoroughness and heat of his commitment"--"and refused to delegate responsibility for major and even minor artistic decisions."

Thoroughly researched and closely examined, "Hitchcock and Selznick" argues that "Hitchcock did not succeed despite Selznick any more than Selznick succeeded because of Hitchcock." While Hitchcock developed "lively but often disparate visual pyrotechnics," he relied on others actually to create a coherent story. In Leff's words, "Selznick served his new director well by forcing him to pay closer heed to character, for Hitchcock too often matched his cleverly reasoned visual logic with pallid characterization."

Although Hitchcock would seek far greater independence after their nearly 10 years of collaboration, in Leff's view no other films that either man created achieved "the popular or critical acclaim of (Hitchcock's) best Selznick films."

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