Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Peter Ackroyd: On Hitchcock

Something that surprised Ackroyd in his trawl through the films was Hitchcock's effeminacy. "I had no idea he was like that. You occasionally get little snatches of documentary film, in which he's behaving – not outrageously, but in a rather camp way. I think it was a component of his personality, but of course he was too scared and undemonstrative to allow it to take over." In the book, he says: "It would be an interesting parlour game to name any [of Hitchcock's] leading characters who were not intimated to be bisexual." Seriously? What, Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps? "Well, OK, not him," Ackroyd says, smiling. "But they all seem a bit… funny, don't they? Michael Redgrave in The Lady Vanishes? Cary Grant in North by Northwest? The two men in Strangers on a Train? They're all fey and unserious and camp. And he treated his heroines as more masculine than the men."

Peter Ackroyd in The Independent on the titular subject of his latest biography, Alfred Hitchcock,

Update: Peter develops his theme in The Sunday Times...

He was inspired to begin his newest book, a well- received biography of Alfred Hitchcock published last week, after discovering the director was “camp” and “really rather a screamer” with a “funny mincing step”, which Ackroyd demonstrates by walking his index and middle fingers along his desk in a prissy sort of fashion and doing a little pout. Might Hitchcock have been bisexual, I ask.

“Well, he said he had ‘poofy’ moments when he was reading Vogue. But if that qualified you as a homosexual, half the population would be condemned.”

1 comment:

  1. I've started watching all his films again. I saw The Lady Vanishes yesterday. Absolutely perfect. My favourite, I think. Just finished The 39 Steps.
    I don't think this is a new angle on Hitchcock. Maybe the suggestion that he was a suppressed bisexual, but there's always been discussion about the queerness of his films. He made Strangers on a Train right after Rope, incidentally. I think there's a few obviously gay characters in his films. Martin Landau is a gay henchman in North By Northwest. You can tell by the way he holds his cigarette. Apparently, haha.