Transcript:

Interviewer: I think people responded to that with some sort of free middle class trying to dispel this notion it out for some decanting child. People try to describe to him, but most people have an image of Alfred Hitchcock as a very sort of staple man who played off this poor suspense image and just a start. I was curious what your image of Hitchcock is to remember him. How do you remember Hitchcock?

Peter Bogdanovich: Mischievous and witty. And, you know, good sense of humor and. Like that, I think was right. It was he was mischievous and sort of mischievous streak, kind of, you know, like practical jokes. Not that I was ever the butt of one, but that's what I understand. I could see that aspect of him tell that story in the book, right?

Interviewer: Yes. You'd also say in the book that you saw the last thing, which is your sense of loneliness. Nice to meet you. Can you elaborate on why sense of isolation?

Peter Bogdanovich: I never saw him with anybody else, really, except hit, you know. I mean, we were always alone or on the set. He always by himself on the set, too. I just never felt he was very close to anybody else. You know, he didn't have any other directors that were friends. I asked him about that. He said, no, no, not particularly. Although Leo McCarey said they used to hang out all the time. You never told me that. So there was a kind of a there was kind of an aloofness, kind of a separation, which I think he encouraged. He wasn't the kind of a casual guy, you know, kibitzing.

Interviewer: He seems to be director who was very much about work, the way he gets to know not so much the films, but the method by which he made it.

Peter Bogdanovich: He loved to talk about how he did the pictures and how he did them and why and specifically how you could get him going on on something like that very, very easily and telling about how he did a sequence or a shot or anything like that that he enjoyed doing, that he was like a little bit like a professor. He loved to tell you how he did it, to know personal life, personal life. He didn't know there wasn't much talk about that. I once asked him after he made frenzy. You know how it is, how how had it been going back to England and shooting another picture there after all those years and you said, well, you know, studio, hotel, studio, hotel, studio, hotel. And that was it. So I got the feeling that was what he did. You know, he'd go to the studio and go back to the hotel after.

Interviewer: An era. I think when lot of my contemporaries go to school direct, like Alfred Hitchcock, directed by Hitchcock, had no formal training in film. How did he get into the movie? How did he get it done?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I believe he was he was specialized in mechanical drawing. And I think he first started out in pictures, doing titles or something like that. And then he ended up. I think Michael Balkan thought he was very bright and had him doing a bunch of things, including working on scripts for some Graham cuts, movies. William Cuts was a pretty well known director and they did about five films together. And then after that, I think Balkan hit used to say that Balkan invented Hitchcock said that he had not never had any intention of directing, hadn't planned on it, and the Balkans saw something in him and it made him a director sort of good job. It suited him, it seems.

Interviewer: And I think one of the things I want to talk about is the effort to learn about moviemaking in a different Europe silent film.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, one of the main things you have to bear in mind about Hitchcock is that he yes, he not only did he learn about films in the silent era, but he learned from the two greatest influences in the Islandia, which was the American cinema and the German. So he although he's an English director, he used to like to say this himself. His biggest influences were the German and the American. He was he watched American films. He learned from them, including including Griffith. Remember him mentioning Orphans of the Storm and way down east as being films that he remembered. And The Island of Lost Ships. Maury's to narrow movie and American movie. So it was the narrative storytelling technique that he learned from American films. And as far as the visual aspect of things, he learned a lot of that from the from the German, from UFA.

Interviewer: So a lot of the jurors were whether was from the Americans in his first job at famous players last year. He says he goes, We open the door with all my heart.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think it's more than that. I think it's also the films that he looked at. I mean, English cinema is never was very successful in terms of storytelling narrative, whereas Americans were American films were. And I asked him at one point, you know, did he still think that American films were the most vital? And he said, yes. This is because American films are made for Americans and America is full of foreigners. Consequently, you make films for America. You make it for the whole world. And he was very you know, he used to dwell on that. He said, did you know that he had had many conversations with France where Truffaut O'Neill was said, you know, French language should remember Chaplin meaning? I remember that the film will be shown in Japan, that it won't just be shown in France. So that was all part of the internationalization of his work was the sense that he was making films for for a big audience.

Interviewer: What was going on in Hitchcock goes there. Twenty three assistant director was when he gets to. Why is that such an important place? What is people working like doing?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think you had the most talented, apart from America you had in Germany. That was the most talented bunch of directors. You had Fritz Lang Murrow, you had Lubitch. You know, it's a triple threat. You can't get much better than that. And the German film industry was was was as one of the strongest. Their films worked outside of Germany.

Interviewer: I mean, especially something like the last laugh, which is actually seen in production. What I'm trying to get some of what I was trying to do with the medium of silent film in America, there's gobs and gobs.

Peter Bogdanovich: You go back and you see, well, Murano was trying to tell a story without any cards at all, without any title cards. And he succeeded in the last laugh. There's only. Handwritten note. Insert the rest of it is done with that card. So that was it. That would but that was a goal that every director, I think was worth anything. Was thinking about. They all wanted to have less cards than than the producers did. And to create a film with no writing was, I think, kind of an ideal that everybody strive for. So certainly Hitchcock learned a great deal about visual storytelling from that kind of that kind of discipline, but so did everybody in the Southland. I mean, that was part of the. That was part of the scene. How do you tell the story without dialogue, without having no card to explain what they're saying?

Interviewer: So if I'm talking twenty four point twenty five years old, Germany, for the first time, what am I learning then? What? What is he taking away this special from from watching to. Right.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think, you know, the murder had a tremendous sense of craft, as they all did in Germany. So, I mean, I think he learned all the techniques, whether it was moving camera or crosscutting or, you know, montage, which he was most fond of. Forced perspective. Yeah, all that stuff. Everything. Everything that you could learn about making pictures. You know, I think the German school was probably more sophisticated even than the American. Well, they had less money, so they had to invent things, as Fritz Lang said, you know, they couldn't just they didn't have a trick department. They had to actually do it. And so I think I think probably Hitch got an extraordinarily various schooling between the Americans he worked for and the Germans that we work with.

Interviewer: So do you see the German influence in the film like the larger.

Peter Bogdanovich: I think so. I don't. You can see it. I think you can see the influence. How do you mean? In terms of the angles? The way it's, you know, the angles and the cut. The set decoration, the set designs. You know, brooding kind of look to it in a way. Is it a film? You like it? Yeah. It's a good picture as well. It's really the first Hitchcock film.

Interviewer: Yeah. It's it's got that sort of a mark up and.

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah. You can tell there's a talented filmmaker at work there, you know, with that strange shot that he did with the glass ceiling, you know, having him walking up and down, up and down. And he did it with a glass ceiling so you could actually see him walking down, walking up and down.

Interviewer: Oh, is that is that, for example, that shot, is that just flourish? Is that just sort of look what I can do? Or is that so that you can see the soles of the feet? Is there a narrative reason?

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah. Because otherwise, how are you going to going to convey silently that this guy's walking up and down upstairs? I mean, we can do is to show it, but they don't have sound clomp, clomp, you know. So it was it was a good visual way of telling, of telling the story. This guy's pacing up and down. I see it also with those descending staircase. Oh, yeah. You know, those are those are all very what came to be considered Hitchcock, you know, but he was very influenced by Fritz Lang, who was doing that sort of stuff in that period. They used to refer to Hitchcock. Important. I'm not that good at this stuff, but go ahead. I just thought we shouldn't tell anecdotes. You want critical stuff? Well, boring. All right. Whatever. We can get it. Anecdotes, too, because especially when I said I think I'm good at. But go ahead.

Interviewer: Well, just for you, you know, if I'm trying to figure out, you know, I try to explain to people why it's frustrating for myself and why he goes in and see something that's important and what he takes back to film, like the logic when you see the larger it disengages you it interesting or exciting for you in any way.

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah, it's a nice picture. I mean, it's not something I've run on to see repeatedly movements. Hitchcock's clearly Hitchcock's first Hitchcock picture. And you know, you can see the beginning of a career there, as I said, and the angles and the way it's cut and all the rest of it. It it reminds you of later Hitchcock. It also reminds you of early Fritz Lang, but it has its own own confidence in its own way of approaching things.

Interviewer: All right. I guess a blackmail. And, you know, one of the things I actually have seen you talk about was what sounded to movies and how and even Hitchcock talked about pictures of people talking sort of when when Sound first hit the movie. Did it liven up? Basically, what was that?

Peter Bogdanovich: No, it destroyed what was a great art form. Sound came in and pretty much everybody had to go back to square one was only the great directors who managed to make something great out of it. Lubitch immediately made extraordinary films, René Clair. There were a few directors who were temperamentally suited to sound very quickly. Lubitz was one that comes to mind immediately and as I say, Rene Clair, I think hich was was certainly one of the ones who welcomed sound, as did Howard Hawks. There were directors who did not welcome sound. And I think it took a while for most filmmakers who trained in the silent heroes, worked in Saulnier to kind of assimilate, you know, and learn from what was needed to be done with talking pictures.

Interviewer: I've never seen people. Yes.

Peter Bogdanovich: All that stuff from singing in the rain. Right. But a black male was, I believe, originally shone as a silent almost always finish the picture, I think. And then sound was upon them. So they reshot and some stuff and and added some things and so on, and then released it as a talking picture.

Interviewer: They had a problem with any opera being checked. Yeah. Did you ever talk to you about how he got around that problem? Did you ever really any story? I don't remember any because they had a dub or they couldn't dub at the same time. They had to do it on the set or something. Yeah. They had to run another microphone. They had her lipstick, actually. And you can actually tell you go back and look at it.

Peter Bogdanovich: He told me had a hell of a time because if it just just for a insert of radio or something, you had to have the whole orchestra on the set playing it at the time because you couldn't put it in later. So, you know, he I think he talks about it in my book on some film or other where he had all these people, you know, a whole orchestra and a whole bunch of people. And it was just for one little shop, you know, but there's no there's no way to. It all had to be done. Lives speak. All right.

Interviewer: Yeah. Yes. OK. Thank you. I guess if I can ask you one more question about that wonderful breakfasting in black for Hitch. That very first talking still is manipulating the sound so much of the night just kind of pops out at you. Did you talk to he talked to you about that particular shot? Because it's it's a much talked about scene. And it's it strikes me as. Wonderfully, right?

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah, I don't remember this moment. And I think there is something about it in the book, but I don't remember off my hand.

Interviewer: Well, how about that scene just for you?

Peter Bogdanovich: I mean, really, I think it said I haven't studied, you know, these films that much. And I didn't know we were going to be talking about them. And I looked at my eyes. I was doing Selznick's. So I'm not I'm not that conversant with black male. It's you know, I remember seeing it a couple of times and they had the great chase through the British Museum with the shift in prices. But I don't remember. I remember something about a knife that I don't remember. You know that vividly. Yeah, I know. It's just this.

Interviewer: I mean, already manipulating sound, screwing with the quality of it while everybody else is running, desperate to get everybody to sound. Absolutely not. Sorry. Child mortality. So do you think about how you want to just go right to self? What about sort of what she meant early this? How how important do you see?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think Alma Reville was about as important as anybody in Hitchcock's life and his career. She was his whole world. I mean, I think she was his first girlfriend. And I think Hitch was probably a shy guy and not that easy with the girls. He was always too heavy. And I think Alma was, you know, was was his savior in a way. And I think she, you know, had a tremendous influence on him. I'll say. Well, I think, you know, she was she became that they became a kind of world to the two of them, world unto themselves. I think she believed in him enormously and saw his talent. And I think Hitch was unbuttoned with her as he wasn't with other people. And I think that was a relationship. That was the relationship in his life. Whatever it became later, I don't know. I saw them together. They always seemed very friendly. Yeah. And she was a filmmaker herself and she was a filmmaker. And she had a very good sense of of construction and worked with him on all the pictures. And I think way into the no way through the American era and all that, I think she was always around and always somebody that he was that he felt was very important, which, you know, what she thought was very important. There's a funny story about when when she first saw Vertigo and raved and raved and raved about it and had only one small criticism about a shot of Kim Novak crossing the street says, you know, she looks a bit broad in the beam there. You ought to cut that out. And her hit was devastated by that remark, supposedly, according to Peggy Robertson, which Alma left the car and Hitch set despondent for the rest of the country. What's the matter? She loved the picture. Now, Alma hated picture. The only thing she said was the one shot. You know, so I think he was very sensitive to her comments and she was very important to him. Yeah, he was you know, he was a he was a kind of a. He was. I think he was afraid of a lot of contact. He was afraid of people who didn't didn't like confrontation, didn't like, you know, surprises. And I think Alma may have been the one who protected him all those years, you know, when she was on the set, which was for all the early pictures, I think from the larger through, I'm sure through all the English films and collaborate and collaborate. Wasn't that she was just there is a wife. She was a script girl. But also she was she was involved the continuity and worked on the screenplays.

Interviewer: So, you know, if we can jump forward then to some of this, you know, I guess one of the questions I have is before we get to just before you tell me, why do you think he's an enormously successful probably the premier British director, certainly one of the premier European directors, Balkan, gives him much at all that he wants. He has very little interference. Why and why?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I would think he would have wanted to go to Hollywood. I mean, I think that the American cinema was where everybody went, who was talented and wanted to make films for a bigger audience. And I think Kitsch had done his English thing, and it seemed very natural that he would go to England. I mean, everybody else did. I'm sorry. It seemed very natural that he would go to Hollywood. I mean, everybody else did. Fritz Lang was already there in the 30s, early in the mid thirties, and John Renoir came 40 because of that was because of the war. But Lubitsch had been there since the mid 20s. I don't think that I'm sure Hitch was a big admirer of Lubitsch. And I think, you know, Lubitsch's Internationalism wouldn't have been lost on Hitchcock.

Interviewer: So why doesn't all the various places they had was.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I don't know. I would think Selznick made him an offer and probably wasn't bad. And Selznick was certainly a prestigious producer at that time. And this has before Gone With the Wind came out. So Selznick was one of the top Hollywood producers, had run a studio, a couple of studios, whatever. And now it was independent, moving, independent. I would think that Hitch would have thought that was a good idea. He hired him to come over and do. Titanic, as you know, was going to be the first Hitchcock American Hitchcock film, was going to be about the Titanic. And it was a funny story. Selznick evidently bought or put money down on a ship. And he has said that he arrived in the United States with his wife, with Alma for the first time and sell me madam at the ship and says, come on. And they put them all in limousines and they drove out to Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Interviewer: So they can get story is a very important. What was we felt? Initially, it was not that was started.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, they were going to Titanic. So, as I say, they Hitchcock arrived in the Port of New York, met by Selznick, and suddenly said, come on. And they got in a limo and went off to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And Hitch said, you know, that salesman took him out. There was this large ship that he'd bought or put money down on. And he said Selznick said to Hitchcock, Well, there it is, Hitch. Make the most of it. And he said that he he thought to himself, make the most of it, make the most of it. Let me see. I've got it. We start on a close up of a rivet and pull back. That was his that was how to make the most of it. He also had fantasies of getting all ready to sink the ship and the thing going down and everybody saying, oh, I'm sorry. There was no film in the camera. Oh, that's too bad. You fantasizing Selznick having coronaries over things. But this was you know, this was later. I wonder if he'd fantasize that right away. But anyway, they didn't make Titanic. I don't really know why they didn't make Titanic, but they didn't. And it was too expensive, probably probably too expensive and ended up doing Ribbeck instead.

Interviewer: But it does give you a sense of self scale, doesn't it? I mean, this national national buying.

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah, and it's sinking in. Because that was a sly joke on Hitch's part. You know, starting in a close up of a river and pull back. I mean, because Selznick was famous for pulque, famous Pull-Back shots. He liked studying them, then going back and seeing all of, you know, Atlanta or something. There's a few couple of those kind of shots and Gone with the Wind.

Interviewer: Right. And I think at one point you pull back, you pull that off.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, yes, but. He in all my conversations with Hitchcock about Selznick, there was no heat, I can't say he enjoyed working with us. He didn't enjoy it. He didn't enjoy it at all. He didn't like being watched or supervised. Evidently, Selznick didn't like the way he'd shot, because if we referred to it as jigsaw puzzle shooting, because Hitch had been trained in the old school, which was you shoot only what you need. You don't shoot additional footage or things that you're not going to use. And so since Hitchcock cut in the camera, he always knew what the next shot would be. And in fact, where the cut would come and where the next one would begin. So he he only shot what he needed. And he used to pick it up just like that. So that was what bothered Selznick, was that there was no alternative way of cutting a certain thing. Most scenes you'd have to cut the way shot at because it wouldn't cut any other way. Which was another reason for doing it. So that so that you didn't have footage, you know, that that could be used as a way with a way of could. Good way of controlling the editing. Controlling the final product because there's no footage. So you can't shoot it. You can't use it. Doesn't mean there. It's like the best story about that is John Ford was doing how green was my borrowing. And Maureen O'Hara comes out of the wedding with the veil blowing and she gets in the horse and buggy and rides with her husband, whom she doesn't love. And she rides away from the church and camera pans with the horse and buggy and off in the distance. Way, far away, you see William Walter Pigeon, who who's the man he. She is in love with him, who loves her standing under a tree watching this, his beloved ride off with another man. And the Karaman said to Ford, Sajak, Do you think we should get a close up of Walter under the tree and force? Oh, Jesus. No, I mean, they'll just use it. So I'm sure Hitch had the same thinking, you know? He didn't shoot something that he didn't want to give me anything used except what he wanted to be used. And since Selznick wasn't used to that and the directors that he was used to working with, like Hugo, for example, probably didn't shoot that way because they didn't see the picture is completely as Hitchcock did. And I think I think it just it bothered Selznick. No. And not to have options.

Interviewer: So I got him out of the school. Right. I mean, where you establish why he shot every conceivable angle and you made your film later and yet you didn't make it?

Peter Bogdanovich: I would think that he depending on what director he worked with, but I would think that I don't think all the directors work with that that way. But that was a sort of standard way of going. And you see, Selznick didn't work with directors like Ford who were like Hitchcock difficult or had their own way of doing it.

Interviewer: It was a way for self control. Exactly. Well, one of the other conflicts that they actually got, and I was wondering if you could talk about this, is just the spying system to the extent that what was in the studio here?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I never heard much about that from Hitch himself, but there was a famous story about that. Supposedly there were studio spies all all the time. And that was something everybody knew for what reason to report back to the main office. What was going on? What was what was going on? Way of getting control. My favorite of those stories, and when John Ford came to visit Orson Welles on the set of Citizen Kane, came on the set and saw this well-known front office spy. And announced in rather a loud voice to worsen. I see you've got old snake in the grass, Eddie Flynn on the set or something like that, immediately blowing the guy's cover, you know, loudly blowing. I see you've got a snake in the grass and you flinch. No, sir, but. But I didn't Hitch never talked much about that.

Interviewer: Well, one of the things that they did says they did find it was fraud in terms of what he shot the story. I'll tell you the story about the last shot of tobacco with the flames.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, he talked and he talked about it, talked about that Selznick wanted the smoke coming out of the smokestack at the end of Rebekkah to form a letter. R said, Can you match? He was right. He would tell that the form of a letter R how can you match that was all that required for Mitch. And so all he gave is, can you imagine. But anyway, he had to fight that one. I guess he didn't have to fight that shooting. He wanted.

Interviewer: But, you know, I want to ask you about the way we'll be with we've talked about.

Peter Bogdanovich: I'm sure Hitch was happy that the salesman was busy doing Gone with the Wind, it gave me much more freedom, I would think. On Rebecca, that he was still finishing Gone with the Wind. So it certainly looks like a Hitchcock picture. Most of it certainly gives the impression of a Hitchcock film. How so? Well, the way it's shot and the way he did it, you know, all the suspense moments are done very Hitchcock. And there's a certain lushness to it. That's, I suppose, Selznick. But, you know, it seems like a Hitchcock movie.

Interviewer: To me, it seem to that Hitchcock funded in America with that picture. Does it seem different than the British films?

Peter Bogdanovich: It's bigger. It has a bigger size to it. It's more international. It's less English, even though it's an English subject. I mean, even a la la Olivia is English in light of the other cast is English. John wasn't. And and I just it has a more international feel to it than all the than any of the English films that.

Interviewer: He shot himself in. In your interview with your father, dismisses backup. Just doesn't want to call it very much. Well, did you get the sense that he was less frontal with Selznick in the way that he didn't want to worship that?

Peter Bogdanovich: I think he didn't really own any of the Selznick pictures except Notorious, which he considered not a Selznick picture because he felt that sells and kind of wrote himself out of that early on. That's another story we can get to. But I didn't feel he hated Rebecca. I mean, did win Best Picture of the year and he was nominated for an Oscar. He didn't win. He was one of the few times he was nominated. I don't I don't think it's one of his most personal Hitchcock movies bound to keep this. It didn't. To me, I don't get the impression he disowned it. It just wasn't particularly something that he was crazy about. I think it is best. It's his best Selznick picture.

Interviewer: Actors. Do you think French popcorn should be treated like cattle?

Peter Bogdanovich: I asked them that once. I said, is it you know, is it true that you said actors should be treated like cattle, that you said actors are cattle? I said, is it true? You said actors are currently said. No, I said they should be treated like so. But he said that's not true. He said, really? His actors are more like children. Sometimes they have to be coddled and sometimes they have to be spanked. I think he felt that way about him. He he he was afraid of actors, I felt, except the ones he liked. And there were many that he like loved. You know, maybe even Ingrid Bergman, Carrie Grant and Tony Perkins, Roscoe Brown.

Interviewer: But what did he want an actor to bring to this? Why did he like Harry Grant so much? Hauber.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, probably what he said to me about Kerry, I said, what about in the House? What about directing Cary Grant? One doesn't direct cary grant. One just turns on the camera. And he I think he the less he had to talk about anything, the happier he was and thought the actor brings what he does to it. Let him go do his thing. Well, I don't know the specific situation with Gregory Peck, but I'm just remembering Ford. John Ford always referred him as Greg Peccary. Don't know why, but. I the only memory I have of him talking about, you know, having difficulty with a, quote, method actor or, you know, that school was with Monty Clift on, I confess, where he Cliff came out of the court room and had said, look up, you know, and Cliff didn't know if he would look up. And he said, well, if he doesn't look up, how am I going to cut? Because he was going off of the off of the subjective storytelling. So if a close up of a person he looks and you cut to what he sees. That's a. Absolutely. That's an absolutely irreplaceable technique in Hitchcock's films that he has. His leading character is heavy or whoever it is. Look at something you cut to what he sees and come back for a reaction. It's subjective use of of movies. Hitchcock would be lost without it. So any actor threatening to not look in the right direction would throw him because he wouldn't know what to do.

Interviewer: So why was method?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, because in the beginning, you know, method would be a problem because an actor wants a motivation to look up, you know, and I mean, I've had this ideas. I'm on The Last Picture Show with an actor. Didn't want to look that way when I said, look over there, you know, why am I looking over there? Well, you know, you're looking at what is a truck full of cattle that just killed your your friend. So maybe you're looking to see what it was that killed him. I mean, oh, I didn't know if he would look you nose of finances or look, you know, Jewish. But and I'm sure he felt the same way because it's you know, an actor has to accommodate the director and he's not unless he's asking him to do something outrageously impossible, to just ask him to look a certain direction because he needs to cut. Doesn't seem to be unreasonable. Hitch, however, took it all the ways and imaginations of Jimmy Stewart said something like that to me about Rear Window. There'd be no picture because the whole film is he looks you cut to what he sees, you come back. And that's the whole movie. Virtually. So but it isn't just that with Hitchcock. He had such a dislike of confrontation or anything that was unexpected that just the single question. Well, I don't know if I would look there that would strike of terror and hit his heart. He didn't have to deal with it, just didn't want had to deal with it. That that that's really he didn't like I mean, I remember visiting him on the set of torn curtains as many years later. And I was sitting on the set as usually was. He didn't really move much. He was sitting in his chair and I came in was how you doing as you are? I said, what's the matter? You don't seem to notice. Paul Newman sent me a memo. I said, really, what about? About the script as well. Was it long? Yes. Three page memo. Can you imagine? And it was this detailed memo about all the things that Paul Newman felt needed to be addressed in the script, which didn't want to deal with that. It just was. And, you know, I knew at that point that Paul Newman sent memos on every picture. I mean, Preminger told me about a memo he sent on Exodus. And so I but Titch took it personally.

Interviewer: You know, Bergen talked about lying to him and saying, I just can't make it seem natural. Well, then she said that piece of acting that she got.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, you know, hit you. Cary Grant told a lovely story about about working with Hitchcock. I said, what was it like working with him? You said, well, Cary said we were shooting Notorious. And Ingrid came in one day and she absolutely wasn't there. You know, you've got an actor and you're playing scene with him and you look in their eye. They're just not there. Well, I thought I'd say on the plane and hit, didn't say a word, just sat there, watched. We went on for hours and nothing. We just and she just would never do it again. Do it again. Nothing. About 11:00 a.m. that day. I'm looking at Ingrid died and. My God. I mean, is Ingrid coming? I almost had it on the set. And she's almost in the scene. And just at that point, Hit says Cut. I looked at hit. I did my cutting now and hitches and they looked at Indonesia's. Good morning, Ingrid. So, you know, it's charming. He didn't get upset about it, didn't go over and have long conversations. Just let it let let her arrive when she was alive. I was sort of I was that's very hitch. And he clearly had a great affection for me. Oh, yeah. He loved Bergman, loved her and and they love her. There were a lot of actors that he would speak of fun with Tony Perkins on Psycho. We loved Tony Perkins. And I asked him about the famous scene with the candy corn. So that was just Tony brought that know I should find my shoes.

Interviewer: You know, I've got Bergmann's spellbound, you know. What do you think that she worked well or why do you think that line. So she's the first American woman.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, she's not American principles. She's Swedish and she's European. So it's a whole different. Let's face it, Hitch wanted Gary Cooper for a foreign correspondent. Couldn't get him and he didn't get a major American star. Until the suspicion with Carey Grant and as Hitch said. And after all, he's English. Meaning that in England, the idea of a suspense picture, a crime story is at a high level in America. They were always thought of being sort of secondary level with with with Carey Grant. He had a first class American star in a crime melodrama, and it kind of made him more respectable. And that was an American snobbism about crime melodramas, which Carey helped overcome in working for him. And Bergman being a European actress, basically a big European star before she came to America. She would have had respect for Hitchon. A lot of different levels, just a different way of working. And she was under contract to who to sell to get her over on.

Interviewer: The Dolly sequence. Do you think that Davidge pop rock solid godowns fell down just as a sort of publicity stunt by itself?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, that's what Selznick's said, that it was a publicity stunt which didn't didn't agree with. In fact, he says in my book that he did it because he wanted that he had. He thought Dolly was a brilliant draftsman and he wanted the sharpness. He wanted those nightmares to have a certain sharpness and not a dreamy feeling. But it kind of, you know, nightmarish sharpness. And that was why he did it. And the dolly had a sense of, you know, kind of fantastic, of the fantastic. And so.

Interviewer: Did you get a sense when you talk about, darling, why the of what sells and what was that? I don't know. Yeah, it's probably sells.

Peter Bogdanovich: Didn't want to spend the extra money. I'm sorry. I'm sure sells. And we didn't want to spend the extra money that it would take to have Dolly design your dream sequences. Maybe that was it. Maybe. But but I didn't. I don't remember anything much about that.

Interviewer: Just the dream sequences work for you.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I don't think that picture is very good. Spellbound. I think it's kind of dated and there's some things in it that work. But I'm not a big Dolly fan. I think that I think that the scenes work the way each one of them, too. But I just think overall, that picture isn't very, very good. Yeah, it strikes me and actually I still like the doors open. Yeah, it's a bit it's a bit dated. I think that one and parenting case are both pretty dated and actually they're the ones something has the most control. Right. Yeah. Well that, that would figure.

Interviewer: Yeah. Ben-Hur actually works. He's quite a bit. Do you think it's ever were talking about that or or was one of the great screenwriters.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well I think Ben Hecht and Hitch got along pretty well. I'm notorious only bears Hecht's name and I think it was Hitch's idea. And I think they worked through that script together. And I never heard anything negative except the Notorious was one of his favorites. And and it's a brilliant script.

Interviewer: It's a breathtaking piece.

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah. It's about it's right up there. It's one of the top five Hitchcock films, I think. Hich was very proud of the fact that that Selznick. Kind of absented himself from that production. Because he didn't understand the difference. He didn't understand that the McGuffin was not very important.

Interviewer: I talk about that. Give me a sense of what Hitchcock lightning strike. What is the MacGuffin?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I mean, a MacGuffin, you know, is a MacGuffin, which is a Hitchcock's own term. We came from a joke, but it's his own term. It is that thing in a movie that the characters are concerned about and the audience doesn't care about. So it was something that Hitch felt had to be dispensed with or dealt with and not spend an enormous amount of time on. He said his favorite McGuffin was was in was a north by northwest where they managed to reduce it down to who knows, what did this guy do? Well, let's say he imports and exports. What is the important export government secrets? End of McGuffin in Notorious. The McGuffin was whatever it was in that those bottles of wine, you know, that kind of heavy sand or whatever it was, uranium or whatever it was, which was in the bottles in the cellar, which were also nervous about when Kerry finds it by accident. Well, you know. They want to sync it up. I'll think it up for some money. That's crazy.

Interviewer: Yeah. Why one notorious would you actually put if we can start since we lost it. What is it?

Peter Bogdanovich: Two two. Two two men sitting on a train. One turns the others. What is that large box above your head? Oh, the answers. Oh, that is an instrument for catching wild tigers in the highlands of Scotland. The other flushers. But there are no wild tigers in the highlands of Scotland to which the island applies. Oh, well, then that's no MacGuffin. So that shaggy dog story is where it comes. Hitch's idea that the MacGuffin, which is something that doesn't make any difference to the audience, but something that the characters care about. Did you fight with Solomon? Well, evidently on Notorious, which Chich used to love to tell the story that Selznick didn't get it. That the McGuffin didn't matter on Notorious. That it was a love story and that whatever it was that they were looking for and Hitch felt and had discussed it with Ben Hecht, that it was something to do with heavy water and something to do with preparing, something to do with preparing the atom bomb. And Hitch, I think, said that that he had some some problems because the FBI or something came, wanted to know what exactly he was doing. But. Hich would like to say that it was because Selznick put too much emphasis on the McGuffin, that Selznick lost some money on Notorious because he had relinquished his rights to it, couldn't agree with it. And let Hitchcock produce the picture himself. So it was it was Hitchcock's revenge that the picture became very successful in that Selznick eventually seems to seems to have gotten his name back onto it in some way.

Interviewer: What about the criminal case authorities?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, there's this sort of scene that begins on the balcony and the phone rings. There is a famous scene in Notorious when they're on the balcony, I think they go to make a phone call. And the camera follows them over to the phone and they're kissing all through that. And I said, how did that's shot? How did that shot develop? He said, Oh, that goes back to a long time ago. He saw I was on a train in England. And we're passing through the countryside. And there was a young couple walking along and the girl was holding his arm, the boy's arm, and they're walking along and at a certain point he stops to urinate. And the girl holds on to his arm, never let to go. Looks down, see how it's coming, then looks away. And I thought to myself that, you see, love must not be interrupted, even for urination. And so when he came to make that shot, he was reminded of that and decided not to cut. Well. There you are. Great scene. There's another famous shot in that picture and no tourist when the camera's way up high during the party and slowly, slowly, slowly comes down into a close up of the ring of the key in her hand. And I said, Howard, what? What was the purpose of that shot? And they had to build a special crane for that shot. You see the shots on the set. There was this big wooden construction to put that camera and have it come down like that. He said, well, that's just a visual way of saying in this great party. There's one little tiny item that every that is the crux of the whole thing. And how else to say that. But show it on and then just come right down to the key.

Interviewer: Script explanation of technical flourish, man of the medium for narrative purpose.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, that's what Hitchcock was famous for. I mean, he did not do flourishes. He did not, you know, do a shot just to show off. It was always for a dramatic purpose. He always had a reason for it, you know.

Interviewer: Can you talk a bit? I know I worked here that last race. My actual favorite pop moment, grant with a. It just strikes me as I don't want to do it as a voice of God, my father. And why is wonderful.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I don't know if I can be as specific about it. I mean, it's a brilliantly shot sequence, beginning with a phone. When he comes into the house, going upstairs and going into the bedroom, it's very memorable finding her and realizing that he was so wrong about her. And it's a big culmination of the whole picture. And then he has to get her out of there. And it's brilliantly shot, the whole thing of the two of them. And then Claude Rains coming up and how Claude Rains is excluded and how the whole thing is shot. Brilliantly.

Interviewer: Shot sequence. Strikes me as that first moment. This is like you've seen what a genius. He's got a taste of what we're going to get. We're really quite complete. Oh, yeah. You know, is off me, which is sort free for good reason. And he starts with King Vidor as a director. And just I mean, at this point is this guy named Vidor and that's sort of a neophyte, somebody who sells things like this?

Peter Bogdanovich: I would think so. I mean, King Vidor was one of the major American directors. From the silent era on, you know, I mean, I think King Vidor was one of the top top directors with the big parade. I would think big parade. Hallelujah. The crowd, all those silent films that he made and early talkies to me. No, I think King Veto was one of the Masters American scream.

Interviewer: And so what conflict, if you have any handle with what he had with SNCC itself, is coming and checking every shot?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, you know, I don't know what happened because I never really discussed it at length with I didn't know Selznick and I didn't know King Vidor. And he didn't politically enjoy working with something. I believe he quit the picture. Toward the end, there were lot of directors on that movie. But, you know, it's fairly typical of an interfering producer. And I think Selznick was a frustrated director who didn't have the nerve to just go and direct the thing. And he wanted other people to, you know, yell action and cut and he could push him around. I never knew him, but he was I would think that with the with the success of Gone with the Wind, he would become more and more controlling as as as things went on strike.

Interviewer: You as a director who's worked in Hollywood like typical Hollywood directors and producers. Yeah. Or why he why the deterioration so completely after the. I mean, I wasn't that far away from call.

Peter Bogdanovich: No. I think gone with the I think in the sun was an attempt to top Gone with the Wind, to go further to take a booker and story that wasn't a popular success and to make it as popular as Gone With the Wind. I mean, it's a fairly human characteristic. If you if you succeed, you know, trying to succeed even more. So it's a it's a it's a dangerous thing in Hollywood, you know, trying to top yourself. It's what Capra used to refer to as I think he was the one to call Oscar poison, you know, where you did poison by winning Oscars and you just you can't ever recover from it. MacQuarrie talked about that, too. That kind of success that, you know, you feel that you have to compete with yourself in order to survive. And I guess that was when infected salesman.

Interviewer: He asked spectrograph. Well, that was it. Gonna be his leader. Oh, that's what. What do you think? Late for his house. Hitchcock and Selvidge positions changed. And how do you think Hitchcock you know, you start to work on, like, the Perry.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think by the time by the time of the pending case, which was forty seven or something, wasn't it? I think Kitch was, you know, one of the top directors in the world and Selznick was a producer who was hanging on. Still had a lot of power. But, you know, he had produced Gone with the Wind. But what had he done since then, so to speak? I mean, Rebecca, you know, I think Hitch was had more power at that point in many ways. So I don't think he approached. I know we we don't we didn't like parody in case he didn't like the script, didn't think there was much of a story. The thing was well cast. He had wanted to have Greta Garbo and he had that line that he wanted to use, you know, Garbo's back in Gregory's scratching it. You know, that was his ad line.

Interviewer: But you're probably right.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I heard that. But I don't lose. Your damn was miscast. He thought Louis Jordan was miscast. He thought Gregory Peck was in Moscow. He had the whole thing was miscast. Didn't like the script. I think that was one of his least favorite movies. And it's a pretty bad movie.

Interviewer: A rating for anything. Selma actually is also one of the problems is constantly rewriting scripts itself, which shows up on the set. Well. Why would that bother any director? But why would they bother?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, Hitchcock is a director who visualizes his film from beginning to end. Always did. And that was how he enjoyed working. Having that picture basically made in his head before he ever set foot on the soundstage and used to say that as far as he was concerned, the film was finished when he finished the script. And then he said then then came the area of compromise. He said when when he entered on the soundstage. So I can't think of anything worse for him than to have two new scenes that are just coming off the typewriter. That would make him crazy. I would think.

Interviewer: David Selznick's rewriting the script. If we can just of very quiet, quick this parody in case of very much just Jonah.

Peter Bogdanovich: And I think that the situation on parody case with cellent constantly rewriting would have driven any director crazy, but particularly Hitch because he was very compulsive about having, you know, knowing what the scene was and having worked it out beforehand. So, again, surprises or news? New thing is confrontation is nothing worse. I'm sure that was his terrible experience.

Interviewer: He'd actually draw these things out.

Peter Bogdanovich: Yeah. Well, that's the thing. He planned everything very meticulous about it, and it went against his whole nature as a filmmaker.

Interviewer: Do you think this relationship ends up turning off for Transatlantic? Thanks, Robin. Experiments in ways that Selznick would never have allowed? No, there's no way to control rope. Yeah, but do you think Hitchcock as well served by his relationship with Selznick?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think Hitchcock something out of it. I mean, he got he got to America. He got Rebecca. And was a pretty good introduction to American films. I don't think he he. I don't think Salame heard him. I mean, he made a couple of different movies for salesmen that are, you know, like Spellbound and parenting case or not. Among Hitchcock's best. But on the other hand, Rebecca's fun and notorious, albeit reson really done for Selznick, but it's one of his best films. So I think that I think probably sells me got more out of it than Hitchcock. But I think Hitchcock got quite a bit out of it.

Interviewer: You know. How do you think Hitchcock saw that relationship? I think Hitchcock said this time was thousands and having been a director 100 days.

Peter Bogdanovich: I don't think he, you know, liked it particularly. He didn't like producers and he didn't like anybody telling him what to do. And I think he made damn sure he wasn't going to happen to me again, that he was in it with any kind of controlling producer. And from then on, he was pretty much his own boss. So I think he suffered one, you know, one difficult, interfering producer. Because Michael Balkan, who had discovered Hitchcock wasn't like that. Maybe he thought Selznick would be like Balkan, you know, bring him over. Only Malone wasn't that way. But I think, you know, he did pretty well, you know, didn't hurt him. I mean, he also made some pretty good pictures in that period with non sounding pictures like Shadow of a Doubt, a very great film and one of his or one of his favorites.

Interviewer: Now, shadow of a doubt, tradition, even Mr. Mrs. Smith. These are all films that actually his running mate traded. Did he ever talk about how it wrapped in itself? I was making all of this money because he was under contract and didn't talk about that. That idea of being under contract to explain that notion is Director Incontrol starring in front of their career when they're under contract?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, only up to a point. I mean, they can be loaned out and it was a loan out agreement. I don't think they had to agree to be loaned out. They could possibly still want to do that. But that was that was the whole studio system. And I mean, if he hadn't been under contract to sell me, he would have been under contract with somebody. So I never he never complained about it to me.

Interviewer: Right. There's these great writers, you know, taking too big. My paycheck doesn't make three or four hundred percent. Wow. A pocket difference. More than 10 percent of the agent that knew your period. I mean, can you help me understand what film it was like? I mean, we all have this image of just, you know, Warner Brothers in big studios in Burbank. Now, what was filmed in New York? Was it more rough and tumble? Was it?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I mean, particularly in the early days in the teens or just before the teens and then into the teens was all starting out here. And it was it was very rough and tumble. And the major studios there were you know, there were a few majors at that time. They didn't want any independents making films. So they formed a kind of cartel, which they call themselves the patents company. And they pretended that they could that they could patent the loop inside the camera, the loop that makes it possible for the film to run. Well, you can't patent the loop, but they tried it for a while. They managed to scare people. And one of the reasons that filmmaking moved west was really to get away from the patents company, because if you were an independent, you had a camera and a, you know, patents company guy, sharp shooter was hired. Go and shoot your camera. Well, you know, a camera with a hole in it didn't work. So there were cameras with holes in them. You know, independent filmmakers. They they started skedaddling for the west, going further and further west to get away from these patents company guys.

Interviewer: Just say, oh, what city are we talking about? So we're a film sort of, because I think, you know, he's right.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I mean, Manhattan and in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and this whole this area that, you know, Manhattan, Astoria, Long Island, Fort Lee. This was a kind of an this was a hub of filmmaking. Griffith was here and Dwan was here. She Dwan came back in the 20s and there was a lot of filmmaking going on on this coast. And and it slowly moved west first because of the patents company. Later, D.M. like the weather, I guess.

Interviewer: You can go fishing. Yeah. Know if I can go back and do this again. I apologize for the repetition of what was what was that experiment, that burst of creativity and Hitchcocks, this young kid who only sort of, you know, 80 titles. And what what is the joy of seeing the Germans for the first time, his first real experience with the majors?

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I died. Hard to describe. But I mean, I think Loofa was the was the place in Europe to make pictures. It was the great it was the great European studio. And as I said earlier, Germany was the probably the greatest filmmaking country besides America. You had. Whereas in Germany, they became worldwide stars like Poland, Hungary or or Emily earnings. And that was unusual. I mean, didn't happen in England, for example, except with Hitchcock. It didn't really happen in France, Sweden. I mean, you had Bergman in Sweden, but that was later. But but the Germans really had some of the greatest directors over there. Greatest filmmaking minds, whether it was Fritz Lang, no Lubitch.

Interviewer: But everybody's eye in the American lives.

Peter Bogdanovich: Well, I think I think that the the everybody had an eye on the German filmmakers because they were so good. And that's why they brought him over here as quickly as possible. I mean, Lubitch was in America by the early 20s. Fritz Lang was here by the early 30s. Myrna was here. Even before that were used by the same time as Lubitch, mid 20s. They were just good, you know. And they're very good at at picture making just as they are good at music. Like the English are good at novels. You know, the English never were that hard at film, which wasn't their thing. You know, like like the Russians weren't much as painters, but they were great writers. It just varies. Yes.

Interviewer: How about a really sound, a sound coming from initially that point?

Peter Bogdanovich: No, on the contrary. I think the biggest problem with sound was that it killed the technique, the craft of telling stories without sound, without dialogue. That that was it was it was a big setback for that. Hitch commented on that to me. In the 60s and 70s, he would say, you know, most pictures today are just pictures of people talking. And certainly that was true of the early sound pictures. With the exception of those masters like Lubert, you got caught on right away or free or read. Unclear who you know had an innovative quality. John Ford's movies didn't really you know, he didn't really solve the sound until the mid 30s. Hauck's was a director who quickly assimilated himself to sound. And I think Hitchcock was one of the first to assimilate himself rather quickly. The sound you can you know, there's not much of a book. There's not much of a pause between what Hitchcock was doing in the silent pictures and what he did in blackmail. I mean, it's it's still very much, you know, a Hitchcock silent movie in a way. And the and the use of sound and blackmail was very unusual and quite modern and forward looking. And the greatest moments in Hitchcock's films have remained. The silent moments remain what he did visually, how he told the story visually, whether it was a shot as a notorious moving down to the key or, you know, or crosscutting subjective point of view in Rear Window, whatever technique you used. There was a deep respect and grounding in the silent cinema. And that was that was Hitchcock's. That's what kept him going.

Interviewer: I think at that moment in sound variety and I think Maranhao making. The film here for Fox, but also, you know, the attempt to tell a story narratively and then the depth of it. Sounds that wall. OK. Can we just get some root home? Here we go. Quiet, please. OK, great. OK. Thanks. That's a wild zone.

Peter Bogdanovich
Interview Date:
1998-03-05
Runtime:
1:06:49
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-z892805w7n, cpb-aacip-504-9w08w38n8z
MLA CITATIONS:
"Peter Bogdanovich, Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 05 Mar. 1998, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/571
APA CITATIONS:
(1998, March 05). Peter Bogdanovich, Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/571
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Peter Bogdanovich, Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). March 05, 1998. Accessed May 22, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/571

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