The Hitchcock Murders by Peter Conrad

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Synopsis

Alfred Hitchcock relished his power to frighten us and believed the shocks he administered improved our psychological health. But he could never satisfactorily explain our curiosity to see forbidden things or the perverse desire to experience anxiety and dread that made his work so popular.

In The Hitchcock Murders, Peter Conrad, one of Hitchcock's eager victims, undertakes the task on the master's behalf. At the age of thirteen, Conrad snuck into his first screening of Psycho, and he's been wary of showers and fruit cellars ever since. Thanks to Hitchcock, he's also suspicious of staircases, seagulls, and crop-dusting planes. Now he sets out to analyze the nature of Hitchcock's appeal to both himself and the millions of moviegoers for whom Hitchcock is cinema's foremost auteur. Examining Hitchcock's use of religion, morality, conscience, culpability, and literary symbols, Conrad unveils a chilling Nietzschean universe-one in which there is no God and no moral standard, where humans are petty and disposable and the neutral hand of fate can take a life in the blink of an eye. A timid, respectable man with the imagination of a psychopath, a chubby jester whose practical jokes took merciless advantage of human insecurities, Hitchcock is revealed here as the man who knew too much-about all of us.
 

About Peter Conrad

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Peter Conrad is the author of numerous works of criticism, including most recently, Modern Times, Modern Places. Since 1973, he has taught English at Christ Church, Oxford.
 
Published September 28, 2001 by Faber & Faber. 362 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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But Conrad’s cavalier annexation of literary sources for the films to provide further examples, as if Hitchcock had created Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Robert Bloch’s Psycho as well as the films he based on them, creates an unhappy confusion of boundaries, as if he could not decide whether Hi...

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The Guardian

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The Hitchcock Murders Peter Conrad Faber, pp362, £16.99 Buy it at BOL Peter Conrad starts his admiring study of Alfred Hitchcock's films with an account of how he first saw Psycho in Tasmania in 1961.

Nov 26 2000 | Read Full Review of The Hitchcock Murders

The Guardian

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The Hitchcock Murders Peter Conrad 362pp, Faber £16.99 There is now a Hitchcock industry in a way that there isn't a Buñuel industry or a Fritz Lang one, or even a John Ford or an Ozu one.

Nov 25 2000 | Read Full Review of The Hitchcock Murders

Publishers Weekly

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Relying upon an encyclopedic knowledge of Hitchcock's films, Conrad is most perceptive when he weaves together their themes and images to illuminate the director's worldview—for example, he suggests that murder as "social sanitation" connects the killers in Lifeboat, Shadow of a Doubt and Rope, ...

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Variety

Despite the attempt to broaden the discussion to Hitchcock's influence on society, the book is more limited in scope than if Conrad had discussed Hitchcock throughout from a personal perspective.

Sep 23 2001 | Read Full Review of The Hitchcock Murders

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