Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies

Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies

Donald Spoto

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0307351319

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Fascinating . . . probes an even darker side of Hitchcock." –Newsday

It is remarkable how infrequently, over a period of more than fifty years, Alfred Hitchcock spoke about the legendary actresses he directed–including Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak, and Grace Kelly. But his leading ladies greatly enriched his films, and many of them achieved international stardom precisely because of their work for Hitchcock.

Rich with new material, anecdotes, and never-before-told personal observations, this explosive portrait details Hitchcock’s outbursts of cruelty, the shocking humor, and the odd amalgam of adoration and contempt that characterized Hitchcock’s obsessive relationships with women–and that also, paradoxically, fed his genius.

Spellbound by Beauty offers important insights into the life of a brilliant and tortured artist, and pays tribute to the memorable actresses who gave so much to his films.

"[Spoto] informs Spellbound by Beauty with his profound knowledge of his subject, years of sound reporting, highly polished prose, and sensible analysis."
Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Expert insights into Hitchcock’s films."
Oregonian (Portland)

"You will never look at a Hitchcock movie the same."
Tampa Tribune

Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World


Literary Biography: An Introduction

Sitting My Way Through Life

Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism

The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox



















audiences—which meant that he was the most popular filmmaker in Britain, and perhaps the only one whose name alone meant success at the box office. There were other reasons for Hitchcock’s desire to quit England. British production was in decline; executives were inefficient, and not all were as committed to movies as, say, Michael Balcon had been; craftsmen and other personnel drifted from one studio to another; and budgets dropped precipitously. “The art of filmmaking was often held in contempt by

collaborator, the playwright and screenwriter Samuel Taylor (who gave him the final script for Vertigo), proclaimed that The Dark Side of Genius was a sympathetic biography not of an angel or a demon, but of “a human being in all his complexity.” Writing or speaking anything other than the highest praise or failing to promote the most affectionate encomia for so august an icon as Alfred Hitchcock has become, in the eyes of many, equivalent to cultural sacrilege. But the craft of biography requires

honored those requests, but now an important element of Hitchcock’s life story must supplement what has preceded. Apart from his memorable achievements, his biography remains a cautionary tale of what can go wrong in any life. It is the story of a man so unhappy, so full of self-loathing, so lonely and friendless, that his satisfactions came as much from asserting power as from spinning fantasies and acquiring wealth.The fact is that some of his conduct can only be called sexual harassment, and I

RKO for Hitchcock’s services and $20,000 a week for Ingrid’s; they, of course, received their usual salary from Selznick, which was slightly more than 10 percent of those sums. 154 Donald Spoto sends the heroine to her death. Unlike his experience with Joan Fontaine, Cary worked harmoniously with Ingrid, and they formed a lifelong friendship; wild rumors to the contrary, there was no romance or affair. In his quiet, proprietary manner, Hitchcock gave Ingrid and Grant the impression that he

director and his star quarreled about her fingernails, which she gradually trimmed. The high heels also came down, and the makeup was altered, shade by shade. After a loud altercation, Nita finally agreed to change her hair, curl by curl—always a Hitchcock fixation. In silent films, dialogue was created only for close shots; in grand emotional scenes (as Hitchcock said), “we allowed people to say just whatever came into their heads. One day, Nita was playing a scene in which she had been run out of

Download sample