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Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies

Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies [Kindle Edition]

Donald Spoto
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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`A brisk and interesting read' -- Irish Independent

`As Donald Spoto demonstrates, Hitchcock's art imitated his life and mentality with disquieting closeness.' -- Daily Express

'Hitchcock was eccentric, brilliant, vulnerable, testy and, in the final analysis, human. To reinforce that humanity, indeed to show its darker side, is the purpose of Donald Spoto's Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies.'

-- Times Literary Supplement (London) 5 Sept 08


'Hitchcock was eccentric, brilliant, vulnerable, testy and, in the final analysis, human. To reinforce that humanity, indeed to show its darker side, is the purpose of Donald Spoto's Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1441 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (21 Dec 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #197,665 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock was an odd fellow 5 Dec 2009
This book explores Alfred Hitchcock's relationships with the actresses in his films, and his rather conflicted attitude towards women in general. Hitchcock's own marriage, though it produced one daughter, was apparently almost totally sexless (he claimed to have only had sexual intercourse once), and his sexual impulses were sublimated in his work, emerging in various aspects of his films and in his somewhat sadistic treatment of his actresses. An early instance of this was in "The 39 Steps" (1937), where Hitchcock spent several days shooting the scenes where Madeline Carroll and Robert Donat are handcuffed together while fleeing across the moors, taking care that the scenes were shot with especial realism, with Donat dragging Carroll through ravines and, at times, along the ground. He also referred to her as "the Birmingham tart." Even in Hitchcock's own day, word became public about his methods on this film, and his response was: "I try to make a woman human by making her appear in awkward and comic situations and taking away her glamour." Hitchcock's subjections of his actresses to physical and emotional cruelty was a constant feature of his method throughout his career.

But Hitch's foibles were overlooked because of the success of his results, and it was only much later that his behaviour took a more sinister turn, as his obsessions took over. The catalyst for this was his discovery in 1961 of a model named Tippi Hedren, who he wanted to turn into a star, despite her lack of acting experience. He gave her a 7-year contract and the lead role in his next film "The Birds." He attempted to control every aspect of her life, from the clothes she wore to the people she saw.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoto not Spellbound by Hitchcock! 18 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Donald Spoto is as Spelllbound by Hitchcock's leading ladies as Hitchcock was, but has cast Hitchcock as a throughly unpleasant character who had no redeeming features. The prism of his view appears to be totally coloured by Tipi Hedren's experience of Hitchcock, which was one in which she failed to see any humour in him whatsoever & viewed him as a disgusting & predatory old man. One cannot deny this aspect to him, but one feels that Spoto is not an objective observer & tends to play down, or dismiss the affection that some of his former 'ladies' felt for him. its interesting that Spoto, Hendren & Kim Novak all had Scandanavian 'roots' & none of them found anything humerous about Hitchcock at all....
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hitch's ladies 16 Jan 2009
For the record, Donald Spoto has already penned two books on legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

Apparently he can't quite get off the subject, because he got around to writing a third -- "Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies," a seething little memoir about Hitch's assorted leading ladies and his reputed sexual obsessions with them. But he can't quite keep the vitriol out of his writing.

The women themselves are an intriguing bunch -- they range from cinematic legends such as Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich to lesser-known actresses like Alida Valli, Margaret Lockwood and Teresa Wright. This exploration of these assorted actresses stretches from the very earliest movies of Hitchcock's fledgling career to his last few movies.

That, for the most part, is the good stuff.

Unfortunately Spoto clearly has some issues with Hitchcock himself. Not only does he lovingly pore over the accounts of Hitchcock's sex life, blonde fetish and crushes on his actresses, but also over any sexual jokes or pranks he played to get the required response from them. Oh horrors -- he brought a pumpkin pie to make someone look grossed-out on set.

And Spoto's obvious contempt for his subject explodes all over the pages with the birds. Spoto seems almost infuriated with Hitchcock for his crush on Tippi Hedren, and works hard to portray him as a revolting old pervert who wants to utterly control the beautiful women in his movies. And his rather lackluster last movies are portrayed as being the sole result of a man who got rejected and fell to pieces. Spoto must really have a crush on Hedren.
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3.0 out of 5 stars SLIGHTLY REPETIOUS 20 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Starts of interestingly but, as with I find with many biographies, eventually there is, to a greater or lesser degree, repetition. You don't learn much more about his character after mid-point. In fact his character changes remarkably little over his lifetime.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock's obsession 7 Nov 2008
Could not put this book down-it was quite sad to see what problems this genius had with his obsession for a great many of his leading ladies (including Ingrid Bergman,Grace Kelly,Doris Day,Kim Novack & Tippi Hedren) and how badly he treated some of them from whispering crude comments in their ears just before the cameras rolled to ignoring them to sexually harrasing them & in the extreme example (Hedren) physical abuse for a week on filming the attic scene in The Birds & sexual demands. I guess this shouldn't really suprise anyone though because anyone who could create the dark epics this guy created had to have some dark thoughts!
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