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Hitchcock's Films Revisited Paperback – 12 Oct 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (12 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231126956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231126953
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 508,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


It is impossible not to be impressed by the richness, justice, and eloquence of [Woods] readings like "Rope, Notorious, Under Capricorn," and "The Man Who Knew Too Much." . . . If there are still any doubters about Hitchcock's central place in the canon of 20th century artists, they should address themselves to this wonderful study, where they will find the case for the defense magisterially outlined and argued with sustained, fiery conviction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robin Wood, a founding editor of CineAction, is the author of Sexual Politics and Narrative Film (Columbia, 1998) and Hollywood From Vietnam to Reagan (Columbia, 1985), among other books.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is one of Robin Wood's better known works and stands as both one of the best pieces of Hitchcock criticism ever penned, and as a model of auteur analysis in general [an area Wood has consistently been aligned with since his involvement with the magazine MOVIE in the 1960's]. It contains very detailed readings of Hitch's most famous and revered films, from Strangers On A Train through to Torn Curtain and encompassing Rear Window, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie et al. And also a second section which contains some broader ranging pieces on things like Shadow Of A Doubt [and Its A Wonderful Life] and American Ideology, Hitchcock and homosexuality [a very revealing piece on Rope] and a fascinating psychoanalytical reading of Vertigo. As well as pieces on some of Hitch's lesser known and British films. The one big problem with Wood, as with many British critics [and autuerists] of his generation like V.F Perkins [who also wrote for MOVIE], is his often self-consciously highbrow approach, too often too eager to validate cinema as art by comparing it to other art forms [ for example there is a piece in Wood's latest, and indeed last book Sexual Politics And Narrative Film comparing Renoir and The Rules Of The Game to Mozart]. But this is far less prominent in this book, as he concerns himself primarily with just analyising and interpreting the works in question. His writing here is as lucid, beautifully constructed and insightful as always and his interst in and passion for Hitchcock in particular and the cinema in general is evident in every paragraph. As mentioned this is less pretentious than some of Wood's other works, it is nevertheless still too scholarly for the passing film fan. But for the serious film buff and especialy the film student, this is an indispensible work that should prove useful and certainly insightful again and again. And will no doubt enrich your understanding of Hitchcock's films.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great place to start in studying Hitchcock.
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By A Customer on 3 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
this is an extremily readable book that looks at many of hitchcock's greatest films. the writer enters deeply into the world of hitchcock on an engaged and psychological level he uses psychoanalytic and archetypal ideas to think about what hitch is doing and how he succeedes. a very readable attempt at looking at the symbolism in a psychological sence in these films. but not necessarily freudian and reductionist.....highly rated
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
bought this for a university film module, really useful and indepth.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As brilliant as it is controversial 8 Sept. 2005
By Alexander Jacoby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Most of the comments posted about this book are embarrassing in their refusal to engage properly with what Robin Wood is actually trying to argue. Previous readers appear to resent Wood's desire to take the cinema seriously, and suggest that we should look to Hitchcock's films for no more than "craft" and "technique". If that's all one is concerned with, I'm not sure why it would be worth reading a book on Hitchcock at all. Wood has always been firm in asserting that the experience of watching a film is both emotional and intellectual. Taking the cinema seriously doesn't mean one has to stop responding to it emotionally. Nor does Hitchcock's status as a consummate entertainer invalidate Wood's arguments that his films raise profound and troubling moral and political questions.

Wood writes beautifully. Complaints about his reliance on Freudian or Marxist terminology are wrongheaded - such terminology is in fact employed far more rarely than by most academic writers. Wood's use of language is magnificently precise and careful. It is true that he conducts his critique of Hitchcock, as of other filmmakers, from a leftwing viewpoint. One does not have to share his commitment to Marxism (a kind of reconstructed, humanistic Marxism, incidentally, which has nothing to do with the atrocities perpetrated by Mao or Stalin) in order to appreciate the strength of his analysis. Anyone who is prepared, as a reader, to engage in lively debate with a writer's ideological and moral assumptions, should be able to profit by reading Wood's book.

I certainly don't agree with everything Wood has to say either on a political or an aesthetic level. But no other writer on Hitchcock, or on the cinema, has the same depth, reach or passion for his subject. Hitchcock's Films Revisited, presenting in tandem Wood's earlier and later thoughts on one of the cinema's great masters, is not only great criticism; it is also a moving account of one man's personal and political evolution.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in-depth Hitchcock study ever to be published. 3 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been reading books about Hitchcock for the last 15 years and the discovery of this one written by Robin Wood has been a revelation, far better than the praised Truffaut book or the one by Donald Spoto, both of which seem to disregard the vastness of Hitchcock's timeless movies. I very much recommend this book if you really want to go beyond cinema trivia and have a look into the work of one of the best artists of this closing Twentieth century. Enjoy it before and after watching a Hitchcock movie - or just anytime you feel like a good cinema essay.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Price of Innovation 9 Oct. 2005
By John P Bernat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Forty years ago Robin Wood joined a then-small number of serious critics who urged that Hitchcock be taken seriously. Since many of those critics did not receive a wide reading, Wood's effort was of extreme significance in garnering Hitch the respect he deserved.

It's wonderful to note that Wood, still writing, has continued to update his first work without repudiating or diluting any of it. He made some highly daring observations in 1966, which so many writers ridiculed or dismissed. His originality and critical integrity is so notable, though, that it has weathered these attacks and survived to the present, in actually even better form.

Consider, for example, that Wood countered a then-contemporary tend in dismissing "Marnie" as a failure. Instead, in his first book and most recent edition, he insists that "Marnie" be counted in among films like Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo and North by Northwest as a masterly pairing of visual images addressing psychological elements. And who else before Wood saw the utterly original qualities of "Vertigo," or deconstructed them more effectively?

You won't be sorry to have this book in your library. It originated a critical lanugage of film, and celebrated one of film's greatest contributors in a unique way.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robin Wood is the Preeminent Authority on Hitchcock 23 Oct. 2000
By gobirds2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The methods of the great pioneers have often puzzled conventional minds. I am not a great pioneer. I am puzzled. And what the heck does conventional mean? Robin Wood is without question the greatest authority on the cinematic works of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. Years ago after seeing many films as I was growing up I decided to do some reading on the role of the Director. By pure chance I picked up and purchased Robin Wood's original edition of this book. Obviously it was at that time, myself still being in school very challenging reading for me. However, I was able to recognize brilliance over hypocrisy. Robin Wood has ever since remained the preeminent authority on Hitchcock's films. He has honestly admitted that his perspectives on some of his analysis have changed. This is not an outright statement that has had a change of heart or acquired a new taste in the aesthetics of Hitchcock's films. On the contrary, through ongoing analysis he has come even closer to the secret of Hitchcock's mastery of his art. An artist creates a work. A great portion of that work is constructed with conscious deliberate thought, some is intuitive and a small portion may be subconscious. Robin Wood, I believe has showed a continuum in his analysis of Hitchcock's work. Wood continues to explore the avenues of the intuitive and subconscious nature of Alfred Hitchcock, which manifests itself in his films. To this end I believe Wood has devoted a good portion of his life.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Spotty 2 April 2007
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
On the rare occasions when they bothered to contemplate him and his work, arts intelligentsia relegated Alfred Hitchcock to the status of competent craftsman of popular thrillers--until the 1960s, when a few critics began a major re-evaluation of his work. Among the best known of these was Robin Wood, who published HITCHCOCK'S FILMS in 1965. It would be among the first critical texts to give Hitchcock the status of master artist.

Republished as HITCHCOCK'S FILMS REVISITED, most of the body of the book remains the same as the originally titled HITCHCOCK'S FILMS, a critical study of eight of Hitchcock's then most recent films: STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO, THE BIRDS, MARNIE, and TORN CURTAIN. But then as now, the study is very problematic, and this has a great deal less to do with the films than with the fact that Wood is much like the Mother Goose nursery rhyme. When he is good he is very, very good, but when he is bad he is horrid.

Wood was among the first to rescue VERTIGO from the dismissive reviews and tepid audience response it received upon its debut, and his comments here are tremendously insightful; he is no less effective in his studies of REAR WINDOW and PSYCHO. His thoughts on STRANGERS ON A TRAIN are excessively pendantic and have a forced quality, but they are none the less interesting. He does not manage to convince me that I should regard NORTH BY NORTHWEST as a masterpiece, but even so he makes a good case.

In his opening remarks, Wood states that he is not among those fans for whom Hitchcock can do no wrong, and attempts to prove his point by citing several famous Hitchcock films that he considers weak. Indeed, he largely dismisses virtually every film Hitchcock made before 1940 and has a tendency to regard Hitchcock's films of the 1940s as developmental. But there is no two ways about it: he is completely off the mark when describes THE BIRDS and MARNIE as masterpieces and TORN CURTAIN as merely disappointing.

The basic problem is that Wood focuses on thematic elements to the virtual exclusion of everything else. It is true that Hitchcock tends toward certain themes--perhaps most obviously an ironic form of individual isolation--so it is hardly surprising that these also occur in THE BIRDS, MARNIE, and TORN CURTAIN. Indeed it would be a shock if they did not. But thematic presence does not necessarily qualify a film for the description of "masterpiece," and where THE BIRDS and MARNIE are concerned Wood throws the word around much too freely for my liking.

The great strength of both THE BIRDS and MARNIE is their numerous set pieces, many of which are very famous and all of which are highly watchable. In each instance, however, the film emerges as a premise in search of a viable plot, and whatever thematic interest may exist pales alongside this very fundamental fact. TORN CURTAIN has several interesting performances in the supporting cast and one truly spectacular Hitchcockian set piece, but it is chiefly remarkable for being among the handful of boring films that Hitchcock made, and no amount of thematic presence can alter this rather basic observation.

Wood has annotated his original text with subsequent articles, and the same situation holds true here as well: he tends to offer praise to those films that have something he can identify as a consistent thematic purpose and dismiss those that do not, all of it without regard to whether or not the film actually works as a film. His comments are not without interest, but in the end these are the musings of a literary scholar instead of an individual who has any real idea of the difference between "interesting failure" and "cinema masterpiece."

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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