We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock | [Donald Spoto]

The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock

Acclaimed biographer Donald Spoto explores the roots of Hitchcock’s obsessions - with food, murder, and idealized love, among others - and traces the origins of his incomparable, bizarre genius, from his childhood and education to the golden years of his career. Based on interviews with his writers, actors, and longtime associates, and on exhaustive research, The Dark Side of Genius is the definitive biography of Alfred Hitchcock.
Regular Price:$28.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

The story of the man who changed people’s relationships with their showers forever, thanks to Psycho, this is the classic, Edgar Award-winning biography of the enigmatic and intensely private Alfred Hitchcock. One of America’s greatest film directors, his suspenseful subject matter ranged from the dark drama of a man possibly trying to kill his wife, to the humorous problem of disposing of a body, to the ecological underpinnings of an attack by fowl fiends in a sleepy harbor town.

Acclaimed biographer Donald Spoto explores the roots of Hitchcock’s obsessions - with food, murder, and idealized love, among others - and traces the origins of his incomparable, bizarre genius, from his childhood and education to the golden years of his career. Based on interviews with his writers, actors, and longtime associates, and on exhaustive research, The Dark Side of Genius is the definitive biography of Alfred Hitchcock.

Donald Spoto is the author of more than 20 books, including best-selling biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, and Audrey Hepburn. He lives with his husband, Danish artist and school administrator Ole Flemming Larsen, near Copenhagen, Denmark.

©1983 Donald Spoto (P)1998 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The finest book about a filmmaker yet. Sensational in its revelations; at the same time, a biography of unassailable integrity. I could not put it down." (Gregory Peck)

"Absolutely compulsory reading." (New York Times Book Review)

"A vivid and perceptive portrait…. Knowledgeable and revealing." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (105 )
5 star
 (36)
4 star
 (33)
3 star
 (24)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
4.0 (94 )
5 star
 (42)
4 star
 (26)
3 star
 (16)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (2)
Story
3.9 (90 )
5 star
 (32)
4 star
 (31)
3 star
 (16)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Carol Littlejohn Knoxville, TN 12-24-12
    Carol Littlejohn Knoxville, TN 12-24-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    65
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hitch's life and phobias keep you "Spellbound""

    Having read this book decades ago, I was thrilled to purchase this audiobook. It's just as fascinating as I remembered. If you are looking for technical details of Hitchcock's movies, forget this one. However, if you want a psychological analysis of Hitch's life and his many phobias, you will be spellbound. Born the son of a Cockney grocer, Alfred Hitchcock began writing titles for silent movies. All Hitchcock's movies contain his fears, fascinations (especially with his leading ladies), and phobias. The author, Donald Spoto, was the first to dehumanize Hitch's genius by revealing his dark side, but somehow this makes future viewings of Hitchcock's films more fascinating.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathaniel Pasig City, Philippines 11-06-12
    Nathaniel Pasig City, Philippines 11-06-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Annoying silent gaps; poor editing"
    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    This is certainly a fascinating and comprehensive biography of Alfred Hitchcock, but I must comment on the annoying silent gaps throughout this 3 part audiobook. Just when you think a sentence/paragraph is complete, the narrator continues the thought, a beat, even two or three beats too late. It's annoying and unfortunate because it is a good book. This nuisance can be corrected with a little patient editing of the silent gaps.


    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik 09-22-13
    Erik 09-22-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Last Word"
    Any additional comments?

    I first discovered Psycho when I was 9 years old, and the ride began. I'm 36 now and I've seen everything Hitchcock, read everything Hitchcock, and even subjected myself to a couple of embarrassing biopics (Hitchcock; The Girl). Donald Spoto's "The Dark Side of Genius" is, quite simply, the only source you'll ever need on him. All the others are just lovely picture books.

    It's all here. The story of an artist with a grotesque sense of the world, who hid inside his body and behind his camera, fighting like hell to get it perfect every day of his life. He was funny, he was vicious, and he was charming. His films speak for him, but after reading this you'll have a greater sense of what's being said....and why.

    Spoto's biography is not melodramatic, nor does it fall prey to camp or long perpetuated rumors. If you seek that, turn elsewhere, because this book only addresses the facts. Jeff Riggenbach's narration is also matter of fact and serves the material well.

    All of that said, it's a delicious read. Enjoy.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    t murd 01-11-15
    t murd 01-11-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dark Side of Bordem"
    What did you like best about The Dark Side of Genius? What did you like least?

    The book was very long and the author went on tangents that made it hard to follow. I did enjoy learning more about Alfred Hitchcock and his eccentric waysl.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Donald Spoto? Why or why not?

    Doubtful, he needs to bring it in a bit, too may rabbit holes that went nowhere and wasted my time.


    Which character – as performed by Jeff Riggenbach – was your favorite?

    It is a narrative book, henceforth no characters. He did however keep a consistent tone and was easy listening.


    Was The Dark Side of Genius worth the listening time?

    Not really, I could have read Wikipedia or Cliff Notes version and would have been as satisfying.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura WEST ROXBURY, MA, United States 11-19-12
    Laura WEST ROXBURY, MA, United States 11-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a boring story"

    Mr Riggenbach's reading, though smooth, was somewhat off in spots, with some words mispronounced and/or with emphasis in the wrong part of the sentence, There was something robotic about it.

    The story itself was not very interesting, seeming to get bogged down in meaningless detail while skipping over the most interesting part (his relationship with Tippi Hedren and its effect on her career). Its tone toward its subject was a little tentative.

    I don't think I would purchase another book written by Mr. Spoto in any form.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 11-01-14
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 11-01-14 Member Since 2014

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1769
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1413
    246
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    204
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "JUST A REHASH OF SPOTO'S OTHER HITCHCOCK BOOK"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not really. It's way to long, repetitive, and doesn't really get to the meat of the real Alfred Hitchcock - The Man. Since the Hitchcock family didn't authorize this biography and refused to open up any personal insight or documents, this is just a well-researched book on public information.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    If Spoto had refrained from merging his 1976 book "The Art of Alfred Hitchcock" into what is supposed to be a biography. That book is a comprehensive analysis of every Hitchcock film over 50 years. Here, Spoto just interjects his take on every tiny bit of each film, giving the reader more about the films than the the life of director. I had it when Spoto named every actress who read for "Rebecca" - THIRTY-THREE of them! Really? What did that have to do with the "dark genius" behind Hitchcock?


    What aspect of Jeff Riggenbach’s performance would you have changed?

    He was rather boring. But what was really appalling is his mispronounciation of common words. At first, I gave him a pass on words with 4 syllables, but then he pronounced "banal" wrong. The clincher was the kid game "Blind Man's Bluff" which he called "Blind Man's BUFF" - not once, but four times!


    What else would you have wanted to know about Donald Spoto’s life?

    Nothing since this book is supposed to be about ALFRED HITCHCOCK!


    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William F. Solomon 02-06-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Changes the way you look at AH"
    What did you love best about The Dark Side of Genius?

    The way he was so exact about all his productions


    What did you like best about this story?

    Strange side of him


    Which scene was your favorite?

    How he made the "Birds"


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    Great book to tell you about the way the movie industry was in the greatest time in movie history

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Rowland Hts, CA, United States 02-03-15
    Amazon Customer Rowland Hts, CA, United States 02-03-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "EYE OPENING!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Dark Side of Genius to be better than the print version?

    Personally, I prefer the audio edition to print because there were a lot of french words that I would have struggled with had they not been read for me. Also, I could listen to the book during my workouts.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was fascinating to hear the background that went into Hitchcock's movies including the manipulative ways he climbed the ladder to success. I loved hearing about the way he went to great lengthens to lay out his movies (i.e., story boarding / moving sets). He was not appreciated in his day, (but, who is?) and today other up-and-coming directors have benefited from his struggles.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I felt the book title was apropos for Hitchcock's personal and lifelong demons he battled. Many things shocked me in this book, but two things stood out. The first was his constant underlying sexual deviance and under-handed dealings with just about everyone, except his wife. Second, when Hitch dangled a severance under the nose of his secretary of 25 years that would not be realized!


    Any additional comments?

    This book was very fascinating, disturbing and yet, I would recommend reading 'til the end. I was sadden to hear how a few events from his early childhood influenced, controlled and fueled much of his life-long struggles. I didn't give this book 5 stars overall because, I could not relate to the stars mentioned during Hitchcock's time as discussed in the book. It was a little hard to gloss over the names of certain writers, directors and actors of that time and not be able to quickly draw on a memory so that I could connect with the situation. However, I did Google them later for a point of reference to see their body of work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bethany SALEM, NH, United States 12-01-14
    bethany SALEM, NH, United States 12-01-14 Member Since 2015

    birds and more birds

    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    118
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "truly enjoyable"
    Where does The Dark Side of Genius rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    this book has as many shocks for me as a hitch film fascinating truly shows the many sides (very dark ones) of one of the greatest directors of all time


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 11-10-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 11-10-14 Member Since 2014

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    169
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    689
    281
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "ALFRED HITCHCOCK"

    The Dark Side of Genius is a biography of Alfred Hitchcock. A fan of Hitchcock movies will relish Donald Spoto’s insight to Hitchcock’s fascinating and enigmatic genius. A listener with little interest in movies may be put-off by Spoto’s psychological dissection of Hitchcock, but Spoto’s intimate understanding of Hitchcock’s films; his personal acquaintance with Hitchcock, Hitchcock’s family, Hitchcock movie’s stars, writers, and producers, make The Dark Side of Genius highly entertaining and intuitively believable.

    Hitchcock taps into a subconscious reservoir of human repression, present in the nature of human beings. Spoto illustrates Hitchcock’s genius for translating male’ repression into film; it is there for the entire world to see but, sadly, for few to fully appreciate or care to understand.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
Sort by:
  • barjil
    BEMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
    8/26/12
    Overall
    "Spoiled by narrator"

    I listened to the trial reading before buying this book, which I was really interested to have. The narrator sounded OK for that brief time but since then I have had to stop listening after enduring five chapters. I am obviously used to American pronunciations such as Birming-HAM and could cope with some of the mispronounced names but he is going to call AH's wife Awlmah for 23+ hours, whereas she is Alma. But there are hideous mispronunciations of ordinary words and ultimately one is just waiting for them to happen and this destroys any possible enjoyment. Very disappointing as it's obviously a most interesting book - shall have to read it in print!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • M
    Kilwinning, United Kingdom
    5/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A detailed biography of a flawed genius"

    I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. I have watched many (most) of his films and I have read some other insights into his life. This book is the most detailed account of his life that I have read. As a consequence of its length, breadth and detail, it exposes many human flaws which may or may not be true. In hindsight, I would rather not have heard the assertions of his darker side, some of which may have reflected attitudes more prevalent in his era than they are now , or petty eccentricities given an uncharitable spin. So, if you are a film buff that would like lots more details of Hitchcock’s life and career then this is a good book for you. If you are a Hitchcock fan, then this might make you see him in a less favourable light because of some of his character flaws, so just keep watching his films and admire his genius.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.