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.
"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)
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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?
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!
Nothing since this book is supposed to be about ALFRED HITCHCOCK!
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.
birds and more birds
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
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.
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.
I really enjoyed this book and found a lot of new information even having taken an Alfred Hitchcock class in college. This book is a very in depth and person account of Hitch, one that successfully looks at him both critically and emotionally. Spoto does a wonderful job of covering all aspects of Hitch, giving an entertaining glance at his personal and professional lives with great balance to each. I think all Hitch fans will love this fun and informative book. The narrator was equally wonderful and pleasant to listen to.
"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!
"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.
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