Christopher Silvester

The Birds

Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies


Hutchinson 229pp £20 order from our bookshop

When he introduced Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll to each other on the set of The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock invited them to call him by his nickname: ‘Hitch, without the cock’. This was his way of putting actor and actress at ease, says Donald Spoto, but throughout his career Hitchcock used off-colour remarks not merely as playful banter but also to provoke a reaction.

At a photo session to promote one of his most forgettable films, Topaz (1969), Hitchcock asked the German actress Karin Dor, with a lascivious overtone, to put a male actor’s cigar in her mouth. When she demurred, he went further: ‘Come on, Karin, you know you’ve had it in your mouth before.’ 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter