Tony Lee Moral talks about his book “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie”

A filmmaker himself, author Tony Lee Moral is best known for his books about the legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock. In 2002 he released “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Marnie'” and followed it up a decade later with “The Making of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds'” His next book is also about the master of suspense, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass.”

With the growing popularity of Alfred Hitchcock, 33 years after his death, Mr. Moral has released a revised edition of his first book. He recently took the time to answer some questions about the influence and genius of Alfred Hitchcock.

Mike Smith: You’ve written three books on Alfred Hitchcock. What is it about him as a filmmaker that makes him your favorite subject?
Tony Lee Moral: Hitchcock for me is the definitive film maker, and his career and films span the history of cinema. His films have been a huge part of my life, ever since I saw my first Hitchcock film (I Confess) at the age of 10. I took part in the 1999 Alfred Hitchcock Centennial celebrations and have interviewed many scriptwriters, producers, actors who worked with Hitch. The more I watch his films, the more I become fascinated by the man behind the camera, as there is so much to learn from his life.

MS: Why do you think that, more than three decades after his passing, people are still interested in his films?
TLM: I think Hitchcock was a great storyteller and that will never go out of fashion. He was a master entertainer who put the audience first and always wanted to take them on a roller coaster ride. “Psycho” is probably the best example of that, as watching it is like a trip to the Horror-Fun House.

MS: Do you have a favorite Hitchcock film?
TLM: That is very difficult to choose, I’d say “Marnie” because of the characters and psychology. “Vertigo” is a very close second. And after that I’d choose “North by Northwest” or “The Birds.”

MS: As a filmmaker yourself, have you ever caught yourself intentionally cribbing a shot from Hitchcock’s work?
TLM: Absolutely, I’m very influenced by Hitchcock’s film grammar, from Long Shots to Big Close Ups for emotional impact. For my “Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass” book, I really studied his use of film and my respect for him as a master film maker deepens. He was a true director who understood the medium of cinema and was a great teacher who influenced many other directors.

MS: What did you think of the film “Hitchcock?” Did you think Anthony Hopkins captured Mr. Hitchcock’s aura?
TLM: I liked it, but have only seen it once in the cinema, which isn’t a good sign. I thought it was light hearted and not mean spirited. I admire Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as actors, but there were dramatic licenses taken in the film which I didn’t agree with. Overall, if it brought Hitchcock to a new, fresh young audience then that’s a good thing.

MS: What is your next project (either written or film)?
TLM: My next project, which I’m currently writing, is a book about Alfred Hitchcock’s reputation, especially since his death and the recent biographies that have followed it. It’s going to be very revealing and I’m really digging deep for this one, though it won’t be published for several years. I’m speaking to people who haven’t spoken out before about Hitchcock, and I’m hoping that this book will change the way we view Hitchcock and his movies in years to come.

Book Review “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie – Revised Edition”

Written by: Tony Lee Moral
Hardcover: 283 pages
Release date: 2013
Rowman and Littlefield

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

It has been more than three decades since the great director Alfred Hitchcock died (April 29, 1980 to be precise). In that time his legend has grown to almost mythic status. Last year the master filmmaker was the subject of not one but two films: HBO’s “The Girl” and the feature film “Hitchcock,” which centered around the director, played by Anthony Hopkins, during the filming of “Psycho.” In 2002 author Tony Lee Moral released a book dealing with the director and his project after “The Birds,” the psychological thriller “Marnie.” This year Mr. Moral released a revised edition of the book and it is among the most in-depth and interesting “behind the scenes” books ever.

After the double-barreled success of “Psycho” and “The Birds,” Hitchcock set his sights on Winston Graham’s upcoming novel, “Marnie.” He envisioned it as a comeback vehicle for Grace Kelly, who had retired a few years earlier after marrying Prince Ranier of Monaco. However, the publicity surrounding Kelly’s comeback, plus the disapproval of the people of Monaco that their Princess would be playing such a character (Marnie is a thief) resulted in Kelly leaving the project.

In the fall of 1961, while watching “The Today Show” on television one morning, Hitchcock spotted a pretty blonde in a commercial for “Sego” and asked to meet with her. That actress was Tippi Hedren, who Hitchcock soon signed to a contract and cast in “The Birds.” Hitchcock often compared Hedren to Kelly in interviews and when Kelly became unavailable he offered the lead in “Marnie” to her. The rest is film history.

“Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Marnie'” is packed with the kind of inside information that film fans love. From the studios’ reservations about casting Sean Connery, who they were only familiar with from his appearances as James Bond to tidbits of Hitchcock’s directing shorthand (to add drama to a moment Hitchcock would tell his actors to give him “Dogs Feet” – – – Pawses (Pauses). It is inside info like this that gives the book life, so much so that you feel you are personally involved in the production.

An entertaining read from start to finish, I highly recommend “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Marnie'” to any film fan curious in the art of motion picture making.