Alfred Hitchcock had a gift for creating suspense and a shrewd knowledge of human psychology. In Hitchcock, Michael Wood has found an ideal subject—an artist for whom explicit statement was anathema, who made conventional plot a hiding place rather than a source of revelation. Please join us for a discussion in honor of Michael Wood’s new study of one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers.
Hitchcock’s film career, spanning more than half a century, is studded with classics from The 39 Steps to Psycho, North by Northwest to Vertigo. A master of intricate storytelling, Hitchcock was one of the first directors whose films belonged to both popular culture and high art. By the end of his life, he had gone from being the overweight son of a greengrocer in a London suburb to Hollywood’s reigning director, whose cameo roles in his own films were one of their most anticipated features, and whose profile was recognized by millions.
Michael Wood describes this journey with the wit and erudition that are the trademarks of his work, showcasing his singular ability to detect hidden patterns within apparently disparate forms. Whether he is writing about Henry James or Hollywood in the 1920s, he is alert to the fundamental truth lurking behind the stated meaning.
Michael Wood is one of our most versatile critics, conversant with both modern literature and film. He is a professor emeritus of comparative literature at Princeton University. Among his many works are The Magician's Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction, Children of Science: On Contemporary Fiction, and America in the Movies.