Monday, May 21, 2012

From the Master - Sir Alfred Hitchcock


Monday: Mystery, Murder, and Manuscripts

In last Monday's post, Boo! I Scared You. (Surprise verses Suspense), I referenced a famous quote from the master of suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock.  The quote drew a lot of comments so I went hunting for more advice from the master.  What I found were some quotes that are just too good not to share. 

On movies:

"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder"

An actor, discussing his character, asked Hitchcock, "What is my motivation?"
Hitchcock replied, "Your salary."

An actress asked Hitchcock which was her better profile, left or right. 
His reply: "My dear, you're sitting on your best profile."

His camera crew informed him that Tallulah Bankhead's habit of not wearing underpants was creating  problems during the filming of Lifeboat.
Hitchcock:  "I don't know if this is a matter for the costume department or the hairdresser."

A woman complained that the famous shower scene so frightened her daughter that the girl would no longer shower.
His reply: "Then Madam I suggest you have her dry cleaned."

"Disney has the best casting. If he doesn't like an actor he just tears him up."

On TV:

"Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some."

"Television has brought murder back into the home - where it belongs"

And the rest of these could easily apply to writing as well as film:

His mission in life: "to simply scare the hell out of people."

"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible."

Why people loved his thrillers: "They like to put their toe in the cold water of fear."

"Some of our most exquisite murders have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like the kitchen table."

"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it."

And my favorite...

"Drama is life with the dull bits left out"

Oh, one more - on the subject of books...

"This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book -- it makes a very poor doorstop."

What else is there to say?

Which one is your favorite?

Groaner of the Day:  (We hardly need one after all that so here's a shorty.)  I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He claims he can stop any time.

24 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh my God those are great! The first one is perfect. It's like the best advice for a professional speaker - don't talk longer than the audience's butts can tolerate.

Maria Zannini said...

I suspect Hitch and I share the same sense of humor.

This explains a lot about my social circles.

Jemi Fraser said...

Hitchcock is brilliant! I especially love that first one - so very true!! :)

Cate Masters said...

Hitchcock was quite the quipster. If the first were true, movies these days would be very short!

LD Masterson said...

Diane - a perfect translation. I hope all speakers at graduation ceremonies this spring remember that.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - Hmmm. Now that you mention it...

LD Masterson said...

Jemi - I appreciate his wisdom but adore his wit.

LD Masterson said...

Cate - Well, certainly so if he was using my bladder as his timer.

Clarissa Draper said...

Everything good I learned about writing, I learned from Hitchcock. He truly was a master.

LD Masterson said...

Clarissa - No argument here.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not sure which one I like better - the salary or the doorstop one.

Stacy McKitrick said...

The salary one was my favorite.

Angela Brown said...

Talk about a mad genius. I think my favorite has to be:

"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it."

Though the quote about Disney's cast...that's just darned priceless.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like the one about sticking your toe in the cold water of fear.

Karin said...

Great collection of quotes from the master!
I agree with you. "Drama is life with the dull bits left out." has to be my favorite.

Karin

LD Masterson said...

Alex - I've got to admit I also liked the one about having the daughter dry cleaned.

LD Masterson said...

Stacy - That one seems to be a popular choice.

LD Masterson said...

Angela - If I had found that "terror" quote a week earlier, it could have taken the place of my whole last Monday post.

LD Masterson said...

Susan - Can't you just feel it?

LD Masterson said...

Karin - It is, at the very least, a one line lesson in how to write.

Sarah Allen said...

So fabulous! I love the "no terror in the bang" one. It really puts things into a different perspective.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Stephen Tremp said...

Hitchcock was amazing. He did appear in all of his movies, usually in the background. If they ever make a movie of my books, I plan to do the same.

LD Masterson said...

Sarah - Kind of a one line education in writing suspense.

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - I'm guesing you know he had to move his cameo appearances to early in the film because the audience would be so distracted watching for him they'd miss the story. You'll probably have to do the same.