10 Memorable Alfred Hitchcock Quotes

STF/AFP/Getty Images
STF/AFP/Getty Images

Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock! The director, who died in 1980, was born 119 years ago today. Here are a few words from the auteur himself to mark the occasion.

1. ON EGGS

"I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened; they revolt me. That round white thing without any holes, and when you break it, inside there’s that yellow thing, round, without any holes… Brrr! Have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it."

—From a 1963 interview, via Alfred Hitchcock: Interviews.

2. ON VIOLENCE IN MOVIES

"Violence on the screen increases violence in people only if those people already have sick minds. I once read somewhere that a man admitted killing three women and he said he had killed the third woman after having seen Psycho. Well, I wanted to ask him what movie he had seen before he killed the second woman. And then we'd ban that movie, don't you see? And then if we found out that he'd had a glass of milk before he killed the first woman, why then we'd have to outlaw milk, too, wouldn't we? At a screening of Psycho a young boy came up to me—he was about 9 or 10—and he said to me, 'What did you use for blood—chicken blood?' And I said, 'No, I used chocolate sauce.' ... The point is that he said what did you use. He knew it was a movie, that it was pretend."

—From a 1969 interview with The New York Times.

3. ON HIS WIFE

"Had the beautiful Ms. Reville not accepted a lifetime contract without options as Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock some 53 years ago, Mr. Alfred Hitchcock might be in this room tonight, not at this table but as one of the slower waiters on the floor. I share my award, as I have my life, with her."

From his speech accepting the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979.

4. ON PSYCHO

"I once made a movie, rather tongue-in-cheek, called Psycho. The content was, I felt, rather amusing and it was a big joke. I was horrified to find some people took it seriously. It was intended to make people scream and yell and so forth—but no more than screaming and yelling on a switchback railway (rollercoaster). I'm possibly in some respects the man who says in constructing it, 'how steep can we make the first dip?' If you make the dip too deep, the screams will continue as the car goes over the edge and destroys everyone. Therefore you mustn't go too far because you do want them to get off the switchback railway, giggling with pleasure."

—From a 1964 interview with the English TV show Monitor, via Daily Mail

5. ON PUNS

"Puns are the highest form of literature."

—From a 1972 television interview with Dick Cavett

6. ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE

"The two things are absolutely miles apart. A mystery is an intellectual process, like in a whodunit. But suspense is essentially an emotional process. Therefore, you can only get the suspense element going by giving the audience information. And I daresay you've seen many films which have mysterious goings on, you don't know why the man is doing that, and you're about a third of the way through the film before you realize what it's all about. And to me, that's complete wasted footage, because there's no emotion to it."

—From a 1970 AFI Seminar

7. ON BEING HAPPY

"My wife is an excellent cook, and I could die eating. The things that make me happiest in the world are eating, drinking, and sleeping. I sleep like a newborn babe. I drink like a fish, have you seen what a red face I have? And I eat like a pig. Even if it does make me look more and more like a porker myself."

—From a 1963 interview with Oriana Fallaci, via Alfred Hitchcock: Interviews

8. ON WHY PEOPLE KILL

"Years ago, it was economic, really. Especially in England. First of all, divorce was very hard to get, and it cost a lot of money. ... They do it in desperation. Absolute desperation. They have nowhere to go, there were no motels in those days, and they’d have to go behind the bushes in the park. And in desperation they would murder. ... [Mass murderers] are psychotics, you see. They’re absolutely psychotic. They’re very often impotent. As I showed in Frenzy. The man was completely impotent until he murdered and that’s how he got his kicks. But today of course, with the Age of the Revolver, as one might call it, I think there is more use of guns in the home than there is in the streets. You know? And men lose their heads?"

—From an interview with Andy Warhol in the September 1974 issue of Interview, via Filmmaker IQ

9. ON YOUTH

"I am pro-young. I wrote my first script at the age of 22 and directed my first film at 25. So I'm for the young. And when people today say I'm 70, I say that's a confounded lie. I'm twice 35, that's all. Twice 35."

—From a 1969 interview with The New York Times

10. ON DRAMA

"What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out."

—From Hitchcock by François Truffaut

Josh Trank Wouldn't Mind Erasing Fantastic Four From Film History

Ben Rothstein, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Ben Rothstein, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

It’s not every day that you hear a director talking about wanting to completely erase one of their projects from film history. But when the topic of the 2015 box office bomb Fantastic Four comes up, director Josh Trank isn't mincing words. The director tweeted that he would “gladly” donate to a GoFundMe page to have his failed adaptation erased from the cinematic history books.

It's no secret that Fantastic Four is a sore subject for Trank. The production was plagued with rumors that there was a bit of friction on set, particularly between the director and star Miles Teller. Even once the film had wrapped, reports about the troubled production plagued Trank, and eventually led to him parting ways with Disney, for whom he was supposedly developing a standalone Boba Fett movie. (It didn't help that Fantastic Four tanked at the box office and even won a Razzie for Worst Picture).

The topic of starting a GoFundMe page for the film started after Trank responded to fans rallying for a page to get the rat at the end of Martin Scorsese's The Departed digitally erased. When asked if he would support a page to get rid of Fantastic Four, Trank seemed to oblige (though he has since deleted the tweet).


It’s no secret the previous Fantastic Four movies have had little success, but now that Disney and Fox are joining forces, the series could be entering into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe now these superheroes will finally get the movie they deserve.

Hollywood's Brief Love Affair With Young Einstein Star Yahoo Serious

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The theater owners and exhibitors attending the ShoWest convention in February 1989 had a lot to look forward to. In an attempt to stir their interest in upcoming studio releases, major distributors were showing off stars and footage: Paramount led with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Columbia had Ghostbusters II. But it was Warner Bros. that caused the biggest stir.

In addition to Lethal Weapon 2, the studio had Tim Burton’s Batman, a straight-faced adaptation of the comic, and Michael Keaton—who slipped into a screening of some early footage—was no longer being derided as a poor casting choice. Then, in the midst of all this star power, the studio brought out a 35-year-old actor-writer-director with a shock of orange hair and an Australian accent.

The man had never appeared in a feature film before, much less starred in one, but Warner was gambling that his forthcoming comedy about a Tasmanian Albert Einstein who invents rock music and runs into Thomas Edison would be a hit. It had already become the sixth highest-grossing film in Australia's history, besting both E.T. and Rambo: First Blood Part II.

The man’s real name was Greg Pead, but Warner Bros. introduced him as Yahoo Serious, Hollywood’s next big comedy attraction.

 

To understand Warner’s appetite for an unproven commodity like Yahoo Serious, it helps to recall the peculiar preoccupation American popular culture had with Australians in the 1980s. Energizer had created a hit ad campaign with Mark “Jacko” Jackson, a pro football player who aggressively promoted their batteries in a series of ads; meanwhile, Paul Hogan parlayed his fish-out-of-water comedy, Crocodile Dundee, into the second highest-grossing film of 1986. (Serious would later bristle at comparisons to Hogan, whom he referred to as a “marketing guy” who sold cigarettes on Australian television.)

Born in Cardiff, Australia on July 27, 1953, Serious grew up in rural bush country and mounted car tires at a garage in order to pay his way through the National Art School. When he was expelled for illustrating the school's facade with satirical jokes that the faculty didn’t find particularly funny, Serious moved on to direct Coaltown, a documentary about the coal mining industry, and pursued painting.

Serious would later recall that the desire for a larger audience led him away from art and into feature filmmaking. ''It hit me like a ton of bricks one day,” Serious told The New York Times in 1989. “I remember having a cup of coffee and I went, 'Well, look, there is a giant canvas in every little town everywhere around the world. And on this giant canvas there are 24 frames of image on that screen every second and it's the most wonderful living art form.'” It was around this same time, in 1980, that Serious changed his name.

To get a feel for the language of film, Serious sat through repeated viewings of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove; he aspired to have the kind of total autonomy over his movies that directors like Woody Allen and Charlie Chaplin enjoyed.

In 1983, Serious was traveling along the Amazon River when he spotted someone wearing a T-shirt depicting Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out. The image is now pervasive, appearing on posters and other merchandise, but it seemed unique to the performer, who was struck by the idea that Einstein was once young and never took himself too seriously. And the concept for Young Einstein was born.

 

Serious's idea, which transplanted Einstein to Tasmania and imagined encounters with Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, and the atomic bomb, took years to assemble. He borrowed camera equipment and sold his car to help finance the film; he shot an eight-minute trailer that convinced investors he was capable of making a feature. His mother even cooked meals for the crew on set.

In order to maintain creative control, Serious gave up profit participation in Young Einstein, which he starred in, co-produced, co-wrote, and directed. When the film was released in Australia in 1988, it made an impressive $1.6 million at the box office and drew the attention of Warner Bros., which likely had visions of a Crocodile Dundee-esque hit. American press had a field day with Serious, who appeared on the cover of TIME and was given airtime on MTV.

Critics and audiences weren’t quite as enamored. The Orlando Sentinel suggested that "Tedious Oddball" would be a more appropriate name for the film's creator. In his one-star review, Roger Ebert wrote that, "Young Einstein is a one-joke movie, and I didn't laugh much the first time." In the U.S., Young Einstein grossed just over $11 million, a fairly weak showing for a summer comedy. It was bested in its opening weekend by both Ron Howard’s Parenthood and the Sylvester Stallone action-grunter Lock Up.

 

Although American distributors quickly cooled on Serious, Australia's enthusiasm for the filmmaker didn’t dampen. When Serious released 1993’s Reckless Kelly, a fictionalized account of outlaw Ned Kelly, it made $5.4 million in Australia—three times as much as Young Einstein. Serious took a seven-year sabbatical, then returned with 2000’s Mr. Accident, a slapstick comedy about an injury-prone man who tries to thwart a scheme to inject nicotine into eggs. Meeting a tepid critical and financial reception, it would be his third and (likely) final film.

At roughly the same time Mr. Accident was released, Serious took issue with upstart search engine Yahoo!, alleging the site was piggybacking on his popularity. He filed a lawsuit, which was quickly dropped when he failed to prove the URL had damaged him in any way.

Yahoo Serious attends an event
Paul McConnell, Getty Images

The amused headlines stemming from that incident were the last examples of Serious capturing attention in America. Having completed just three films, no other projects have come to fruition; Serious launched a website detailing some of his background and to air some of his Yahoo!-related grievances.

Now 65, Serious currently serves as founding director of the Kokoda Track Foundation, an Australian aid organization dedicated to improving the living conditions of Papua New Guineans. The board’s website lists him as Yahoo Serious, which is the name he claims that all of his family and friends have called him since he changed it in 1980.

“You can choose every aspect of your life,” Serious once said. “Why not your name?”

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