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Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (1899-1980) was born in the village of Leytonstone (later a borough of London), England, the son of a greengrocer. His family was Roman Catholic and he was educated in Catholic schools, including the Jesuit St. Ignatius College. He then entered the School of Engineering and Navigation, where he studied draftsmanship before getting a job as a clerk at the W. T. Henley Telegraph Company.
Hitchcock later developed an interest in drawing while enrolled in art classes at London University. After the end of World War I, his artistic ability helped land him a position as a sketch artist in Henley's advertising department. In 1919 his interest in film and theater prompted him to apply for a job as a designer of title cards with the newly formed London branch of Famous Players-Lasky. He moonlighted for a short while before he was offered a permanent job by the studio. Hitchcock stayed with the company until 1922, when Famous Players-Lasky ceased production in England.
The physical studio was taken over by a new British company, Balcon-Saville-Freedman, which retained Hitchcock's services. He quickly found himself working in many different capacities, including art director and coscreenwriter for "Woman to Woman" (1923) and "The Passionate Adventure" (1924). Because of a coproduction deal with UFA, Hitchcock went to Germany in 1924 as art director, assistant director, and writer for "The Prude's Fall" (1925) and "The Blackguard" (1925). He was then offered a chance to direct his first feature, "The Pleasure Garden" (1925), which was shot in Germany and Italy.
Hitchcock made his name with his third film, "The Lodger" (1926), which was a critical and commercial success, and he married Alma Reville in December of that year. Reville had worked as an editor, continuity girl, assistant director, and screenwriter and had been working with Hitchcock since 1923. Hitchcock became one of the best-known and innovative of English directors, making such films as "Blackmail" (1929), "The 39 Steps" (1935), and "The Lady Vanishes" (1938). In 1938 he signed a contract with David O. Selznick and moved his family to Hollywood in 1939, where he made his first U.S. film, "Rebecca" (1940). The film was a smash hit and he was nominated for an Academy Award. He soon became as well known in the United States as he was in Britain.
In the 1940s he made such films as "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943) and "Notorious" (1946), and in the 1950s directed, among others, "Strangers on a Train" (1951), "Rear Window" (1954), "Vertigo" (1958), and "North by Northwest" (1959). In 1955 Hitchcock became a naturalized U.S. citizen, five years after Alma had done so. That year he also began hosting the television anthology series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," which ran for seven years. Hitchcock had his greatest commercial success with "Psycho" (1960) and then moved to Universal for the remainder of his career, helming such films as "The Birds" (1963) and "Frenzy" (1972). "Family Plot" (1976) was his 53rd and final feature. Hitchcock was nominated by the Academy five times in the directing category. He received the 1967 Irving G. Thalberg Award.
The Alfred Hitchcock papers span the years 1821-1979 (bulk 1943-1979) and encompass approximately 66 linear feet. The collection consists of production material, television material, subject files, books and periodicals, scrapbooks and oversize material. The production material contains script material and/or production files for 31 of Hitchcock's films, including all of the features released after 1940 except "Stage Fright" (1950). The script material consists primarily of the original source material, story notes, synopses, screenplay drafts, shooting scripts, dialogue continuities, and in some instances, trailer scripts. The production files consist of correspondence, memos, casting records, call sheets, financial and legal records, location information, research material, music notes, editing notes, publicity, and reviews. In general, the most extensive coverage is for the years 1957-1976, ranging from "The Wrong Man" (1957) to "Family Plot" (1976), with the films made at Universal receiving the most representation. Coverage in the 1950s varies from almost no material for "Dial M for Murder" (1954) to fairly complete files for "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956). There is a small amount of information on his films from the 1940s and almost nothing on his British films, except scrapbooks of reviews and clippings for his films from the 1920s and scripts for "The 39 Steps" (1935) and "The Lady Vanishes" (1938).
The collection features a large amount of material on unproduced projects. The most extensive coverage is for "No Bail for the Judge" (1958-1959), "Frenzy" (1967-1968), and "The Short Night" (1968-1979), the last project having extensive coverage. Among other noteworthy projects, there is only one script for "Mary Rose" and nothing for "R R R R R" except for mentions in scattered correspondence. The television material consists primarily of scripts for the lead-ins done by Hitchcock for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," two teleplays for episodes of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," and three teleplays for episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." The files also contain some correspondence and a list of episodes for each series. Little production information is included on individual shows.
The subject files contain information on organizations, Hitchcock's public life, business correspondence, and a small amount of personal correspondence. Of special interest is correspondence regarding the dismissal of Henri Langlois from the Cinémathèque Française, transcripts of interviews with Hitchcock conducted by Peter Bogdanovich and François Truffaut, and copies of the many speeches given by Hitchcock. The books are primarily copies of anthologies that went out under Hitchcock's name, though also included are critical studies of his films and books that might have served as research for various projects. The periodicals consist almost entirely of copies of "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine." It is not a complete set of issues, however.
The scrapbooks cover the early British films directed by Hitchcock up through "Juno and the Paycock" (1930), two of the later British films ("The Lady Vanishes" and "Jamaica Inn" (1939)), and most of his early U.S. films through "Lifeboat" (1944). The oversize material contains a small amount of production material, including sketches of hairstyles for "Vertigo" (1958) and "Marnie" (1964).
Gift of Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell, 1984, with additions from Tere O'Connell Nickel, 1987.