George Perry on Hitchcock

This year the festival invited George Perry to give a talk on Alfred Hitchcock before a screening of VERTIGO. Hitchcock’s popularity has never really faded, but he became the centre of attention again after VERTIGO was voted the best film of all time in August by Sight and Sound magazine.

George Perry has been working as a film journalist and critic for many years, writing film reviews for both newspapers and the BBC. He is also the author of numerous books, including biographies of Monty Python, Rupert Bear and James Dean; historical studies on film studios Pinewood, Ealing and Warner Brothers; and studies on directors like Hitchcock and Spielberg.

“I can’t stop talking about Hitch all day long”

Perry did not go into a deep analysis of Hitchcock’s films; there simply wouldn’t have been time. Instead he gave a general overview of the director’s life and career, showing some of his favourite scenes from the likes of BLACKMAIL, MARNIE, REAR WINDOW, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE 39 STEPS and VERTIGO. He explained why he found them remarkable, not so much academically but simply from a movie admirer’s point of view: for example, his ability to advance the plot with a simple cut or transition, taking seconds where others might take whole minutes.

Perry is something of a character himself. During the after-talk interview, Perry revealed that he once sat next to Hitch on the set of THE BIRDS, and discovered he was the only director he knew of who added “please” after the cry of “action” on set. Perry remarked, “Hitchcock invents cliché. He’s playing games. He plays with you.”