Books: Hitchcock on the Half Shell

THE DARK SIDE OF GENIUS: THE LIFE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK

by Donald Spoto;Little, Brown 594 pages; $20

The word genius is good for starting arguments but bad for book titles, unless the books are about Mozart. To insist that Film Director Alfred Hitchcock possessed this incandescence is simply to ensure a lot of windy exception taking. Yes, he was devilishly clever, but was there not a crippling contempt for human emotions and possibly for film making in his mechanical manipulation of viewers?

Such grumbling to one side, Donald Spoto's account of Hitchcock's life is a vivid and perceptive portrait of a man whose...

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