Alma Reville, wife of Alfred Hitchcock, was famously a major influence on his work but she also had a filmmaking career of her own, both before and after their marriage in 1926. She started as editor’s assistant and continuity girl and was senior to her future husband when they met at the Famous Players-Lasky studio in Islington in the early 1920s. Alma was assistant director on Hitch’s first solo film, The Pleasure Garden, and he proposed on the boat home from Germany. Alma worked on nearly all of her husband’s films, either credited or more informally – they famously spent their evenings, over her excellent cooking, discussing the day’s filming and refining their work. Alma had a particular talent for continuity, editing and story structure and this is evident in the films she made with her husband like Murder! (1930) and those she made independently such as The Constant Nymph (1928), The First Born (1928) and After the Verdict (1929). There is not one film for which the writing or structure of the film is criticised if not openly praised. Her ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ in particular were impeccable. An article in “Picturegoer” titled Alma in Wonderland looked over her “past career” to explain “why she to-day occupies such a unique position in European films”, positioning her as a career woman, having worked in the business since the age of sixteen, trusted as a neg cutter whilst still in her teens and an assistant director at twenty-five. The article finishes with a flippant comment that Miss Reville “owns but never wears” horn-rimmed spectacles (inferring she was clever, but too clever to show it) and too busy to get married. That was about to change, in fact she must have already been engaged at the time of the interview. But marriage and motherhood didn’t even break the stride of the redoubtable Mrs Hitchcock whose clarity of thought and profound understanding of filmmaking benefited not only her husband’s films but every film she worked on.
Programme curated by Bryony Dixon