It's the final nail in the coffin of the auteur theory: someone has dared suggest that Hitchcock needed writers to bring out the best in him.
Charles Barr surveys the films Hitchcock made up until he left for America in 1939. From The Pleasure Garden to Jamaica Inn, he examines the careers of the writers who worked on the films and goes back to the source material of the adaptations and traces the influences that changed Hitchcock from just another director to the legendary cinema maestro.
Hitchcock's English career can be divided into sections according to the writers he worked with, with the most notable being Eliot Stannard, Charles Bennett and Launder and Gilliat. He also had wife Alma Reville at his side.
Each film is discussed individually, most of them at length. Some are rehabilitated (The Farmer's Wife, Number Seventeen) while others are castigated for being the product of a director more interested in little effects than the overall film (The Ring, Rich and Strange). The most interesting part is the section on Blackmail which compares the silent and sound versions.
It's good to read a book that takes screenwriting seriously and which can get something new out of the well-documented career of one of Britain's greatest film makers.
Pub: Cameron & Hollis
Price: £17.95,$24.95English Hitchcock: available at Amazon UK