The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Hitchcock/Truffaut Tapes #4

In its first few minutes, Part Four of The Hitchcock/Truffaut Tapes seems headed in an extremely intriguing direction, as Alfred Hitchcock speaks of the lull his career fell into after two of his better films from the early 1930s, Number Seventeen and Rich and Strange, met with commercial failure. He claims not to have been entirely aware of this decline at the time, however; largely because, to hear him tell it, he'd never lost faith in his fundamental skill as a filmmaker. In the end he was rescued from the Hell of projects such as 1933's Waltzes in Vienna through the intercession of Michael Balcon, who'd produced a number of his films in the Silent era. Balcon, he says, refocused his skill in a more useful direction; putting him on the path that would lead to his mid-30s masterpieces The Man Who Knew Too Much, Sabotage, The 39 Steps and Secret Agent. What's intriguing is the tone of gratitude he displays in speaking of his debt to Balcon. He seems on the verge of a rare expression of emotion . . .

And then François Truffaut (who up till this moment has been silent) jumps in with both feet to ask Hitchcock if The Man Who Knew Too Much was really based in part on some incident involving Winston Churchill.


After this classic of cinephile prioritizing grinds everything to a halt, the excerpt, sad to say, is pure Snoresville. Truffaut confuses the British and American versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock wearily trots out his warhorse theories on screen Suspense (even pointing out by way of understatement that this is not the first time he's gone into this rap), Helen Scott translates with her mouth full (I think they were eating lunch during this part . . . but one never knows), and the Master of Suspense concludes by complaining about Production Designers who think like Interior Decorators.

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