According to his biographer (Peter Ackroyd), Alfred Hitchcock "feared and hated the body." When he was a student at St. Ignatius in London, whenever he used the lavatory, he scrubbed it "so that it seemed as though no one had been there." At maturity, Hitchcock stood 5' 5" and weighed approximately 300 pounds. His marriage to Alma Reville (4'11") was mostly "white." He claimed that it was "sexless" and that he was a "celibated" director, and that his daughter, Patricia, was some sort of error. "If he was not the center of conversation or attention at a dinner table, he would often doze off." He made a bet that a property man would not be able to spend the night chained to a camera in a dark studio, then sabotaged him with a bottle of brandy laced with a strong laxative. He referred to his audience as the "moron millions." He was fond of the great painters but had no interest in any "symbolic significance or inner meaning." The actress Ann Todd reported that he had a schoolboy's obsession with sex and "an endless supply of very nasty and vulgar stories and jokes. He was a very sad person." He "had a fetish about women wearing glasses." One of his secretaries reported that he bought her five or six pairs but if she appeared without wearing one, "it irritated the devil out of him." During the making of Psycho, Hitchcock would place one or more grotesque models of Norman Bates' mummified mother in Janet Leigh's dressing room, just to hear her scream. "He would also regale her with his fund of dirty stories just before she went on camera." When asked, "what is the deep logic of your films," he replied, "to make the spectator suffer." When an actor was dissatisfied with a performance, Hitchcock refused another take, saying, "They'll never know in Peoria." While "The Birds" was being filmed, he harassed Tippi Hedren mercilessly, sending her flowers, specifying what clothes she could wear, keeping her from her daughter, trying to convince co-workers that they were having an affair. He gave Hedren's young daughter (Melanie Griffith) an image of her mother lying in a coffin. Hitchcock's recurrent dream was that his penis was made of crystal.
Is it possible that so stunted a human being might become a great artist? Or is it rather that his obsessions, distortions and failures of human empathy constitute a permanent barrier to greatness and that time will reveal that even his best films are shallow and brittle -- all surface glitter?