Talk:Alfred Hitchcock

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Former featured article Alfred Hitchcock is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on November 19, 2004.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
January 19, 2004 Refreshing brilliant prose Kept
December 1, 2004 Featured article review Demoted
October 17, 2010 Good article nominee Not listed
Current status: Former featured article

Television, radio, books[edit]

Not mentioned in the section "Television, radio, books", is the fact that Hitchcock published a book of solve-them-yourself mysteries in 1963. Here's the link:

https://lccn.loc.gov/63007818

I think this information should be added to the section. Do all concur? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jilapino (talkcontribs) 18:13, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

Request to review/discuss the Infobox photo choice[edit]

On the one hand, we have this image of Hitchcock, which was specifically donated to this project by the photographer, Jack Mitchell, a few years before his death, in 2013.

As background, for decades Mitchell was recognized as, quite probably, the preeminent celebrity photographer of his time; who captured thousands of extraordinary and often iconic images of hundreds of luminaries in the fields of theatre, film, literature, music and dance. Upon his death, the New York Times called him: "An expert in lighting, he worked mostly, though not entirely, in black and white, and he was known — by his subjects, by the magazine and newspaper editors he worked for, and by critics — as someone who could make a photograph reveal character." It also included this passage:

“I have known or know or have met most of the people herein pictured and am constantly startled how much of the ‘soul’ of each one has been captured in these photographs, and by this I mean how much each of the images is precisely the individual I know,” the playwright Edward Albee wrote in a foreword to Mr. Mitchell’s 1998 book, “Icons & Idols.” “How can Jack Mitchell see with my eye, how can he let me see, touch, even smell my experiences? Well, simply enough, he is an amazing artist.”

He shot the last photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono which appeared on the cover of People Magazine a month before Lennon's murder; and his unreleased photos of Whitney Houston, taken while she was still in high school, received significant coverage upon Houston's death. This is the short version of his bio, but you get the idea.

On the other hand, we have this image of Hitchcock, which is, by its own information, an early studio still, by an unknown photographer, taken decades before the Mitchell photo.

Despite all that, some may still believe the studio still is better than the Mitchell photo for the Infobox. I disagree. Here's why:

Even Hitchcock himself sat for Mitchell's camera more than once. So he must have appreciated Mitchell's photos of him. But some folks want to bury the Mitchell photo at the bottom of this very long article, and leave the studio still in the Infobox. But we generally only rely on those old studio stills because no better or more recent image is available. That's obviously not the case here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I'm proud to be the editor who contacted the photographer, on behalf of Wikipedia, and solicited his release of some of his images for our use. Initially, he was very skeptical - for reasons we've seen here. He was afraid people would not appreciate the sacrifice of personal profit he'd make by releasing his valuable copyright of these images, so they could be used on this project. But I successfully argued that most editors would recognize the value of his contributions and use his work appropriately. Finally, instead of the one or two images I was hoping for, he generously gave use eight! This project is extremely fortunate to have these incredible images by this legendary photographer. It honestly took months of correspondence, before he finally agreed. I'm not looking for credit. I just want folks to understand how we got them and hope we use them wisely and make the effort worth it.

No question both photos should be in the article. But which should be in the Infobox? I believe the Mitchell photo is superior and iconic and a better portrait of Hitchcock, the man himself. The fact is, it was in the Infobox for years - from April 2011 until someone changed it with no explanation, no consensus, or even a comment in the edit log, six months later. The 1955 studio still seems better suited to the section about Hitchcock's films in the 1950s. Not to the man himself. The studio still related to Hitchcock's work. Mitchell's photo related to the man himself. This article is about the man - not just his work. But since these two photos have actually never been discussed, I would appreciate that discussion now. Thanks. X4n6 (talk) 09:44, 16 March 2016 (UTC)

I appreciate your efforts, and the generosity of the photographer in providing these eight excellent photographs to Wikipedia. I note that six Wikipedia biographies (e.g., Leontyne Price, Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein) use the Jack Mitchell portraits in infoboxes, where they serve splendidly. I think the Hitchcock portrait is less suitable for a lead image, being a shadowed psychological study that is rather obscure as documentation of the man's public visage. The photo at the head of a biographical article should satisfy a reader's curiosity about the person's appearance and reassure the reader that they have landed on the right article; it should present an image that will be familiar to the greatest number of people.
I am puzzled by your emphasis, here and in edit summaries, on the need to replace a photograph made in the 1950s with a more recent one. It is customary for the lead image in a Wikipedia biography to represent the subject in the prime of life, or at the height of their popularity or political power or creativity or notability of whatever sort. This can be confirmed by looking at a few dozen randomly chosen notable people of the last century. I checked Herbert Hoover, Harold Lloyd, Katherine Hepburn, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lewis, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, and several other articles, all of which use photographs from early in the subject's heyday, even though if you scroll down you see that later photographs and old-age photographs are available. I think this is an example of the wisdom of the crowd guiding editorial consensus toward the most recognizable images. In the case of Golda Meir or Colonel Sanders, this means favoring photographs from their later years (Sanders only became notable after age 60; we wouldn't recognize him in a photo from his 20s). The 1950s studio portrait of Alfred Hitchcock seems to have been preferred for a period of several years; the Mitchell photo was in the infobox for six months in 2011 before being reverted, and for one day in 2016 before being reverted. Ewulp (talk) 03:07, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I appreciate you taking the time to compose a thoughtful response. I am also gratified that you appreciate Mitchell's contributions to this project. But at that point, our views diverge significantly regarding these two photos and their utility here. In fact, your suggestion that the Mitchell photo is less suited for the lead, because of your view that it is "a shadowed psychological study that is rather obscure as documentation of the man's public visage" was already refuted by the NYT article, which specifically noted that Mitchell was "An expert in lighting, he worked mostly, though not entirely, in black and white, and he was known — by his subjects, by the magazine and newspaper editors he worked for, and by critics — as someone who could make a photograph reveal character." Seems to me that is exactly what you want in a lead photo - a portrait that is, quintessentially, its subject. And as to your suggestion that the Mitchell photo is "obscure" - that presumption is easily disproved by a simple Google search. I would also take issue with the notion that the studio photo "present[s] an image that will be familiar to the greatest number of people,," because it suggests that anyone seeing the Mitchell photo wouldn't instantly recognize that it is of Hitchcock. Very unlikely. But if you really wanted images that are most illustrative, then likely either this, this or even this would be the way to go. But unfortunately, we don't have them. Maybe we should get them.
Which leads to your comment about the use of studio stills. While we may use these ancient stills to illustrate a time frame where subjects are at the height of their powers; that is not the primary reason we use them. We use them because the copyright has expired and/or we can. Or we can claim fair use. Period. Most of them are washed out or overexposed images - like the Hitchcock still - but they're available with little fuss or worry. So we use them. But to say we actually prefer them over superior images, is wholly inaccurate.
It's also rather curious to claim that, because the Mitchell photo was removed by a single editor, who, as I noted: did so with no discussion, no consensus, or even mentioning it in the edit log; that somehow, post-facto, that constituted a consensus? That defies logic. What's more likely, is that no one cared enough to revert it. Or visited the article enough to even notice. Because again, there was zero mention in the edit summary. Just as, obviously, no one cared for over half a year, when I originally replaced the studio still with Mitchell's photo. Dozens, if not hundreds or editors saw it during that period - no doubt many saw it several times - and no apparently thought it was inefficient, ineffective, too obscure or too shadowed a psychological study, to serve as the lead photo.
But anyway, I suspect we'll just agree to disagree, and that's fine. I could RfC the question to get more input, but I think the easiest compromise is to just leave the studio still intact. However, I will move the Mitchell photo up from the tail end of the article, where it currently languishes. I believe that's a fair resolution which should keep everyone happy. X4n6 (talk) 09:56, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

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Alfred Hitchcock and the Academy Award for Best Director[edit]

I find it extremely odd that Alfred Hitchcock, considered one of the greatest directors of all time (and this is reflected in the lead of the article as well, it is not simply a case of me having a point of view, has never won an Academy Award for Best Director. MovieMaker called him the "best", as did Daily Telegraph, as well as a host of other publications. Obviously, this is not objective, and quite a subjective topic, but that is as close to "unanimously best director" as you can get. Certainly best "British" director.

Given this, I find it surprising that Hitchcock has never won an Academy Award for Best Director (although he has been nominated five times). Should there be a secondary section, or at least explaining paragraph in the article, explaining why this is? I'm sure there are others reading this, besides myself, who are wondering why the article talks him up so much, only to reveal that he never gained the most coveted prize in all of film and for all directors. I think, similarly, if there were a universally-agreed-upon terrible director who had won an AABD, then there should be some explanation as to why that had occurred. I see this as a reverse case.

Obviously, there are plenty of great directors who never won an Academy Award (Stanley Kubrick comes to mind), but I don't think any of them have been called "the greatest" as consistently as Hitchcock. If I'm not mistaken, he has the most nominations without a win as well.

At the very least, I think this should be reflected in the lead somehow. It's a bit odd that the article just glides over this glaring topic. --FuzzyGopher (talk) 20:47, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Nationality (redux)[edit]

@RichardHarris22 @RichardHarris22: Alfred and Alma Hitchcock were naturalized U.S. citizens. This cannot NOT be included in lede, text, and in categories; to do so is nonsensical. The following threads from prior conversations, which you told me to check out, support inclusion in lede ([1], [2], [3]) with an apparent consensus as "English-born American director". To quote from one, "Obviously, you simply include him in both categories. He was both an English director and an American director."

I am not going to edit war or violate 3RR but this must be addressed. It is a basic fact and cannot be ignored. Quis separabit? 13:57, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

There's a distinction between nationality and citizenship. Many people have multiple citizenships, Bobby Fischer for example, American and Icelandic, but he became widely known as an American, as Hitchcock did an Englishman which he also identified as being (as did P.G. Wodehouse). Prior to his knighthood the world's best known film critic Roger Ebert complained why Hitchcock hadn't yet been knighted like other British directors, and after being knighted his long time agent referred to him as Sir Alfred. Having become globally famous as an English director, and referred to himself as English, If someone tells me they are [insert any nationality here] who am I to tell them they are not? He's an English director who held multiple citizenships; like Fischer in his case; Wodehouse in his. DavidTimlin (talk) 16:00, 2 December 2016 (UTC)