Saturday, May 5, 2018

Book Review: Hitchcock's Heroines by Caroline Young

While a number of great books have been written about the Master of Suspense and the making of his films, few have focused on the leading ladies of Hitchcock's films. In Hitchcock's Heroines, which made its printed debut this week, author Caroline Young shines the spotlight on the stunning blondes ( and other actresses of various hair colors ) of 23 films dating back to Alfred Hitchcock's breakthrough motion picture, The Lodger ( 1927 ).

This beautiful 193-page book, published by Insight Editions, is filled with rare publicity photos, behind-the-scenes candids, and costume sketches, which makes it a delectable coffee-table book to peruse as well as being a great read. 

Madeleine Carroll, Teresa Wright, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, Grace Kelly, Doris Day, Eva Marie Saint, and Tippi Hedren are just a few of the actresses that Young profiles. The author's easy-going writing style makes it an entertaining and highly-addictive book. For each film, Young delves into how the leading lady was cast, the production of the film itself, and the actress' experience on the set ( as well as her opinion of Mr. Hitchcock ). 

"Tallulah liked to drink, was witty, and had the mouth of a sailor—just the kind of woman Hitchcock enjoyed spending time with..."

There is also an emphasis throughout the text on the costumes the gals wore in each film, which will be a delight to classic film fashionistas. Hitchcock was particular about details and so many of these costumes helped to accentuate the nature of the characters themselves and provide compositional balance through color and silhouette. Since Young had blogged about Hollywood fashion ( Classic Hollywood Style ) for several years, and also authored a book focusing on fashion in "films of the golden age" entitled Classic Hollywood Style, it seems natural that she would highlight the costumes designers and their work in Hitchcock's films. 
"[Her] clothes had to match the budget of a woman in her first year as a member of staff, yet she was also to have pride in her appearance and look groomed." - describing Ingrid Bergman's appearance in Spellbound

Numerous quotes from vintage magazine articles and recent interviews with the stars liven up the text and the splendid layout by Katherine Winterson provides ample room for side columns featuring plot summaries and bios of each film and actress profiled. 

In short, if you like Hitch and his leading ladies, you'll love this book!

Hitchcock's Heroines retails for $29.99 and is available to purchase through Amazon,  Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher


  1. This sounds like a dream. I know just the sister I can gift with this tome, and then borrow!

    1. Great idea, CW! The best gifts are those you can use yourself. ;-)

  2. I have several books about Hitchcock and his films (including Truffaut's classic). The suspense auteur and his films are just fascinating to read about, so this new book sounds right up my alley. I hope that Nova Pilbeam is profiled; I quite enjoyed her performance in YOUNG AND INNOCENT.

    1. I've always liked Nova Pilbeam, too....and yes, Caroline Young devotes a whole chapter to Nova. Too bad she didn't go on to better films after that little gem.

  3. Thanks for your review. Must get it!