Spellbound by Beauty examines Alfred Hitchcock's well known collaborations with the leading ladies of his day, and in so doing, delves into his creative life and his uniquely curious professional and personal relationships. The result is a singular kind of life story - a book about film and film stars; business and power; sex and fantasy; romance and derailed psychology.
Drawing on explosive, never-before-published material - including delicate and personal information about film stars and Hitchcock's family members - and details gleaned through his friendship with Hitchcock, along with archival material and personal collections only recently made available, Donald Spoto casts a new light on this well known figure. He traces Hitchcock's professional and social rise and deals openly and frankly with his strange marriage to Alma Reville, his distance from his daughter, Patricia and his obsessive relationships with all of his leading ladies from Grace Kelly and Kim Novak through to Tippi Hedren.
Hitchcock undeniably felt a certain attraction-repulsion toward his leading ladies, and Spoto subtly explores this. Hitchcock's troubled relationships with his wife and daughter were aggravated by his career, as he spent a half-century creating fantasy romances. But in fact he would have been repelled if any of his fantasies had been realised, for he hated and feared that which he thought he most loved. The culmination of his bifurcated repression occurred between 1961 and 1964 in his working relationship with Tippi Hedren. The romantic fixation, the control, the cruelty and the destructive passion that had characterized earlier relations suddenly exploded. Hedren was Hitchcock's last great obsession and arguably his downfall - when one considers the films he made and the ladies who came after Tippi, it is clear that he lost all interest in his women, his actors, his stories, indeed in movies themselves.
With original material, marvellous anecdotes and never-before-told personal observations, Spellbound by Beauty illuminates the complex personality of one of the most brilliant and strange men of the twentieth century.