Book Review – Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young

Hitchcock’s Heroines, by Caroline Young, is a beautiful coffee table style book that is written from a unique perspective – that of the leading ladies and their working relationship with the famous director. This topic has been discussed in the past, but never with such style and visual splendor.

This book takes us on a guided tour of (almost) each film that Hitchcock made. Each film is given eight spreads which cover the production of the movie, how each actress was cast, her personality and style preferences, and what she thought of the Master of Suspense. In addition, the plot of the film and a brief biography of each actress are clearly and neatly presented.

Full page black and white and color images abound, making this a real treat for the eyes. There are numerous costume sketches, behind the scenes photos, costume test and production photos – enough to warrant repeat viewings of this book.

what did i enjoy?

I love how Hitchcock’s stylistic choices for his characters are discussed in detail and how these choices contributed to the storytelling. I also enjoyed learning how the actress’ personal style choices came through in the final design for her character.

Edith Head, the legendary costume designer, gets some time to shine in this book as well, as she was part of Hitchcock’s “dream team” and worked on some of his most successful films. It’s great to hear her personal thoughts about collaborating with the director and how she worked to make his creative visions come to life.

what would i change?

I was surprised that not every Hitchcock film was included in this book. The one that immediately comes to mind is I Confess along with Strangers on a Train. Granted, those films are not as well known as The Birds and Vertigo but I still would have liked to see them included and learned the behind the scenes facts about them as well.

who is this book for?

I’d recommend this book for any fans of Hitchcock or Grace Kelly. Since Grace has been called” the ultimate Hitchcock blonde” there are lots of photos and commentary about her and Hitch’s collaborations, making this a must for any Grace fan. I’d also recommend this book for those interested in costume design, Old Hollywood style, and female character studies.

want to know more?

Those who would like to know more about this topic might enjoy Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and his Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto. I haven’t read Spellbound, but Hitchcock’s Heroines seems like a coffee table version of Spoto’s book.

Warning: this book DOES contain spoilers! If you want to avoid them I’d suggest watching the movie you’re interested in learning about before reading the related section.

You can buy today’s book, Hitchcock’s Heroines, by clicking here.

Grace Kelly and James Stewart in a promo shoot for Rear Window (1954)

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!