Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Columns/Features

“The Boy Who Made The Fish Movie”: How Spielberg Never Met Hitchcock

jaws-spielbergMidway through a paddle boarding excursion on shark infested waters off Cape Cod last week, my mind drifted to the similarities between Hitchcock’s The Birds and Spielberg’s Jaws.  Like you do.

Sure, I was a little concerned at the connection between the sight of seals in the distance and that morning’s Sharktivity alert, but my mind often drifts to cinematic trivia.

Come to think of it, usually while surrounded by birds and sharks in New England, Spielberg never meeting Hitchcock is one of the most egregious errors of the time-space continuum.

And every so often, more of the story behind the two most influential Hollywood directors not connecting comes out of Steven Spielberg himself.  In a recent interview in Entertainment Weekly, also mentioned in an interview with James Lipton, Spielberg described his one and only chance to connect with Hitch on the set of Torn Curtain.

50_01

Spielberg’s tourist trips of Universal Studios, where he’d one day have an entire street named for him, allowed for the occasional sneak on set.  Dressing himself in a suit and tie, with no connection other than looking the part of a young studio executive, he made his way past the guards to the old Phantom of the Opera set.  It is there that he remained for 45 minutes, witnessing production of the Paul Newman/Julie Andrews vehicle. He was caught and thrown off the set by a below the line crew member, but Spielberg claims to have witnessed the master of suspense in action.

The inevitable disconnect between the two directors continued into the early success of Spielberg’s career at the studio with The Sugarland Express, Duel, and of course Jaws, while Hitchcock’s career would wind down with Frenzy and Family Plot.

Throughout the last decade of his life, Hitchcock repeatedly refused to meet Spielberg.  Adding insult to the situation, Hitchcock sat with younger filmmakers under his influence, such as Peter Bogdanovich and François Truffaut.

Actor Bruce Dern, who appeared in two of Hitchcock’s movies (including his last film Family Plot) reveals why in his autobiography.  According to Dern, Hitchcock refused even his case for meeting the young director who “idolizes” him.

“Isn’t that the boy who made the fish movie?… I could never sit down and talk to him… because I look at him and feel like such a whore,” replied Hitchcock.  “…because I’m the voice of the  ride [at the Universal Studios theme park]. They paid me a million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I’m such a whore. I can’t sit down and talk to the boy who did the fish movie… I couldn’t even touch his hand.”

hitchcock

Somewhere at the core of Spielberg’s inability to connect with Alfred Hitchcock lies his own praise of new filmmakers especially influenced by his work.  From Joe Dante to JJ Abrams, he’s served as producer, mentor and even director of many an admirer.

While his work on Night Gallery, Duel and Jaws owes everything to Hitch’s work, Spielberg’s success couldn’t grab his admiration, which has to be somewhat of a bone of contention.

steven-spielberg-arcadeIt might even explain Spielberg’s excitement over Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, a book that celebrates (and occasionally criticizes) his filmography in a dystopian future redeemed by 80s nostalgia.

That the director has chosen it as his next film is the ultimate meta-embrace of those he’s influenced, including all of us as fans ourselves.

Now this is a set to sneak on.

 

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

DISCLAIMER

Forces of Geek is protected from liability under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and “Safe Harbor” provisions.

All posts are submitted by volunteer contributors who have agreed to our Code of Conduct.

FOG! will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement.

Please contact us for expeditious removal of copyrighted/trademarked content.

SOCIAL INFLUENCER POLICY

In many cases free copies of media and merchandise were provided in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. The opinions shared on Forces of Geek are those of the individual author.

You May Also Like

Movies

Beverly Hills Cop (1984) is a perfect film: an inverse of the “country bumpkin coming to the big city” trope that goes back to...

Movies

As far as horror films go, Longlegs has been one of the most anticipated horror films of 2024, not least thanks to its enigmatic...

Movies

As we close out the 60s, there seems to be no end to the Cold War. The current stakes are literally to the moon...

Movies

Shout! Select proudly presents the Jody Hill comedy Observe and Report on Blu-Ray this August 18. The comedy arrives at the scene with a...