Alma and AlfredAlfred Hitchcock's Assistant

Alma Reville Hitchcock

Alfred

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, London, on 13 August 1899, the youngest son of William and Emma Whelan Hitchcock.  Raised in a strict Catholic family, he was educated at the Jesuits' St. Ignatius College.  At 16 years of age he left to study engineering and navigation at the University of London and three years later was hired as an estimator at Henley Telegraph Company. Having a keen interest in cinema, he followed industry news closely and after Paramount opened a studio in London, he applied for a job. Hired as a title designer for silent films, he eventually worked his way up to assistant director. 

Alma

One day after Alfred was born, Alma Lucy Reville was born in Nottingham. Alma's mother, Lucy, had lived for a time at Robin Hood Terrace, Nottingham, before marrying Matthew Reville in 1891 at the Castle Gate Meeting House, a non-conformist chapel. Shortly after Alma's birth, the family moved to Twickenham, London.

At the same time that young Alfred Hitchcock was venturing into local cinemas, Lucy Reville took her daughter to the cinema at weekends and holidays and the young girl became keenly interested in films. She often visited the studios of the London Film Company, a short bicycle ride away, to watch the actors performing in outdoor scenes. Her enthusiasm was such that when she left school, a neighbour, who worked at the studios, found her a job in the editing room.

From the age of sixteen, Alma cut and spliced film under supervision of the film director. At first there was no creative work involved till she was asked to supervise the continuity of the film when she gladly took on the responsibility. When her neighbour was hired away by the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, Alma went along with him.

In 1921 while editing and supervising continuity at the studios, Alma met Alfred Hitchcock. Impressed by his nonchalant manner in contrast to the chaos all around the studios, she was puzzled by his indifferent manner. It seemed that he was shy with women and since his job was not so important job as hers, he found it difficult to approach her. His attitude changed when he was made assistant director on the film Woman to Woman and he asked her to do the cutting. She would work with him on all of his future projects, in the pre and post-production phases of his films, and she became his constant collaborator and soulmate.

Hitch made his full directorial debut with The Pleasure Garden (1925) and in same year directed The Mountain Eagle in Berlin (pictured right with Alma at his shoulder). Alma soon showed that she had a good ear for dialogue and a keen eye for editing out flaws in the final film.

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