Hitchcock became a draftsman and dabbled in writing on the side. Even his early stories had a “twist.’ He began to work in film with a few small successes. Then he met Alma Reville and persuaded her to work with him as assistant director. She became his collaborator, his critic, his supporter and his wife. He proposed to her at sea during a storm; they married in 1926 and had one daughter Patricia.
Alma was always an important part of his career as well as his life. She kept in the background at her own choosing but was indispensable to his work. Film critic Charles Champlin said “The Hitchcock touch had four hands and two of them are Alma’s.”
They moved to the United States and soon he began to turn out the films we associate with the Hitchcock brand. Psycho remains the most profitable black-and-white film ever. It was in this movie that Alma made one of her most noted contributions. She was the one who discovered in editing that the “dead” Janet Leigh could be seen breathing. Just think, without Alma countless women might not have spent years being afraid to go into the shower.
Hitchcock showed a preference for classical blond leading ladies. One of them, Tippi Hedren, from the movie ‘The Birds’ later accused him of sexual harassment, but this was countered by comments from his other ex- leading ladies that they experienced nothing of that sort from Hitchcock.
He was obviously devoted to his wife but in later years became impotent. He joked about it, and the situation didn’t dispel the closeness and caring he shared with Alma.
The Hitchcocks settled on a 200 acre ranch which was their main home for the remainder of their lives. He became an American citizen in 1955.
Hitchcock was a perfectionist at work and expected the same from his actors, but every day on the dot of five o’clock he headed home to Alma.
Helen Mirren, who starred as Alma in a film about Hitchcock’s life did a lot of research into her role and said, “She was very happy to be in the shadows. But they had a close and creative relationship on every level.”
When Hitchcock received his lifetime achievement award at the Oscars, he said in his thank you speech,” I beg to mention only four people-the first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen, and their names are Alma Reville.”