Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trumpet-blowing for Cathy Ace

Let’s talk about Hitchcock. Best plot twist in a Hitchcock film? Strangest character? A setting you’d like to use in one of your novels?

Oh my, oh my…this is a tough set of questions! First of all, I know I saw all the Hitchcock films on TV in black and white before I saw them any other way. We finally got a color television set in about 1976 largely, as I recall, to accommodate my father’s desire to watch the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau "properly". This point will gain greater import below... The great advantage, of course, was that I was able to watch all TV, and films on TV, in color too. Ah, the wonders of Technicolor! North by Northwest was the first Hitchcock I saw in color, and I was blown away! So glamorous. So richly hued. Surreal. Stunning. I’m pleased to say that, over the years, I’ve seen all his films, and enjoy them all, in different ways and for different reasons. 

Best plot twist? From the man whose plots were as twisty as San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street I’ll pick the very end of the film he set in that city – Vertigo – which, when I first saw it, made me very cross indeed. 

Strangest character? Again, asking this about the work of a man who peppered his films with some of the weirdest people ever thrown together on celluloid is a tough one. Strange is normal in a Hitchcock film. Many of his minor characters appear to be simply aids to the plot, with actors hamming it up deliciously as they provide a critical “clue”, and I often adore those pieces. I’m going to bow out of this as gracefully as possible and nominate the Great Man himself who, in his cameo in the abovementioned Vertigo, appears as a passer-by carrying a trumpet case…which I like to think is him acknowledging his desire to blow what’s in it on his own behalf.

A setting I’d like to use in one of my novels? I’ve done that already – the south of France from To Catch a Thief, which was the setting for my first Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse with the Silver Tongue. I opted for Nice (which he uses for the scene in the flower market and for some exteriors), rather than Hitchcock’s core setting of Cannes, though I admit I spent several days at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes one year, just because of this film. Little did think, when I first watched Cary Grant motoring along the Grande Corniche to Monaco, that the same area would become my second home for more than half a decade we go with the Monaco there's the fabulous Oceanographic Museum...where Jacques Cousteau was director of the aquarium from 1957 to 1988!!

What about you? Favorite Hitchcock film? Least favorite?

 Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER became available in trade paperback on August 31st in the UK, and will be available in November in the US/Canada) and the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #8 THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS will be published in paperback in October). Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at


Art Taylor said...

Love this post, Cathy! You've hit on some of my own favorites here--and I liked your answer to the strangest character question too. Much fun!

Paul D. Marks said...

Cathy, great choice of Hitchcock himself as strangest character. And, indeed, the saturated color in those 50s movies is truly amazing. To answer your questions, my fave Hitchcock movies (tied) are Vertigo, a masterpiece, and The Lady Vanishes, which is just plain fun. I'm not sure which my least favorite/s would be, some of the early ones. But also there were some duds in the middle of his winnign years too.