In an interview with
Truffaut shortly before the premiere of
at the Cannes Film Festival in
Hitchcock speculated about
the impact of the collapse of the Cold War consensus on the American
film industry. When Truffaut asked him to comment on the pressures
the studios were placing on directors to produce films full of nudity
and violence and that had a social and/or political message, Hitchcock
suggested that the changes in the American film industry reflected
"the moral climate and the way of life that prevail today in the United
States, as well as being a result of national events that have had an
impact on the film-makers and on the public. Still, American cinema
dealt with social and political themes long ago, without attracting
crowds to the box office."l Hitchcock did not limit his comments about
the nation's deteriorating "moral climate" to the growing interest in
films that had· a social and/or political message. He also used the
collapse of the Cold War consensus to explain the declining popularity
of his own films. His response to Truffaut's question echoed a letter he
had written to Truffaut in
in which he described his frustration in
trying to find new and interesting projects and complained that "a film
must contain some anti-establishment elements" in order to attract a
large audience.
Hitchcock's willingness to acknowledge the historical
forces that conditioned his practices as a director was unusual. As we
have seen, he tried to promote his reputation as an auteur by encour-
aging a teleological understanding of his work that stressed its the-
matic unity and coherence and that installed him as the stable point of
textual origin. Still, we should not be misled by Hitchcock's willing-
ness to acknowledge that his practices as a director were historically
conditioned. For in attributing the declining popularity of his films to
the collapse of the Cold War consensus, he continued to position
himself as an auteur. He wanted to project the image of the misun-
derstood genius who had been forced by Hollywood to compromise
his standards by pandering to a vulgar public.
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