Reville, Alma 1899-1982
Reville, Alma 1899-1982
(Alma Lucy Reville)
Born August 14, 1899, in England; came to the United States in 1939; father a worker at Twickenham Film Studios; died July 6, 1982, in Los Angeles, CA; married Alfred Hitchcock (a film director; died, 1980), December 2, 1936; children: Patricia. Religion: Roman Catholic.
London Film, and Famous Players-Lasky, London, England, editor's assistant during the early 1920s; script girl for Alfred Hitchcock's The Pleasure Garden, 1925; writer and collaborator with Hitchcock on many film scripts, and collaborator on scripts for other directors. Actress in films.
COAUTHOR OF SCREENPLAYS
The Constant Nymph, 1928.
The First Born, 1928.
After the Verdict, 1929.
A Romance of Seville, 1929.
The Outsider, 1931.
Sally in Our Alley, 1931.
The Water Gipsies, 1932.
Nine till Six, 1932.
Forbidden Territory, 1934.
The Passing of the Third Floor Back, 1935.
It's in the Bag, 1945.
SCREENPLAYS; WITH HUSBAND, ALFRED HITCHCOCK
The Ring, 1927.
Juno and the Paycock, 1929.
The Skin Game, 1931.
Rich and Strange,1931.
Number Seventeen, 1932.
Waltzes from Vienna, 1934.
The 39 Steps, 1935.
The Secret Agent, 1936.
Young and Innocent, 1937.
The Lady Vanishes, 1938.
Jamaica Inn, 1939.
Shadow of a Doubt, 1943.
The Paradine Case, 1947.
Stage Fright, 1950.
I Confess, 1953.
Contributor to Sight and Sound.
Alma Reville's career is inextricably bound up with that of her husband, the worldrenowned film director Alfred Hitchcock. Reville's contribution to Hitchcock's work fluctuated during their five decades of marriage. She was sometimes credited as a screenwriter or consultant, while in other instances her work went unacknowledged. Even if she was not formally involved in a project, Hitchcock relied on her frank and intelligent comment and advice, and she was also invaluable to him in the role of a supportive wife.
Reville was one day older than her husband, and entered the British film industry even earlier than he did. Their careers spanned both the silent and sound eras of film history. Beginning at the age of sixteen, Reville worked as an editor or "cutter," first at the London Film Company, then at Famous Players- Lasky's English branch at Islington. Hitchcock's courtship of Reville began at the latter studio, when he invited her to work as a cutter on Woman to Woman, an independent production for which he was an assistant director. From the beginning, the couple's relationship was based on a combination of personal and professional interests, and a deep love of cinema was part of their lasting bond. Reville shared her first screenwriting credit with Hitchcock in 1927, when she served as cowriter of his boxing melodrama The Ring. She also continued to work with other directors as scriptwriter, continuity girl, and assistant director.
Ambitious and talented, Reville sought to move into the director's chair herself, but her aspirations were sidetracked by the birth of a daughter, Patricia Alma. The family moved to the United States in 1939 so that Hitchcock could work under personal contract to David O Selznick. Reville continued to collaborate with her husband. The Hollywood scripts she worked on include Suspicion, a troubled project which nearly went unreleased; The Paradine Case, on which producer Selznick gained notoriety for his interference with Hitchcock; Stage Fright; and I Confess, which was made on Reville's initiative, but proved to be a box-office failure. Three of these films concern a man who betrays a woman; perhaps this reflected Reville's attitude toward her husband. Reportedly, the Hitchcocks' marriage was celibate after the birth of their daughter, as the film director became serially obsessed with various glamorous blondes who starred in his films. In the mid-1950s, at the peak of Hitchcock's career, Reville retreated from the limelight, although the director still sought and respected his wife's judgment on potential projects, and relied on her keen eye for detail during the editing process.
Psycho is perhaps Hitchcock's most famous film, known for its long sequence showing the stabbing and death of a young woman in a shower. Reville is said to have saved this iconic sequence from being marred by a significant blemish that no one else had caught during months of editing. As the final cut was being prepared for release, Hitchcock showed it to his wife, who spotted a single blink of Janet Leigh's eye as the actress lay "dead" following the notorious shower murder scene. During months of editing, no one else had noticed the blink. The mistake was amended, and Psycho went out to theaters to shock audiences around the world and make film history.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
New York Times, September 14, 1935, Andre Sennwald, review of The 39 Steps; December 26, 1938, Frank S. Nugent, review of The Lady Vanishes; November 21, 1941, Bosley Crowther, review of Suspicion; January 13, 1943, Bosley Crowther, review of Shadow of a Doubt; June 11, 1945, Bosley Crowther, review of It's in the Bag; January 9, 1948, Bosley Crowther, review of The Paradine Case; February 24, 1950, Bosley Crowther, review of Stage Fright.
Biography Channel, http://www.thebiographychannel. co.uk/ (July 22, 2006), biographical information about Alma Reville.
Chicago Tribune, July 15, 1982.
Times (London, England), July 15, 1982.
Washington Post, July 15, 1982.
Variety, July 21, 1982.