Saturday, July 8, 2017


Turner Classic Films is celebrating 50 years of  Hitchcock all this month, so I thought I’d pay tribute by re- posting my blog on Hitchcock along with a quiz for true Hitchcock fans (where did he appear in that movie?)

     Alfred Hitchcock is probably my all time favorite director, followed
closely by Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang.  I have enjoyed Hitchcock films my entire
life, both as a kid and later as a cinema student, when I learned more
about the man and his maverick techniques.
      Hitchcock’s style was unique and easily recognizable, so much so
that Mel Brooks tenderly paid homage to it in his film High Anxiety.
Hitch (as he was known to colleagues) pioneered numerous innovative
shooting and editorial techniques to create suspense. When asked how
he created suspense Hitchcock once said that seeing a bomb, for example,
then watching it explode did little in the way of creating suspense. Instead,
one creates suspense by cutting between the bomb set to go off, a clock,
and, say, the fearful eyes of the intended victim.  He was able to do this by
first, meticulously creating a storyboard depicting his shots, scene by scene.
     Also, by allowing our eyes to be that of the camera and by moving slowly
around his subjects, he engaged us in a form of voyeurism.  We felt the
actors’ fear, their anxiety. And let me assure you, his characters usually
had much about which to feel fearful.
    A common thread running through his films was that of a man wrongly
accused of a crime (ie. The Thirty-Nine Steps, Saboteur, The Wrong Man,
North by Northwest, and Strangers on a Train) and Hitchcock’s
experiences as a child came into play here.
     He apparently had a lonely, isolated childhood, made worse by his
obesity. Lots of time for his imagination to grow and fester, I would imagine.
When he was a child his father “punished” him by sending him to the local
police station with a note asking that he be “locked up for ten minutes for his
”infraction”. This was undoubtedly done as a way to teach a lesson that
wouldn’t be easily forgotten. If that was the case, it worked. It developed in
Hitchcock a lifelong fear of being locked up and a distrust of the police in general. 
His Jesuit upbringing influenced him as well and many of his films dealt with
religious, or at least morally ethical dilemmas (Vertigo, I Confess).
    In addition to his “man-on-the-run-having-been-wrongly-accused” themes,
Hitchcock’s films shared other similarities. Most of them starred “icy
blondes” such as Eva Marie Saint, Vera Miles, Doris Day, Grace Kelly
and Tippi Hedren, with Grace Kelly probably having been his personal
favorite. His daughter, Patricia, appeared in bit parts and his wife,
Alma, was the editor of most of his films. Another element common to his
pictures was the use of well known places of interest such as The Statue of
Liberty in Saboteur, Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest, Royal Albert
Hall in The Man Who Knew Too Much and the Forrest Hills Tennis Stadium
in Strangers on a Train. (Incidentally, Robert Walker’s performance as socio-
path, Bruno Antony in this film, is chilling).
     Hitchcock also introduced what came to be known as the “MacGuffin”, vague,
unimportant devices whose sole purpose was to move the story forward.  These
might come in many forms ranging from a formula whispered by a diplomat (Foreign
Correspondent) to hidden microfilm (North by Northwest), to a bottle of wine
containing uranium (Notorious).
      It’s difficult to state my favorite Hitchcock film, I’ve enjoyed so many. If pressed,
I would probably have to say that The Lady Vanishes, Shadow of a Doubt, The
Man Who Knew Too Much (the second version starring Jimmy Stewart and
Doris Day), and North by Northwest are amongst my favorites. Hitchcock’s
unique blend of psychological suspense, sexual undercurrents, and ironic
humor are what made him an icon. (Though he never achieved an Oscar for a
particular movie, he did ultimately receive a Lifetime Achievement award).
    Hitchcock’s “signature” was the cameo appearances he made in all his
films.  See if you can “find Hitch” by ithmatching the film below with the scene
in which he turned up.

1.  THE LADY VANISHES                            A. Being pushed in a wheelchair at an airport
2.  STRANGERS ON A TRAIN                       B. In the center of a crowd wearing a “bowler” hat
3.  THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH       C. Walking down the street carrying a trumpet case
4.  LIFEBOAT                                              D. Missing a bus during the opening credits
5.  TO CATCH A THIEF                                 E. Winding a clock in a songwriter’s apartment
6.  SHADOW OF A DOUBT                          F. In a crowded Victoria Station, smoking a cigarette
7.  THE BIRDS                                           G. At “a hunt”, walking a horse across the screen
8.  DIAL M FOR MURDER                         H. In a Moroccan market place watching acrobats
9.  NOTORIOUS                                          I. In before and after pictures in a newspaper ad *
10.REAR WINDOW                                     J. Coming out of an elevator
11.PSYCHO                                               K. In silhouette, behind a door marked “Registrar of   
                                                                         Births and Deaths”
12. TOPAZ                                                 L. Seen through a window wearing a cowboy hat
13. FRENZY                                               M. Boarding a train carrying a bass fiddle
14. TORN CURTAIN                                    N. Seated in a hotel lobby holding a small child
15. FAMILY PLOT                                       O. In a class reunion photo
16. NORTH BY NORTHWEST                     P. On a train playing cards
17. VERTIGO                                               Q. Seated on a bus beside Cary Grant
18. REBECCA                                           R. Posting a letter at a mail box
19. SUSPICION                                         S. At a big party sipping champagne
20. SPELLBOUND                                     T. Leaving a pet store with two white terriers

*Note of trivia: The ad in question was for Reduco Obesity Slayer.


1F; 2M; 3H; 4I; 5Q; 6P; 7T; 8O; 9S; 10E; 11L; 12A; 13B; 14N; 15K; 16D; 17C; 18G; 19R; 20J

To learn more about Alfred Hitchcock, I would recommend reading “The Dark Side of Genius” by Donald Spoto. It’s the most comprehensive book on Hitchcock I’ve read to date.

If you enjoy suspense, a reminder to check out my newest psychological thriller, If You Should Read This Mother (Black Opal Books)



My Radio Interview

 Hi Everyone:

I hope by now you've been able to check out my newly released psychological thriller, If You Should Read This, Mother.  It is available on Amazon, (on the publisher's website (, as well as in book stores.

I invite you all to tune in to The Kim Pagnano Show next Saturday 7/15, when Kim will be interviewing me about my book.
The interview will be played between 7-8 AM (PT) next Saturday on KVTA  Radio 1590, and it will be posted on starting at 9:00 AM (PT).

Hoping you'll have a chance to listen and to spread the word.

If someone should ask you to suggest a good summer read, please keep If You Should Read This, Mother in mind.

Happy reading!  Vivian

Monday, June 19, 2017


It’s been quite a while since I last blogged, primarily because I’ve been focused on writing and editing other material.  To that end, I’m pleased to announce that my psychological thriller, If You Should Read This, Mother (Black Opal Books), has just been released.
                I’m often asked how I come up with the stories that drive what I write.  I guess the best answer is to say that it varies.  For example, my first novel, Groomed for Murder, was about the murder of a  Beverly Hills hairdresser.  I came up with the idea for GFM after having had an argument with my Beverly Hills hairdresser.  He was extremely good-looking and very much taken with himself, and in fact, was very likely one of the prototypes upon which Warren Beatty’s character in Shampoo was based.  He was also a player, and I suspect he had rubbed more than one person the wrong way.  I’m not sure that I won the argument that day, but I did find a way to get back at him.  I had him murdered (on paper of course).
                Groomed for Murder was a mystery with comedic overtones, unlike If You Should Read This, Mother, which is a straightforward mystery.  I came up with the idea for IYSRTM one November day when I realized that the number of people who could actually recall where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated was diminishing.  Today, it is safe to say, that only a small demographic, those in their sixties and older, can vividly remember what they were doing when they heard the astounding news. 
What about those people who were alive at the time, but who were very, very young?  Surely they could feel that something was different about that day, even if they didn’t know why.  Few cartoons on television over the weekend, if at all.  Adults, both men and women, sobbing audibly.  The look of disbelief in their parents’ eyes.
The protagonist of my story, Megan Daniels, was only three years old the day John Kennedy was assassinated, but flashes of that day begin to trigger other disturbing memories that have lain dormant within her.  At first they are merely snippets, but as they begin to appear more frequently Megan has difficulty separating what is real from what is imagined.  When she sets out to find her biological mother, she keeps hitting brick walls. No adoption papers exist, and all she has to go on is her possible birthday: November 22. In the small town of Meredith, Megan’s search takes on a dire, domino effect—one woman has already been murdered as a result of her inquiries. As she digs for the truth, Megan eventually unravels a sinister plot that began decades earlier, but in doing so she places her own life in jeopardy.
I have begun working on edits for my next book, Girl Obsessed, but hope you will take the time to read If You Should Read This, Mother and spread the word, particularly on social media. The book will be available in book stores and can be purchased as an e-book or in paper back on Amazon at:
Purchases can also be made directly at the publisher’s website:
Groomed for Murder is available as an e-book only on Amazon at:
Thank you all for your support.  Hoping you’ll give me a positive review on Amazon.
Happy reading, Vivian