“I beg to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation and encouragement…and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a screenwriter, 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."
--Alfred Hitchcock, Excerpt from acceptance speech for the
American Film Institute Life Achievement Award (March 1979)
Born August 14, 1899 in Nottingham, England, Alma was the second child of Matthew Edward Reville, a lace warehouseman, and Lucy Owen. When Alma was an infant, the family moved to south London, where her father found employment in the costume department at Twickenham Film Studio.
Growing up around the studio, visiting her father, Alma began showing great interest in the industry. She got her first job as a “tea girl”. At 16, she was promoted to a cutter, assisting directors with the editing process. In 1919, she obtained a job at Paramount’s Famous Player’s Lasky. Here, she would meet her future husband, working on “Woman to Woman” as an editor. She married Alfred Hitchcock on December 2, 1926.
Though Alma worked with other directors such as Henrick Galeen and Maurice Elvey,
Alma became a huge collaborator in her husband’s projects. Charles Champtin, a film critic, is quoted as saying “The Hitchcock touch had four hands and two of them were Alma’s." With her great eye for detail, together, the two produced some timeless cinema such as “Sabotage” (1936), “Jamaica Inn” (1939), and “Suspicion” (1941).
In 1970, Alma’s health began to decline. She suffered a series of strokes which reduced her mobility. In 1982, at the age of 82, she passed away.
“The Lady Vanishes” (1938) is the spotlight movie of the month. While on a train traveling through Europe, a beautiful English woman, Iris Henderson, discovers that her newly befriended travelling companion, Miss Froy, has seemingly disappeared from the train. With the assistance of another traveler, Iris searches for clues to the elderly lady’s disappearance.
Written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder with Alma Reville credited as a continuity, the 97 minute film is based on the 1936 novel, “The Wheel Spins” by Ethel Lina White. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the piece of cinema was widely successful. It caught the attention of Hollywood, causing Hitchcock and his family to move to Hollywood.
This suspenseful voyage filled with foreign agents, a major cover up, sprinkled with a bit of comedy is a Hitchcock classic worth watching. So, grab a spot of PG tips tea and get ready for a train ride thriller. “The Lady Vanishes” can be seen on YouTube for free.