The suspense thriller is a movie genre synonymous with Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, and for him and his fans, they were a way of life.
Born in 1899 on the outskirts of East London, the man who came to be known as “The Master of Suspense” arrived in Hollywood in 1939 but found his home-away-from-Hollywood when he purchased the 200-acre Cornwall Ranch in Scotts Valley.
Hitchcock, his wife Alma Revelle—or Lady Hitchcock—and their daughter Patricia Hitchcock lived in Scotts Valley and owned the property until the early 1970s.
It is with this nod to history that the Scotts Valley City Council proclaimed “Alfred Hitchcock Week” to be held in town from March 6 through 12.
With National Alfred Hitchcock Day celebrated on March 12, the Scotts Valley Community Theater Guild, supported by the Exchange Club of Scotts Valley and Scotts Valley Historical society, determined that a week-long celebration of Hitchcock’s work and influence were just the ticket for the town.
The festival schedule begins with a 6pm ribbon cutting on Friday, March 10, featuring Scotts Valley Mayor Jack Dilles and a Hitchcock impersonator at the Scotts Valley Cultural and Performing Arts Center.
On Saturday, the Center will show “Vertigo” at 2pm, with a 4:30pm panel discussion, followed by a dessert and wine reception at 6pm. Adding to the fun is a Hitchcock-inspired costume contest, with prizes offered for the best costume depicting Hitchcock and his films.
Few people are more excited about the event than Exchange Club President Victor Alejandro.
“This is something I feel passionate about,” Alejandro said. “In 2013, a similar idea was presented to the Arts Council, but the event never got off the ground. As treasurer of the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce, you have to have something to bring people out of their homes and into the community. Former Scotts Valley Mayor Donna Lind suggested that I reach out to the family about how to get this event off the ground, but what made it all possible was the opening of the new Cultural and Performing Arts Center. If we have a chance to tell the story of Hitchcock and increase business revenue as a result, it seems like the right thing to do.”
While most Hitchcock fans would agree, rousing support for the celebration came from various agencies in the community, and one very important Santa Cruz County resident: Tere Corrubba, Alfred and Alma’s granddaughter.
“She said that Hitchcock loved Scotts Valley and would do anything that would support local businesses,” said Alejandro, head of the Alfred Hitchcock Committee.
Corrubba agreed: “He loved being here and was so content and happy. My grandmother would work in the garden and he would listen to classical music. They were also both avid readers,” she said.
But why Scotts Valley, considering Hitchcock was an Englishman who found his fortune and fame in Hollywood?
“My grandparents were interested in buying a second home in Northern California because he had spent a lot of time filming in the Bay Area, which he loved. The parents of actress Joan Fontaine (who had starred in ‘Rebecca’) suggested the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is how they found the property in Scotts Valley. He was able to relax and read film stories for his next films,” said Corrubba, who recalls being very close with her grandparents. “My relationship with him was as a very involved grandfather who always wanted to know what jobs my sisters and I had.”
Corrubba has two sisters, Katie Fiala and Mary Stone.
“Both he and my grandmother were always very attentive and spent a lot of time with each of us alone and together,” Corrubba recalled. “Being that they were the only family we had, we spent all of our holidays with them.”
From Stagnaro’s on the Santa Cruz Wharf to trips into town for ice cream with his family, Hitchcock was a beloved, if not slightly under the radar, member of the town (his name is still listed in the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce Directory in association with Armitage Wines; the vineyard is situated on the former Cornwall Ranch).
Given his importance and power in the entertainment world, celebrating his work at the Cultural and Performing Arts Center is a hand-in-glove kind of fit, and Dave Hodgin, treasurer of the Scotts Valley Community Theater Guild and member of Scotts Valley’s Exchange Club, is ready to try it on.
“We’ve been talking about this for many years, and others in the community, like Lind and historian Jay Topping, were equally invested in bringing this festival to light. The real impetus for getting this going is that the theater is finally ready for public use, so we have a place to celebrate this event,” Hodgin said.
Kelly Bradford of Armitage Wines is excited to link the historic vineyard to the festival and says that the winery will be participating as a sponsor at the event’s reception at the theater. Asked if Armitage has any varietals that feature the Hitchcock name or image, Bradford demurred.
“Due to licensing restrictions, we cannot use any images or names that refer directly to Hitchcock. We do throw an annual black tie Hitchcock dinner in the cellar, lit by candlelight and with decor from his various films,” Bradford said.
Adding to the thrill of the festival is Scotts Valley’s own CineLux Theater, which will be presenting one of Hitchcock’s most popular films, “Psycho,” at 7pm from March 10 through 16, with a late show Friday and Saturday nights at 9:45pm. Tickets are only $5 each for the entire engagement.
“CineLux Scotts Valley Cinema is offering filmgoers the opportunity to purchase a glass of selected Armitage wine from our menu only offered during the entire Alfred Hitchcock Week,” said Howard Taormino, Cinelux Film Buyer. “We are committed to community-based events. Experiencing Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces in a cinema with a shared audience is exactly how these films were meant to be viewed.”
Ready to celebrate The Master of Suspense? Visit hitchcockfestival.com for more information. To purchase tickets, visit https://svctheaterguild.org/hitchcock-festival.
“PSYCHO” MOVIE TRIVIA: (Contains spoilers!)
- Hitchcock’s obsession with birds is evident throughout the movie “Psycho,” where pictures of crows and scenes, including taxidermied raptors, are prevalent.
- In the opening scene, Marion Crane is wearing a white bra because Sir Alfred Hitchcock wanted to show her as being “angelic.” After she steals the money, the following scene has her in a black bra. Similarly, before she steals the money, she has a white purse. After she’s stolen the money, her purse is black.
- Alfred Hitchcock has cameos in all of his films. The reason he cameos so early in “Psycho” was because he knew people would be looking out for him, and he didn’t want to divert their attention away from the plot.
- For the shower scene, Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup instead of blood, because it showed up better on camera.
- The shower scene was originally going to be shot without music, but composer Bernard Herrmann devised the eerie score of screeching violins, violas, and cellos in an original all-strings piece called “The Murder.”
- The sound of Janet Leigh’s character, Marion Crane, being stabbed in the shower scene of “Psycho” was achieved by driving a knife into a casaba melon, interspersed with a slice of raw steak. After the scene was filmed, the sound man took the steak home and ate it for dinner.
- After shooting the shower scene, Leigh would only take baths. If she was somewhere where she had to take a bath, she would ensure the windows and doors were locked, and she’d keep the shower curtain open and sit facing the door.
- “Psycho” was the highest-grossing movie of Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s career.