There’s nothing better than a team-up movie or cinematic crossover, whether it’s the likes of Michael Keaton’s original Batman due to appear in 2022’s The Flash, or when Pink Floyd almost collaborated with Alejandro Jodorowsky on an unsuccessful Dune project in the 1970s. The same can be said for the real-life encounters between some of cinema’s finest minds, with fans left only to muse in bewilderment at what on earth two masterminds of cinema could potentially conjure.
This was so almost the case for Steven Spielberg when he sought to meet up with the great Alfred Hitchcock before his death in 1980 due to ill health. Citing the filmmaker as a major source of inspiration alongside the likes of David Lean, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick and John Frankenheimer, Spielberg was even praised by Alfred Hitchcock who commented, “He’s the first one of us who doesn’t see the proscenium arch” in reference to the iconic horror, Jaws.
Though Spielberg tried to organise a meetup of the two cinematic greats, he was never able to, as explained in the audiobook Tales of Hollywood by Stephen Schochet. In the audiobook, Schochet outlines how Hitchcock was once “upset by an uninvited young man hovering around the movie set” of his last film Family Plot released in 1976. According to reports, the director behind Psycho, The Birds and many other 20th century classics called to have the trespasser removed, not knowing the man was in fact Steven Spielberg hoping to meet his idol.
This was merely the first time Spielberg tried to meet Hitchcock however, with the director of Jaws, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan being repeatedly turned down for a meeting. The reason for such a passionate refusal to meet Steven Spielberg was only revealed once American actor Bruce Dern released his autobiography in 2007, where the actor revealed that he tried to convince Hitchcock to meet the Jaws director.
“I said, ‘You’re his idol. He just [wants] to sit at your feet for five minutes and chat with you’,” Bruce Dern writes, though Hitchcock continued to refuse, stating, “Isn’t that the boy who made the fish movie?… I could never sit down and talk to him… because I look at him and feel like such a whore”.
Confused and bewildered by such a response, Dern asked Hitchcock to elaborate, “I said, ‘Why do you feel Spielberg makes you a whore?’ Hitch said, ‘Because I’m the voice of the Jaws ride [at Universal Studios]. They paid me a million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I’m such a whore. I can’t sit down and talk to the boy who did the fish movie… I couldn’t even touch his hand”.
Though Steven Spielberg would have, of course, been enamoured by Alfred Hitchcock, it seems that this was too much for the latter to bear, even if the reasons for such are truly bizarre.