In terms of cinematic approach and artistic style, Andy Warhol and Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t be further apart on the scale of creativity.
While Warhol is more commonly remembered for his role in visual art and the triumphing of pop art, he was a highly prolific filmmaker and between 1963 and 1968 he made more than 60 films. It’s fairly safe to say, however, that his most celebrated films such as Sleep, Blow Job, Empire and Vinyl take an entirely different meaning of cinema to that of Alfred Hitchock’s vision.
Hitchock, regarded by many as one of the greatest directors of all time, directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades. His 52 films in total grossed over well over $223million at the worldwide box office and garnered a total of 46 Oscar nominations.
However, while the filmmakers couldn’t seem further away from each other, they do both share the unique introduction to art having began their careers as illustrators. “Warhol had started his career working as a commercial illustrator, Hitchcock had started out creating illustrations for title cards in silent movies,” Filmmaker IQ notes.
However, in a September 1974 issue of Interview Magazine, these two creative forces joined forces to sit down and have arguably one of the most morbid conversations imaginable.
At the time of their meeting, Hitchcock had released his violent serial killer thriller, Frenzy, and that influenced his conversation with Warhol as they discussed death, murder, corpse-disposal and psychosis:
Andy Warhol: Since you know all these cases, did you ever figure out why people really murder? It’s always bothered me. Why.
Alfred Hitchcock: Well I’ll tell you. Years ago, it was economic, really. Especially in England. First of all, divorce was very hard to get, and it cost a lot of money.
Andy Warhol: But what kind of person really murders? I mean, why.
Alfred Hitchcock: In desperation. They do it in desperation.
Andy Warhol: Really?
Alfred Hitchcock: Absolute desperation. They have nowhere to go, there were no motels in those days, and they’d have to go behind the bushes in the park. And in desperation they would murder.
Andy Warhol: But what about a mass murderer.
Alfred Hitchcock: Well, they are psychotics, you see. They’re absolutely psychotic. They’re very often impotent. As I showed in “Frenzy.” The man was completely impotent until he murdered and that’s how he got his kicks. But today of course, with the Age of the Revolver, as one might call it, I think there is more use of guns in the home than there is in the streets. You know? And men lose their heads?
Andy Warhol: Well I was shot by a gun, and it just seems like a movie. I can’t see it as being anything real. The whole thing is still like a movie to me. It happened to me, but it’s like watching TV. If you’re watching TV, it’s the same thing as having it done to yourself.
Alfred Hitchcock: Yes. Yes.
Andy Warhol: So I always think that people who do it must feel the same way.
Alfred Hitchcock: Well a lot of it’s done on the spur of the moment. You know.
Andy Warhol: Well if you do it once, then you can do it again, and if you keep doing it, I guess it’s just something to do.
Alfred Hitchcock: Well it depends whether you’ve disposed of the first body. That is a slight problem. After you’ve committed your first murder.
Andy Warhol: Yes, so if you do that well, then you’re on your way. See, I always thought that butchers could do it very easily. I always thought that butchers could be the best murderers.
“Warhol openly proclaimed that he was nervous upon meeting the legendary director,” Filmmaker IQ explains of the meeting, before adding: “and posed with Hitchcock by kneeling at his feet,” which resulted in the photograph used at the top of this article.
The same article which published the meeting of two creatives also included a selection of Warhol’s portraits of Hitchcock, one of which Christie’s Auction House describes as “a variation on the doubled self-image that Hitchcock played within his title sequence, layering his own expressive line-drawing over the director’s silhouette, suggesting the mischievous defacement of graffiti as much as the canonisation of a hero through the timelessness of the inscribed profile.”