All the Love Scenes Had Been Shot Like Murder Scenes, and All the Murder Scenes Like Love Scenes

Alfred Hitchcock? François Truffaut? Grace Kelly? Sam Mendes?

Dear Quote Investigator: Director Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense and horror. For decades his filmmaking techniques have been closely studied by other directors, screenwriters, and critics. One observer uncovered a disquieting connection between Hitchcock’s portrayal of homicide and intimacy:

The murder scenes are filmed like love scenes, and the love scenes are filmed like murder scenes.

This assertion has been attributed to fellow director François Truffaut, popular actress Grace Kelly, and Alfred Hitchcock himself. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1974 a gala honoring Hitchcock was held at the Lincoln Center in New York. A series of film scenes from Hitchcock were shown to attendees during the evening. The clips were arranged into different categories, e.g., chase, love, suspense, catastrophe, and murder. When François Truffaut saw those extracts he developed his thesis connecting scenes of mayhem and amour. In May 1976 the Canadian film magazine “Take One” published a piece by Truffaut. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

What struck me that evening while reseeing all of these little bits of films I know by heart (isolated from their context and put together for a single evening) was the simultaneous sincerity and savagery of the Hitchcockian oeuvre. I realized that all the love scenes had been shot like murder scenes, and all the murder scenes like love scenes.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading All the Love Scenes Had Been Shot Like Murder Scenes, and All the Murder Scenes Like Love Scenes

Notes:

  1. 1976 May 21, Take One, Volume 5, Number 2, Alfred Hitchcock: A Friendly Salute, Subsection: Hitchcock in 1976 by François Truffaut, Start Page 43, Quote Page 44, Unicorn Publishing, Montreal, Canada. (Verified with scans; accessed via HathiTrust)

Insanity Is Hereditary. You Can Get It from Your Children

Sam Levenson? Oscar Levant? W. C. Fields? Helen Gorn Sutin? Dave Berg? Ann Landers? Erma Bombeck? Grace Kelly?

Dear Quote Investigator: Many parents concur with a very funny quip that reverses the traditional notion of inheritance:

Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.

This joke has been attributed to the newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck, the television host Sam Levenson, and the comedian W. C. Fields. Would you please resolve this ambiguity?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI was published on April 6, 1961 in an Oklahoma newspaper within a column containing a miscellaneous set of short comical items. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Insanity is hereditary. You can get it from your children.
—Sam Levenson

During the same time period, the syndicated columnist Walter Winchell printed the jest with an identical attribution: 2

Sam Levenson’s merciless truth: “Insanity is hereditary. You can get it from your children!”

During the following years: Oscar Levant employed the joke; Ann Landers and Erma Bombeck placed it in their respective newspaper columns; and Grace Kelly used a variant quip. Nevertheless, QI believes that Sam Levenson should receive credit for this witticism.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Insanity Is Hereditary. You Can Get It from Your Children

Notes:

  1. 1961 April 6, The Ada Weekly News, Strayed From the Heard by Connie Nelson, Quote Page 4, Column 1, Ada, Oklahoma. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1961 April 7, San Diego Union, Walter Winchell’s America, Quote Page A16, Column 5, San Diego, California. (GenealogyBank)

This Post Fills a Much-Needed Gap – Part 02

Gary Cooper? Lee Neuwirth? Henry Miller? Moses Hadas?

Dear Quotation Investigator: I was told that a prominent journal editor would sometimes write a rejection letter to an author that said his or her “paper fills a much-needed gap”. Is this true?

QI: This post continues the investigation of the phrase “much needed gap”, restarting in 1956, and considers this new question. Here is a link to part one if you missed it.

When legendary gossip columnist Hedda Hopper asks movie star Gary Cooper about the new star Grace Kelly in 1956 he says that “she fills a much needed gap in motion pictures” [GC]. Misunderstanding is still prevalent.

Continue reading This Post Fills a Much-Needed Gap – Part 02