Authors on Architecture: French on Hitchcock and Architecture

Save the date for a presentation where architecture and art collide when Christine Madrid French presents her new book, The Architecture of Suspense: The Built World in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock (University of Virginia Press, 2022). A native of Los Angeles, French is an historian, author, and screenwriter specializing in architecture, Hollywood, and film.

The inimitable, haunting films of Alfred Hitchcock took place in settings, both interior and exterior, that had a deep impact on our experiences of his most unforgettable works. In this new book, the author reveals how Hitchcock’s relation to the built world was profoundly informed by an intense engagement with location and architectural form. In an era marked by modernism’s advance, the famed director turned to some of the most creative mid-century designers in film.

In her presentation, French will relay untold stories about actual buildings that served as the inspiration for the infamous Bates Motel of Psycho and the Hotel Empire in Vertigo. Her analysis of North by Northwest uncovers the Frank Lloyd Wright underpinnings for Robert Boyle’s design of the modernist house as the prototype of the cinematic trope of the villain’s lair. In the book, she also shows how the widespread unemployment of the 1930s resulted in a surge of gifted architects transplanting their careers into the film industry. These practitioners created sets that drew from contemporary design and referenced real structures, both modern and historic.

Authors on Architecture: French on Hitchcock—Sunday, October 2, 2022; 1-2:30 PM PST; $5; go to and pay via PayPal or mail in order form with check; Zoom connection information sent upon registration.

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