The Critic’s Temptation

Hitchcock:Some magazines deliberately select critics who don’t care about films, but are able to write about them in a condescending way that will amuse the readers. There’s an American expression; when something’s no good, they say, “It’s for the birds!” So I pretty much knew what to expect when The Birds opened….

I was in London during the Second World War when a picture by John Van Druten opened. It was called Old Acquaintance, and it co-starred Bette Davis and Claude Rains. The critics of two London Sunday papers both used the same tag line at the end of their reviews. What do you think it was? “Auld acquaintances should be forgot.” In other words, even if the picture had been good, they just couldn’t resist that line.

Truffaut: Well, in France they do the same whenever a film title ends with the word “nuit.” Les Portes de la Nuit is automatically labeled Les Portes de l’Ennui, and Marguerite de la Nuit is invariably referred to as Marguerite de l”Ennui. Even if the picture is fascinating, there are bound to be puns around the word “ennui“.