This morning I read portions of David Freeman‘s “The Last Days of Alfred Hitchcock,” a longish book excerpt which appeared in Esquire 40 years ago. From December ’78 to May ’79 Freeman worked with Hitchcock on a script of The Short Night, an espionage thriller what would have been Hitchcock’s 54th film.

The article is culled from Freeman’s “The Last Days of Alfred Hitchcock,” published on 11.30.84.

I was struck in particular by two passages, one about the AFI’s 1979 Life Achievement Award tribute to Hitchcock and Hitch’s reaction in particular to a note from an ailing Frank Capra, and another about Hitchcock’s occasional random interest in young women during his final year or two.

Here’s a link to Freeman’s April 1982 Esquire article.

I watched the AFI tribute on the tube that year, and my impression was that Hitch seemed barely “there” — no apparent energy or intellectual aliveness or curiosity even. He appeared, frankly, to be on the verge of slipping into a coma. I remember in particular that he didn’t seem to recognize Sean Connery when the star of Marnie was at the lecturn. It made me feel quite sad.

Here’s a capture of the Capra anecdote: