Birthday: August 14, 1899
Died At Age: 82
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Alma Lucy Reville, Lady Hitchcock
Born Country: England
Born in: Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Famous as: Screenwriter
Spouse/Ex-: Alfred Hitchcock (m. 1926–1980)
father: Matthew Edward Reville
mother: Lucy Reville
children: Pat Hitchcock
Died on: July 6, 1982
place of death: Bel Air
Cause of Death: Natural Cause
Who was Alma Reville?
Popularly known as Lady Hitchcock, Alma Lucy Reville was a notable film editor and scriptwriter who majorly assisted her British-American director husband, Alfred Hitchcock, in filmmaking. She had already established a firm foothold in the film industry as an editor when Hitchcock made his debut. Nonetheless, she mostly preferred to stay behind the scenes rather than venturing into the domain of filmmaking. Having begun her career in the prestigious Twikenham Film Studios, she later moved to the Famous Players-Lasky’s Studio where she worked with Hitchcock in various projects. However, ‘The Pleasure Garden’ was their first independent joint venture with Hitchcock as a debutant director. Alma soon became an inevitable part of Hitchcock‘s team and together they produced some timeless films, such as ‘The Ring’, ‘The Mountain Eagle’, ‘the Lady Vanishes’, ‘Psycho’. She also worked with many other significant directors, such as Henrik Galeen, Maurice Elvey and Berthold Viertel. After moving to California with her family, she went on to contribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood career in a remarkable way. Hitchcock, on many occasions, had spoken at large about how Alma Reville inspired and aided him in becoming one of the most influential filmmakers of all times.
Childhood & Early Life
Alma Reville was born on August 14, 1899, in Nottingham, England, to Mathew Edward & Lucy Reville. Her family started living in Twikenham when she was still an infant. Her father worked in the costume department of Twikenham Film Studios.
Due to her frequent visits to her father’s workplace, she started working in the Twikenham Film Studios as a tea girl. She was soon appointed as a film cutter in the same studio.
Upon completing two years in the cutting room, she got the opportunity to assist ace director, Maurice Elvey, at the age of 16. She portrayed a character in Elvey’s film ‘The Life Story of David Lloyd George’.
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Alma Reville made a foray as a graphic designer before being promoted as an art director in Paramount’s Famous Players-Lasky’s Studio. Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville worked together for the first time in 1923, in a film called ‘Woman to Woman’ under the banner of this studio. Reville was film editor, and Hitchcock was art director and assistant editor of the movie.
Going forward, she collaborated with Hitchcock in many more noteworthy films. His debutant movie ‘The Pleasure Garden’ (1927) had Alma as the assistant director. ‘The Ring’ (1927) is her first credited work with Hitchcock.
She ended up contributing in many of Hitchcock’s films without credit. She had an eagle eye for the details that usually went unnoticed by the director himself. She simultaneously co-authored films for other production houses.
Alma Reville worked for films like ‘The Constant Nymph’ (1928), ‘After the Verdict’ (1929), and ‘A Romance of Seville’ (1929). After the birth of their daughter, Patricia, Alma Reville majorly devoted her time to scriptwriting for her husband’s films, including the ones made in Hollywood.
‘Rebecca’ (1940), ‘Foreign Correspondent’ (1940), ‘Suspicion’ (1941), ‘Saboteur’ (1942) were some of their other collaborative projects. Apart from editing and adapting scripts, she also took part in a variety of production roles such as supervising finances and shooting in outdoor locations.
Interestingly, Alma Reville, who had always shied away from being in front of the camera, made a cameo in Hitchcock’s film ‘The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog’. Owing to the responsibilities of raising a child and homemaking, she preferred working within the comfort of her home.
‘The Shadow of Doubt’ (1943) received an Academy award nomination for the Best Story category. Alma Reville co-wrote the screenplay of this film with Thornton Wilder & Sally Benson.
‘Suspicion’ (1941) was another piece of work that won the actress Joan Fontaine the Academy Award for best actress. Alma co-wrote the script of the movie.
She also contributed to the screenplay of the film named ‘The 39 Steps’ (1935). It was hailed as the fourth best British film of the 20th century by the British Film Institute.
Family & Personal Life
Alma Reville met Hitchcock, who was just a day older than her, while working in the Famous Players-Lasky’s Studio. They tied the knot on 2 December 1926. To honour Hitchcock’s mother’s wishes, she converted to Roman Catholicism before their wedding.
Her baptism ceremony took place on 31 May 1927. She gave birth to the couple’s only child, Patricia, on 1 July 1928.
In 1939, the family moved to California, where Hitchcock pursued his career in Hollywood. She received American citizenship in August 1950.
Her health deteriorated followed by several stroke attacks in the 1970s. Alma Reville, a brave breast cancer survivor, breathed her last on 6 July 1982 at the age of 82.
Her daughter Patricia co-authored a book with Laurent Bouzereau, named ‘Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind the Man’ in 2003. The book provides an exclusive insight into the lifelong partnership of Hitchcock and Alma.
In the movies ‘The Girl’ (2012) & ‘Hitchcock’ (2012), the character of Alma Reville was portrayed by Imelda Staunton & Helen Mirren, respectively.