Alma Reville

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Alma Reville
Alma Reville.jpg
Reville in 1955
Alma Lucy Reville

(1899-08-14)14 August 1899
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Died6 July 1982(1982-07-06) (aged 82)
Bel Air, California, US
Occupation(s)Editor, screenwriter
(m. 1926;died 1980)
Children Pat Hitchcock

Alma Lucy Reville, Lady Hitchcock (14 August 1899 – 6 July 1982) was an English screenwriter and film editor. She was the wife of film director Alfred Hitchcock. [1] She collaborated on scripts for her husband's films, including Shadow of a Doubt, Suspicion , and The Lady Vanishes , as well as scripts for other directors, including Henrik Galeen, Maurice Elvey, and Berthold Viertel. [2]


Early life and career

Reville was born on 14 August 1899 in Nottingham [3] (one day after her future husband), the second daughter of Matthew Edward and Lucy ( née  Owen) Reville. The family moved to London when Reville was young, as her father gained a job at Twickenham Film Studios. Reville often visited her father at work and eventually obtained a job there as a tea girl. At 16, she was promoted to the position of cutter, which involved assisting directors in editing the motion pictures. Of editing, she wrote, "The art of cutting is Art indeed, with a capital A, and is of far greater importance than is generally acknowledged." [4] She continued to work there as a scriptwriter and director's assistant. These roles enabled her to become involved in areas of film-making to which women would then rarely have access. [5]

Twickenham Film Studio, where Reville first worked, closed in 1919, but she was given a job at Paramount's Famous Players-Lasky, a subsidiary of the American company based in Islington, where she met her future husband, Alfred Hitchcock. The same company gave him a job as a graphic designer before he became an art editor. [5] The first film Reville worked on with Hitchcock was Woman to Woman (1923), with Reville as film editor, and Hitchcock as art director and assistant editor. [5] [2]

As well as editing, writing and other production roles, Reville also appeared on screen making three film appearances: a lead role in The Life Story of David Lloyd George (1918), and as an extra in Hitchcock's The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) and Sabotage (1936). [3]

Marriage and collaborations

The Hitchcocks on their wedding day at Brompton Oratory in 1926 Hitch Gets Hitched.jpg
The Hitchcocks on their wedding day at Brompton Oratory in 1926

Hitchcock and Reville married on 2 December 1926 at Brompton Oratory in London after Reville converted to Roman Catholicism from Protestantism, apparently at the behest of Hitchcock's mother. [6] Reville was baptized on 31 May 1927 and confirmed at Westminster Cathedral by Francis Cardinal Bourne on 5 June. [7] In 1928, when they learned that she was pregnant, the Hitchcocks purchased "Winter's Grace", a Tudor farmhouse set in 11 acres (4.45 ha) on Stroud Lane, Shamley Green, Surrey, for £2,500. [8] Their daughter and only child, Patricia Alma Hitchcock, was born on 7 July that year. [9]

Reville co-wrote The Ring (1927) – the first screenwriting credit she shared with Hitchcock – but worked with other directors as well. She co-wrote The Constant Nymph (1928), the first film adaptation of the best-selling novel The Constant Nymph (1924) by Margaret Kennedy, directed by Adrian Brunel. In 1929, Reville co-wrote After the Verdict , directed by Henrik Galeen and A Romance of Seville , directed by Norman Walker. In 1931 and 1932 she worked with directors such as Harry Lachman, Maurice Elvey and Basil Dean. In 1933, Hitchcock hired Joan Harrison as his assistant, and she assumed many of Reville's roles within his productions. She continued to work with some other directors, including Phil Rosen in 1934, Berthold Viertel in 1935 and Richard Wallace in 1945. Reville focused primarily on preparing and adapting her husband's scripts, including those for Rebecca , Foreign Correspondent (both 1940), Suspicion (1941) and Saboteur (1942). [10] [11]

Reville worked with her husband on many more scripts in Hollywood. She collaborated with Joan Harrison on the script of Suspicion, which was completed on 28 November 1940. They worked on it in the Hitchcocks' home in Bel Air, as Hitchcock preferred writing in a comfortable, intimate environment rather than an office. [12]

Reville had a keen ear for dialogue and an editor's sharp eye for scrutinising a film's final version for continuity flaws so minor they had escaped the notice of the director or the crew. It was Reville who noticed Janet Leigh inadvertently swallowing after her character's fatal encounter in Psycho (1960), necessitating an alteration to the negative.

Reville was Hitchcock's closest collaborator and sounding board. Charles Champlin wrote in 1982: "The Hitchcock touch had four hands, and two were Alma's." [13] When Hitchcock accepted the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979, he said he wanted to mention "four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter, Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen. And their names are Alma Reville". [14]


Reville survived a bout of breast cancer. She died on 6 July 1982, at the age of 82, two years after her husband. She was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. [15]

Reville was portrayed by Imelda Staunton in The Girl (2012), [1] and Helen Mirren in Hitchcock (2012). [1] Staunton was nominated for a BAFTA and a Primetime Emmy [16] for her performance, while Mirren was nominated for BAFTA, [17] Golden Globe and SAG awards for her performance. [18]


In 1999, on the 100th anniversary of her birth, a plaque to Reville was unveiled in Nottingham, near the site of her birth, as part of the British Film Institute's "Centenary of Cinema" celebrations. [3]

Selected filmography

Reville wrote or co-wrote many screenplays, including:

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  1. 1 2 3 Anderson, John (18 November 2012). "Alfred Hitchcock's Secret Weapon Becomes a Star". The New York Times .
  2. 1 2 Unterberger, Amy (1999). The St James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press.
  3. 1 2 3 "Alma Reville: The Power Behind Hitchcock's Throne". Brenton Film. 14 August 2019.
  4. Reville, Alma (1923). Cutting and Continuity. The Motion Picture News. p. 10.
  5. 1 2 3 "Alma Reville biodata". The website. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  6. Adair, Gene. Alfred Hitchcock: Filming Our Fears. Oxford University Press, 2002; ISBN   0-19-511967-3
  7. Hitchcock O'Connell & Bouzereau 2003 , p. 48; Spoto 1999 , pp. 92–93
  8. Spoto 1999 , p. 115; Hitchcock O'Connell & Bouzereau 2003 , p. 55; Clark, Ross (13 April 2008). "Alfred Hitchcock: A long way from the Bates Motel". The Daily Telegraph.
  9. Hitchcock O'Connell & Bouzereau 2003, pp. 59–60.
  10. Unterburger, Amy (1999). St James Woman Filmmakers Encyclopedia. pp. 349–51.
  11. Leitch, Thomas; Poague, Leland (1 March 2011). A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   9781444397314.
  12. Osteen, Mark (14 March 2014). Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   9781442230880.
  13. Champlin, Charles (29 July 1982). "Alma Reville Hitchcock, The Unsung Partner". Los Angeles Times.
  14. "Alfred Hitchcock Accepts the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979", American Film Institute, 16 April 2009, 00:03:14.
  15. Wilson, Scott; Mank, Gregory W. (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 343. ISBN   9780786479924.
  16. "Imelda Staunton profile". Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  17. "Dame Helen Mirren thanks Anthony Hopkins after Hitchcock Bafta nomination" Wales Online. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  18. "Helen Mirren to Be Honored with the 2021 SAG Life Achievement Award" SAG Awards. Retrieved 2022-06-07.