Alma Reville

Alma Lucy Reville, Lady Hitchcock (14 August 1899 – 6 July 1982), was an English-American screenwriter and editor,[1] writer of many of Alfred Hitchcock's scripts, including Shadow of a Doubt, Suspicion and The Lady Vanishes, as well as script for other directors, including Henrik Galeen, Maurice Elvey and Berthold Viertel.[2] Reville's filmography is extensive with writing credits on many films that were among the biggest of their time.

Alma Reville
Reville in November 1955
Alma Lucy Reville

(1899-08-14)14 August 1899
Died6 July 1982(1982-07-06) (aged 82)
OccupationScreenwriter, film director, film editor
Alfred Hitchcock
(m. 1926; died 1980)
ChildrenPatricia Hitchcock

Early life

She was born in Nottingham,[3] the second daughter of Matthew Edward and Lucy (née Owen) Reville. The family moved to London when Reville was young, as her father got a job at Twickenham Film Studios. Reville often visited her father at work and eventually got 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 script writer and director's assistant. These roles enabled her to become involved with a part of film-making that very few women had access to at the time.[5]

Reville met Alfred Hitchcock while both worked at Paramount's Famous Players-Lasky, an American motion picture company in Islington. Reville was just one day younger than Hitchcock. The pair were 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 Cardinal Francis 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 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]


Twickenham Film Studio, where Reville first worked, closed in 1919, but she was given a job at Paramount's Famous Players-Lasky, an American motion picture company 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] She worked on British films with such directors as Berthold Viertel and Maurice Elvey. The first film Reville worked on with Hitchcock was Woman to Woman, with Reville as film editor, and Hitchcock as art director and assistant editor.[5][2]

Reville became Hitchcock's closest collaborator and sounding board. Charles Champlin wrote in 1982: "The Hitchcock touch had four hands, and two were Alma's.".[10] 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".[11]

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 and/or the crew. It was Reville who noticed Janet Leigh inadvertently breathing after her character's fatal encounter in Psycho (1960), necessitating an alteration to the negative.

Reville co-wrote The Ring in 1927 — the first screenwriting credit she shared with Hitchcock — but worked with other directors as well. She co-wrote The Constant Nymph in 1928, the first film adaptation of the 1924 best-selling and controversial novel The Constant Nymph 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 took over many of Reville's jobs within the production. Thereafter, Reville focused primarily on preparing and adapting her husband's scripts, including those for Rebecca, Foreign Correspondent (1940), Suspicion (1941) and Saboteur (1942).,[12][13] though she conitinued to work with some other directors, including Phil Rosen in 1934, Berthold Viertel in 1935 and Richard Wallace in 1945.

Reville worked with her husband on many more scripts in Hollywood. She collaborated with Joan Harrison to create the script for Suspicion, which was completed on 28 November 1940. They worked on the script in the Hitchcocks' home in Bel Air as Hitchcock preferred writing within a comfortable and intimate environment rather than an office.[14]

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


Alma, Lady Hitchcock, a breast cancer survivor, died at the age of 82, two years after her husband's death. She was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.[15]

Reville was portrayed by actresses 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, Golden Globe and SAG awards for her performance.


On her 100th birthday in 1999, a plaque dedicated 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:


  1. Anderson, John (18 November 2012). "Alfred Hitchcock's Secret Weapon Becomes a Star". The New York Times.
  2. Unterberger, Amy (1999). The St James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press.
  3. "Alma Reville: The Power Behind Hitchcock's Throne". Brenton Film.
  4. Reville, Alma (1923). 'Cutting and Continuity'. The Motion Picture News. p. 10.
  5. "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 & Bouzereau 2003, p. 48; Spoto 1999, pp. 92–93
  8. Spoto 1999, p. 115; Hitchcock & Bouzereau 2003, p. 55; Clark, Ross (13 April 2008). "Alfred Hitchcock: A long way from the Bates Motel". The Daily Telegraph.
  9. Hitchcock & Bouzereau 2003, pp. 59–60.
  10. Champlin, Charles (29 July 1982). "Alma Reville Hitchcock, The Unsung Partner". Los Angeles Times.
  11. "Alfred Hitchcock Accepts the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979", American Film Institute, 16 April 2009, 00:03:14.
  12. Unterburger, Amy (1999). St James Woman Filmmakers Encyclopedia. pp. 349–51.
  13. Leitch, Thomas; Poague, Leland (1 March 2011). A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781444397314.
  14. Osteen, Mark (14 March 2014). Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442230880.
  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.

Further reading

  • Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind the Man by Pat Hitchcock O'Connell and Laurent Bouzereau, Berkley Trade, 6 July 2004; ISBN 0425196194/ISBN 978-0425196199
  • '"What Did Alma Think?": Continuity, Writing, Editing and Adaptation' by Christina Lane and Josephine Botting, in Hitchcock and Adaptation: Page and Screen ed. Mark Osteen. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. Print.
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