Laurence “Larry” Leamer lives “just over the bridge at 2501 M.” On decent days, he walks through Georgetown, enjoying the beauty of the neighborhood. Little do most know, the down-to-earth writer has released a new book, “Hitchcock’s Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind the Legendary Director’s Dark Obsession.” Just in time for spooky season, the book will be released on the heels of his successful “Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era” (more about that later).
For those unfamiliar, Alfred Hitchcock was the horror mastermind moviemaker of the mid-20th century, having directed such classic films as “Psycho,” “Rear Window,” and “The Birds.”
“Hitchcock’s Blondes” is what Leamer calls “the perfect sequel to ‘Capote’s Women,’ another book about a creative genius and the women around him.” The concept came to Leamer from his wonderful editor at Putnam, Michelle Howry, and he jumped at it.
In “Hitchcock’s Blondes…” stories from stars like June Howard-Tripp, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Tippi Hedren, who starred in 14 of Hitchcock’s films, are explored. The women were the subject of Hitchcock’s affections and fixations. Leamer examines how Hitchcock’s “blondes” (as the director called them) knew his deepest desires, obsessions, and his art.
“What I admire most about Hitchcock is that he knew what he did well, and he kept to it for half a century, never reaching behind his genre,” Leamer said. “At this very moment, people worldwide are watching one of his films — on Amazon Prime, there are more than 40 Hitchcock films.”
Leamer is looking forward to a celebration of the release of “Hitchcock’s Blondes” at 7 p.m. on Halloween night at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. “My wife will kill me when she reads this, but I’d like to come in costume,” Leamer said.
Hitchcock looked at life as full of dark, psychologically scary anecdotes and that’s what he turned into art, according to Leamer. “Think in “Psycho” when Janet Leigh is fleeing after having stolen $40,000 from her boss, and a state trooper stops her on the highway,” he continued. “He’s only doing his job, but behind his gleaming dark glasses, he’s terrifying.”
After the release of “Hitchcock’s Blondes,” Leamer’s looking forward to seeing his Capote book come alive on television. The book’s poised to become the next season of Ryan Murphy’s “Feud” series. Coming in 2024, it will star Tom Hollander as Truman Capote and Naomi Watts, Chloe Sevigny, Demi Moore, Calista Flockhart, Molly Ringwald and Diane Lane as the infamous “swans.” The women the actresses are playing include Flockhart as Lee Radziwill (Jackie O.’s younger sister), Ringwald as actress Joanne Carson, and Lane as socialite Nancy “Slim” Keith.
“The fashion industry is weighing in with special clothes based on the swans,” Leamer said. “I spent a day on the set in New York, and three blocks before the Polish Consulate; they were filming the ‘Black and White Ball’ where massive trucks were standing.” With dozens of people working on the film inside the consulate, Leamer remembered thinking none of it would have happened were it not for his book.
“Hitchcock’s Blondes” has been optioned too, and according to Leamer, there’s a good chance it will also be filmed.
When he’s not hard at work on the third part of his trilogy, “Warhol’s Muses,” Leamer enjoys Georgetown restaurants from around the world, like Das Ethiopian, Villa Yara, La Chaumiere, and more.
“I doubt if there’s anywhere else in the world with such an array of cuisines in such proximity, and I’ve eaten at all of them,” Leamer said. “Then I walk just about to the Key Bridge, down to the Potomac and back — I usually stop and look across the river and think about how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful place.”