In Paris with Alfred Hitchcock

Russell Melcher

August 28, 2023

A visit to the Police Museum in Paris in 1959 – where reportage photographer Russell Melcher and his Leica have a special appointment. A perfect interplay between the director and the photographer.
Unmistakeably Hitch. Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary film director and master of the most suspenseful thrillers of his time. As always, he wears a dark suit, white shirt and a tie. As inconspicuous as his appearance, as typical his mischievous smile and role-playing repertoire, which he performs with relish for photographer Russell Melcher. During his stay in Paris, the director also visited the police museum: “Of course, everything was studied and looked at closely,” the photographer remembers. “Alfred Hitchcock was constantly on the lookout for new ideas for goose bump moments that would never tire.” All this backstory and more is included in the recently published book dedicated to the photographer’s oeuvre: Russell Melcher – The Golden Age of Photojournalism.

Film stars and starlets, music legends, the greats of politics and royalty: without a doubt Melcher was one of the busiest and most proactive of photo reporters. From the 1950s onwards, his images served the ever-growing needs of magazines and such publications. The American had settled down in Paris, the base from which he travelled over most of the world. Many of his pictures have joined the annals of history, because, more than simply a photographer, he considered himself a storyteller. Despite deadlines and often adverse shooting conditions, he always wanted to deliver more than just a magazine picture. Speed, being well prepared and, above all, having good equipment were the fundamental conditions for the “Russell W. Melcher method”, as Matthias Grenda explains in his text to the new photo book: “Whenever possible, Russ researched or inspected the location, the place, the city or the exact event, the person or persons to be portrayed before thinking about the story to be told. Russ didn’t want to shoot the photos that everyone was shooting.”

Consequently, the encounter with Hitchcock was also set up as a story: Melcher accompanied him through all the rooms in the museum, from the attic to the cellar – though he was not allowed to photograph everywhere. “After visiting the catacombs, where extremely old but still active prison cells were viewed and photography was not allowed, Hitchcock then strode away, just as he preferred to see himself – cunning and mysterious,” Melcher recalls. “I think I recognized one or the other scene in later films.”
Ulrich Rüter
ALL IMAGES ON THIS PAGE: © Russell Melcher

LFI 6.2023+-


Issue 6.2023 of the LFI magazine carries a portfolio dedicated to Melcher in its Leica Classic segment.

Russell Melcher: The Golden Age of Photojournalism+-

9783961714391 Kopie 2

256 pages, 223 black and white and colour pictures.
23.5 x 30 cm, German/English
teNeues; edited by Peter Feierabend and with texts by Matthias Grenda.

Russell Melcher+-

Bild 10 Russell Melcher, Lifetime Achievement Award

Born in September 24, 1930 in Englewood, New Jersey, USA, he had his first experiences with photography in New York when he was 16 years old. From 1951 to 1953 he served with the US Army in Frankfurt on the Main, after which he moved to Paris. Starting 1958, he worked for the Dalmas Photo Agency, and in August 1966 changed to the VIP Agency as a partner. From 1966 to 1972 he did work for the Magnum Photo Agency. After that he was, among other things, a photo editor for Paris Match Group magazines, and later for the Filipacchi Magazine Group. Melcher lives today in the south of France.  More


In Paris with Alfred Hitchcock

Russell Melcher