Alfred Hitchcock was awarded the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award on March 7th, 1979.
The following is based on the VHS release of the event...
May it please Ambassador Jay, Queen Ingrid, Director Stevens, and my co-conspirators in this bizarre trade of making films. It has been my observation that man does not live by murder alone... he needs affection, approval, encouragement and, occasionally, a hearty meal.
Tonight you have provided me with three... out of four! Anxiety strangled my appetite! This demonstration of your approval and affection has encouraged me...I will go on!
It makes me very proud indeed to be the recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. It is especially meaningful because it comes from my fellow dealers in celluloid. After all, when a man is found guilty of murder and condemned to death, it always makes him feel much better to know it was done by a jury of his friends and neighbours...with the help of an adequate attorney.
It would tax your endurance, and mine, to recite the names of those thousands of actors, writers, editors, cameramen, musicians, technicians, bankers, exhibitors...and a variety of other criminals who have contributed to my life.
I beg to mention by name only 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.
Had the beautiful Miss Reville not accepted a lifetime contract, without options, as "Mrs Alfred Hitchcock" some 53 years ago, Mr Alfred Hitchcock might be in this room tonight...not at this table, but as one of the slower waiters on the floor.
I share my award, as I have my life, with her. Now let me share something with those promising young people who have earned their Alfred Hitchcock Fellowships. When I was no more than six years of age, I did something that my father considered worthy of reprimand. I don't recall what transgression it was – at the age of six, it could have hardly involved a serving girl!
Whatever, father sent me to the local police station with a note. The officer on-duty read it and locked me in a jail cell for five minutes, saying "This is what we do to naughty boys."
I have, ever since, gone to any lengths to avoid arrest and confinement.
To you, young people, my message is "stay out of jail"!
Some day, one of you may be standing here, with this American Film Institute Award – that's what they do to good little boys!
The full broadcast has not been released on DVD, although a bootleg of the commercial VHS tape is available.
A highly edited version (approx 15 minutes) is available on the following DVDs:
A partial list of the attendees at the event:
- Judith Anderson, Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Bernstein, Robert Blumofe (Director of American Film Institute West), Sean Connery, John Forsythe, Cary Grant, Edith Head, Tippi Hedren, Alfred Hitchcock, Patricia Hitchcock, John Houseman, Peter Jay (UK Ambassador to the United States), Janet Leigh, Ernest Lehman, Norman Lloyd, Vera Miles, Anthony Perkins, Alma Reville, Victor Saville, George Stevens Jnr. (founder of the American Film Institute), James Stewart, Rod Taylor, Francois Truffaut, Jane Wyman and Teresa Wright
Images from the Hitchcock Gallery (click to view larger versions or search for all relevant images)...