Writing with Hitchcock: The Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes

Steven DeRosa, Author
Steven DeRosa, Author Faber & Faber $15 (336p) ISBN 978-0-571-19990-7
Reviewed on: 07/01/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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Alfred Hitchcock: The name conjures up incredible suspense, mordant laughs, the surprise ending. But Hitch's unique vision was not his alone. In this detailed analysis of the filmmaker's collaboration with screenwriter Hayes, DeRosa reveals how Hitchcock's basic artistic instincts were often radically reshaped and transformed by Hayes's nimble writing. The Hitchcock-Hayes collaborations--Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry and The Man Who Knew Too Much--form a transitional period in the director's career, with the writer contributing a kinder vision of the human condition, highly sophisticated dialogue and a sense of humor to Hitchcock's works. DeRosa, a former film archivist, has soundly researched his subject and carefully compares the original versions of each film with its ensuing treatments, scripts and multiple revisions. Relying heavily on interviews with Hayes as well as on studio memos and production notes, DeRosa gives us not only an in-depth portrait of this working relationship but a comprehensive look at the industry in the late 1950s, when it was struggling to reassert itself after the emergence of television. The author also engagingly describes the cultural politics of the time (Joseph Breen and the Production Code were vigilant in attacking Hayes's edgy, urbane representations of sexuality). DeRosa also brings convincing drama to Hayes and Hitchcock's breakup and charts Hayes's later career writing such films as Peyton Place and The Children's Hour. While overly specific for the general reader, this is an important study for film and Hitchcock scholars. (Apr.)
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