Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock

Christina Lane. Chicago Review, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-1-61373-384-4
Film professor Lane (Feminist Hollywood) gives proper due to the legacy of Joan Harrison, one of Hollywood’s first female producers, in this wide-ranging biography. Lane makes a persuasive case that, more than just a creative partner with Alfred Hitchcock in several films and the show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Harrison left her signature on film noir, beginning with the 1944 sleeper hit that provides the book’s title, and paved the way for other female filmmakers. Drawing on original interviews and archival research, Lane follows Harrison’s career trajectory, film by film, while tracing recurring themes in her work, including travel, fashion, and, especially, nuanced female characters. Nitty-gritty details—Harrison’s wrangling with temperamental stars and with overbearing censors, for instance—add heft to the book, while excursions into her romantic and social life add color; Harrison had a fling with Clark Gable and mentored many young female stars such as Ella Raines and Merle Oberon. Hitchcock’s dominating personality occasionally steals Harrison’s spotlight in these pages, though she only worked with him for part of her career. Lane’s lively and loving account of “one of the last great untold stories of the classical Hollywood era” will intrigue film scholars, Hitchcock fans, and general readers alike. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/21/2019
Release date: 02/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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