Scripting Hitchcock

Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie

Walter Raubicheck
Walter Srebnick
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 160
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xch2r
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  • Book Info
    Scripting Hitchcock
    Book Description:

    Scripting Hitchcock explores the collaborative process between Alfred Hitchcock and the screenwriters he hired to write the scripts for three of his greatest films: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie. Drawing from extensive interviews with the screenwriters and other film technicians who worked for Hitchcock, Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick illustrate how much of the filmmaking process took place not on the set or in front of the camera, but in the adaptation of the sources, the mutual creation of plot and characters by the director and the writers, and the various revisions of the written texts of the films._x000B__x000B_Hitchcock allowed his writers a great deal of creative freedom, which resulted in dynamic screenplays that expanded traditional narrative and defied earlier conventions. Critically examining the question of authorship in film, Raubicheck and Srebnick argue that Hitchcock did establish visual and narrative priorities for his writers, but his role in the writing process was that of an editor. While the writers and their contributions have generally been underappreciated, this study reveals that all the dialogue and much of the narrative structure of the films were the work of screenwriters Jay Presson Allen, Joseph Stefano, and Evan Hunter. The writers also shaped American cultural themes into material specifically for actors such as Janet Leigh, Tippi Hedren, and Tony Perkins. This volume gives due credit to those writers who gave narrative form to Hitchcock's filmic vision.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09351-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 The Triptych and the Screenplays
    (pp. 1-24)

    Orson Welles once said that his essential talent as a filmmaker was his instinctive ability to know exactly where the camera should be placed for maximum dramatic impact when he arrived on a set with his cast and crew. In fact, while shootingCitizen Kanehe once sent everyone home because his instinct had failed him and he had no idea how to approach the shoot.¹ This reliance on visual intuition, especially when surrounded by other professionals waiting for direction, is precisely the opposite of Alfred Hitchcock’s attitude toward the preparation necessary for effective filmmaking. “I plan out a script...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Sources
    (pp. 25-54)

    An examination of how Hitchcock and his writers transformed the sources he chose reveals two tendencies that are important in understanding how the director and the three writers went about adapting their sources into films.¹ The first tendency has to do with Hitchcock’s attitude toward adaptation and the viability and literary stature of the works he chose; the second with the genres he characteristically drew from. For throughout his career, Hitchcock focused on source material—plays, novels, and short stories—that used to be called “suspense fiction” but today is usually classified by bookstores and reviewers as “crime novels,” sources...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. CHAPTER 3 From Treatment to Script
    (pp. 55-81)

    The question of Hitchcock’s involvement in creating the plot and text of his scripts is a complex one, as we have seen. He worked closely with the screenwriter in adapting the source and developing the story and characters, and then at a certain point he would ask the writer to go home and produce a first draft. When this was submitted, Hitchcock again took complete control. He would direct the writer as to what needed to be cut and what needed to be added in the subsequent drafts as he worked toward the creation of a shooting script. Finally, he...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Final Drafts: The Shooting Scripts
    (pp. 82-112)

    An analysis of the shooting scripts as texts is a valid, even necessary process for Hitchcock studies on several accounts. These scripts represent the fullest extent of the collaborative process that began when the writer first sat with the director in his office to discuss the possibilities for narrative and character development inherent in the source material; they also highlight the particular verbal talents of the writers, talents that Hitchcock himself did not possess; and they demonstrate how the characters existed in Hitchcock’s mind before the actors began to mold them to their own styles and personalities. So in a...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 113-120)

    When their work on their respective screenplays was completed and the director had the shooting script, for all intents and purposes each screenwriter was done with the film. Hilton Green, who had been assistant director onPsychoand unit manager onMarnie,said that he recalled who the writers on those films were, but once production began it was their shooting scripts that mattered, and they were “out of the picture,” although all three did come to the set on several occasions and offer “suggestions.” At least at one point when they were on the set, both Hunter and Stefano...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 121-126)
  12. Index
    (pp. 127-132)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 133-134)