Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Book
Winner of the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Nonfiction/Critical Book
Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to contend with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect, and all forms of indecency, real or imagined. From 1934 to 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code Office controlled the content and final cut on all films made and distributed in the United States. During their review of Hitchcock’s films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films.
In his award-winning Hitchcock and the Censors, author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock’s interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films. Despite the often-arbitrary decisions of the code board, Hitchcock still managed to push the boundaries of sex and violence permitted in films by charming—and occasionally tricking—the censors, and by swapping off bits of dialogue, plot points, and individual shots (some of which had been deliberately inserted as trading chips) to protect cherished scenes and images. By examining Hitchcock’s priorities in dealing with the censors, this work highlights the director’s theories of suspense as well as his magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials.
About the Author
John Billheimer is the author of two mystery series; one with West Virginia failure analyst Owen Allison, and the other featuring Ohio sportswriter Lloyd Keaton. He has taught courses in film noir, hard-boiled fiction on film, and the modern mystery in film and print at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities.