Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Dial “T” for Tedium.
The collaboration between director Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter John Michael Hayes resulted in one masterpiece, Rear Window, and three lesser films: To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, and the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. From this launching point, former film archivist DeRosa regales the reader with tried-and-true Hollywood tales: the egos, the geniuses, and the hacks all battling to get their movies made while madness runs amok around them. For each of the four films Hitchcock and Hayes created together, DeRosa explores the evolution from story to screenplay, the pre-production hassles, the filming of the movie, and the night of the grand premiere. Some interesting moments are captured in these pages, such as the team’s drunken first meeting and their final conflict, which had to be resolved by the Writer's Guild. Many other sections, including the comparative biographies (both had two siblings and an early interest in movies!), fall flat. The final chapter contains four essays—“The Cinematic Language of Rear Window,” “Visual and Verbal Motifs in To Catch a Thief,” “The Act of Confessing in The Trouble with Harry,” and “The Structure of the Unexpected in The Man Who Knew Too Much” —that appear to have fallen accidentally into DeRosa's volume from a graduate seminar on Hitchcock. Two appendices, one listing the credits for each movie, the other a New York Times essay by Hayes on adapting novels into films, conclude the book on a useful and informative note.
Strange how an investigation of the Master of Suspense and his world can be so humdrum, but closing with four term papers will accomplish just that. (16 pages b&w photos)