Novel into Film: Hitchcock Adaptations
130 | CCN: 44959
Instructor: Eileen Jones
Director Alfred Hitchcock’s reliance on literary works is a lesser-known factor in his filmmaking, in part because of Hitchcock’s famous “authorship” of his films, which he forcefully publicized. Yet Hitchcock was a frequent adapter of acclaimed novels such as Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Robert Bloch’s Psycho, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (filmed as Sabotage) and Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac’s D’entre Les Morts (Between Deaths, filmed as Vertigo). He also relied on adaptations of short stories such as Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds” and Cornell Woolrich’s “It Had to Be Murder” (filmed as Rear Window), and even on one occasion a journalist’s news story for Life Magazine: Henry Brean’s “A Case of Identity” (filmed as The Wrong Man). Hitchcock’s collaborations with screenwriters favored free and idiosyncratic interpretations of literary text sources. His intense unhappiness with the “faithful” adaptation process forced upon him in bringing Daphne du Maurier’s bestseller Rebecca to the screen, thus preventing it from becoming “a real Hitchcock film” in the director’s view, has been compellingly analyzed by Tania Modleski in The Women Who Knew Too Much.
In this course we will examine Hitchcock’s films in terms of adaptation, in an attempt to re-establish the connection between his famous filmic “authorship” and the obscured literary authorship that preceded it.