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Hitchcock and the Censors$
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John Billheimer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177427

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177427.001.0001

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Lifeboat (1944)

Lifeboat (1944)

(p.102) 12 Lifeboat (1944)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines the influence of Production Code censors and the Office of War Information on the tale of survivors of a U-boat attack confined to a lifeboat commandeered by the captain of the U-boat that sunk the survivors’ ship. It was Hitchcock’s idea to create the lifeboat as a symbol of World War II in microcosm, with the survivors representing various aspects of democracy arrayed against the competent, single-minded German captain. The Office of War Information objected to this portrayal, viewing the plot as one that ‘Nazi propagandists themselves would like to promote.’ The author of the original source, John Steinbeck, was also unhappy with Hitchcock’s allegorical treatment, and the critics agreed with the view of the Office of War Information, causing this well-made film to do poorly at the box office.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, John Steinbeck, propaganda, Office of War Information, Production Code Administration, German competence, Allied disorganization, survival, Lifeboat

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