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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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Under Capricorn (1949)

Under Capricorn (1949)

(p.149) 18 Under Capricorn (1949)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

Under Capricorn proved to be a disaster on several fronts. Hitchcock had never dealt well with costume melodramas, saying that he couldn’t imagine how people of bygone days could manage bathroom trips. He had purchased the property with Ingrid Bergman, one of the most popular female stars of the day, in mind for the lead. But Bergman proved to be a drawback: shortly after filming ended, she outraged the American public by abandoning her husband and daughter for Italian director Roberto Rossellini. The Production Code office spent more time worrying about the morality of the star than the morals of the movie, and Joe Breen wrote a letter to Bergman, later made public, asking her to reconsider her choice or risk losing her career. Bergman’s fall from grace, poor casting choices, a lackluster script, and Hitchcock’s decision to continue the experimentation with long takes he had begun with Rope all contributed to the failure of the movie, which lost over $1 million and marked the end of Transatlantic films as an independent producer.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Roberto Rossellini, costume melodrama, Production Code Administration, Joe Breen, Under Capricorn

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