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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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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 26 February 2021

Stage Fright (1950)

Stage Fright (1950)

(p.160) 20 Stage Fright (1950)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

Stage Fright was the first picture Hitchcock produced under his new contract with Warner Bros. Filmed in England, it featured lyrics by Cole Porter, Marlene Dietrich as a femme fatale, and a controversial flashback seeded with misinformation. The primary concern of the censors was Dietrich’s rendition of Porter’s song ‘The Laziest Gal in Town.’ The Breen office found both the song and the performance so offensive that it had the chutzpah to edit the lyrics of one of the most accomplished songwriters of the day. The censors objected to Porter’s use of the Lord’s name (as in ‘Lord knows’), as well as Dietrich’s cleavage and gyrations. Both Porter and Hitchcock accommodated the censors, changing ‘Lord knows’ to ‘you know,’ dressing Dietrich from head to toe in a cleavage-hiding white gown, and cutting away from the star’s most suggestive movements.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Cole Porter, lying flashback, Production Code Administration, ’Laziest Gal in Town’, suggestive lyrics, Stage Fright

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