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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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Frenzy (1972)

Frenzy (1972)

(p.303) 41 Frenzy (1972)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

In Frenzy, Hitchcock took full advantage of the demise of the Production Code, filling the screen with coarse language, nudity, and a graphic rape scene. Hitchcock argued that the harrowing, explicit rape scene was necessary to show the repulsive nature of the killer. Having shocked the audience with one such scene, he was able to let other instances of the rapist’s work pass with only a suggestion of his crimes. Freedom from the Production Code did not necessarily mean freedom from censorship. Hitchcock still had to satisfy the British Board of Film Censors and produce a version suitable for TV viewing. The film was shot in London and cast with highly regarded professionals whose names were not well known in Hollywood. The critical and public reaction was almost universally positive, although a few critics expressed qualms about the explicit rape scene. Freed from most past restrictions, the director made the movie he wanted to make, from a story he selected personally, with a talented and cooperative screenwriter and a thoroughly professional cast of his own choosing. Frenzy belongs on any list of Hitchcock’s finest accomplishments.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, British Board of Film Censors, rape scene, Production Code Administration, altered TV version, positive critical and public reaction, Frenzy

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