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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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(p.312) Conclusion
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

The conclusion summarizes Hitchcock’s experiences, strategies, and priorities in dealing with censorship to produce suspenseful thrillers. By the end of his career, Hitchcock was manipulating the censors as successfully as he manipulated moviegoers. But the harm done by the Production Code early in his career was incalculable. Although the censors’ prodding stimulated the director’s creativity in a few instances, on balance his movies were damaged by their interference. The Production Code rule that did the most damage to Hitchcock’s films was the admonition that evildoers must be punished. Blind adherence to this rule made a mockery of the death of the title character in Rebecca, implausibly absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion, forced an improbable conclusion on The Paradine Case, kept Farley Granger from fulfilling his crisscross murder bargain in Strangers on a Train, and saved Montgomery Clift from the gallows in I Confess. Toward the end of his career, the declining Production Code was little more than a nuisance to Hitchcock, but the damage done to his early US films can never be undone. And audiences will never know what other movies he might have made if he hadn’t adjusted his own sights to fit within the censors’ limitations.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, censorship, Production Code Administration, punishment of evildoers, strategies, trade-off priorities, Rebecca, Suspicion, Strangers on a Train, I Confess

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