Tom Schatz: Well, in the 1920s, the cinema is still very much an emerging industry, and it's it's hard for us to imagine from this vantage point, even from the vantage point of the 30s and 40s, how many important national cinemas there were and then in the teens and 20s and that even in the post-World War One era, with all the recovery that was involved in Germany, there was a very active commercial industry. But one that was I think, like we generally might think about European cinema, one that was much more of an art cinema than a commercial cinema, and one in which there was a great deal of experimentation, one in which and again, of people familiar with Stein in the Soviet Union. There were there were there were people working in in the movies in the teens and 20s in Europe that that were experimenting pretty aggressively with with the medium and nowhere more so than in Germany.
Interviewer: America is trying something different and they're trying to. Pure. What is. What are they trying to do with their storytelling?
Tom Schatz: Well, the you know, how much how much of this is just a matter of of distance or an American sensibility, as is always a tough question. But but the Germans clearly were much more interested in German expressionism, was a what was quite literally a film movement in the 1920s that that had that had to do with with the play between interior and exterior forms of expression. You know, quite literally, designing sets, developing modes of acting that were designed to express mental states, an effort to to develop stories that were working certainly less upbeat or as we would say in the American film, as we less commercial, less much less concerned with certain types of heroic behavior, much less concerned with happy endings, much less likely to see the, you know, the love story. The upbeat love story is that as the dominant plotline story through pictures and telling stories, through pictures and you know, when when you think about just comparing the horror film as it developed in Germany versus the horror film as it developed in United States and and, you know, not to downplay those American horror films are pretty great films, many of them made by people recruited from Germany and who came over to university early 20s and early 30s. But you look at Nosferatu, you look at those, you know, those early German versions of vampire films of the Golem and so on. I mean, these are these are familiar to us as horror films, but they are incredibly striking in terms of the design of the films, how expressive they are visually, how dark they are and how distorted the imagery is. There is not anywhere near the same kind of sense of of psychological realism or pictorial realism.
Interviewer: So what is it? What effect is all this?
Tom Schatz: Well, Hitchcock is certainly learning. I think that the there are several significant impressions that are made on Hitchcock in 1920s, hanging around in Germany, watching now and others working at dofor. You know, one, you know, certainly is again, this the sense of like expressionism. It's this sense of a psychological cinema where where the the design of sets, the use of lighting, etc is as much as it's used thematically. It's as much a matter of of expressing meaning in terms of story and character as it is and trying to develop a realistic picture of the world at the same time. You know, Maranhao and others experimenting with camera movement and cutting with, you know, constantly playing around with the plastic aspects of the medium. The long take versus montage. I mean, these are things that are very much on the mind of German film makers and are evident. And I think there's also a a psychosexual dimension to an awful lot of German film that is pretty intense and very distinctive relative to American filmmaking or British filmmaking.
Interviewer: It doesn't speak very shy. I think he's not learning how to articulate himself visually.
Tom Schatz: One of the wonderful ironies of Hitchcock's period in Germany is that Hitchcock actually broke into the business designing title cards and, you know, doing enter titles. And I mean, he was the guy and he was someone who understood pretty quickly that slightly adjusting a title card or not using a title card would would substantially change the way the scene worked or the win the way a spectator would make sense of a scene. And, you know, clearly, by the time we get to the mid 1920s, a number of German film makers, I think Hitchcock as well. You watch your film, you a number of these earlier Hitchcock films, the silent films that he makes. It's quite remarkable how the largest, probably the best example, these long sustained sequences with no title cards where, you know, the more normal, shall we say, Hollywood film or British film would be loaded with information, whether it's dialogue or just narrative information. Hitchcock clearly is working against them and began to develop this idea, pure cinema.
Interviewer: And it's really sort of his personality.
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, my you know, I think one of the tougher things to deal with with Hitchcock is, you know, the way we talk about Hitchcock's personality, I think the only way we can make sense of Hitchcock's personality is through his films. I mean, this is a guy who's very difficult to read as as a person, as a human personality. He was a guy who was his work and was was incredibly invested in his work. And but the fact is, I think as we look at different periods in his career, we see that personality in terms of the film work changing, I think. But this is this is a man who was, we might suggest, pretty repressed who you know. In it was it was kind of ruthlessly analytical about about things and all kinds of things. Was fascinated by machinery, was fascinated by structures and systems. And, you know, clearly was, you know, had a had a very active sexual imagination. They learned to channel and repress and control and all kinds of ways. And I think that's real evidence movies. I think it's very evident as movies from very early on 1920, certainly.
Interviewer: Why is it revolutionary? Why? Why did it matter then?
Tom Schatz: Well.
Interviewer: When we sang with Neuilly and here's a guy.
Tom Schatz: Very unexpected, Fritze, along with Hitchcock with blackmail. These are two. But by then I think in their respective careers, still young but but very accomplished artists who understand cinema in a way that doesn't always correspond with, you know, the commercial kind of motives and imperatives of of, you know, people running the show. And who are you who see sound as as as another way to. Well, first of all, I see it as a means of experimentation. But another way. I mean, the thing about that, the breakfast scene in blackmail is that, you know, dialogue is significant terms of the way the scene plays. But ultimately, it's it's more an internal dialogue within that within the woman's head. And it's and it's a it's a it's an opportunity to if you if you look at the way the scene is shot and lit, as well as the way SoundWorks in it, the way that the way that her figure becomes isolated, the way that the word knife, of course, is repeated. So any word eventually that we recognize in this the ruminations by the neighbor woman as well as by her father, the table? You know, there's it's a chance to develop, again, a sense of psychological realism where the psychology of the character, you know, literally dictates what we see, what we hear, what is real to us as spectators.
Interviewer: It's great because I like to sound picture.
Tom Schatz: Yes. And it's it's it's also there's a lot going on there, again, with the human voice. And I also think of the moment blackmail where the you know, the cleaning lady discovers the body. And it's the first of many instances where we see a scream in a know where we see a scream become something else, where Hitchcock clearly is is experimenting with with sound, with voice, with again, with these kind of interior states of characters. And in that case, I mean, he's using he's using sound as a means of transition. This is a film that was begun as a silent movie. I mean, what's quite remarkable about blackmail is that they convert to sound and Mr. production. And yet we see him experimenting with and, you know, arguably the the woman discovering the body is an idea that he would have had for silent. I mean, if that film played silent and it would have worked the entry in the lodger when the lodger arrives at the home. And if you look at that sequence, it is remarkable. All of the illusions couple years before sound. But but how audio that sequences, I mean, all of the ways in which Hitchcock is getting you to hear what's happening. Cuckoo clock, the guy falling at the door, you can almost hear the door creaking open with the introduction of that character. Hitchcock is is trying to draw the spectator in audibly even before sound comes along. And by the times, some does come along. It's interesting that he's pushing then, you know, beyond realistic uses of sound into something more expressive.
Interviewer: Right. Right. For how long? British with Michael Ball different from a director's experience in the studio system. What's Hitchcock?
Tom Schatz: You know, the British film industry in the 1930s, 20s, into the 30s is much less regimented. It's much less systematic. It's commercially driven. But but not as ruthlessly as the Hollywood industry and the division of labor is. I mean, by the 1930s in Hollywood, we have what we would call detailed subdivision of labor, everything a soak. And particularly because of depression in the course of the 1930s, the movie industry is becoming one more systematic because of the unions and so on and so forth. This is not this is not the case in Great Britain where the Hitchcock is able to exercise a great deal more authority.
Interviewer: How is that experience? What sort of relationship?
Tom Schatz: Well, Michael Boeken was someone who was pretty important to Hitchcock in the 20s in terms of a couple of his early films that, you know, quite literally been shelved. He can pull them off the shelf and convince the powers that be that that these were had some commercial possibilities. Indeed they did. And they hook up together again in the 30s were when Balkan has quite a bit of control and another studio on British. And it's a it's a period where he is able to create an environment in which Hitchcock can function. And where Hitchcock can have been several men of authority or Hitchcock can begin to really refine, you know, successful commercial formula. The Hitchcock film, which in the 1930s was, you know, primarily spy films and with invariably a love story component to it. It's also important. I think it's real important, actually, that that that Balkan creates an environment where Hitchcock can only be Hitchcock witty and create a production unit where with Charles Bennett and Evelyn Montagu and a few others, he is able to create a working group, a deep as a director of photography, particularly, I think a screenwriter who's who he works with, film after film. And they really do very consciously refine a formula that is very successful. And as long as it plays commercially, five, six, seven films running a Balkan gives Hitchcock pretty well free reign experience, you know. I mean, it couldn't it couldn't just really can be more different from what was going on in Hollywood. There were certain Hollywood's beginning developed what's called unit production. But it's it's being done very in a very limited way and very carefully. And actually, a lot of the early I mean, Von Sternberg and Dietrich are a good example of someone in the 30s who who were whereas a director and a star begin to work successfully together and actually make a run of films with a group of four or five key talented people working together. But this is extremely rare.
Interviewer: Given when you've been given the kind of control.
Tom Schatz: One of the Hitchcock is a very special case among the great American auteur directors who have those who work in America that has worked in Hollywood, that he was never under contract. He literally is the only significant American out to a Hollywood actor who was never under a long term contract to a studio who is who was always had had a measure of independence. It would be very interesting to see what would have happened had he been, you know, say, at Fox and Darryl Zanuck or at Warner Brothers in her house, which might have happened, actually might have quite well, he might have been at MGM under Louis B. Mayor. And that would have been would have been very interesting. It would've been very different. I mean, it would have it would have been nothing like what he had with Bork. And I think. But the key really is, is if a filmmaker if a director can establish a formula, a commercial for me that works in film after film is can can dependably deliver product, he's going to be given some amount of freedom. So it's tough to say what would have happened with Hitchcock, given that he was with Boeken. I mean, it was he had a he really did have a tremendous run from 33 34 until he came to Hollywood. Thirty nine.
Interviewer: Right. So why living.
Tom Schatz: There are there are a couple of reasons why Hitchcock would want to go to Hollywood. One is that as he is the single most successful director in Europe, the he makes a run of films in the nineteen thirties, peaking with the lady ventures that are the most successful European films and ever leave the United States huge hits in the United States. He so obviously is a successful filmmaker. But, you know, there are a couple of things happening. One is that that, you know, clearly the conditions in Europe are deteriorating rapidly. And and in England, particularly, more and more, the resources are either being pulled out of production or they're being moved into documentary filmmaking, training, films, things like that. And Hitchcock and see the writing on the wall. If he's gonna stay in Europe, it's going to be extremely difficult for him to work as a commercial filmmaker. And, you know, the other reason is the resources in Hollywood are fantastic. And there are very, very few directors, top directors, European directors in the twenties and thirties that don't aspire to come to Hollywood. And of course, many of them do. Another reason clearly is that, you know, from the early to mid thirties, you've got a tremendous flow of talent from Europe fleeing Nazi Germany, but also fleeing deteriorating political, social, economic conditions and Hollywood and finding tremendous opportunities there.
Interviewer: Why, David?
Tom Schatz: So I think I think Hitchcock believed that Selznick was something like a Michael Borking in terms of someone who understood the industry, who had a tremendous amount of power, who had enough authority. That he could create an environment in which Hitchcock could work. But without a lot of constraints, without it, without the kind of systematic studio interference that would, I think were driven Hitchcock crazy. Right. I think. I think. I think he was right. You know, I the obviously, the circumstances involved with Selznick's career in 39 40 were so bizarre because of the success of Gone with the Wind. And then Rebecca right afterwards, that the environment that that I think Selznick expected to be created for him didn't didn't simply didn't happen. The you know, Selznick, because of the success of Gone with the Wind and because the amount of energy that was expended in getting that film made with Rebecca immediately after inactive for four years. And I think Hitchcock's experience was probably very, very different than what he expected from, say, thirty nine to 44. And then once Selznick is back in the act of production that I think that kind of unit that we we would that he expected to be create around Amarante did at least for a short period of time, spellbound, a notorious really did become there. He was stable.
Interviewer: So I his craft in coming up through this period, did you think he was working with just mother over himself?
Tom Schatz: I didn't know David Selznick, you know, clearly from I think very early on one to make movies. And he wanted to he wanted to make movies. He wanted to control the process he wanted. He I think he understood very quickly the way the studio system was going to work. I think it's important that he that he grew up in a family, that his father, Luis, was a ultimately not very successful filmmaker, but he had his moments of glory and so on, so forth. But David understood pretty quickly that the the importance of the producer and I think he understood pretty quickly as he once he'd come to Hollywood the way the system was going to develop in terms of executive structure and so on, so forth. Selznick, I think more than any other producer or production executive in Hollywood, figured out how to put one foot in each camp as a as a studio executive or a production executive and as an active producer. And I think certainly more than Thalberg or Zanuck or how Wallace, this is someone who was very, very actively involved in the day to day making movies.
Interviewer: So do you see him as a filmmaker?
Tom Schatz: I see. I see Selznick as a as a filmmaker. No question about it. I think. I think we're just beginning to understand what the role of the producer was in the Hollywood system and that there were very different kinds of producers. You know, Sam Golden versus Walt Disney versus Hal Wallis versus Darryl Zanuck versus Irving Thalberg or Selznick. And they and the other filmmakers, I mean, they are involved in the production process to one degree or another. SELZNICK much more immediately involved Selznick. Selznick may go with to win and.
Interviewer: All right. Well, let's it's important. All my what is the method just isn't gonna win.
Tom Schatz: Yeah, there's definitely method in there's some madness in the method and some method in the madness that you've gone with. The Wind is a is a quite tremendous accomplishment. And Selznick's role in that process is impossible, I think, to overestimate his importance, that movie and whether or not it's a great movie. It's it's Hollywood's. It is the measure of accomplishment, the classical Hollywood era. No question about it. And Selznick Selznick made that film the it was, you know, tantamount to storming the beaches at Normandy. I mean, it's the D-Day of, you know, in terms of mounting this incredible project that was years in the making that accomplished everything that anyone could have possibly hoped any individual picture could have accomplished. And yes, Selznick was was perhaps the only individual in the industry that could have pulled it off.
Interviewer: Great if the first some of accredited production designer David Selznick tried to do that.
Tom Schatz: Selznick is, you know, without question, he's trying to he's trying to control the production process. What he's what he's trying to do is create a preproduction process that will that will create a blueprint for the actual shooting of the film, the cutting of the film that will that will maximize his role as orchestrator of of the production. And I don't say minimize necessarily will diminish the. Well, the director, he wants a film that is that is visualized and cut in advance. But at the same time, a Web camera message is an accomplished artist. And as a production designer, this this is someone who is and this is part of Selznick's genius. I mean, he he appreciates that in the process of developing a pre-cut picture. He he also can really push the limits of visualization in cinema. And he does he does in that film. I mean, it's a tremendous accomplishment visually.
Interviewer: It's almost something that he shares with.
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, the ironies about with these two guys, but, you know, certainly both of them were meticulous at the preproduction stage. Both of them in their own way, each in his own way, was heavily invested in storyboarding and developing a pre-cut picture, a pre visualized patient. Know, do about in terms of how meticulously both of these individuals prepared movies. They're both horrendous. I mean, in a sense, these were two guys who invented storyboarding. These were two individuals that each in his own way was invested in this idea of pre visualizing, pre cutting, predesigned, you know, film and Hitchcock. And, you know, it's it's to me, interesting that as soon as Hitchcock brings, in effect, his his his version of Rebecca, which really which which includes visualization, so and so forth, you know, very quickly lets him know that it's not going to be his pure visualization, his pre-cut picture. But the one that Selznick ultimately controls.
Interviewer: Because they try and do the same thing with. MediaVest tried to control, right, trying to control the producer is.
Tom Schatz: Actually actually there is an interesting that there isn't anything tension there. Hitchcock is not a writer, but he is someone who is heavily involved in the development of the screenplay and who in the process of developing the screenplay, is always thinking visually and is in it for whom, you know, the screenplay, a subordinate to the visuals and in a sense, in terms of the way the Hollywood studio system worked. It is a matter of the director trying to control the development process, which is the bailiwick of the producer and the producer, obviously trying to pre-cut the picture, which is more the bailiwick of the director. So there is a quite interesting tension between the two in terms of the way the power structure in Hollywood work. There's no question but that Selznick was the one who ultimately was going to control that process.
Interviewer: Gets fired within a couple of weeks production. Is it a disaster we the film still.
Tom Schatz: Gone With The Wind still, in fact, has quite a bit of Cukor in it. Quite a few Cukor scenes are in, of course, the finished film. You know, Cukor was was was brought to Hollywood by Selznick. His early career at RKO and then eventually at MGM owed a great deal to Selznick's promotion of of that career. And yet Ucore was not about to submit to the kind of authority that Selznick wanted to exercise over Gone with the Wind. And this is something that, you know, by the time we get to doing The Sun Hitchcock time, we get the duel in the Sun Sosnick is going to incest and he's going to find directors who will submit to the idea of him approving every camera setup, of approving every rehearsal. That's not quite the case. I'm gone with the Wind. Gone with the Wind. There were really two problems with Gone with the Wind. One was that Selznick demanded to approve every setup, which Cukor was not going to stand for. And the other was that Clark Gable and Cukor were not getting along. And Gable was important enough to that production that he thought that he could demand a change and get it. So, you know, I don't I don't necessarily see Flemyng submitting to quite sosnick to the degree that that he would have liked either. It's firing Cuke or is like is like firing the DP. I mean, no, it's it's like firing someone who is is is, you know, shooting the film or designing the film. It's not even as important as. I mean, you it's difficult to imagine firing a star from one of those films. But Selznick is absolutely in control of this process. Selznick directs quite a bit of that film himself. And this is a film that's got, you know, several principal units actively shooting at the same time. So, you know, clearly, whether it's Victor Fleming or Tuco or they can't be in more than one place at once. And the only one really who is orchestrating the entire process is Selznick.
Interviewer: Somebody else.
Tom Schatz: Selznick's vision.
Interviewer: Do you look at thirty nine and sort of see this as a relationship? You.
Tom Schatz: You know, I've dug through an awful lot of Selznick's stuff, and Selznick, I think, in a very serious, genuine way, really did want to develop a unique production system. I think he really did want to want to get directors like John Ford and LaCava, Leo McCarey and Frank Capra and Hitchcock in2 a under an umbrella provided by United Artists into an environment where they could each be producer directors, develop their own production units, make movies. But the fact of it is by the template, the 1939. And a lot of it's because of Gone with the Wind. Selznick has become so obsessed with controlling the process of every film that he produces. He has also become so acutely aware that if he just produces two or three films a year that are successful, he will make a whole lot more money than if he has several units under his supervision that are that are turning out a couple of films apiece. That that I just don't think by the time Selznick brings Hitchcock into the scene that he is ready to give Hitchcock the kind of creative control that Hitchcock really needs just to flourish.
Interviewer: The first idea is Titanic.
Tom Schatz: Titanic is an idea that that has been an out of production. And Selznick had been toying for years with a film version of Titanic of the sinking of the Titanic. And that really was the the a project that seemed ideal for a Hitchcock to take on from Selznick's viewpoint. But the fact is that that it would appear that that that Hitchcock was never really that interested at all in doing the Titanic. He's going to have a of the Mary dear, you know, experience, you know, some 20 years later that winds up being north by northwest. I think in both of those cases, Hitchcock had his own idea of the kind of film that he wanted to make. And he may have not been able to control the process of developing the project to the degree you want to. But he certainly maneuvered Hitchcock. Hitchcock was able to maneuver Selznick into into making Ribbeck instead of Titanic.
Interviewer: So he really wanted Rebecca Hitchcock Rice's treatment and Selznick sort of read the treatment, which was quite famous memo. Is it just putting a director in place? Nothing more than the ball. Are there you go.
Tom Schatz: Well, the now infamous memo that that Selznick wrote to Hitchcock when he read is his very detailed treatment of Rebecca. And just castigated. I'm just torn apart. First of all, this is extremely typical of Selznick. Sosnick has worked with a number of top directors, and typically he very early in the process, puts his foot down and lets the director know in no uncertain terms on the boss. I'm going to be running this operation at the same time. He's he's pretty heavy. He's paid fifty thousand dollars for the rights to Rebecca. He's paid fifty thousand dollars for the rights to go with the wind. These are the number one and number to go into when Rebecca most successful commercial fiction publications in history. These are the two most six biggest bestsellers ever. And Selznick at that time is very invested in the idea that I bought. I bought this title. This is an extremely popular novel. Let's make fidelity to the original text is very important to them. And and Selznick was determined to to have Hitchcock make a screen version of this novel as faithful as possible to the original.
Interviewer: Themes, also to the novel.
Tom Schatz: Yeah. I think he does. I think.
Interviewer: And he's producer.
Tom Schatz: Oh, no. I think with both Gone with the Wind and Rebecca, I think, you know, Selznick is much more of a woman's director or a woman's filmmaker. I mean, he he understands the woman's picture in a way that that Hitchcock does. And I think very few of the producers, directors in Hollywood do, but some there's definitely others like Cukor actually is one of them. Gone With the Wind would have been a very different film had he stayed on as director. I think we'd have a very different emphasis. But anyway, I think the the memo to the memo to Hitchcock on Rebecca demonstrates that, that on the one hand, Hitchcock is is perhaps trying to take the story away from the original in ways that are going to undercut its power. But it also suggests that that Selznick has a pretty keen sense of what makes that novel work and what is and what is going to what there is about that novel. It appeals to women. And this is a I think this is a picture that he had that he's thinking of as a woman's picture.
Interviewer: Primarily, he's right. You know, you look at the screen. Do you really think that's a decision about who should play it or is that more a reflection of growing?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think, you know, whoever he might cast in, I think by the time we get to Rebecca, he's brought already bought, brought Ingrid Bergman over from Europe. He's he's bought Vivien Leigh over from England. You know, these are both accomplished actresses that he is going to make stars. He's in the process of making stars. And I think Joan Fontaine is is ideally is very much the same time is. She's got experience. She's done quite a few pictures up. By no means a star. He sees her as someone that heat that he can you know, I think very quickly establish as a as a star, someone in his own stable. And there's there's also something there, though, in terms of that of that. This is a very stiff actress. This is a very subdued and repressed. I think actress who whose, you know, whose claim to fame is a series of films that are they're modeled very much on Jane Eyre, including Jane the Fox version a couple years later. But Rebecca, suspicioned Jane Eyre, this is this is she's clearly very well suited for this role.
Interviewer: Yeah. Likes to create something and it's looking to create. Isn't that.
Tom Schatz: Selznick. Selznick has a track record dating back to Katharine Hepburn in the 1930s of either developing or redeveloping Myrna Loy and those female stars. And, you know, without question, even though Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, there are a number of male stars who are under contract to him. And then he developed his his energy, shall we say. And it's complicated energy here is is much more heavily oriented toward female stars. And he does he has a recording credible track record in terms of female talent.
Interviewer: Right. One of the other battle that's going on production is over with Joe Green. Tom Hitchcock tells the story of Selznick at the end of the picture, wanting to put the hovering smoke. Arguing with claims developing is just a reflection of the picture.
Tom Schatz: I think one of the tougher calls in terms of Hitchcock's career is the extent to which Rebecca as a Hitchcock film and, you know, certainly relative to the other films he does with Selznick. He's got a lot less authority over this film. And the opening and closing sequence is, in fact, of Rebecca really are sequences that are much more cells make scenes and they are Hitchcock scenes. One of the ways that Hitchcock assured his Selznick assures control over Hitchcock in Rebecca was to cut a deal with another independent producer, Walter Wangel, to sell Hitchcock services. So you go my foreign correspondent. And so Selznick would have control over post-production and they really did. There was a bit of tension in terms of the way that the way that last sequence was going to work. And I do think I do. I do tend to see that the last sequence in Rebecca as as much Selznick as Hitchcock. It certainly works.
Interviewer: What do you see in Rebecca? Are there moments?
Tom Schatz: Rebecca has clearly with Rebecca Hitchcock is in a different element and he has resources available to him that he has not had before. And he is operating on a scale that is way past what he's done with the thirty nine steps the lady vanishes. I mean, really great films, in my opinion, of the 1930s. But but films whose production values are just simply not in the same ballpark. And I think one of the things that's happening with Rebecca is Hitchcock understanding what to do with all this stuff, what to do with these resources. And I mean everything from, again, stars, sets, costumes to the quality of talent that he's working with. So, I mean, I know a lot of what's going on in that film, as is Hitchcock just finding his way in this in this mill. You know, I think there are a couple of moments that are very distinctly Hitchcock. However, you know, the most the two most obvious certainly are the moment where the Joan Fontaine character comes down the stairway the night of the ball. She's been maneuvered into and wearing the rock, very much the wrong dress by the evil Mrs. Danvers. And in terms of what is done with point of view and the viewer identification with the heroine and so and so forth on this very Hitchcock moment and the way that it's developed, the way it plays out, the moving camera, the point of view shooting, that's very Hitchcock. And then the other, of course, is that the the the scene down in the in the boathouse where the Olivier character recounts to to his second wife the death of Rebecca. And we have that moving camera that that recreates that night. And it is a stunning, powerful moment. It is a moment, by the way, that Selznick later is going to attempt on numerous occasions to take credit for that. It clearly was was Hitchcock's idea and Hitchcock's work. And it's a very strong, I think, visual moment in an otherwise very talky film.
Interviewer: He always.
Tom Schatz: You know, Hitchcock is a man who, after Rebecca, has nowhere near the same degree of critical success. This is a film that this a guy that, you know, inexplicably is. What does he ever even nominated for best director academy where little on one one. And Rebecca wins best picture inexplicably is not nominated for best directors and recall. But it is a film that that I think you want to distance distance himself from for various reasons. And one of them certainly is that it's more of a Selznick picture than it is a Hitchcock picture. There are so many things about it. When you think about the the the way that it creates for Hitchcock a formula for the female Gothic that he plays out in many other films, suspicion, shadow of a doubt, even, I think Spellbinder, Notorious Ondoy. Those stories work are quite similar in terms of the female protagonist. Married to a mysterious guy or in real in a relationship with an older mysterious guy and so on. The other films are very, very different than Rebecca. There is more humor. There's more sexual pathos. There's more. There is a very different kind of tension in there. And they are thrillers in a way that Rebecca really is not a thriller.
Interviewer: After Rebecca is over, David Koresh packaging his property. Do you think this is solely a.
Tom Schatz: Hitchcock benefits tremendously from being from being leased to other producers and studios by something, mainly because he learns how to become a producer? He he has he is under an exclusive contract to Sosnick. So, of course, Selznick is is selling his services for more than he's paying them. And as they said, the business in those days pocketing the overage. And there's a great deal of resentment on Hitchcock's part. But Hitchcock is making a great deal of money. Selznick is turning up and rewriting his contract. But what's really important is that that Hitchcock is able to move from he's able to maintain his independence. He's able to go from project to project, studio to studio, learn the industry and increasingly more detailed fashion. And at the same time, he's learning how to become a producer, very heavily involved in preproduction and developing the script and all those films, often as a getting writing credit and pretty heavily involved in editing as well. Things that would have happened if he'd been working with Selznick.
Interviewer: I think one of the things that weighs on David during that period is my rent. And I'm just curious. He's my own self important figure at that moment. He's important. I'm curious why.
Tom Schatz: Martin Selznick, along with one or two other people in the in that era, really is the the. He's an extremely powerful agent and he is someone who very early on understands. Actually, Martin Selznick is packaging is thinking in terms of packaging in the 1930s in an awful lot of what David is doing in the early 40s. He's learned from Myron. Myron is also a bitter, self-destructive alcoholic. And by the 1940s, he is losing it. And the people that most of the individuals that David has under exclusive contract to services he's releasing pedaling. Ah ah, their agent is Miren. This is the source of an awful lot of tension between the two of them. But and Myron is fading fast in the early 1940s, but still an extremely important man in Hollywood, a guy he created, as we know. I think, along with Leland Heyward and Lou Wasserman, I think, yeah, he did invent agent doing as we as we now know it in terms of understanding what it meant to develop a stable of talent, particularly top stars. And how much he could influence the production process because he control talent. He was barred from an awful lot of studio lots in the 1930s, certainly for years at a time at Warner Brothers and so on, because he exercised so much power in the studio, executives couldn't stand to have him exercise it in their presence.
Interviewer: David, psychoanalysis. What do you think he finds and how does he turn it off?
Tom Schatz: Well, David goes into psychoanalysis at the behest of Ben Hecht, who's been in and out of analysis himself. Scuse me. Sorry. OK, David. David goes into psychoanalysis at the behest of Ben Hack Tombs, his screenwriter, who's been out of analysis himself. And I think what we've got here is, David, in the early 1940s, with his marriage collapsing, his relationship with his brother very strained, and he's watching his brother kill himself basically in a long, slow, agonizing death as he continually falls off the wagon. David very actively involved in trying to get his brother straightened out. I think David becoming increasingly aware that his brother's problems are deeply psychological and that the tension between the two of them and between them and they're now dead. Father, is is I mean, there's there's a lot going on here at the same time. Fraud is becoming extremely popular very quickly and not surprisingly, Hollywood is is the locus of a lot of the privatization of Freud in terms of the lives of of filmmakers as well as what's going on on screen. And it's not at all surprising to me that Spellbound would come out of all this spellbound, which is very much the story about a guy, his brother's death, you know, which is very much about coming to terms with one's demons.
Interviewer: You get the sense exactly on that point that Hitchcock had no sort of no writing your script. I look at. Maybe Dave's not autobiographical, but. Some reporters are reporting on their blog.
Tom Schatz: Right. You know, I think I think a key figure, you know, clearly in all this has been hacked. Ben hacked as someone who who has known David Selznick by now for 20 years. As a matter of fact, when David first came to Hollywood nearly 1920s in his very first trip out in his beliefs, he had some fiction written by Ben Hack. Then a young journalist wanted to break into the movie business, which then, of course, would very successful just a couple years later and hack to someone who understands Selznick. Hecht is also someone who has learned by now to to both accommodate and counter Selznick's sensibilities, which are, you know, Selznick is a sentimentalist. Selznick, as you know, Solzhenitsyn interest a melodrama and all the best and worst ways Selznick is an individual when if he hasn't got a Hector Hitchcock to kind of counter those sensibilities, will will make maudlin sentimental films. Love will conquer all. Despite that that data and or maybe it won't, tragically. But but Hecht is someone who, by the time he's working with Hitchcock, is, I think, the ideal kind of intermediary for Selznick, someone who can again accommodate Selznick, but at the same time take films in a direction that Selznick certainly on his own terms, would not.
Interviewer: Capture the affection for the analysts for me, wrong.
Tom Schatz: I think Selznick is is despite the fact that his films are so deeply psychological and despite the fact that Hitchcock really does, for all practical purposes, invent the psychological thriller, he is much less enamored with psychoanalysis, persay and psychoanalysis as as a kind of institutionalized practice than he is. I think in just the way human sexuality and psychology work, particularly, and dynamics of movies.
Interviewer: Like me.
Tom Schatz: Certainly not. I mean, you know that the I you know, it's I think. I think the. Well, you know, I think I think despite the fact that that Hitchcock in many ways invented the psychological thriller, I think he's much less invested in Freudian psychology, let alone psychoanalysis, than certainly Selznick. Ben Hecht, an awful lot of people in Hollywood. I think for Hitchcock, you know that the you know, the aspect of psychoanalysis that answer to him are those things that are repressed, those things that are kind of sub current in any film that he would make, or there's always a you know, there's these chase films. So there's always this external chase, but always something deeply internal sexual. And you have to push that to the surface. The way that Spellbound does, I think takes into another room.
Interviewer: Is he comfortable having an analyst?
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, certainly my RAAM is it was a crucial figure in Selznick's life and in the making of spellbound figures, probably in the titles as well, in fact, but clearly resented deeply, I think, by Hitchcock for a couple of reasons. One, it's it's there's a level of interference with his authority. But at the same time, again, it's, you know, pushing this, you know, pushing the psychological elements in, you know, into the foreground and into an analytic mode where I think Hitchcock is much more comfortable dealing with those things, as he would say by indirection.
Interviewer: So he suggests Salvador Dali, just this sort of a filmmaker's sort of indulgence. David Silverman, do you think that bringing.
Tom Schatz: Well, I do think that the reason that Selznick ultimately decides to bring Dolly in is because he sees another way of marketing the film. He sees, you know, he sees a way of adding a dimension to the film that will that will further kind of distinguish it as a commercial property and so on. But at the same time, you know, Dolly is. I mean, the the level of surrealism and symbolism that he is interested in. You know, I think we of Hitchcock's fascination with, you know, Marnell and so on in the 1920s, German expressionism with their kind of ways of adding another dimension to the film that takes it away from just the realistic depiction, depiction of events and takes it into a more internalised realm and takes on a much more abstract role.
Interviewer: It takes that now. Makes it right.
Tom Schatz: Right. It it it creates a powerful kind of visual dimension, again, of what is, you know, like Robeck in a lot of ways. Another pretty chatty movie, a film that's worth an awful lot of time is spent talking. And in fact, the the Dali designed shot by Menzies, by the way, sequences, dream sequences, I think would be a lot more powerful without all the voiceover and without the analysis going on describing what we're looking at. But just letting the mind of the spectator kind of play with these images, I think they might have been a lot more powerful. But again, that's I think that's these kind of conflicting approaches. This film, Maran Selznick analysis and Hitchcock want to do something more purely visual.
Interviewer: Right. Right. So it takes a year to release this picture. He's constantly fiddling with it in a sort of test screenings. Why certainly is he making it a better picture?
Tom Schatz: You know, I I do think that that, you know, the Dolly stuff comes in pretty light. There are lots of questions about whether Dolly stuff is going to be in or out. I think there are some tough questions about this film. I do think the the the musical score and the musical score. Right. And getting that Thurmon in there.
Interviewer: And I mean, it's always been losing its hold on me.
Tom Schatz: Well, David Selznick is, you know, clearly, you know, into a pretty obsessive mode. By the time he did them in nineteen forties, at the same time, the market, because of the war boom is so hot that that films there is a tremendous demand for top product and films are routinely being shelled for a year or two, as a matter of fact. A big problem with Spellbound when it finally is released. It's released at the same time is a film called Saratoga Trunk, another Ingrid Bergman Gary Cooper film that had been on the shelf for two years, and it was finally released. And they're both huge hits. So the I think to some extent, I think Selznick's procrastination, getting this film finished and out, it can be excused.
Interviewer: So spellbound. Hitchcock.
Tom Schatz: Well, Selznick. I think it helps Hitchcock quite a bit. It's a huge hit. That didn't hurt Hitchcock any at all. One of the things to be appreciated to about Hitchcock working with Selznick is him learning to work with top stars, which which was not the case in the 1930s where he rarely was working. No, it really isn't until the last couple of pictures in England that that he that he is able to command the kind of resources that include top stars. And I think working with Bergman, I think as a kind of rehearsal for Notorious, but also working with Bergman and Pack, I think represents Peck because of the method background. I think a certain kind of challenge. And I think with Bergman, you know, I think one of the very complicated aspects of the cells in the kids, Colque relationship is, is is there a fascination with stars that that they worked with together? And Bergman, more than any certainly where the Fontane.
Interviewer: Action story starts with a fascination for Burt. Do you think falling in love with somebody?
Tom Schatz: I think I think as many biographers have suggested, one of the ways that Hitchcock, you know, kind of channeled his creative energy was by developing these kind of unrequited unrequited relationships with his with his female stars. And this this becomes a little bit weird by the time we get into the mid to late 50s, I think in the 40s with Bergman, it's still operating on a fairly reasonable and kind of manageable level. Bergmans certainly, I think, aware of it, yeah, I think he is falling in love with her in a way that he tends to fall in love with most of the stars, female stars they work with more than once.
Interviewer: Right. How does Hitchcock's early drafts with that notorious reflect in any way his growth as a filmmaker? How is notoriously scripts? David Chase. Right. But how is how you see the influence of David Selznick for six years?
Tom Schatz: Hitchcock, in the years that he worked with Selznick, first of all, I think has learned to do with female protagonists. I mean, he's learned to do woman's pictures. And, you know, you can look back at films like Black Melana Lodger, and there's a very strong female presence in those films, particularly in Black Male. But for the most part, Hitchcock before the Selznick period. And then, in fact, after the Selznick period, did not make a lot of movies where a female protagonist sustains the entire story. And this is something that for a bunch of reasons having to do with the market during World War Two, as well as working with Selznick, you know, he really learned to make women's pictures any. And by the time we get to Notorious, I think he's taken things, though, quite a ways from where Selznick might have imagined a woman's picture might go. I mean, it's a really dark film and it's a film about an extremely politically the early drafts of the screenplay, a very unattractive female protagonist who is a victim of certain things she can't control. And there are certain explanations for her behavior. But, you know, she's a prostitute. She's a drunk. She's in the early drafts of the screenplay. And the film is very much about a process of redemption. And it's still as if they can it's finished form.
Interviewer: So what is the process script?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think Selznick was notorious. You know, I think by the time we get to Notorious Notaris as a great film and I think it's a I think it's a great film in a way that only Rebecca is as close to being a great film in terms of this span of that relationship. But I think it's a better film. I think it's one of the great films of the classical Hollywood era. And one of the reasons it's a great film is the I think the kind of balance of power in the creative team of Selznick. Hitchcock. Ben Hecht. And I think Ingrid Bergman is is perfect. I mean, I think the film is ideally balanced. And I think, obviously, Cary Grant brings a lot to it. And but in Selznick is able to, I think, encourage Hecht and Hitchcock to lighten up at least enough to render this film commercially more palatable. There's a lot of pressure from the brain office. There's a lot of pressure from the U.S. government, literally Jaguar, Hoover and company for for Hitchcock to adjust for salesman and Hitchcock to adjust the story in ways that will make her character less negative. And that will make the the, you know, this geopolitical espionage plot a little bit. That will adjust things in a way that that necessitates a more upbeat hero and a more upbeat, potentially at least a more positive outcome that the prospect of possibly a happy ending.
Interviewer: Where does that come from? Why is it happened at this moment?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think with Hitchcock made three very good movies working for David Selznick, Rebecca Spellbound, Notorious, I think Rebecca and Spellbound both have their shortcomings. But I think the powerful movies. These were extremely successful movies, commercially and critically. It's a matter of fact, Spellbound was a more successful film, critically than Notorious, which is kind of hard to imagine. But it was. There are a lot of things about Notorious that are pretty edgy. And you can and it's ahead of its time in many ways. And I think a number creates, you know, quite what to make of this movie. But I mentioned those three films because during the production of each of these films, Selznick was distracted when they made Rebecca. He was he was editing Gone with the Wind when they made spellbound. He was working on essentially went away as we turned back to film making big, huge, very expensive picture. And when they made Notorious, he was working on doing a son. What that means, among other things, is that Selznick has a very healthy distraction, that that diminishes the amount of control in his eyes. The amount of control that he has exercised in the time we get to doing the sun is outrageous. And it is very difficult to say what Rebecca spellbind a tourist would look like if Hitchcock had had the amount of authority, if Selznick had interfered to the degree that he did on period in case, for example, which is not a very good movie.
Interviewer: Right. Do you think David's attention to detail that I'm doing OK, let's stop. Let's just pick up on. All right. If you're comfortable. Sure. Does it shock or is it just another string of shadow of a doubt it is another.
Tom Schatz: Well, spellbound certainly doesn't. Hitchcock at all. Spellbound is a is the most successful commercial project that he's been involved with since Rebecca. And it's a huge hit. Huge. Yet much more so than than the out any of the outs. And a couple of those are pretty big suspicions, a pretty big film. And Spellbound also is is a film where Hitchcock is continuing to learn to work with top stars. I think it's it's really it's certainly the most expensive and important film that he's made since Rebecca. And it's a it's a film that certainly puts him, I think, back on the map in a way that he hadn't quite been on since Rebecca.
Interviewer: David, I would read a quote he has been doing. He says there were strict orders on the set that there was not a single thing to be photographed, a single angle of the scene. And I was told to come down and check the lighting, set up the rehearsal. Ninety nine times out of 100. How did the director get to do this changed?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think by the time we get to do on the sun, the director for Selznick is a functionary. And this is a film that that there are there are two things going on with doing this. One, that I think a very important one is his effort to create a spectacle, a really spectacular film, a film, a film spectacle on the level of Gone with the Wind. And in certain ways, it is a pretty spectacular film. It's visually not that interesting in terms of camera cutting and so on, so forth. But it's a spectacular from to look at their sequences in the film that are quite stunning. And know the other problem, of course, is Jennifer Jones and that that he wants to be sure that Jennifer Jones is presented in an appropriately. And then that's pretty complicated because, you know, very similar to Howard Hughes and Jane Russell with the outlaw at the same period, the kind of birth of the psychological Western. This this effort to use the Western as a way to kind of get into the sexual dynamic, to present Jennifer Jones as a wanton a very sexual creature, but ultimately one who can be redeemed. This is a very adolescent sensibility, I think, in terms of what he wants to do with Jones as well as the way he wants to control that that that project. And again, this is this is a level of interference. There would have been unthinkable with Hitchcock and it was unthinkable with many directors, which is why four different directors, you know, contribute to doing the sun and none of whom feel it's it's their film. I know it's it's ultimately, again, it's one of these obsessive Selznick projects. It's a good measure of how far he's let his obsession go and how fortunate a film like Spellbinder Notorious was to have more of a balance of creative power.
Interviewer: Right. One of the things that checks this contract. Why do you think RPO sort of has no provision? Well, this is Hollywood problems by now.
Tom Schatz: Hollywood is painfully, acutely aware of Selznick's obsessive behavior. Actually, right before he sold the the notorious package to RKO, he'd been in the process of dealing a number of of other scripts. And I cut a multi picture deal with RKO. And this included the services of Doree Sherry, who actually is going to become the head of production with the Tomarchio was released. And Dori's surely understands very he's worked for Selznick and he understands how important it is to keep Selznick at bay. And the contracts are written appropriately.
Interviewer: Joe, bring us problems with both sides and with what is wrong with doing so quickly, doing the son is.
Tom Schatz: I mean, there's his problems are with the rape scene. His problems are with the you know, they're there with what he would call breasts shots.
Interviewer: OK. What is Joe Green? What is the production? Let's just talking. What is the code?
Tom Schatz: The production code is under pretty heavy dresser in the 1940s. And again, Howard Hughes is the outlaw really kind of creates the the uninvented the incident that really kind of creates a pretty hostile relationship between a number of independent filmmakers, including Selznick and the production code, the Breen Office. Joe Breen was the guy that policed this this code of self-censorship that Hollywood had developed and, you know, the kind of adolescent fascination with sexuality, with breasts and skin and, you know, and graphic displays of sexual coupling, shall we say. You know, interestingly enough, both Hitchcock and Selznick were fascinated with with rape scenes. I mean, they both had ideas for races. They want to work into films. Hitchcock, for one reason or another, had the, you know, the good sense or the the good judgment of others to convince him not to do until much later in his career. Selznick, you know, with doing the same, goes for it and creates all kinds of problems with the Breen office. Notorious as an example of a film like an awful lot of these kind noir thrillers of that period, The Postman resumes twice, are quite a few of them. And forty five. Forty six, forty seven, where filmmakers are really wanted to push the envelope in terms of human sexuality and so on. And Brene is, you know, in effect forcing them to think creatively. And what's what's so remarkable about Notorious is how how powerfully charged that film is sexually and yet how adequately it kind of maintains a sense of of, you know, kind of the limits of the code and when and how to cross those limits. Well, the three minute just is not quite a three minute kiss, but it sure works that way on screen and watch, which was widely considered to be one of the sexiest moments in the cinema at the time. And it is I mean, it works extremely well informed and it conforms for a way to the code. There were huge scenes that had to be cut out of doing the sun because there was just too much going on there. They were just too aggressively sexual, too much display of skin, too much movement of breasts and so on. And Hitchcock understood that this is not how sex works and this is not what people want to see necessarily, at least in 1946 on a movie screen.
Interviewer: So what does it say about how each man deals with office? What does it say about the person?
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, I think I think what it says about the person, again, is that that Selznick. I think in terms of, you know, Selznick has a difficulty looking beneath and beyond the surface site. Selznick has difficulty looking beyond kind of human contact and human flesh in terms of how sex works. Hitchcock's I bring in a much more subtle level in that I think. And the fact is that that Notaris is a very sexy film in which the two people who are in love are not together very much. In the course of the film, particularly after the long kiss ends and a phone call where he gets the assignment, comes back and gives it to her. And that's it. You know, until the end of the film, until the clinch, which is a reprise of that really at the very end of the film, almost an hour later.
Interviewer: Both ends sort of these two lovers shooting and killing each other as he cares about safety. How do you see them as reflections of the men, as directors or as filmmakers once normally happy ending, not you?
Tom Schatz: Well, the payoff of doing the sun, which is one of the more I mean, back to Salvador Dali, it's pretty surreal moment. But the you know, the shoot out in the desert where the two, as they kill one another, crawl into each other's arms. I mean, it is one of those. It is it is a perverse, happy ending. It's one that I can't help but associate with Heathcliff and Kathy in Wuthering Heights. This this kind of recognition that these animal impulses somehow have to be acknowledged and ultimately destroyed. But in a way that kind of reconciles this couple. And it is it is an embrace in another rurally, you know, postcoital event we assume will occur. The the end of of notorious is is both, I think, very, very dark and it's gone. I've kind of promised to it. It's interesting. First of all, obviously, the lovers reconcile when when the Cary Grant character Devlin goes into rescue Alicia from the clutches of Alexandre Sebastian and his. And all those Nazis and there. But but she's near death. She's been poisoned. He's got to get her out of there. And it's to me very interesting that that we don't know what happens to her. And in fact, there were versions of the shooting script, actually. Well, there there are many versions of the script, but that were her. Her. She does die. And there are many versions of the script in which he dies. I mean, it's it's a it's a film that was never quite conceived of as having a happy ending. The ending is interesting because as they lock Alex out of the car and drive away, we're we're left to our own devices in terms of what happens to that couple. The fact is, we've been given no evidence in the course of the film that they're going to live happily ever after. I mean, in terms of their relative disposition and so on. Whereas and it's equally interesting that we that we wind up with Alex, not with the lovers. They drive away. We've got Alex going back in with the Nazis to a fate that were much more clear about happened with that. You know, I you know. I think we'll never know. You know, I think I think Selznick might have been convinced by Hecht and Hitchcock that that that this ending would work. I think it would be very much against his his sensibilities. However, I think he would want a clearer, less ambiguous finale.
Interviewer: Personally. Tom, is is cells anywhere in Macquarie? Is this really the product of this cop being afraid of an overbearing producer?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think this is I. Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry. Gotcha, gotcha. Well, I think this is a I think this is an example ultimately of sosnick carrying a kind of environment that I think Hitchcock wanted without the kind of interference that was a problem while on the other films. I think this is a desire for more. Hitchcock really could, you know, as his own producer ultimately on that film once it was sold, RKO, where he could exercise a kind of creative control with the resources provided by Hitchcock, by Selznick initially. Right. Cock really could, I think, move into his own element. Now, this is a film that really is what the two set pieces in this film, the party scene and the final walk down the staircase. When you think about it, this is not people hanging from Mount Rushmore. This is not someone hanging from the Statue of Liberty. I mean, these are moments of pure cinema.
Interviewer: Thomas, let's just go to a party preproduction party is just quiet. Preproduction printing is just way, way out of control shooting. Hitchcocks building is set. Why does Selznick allow this kind of preproduction?
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, with parenting, we've got a complicated, dynamic Hitchcocks long term contract is almost up. Hitchcocks already got plans to create his own company. Sosnick certainly aware of it. He's doing everything he can to to maintain some kind of relationship and hopefully to send him to more limited contract, if nothing else. You and you've got Sosnick demonstrating to Hitchcock that he will let him have a little bit more more reserves, more of everything. At the same time, you've got you've finally got a situation where Selznick not only doesn't have another project going to distract him, but but, you know, his his obsessive kind of fascination with, well, his his obsessive desire to control even a Hitchcock film now is has finally, you know, kind of we have this opportunity for it to be activated. And it is with a vengeance. And it's you know, I think David Selznick by 46, 47, is losing it. You know, I think in terms of his sense of proportion, by now, he has left he's been inactive as a producer for so long that an awful lot of the individuals, Kay Brown, Val Lewton, people that were absolutely crucial to kind of William Cameron Menzies, to him maintaining his balance and his, you know, his sense of what might work and his kind of level of participation is he's losing it. And, you know, I think the most clear indication of how far he's gone is that Ben Hecht walks off to film in the middle of scripting and Sosnick finishes the script himself. There's a pretty clear display after what the two of them have been through, Hecht and Selznick, that that the guy is just has become impossible to work with.
Interviewer: And his wife, Irene, is gone.
Tom Schatz: His wife is gone. And, you know, clearly to one extent or another, I mean, I think we can get all of these films throughout the 1940s as Selznick. I mean, this whole female Gothic thing that he's got going on with female protagonists, you know, married to a powerful, mysterious older guy. Invariably, there's some triangulator relationship developing a lot of these films. I think we you know, we can see Selznick, you know, kind of working out his kind of working through a lot of, shall we say, autobiographical, you know, kind of circumstances.
Interviewer: You see that at all in the script?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think parodying one way to read parodying, you know, is as an uninteresting kind of variation on the David Selznick, Jennifer Jones, I mean, Sosnick relationship where, you know, we're clearly he reconciles with Irene in this version and the screen version. You know, the end to me works is as close as perhaps we get to ever a Hitchcock moment in the film or where Hitchcock has got that camera right on Axis. The character's looking directly into the film as they as they as they tried to kind of assess and reestablished assess what's happened to them and the possibilities of their reconciliation. But, you know, that scene only works for me as a Selznick moment, as as a moment where he is trying to as a Selznick moment, where he's being he's trying to work through, you know, the prospect of reconciliation with his wife, with his adoring wife, who somehow is able to live with his foibles.
Interviewer: You know, I think about that scene where Anthony living. What do you think of that?
Tom Schatz: Well, I mean, there are scenes in the course of the film where it looks as if the couple is going to split up because of Peck's character's fascination with this mysterious other woman. And, you know, there are moments in that that are have got to be David and Irene just kind of working it out or failing to work it out.
Interviewer: How does Hitchcock respond to the chaos of the suddenly what's going on with. Right. First of all, what is the effect to the production, having David Selznick write the screenplay?
Tom Schatz: I don't want to suggest, you know, David Selznick wrote the screenplay to since she went away, a huge hit a and not a bad screenplay. I mean, it's the guy who has capabilities as a screenwriter, but that's not it's not those artists. Great strengths. And, you know, I think that the, you know, parodying cases is a film that is very talky, as his scripts tend to be. And it's it's a film that has got zero subtlety. It's got very little going on visually. It's got, you know, really no opportunity for the kind of set piece that that identifies the Hitchcock film. It's it's really just simply not a Hitchcock film. And I think the problem of having script pages delivered, you know, the day of shooting, I mean, this is simply not the way Hitchcock is used to operating in there,.
Interviewer: Delivering the Benzedrine. I mean, this is a guy who is writing to 3:00 in the morning.
Tom Schatz: This is a guy who who cannot stop tinkering with the film. I mean, the same kind of tinkering that went on in postproduction was Spellbound is now going on during production with the parodying case. And it's make it impossible to work. What is this cocktail of Hitchcock simply finishes the job. I mean, I think Hitchcock's Hitchcock US is looking to wrap this film and get out from under Selznick's contract as quickly as possible.
Interviewer: Is experimenting anyway. David, allowing you.
Tom Schatz: You know, what's I think most remarkable about Paradine is, is how routine this film is. I mean, it, you know, except for a couple of very isolated moments. Elaborate camera moves. Some interesting things going on with point of view. This is a film that could have been directed by nearly any kind of first rate Hollywood director. It notorious as a film that is loaded with visual experimentation, long takes with montage, camera movement, crane shots. There's there's just a lot going on in that film that's extremely distinctive, where you can really see Hitchcock and his canoes in the 1950s. He is constantly experimenting with, you know, the nature and limits of literally cinematic expression and kind of plastic aspects of the medium, those that can be shaped and redefined. And there's none of that going on in the parenting case.
Interviewer: But in this is an experiment on the set. What happened?
Tom Schatz: Well, production. Yeah, I think I think the parenting case is a film where Selznick, in the course of shooting and largely because they've fallen behind schedule and so on, so or because of the script pages coming in late and so on. You know, I think Selznick is exercising more authority over the actual shooting, but certainly over over the cutting of the film. And Hitchcock is is willing to Hitchcock, who who refused to even consider Selznick suggestions in the editing of Notorious, is now simply letting Selznick take control of the project getting out the door.
Interviewer: So the relationship sort of doesn't sort of parity. And I was curious, how did this snapshot taken in 1946 different differ from the one taking in 1939?
Tom Schatz: Well, I think. But by the time we get to the end of of the seven year relationship between these two men, I think we see Selznick as someone who's who has since 1939 come almost completely and he will not make another important film and only make a couple more films in his career. And this is a guy who's still in his mid 40s. I mean, this is quite remarkable. He's younger than Hitchcock. And on the other hand, I think we see Hitchcock as someone who has come into his own in Hollywood, who's someone who has has learned the way to make movies in Hollywood. I notorious he's been his own producer. He now is confident that he can that he can produce as well as directors films. And he is someone who has who who sees accurately the best years of his filmmaking career are still ahead of him.
Interviewer: Why does he prevail in the new.
Tom Schatz: Yeah, I think I think it's important to note that that Hitchcock, after leaving Selznick, has caught a few very rough years. He does not make a hit. He has a three, four year period. That's a real trough. I think in his career. And I think it's a matter of. A couple of things. I mean, the post-war economic conditions in the industry are in our Barsad and it's a very difficult situation for any independent filmmaker and independent company creates goes bust and he's got to go back into a at least a distribution contract with Warner Brothers and later Paramount. But I think it's a matter of of you know, Hitchcock represents as the hyphenate producer director the kind of talent that is going to survive and flourish. You know, once Hollywood re-establishes his equilibrium in the 1950s, someone who understands the business aspects or at least who, you know, in the 1950s. Well, in a relationship with his agent, Lou Wasserman, we'll find another Selznick, but one who understands, like Michael Bork back to the 1930s, how to give Hitchcock enough room and how to create an environment for Hitchcock to work optimally without interfering in the 50s.
Interviewer: So anything that he took from that relationship.
Tom Schatz: I see in in 50s Hitchcock, which I think is Hitchcock at the height of his power. And I think there are very distinct there's a Hitchcock of the 30s, the 40s and the 50s and Hitchcock of the 50s at the height of his power, which is Rear Window Vertigo, north by Northwest Psycho. I think this is someone who has learned to appreciate the character and plot in a way that certainly wasn't evident in the Chase films of the 1930s. I think he I think he understood in working with I think I think he's come to understand women a lot better. Having worked with Selznick, I think he's come to understand the importance of the dynamic of, you know, romance, the love story and the possible ambiguities of happy endings. I mean, the 50s films are quite interesting, like the likes pro bono towards particular Notorious. And in that, Hitchcock really is delivering a film in, say, Rear Window where there's a happy ending, but we're not quite comfortable with it. And I think this is very much the result of of, I think, working with Selznick.
Interviewer: Right. You were quoted, you say that psycho course we're not gonna make it. OK, let's cut to the last drop. Well, no way back. Yeah. Let's just roll up folks for a while, sun and. Tony, if you had written your book that. Psycho forced people to rethink the very nature of an Arab Spring. Well, simply what we try to. What are you trying to say? Why do you think?
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, Cycos a film that that kind of kisses off the classical Hollywood with with a vengeance. I think Cycos a film in which the female protagonist is killed halfway through the movie. A film in which we are left with with Norman Bates there at the end. Or is it mother? We're with her at the end. You know, it's it's a film in which, you know, getting back to Spellbound became an odd way, if you think about it. You know, spellbound also features, you know, psychoanalytic, you know, kind of, you know, jargon to somehow, you know, get at Gregory Peck's problem, which ultimately assault. Why psychoanalysis? What's so interesting to me about Psycho is that, I mean, there's a film where the psychoanalyst's explanation is completely inadequate to the terror that were exposed to. It really is a film that brings that brings suspense into whore on on a level that Hollywood simply had not considered. It's also a film that that that that redefines narrative as a series of shocks, as Hitchcock himself described it. I mean, it really is a film that begins to redefine the relationship between The Spectator and the movie experience. It's a film that that that begins to. It is. It's a film like The Birds Were where Hitchcock is developing a somewhat more, I think, sadistic relationship with his audience. You want a Hitchcock film? I'll give you a Hitchcock film. You also Spatz, I'll give you suspense. It also seems to go well above the tell me of the late 1950s. You know, some very important things are happening. The production code is is going by the boards very quickly. European imports proper, probably more than Hollywood films are challenging the code regularly for a number of Hollywood films are as well as Psycho, certainly one of them. And in the production code is going to you know, the the Breen office will will still exist in the early 1960s. Brene by now is long gone. Again, I'm Geoffrey. Sherlock is running things but but with very little authority at the same time. Psycho is made by Hitchcock's TV crew, but it's a low budget exercise that really has more in line with the so-called exploitation films of that era. And you exploit take your teen pics, hot rod movies, rock and roll movies, horror films, low budget horror films. Hitchcock sees an opportunity to really to again, to push the envelope to to make a film for younger viewers with much different attitudes towards sex and violence, you know, to begin to redefine the way movies, work and culture. And, you know, Hitchcock in the 1950s is still thinking. He's still experimenting. He's still thinking about where this medium and his art form, this industry might go. And that's, I think, what made him so different than Selznick ourselves is someone that as much as his idea of the blockbuster film, as much as his idea, his ideas for marketing and so on, so forth, were ahead of their time. He really couldn't break free of a certain kind of movie melodrama, love story, you know, ill-Fated or otherwise, you know, focus on the lovers. Not a lot of depth and complexity in terms of character, not a lot of ambiguity in terms of resolution. His sense of, again, a sense of sexuality and an even tragedy were pretty superficial.
Interviewer: He runs out of. He doesn't stay tuned.
Tom Schatz: Selznick doesn't stay tuned to very much of anything except his own. You know, I think his own interests in his relationship with Jennifer Jones and, you know, his last three movies really are, you know, showcases for an actress that has won Academy Award early in her career. But the public is certainly not as fascinated with us. Selznick is. And, you know, somehow this is a guy who's lost a sense of proportion but also has lost contact with the audience. So is the life for David Selznick, Selznick and Hitchcock, I think, are two excellent examples of individuals that really made a difference in an industry that that that seemed to thrive primarily on. Well, I think I think there are you can count on one or maybe two hands, the number of individuals who really made a difference in terms of defining the way movies worked. And I think Selznick and Hitchcock are two of those individuals. I think Hitchcock more in terms of story. I think Selznick more in terms of product. I think Hitchcock understood film narrative. I think Hitchcock understood the way a spectator was engaged by movies. And I think I think Hitchcock understanding of the complexity of the way we watch movies and how much of what we're really conscious of and how much we're how much is going on that the things like hair movement, lighting, the subtleties of character and performance. I think Hitchcock understood anyway that Selznick didn't. I mean, Selznick simply didn't operate on that level of sophistication, but I think sells that kind of good product. And I think he understood that commerce and industrial aspects of moviemaking in a way that was quite exceptional and and without question, I think the models that were created with things like Gone with the Wind and Duel in the Sun are very much what drive the industry half a century later where blockbusters are the name of the game.
Interviewer: We can just go back. Do you think he really believes that? Actors.
Tom Schatz: I think I think Hitchcock. I think that Hitchcock has is most comfortable with actors who can take direction, and I think he is most comfortable with actors who aren't going to obsess on motivation. And, you know, the conflicts that he had with Greg repacks, shooting spellbound and later with parody in case I think with someone like Gregory Peck, who comes out of the Method School, which is gonna become increasingly important as we get into the late for his 1950s. I think this represents a way of and I think the single clearest example is how important in method acting, improvisation, rehearsal, as you know, to the finished product. This is anathema to someone like Hitchcock who really does want to go to the set with the finished product very firmly in mind. And who is simple and who's gonna be most comfortable with an Ingrid Bergman, with a Cary Grant, with actors who can deliver a performance, as he has preconception lost it?
Interviewer: Do you think he's afraid of emotion, afraid of actors? Well, you ordered it just isn't like myself giving up any control. A different kind of control freak, I think.
Tom Schatz: I think Hitchcock you know, I think when you when you look at the females that Hitchcock worked with, I think you might argue that he's afraid of emotion, that that the ice queen, Grace Kelly, is the ultimate example of the repressed, incredibly sexual, but but very contained woman, female star. But when you look at the two actors who work most frequently with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, something different is going on. I think Cary Grant would would seem to reinforce that same view style, poise, kind of repressed sexuality. But Jimmy Stewart, you know, when when you look at even it, even in a more positive performance in Rear Window, would you look at robe? You look at Vertigo. This I think Hitchcock in those films with the Jimmy Stewart persona is suggesting that that there is there is a darker side. I think even in the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. I think there's a there's there's a darker side that occasionally Hitchcock is willing to to investigate.
Interviewer: So the fear of a method. Isn't just wanting to be in control.
Tom Schatz: I don't think it's just wanted to be in control. You know, I think there are there are aspects, you know, that if he and PECC had worked more together or had perhaps developed their relationship and under different circumstances, you know, but but, you know, Hitchcock is is a director who was particularly comfortable with it, with a certain with certain actors and with a certain type of actor. And certainly method oriented actors were not going to work with him. But again, you look at you know, there are and this is not a director who is undergoing undergoing a process of discovery on the set. You know, Selznick is a guy who sees the shoot itself as an existential crisis, a sustained crisis that has to be managed in first. Selznick, what got his juices flowing was and Gone With the Wind, as the councilman example, were simply getting that film made under those circumstances was to him a sustained rush. And Hitchcock does not approach the production process that way. For him to conceptualization was where the action was, where the real excitement was, and the actual craft of realizing that vision to him was something that that that gave him a different kind of excitement. But there was not a process of discovery in the actual shooting of the picture of the GST.
Interviewer: Right. Fitting it altogether. In fact, David's taking drugs while he's doing all right.
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, the you know, clearly what we're seeing with. Well, I think what we're seeing with David Selznick in the course of the 1940s is a guy who was severely burned himself out physically, has burned himself out. You know, his his investment in the every stage of the production process, but his translating actual production into this kind of existential crisis mode, sustained mode for months on end. And his biggest pictures were films that were in production for months because largely of his interference, among other things, Gone with the Wind. Since you went away doing the sun, now this is someone who, by the time he gets to his late 40s, has had it physically, has had it, and simply cannot sustain that that that kind of working process and can't conceive of working any other way.
Interviewer: OK, we got to OK. I want to go back and just do one last touch of Germans first. It's foxing on the set. And why does this excite you? And really, why does it connect his personality in the way we've talked about it now for the last day?
Tom Schatz: Well, you know, German expressionism, you know, to me, looking at Hitchcock's films in the 40s, all black and white films in the 40s and his contribution to film noir, which is vastly underrated, I think, because mainly because he made films of women and nor is associated with tough guys. But I do think these female Gothics they made the 1940s are are experimenting with the visual qualities of cinema and the darkness of cinema and the relationship between the shadows and the human mind and human sexuality. That very much harking back, I think, to German expressionism and I think have an awful lot to do with the development of the, you know, the development of the medium of the art form in the 1940s in a way that are in a way that's absolutely peculiar to that period, to that.