Author John Billheimer talks about Hitchcock and the censors on October 27

by Linda Hubbard on October 24, 2020

The Menlo Park Library hosts Ladera resident John Billheimer virtually in a talk about his Edgar Award-winning dive into the fascinating career of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, who spent a career battling and finessing the Motion Picture Production Code. The talk takes place on Tuesday, October 27 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Register online.

Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to deal with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect, and all forms of indecency, real or imagined.

During their review of Hitchcock’s films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films. Code reviewers dictated the ending of Rebecca (1940), absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion (1941), edited Cole Porter’s lyrics in Stage Fright (1950), decided which shades should be drawn in Rear Window (1954), and shortened the shower scene in Psycho (1960).

In Hitchcock and the Censors, the author traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock’s magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films.

John Billheimer is the author of two mystery series; one with West Virginia failure analyst Owen Allison, and the other featuring Ohio sportswriter Lloyd Keaton. He has taught courses in film noir, hard-boiled fiction on film, and the modern mystery in film and print at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities.

Photo by Laura Hamilton (c) 2019

One Comment

Peter Nosler October 26, 2020 at 2:39 pm

John is such a talented author and his first book, Contrary Blues was a delightful and exceptional read. I’m still waiting for the movie and every book since should be on film. I’m very proud to be both a fan and a friend of this most talented author.

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