For what turned out to be his penultimate film, Hitchcock returned to his native London to make his first all-British production since leaving for Hollywood a third of a century previously. Only the financing company, Universal, is American: settings and technicians and actors and script (by playwright Anthony Shaffer) are all as British as they were for Blackmail.
One thing that has changed, in addition to the use of colour, is the loosening of censorship: Hitchcock can now put male violence against women centre-screen, and he does so with sickening effect. The result is a blend of sex, violence, gourmet cuisine, vivid locations around the old Covent Garden market, and a classic ‘wrong man’ story – and a greater critical and commercial success than any film Hitchcock had made for a full decade.
This film is screening as part of The Genius of Hitchcock: Part Two. A full retrospective of Hitchcock’s 52 surviving films is taking place at the IFI from December 2012 to March 2013.
A six-week Evening Course, Shadow of a Genius, will look at the work of directors influenced by Hitchcock and will take place from February 5th to March 12th.