Thursday, June 4, 2020


Alfred Hitchcock, eager to make his first film after leaving David O Selznick, wanted to get a big name to play the horrified mentor who discovers the diabolical crime committed by his young friends. Since there was a gay subtext to the picture, he originally wanted Cary Grant, Montgomery Clift and Farley Granger for the three major roles.

Grant, Clift & Granger

Cary Grant was allegedly sexually fluid behind the scenes, so he was believed to be amenable to playing up the gay subtext that couldn’t be too obvious. Montgomery Clift, while engaging in relationships with both men and women, was primarily gay according to insiders. Farley Granger was dating the screenwriter Arthur Laurents at the time, so he was definitely comfortable with the film’s content. Unfortunately for Hitchcock, Grant and Clift were unavailable. 


Meanwhile, the project soon caught the eye of the notorious Hayes Office, who kept a close eye on the production. They knew that the young men in the original play were homosexual, so they intended to make sure that none of that “deviancy” made it into the script. Laurents was forced to tone things down even further. This aided the production in signing its big name star- Jimmy Stewart. 

“My character is a WHAT?”

Jimmy Stewart was one of the biggest stars around. He was most definitely straight. While it is unknown whether he would have refused the role had he known his character was a gay man, Hitchcock never pressed the issue with him. In fact, the gay subtext was so buried in the script that both Laurents and Hitchcock’s daughter Pat insist that Jimmy never figured it out. 

John Dall

John Dall was hired to take the role originally meant for Montgomery Clift. While he never admitted it, Mr. Dall was believed to be gay, so he was also a perfect choice to play one of the murderous young men. Rounding out the three main characters was Farley Granger, who was Hitchcock’s original choice for the role. Granger, as the boyfriend of screenwriter Laurents, most definitely knew the secret that dared not speak its name. As a closeted gay man, Dall most likely was told about it. As a result, the gay subtext could be emphasized by the two young men without Stewart’s knowledge.

So, remember- don’t tell Jimmy about the gay stuff. Uh, he’s behind me, isn’t he?

With the major cast hired, the hard part of figuring out how to make the film with one continuous shot remained. Could Hitchcock make it all work without it feeling like a cheap gimmick? Would the Hayes Office shut the production down? Stay tuned!