Jump to: navigation, search

Peggy Robertson - quotes

Quotations relating to Peggy Robertson...

Film Pre-Production

We were on "North By Northwest", and we weren't looking for the next one, particularly. And it wasn't until we finished shooting, and we were preparing for post-production... Hitchy would read the New York Times book section over the weekend or bring it into the office on Monday. We saw this very good review by Boucher on this book, "Psycho". So Hitch said, "Call Paramount and get coverage on it." Paramount hadn't covered it, and Hitch went over to England. As he was at the airport, he saw shelves of this book, "Psycho". He called me and said, "Haven't you got coverage from Paramount yet?" I said, "Paramount didn't cover it." He said, "All right." He got the book and read it going over. He called back from London to say, "I've got our next subject: 'Psycho.'"

Peggy Robertson (1997)

We were looking for a writer and someone suggested James Cavanagh, who wrote some of the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" television shows. I don't remember the meetings they had, but when we got the treatment, we read it, and it was very dull. If you can imagine a dull script written from the book "Psycho". It just didn't have anything. So then it was decided, we need another writer. "Who are we going to get?" And then names were suggested. And Hitch thought a lot of Ned Brown, and Ned suggested Joseph Stefano.

Peggy Robertson (1997)
keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV), James Cavanagh, Joseph Stefano, Ned Brown, Psycho (1960), pre-production, and screenplay


I'd had a couple of successes in the West End onstage, and I was doing a play by David Mercer at the Criterion called "After Haggerty", with Billie Whitelaw. Someone said, "Oh, Alfred Hitchcock's in tonight." "Oh, really. Mm-hmm." Next morning, my agent said, "Mr. Hitchcock would like to meet you at 100 Piccadilly." So, along I went. He said, "I'm making this picture about a murderer. I'd like you to take the script away and tell me if you'd like to play it."

So, well, the short story is that he sent for a couple of books about a pretty well-known murderer we had over here called Neville Clevely Heath, who masqueraded as a squadron leader. And I went off on a short holiday to read and came back and made the picture, and I always thought, when people asked, "How on earth did you get the part?" I said, "Well, he came to see the play."

It was halfway through shooting the picture. I was talking with his personal assistant, Peggy Robertson, and she said, "Oh, no, no, no. That isn't how you got the part." Um, what happened was that I'd made a film a few years earlier called "Twisted Nerve" — again with Billie Whitelaw. And this picture, in almost all the notices, they referred to it as sort of having a Hitchcock flavor to it, and, apparently, seeing me in the part I played in that, that decided him I would be okay for Bob Rusk in "Frenzy". So, that's how wrong you can be about, where you got where you did.

Barry Foster (2001)

Film Production

One of the stories that Al [Whitlock] related to me was when he showed a test one of his background paintings of Bodega Bay to Hitchcock. It was a beautiful scene of Bodega Bay in the background. Hitch thought it looked very beautiful. Without Al being there, he showed it to Peggy Robertson, his assistant. And he said, "What do you think?" And she said, "Oh, that looks like a painting." And Hitch stiffened and thought, "Oh." Then he said, "You know, of course, it's real." And she said, "Oh, I know it's real, but it's so beautiful it could be a painting." And so it was a compliment to Al's extraordinary painting skills that it fooled everybody but was still bigger than life.

Syd Dutton (2000)
Hunter talking about the famous scene of the birds gathering on the jungle gym outside the school...

The crows are gathering behind her on the jungle gym. And I have the kids singing a song. And I asked my kids, what's a... they were about that school age. And I said, "What's a song that you sing in school?" and they gave me "Rissle-dy Rossle-dy." And I looked it up and it was public domain. You know, it's an old folk tune that goes back forever. And I used it. And I gave them four or five stanzas, whatever, of the song, the actual song.

And I got a call, I think it was from Peggy Robertson, Hitch's assistant, and she said, "We need more lyrics for the song." I said, "Why?" She said, "It won't cover the scene on the jungle gym."

So I wrote I don't know how many more stanzas — enough to cover the whole bird kingdom arriving on that jungle gym. And they used whatever they needed, and the irony of it is that I still get royalties from ASCAP. I had to join the American Society of Composers and — whatever it's called — Publishers — ASCAP — to, uh, in order to allow me to use the lyrics in the film.

And I still get royalties from ASCAP on “The Birds” for the lyrics I wrote for that scene!

Evan Hunter (2000)

I used to write notes every single night to his secretary, Peggy. And he was very good. Most of the time he'd say, "All right. Correct it." He wasn't annoyed that I'd pointed out, maybe, a syntactical error or something like that. He did say once, "Jon, I said you could make alterations. I didn’t say you could rewrite the whole script," which I was trying to do, I must have been.

Jon Finch (2001)
Lehman describing the crop duster scene...

Cary Grant rushes into the cornfield and ducks down on the ground and the plane loosens this poisonous crop-dusting powder all over him and he's gasping for breath and he rushes towards a car which is coming from afar and the camera follows him as he goes toward the car and he waves and the car refuses to stop. The next day, Hitch discovered that Peggy Robertson his script supervisor had forgotten to make sure that Cary was covered with crop dust in the shot where he runs across the field toward the car. And she burst into tears. She was hysterical. Hitch had to shoot the whole scene over again.

Film Post-Production

Benny Hermann's score for "Psycho" was brilliant. In fact, so much so that Hitch and I were sitting in the theater when we were scoring the picture, and we came to the end, when Tony Perkins comes down the steps into the basement, and sees the skeleton mother right at the end of the picture, and that was silent. After we finished that reel, Benny came up to Hitch and said, "How'd you like it? What did you think of it?" And Hitch said, "It was fine, Benny, except surely, "as Tony comes down those steps into the basement, "you should repeat that wonderful theme... that you had in the shower sequence, with all the fiddles going down like that." Benny said, "Wonderful idea, Hitch." He was thrilled with the idea and said Hitch was absolutely right. So we did that reel with the score.

Peggy Robertson (1997)
keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Bernard Herrmann, Psycho (1960), music scores, and post-production

It was time for the film to go to the censors, to the Hayes Office. So Hitch said, "Let's get Luigi Luraschi..." who was the intermediary for the studio and the censorship, a very nice man... "to look at the film and see if there are any problems with it." So immediately after we got the first cut, we had the screening for Hitch, Luigi, George Tomasini, the editor, his assistant and me, in the theater at Universal.

So we start running it and Luigi laughs at Hitch's appearance in the film, which took place in the beginning of the film. And then... we're watching everything. Then comes the shower sequence. We're all sort of looking on placidly. Luigi: "Stop! Stop! My God!" So Hitch said, "Yes, Luigi, what is it?" Luigi: "I saw her breast." "No, you didn't, Luigi. It's just in your dirty mind. You didn't see a breast at all. Yes, we'll run it again."

So we ran it again. "Well, Luigi, did you see a breast?" "No, but we're going to be in a lot of trouble with it." We talked him out... Oh, we didn't. Um, we made him realize that he was wrong, that he hadn't seen a breast, that it was a perfectly charming little Sunday afternoon shower sequence, and we sent it off with Luigi to the censor. We did have a few problems with the censor. They said they didn't like Janet in her slip in the beginning and a few odd things like that, but tidied them all up.

Peggy Robertson (1997)