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False Witness

(Redirected from Perjury)

The World Film News journal of October 1937 (vol. 2, no. 7) carried a brief news item about Hitchcock's follow-up project to Young and Innocent (1937)...


First of Hitchcock's next two directorial jobs for G. B. will be another Nova Pilbeam picture, adapted from a French short story by Marcel Achard. Hitch, Joan Harrison, his assistant, and Mrs. Hitchcock (Alma Reville), are working on the script, and production starts in November. Cast so far unsettled.

Hitchcock has made no decision regarding plans after the expiry of his present contract, although M.G.M. and other U.S. companies have been hankering after him. He figures ultimately to become a producer . . . says the director's importance in pictures is waning and that the writing and production ends are gradually taking on increased importance.

Other newspaper reports from October confirmed the project as False Witness, based on an Achard story of the same name.

An earlier article from Variety (25/Aug/1937) about Hitchcock's first trip to America noted that the project would be the first of two final films under the director's contract with Gaumont-British, after which he hoped to become a producer.[1]

The project was even mentioned in local American newspapers, such as the Maryland Cumberland Times (14/Nov/1937):


Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, the former Alma Reville, have emerged from their Surrey retreat, it was announced this week, with the completed script of his new picture, tentatively titled "The False Witness." It is based on the French short story of the same name by Marcel Achard. Nova Pilbeam will be starred.

The 14/May/1938 issue of Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin named the film as Perjury — an "Alfred Hitchcock production, starring Nova Pilbeam" — in a piece listing 24 upcoming Gaumont-British films that would be released in the US.

According to biographer Patrick McGilligan:

...anxious to settle on a new project, [Hitchcock], his wife, and Joan Harrison spent their spare time brainstorming stories. Hitchcock told the press they were working on a script called "False Witness," intended for Young and Innocent star Nova Pilbeam, which involved "her con-man father and alibis." If that didn't work out, he had another film in mind, "based on a pet theme of his." He said he'd nurtured "a long-felt desire to take a comic situation and suddenly switch to tragedy — to experiment on the effect of slapstick under fairly sane conditions." He thought he might open a film "with a half-dozen Keystone cops crawling out of a tunnel, while a thug stands over the exit with a club and hits each one coming out. Wouldn't it be interesting to show a close-up of the sixth cop with blood trickling down his face — comedy suddenly turned sober — and then cut to a picture of his family in agony over his misfortune?"[2]

Instead, the studio offered Hitchcock the existing Lost Lady project — released as The Lady Vanishes (1938) — which he accepted.

See Also...

Notes & References

  1. Variety (1937) - Pictures: Writers, Producers More Important Than Directors, Opines Hitchcock
  2. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light (2003) by Patrick McGilligan, chapter 7