Gas

We’ve finished with Hitchcock’s British period — and REBECCA begins not only the second mega-phase of his career, but also the second half of Hitchcock Year — we will be 26 films in.

OK — this is a 1919 magazine story written by the young Hitchcock, one of several he had published at the start of his career. Reproduced in Hitchcock on Hitchcock. It’s not terribly good, one would have to say, but it’s fascinating for its connections to his later work. So I thought I’d make a fumetti out of it.

She had never been in this part of Paris before — only reading of it in the novels of Duvain, or seeing it at the Grand Guignol.

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So this was the Montmartre? That horror where danger lurked under cover of night; where innocent souls perished without warning — where doom confronted the unwary — where the Apache reveled.

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She moved cautiously in the shadow of the high wall, looking furtively backward for the hidden menace that might be dogging her steps. 

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Suddenly she darted into an alley way, little heeding where it led… groping her way on in the inky blackness, the one thought of eluding the pursuit firmly fixed in her mind… on she went…

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Oh! when would it end? … Then a doorway from which a light streamed lent itself to her vision… In here… anywhere, she thought.

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The door stood at the head of a flight of stairs… stairs that creaked with age as she endeavoured to creep down… 

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Then she heard the sound of drunken laughter and shuddered — surely this was — no, not that. Anything but that!

She reached the foot of the stairs and saw an evil-smelling wine bar, with wrecks of what were once men and women indulging in a drunken orgy… 

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Then they saw her, a vision of afrighted purity.

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Half a dozen men rushed towards her amid the encouraging shouts of the rest. She was seized. She screamed with terror… better she had been caught by her pursuer was her one fleeting thought as they dragged her roughly across the room. The fiends lost no time in settling her fate. They would share her belongings… and she… Why! Was this not the heart of Montmartre? She should go — the rats should feast.

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Then they bound her and carried her down the dark passage, up a flight of stairs to the riverside.

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The water rats should feast, they said. And then… swinging her bound body to and fro, dropped her with a splash into the dark, swirling waters.

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Down she went, down, down. Conscious only of a choking sensation, this was death… then…

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“It’s out, madam,” said the dentist. “Half a crown, please.”

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10 Responses to “Gas”

  1. Such an idyllic view of — in effect — movie-making.

    Orson Welles’ secretary wrote a delightful account of his filming a scene for Don Quixote atop a picturesque Italian hill/mountain (perilous donkey journey to summit) only to find a fumetti crew already at work there. Welles carried on setting up his shot as if they weren’t there, even though they were right in frame — treating the whole thing as a sort of celluloid chicken run, trusting that his confidence and superiority would force them to back down before he did. I believe it worked.

  2. (Call it a coincidence, but I just came across this story written for Henley Co’s Magazine in the local library: I think AF would have loved your Fotonovela version)

  3. I’d be interested to see his other published pieces from this period, but this is the only one H on H reproduces. Perhaps it’s the only “shocker”.

    Excited to find that Lord Camber’s Ladies is now available from a discrete stockist. The only film Hitchcock produced without directing (apart from, I guess, much of his TV work).

  4. Christopher Says:

    well that does it!..I’m not going to Montmartre…with my afrighted purity!
    =:o/

  5. I’ve been there, but nobody tied me up and threw me in the river (isn’t Montmartre quite far UPHILL from the Seine?). I guess I never got invited to the right places.

  6. Christopher Says:

    yeah..I don’t get it..I don’t associate that kind of activity with Montmartre..Its more..bohemian artists..Debussy..Le Chat Noir..

  7. It’s Apache territory, though. I suspect that’s the kind of thing he was thinking of (the kind of Apache Chevalier parodies in Love Me Tonight, rather than the kind Burt Lancaster plays in Apache).

  8. Christopher Says:

    ..Throwin’ them Dames around for entertainment!..Just like the Dude says in the Lugosi-Murders in the Rue Morgue….”Apaches!..That would be a good name for our own waterfront ruffians..

  9. Gotta watch that again… perhaps on a double with Renoir’s Partie de Campagne, for that full French meal effect.

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