Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock

Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock

by Christina Lane


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In 1933, Joan Harrison was a twenty-six-year-old former salesgirl with a dream of escaping both her stodgy London suburb and the dreadful prospect of settling down with one of the local boys. A few short years later, she was Alfred Hitchcock’s confidante and one of the Oscar-nominated screenwriters of his first American film, Rebecca. Harrison had quickly grown from being the worst secretary Hitchcock ever had to one of his closest collaborators, critically shaping his brand as the “Master of Suspense.”

Forging her own public persona as the female Hitchcock, Harrison went on to produce numerous Hollywood features before becoming a television pioneer as the producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A respected powerhouse, she acquired a singular reputation for running amazingly smooth productions— and defying anyone who posed an obstacle. She built most of her films and series from the ground up. She waged rough-and-tumble battles against executives and censors, and even helped to break the Hollywood blacklist. She teamed up with many of the most respected, well-known directors, writers, and actors of the twentieth century. And she did it all on her own terms.

Author Christina Lane shows how this stylish, stunning woman became Hollywood’s most powerful female writer-producer—one whom history has since overlooked.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613733844
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 206,206
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Christina Lane has written extensively on film history and aesthetics. Her books include Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break and Magnolia. An associate professor of film studies and chair of the cinema department at the University of Miami, she makes frequent speaking appearances and has provided commentary to such media outlets as Air Mail, NPR, and the Daily Mail.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 At Home 11

2 Wartime 19

3 Beyond the Village 25

4 Birth of a Master 35

5 True Crime Pays 45

6 Bigger Steps 55

7 A Team of Three 71

8 Going Hollywood 87

9 Oscar Calls 103

10 Building Suspense 117

11 Hitting Hurdles 127

12 Phantom Lady 141

13 New Associations 159

14 Bedeviling Endings 171

15 Crimes and Misdemeanors 183

16 Let It Ride 203

17 Full Circle, by Degrees 219

18 A New Proposal 241

19 Back on Top 255

20 Into the Unknown 271

Acknowledgments 283

Filmography 287

Notes 317

Selected Bibliography 361

Index 371

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