When Death Catch was to be called The Man in Lincoln’s Nose

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic returns this Sunday on Arte.

Channel 7 will offer a special evening this weekend Cary grant, with the replay of one of his greatest hits, Death on the hunt (1959), then a documentary entitled Cary Grant: Through the Looking Glass (already visible on Arte.TV).

This Alfred Hitchcock thriller, which marked the history of Hollywood cinema, was at the heart of the third issue of Première Classics (April-June 2018 with 2001 Space odyssey In front page). The author of the file, Olivier Rajchman, returns there of course on the manufacture of the cult scene of the plane pursuing the hero in a desert road of the United States, but also on that, equally unforgettable, where he climbs on the faces. American presidents engraved on Mount Rushmore, along with his partner Eva Marie Saint. This scene almost gave the film its title …

Here are some excerpts from the article going behind the scenes of the creation of Death on the heels :

“After filming, in The Fifth Column, his hero suspended at the top of the Statue of Liberty, Hitchcock dreams of a scene taking as a backdrop another symbol of American democracy. In this case a manhunt on the sculpted faces of the four Presidents of Mount Rushmore. Hence his initial desire to call the film The Man in Lincoln’s Nose. And, to feed him, a news item told to Hitchcock by critic Otis Guernsey, who told him about an imaginary spy created by the CIA to lure an opponent. The postulate pleases its screenwriter Ernest Lehman who receives, shortly after, another track of Hitch: a murder committed in the enclosure of the United Nations. With that, he has to make do. “

(Once in pre-production of the film) “Ernest Lehman took the opportunity to take the Thornhill route, going to the United Nations and then to Grand Central Station where he took the Chicago express before reaching Rapid City, in Dakota, and Mount Rushmore. There, accompanied by a forest guide, he tries, like his hero, to climb the giant faces sculpted by Borglum, but the risk taken is such that he has to turn back. “

(Shortly after the start of filming) “Things turn sour in mid-September at the foot of Mount Rushmore when Hitchcock tells a local newspaper that his interpreters will be scouring the sculpted faces of presidents. The government immediately bans him, citing the desecration of a symbol. The filmmaker has, anyway, planned an alternative letting Robert Boyle recreate, on a giant set of the Metro, the monument, with portions of the sculptures reproduced in life size, as well as a painted canvas 10 meters high on 50 meters wide. “

(About the title change) “A few weeks before the first shots, the team gathered around the filmmaker is at their best. ‘We used storyboards and planned everything in advance to make it easier for him, will tell the artistic director Robert Boyle. Hitchcock communicated with the whole team, and we were all gathered in one place. ‘ Only problem: Lehman stumbles on the last act of his screenplay. How to finish this film to which an editor of the MGM, Kenneth MacKenna, has just found a definitive title, inspired by the trajectory of the hero and a verse of Hamlet; North By Northwest ? “

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The story of Death on the hunt : Publicist Roger Tornhill mistakenly finds himself in the shoes of a spy. Caught between a mysterious organization that seeks to suppress him and the police pursuing him, Tornhill is in a very uncomfortable situation. He flees across the United States and goes in search of a truth that will prove to be very surprising.

Trailer :

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