Hitchcock, Alfred (1899 – 1980)

On the brink of his American career, Hitchcock lets go of an old assistant 

A fine typed letter signed by Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Hitch’, July 31st 1940, on his personal letterhead.

Hitchcock writes to Eddie [Edmond Bernoudy, 1901 – 1978; assistant director on Rebecca and others], opening, ‘It looks as though we aren’t going to be able to together on the next picture I’m sorry to say. On my return from New York yesterday I found that RKO have allocated an assistant to me called Dewey Starkey and I know you will realize that it’s pretty difficult for me to refuse to take what I am led to believe is their number one assistant on the lot.’ He goes on, ‘It looks to me, Eddie, as though this first picture here will have to be a miss as far as we are concerned’ but noting, ‘I’m anxious not to sever our partnership. If the company had been a smaller one I would have had no difficulty in continuing our association.’

The director continues, ‘I want to thank you very  much, Eddie, for all you’ve done to help me here. I would almost go as far as to say that the comfortable conditions that I had in  making ‘Rebecca’ were in a large measure responsible for its success as far as I’m concerned. Had it been necessary for me to go on making it under the conditions which I started I doubt whether the results would have been the same.’ He concludes, ‘Please let us keep in touch and God willing we will be together before you can say ‘Walter Wanger’. Sincerely, Hitch.’

Letter folds and slight age-staining, otherwise in fine condition.

Hitchcock moved to America in 1939 after signing a six-year contract with David Selznick. He approached his American career with caution, beginning with Rebecca — a Hollywood setting for a British novel and following it with Foreign Correspondent (1940) — set in Europe. Bernoudy worked on both films (Walter Wanger, incidentally, was the producer of the latter). His next film — alluded to in this letter — was to be the screwball comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And by the time of the one after, Suspicion, Hitchcock was, for the first time, director and producer combined.