A demolition crew working near the vaults at Universal Studios has recently discovered a cache of incomplete film credited to Alfred Hitchcock and D-movie genius Ed Wood as co-directors. Although their work went unfinished, these celluloid fragments -- and a helpful script treatment -- tantalize film buffs about what could have been.
Blight, a story about a cross-dressing vampire falsely accused of selling U.S. state secrets to a shadowy network of clergymen, schoolteachers and gentleman farmers covers themes familiar to fans of both Hitchcock and Wood. Its plot devices such as the accused man-on-the-run, moral relativism and Cold War sexual politics are vintage Hitchcock. But the vampires and transvestitism are all Wood—though preview audiences definitely track a straight line from reel #3's Prince Necrono and Norman Bates.
The 17 minutes of footage consists primarily of screen tests and second unit research. There is, however, one 2:48 reel in which Hitchcock rehearses his cameo, repeatedly stepping off of a street corner and being splashed by a taxi as it hits a nearby puddle. This scene fascinates me as it demonstrates Hitchcock’s attention to detail with regard these seemingly off-the-cuff, brief walk-on appearances. In this, I see a Chaplinesque perfectionist streak.
They say Hitch never made a monster movie in the tradition of Dracula, Frankenstein or The Werewolf. Ordinary human behavior was monstrous enough for him -- or so we've been led to believe. Further, auteurists hold that he would never share directorial credit in this way. Such doctrinaire historical views may soon be drastically reconsidered as these newly-discovered film clips speak for themselves.
I have a friend-of-a-friend who promises to get me copies of this footage soon. Check back in tomorrow.