FILM 1612: STAGE FRIGHT
According to Alfred Hitchcock, he ran into great difficulties with leading actress Jane Wyman. Wyman was required to appear frumpy and inelegant when she goes incognito as a maid, but the actress was reluctant to appear so plain when Marlene Dietrich appeared so glamorous. The director recounted that Wyman would cry when she would see Dietrich looking glamorous on set when she herself was in her maid disguise. Hitchcock said that she could not accept the idea of her character being frumpy or dowdy. Much to the director's chagrin, Wyman would secretly put on makeup or otherwise try to improve her appearance, thus failing to maintain her character.
In "Hollywood Babble On" Marlene Dietrich is quoted as saying, "I did one film for Alfred Hitchcock. Jane Wyman was in it. I heard she'd only wanted to do it if she were billed above me, and she got her wish. Hitchcock didn't think much of her. She looks too much like a victim to play a heroine, and God knows she couldn't play a woman of mystery - that was *my* part. Miss Wyman looks like a mystery nobody has bothered to solve."
During filming, food was still strictly rationed in London. Alfred Hitchcock circumvented this problem by having steaks and roasts flown in from the United States to be prepared and cooked at some of the city's finest restaurants. He treated himself and his leading ladies Marlene Dietrich and Jane Wyman to frequent, extravagant dinners. The director told the actresses that "Ladies must be well fed."
In an extraordinary move for the normally controlling director, Alfred Hitchcock provided Marlene Dietrich an exceptional amount of creative control for the film, particularly in how she chose to light her scenes. Hitchcock knew that Dietrich had learned a great deal of the art of cinematography from Josef von Sternberg and Günther Rittau, and allowed her to work with this film's cinematographer, Wilkie Cooper, to light and set her scenes the way that she wished.
After completing this film, Alfred Hitchcock would not work in his native Britain again for over 20 years.
Famed composer Cole Porter composed "The Laziest Gal in Town" specifically for Marlene Dietrich in this film.
DIRECTOR CAMEO: Alfred Hitchcock: turning to look at Eve in her disguise as Charlotte's maid.