Lot 175
Sold for £28,800 (US$ 48,407) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph pre-production storyboard for his 1950 film Stage Fright, comprising preparatory sketches for some three quarters of the film, including the infamous "false flashback" initial sequence, the rest of the first half of the film, the garden party scene and the finale, 130 loose sheets, each with 3 rough pencil sketches within boxes drawn on the right-hand page (a few boxes left blank), the sketches numbered in the left-hand margin (1-152, 240-293, plus 8 sheets numbered in Roman at end, these showing the final chase in the theatre, culminating in the decapitation by the curtain, and the closing shot), autograph annotations, directions and revisions throughout, one or two 'camera angle' diagrams sketched out on left-hand pages, the last few leaves a little creased and frayed at eges, one or two dampstains, inserted into a black cloth spring binder, paper label on upper cover inscribed "J. Martin" (in red ink, faded), and '"Stage Fright" R. Todd/M. Dietrich/M. Wilding' (in blue ink), folio (sheets 266 x 190mm.) [c.1949]


  • ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S ORIGINAL WORKING SKETCHES FOR 'STAGE FRIGHT'. Hitchcock had trained as a draughtsman and worked in advertising before turning to film, and his use of extensive storyboards is well-known. The sketches for Stage Fright include very precise directions for the actors, and for camera angles which would have left the crew with little room for imagination ("pan up from stain", "CU" (close-up), "Dolly in to a dolly", "Back to Eve. Pan then out until the couple are in waist-shot going through the door"). Some of the most memorable shots of the film were clearly planned in advance and can be seen here: the car driving up to the camera at the beginning, the first shot of Alistair Sim framed in a lead window, the blood-stained dress shots, the blurring as "Doris Tinsdale" tries on her glasses, the umbrellas at the garden party and the finale with the stage curtain. But at the same time there are significant differences from the finished film, and this storyboard demonstrates that sequences and shots were dropped, added or amended during production. It seems unlikely that any similar example of a storyboard will come onto the open market: the production files for all the other post-1940 films are in the Hitchcock Archives at the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverley Hills.

    Stage Fright was shot in London and Elstree in 1949, on a brief sojourn from California where Hitchcock had been working since 1940, and in some ways it was a return to the style (and humour) of his earlier British films. Starring Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding and Richard Todd, along with Alastair Sim, Sybil Thorndike, Kay Walsh, Hitchcock's daughter Patricia (in her movie debut) and Joyce Grenfell, it was much criticised on release for the extraordinary "unreliable flashback" scene, which Hitchcock considered his second greatest career mistake (after the death of the little boy in The Secret Agent). But posterity has been rather kinder: the device has influence later generations of filmmakers more interested in artifice than verité, and the film as a whole has seen a partial critical reassessment in recent years.

    Provenance: Jack Martin (1899-1969, first assistant director on Stage Fright, his credits also including assistant director on Moby Dick and production manager on This Happy Breed); presented by Martin in 1969 to the current owmer, his friend and colleague Hugh Harlow, assistant director and production manager on many films.
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  1. Simon Roberts
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
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