The excellent Letters of Note site has posted a bitter note that private detective novelist Raymond Chandler mailed to Alfred Hitchcock, an angry sermon punctuated with this zippy line: “if you wanted something written in skim milk, why on earth did you bother to come to me in the first place?”
The letter focused on the script for Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (trailer embedded above), a book that Chandler helped adapt from a Patricia Highsmith novel. The eventual rewrites infuriated Chandler, producing this scathing letter.
Check it out: “What I cannot understand is your permitting a script which after all had some life and vitality to be reduced to such a flabby mass of clichés, a group of faceless characters, and the kind of dialogue every screen writer is taught not to write—the kind that says everything twice and leaves nothing to be implied by the actor or the camera.”
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