Alfred Hitchcock shocked the world in 1960 with the release of his horror movie masterpiece Psycho – which has stood the test of time and is still considered an absolute benchmark for the genre. But one particularly powerful person in Hollywood was not a fan – and it’s probably not all that surprising that it was Walt Disney.
The years between 1958-1963 were probably the peak of Alfred Hitchcock‘s career, as it’s when he directed four of the best movies of all time, one after the other. These were Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). After Hitchcock had released Psycho and was enjoying a well-earned vacation, his North by Northwest screenwriter Ernest Lehman contacted him about working together on an unusual idea he had for a movie about a blind man.
According to John Russell Tyler’s book Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock, the idea was about; “a man blind from birth who is given sight by some sort of eye transplant only to discover that the donor, supposedly killed in an accident, was really murdered and has transmitted to him through his eyes a visual memory of the murderer.”
Disneyland had opened in Anaheim, California in 1955 and was a huge phenomenon, as the first theme park of its kind. Therefore, Lehman wanted to incorporate Disneyland into the plot. “Perhaps while visiting Disneyland the hero (call him Jimmy Stewart for the sake of argument) finds himself ‘recognizing’ someone he could never have seen, then have a recollection set off by the fake gun fight. Perhaps the whole movie could be made in Disneyland. Hitchcock in Disneyland!”
“Hitch and Lehman began working on the idea as they had worked on North by Northwest, and for a while everything went swimmingly. Then something appeared in the trade papers about the project, Walt Disney read it, and promptly made a statement that in no circumstances would Hitchcock, maker of that disgusting movie Psycho, be allowed to shoot a single foot of film in Disneyland.”
The irony is that nowadays, Disneyland’s main rival park – Universal – has a studio tour that stops at the Bates Motel, and you see Norman putting a suspiciously human-sized bundle into the trunk of his car.
If you’re on Alfred Hitchcock’s side in this debate, check out our guide to the best horror movies. If you think Walt’s got a point, check out our guide to the best Disney movies. Find out what we know so far about Avatar 3 and Wednesday season 2.