Happy New Year. I immediately thought of Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rear Window (1954) when I saw Salvador Dali’s The Voyeur (1921).  The screenplay was based on “It Had to Be Murder,” a 1942 short story by Cornell Woolrich, which in turn was based on “Through a Window,” a short story by H.G. Wells.

Maybe the painting inspired Woolrich but more likely Alfred Hitchcock and his set designer. He had hired Dali nine years earlier to design the dream sequence for Spellbound (1945), Hitchcock’s psychological mystery thriller. Most of his films are psychological mystery thrillers, in my opinion, but this one takes place in a mental hospital.

The Voyeur, Salvador Dali 1921

The Voyeur, Salvador Dali 1921

However, the sequence conceived and designed by Dalí and Hitchcock, once translated to film, proved to be too lengthy and too complicated, so the vast majority of what was filmed was cut from the film during editing. About two minutes of the dream sequence appear in the final film, but Ingrid Bergman [Dr. Constance Petersen] said that the sequence had been almost 20 minutes long before it was cut by [producer David O.] Selznick.

The cut footage apparently no longer exists, although some production stills have survived in the Selznick archives. Eventually Selznick hired William Cameron Menzies, who had worked on “Gone With the Wind”, to oversee the set designs and to direct the sequence. Hitchcock himself had very little to do with its actual filming.

Spellbound (detail), Salvador Dali, oil on canvas, courtesy of The Stratton Foundation

Spellbound (detail), Salvador Dali, oil on canvas, courtesy of The Stratton Foundatio

I suppose I’m beginning 2014 at Flipped Again with a Dali-inspired post because the Editor at Flippantly Florida ended 2013 with a Dali post. It’s hardly noticeable at first, but there is a fly on Melting Watch (1954) just above the 9.

Dali once said the soft watches on his famed The Persistence of Memory (1931) were not inspired by Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, but by the surrealist perception of a Camembert cheese melting in the sun.


NOTE: I think Rear Window is the best film Hitchcock ever directed and Spellbound the worst.