To Catch a Thief

poster for a film titled To Catch a Thief starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly
To Catch a Thief
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To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1955): Co-written by Alec Coppel (1907–1972), b. Melbourne, Vic

While uncredited, screenwriter, novelist and playwright Alec Coppel assisted with writing Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch a Thief.

Paid US$1,250 for a week’s worth of work to assist with rewrites, dialogue, and inserts, it was the beginning of a collaboration between the two creatives.

In 1956, Coppel worked with the Master of Suspense to write Vertigo (1958). His draft of the script was rejected by Hitchcock in favour of Samuel A Taylor’s later version. However, Coppel protested to the Screen Writers Guild, which determined that both writers were entitled to a credit.

He was the first Australian to be recognised by the American Academy for writing, with an Oscar nomination for Best Writing (Motion Picture Story) for The Captain’s Paradise (1953).

The dramatic scene at the top of this poster is wonderfully balanced by the romance below. The central text makes explicit that both the directorial work of Hitchcock and his lead actors are the big drawcard for audiences.

Notes by Michelle Davenport