People often say that Audrey Hepburn made a non Hitchcock-Hitchcock picture when she filmed 1967’s Wait Until Dark. It is true that the famed actress always wanted to work with the famous director.
And, it almost happened in the late 1950s.
In autumn 1959 Paramount had announced that No Bail for the Judge was an upcoming feature which would star Hepburn, and would be a big budget Technicolor-Vista Vision project. What happened?
Alfred Hitchcock had long been interested since he’d read the novel back in 1954. It was a thriller by Henry Cecil. The story concerned a female barrister in London who defends her father (a high court Judge) when he’s accused of killing a prostitute. She enlists the aid of a gentlemen thief. Hitch wanted John Williams (a Hitchcock favorite) for the father and then hot Laurence Harvey for the thief.
Several screenwriters who’d worked with the director were mentioned for the adaptation, including John Michael Hayes and Ernest Lehman but it was Samuel A. Taylor, who’d written the screenplay for Vertigo who did the final script. No one was completely happy with it.
British Laws concerning prostitution and entrapment had changed since the novel had been published. And Taylor included a scene, not in the novel, where the barrister, disguised as a prostitute, is almost raped. Hepburn dropped out of the film.
Stories vary. Some say it was the near rape scene she objected to. Others say it was due to pregnancy. She and then husband Mel Ferrer desperately wanted children, and she was prone to miscarriages.
In any event she was out and Hitchcock was annoyed, if not angry. He never quite forgave her, and they never worked together.
Paramount had invested about $200,000 in the project already but decided not to proceed with a $3 million film since the director now had lost interest. Wise move. His next film in 1960, the low budget Psycho, was a much better studio investment.
Although Hitch was miffed with her, other directors were eager to work with Hepburn. Stanley Donen’s Charade, which teamed Hepburn with Cary Grant in 1963, could also be considered Hitchcockian in the mold of the director’s 1955 thriller, To Catch a Thief, costarring one Grace Kelly.