The Master and the Princess

kathleen-kaskaKathleen Kaska is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays. She has just completed her most challenging endeavor, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane, a true story set in the 1940s and 50s, about Audubon ornithologist Robert Porter Allen whose mission was to journey into the Canadian wilderness to save the last flock of whooping cranes before encroaching development wiped out their nesting site, sending them into extinction. Published by University Press of Florida, the book is scheduled for release in 2012. Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s when women were caught between the dichotomy of career and marriage.

In 1953, Alfred Hitchcock’s thirty-eighth film, I Confess, opened to tepid reviews and scant box-office sales. No surprise to Hitchcock—the entire production had been fraught with problems from the beginning. His leading lady, Swedish actress Anita Bjork, arrived with her lover and illegitimate baby two weeks before shooting began. Warner Brothers studio was outraged and fired her. The studio was more tolerant of leading man, Montgomery Clift, whose drinking problem Hitch was forced to deal with both on and off the set. When production was completed, Hitchcock left the studio, expressing his desire to not to see anyone involved with the film.

Hitch and his wife, Alma, left for Saint Mortiz to recuperate, celebrate their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary, and plan his next film. After rejecting The Bramble Bush, he settled on adapting Frederick Knott’s play, Dial “M” for Murder. All he needed now was an actress who would pack the theatres.

Grace Kelly’s career had just taken off. A year earlier, she had starred as the leading lady in the 1952 Academy Award-wining film High Noon, then followed it with another starring role in John Ford’s Mogambo. Hitch watched it’s preview and made his decision: Grace Kelly would play opposite Ray Milland in Dial “M” for Murder.” A few days later, Warner Brother offered her a one-film contract. Eager to work with the most popular director of the decade, Kelly gladly accepted knowing full well of Hitch’s reputation for harassing and browbeating his leading ladies. He once said, “Nothing pleases me more than to knock the ladylikeness out of them.” But something clicked between Alfred Hitchcock and Grace Kelly. Although only 25-years old, Kelly possessed a strong self-confidence and quickly won the director’s respect.

As with all of his movies, Hitchcock planned every detail in Dial “M” for Murder, including selecting Kelly’s complete wardrobe which was to come off the rack. In one scene, Kelly is awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night. Hitchcock instructed her to don a velvet robe before answering the phone. “I don’t think that this woman is going to put on this great fancy robe if she is getting up in the middle of the night to answer a ringing phone and there’s nobody in the apartment!” Kelly objected. Hitch responded, “What would you put on to answer the phone?” Her answer was “Nothing. I’d go to the phone in a nightgown.” He shot the scene as she had suggested and after seeing the rushes, he agreed. The next day, he hired designer Edith Head to work exclusively with Kelly on the rest of her costumes.

After completing Dial “M” for Murder, Kelly returned to New York to prepare for the female lead in On the Waterfront. Right before she was to sign the contract, her agent called and broke the news that Hitchcock expected her back in Los Angeles for a wardrobe fitting for his next film. She had to make her decision that afternoon. The following year, Rear Window was released starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. And the year after that, Kelly starred opposite Cary Grant is Hitch’s romantic thriller, To Catch a Thief, filmed on location in the Riviera where Kelly met her future husband, Prince Rainier. Her film career ended shortly thereafter, but her friendship with Alfred Hitchcock remained.


the-alfred-hitchcock-triviography-and-quiz-bookThink you know everything there is to know about genius filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and his film and television legacy?

Think again!

The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book asks over one thousand challenging questions about the Master of Suspense. It contains true/false, multiple choice, and matching quizzes on all fifty-three of Hitchcock’s films, as well as his television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and his personal life.

Each chapter also contains a trivia section with behind-the-scenes anecdotes, casting choices, quips and quotes, and awards and achievements. A filmography, videography, and a chronology of his life round out this entertaining and unique reference book.

The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book is available in print and several ebook formats including Kindle and NOOK and can be found at many online retailers. Visit The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book page at LL- Publications:


8 thoughts on “The Master and the Princess

  1. Wow! Talk about timing. I just signed on yesterday to lead a five part book discussion series on Hitchcock, reading 5 books on which he based films and then watching the films. I will definitely get this book. What fun!


  2. I’ve always been a fan of Hitchcock’s films. His work was brilliant. Grace Kelly was another fascinating person. Both larger than life personalties. Great idea for a book, Kathleen!

    Jacqueline Seewald
    DEATH LEGACY–check it out at your local library


  3. Hitchcock movies were a big influence on my writing. Always loved Grace Kelly, too! Who could forget her loveliness in Rear Window and To Catch the Thief with another favorite Hitchcock used, Cary Grant.
    When he wanted to film Rebecca he finallybgot Du Maurie to agree by promising her he would leave the heroine unnamed. Thanks for these great stories of a master!


  4. Carol,
    How fun! I wish I could be there to set in on the discussion. Have you decided which books/films you’ll discuss?

    Jacqueline, I always thought that Grace Kelly was one of the most beautiful women in the world. The fame and beauty did not seem to go to her head.

    Marni, Great name by the way. Kelly was so enchanting in To Catch a Thief. She held her own again Cary Grant. And who played Rebecca in the film? Does anyone know? Comment if you do.


  5. Kathleen, you’ve reminded me of how much I used to love Hitchcock’s movies and his TV show—I think it’s time to watch my favorite, The Birds. Thanks for tickling the memories today 😉


  6. Will there ever be another Hitchcock? I doubt it. He and his films were unique and so entertaining. Who can ever forget Psycho? Occasionally I read a book with a Hitchcock flavor to it, but not very often. Thank you for sharing so much information. This was a great reminder of what real suspense is.


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