July 13, 2017: Evan Hunter (1926–2005) was probably best known as the screenwriter for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), but I’m way more impressed by his refusal to write the glib honeymoon rape scene for the director’s follow-up, Marnie. About that notorious scene, which was used in the ultimately Hunter-less film (Hitchcock canned him), the writer later said,
“I felt it not heroic of the lead character to rape his wife when he sees there’s something wrong here with the woman, you know? She’s not being coy or girlish—you know, she’s terrified. And I felt this was wrong dramatically. And I also felt that I would have a hell of a time recovering him from this scene….I knew every woman in the audience would hate him.”
Well! That’s all I needed to hear. Hunter was clearly playing for my team, and I’ve been a fan—including of his beloved 87th Precinct mysteries, which he wrote under the pseudonym Ed McBain—ever since. Recently, I discovered the short-lived and unfairly unloved NBC crime drama 87th Precinct (1961–1962), based on the McBain books, and of course it’s the subject of my latest Best Forgotten column at The Awl.