Alfred Hitchcock is considered the most prolific movie director in history. Starting his career in 1922, Hitchcock directed over 70 films and shorts and acted in 39 projects. His career spanned 45 years and resulted in six Academy Award nominations. When Hitchcock died in 1980, it was assumed he’d created every film he wanted to make. That is not the case, though. He batted around a movie based on the famous spy, George Blake, for more than a decade. His declining health was the only reason he didn’t eventually produce the film.
Who was George Blake?
George Blake, plain and simple, was a double agent. As a member of the British Intelligence, Blake was stationed in South Korea in the 1950s. During his deployment, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war. When he returned to the United Kingdom, he continued working for the military. Blake was secretly feeding classified information to the Soviet Union, though.
According to NPR, Blake lived a relatively normal life even while working as a spy. He married, had children, and went undetected for more than a decade. Eventually, Blake was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to more than 40 years in prison. Five years into his sentence, however, Blake escaped into Russia, where he lived out the rest of his life. Blake died in December 2020 at the age of 98. According to the New York Times, Blake was hailed as a hero in Russia and went on to have a second family during his later life.
Alfred Hitchcock scouted locations and hired screenwriters for what would have been his Blake project
Hitchcock was committed to using the real-life spy as inspiration for a feature film. In the late 1960s, Hitchcock optioned the novel, The Short Night and the non-fiction book, The Springing of George Blake, for an espionage thriller. Reportedly, the plot revolved around an escaped spy who is being hunted by a CIA operative. The operative falls for the spy’s wife as he awaits his arrival. The spy eventually escaped into the Soviet Union on a train.
Hitchcock was reportedly so committed to the flick that he scouted locations in Finland where he could film the movie. His wife, Alma Hitchcock, had accompanied him on the trip, and they picked out several potential sites that could work. From 1967 until 1979, Hitchcock hired several screenwriters who worked with him to produce a script.
In 1980, Hitchcock gave up on the project and all others, too
The untitled project would have likely been Hitchcock’s last. In fact, it was the project he was working on when he finally decided he needed to give up his career and walk away. According to The Hitchcock Report, work on the project had slowed to a crawl by the end of 1979, and by early 1980, he was ready to admit he could no longer make movies.
He left his office at Universal Studios in early 1980 and died several months later of renal failure. His last public appearance, in March 1980, took place just one month before his death. The screenplay for the untitled George Blake movie was never completed, although drafts of the movie script exist.
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