Jump to: navigation, search

Kaleidoscope Frenzy



An original screenplay about a necrophiliac serial killer in New York City.

Hitchcock approached many writers including Robert Bloch, Samuel Taylor and Alec Coppel, but in the end engaged an old friend, Benn Levy to flesh out his sketchy idea of a killer based on serial killers John George Haigh, Neville Heath and John Christie[1]...

January 18, 1967 

Dear Hitch, 

It's got to be Heath, not Haigh. Told forwards the Heath
story is a gift from heaven. You'd start with a "straight"
romantic meeting, handsome young man, pretty girl. Maybe
he rescues her from the wild molestations of a drunken
escort. "I can't stand men who paw every girl they meet".
Get us rooting for them both. He perhaps unhappily married
and therefore a model of screen-hero restraint. She begins
to find him irresistibly "just a little boy who can't cope
with life" -- least of all with domestic problems such as
he has described. She's sexually maternal with him, she'd
give him anything -- and we're delighted. Presently a few
of us get tiny stirrings of disquiet at the physical love
scenes but don't quite know why. By the time we see the
climax of his love in action and her murder, then even the
slowest of us get it! Be we shouldn't know till then. 

Next, the disposal of the body sequence. And next -- which
should be the most bloodcurdling scene in your entire
career -- the mere encounter, preferably not in too
dissimilar circumstances, with a second girl. And drag it
out forever. Will she? Won't she? At first she seems
increasingly drawn to him, then she seems to be backing out,
maybe because a former boyfriend appears on the scene. But
then they have a row (yes, about the recent murder story in
the papers!!) "I bet she asked for it" He disagrees, they
fight.) So she phones Heath, who meets her, dries her tears,
is infinitely understanding and comforting, takes her off to
the scene of the crime (as near as maybe), makes love to her
and does her in. 

The mechanism of discovery and capture is to be devised but
it should still be "told forwards", i.e. more from the angle
of the pursued than the pursuers. And at one point, if I
know my Hitch, I don't doubt but that Heath with his maximum
of charms will accost a police woman! 

The ultimate irony of his psychoses of course is that he
truly is "just a little boy who can't cope with life". 
"Little Boy" might be a nice title. 

See you soon but give me a day or two. How's the smog? 

Love, Benn

Hitchcock responded to Levy[2]...

February 7, 1967 

Dear Benn, 

Just a thought. 

In the penultimate paragraph of the outline there is the
sentence, "And, at one point, I don't doubt but that
Heath, with his maximum of charms, will accost a

Actually, I think there's much more in this. Supposing
that the third woman is a plant by the police so that you
get the extreme suspense of watching the man fall into a
trap - or does he fall? Supposing he nearly succeeds with
the third woman, especially if he maneuvers her into some
remote area which prohibits protective observation. 

Bon Voyage.

The story would have revolved around a young, handsome bodybuilder (inspired by Neville Heath) who lures young women to their deaths. The New York police set a trap for him; a policewoman posing as a potential victim. The script was based around three crescendoes dictated by Hitchcock: the first was a murder by a waterfall; the second murder would take place on a mothballed warship; and the finale, which would take place at an oil refinery with brightly colored drums.

Hitchcock showed his script to his friend François Truffaut. Though Truffaut admired the script, he felt uneasy about its relentless sex and violence. Unlike "Psycho", these elements would not be hidden behind the respectable veneer of murder mystery and psychological suspense; the killer would be the main character, the hero, the eyes of the audience.

Universal wasn't keen on the film either, despite Hitchcock's assurances that he would make the film for under a million dollars with a cast of unknowns (though David Hemmings and Michael Caine had been suggested as leads). The film – alternately known as "Frenzy" or the more "sixties"-ish "Kaleidoscope" – would not be made, but some of the ideas – and the title – would be recycled into his 1972 thriller "Frenzy".


Segments of test footage, shot without audio

The media player is loading...

(c) Universal Studios


Pre-production stills, likely taken by photographer Arthur Schatz...

kaleidoscope01.jpg   kaleidoscope02.jpg

Screen grabs of shot footage from the "Dial H for Hitchcock" documentary...

kaleidoscope04.jpg   kaleidoscope05.jpg
kaleidoscope06.jpg   kaleidoscope07.jpg
kaleidoscope08.jpg   kaleidoscope09.jpg

Screen grabs from the BBC "Reputations" documentary...

kaleidoscope10.jpg   kaleidoscope11.jpg
kaleidoscope12.jpg   kaleidoscope13.jpg
kaleidoscope14.jpg   kaleidoscope15.jpg
kaleidoscope16.jpg   kaleidoscope17.jpg
kaleidoscope18.jpg   kaleidoscope19.jpg
kaleidoscope20.jpg   kaleidoscope21.jpg
kaleidoscope22.jpg   kaleidoscope23.jpg


Footage from "Kaleidoscope Frenzy" has appeared in the following Hitchcockian documentaries...




  1. http://www.writingwithhitchcock.com/frenzy.html
  2. http://www.writingwithhitchcock.com/frenzy.html