Author Event: John Billheimer at Recycle Book Club
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 6:30pm
Recycle Book Club is pleased to welcome John Billheimer to our book club meeting at Recycle Bookstore in Downtown Campbell. He will be coming to sign autographs and discuss his two recent books Primary Target (thriller) and Hitchcock and the Censors (movie biography) .
The book club will meet for half an hour for group discussion at 6:30pm before being joined by the author at 7pm.
About Primary Target
Owen Allison’s California consulting firm collapsed after then-governor Red Davison manipulated the bidding on a lucrative contract to hand it to a political crony. Ten years later, Owen — now working in his native West Virginia as an independent consultant for the local sheriff — crosses paths with Davison again. Red’s son Jason will win his party’s presidential nomination if he can take the West Virginia primary. Owen knows the Davison family’s brand of back-door politics is well suited to a state where county vote counts can exceed the local population. Determined it won’t happen in his county, Owen begins investigating leads regarding bogus absentee ballots.
Owen’s pursuit of political skullduggery is sidetracked when one of the partners in his failed firm commits suicide. During a trip to the west coast to attend the funeral, he learns that some of his partner’s old business files were stolen and manages to convince local law enforcement that the supposed suicide was murder.
On Owen’s return to West Virginia, Jason Davison loses an early lead in the polls when an attractive campaign aide goes missing and rumors circulate that she was having an affair with the candidate. Owen joins the search for the missing woman, which begins to mesh with his voter fraud investigation and intensifies when another campaign worker dies in a suspicious accident.
When a bomb explodes in his home office, obliterating his own decades-old consulting records, Owen begins to wonder if he was the primary target or if the bomber wanted to destroy not only him but the past as well.
About Hitchccock and the Censors
Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to deal with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect, and all forms of indecency, real or imagined. From 1934 to 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code Office controlled the content and final cut on all films made and distributed in the United States. Code officials protected sensitive ears from standard four-letter words, as well as a few five-letter words like tramp and six-letter words like cripes. They also scrubbed "excessively lustful" kissing from the screen and ensured that no criminal went unpunished.
During their review of Hitchcock's films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films. Code reviewers dictated the ending of Rebecca (1940), absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion (1941), edited Cole Porter's lyrics in Stage Fright (1950), decided which shades should be drawn in Rear Window (1954), and shortened the shower scene in Psycho (1960).
In Hitchcock and the Censors, author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock's interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films. Despite the often-arbitrary decisions of the code board, Hitchcock still managed to push the boundaries of sex and violence permitted in films by charming -- and occasionally tricking -- the censors and by swapping off bits of dialogue, plot points, and individual shots (some of which had been deliberately inserted as trading chips) to protect cherished scenes and images. By examining Hitchcock's priorities in dealing with the censors, this work highlights the director's theories of suspense as well as his magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials.
About the Recycle Book Club
Recycle Book Club meets once a month (sometimes twice) here at Recycle Bookstore to discuss a book-of-the-month, like all book clubs do. The difference is that the author actually comes to the store! After the members have met for 30 minutes (6:30-7:00), the author joins us to answer questions and sign books (7:00-8:00). There are NO requirements to participate. In fact, you don’t even have to read the book!