Joan Harrison (screenwriter)

Joan Harrison (26 June 1907 – 14 August 1994) was an English screenwriter and producer for motion pictures and television.

Joan Harrison
Born(1907-06-26)26 June 1907
Guildford, Surrey, England
Died14 August 1994(1994-08-14) (aged 87)
London, England
OccupationFilm and television producer, screenwriter


Born in Guildford, Surrey, Harrison studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford and reviewed films for the student newspaper. She also studied at the Sorbonne. In 1933, she became Alfred Hitchcock's secretary. Eventually she began reading books and scripts for him and became one of Hitchcock's most trusted associates. Harrison appears in a scene in Hitchcock's original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), eating dinner with Peter Lorre's character. She was among the screenwriters for the film Jamaica Inn (1939) based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier.

When Hitchcock moved to Hollywood in March 1939 to begin his contract with David O. Selznick to direct films, Harrison went with him as an assistant and writer.[1] She continued contributing to the screenplays for Hitchcock's films Rebecca (1940), also adapted from a du Maurier novel, Foreign Correspondent (1940), Suspicion (1941), and Saboteur (1942). She was also credited as one of the screenwriters for Dark Waters (1944).

Harrison was an uncredited screenwriter for Ride the Pink Horse (1947) and Your Witness (1950). She became a film producer with Phantom Lady (1944),[2] and produced such films as The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945), Nocturne (1946), Ride the Pink Horse (1947), and They Won't Believe Me (1947). At the time, she was one of only three female producers in Hollywood, the others being Virginia Van Upp and Harriet Parsons.

Harrison worked in television with Hitchcock together with Norman Lloyd when she produced his TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. She and Lloyd were later producers on the Hammer TV anthology Journey to the Unknown, which ran for a single season in 1968.

Personal life

Harrison married author Eric Ambler in 1958 and remained married to him until her death in 1994.


Award nominations

Year Result Award Category Film or series Notes
1941 Nominated Academy Award Best Writing, Screenplay Rebecca Shared with Robert E. Sherwood
Nominated Academy Award Best Writing, Original Screenplay Foreign Correspondent Shared with Charles Bennett


  1. Grimes, William (24 August 1994). "Joan Harrison, a Screenwriter And Producer, Is Dead at 83". New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  2. "The New Pictures, Feb. 28, 1944". Time. 28 February 1944. Retrieved 6 May 2010.

Further reading

Lane, Christina. Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2020. Print.

Lane, Christina. "Stepping Out from Behind the Grand Silhouette: Joan Harrison's Films of the 1940s", Situation and Film, eds. David E. Gerstner and Janet Staiger. New York: Routledge, 2003. 97-116. Print.

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