Quebec town commemorates house where Alfred Hitchcock filmed scenes for 1953 thriller

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Alfred Hitchcock, centre, on the set of I Confess filmed in 1952. (Submitted by Allan O'Neill/Warner Bros. - image credit)
Alfred Hitchcock, centre, on the set of I Confess filmed in 1952. (Submitted by Allan O'Neill/Warner Bros. - image credit)

Lise Giroux didn't know her house had been a set piece in a 1953 Alfred Hitchcock film until something terrible happened to it.

"One day, it was completely vandalized and I thought about demolishing it," she said. "But neighbours told me they were attached to the house because a film was made there and it brought fame to the town. It was then that I learned."

The house is located in Saint-Tite-des-Caps, about 50 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

The town of about 1,500 people is highlighting the historic significance of the house this summer by installing a tourism panel, detailing Hitchcock's visit during the filming of I Confess.

The movie was largely filmed in Quebec City with a few scenes using the exterior of Giroux's home.

Nicole Germain/Radio-Canada
Nicole Germain/Radio-Canada

She said she'd seen the film before buying the house, which she's lived in for nearly 50 years, but didn't make the connection until her neighbours pointed it out.

"I like the movie I Confess. It really puts us in the era," said Giroux. "I saw it when I was very young. ... I liked to see the scenes of Old Quebec. When I learned about the role that my house had played in the film, I looked at it and I said to myself 'Yes, this is really my home!'"

While the barn and gazebo are no longer there, the outside of the house still looks the same as it did nearly 70 years ago.

Submitted by Allan O'Neill/Warner Bros.
Submitted by Allan O'Neill/Warner Bros.

The film tells the story of a priest suspected of murder but who, held to the secrecy of the confession, refuses to reveal the name of the real murderer.

The master of suspense arrived in Saint-Tite-des-Caps in August 1952, and some residents still remember the director's visit well.

When Hitchcock made it rain

Pierre-Gabriel Jobin was only 10 at the time but he got to watch the film crew because his aunt was the owner of the house at the time.

Submitted by Pierre-Gabriel Jobin
Submitted by Pierre-Gabriel Jobin

He has fond memories of meeting Hitchcock and watching him work.

"I shook his hand. I was very impressed. I was a little guy and we know what his stature was, he was very imposing. He was friendly, but very cold," said Jobin.

Jobin remembers being impressed by the budget of the team.

"I watched the scene where the couple avoids the rain by taking refuge in the gazebo that was built for the occasion. That day, it wasn't raining. So they dismantled a small airplane at Ancienne-Lorette airfield and brought it by truck to the house. They brought a municipal water hose from Quebec City, turned it on and ran it through the propeller to make rain."

Saint-Tite-des-Caps
Saint-Tite-des-Caps

Film censored in Quebec

The mayor of Saint-Tite-des-Caps, Majella Pichette, recalls how Hitchcock's film was "butchered" by the province's Censorship Bureau, because it depicted a relationship between a Catholic priest and a married woman.

"Frustrated, Hitchcock never set foot in Quebec again," said Pichette.

The panels will be installed on the grounds of the observation stop at the entrance to the municipality of Saint-Tite-des-Caps in August.

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