Samuel Wooley Taylor (1907-1997) was a grandson of John Taylor (the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and one of thirty-six children of John Whittaker Taylor (an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). In the taxonomy of Mormon authors, Taylor has been placed in the Lost Generation. Other than Heaven Knows Why (see accompanying post), Taylor’s Mormon-themed works also include Nightfall at Nauvoo and The Kingdom or Nothing (republished as in 1999 as The Last Pioneer).
I first became interested in Taylor (indeed, aware that he even existed) earlier this year at the AML Conference. I was not intentionally eavesdropping (that would be rude), but I found it difficult not to overhear the conversations shared by certain people between sessions. Anyway, more than once I overheard a certain BYU English professor declare to other Mormon literati: “Did you know that Sam Taylor wrote the screenplay for Vertigo? Yes, Hitchcock! Can you believe it?!”
I didn’t believe it. I know a little bit about Hitchcock, and Vertigo‘s distinctive Freudian-noir flavor (necrophilia and everything) just didn’t seem like something that could come from the father of Flubber. A very little bit of web sleuthing seems to confirm my initial doubts. It seems that Vertigo was based on a French novel Sueurs froides: d’entre les morts (Cold Sweat: From Among the Dead), by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The source of the confusion: Alex Coppel and one Samuel A. Taylor are credited with writing the screen play. See the Vertigo IMDB page here and Wikipedia entry here. Also, compare and contrast the Wikipedia entries for Samuel W. Taylor and Samuel A. Taylor.
I do not hold it against him that Taylor did not write the screenplay for Vertigo. Very few people have done that, and it appears that none of them were Mormons.