I very often awake with a name stuck in my head, usually a person’s name, and usually for no reason I can discern. This morning it was the French actress Arletty, most famous for the film Les Enfants du Paradis (1945, with Jean-Louis Barrault, among others). I recalled her as playing the character Annabella (Smith), whose murder sets off the action of Alfred Hitchcock’s film The 39 Steps. I then spent fruitless hours looking for any connection between Arletty and Hitchcock.
Apparently I’d mixed up the character’s name Annabella and the actress’s name Arletty, on the basis of phonological similarity, and my (somewhat inaccurate) belief that they were both mononymous, plus the fact that the two actresses were both glamorous women whose first language was not English (as far as I can tell, Arletty’s films were all in French, while Lucie Mannheim (who played Annabella) acted in both German and English).
Still, I was utterly convinced that it was Arletty who came to Hannay (played by Robert Donat) with information about a spy network with a connection to something called “the 39 steps”.
Memory is a tricky thing, often undependable.