Hitchcock was a friend, and was interested in making the book into a film.
He was just about to change studios, so he asked DW to hang onto the rights. Hitchock wanted Michael Balcon to buy the rights, but Balcon was not keen so Hitchcock arranged for Richard Wainwright to buy them for him. DW, Hitchcock and Wainwright made their plans, and Wainwright signed up a cast including Gerald du Maurier, Gregory Ratoff and Tamari Desni, and hired the studio space ...but then Balcon refused to release Hitchcock.
Matters had reached the point of no return so Wainwright had to hire another director - Phil Rosen. To compound the producer's problems, Gerald du Maurier died before filming could begin and was replaced in the lead role by Ronald Squire, who DW considered excellent in light comedy but unsuited to this particular role.
When it was released in November 1934, the film - in which de Richleau became a character called 'Sir Charles Farringdon' - was not a huge success, but one performance was enlivened by an agitator springing up from the audience and shouting (quite wrongly) that it was pro-Russian propaganda.
As DW reflected wistfully in later years, if Hitchcock had been allowed to make the film as he wanted, DW's cinematic future might have taken a very different turn ...