HBO's The Girl: Was Alfred Hitchcock an 'evil' sexual deviant?
An upcoming HBO movie paints the director as abusive and vindictive towards his leading ladies, an account that Tippi Hedren — star of The Birds — corroborates
Tippi Hedren — one of "Hitchcock's Blondes," along with Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, and Grace Kelly — spoke at a panel last week about an upcoming HBO film titled The Girl, which chronicles Hedren's fraught working relationship with director Alfred Hitchcock. She didn't have nice things to say. Hedren, now 82, claims that when she worked with Hitchcock on The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), the director revealed a decidedly unsavory streak. Here, a concise guide to the auteur's purported on-set issues:
What are Hedren's accusations against Hitchcock?Hedren, mother of actress Melanie Griffith, has long claimed that Hitchcock ruined her career by keeping her from working for other directors after Marnie was released in 1964. Hedren, whose fame was limited to a diet-soda commercial before Hitchcock cast her in The Birds, had tried to get out of her contract with the director after Marnie, but "because of the studio system of the time, contract players were bound to their directors," says Anna Breslaw at Jezebel. When other directors came calling for the actress, Hedren says Hitchcock would tell them she wasn't available, and continued paying her to do nothing for several years.
Why would Hitchcock do that?In a 2011 interview, Hedren told Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies that Hitchcock turned on her because she had refused his sexual advances. Speaking at the panel last week, Hedren called Hitchcock, who died 32 years ago, "an extremely sad character," who was an "unusual genius, and evil, and deviant, almost to the point of [being] dangerous." Hedren's story is the basis for the upcoming HBO film starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock, which is itself based on the book Spellbound by Beauty.
Did he mistreat any of his other lead actresses?Reports are mixed. Though rumors about Hitchcock's ill treatment of his leading ladies have long circulated, the late Janet Leigh, who starred in the director's Psycho, once said that Hitchcock was never untoward with her; Vertigo star Kim Novak never leveled any accusations. According to Hedren, though, Vera Miles, who played Janet Leigh's sister in Psycho, refused to work with Hitchcock again after the 1960 film, but was similarly held hostage by her contract.
Has anyone come to Hitchcock's defense?Sort of. Another film, a theatrical release titled Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins as the director and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, "takes a more flattering angle" on the auteur, says David Hinckley at the New York Daily News, focusing on Hitchcock's battle to produce Psycho. HBO airs The Girl in October, and the Hopkins film is due out next year, so you'll have to watch "and judge for yourself," says Sean O'Connell at CinemaBlend.