Or something like that anyway. Edgar Allen Poe would’ve messed his literary trousers just now and shame on me for being too lazy to check my references. I promise to research more extensively on my next blog. This one will have to depend on my insomnia and the 2 large Starbucks caramel coffees with a lump of sugar, milk, and Kahlua I had several hours ago. With the full moon in the still night sky, as it is now 4:39 am by my pc clock, and Edgar Allen Poe’s recent birthday, I suppose I shall talk a bit about my fascination with his work. I’m not Emo, but I think there’s a bit of the Goth in me. I’m not sure when this happened really, but stories with an edge or broodiness, a good twisty-turny mystery has always caught my eye. My interest in Poe possibly began in middle school, in a small town in the Midwest, that runs right along the Mississippi River. My English and Drama teacher, Mrs. Morris, was my hero at the time. She was everything I hoped to be one day, but was too timid to impress upon her I’m afraid. No matter. She taught two of my favorite subjects, and I admired them from afar. She gave me the most standout, wonderful gift a kid could get in the hellish halls of Junior High…my imagination. Not to say, she GAVE it to me, it was already there and quite vibrant. She did what so many teachers do, she planted seeds of inspiration and guided them to growth. She brought our class to Washington University in St. Louis, MO on a field trip. Here we would attend a live theatrical performance of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. My family was on a high school counselor’s salary so we didn’t get to the city often and this was a real treat. The stadium seating, the university atmosphere with college kids seeming so worldly and sophisticated, began to fill around us. It was both intimidating and exhilarating. We settled in our seats, the lights went down and the curtains opened…AHHHHH. There’s nothing like it, is there? It is watching a great book come to life. We had good seats I remember and as the story suspense-fully ticked along, so did the fantastic sound effects. As the story goes, the narrator truly believes that he can hear a man’s heart beating under the floorboards (I won’t give spoilers just in case you haven’t read this classic). We hear what he hears: bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum. The rhythmic pulsing begins softly, slowly. Bum-bum. Bum-bum. Then a bit faster. Bum-bum-bum, bum-bum-bum. Each moment more terrifying than the next as the narrator’s fear and paranoia grow stronger. The character is so beside himself, he confesses to committing a crime to the police. Fantastic. I’ll never forget the experience. Those were the wonder years; life seemed so whistful and care-free, though I remember having struggles like all kids do. We stopped on the way home at a McDonald’s and I had my favorite–a vanilla shake dipped with those famous salty fries and my best friends laughing. A perfect, perfect day. On Mr. Poe’s birthday, I downloaded his story,”The Raven” to my e-reader. If you can, read or reread these wonderful tales of woe and suspense by Edgar Allen Poe from your local library or you can find some free on Googlebooks. That is, if you have the heart for it! (Evil laughter ensues.)
I’ve been a fan of Mr. Hitchcock’s since I was a kid, and that’s no joke. I grew up in a family that had a healthy appetite for the ironic, the macabre, the absurd. Alfred Hitchcock, in my mind, was the British uncle I never met, but visited the family in the evenings and always had a bloody good story to tell. Who could turn away from the sloth-like diction from the portly man in the dark suit with the famous silhouette–telling tales of lost souls, ironic endings for those of whom Luck or Love seemed to escape. And just for kicks, as a tongue-in-cheek wink to the audience, Hitchcock delighted in creating a “Where’s Waldo” search for his always brief and pleasantly surprising appearances in his own films.
Whether it was “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” or any of his numerous and wonderful cinematic marvels including “North By Northwest”, “Vertigo”, “Psycho”, or “The Birds”, “Hitch” was a fantastic storyteller, weaving fruition, change, and seeds of hope with sadistic twists and turns, leaving us on the edge of our seats…and in our spouse’s lap. I couldn’t get enough.
There have been things said of the man himself, he was a perfectionist, married for many years, his daughter participating in his films. It was rumored and admittedly hard not to observe, that he took a keen interest in his A-list actresses, and seemed to have a penchant for very coiffed, sophisticated blondes of Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren beauty and glamour. With an upcoming project for the big screen starring Anthony Hopkins and the current HBO movie, “The Girl”, we willingly take a look into the peephole that was Alfred Hitchcock. We find that fact and fiction intermingle and we realize that the real Hitch seemed a man of deep fears and complex insecurities. A man that was so vindictive, once personally rejected by Tippi Hedren, he exposed the actress to brutal days of shooting for “The Birds” with real birds. In the scene where Tippi goes up to the attic and opens the door, she was to be attacked by the ominous birds in the story. The real birds were disoriented, and most likely threatened by the constant human interaction so they would actually begin to attack the actress, causing sharp painful pecks and scratches. The constant squawking, feathers and defensively attempting to wave the birds off while trying to please the now unreachable Hitchcock, left Ms. Hedren mentally exhausted. The director was cruel. Calculating. And merciless. Ms. Hedren had unwittingly signed a contract with the devil of sorts. At least until filming with Hitchcock was complete. He was obsessed with his unrequited love, and now he would punish her, because she could not love him in return.
Tippi Hedren acted as a consultant for “The Girl” and the assistant director of “The Birds” and other Hitchcock projects was extensively interviewed for the project. There has been angry criticism of the movie by some. One can say, this was Hedren’s experience and her memory of a time in her life when the thrill of a career and working with an famous auteur dissolved into a living nightmare and became a bittersweet victory for her in the end. To her credit, it’s my understanding she remains a huge supporter of animal rights today. Though, I can’t say how she feels toward ornithology. Who would blame her really. As for me, I will continue enjoying Hitchcock’s classics and look forward to “Alfred Hitchcock” in theaters. And sitting in my spouse’s lap.