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.