Just in case you’re the type to not do your homework, along with liking nasty gossip and film misrepresentations, let’s get the ‘Pervy Creep’ thing out of the way, shall we?
One of Hitchcock’s best known movies, ‘The Birds,’ was filmed in 1962. After his having discovered model Tippi Hedren ( mother to Melanie Griffith and grandmother to Dakota Johnson), in a television commercial, he cast her for the lead in the movie and from then onward Hitch referred to her as ‘The Girl.’ Hedren went on to make a second movie with Hitch titled ‘Marnie,’ in 1964 with Sean Connery (who some consider The James Bond, though I prefer the more believable and desirable Daniel Craig, oh yes I do…).
Fifty years after working for Hitch, in 2016, with practically every other actress to have worked with him and Hitch himself had been long dead, Hedren disclosed in her memoir and subsequent interviews that the director made sexual advances towards her on multiple occasions, including that he had put her in physical danger various times during the shooting of ‘The Birds.’
The only other account that came close to Hedren’s were circulating reports that Hitch came at a naked Janet Leigh welding a butcher knife, during blocking of the shower scene in the 1960 ‘Psycho’ . Interestingly, Leigh was never naked on set, she wore a cream colored bathing suit and was always shot from 2″ below her breastbone, but her body double, Marli Renfro was. Ms Renfro has repeatedly said that Hitch treated her with the utmost respect and wondered if he hadn’t had a word or two with the 20 men who worked to shoot the 78 camera set-ups and 52 cuts that went into that legendary three-minute scene, because they were all so respectful during the shoots.
Actress Kim Kovack, who is still alive today – whom Hitch directed along with James Stewart in ‘Vertigo,’ which was voted the #1 Movie by critics, dethroning ‘Citizen Kane’ – after hearing of Hedren’s allegation against Hitch said:
“I feel bad about all the stuff people are saying about him now, that he was a weird character … I did not find him to be weird at all. I never saw him make a pass at anybody or act strange to anybody. And wouldn’t you think if he was that way, I would’ve seen it or at least seen him with somebody? I think it’s unfortunate when someone’s no longer around and can’t defend themselves.”
Ms Kovack would have known, as she was considered one of the Hollywood ‘Blond Bombshells’ of her time. I’m not going to say it was impossible that Hitchcock made sexual advances towards Hedren while filming ‘The Birds,’ but I couldn’t unearth any direct accusations against Hitch, except Hedren’s and did find many complementary Hollywood insider remarks like those of Marli Renfro, who was no chopped liver in her day either, just sayin’…
After thoroughly checking out Hedren’s story I believe Hitch was innocent, but judge for yourself. The reason I started with the accusation is because what interests me far more is the fact that Hitch knew how to keep us clenched jawed and on the edge of our seats, occasionally eliciting a gasp or even a scream from us – Hitch knew how to entertain us and his movies continue doing so almost a century later.
Next I’ll discuss my favorite Hitchcock flicks, but for now…
I’m Outta Here! ~ Zadie G