OSCARS: Alfred Hitchcock Is New Again

Craig Modderno is an AwardsLine contributor

Director Alfred Hitchcock is experiencing something of a revival—32 years after the master of suspense left this mortal coil. Fox Searchlight’s Hitchcock, which stars Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, just opened the AFI Fest; Universal just released an elaborate box set, Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection, which showcases 13 of his films on Blu-ray; and HBO recently aired The Girl, starring Toby Jones and Sienna Miller, which examines the tempestuous relationship between Hitch and Tippi Hedren.

Hedren, a former model who made her feature-film debut in 1963’s The Birds, was an object of obsession for the director, something she’s only recently begun discussing in detail. Hedren served as an adviser on the HBO movie and recently attended a screening of a digitally remastered version of The Birds at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

“When we made The Birds, it was a different time in film history. If there was any tension from the set or people were having affairs, the press agents covered it up,” Hedren explains. “But when Hitch attacked me the first time in the limo right before we arrived on the set, the crew knew what had happened. Then the torture began. He started using real instead of mechanical birds to attack me, and several scenes were in the final cut. It was scary, brutal, and, at times, unsafe.”

Nevertheless, Hedren still has admiration for the man who kept her under his thumb.

“He wouldn’t let me work for any other director while he had me under my 7-year contract,” she says. French director “François Truffaut wanted me for the female lead in Fahrenheit 451, and I never found that out until I read it somewhere. Hitchcock was just a lousy, disagreeable man. But if he was here right, now we’d find one thing to agree on: the studio should have rereleased or made The Birds in 3D. It’s the perfect film for that process.”

  1. It’s unfair to post this without any qualifications. Tippi’s stories are primarily unsubstantiated allegations which have only come to light in her later years, after Hitchcock’s death. The stories get crueler each year as she does press tours across the country and sells autographs at screenings of The Birds. I certainly can’t say whether her accounts are accurate, but I do think the manner in which she has dispersed this information makes its veracity unclear. Also, how dare she say Hitchcock would have wanted a 3D rerelease of The Birds. Hitchcock had documented tensions with being forced to put Dial M in 3-D back in the day. Though he ended up doing a brilliant job of it, the film was barely screened in 3-D anyway. She may feel she has the right to speak against a dead man, but she certainly does not have the right to speak for him.

    1. Overlooking the fact that people can change their minds over time, there’s a great difference between using 3-D for a filmed stage play that takes place mostly on one set and an expansive, effects-heavy thriller. Hitch likely may not have wanted 3-D for THE BIRDS, but on a theoretical level it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

  2. Tippi Hendren looks great. She is always dressed so sharp. Hitchcock did some amazing films and work, but like most creative genius, some
    things I would rather not know about behind the man.

  3. So right, linda. Hes not here to defend himself. He was a genius with flaws, like most. His movies speak for themselves.

  4. THE GIRL was awful. It was sooooo one-sided and beneath HBO. It was like a Lifetime movie or something that belonged on MTV or VH1. It was nausea inducing it was so bad. I can’t believe Toby signed on to play Hitch with that script. Awful, awful. Virtually unwatchable.

  5. Hitchcock’s movies are classics and will never go out of style. His smart ways of story telling and his great use of montage is makes them timeless.

    Anecdotes? If you’d like to read something really great on Hitchcock then read the interview book on Hitchcock (if you haven’t already). The interviewer: Francois Truffaut – in 1967 – when he had long been a celebrated director himself after “Jules et Jim” and “Fahrenheit 451″.

    That book is a great insight into filmmaking in general and Hitchcock’s movies in particular. The Hitchcock spirit is in there.

    Hitchcock has a bel etage suite at the filmmaking pantheon.

  6. I also am getting tired of hearing her trash his reputation. I must say that Toby Jones was remarkable as Hitchcock however (particularly compared to what I’m seeing of Hopkins) and “The Girl” is interesting if viewed from the perspective that everything Hitchcock does in the film made her performance better and is fairly understandable ;-)

  7. Francois Truffaut DID NOT want Tippi for Farenheit 451, as her daughter has denied it. Stop embellishing the facts Tippi!

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