Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hitch and The Girl

THE GIRL - one of those two new films on Alfred Hitchcock. How to describe the tedium, its not as much fun as MOMMIE DEAREST, but seems the same kind of biopic, cheaply made on minimal sets. Toby Jones initally seems all wrong for the jovial (according to his appearances on tv and interviews) director, but one soon get used to the voice and manner, though this Hitch seems a very gloomy depressed man full of malicious intent towards his latest discovery. After all those independent Hollywood stars like Ingrid and Grace, Doris, Janet, Eva Marie and Vera Miles who went off and got pregnant, and by Tarzan no less, he now had a new discovery under contract whom he was looking forward to molding and directing. Was he really though the creepy, cruel, sadistic control freak who treated everybody appallingly - as depicted here?, and was able to get away with it due to his powerful position ....

Sienna Miller is quite right actually as Tippi Hedren, and looks the part.  The film re-creates those screen tests which Hitch did with the tv model and hired Martin Balsam to play opposite her (the real tests are included in THE BIRDS dvd extras) and shooting begins on THE BIRDS with Hitch getting more and more malevolent towards his pliable leading lady, soon those real birds will be thrown at her, a punishment for her refusing to bend to his will? Dependables Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton play Hitch's wife Alma, and his assistant Peggy Robertson, one wishes they had more to do. It will certainly be interesting seeing how Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren play the Hitchcocks in that other Hitch movie, and of course Scarlett Johannson as Janet Leigh and James D'Arcy as Tony Perkins ....

Sienna or Tippi ?
This BBC telefilm though, written by Gwyneth Hughes and directed by Julian Jarrold, from the Donald Spoto book SPELLBOUND BY BEAUTY and with the co-operation of Tippi herself, just seems like a mean-spirited mish-mash. Surely THE BIRDS and MARNIE had more cheerful sets than that depicted here? We only really see Tippi and that attic scene - but for large parts of the picture she is groomed and poised, whether dialling the telephone with a pencil at the pet shop or sparring with Mitch....
Are we meant to feel that Hitch feels so unloved and unattractive that he becomes a monster, a sex pest, that the only woman he ever had sex with was his wife and that apparantly stopped a long time ago. His daughter Patricia is not mentioned ...There were many abusive directors in Hollywood from Erich Von Stroheim or Von Sternberg ? to Otto Preminger. Hitch seems to have been generally liked by his frequent stars like Bergman, Grant, Stewart, Kelly .... one can hardly believe he was such a monster on set as the one depicted here. We get it that he became obsessed by Hedren and kept her under contract and would not let her work for other directors. It is well documented - I do not though see THE GIRL as a major contribution to the Hitchcock canon - people instead will be looking at NORTH BY NORTHWEST, REAR WINDOW, REBECCA, etc for generations to come. I myself am returning to NOTORIOUS on again this afternoon and yet another look at, yes THE BIRDS, which was on again last night, its a film I never tire of and yes Tippi is marvellous in it - and I really will have to dig out that dvd of MARNIE which I have not seen since its general release .... an interesting end to to this Hitchcock year here, with all the films revived by the BFI and those classic hits endlessly seen and analysed again as VERTIGO became the "Sight & Sound" new number one, as documented at Hitchcock label, with reviews of PSYCHO, TOPAZ etc.
Sienna or Tippi ?

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