I got to see "Hitchcock" over the weekend and it was everything that I expected and more with Hopkins acting his overly stuffed, big boy pants off along with the rest of the cast. It really was great fun to take a peek behind the scenes during the making of "Psycho". With that said, I won't be reviewing it because, like every great film, it's been analyzed, reviewed to death! What I do want to discuss today is the HBO film, "The Girl".
I watched "The Girl" after seeing "Hitchcock" and I'm really not sure if that was a good or bad thing but what's done is done.
The wonderful stage and screen actor, Toby Jones plays Hitch in the film. Although I'm a huge fan of Jones, I have to say I was a bit skeptical when I saw that he would be playing Hitch. He's short with a slight build and while he's British his voice is effeminate. Of course my fears were quickly set aside when I remembered how great he was as Truman Capote in "Infamous" 2006 then as Karl Rove in "W" 2008. The stunning Sienna Miller takes on the role of Tippi Hedren. I've been a fan of Miller since seeing her play the tragic, socialite/model, Edie Sedgwick, muse to Andy Warhol in "Factory Girl" 2006.
Oh, if you thought I was done talking about "Hitchcock" I'm not, as there will be a few comparisons in this review.
Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock
Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren
Imelda Staunton as Alma Reville Hitchcock (Imelda really does make a more believable Alma in appearance than Helen Mirren did.)
Conrad Kemp as Evan Hunter
Penelope Wilton as Peggie Robertson
Angelina Ingpen as Melanie
Director: Julian Jurrold
*This is not one of my snarky photo reviews in case you're expecting that.
If you're still here, well I hope you are, let's take a look at "The Girl" . (I'll try not to give too much away for those who haven't seen the film but we all know how the relationship between Tippi and Hitch turned out, how the films turned out. Okay, to be fair, not everyone has seen "Marnie" which is fine even though it is my favorite Hitchcock film. "There, there now.")
As the film opens we see birds in a cage being manipulated with strings. ( I think we can all agree that Hitch loved delicate things that he could manipulate and who's to say if in his mind they were caged. He certainly did use his talents to work magic.)
We get a glimpse of Hitchcock who's on the other end of the strings. They've certainly done a fine job in transforming Jones into the 'Master of Suspense'. He's not as padded up as Hopkins in "Hitchcock". It seems they've opted to put him in baggy clothes but the facial prosthetics are quite good as they were for Hopkins but let's move along.
We get our first glimpse of Tippi who's waiting outside of Hitch's office. While she waits her turn to meet the director who's casting for the lead in "The Birds" she admires his framed photographs of Novak, Kelly and Leigh. She certainly has big shoes to fill but no pressure.
The outspoken Hitch is critical of her wardrobe choices and her lack of acting experience but he perks up briefly upon finding out that she's a divorcée. No pesky husband roaming around the set!
We're quickly reminded that Tippi was a single mom during this time, with Melanie Griffith around 5 yrs old when her mother started filming "The Birds".
We get a few scenes of Hitch behind the camera, giving Tippi tips on how to walk, stand, emote, immerse herself into the character, Melanie Daniels.
We get our first glimpse of Alma Hitchcock as they watch Tippi's screen test. If only we could read her mind. I can imagine she's thinking "Here we go again!...This man, this genius and ANOTHER blond obsession!"
At a formal lunch with Hitch and Alma to announce she got the part of a lifetime, Tippi has already been transformed into a movie star. This should turn out splendidly.
A quick look at birds being fed then filmed at the city dump as we prepare to make a picture.
As they did over the making of "Psycho", the studio is already riding Hitch. This time for giving Tippi a 7 year contract before the first scene of "The Birds" has even been shot. Hitch reminds the boss that Tippi is single so she won't be getting pregnant. An odd reason for signing an actress. (This topic was also brought up in "Hitchcock" when referring to Leigh and Vera Miles. I think it's safe to say that when you commit to Hitch, you commit to doing or not doing a lot of things. )
Hitch oversees everything from the color of Tippi's lipstick to the perfect shade of blond on her gorgeous head.
He's also made sure she has a dressing room fit for a star.
While "Hitchcock" shows Alma as a very opinionated, a strong woman who voices her distaste for Hitch's obvious obsession with his leading ladies, this Alma is quite passive and timid. Make no mistake though that she's fully aware and often uncomfortable with his familiarity and tasteless jokes when it comes to these women.
The first day of filming is a cold and miserable day with torrential rain but Tippi doesn't seem to mind as she amuses herself with one of the 'stunt' birds on set. She then walks off with one of the set designers.
This doesn't escape the hawkish eyes of Hitch who's waiting out the weather in his car.
Watch the innocent flirting, Tippi or you'll find yourself alone with a rogue bird!
For now, a vulgar limerick will do.
The scenery and the classic cars are quite spectacular.
If what takes place inside the car is remotely true, it's not spectacular but shocking. I won't give too much away here. Settle down, Hitch!
We're ready to film the phone booth scene and all we need is Tippi. Let's hope she wasn't too shaken by yesterdays events. (This is one of a couple of scenes where I'm distracted by Toby Jones's small stature as Hitch had a presence, wasn't dwarfed by his surroundings. Toby Jones is 5'5 where as Hitchcock was 5'7 and well over 200 lbs.)
As she awaits the ACTION cue from Hitch, she appears apprehensive but who can blame her.
This would traumatize me, injured by it or not. Mistake or not! Of course Hitch walks off without comment after the take, seemingly pleased with what just happened. (I'm terrified of birds. I always have been. Of course I'm not too fond of broken glass flying at me either.)
Hitch sends his secretary, Peggy to smooth things over. (Yes, that's actress, Penelope Wilton who you might recognize if you're a Downton Abbey fan. She was also fabulous in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" better known as my moms latest favorite film.)
We get a close up to remind us of why Tippi isn't so willing to press on or forgive Hitch.
The two meet over champagne to smooth things over and discuss why it's so important for her character to face a lot of birds alone in a dark attic. Awww, she's such a push over for the sake of his vision.
There are no apologies but as a piece offering he leaves the "Marnie" script for her to read. (If she's not seeing red now, she soon will be! Zinnngg!) Of course we all know and it's made apparent in the film that Tippi was given the part only because Grace Kelly turned it down. A bit of trivia: January Jones was originally cast as Tippi but turned it down due to her pregnancy.
We see an injured and terrified Tippi go through take after take of the attic scene. The crew's visibly upset and concerned for her well being, wanting to stop. (This was hard to watch!)
Within a few weeks, things are better on the surface as they make their way to the premiere. It's amazing they both got through making the film in one piece.
We're back on the set to start filming "Marnie" and Hitch is up to his old tricks.
Peggy has intervened on Tippi's behalf to try and persuade Hitch to stop forcing the situation, keep their relationship professional.
It's time for the "Marnie" wedding night 'lovemaking' scene and I think we can all speculate on who Tippi was thinking of with that glassy, blank stare. (She really does remind me of Tippi during that scene.)
We watch Hitch make a creepy phone call to Tippi on Christmas Eve while Alma looks on in disgust.
More really uncomfortable conversation before we get to the point that Tippi's being held down by Hitch's control over her career.
Even Alma has had enough. I'm glad she's found her voice. It couldn't have been easy for her having to live with Hitch's play things for years.
The film closes with the final scene of "Marnie" and Tippi showing relief that her working relationship with Hitch is over.
This film clearly depicts Alfred Hitchcock as a controlling, abusive, sadistic, creep. He obviously isn't around to defend this depiction and there are a lot of critics who feel that Tippi and others who might have been privy to this behavior distorted or even made all of it up. It's not my place to judge whether it's fact or fiction since I wasn't there and most who dispute it weren't there either. If even a third of it was true then it's a sad situation for all concerned.
Having said this, I think that we all want to believe that our idols are perfect, without flaws or sin. We put them on a pedestal and we're ready to defend them when anything is said to tarnish that pristine image. I know that when it comes to Charlie Chaplin, I'm one of his biggest apologists there is. He was brilliant and I adore him but at the same time I know that he had a lot of flaws off set and some of his personal decisions regarding young women were shameful.
I guess what I'm saying is, we don't know how Hitch or anyone else is off camera in their personal lives. Surely we can't all believe that with Hitch's subject matter, what he chose to fight to depict on-screen, even subtly that he left everything behind when he walked off set at night. He was a genius when it came to film making but I can distinguish between that and what he may have been like as a person.
Please feel free to leave your comments but keep in mind that I did not write the script for "The Girl". : ) Also, if you've seen the film please share your opinions on it and if you haven't, I do hope you'll give it a chance. The acting was great, the scenery, costumes, automobiles. We also get a glimpse of a lot of the techniques, the secrets that Hitch used to make his films stand out above other director's work. That's enough to waste an hour or so on a film then if you want to rip it to shreds, that's alright too.
See ya soon!