BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Jul 21st, 2013 •

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Back when I was teaching at the New School in Manhattan, Donald Spoto was supervising the dept, and we spoke now and then. I remember helping him with a book he was doing on Stanley Kramer by loaning him an audio cassette I’d made of an interview with the producer/director. Spoto’s revelatory work on the dark side of Alfred Hitchcock’s personality was fascinating and never greatly in doubt.

I gather the vitriol that’s been leveled at this film for gross inaccuracies concerning Hitchcock’s obsession with Tippi Hedron extends mainly toward screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes and information that was gathered closer to filming. It’s always unfortunate when this happens. The truth is so elusive, so subject to Rashomon-syndrome. I’ll accept that there are errors in this narrative, both slight and gross, but how slight, and how gross, I suspect we’ll never know entirely.

Oddly, I prefer this film to the other one that came out last year: HITCHCOCK. First of all, the makeup’s better. Anthony Hopkins is a wonderful actor, thank god, because that make-up job was really grotesque and worked against the illusion. Toby Jones is a great Hitchcock in THE GIRL, and his makeup doesn’t get in the way. He was also a very good Truman Capote in INFAMOUS.

Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren is a compelling cypher in THE GIRL. She holds the lens for long periods of time without a completely readable emotion on her face, as if she’s daring Kulechov to come back from the grave and provide the bookends. I found it all rather experimental, and I liked it.

Imelda Staunton plays Alma Reville (Lady Hitchcock). In the other film, it was Helen Mirren, and I have a nagging feeling that in order to get Ms. Mirren for the role, the screenwriters had to build up her part. What everyone wanted to see in that film was more Hitchcock and less Alma. This shifting of the focus weakened the dramatic strength of the film. Ms. Staunton, incidentally, was my Best Supporting Actress choice for THE AWAKENING in 2011.

Both films give Hitchcock a mean bent. This one possibly moreso than the other, but then he wasn’t coming on to Janet Leigh during the filming of PSYCHO. Or was he? There is a theory out there that the other blondes – Kim Novak, Grace Kelly, etc. – just indulged the guy and wrote it off as harmless. Others say it was Hitchcock’s particularly vulnerable time of life that let the obsession out of the bag, and that Tippi was the unfortunate recipient.

I had the pleasant opportunity to interview Ms. Hedren a few years ago at ‘Saturday Nightmares,’ a horror convention in New Jersey. I asked her if Rod Taylor noticed anything amiss during the filming of THE BIRDS, or if Sean Connery noticed anything wrong during the making of MARNIE, and if so, did they do anything about it?

Sorry guys: I don’t remember her answer.

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