Tippi Hedren on the abuse she took from Alfred Hitchock: "Today, I'd be a very rich woman"

There is nothing more disappointing than finding out that someone whose work you have always admired was not a divine, magical genius, but a deeply flawed human being. Sometimes such flaws can be overlooked (like when you disagree with someone's political opinions) and sometimes it's just completely, upsettingly inexcusable. And if we are to believe Tippi Hedren and others who worked with Alfred Hitchcock, then it looks like the Master of Suspense was a truly inexcusable person. While promoting HBO's new movie about the tumultuous relationship between Hitchcock and Hedren, The Girl, the actress has spoken out about the harassment she endured, how it ruined her career, and how Hitch would have never gotten away with it today.

In The Girl, which is based on the book Spellbound by Beauty by Donald Spoto, we see a depiction of how Hitchcock routinely created an uncomfortable and hostile environment on the set, specifically targeting his leading actress. Hedren, who is played by Sienna Miller in the movie, says that Hitch (Toby Jones) apparently made overt sexual advances while working on The Birds and Marnie that were repeatedly rejected. As a result, the director "punished" the contract player by refusing to release her to make other movies, effectively holding Hedren (and her contract) hostage, even after she was done working on Marnie. Speaking on a TCA panel, she discussed the pitfalls of the studio system and how it rendered her powerless:

[A]ll those years ago, it was still the studio kind of situation. Studios were the power. And I was at the end of that, and there was absolutely nothing I could do legally whatsoever. There were no laws about this kind of a situation.

Is it even possible to imagine a director getting away with intimidating one of his performers like that? Saying to them, "If you don't give me what I want, I'm not letting you work for anyone else"? While some actor-director relationships are definitely less than cordial, no director today would ever be able to avoid a lawsuit after that kind of threat. Indeed, Hedren said if this happened today, "I would be a very rich woman." In addition to laws being passed to protect actors (and non-actors) from sexual harassment, the contract player system of 50 years ago that gave Hitchcock the power to keep Hedren under his -- and Universal's -- thumb doesn't exist anymore. Obviously, this doesn't mean that harassment has been obliterated forever, but at least less victimizers are getting off scott-free while their targets suffer silently.

Decades after Hitchcock's death, Hedren gets the last word, calling him "an extremely sad character" with "a brain... that was an unusual genius, and evil, and deviant, almost to the point of dangerous, because of the effect that he could have on people that were totally unsuspecting." She says that The Girl should serve to show today's young women that they should stand up for themselves when faced with similar situations. "[Hitchcock] ruined my career but he didn't ruin my life."

Tippi Hedren recalls sexual harassment while working with Alfred Hitchcock [NBC Today]

Studies in actorly courage: Tippi Hedren on sexual harassment and Alfred Hitchock, and Lance Reddick on race [Think Progress]


  1. I’ve noticed that among the greatest artists, there is always some sort of level of personal deficiency that mirrors the magnitude of their ability. Very few, if any, are anywhere as good people as they are artists.

    1. Yeah, but often it merely manifests as a nervous disorder or a complete lack of math ability or some such, not necessarily a tendency towards boorish and spiteful behavior.

      1.  Right. I empathise with you. But I also disagree with you. Understand, I don’t think what they do is right, I just think they do it.

        Many directors have deeply flawed personalities. It’s virtually endemic.

        Past times it was a regular part of Hollywood that established directors and execs got their pipes cleaned. Nobody talked about it. Currently it still happens and nobody talks about it. Why? Because no-one wants to upset the apple cart.

        But, we have evidence that many big directors are bug nut crazy and by inference it implies that a lot of lesser directors are equally crazy, but obscure. .

        Lars Von Triers. Evidence? Anything about Lars Van Triers.

        Harmony Korine. Evidence? Drowned a cat on film. Crazy/correct… it’s a fine line. I’ll pander here and call it crazy.

        The Wachowskis. Evidence? Really?

        Glitz AND glamor? In one town? Why that burg would be doomed. Doomed, I says!

        1. The Wachowskis. Evidence? Really?
          You say this like it’s common knowledge, but I’ve never heard any particularly “crazy” stories about the Wachowskis. What are you referring to?

    2. That was a very astute comment. We can condemn personal flaws, we all are flawed, but we should not let that get in the way of our ability to appreciate the art. It’a like the feminist outrage directed at John Lennon. Sure, John Lennon was a flawed character. He was accused by his first wife Cynthia of violence towards her and still is condemned by feminists who would hold him on an idealistic pedestal but he was able to channel his flaws to create great art and deal with it in a positive fashion.
      I’m not at all condoning Hitchcock, but he was a great artist.

      1. “I gotta ask you comrades and brothers: How do you treat your own woman at home?  She got to be herself, so she can free herself. Singing, ‘Power to the people!'”

      2. Well, I don’t know, for me this is by degrees. I’ll still be able to appreciate Hitchcock’s art, as (for these films) it happens via appreciating Hedren’s art as well. But for example my appreciation for Riefenstahl’s art has become pretty cerebral because I know the context. As for Lennon, really, I’m aware that many of my friends, including female and feminist friends, love the Beatles, but for me there’s just too much immature boorish macho crap going on in the music that when I later heard about personal flaws, I was unsurprised and unimpressed. There was not much appreciation to give up, and the feminist critique still stands.
        But Hitchcock’s dead and buried, and his works are there, so we can talk about appreciating something that won’t go away. That’s different from a contemporary artist who turns out to be a bully, harasser or otherwise abuser. And just to say “well, genius requires deviance” is taking the easy way out on the backs of those nameless ones who are already at the receiving end of the great man’s (or woman’s) whims. Deviance by no means requires disrespecting or degrading one’s fellow human beings. Indeed, I can see how this attitude — the artist requires breaking conventions! rah-rah! — can encourage this sort of behaviour in those who are working on their artistic talent.

        Of course we shouldn’t look at our heros through rose-tinted glasses. Just like for friends and relatives we’ll have to reconcile our loyalty to the discovery that one has serial relationships outside their marriage, another abuses alcohol or drugs, a third took bribes etc, and for artists the flaws can add depth and humanity to what otherwise would be too much of an artificial idol. However, I don’t buy the “well back then it was ok” very far in this case: Hitchcock may have considered himself entitled, and for many bystanders this behaviour was the prerogative of the great genius, but Hedren sure knew it was wrong. 

        Last, there’s something indecent with being oh-so concerned with the poor artistic giant and rather than with his less-powerful victim. I wonder, too, how many would-be geniuses we never knew because those who should have been their mentors chose to abuse and squash them instead.

      3. “Condemned by feminists who would hold him on an idealistic pedestal”. I am not following this train of thought.

        So, John Lennon was violent towards his first wife, world famous, unfaithful, took up with Yoko Ono while he was still married, was reportedly hostile and physically and emotionally abusive towards her and his children — but MAN this guy is an ARTIST so we need to overlook this ?

        So the best directors, artists, musicians, entertainers can do whatever they want in their personal lives because of their art ? Even being abusive, unethical, hateful as people ?

        “…but he was a great artist” is a a default setting to excuse the inexcusable, that needs some re-thinking.

          1.  I believe she’s referring to the moustachiod one. No, not the Russian, the one the Russian was fighting, then not, then fighting again

          2. I think Eddie Izzard had it right – he lost his shit when he couldn’t get the trees right.

        1. I *think* that what chryss meant was that feminists as well as a lot of other people wanted Lennon, being a Beatle and a ranking member of the Peace and Love movement, to be more than he actually was. Setting him to a higher standard than the rest of us and all, and therefore their anger, when he turned out be fallible and human, was greater than it would have been if it was the boy next door.

          1. I gotta say — feminists spend a great deal of their time thinking about women’s place in the food chain, and women’s accomplishments, and women’s perspectives, not white male rockstars ! While some feminists may have personally liked John Lennon because of his Beatleness or whatever — I have never for, example discussed “John Lennon the Feminist” in a women’s study class. John Lennon’s IMAGE as a difficult, contradictory, sensitive artist  is at odds with the realities of his personal life.

            It is also possible to like or enjoy art, music, writing, film made by a person described as “horrible”, while also being conscious of this aspect of their character. An artist’s behavior and attitudes can also provide a new filter to help to view their work from a new perspective.

            Can a feminist listen to Ike Turner, Gary Glitter, and/or John Lennon and still enjoy the music ? That depends…you would have to ask that feminist.

        2. Apparently Brian Wilson’s wife explained to one of his young children in the 70s something along the lines of “your father is a very sick [as in mentally unwell] man … but he is also a genius and we have to remember that.” We can love the art but also be critical of the man.

    3. Even in pop culture I feel like the ambiguous and ambivalent characters are more relatable, none of that light shining out of his anus crap you get especially in comic books. If there was ever a super hero in real life his name would be Rorschach.

      The interesting thing is it turns out this comment is quite recent which confused me, I was wondering why it was coming up now. Looks like Tippi Hedren is back to acting, she’s doing a new show. It’s a shame the show has gotten practically zero attention aside from these comments about Hitchcock. Then again maybe that was part of the plan, seems to have worked.

      1. Just to be clear so anyone reading your comment doesn’t get the wrong impression you are attempting: Hitchcock’s treatment of actresses, especially Hendren, is very well documented and anyone that has ever studied Hitchcock for at least the past 2 decades if not longer has become well aware of this behavior and worse. So no, this isn’t a spurious accusation only made now for attention.

        1. In all fairness, not many people dedicate at least two decades of their lives to the study of Hitchcock.

      2.  I heard about Hitchcock’s power-based womanizing decades ago.  For whatever that’s worth.

        While I’m here, I’d also like to say that Boing Boing has some of the best commenters in the business.  Mostly thoughtful–often funny–comments abound.  Very-little-to-no greasy kid stuff here.

          1. The sad thing is that abusive behavior is so common in this culture as to not be deviant at all.

    4. I think your confirmation bias is showing. You never see headlines like “John Lennon Failed To Kill Thirty-Seven People With Spork,” or “Yeah, Asimov Was a Mensch,” so you don’t think of them in this context…. but Lennon really didn’t kill those thirty-seven people.

    5. “He had a number of friends who played the genius card when it suited, failing to show up to this or that in the belief that whatever local upset it caused, it could only increase respect for the compelling nature of their high calling. These types – novelists were by far the worst – managed to convince friends and families that not only their working hours, but every nap and stroll, every fit of silence, depression or drunkenness bore the exculpatory ticket of high intent.” – Ian McEwan, Amsterdam

    6. Generally speaking the people that are liked by most are people void of any real character.  That’s why they’re so easily liked, because there’s nothing to dislike.

    7.  Meh… I’m not so sure.  How much of that is the narrative we weave around genius, especially male genius? Certainly there are geniuses who are not out right dicks, no? This seems to overstep the line in a major way.

      Also, we are all personal deficient, geniuses or not, right.  That’s probably really obvious, though, isn’t it.  :-(  obvious comment is obvious.  Or “obviousness as obviousness” or whatever… 

      I’m going elsewhere now…  sorry for the word salad.

    8.  That kind of art doesn’t come easy. I believe that it takes a twisted soul to be motivated to go to such extremes, otherwise the tortured artist would be far better served by simply living a good life.

  2. I got to spend some time with her backstage this past May when we were both guests on the Late Late Show in Dublin.  She is an incredible woman and its truly amazing how well she has coped with and moved on from such horrible experiences.  She still speaks with real passion and joy about those movies without denying the bad side.  I was particularly taken by her tattoo which is based upon the diamond birds pin that Hitchcock gave her, I can only hope that if someone put me through that I would still be able to wear the gift much less use it as the basis for tattoo without some serious grief.

    1. I was really, really hoping for you to be Jedward but sadly they were guests the following week. There’s still a chance that you’re the President of Ireland though.

        1. President O’Lizardman. An honour to share this comment thread with you, sir. I’m proud to have voted for you.

  3. Thing is, this didn’t happen today. 

    Without condoning such behaviour, and as I wasn’t there to know the full objective story, still don’t think we should rush to judge everything by today’s standards. Luckily society has changed. We might find great-grand parents who didn’t like certain races different from their own, we don’t agree with that, but we can understand in context. Sexism was rife… and while we hope our heros are above the common other, they often aren’t. They are as fallible and weak as the rest of us.

    What historians do is judge the actions from the past in context. If you went around judging everything by the standards of today…

    1. I do think some comparisons can be made to today in Hollywood – actors under tight contracts (i.e. the shite films some have to make to get the decent roles) – difference is not a personal but a faceless studio…

    2. If you went around judging everything by the standards of today…

      Then it might encourage you to consider that some of the vile shit that we do today will horrify people a century from now. And we might stop doing it.

      1. “They let moderators control the content of comment pages.  How barbaric!  No one would tolerate such censorship today.”

        There’s no telling what will horrify people of the future.  We can only do our best to be ethical and hope it stands the test of time.  Yeah, we’ll disagree on what constitutes “ethical.”  But that’s how we progress: incremental inprovements and lots of mistakes.

        1. From what I gather moderation on BB is more akin to a spam filter than censorship.

          Although I have seen some articles get closed down quickly when the reaction is mostly negative. But I try not to read too much into it.

    3. It is terribly dangerous to excuse abuses that happened in the past simply because they were normal in those times. It implies that anything that is going on routinely today is OK and that sure the fuck ain’t so.

        1. Just saying that it is a bit rich to pull the cultural relativism card for something that’s barely a half-century old.

    4. Um… well, yes and no, that’s what historians do.  Of course, we look at the context of something we consider reprehensible today (slavery, the various 20th century genocides, to give to 2 sweeping examples), and try to understand it within the context of events… BUT, we also don’t flatten out complexity by saying “this was accepted, so we can’t judege. Not to invoke Godwin here… (I KNOW!!!  SORRY!!! but I think this is relevant, as it’s considered an evil by our modern standards), but we would never say, give the Nazis a pass on their death camps because “that’s how they did things back in those days” would we?  The historical context there is that lots of people were anti-Jewish, not just Germans. Many Europeans (and Americans) worried over the “Jewish question” as it were, and many did cheer the fuhrer on as he took over the continent. Fascism was quite fashionable in the wake of the great depression and the perceived failures of capitalism and the perceived evils of communism.

      I’m sorry, but we absolutely make moral judgements about what happened in Nazi Germany (or about American slavery), even as we seek to under stand it within its context.  Some of that might have to do with proximity to events, but the truth is that Nazi Germany brings up a whole host of important questions about the modern state, nationalism, and how we understand and classify people.  We can both understand context in all that, as well as make moral judgements, even if our goal is to first understand  it.

      In addition, as someone else pointed out below, this was in living memory, and feminism was already part of the context of the day.  Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her “Vindications of the Rights of Women” in 1792.  It’s not like no one talked about this stuff before the second wave.  Tangentially, speaking of other things we consider evils today, Fredrick Douglas was talking about the evils of slavery and racism WHILE it was still happening, so that was part of the historical context too.

      The past may be a foreign country, but the inhabitants of that foreign land look and act much more like we do than we often give them credit for.

      *edited for clarity and grammar*

      1. but we give normal German populous a pass for “informing” on Jews… you can win any argument with an extreme. 

        1.  We do?  That depends on the historian, I think… Goldhagen holds ordinary Germans responsible in Hitler’s willing Executioners, as does Marion Kaplan’s Between Dignity and Despair.  Christopher Browning does as well, but he takes into account the complexity of German society during this time, and tries to reveal the range of human responses to the Nazi state (people have limited agency).  Browning and Goldhagen actually looked at the same sources, so it’s worth comparing their approaches, I think.

      2.  If context is important to you, then you could anti-godwin this quite a bit: Look up the Armenian genocide, and the message it sent to the Germans. Also take a look at the apartheid system today in the occupied territories of Palestine.  It’s so much easier to look at something awful when you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not happening anymore or ever again.

        1.  That’s true.  Hitler looked at that and was all like “look what we can get away with.” If you’ve ever read Primo Levy’s The Grey Zone (in the Drowned and the Saved, I think probably the best philosophical work about the holocaust that I’ve read), he talks about how the guards at the camps said as much – “no one talks about the Armenians”.  But I think that the whole rhetorical language we use to talk about such things came about because of the Holocaust. That is really when our modern way of thinking about genocide really emerged I think.  Just like our language about ethnic cleansing came out of the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s.

          We tend to talk about the “holocaust” in hushed tones, as a singular event that must not be repeated, ignoring what happened before (the Armenian genocide, or hell, the League of Nations enforced population swaps in the Balkans on the heels of the great war – something which continued well into the Socialist Yugoslavia era). Or it’s at times used as a hammer against those who disagree with Israeli policies – if you dislike their apartheid, you must be an anti-Semite, ignoring the fact that arabs are a semetic people, too…. But I think that the holocaust just illustrates how destructive and violent the making of modernity was…

          I do think context matters, at least as far as a real historical understanding goes. If you want to understand slavery for example, the writings of George Fitzhugh or John C. Calhoun are just as critical as those of the slaves themselves or an abolitionist like Fredrick Douglas. But then I think that pure objectivity is somewhat of myth. We always carry who we are into our work, and I’m not sure it is possible to ever be completely objective about your chosen topic…  But plenty of people disagree with me on that point and believe we can be objective on historical events.  Those people tend to be ancient historians, though….  

  4. Here’s an example of Hitchcock caught on film in the process of creating a hostile work environment. The clip made the rounds a year or two ago because it’s a variation on the “that’s what she said” joke, but it sounds fairly vulgar for 1929.


          1. She’s in a screen test captured forever with her director who makes a joke about her sleeping with men — she denies it, acts embarrassed, turns away, has to act like it’s funny to save face — but I will bet you that she was HATING this. What was she supposed to do — shout “I quit !” ? Slap his face ? Pull out a gun and shoot him ?

          2. @orangedesperado:disqus Curiously enough, I did not see the sam thing you saw. Even though I went to see it after I read the description and your take on it and know about Mr. Hitchcock’s misogyny and other shortcomings. 

          3. “nah, it ain’t harassment. They are joking about.”

            That’s what he said! And by “he,” I mean every man defending his harassing behavior as if it made any difference that he was “joking.”

    1.  FYI inadvertently rude/double entendre comments followed by “as the girl said to the soldier” in Hitchcock’s case, are these days “as the actress said to the bishop” (or “as the bishop said to the actress”, depending on precise context) kinds of jokes in the UK.

  5. Admiring someone’s work, and admiring the person, are separate things. Despite America’s confusion about whether sports figures are supposed to be role models.

  6. Despite how badly Hitchcock treated his actors.. it should always be remembered that there is one level of insane above institutionally insane, and that level is simply called Kubrick.

    1. Insanely great, I have to say. He had his creative trip together, and the naysayers who sling mug are, well, full of tripe.

      He was a loving family man with many friends, and his unwillingness to be a media ho doesn’t make him a recluse – it makes him principled.

      1. He also quite literally tortured several of his actors and actresses and an unholy attention to detail. I think he still holds the record for most retakes of a single scene.. 

          1. @akimoe:disqus  Physical restraining the victim from leaving isn’t a necessity. 
            If that alone were sufficient, any boot camp would have to be shut down immediatly.

            (Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.)

            It’s perfectly possible to inflict pain – physical and psychological – with the intent to harm and/or break the victim by exploiting feelings of love/obligation/professionalism/etc.

          2. That whole haggered freaked out look that Shelly Duvall had in The Shining was entirely authentic, he hounded the hell out of her and emotionally attacked her almost constantly, as well as never telling her about violent scenes so she would properly freak the hell out. As well as the whole 127 retakes of the baseball bat scene, but that’s more down to OCD then anything.

          3. retepslluerb,

            Even in boot camp, a soldier can refuse orders.  They are not held down against their will and forced to endure pain.  That’s why preparing for waterboarding at boot camp isn’t torture, but it is torture when doing it to a prisoner.

            Let’s remember that we’re talking about actors on a movie set.  Comparing the emotional and physical difficulties actors on a movie set endure to what prisoners who are actually tortured endure is, at best, extremely silly.

          4. Kommkast, I don’t doubt that he was very difficult and expected unreasonable efforts from his actors.  That’s simply not “torture.”

  7. Without minimizing Mr H.’s vileness, I think that there are a number of top actresses, during that period and before, who bucked the shackles of the studio system, ended up in suits and without work for a while but succeeded in resuming quite successful careers until they decided to retire several, sometimes many, years later.  So what was the difference with Ms. Hedren’s case?  Particularly tight contract constraints (and why?) or lack of fortitude?

    1. Sounds like blaming the victim. How could she have known whether she’d succeed with a lawsuit, or how long she might be out of work?

    2. Sadly, you can keep a good person down.
       Hitchock was pretty powerful, “The Birds” was his 49th film, had been a Hollywood director for over 20 years, so he was pretty established.  Hollywood is rife with stories of great actor who were working menial jobs before their great discovery, as well as the Hollywood blacklist that supressed great talents.  Philip K Dick wrote 10 stories that were eventually Hollywood pictures, but had absolutely no recognition outside of the scifi community. Intrinsic talent is often not sufficient to be recognized or to maintain a career.  As Xof notes, luck is a huge factor.     

  8. Add John Ford. By most accounts a bullying tyrant, yet his victims often revered him.

    A great artist but I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as him. 

  9. What Hitchcock did was pretty tame compared to the many scumbags living in the Hollywood Hills.

    Fame has a corrupting influence on narcissistic types who desperately seek it, especially when they’re protected from scrutiny by their wealth and powerful studio executives.

  10. There are a number of actors who enjoyed working with Hitch. Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, to name two, wouldn’t have kept making films for him if they didn’t.

  11. First off:  All great artists aren’t deeply flawed.  All human beings are flawed, some of them deeply, and some of them are artists, but there isn’t any direct correlation between artistic genius and mental illness or personality disorders. 

    Second:  The flaws of creative geniuses  are more noticeable because we NOTICE creative geniuses.  We don’t see the janitor, the fast food manager, the software designers’ flaws because we don’t notice them on any level (unless on a personal level they are important to usor do something outrageous to stand out).

    Third:  White Dragon said  “Tippi Hedron knew the rules of the game before she got started.”   Yes she did.    And your point is…what?  That women should meekly avoid any situation where some men behave like pigs?  If women did that then we wouldn’t have the right to vote and would still be treated like property.    Those silly African-Americans should have just stayed in the back of the bus, too.  After all, they KNEW what the South was like.   Apparently you don’t understand that women and minorities have had to subject themselves to abuse in order to CHANGE the rules. 

    1. Beautifully said. Lots of great artists and geniuses also happen to be ethical, kind people. Being a complete asshole has nothing to do with genius aside from the fact that being successful enables all kinds of nasty behaviours due to privilege and authority.

      1. It’s even possible that some of history’s greatest artists and geniuses were lost and forgotten because they couldn’t compete with the ruthless psychotics in the political/business side of achievement.

        The meek may inherit the earth only because they’re looking up at it from underneath.

    2. Well said. I call bullshit on all of the people who are saying “talented artists are just like that some times.” The reliable predictor of whether or not a man will rape is not “is he a creative genius.” The reliable predictor of whether or not a man will rape is “does he think he can get away with it.” Not all men will rape, or attempt rape, under those circumstances. But when you give a man the kind of power that the old studio system had, plus the legal immunity that comes from wealth, then you’ll find out if he’s a rapist or not. It is simply never a good idea to give anybody the combination of power and immunity, but it is especially never a good idea to give immunity to men who have power over women.

  12. Some people develop creative skills out of attempting to compensate for their own perceived lacks, or to put layers of outward approval on top of their own self-hatred.

    Sometimes this can lead to people developing insight into their own self-hatred, and fully elevating themselves and completing this cycle. (A lot of great comedians manage to do this.)

    Some, like perhaps Hitchcock, limp along with half-awareness of the destruction they’re causing around them. And use their minds to create rationalizations for their plainly awful behavior.

    Other times people either don’t develop the insight, or only develop it when projected towards *others*. So they make great illuminating portraits of **other people** who are villains and fascists – as a way to avoid any introspection into their own souls. [cough]Roman Polanski[/cough]

  13. I took a class once from film composer David Raksin. He told the story of how abusive Hitchcock was towards his composer Bernard Herrmann.  Over the top abusive. Hitchcock was definitely a bully.

    1. was Raksin an “icy blond?”  every time i’ve read about Hitchcock’s abuses in the past, his victims have been described as “icy blondes,” as though they deserved such treatment.

      1. I’ve read that too, but didn’t take that subtext from it. Just that people being big and (ivy) blonde triggered something in Mr. Hitchcock. 

        1. you’re right in that it is only subtext, but the consistent use of that word,”icy,” implied the Freudian “frigid” woman, and a whole host of antiquated misogynist images.

    2. And he was afraid of cops. Typical psychology of the scumbags: strong with the weak, weak with the strong.

  14. Interesting that Hitch’s sexual obsession (however wrong it played out) was the fuel behind the “greatest film” of all time.  http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time

  15. If you read enough autobiographies you get the idea that Hitchcock was a bully on the set.  Bill Mumy told a story on an A&E special on child stars a number of years ago.  Mumy was then five or six years old and filming an episode of Alfred Hitchock Presents called “Bang! You’re Dead.”  Mumy tells the story well and does a hell of a Hitchcock imitation but in fine he was fidgeting on his mark and Hitch made his way over and said “If you don’t hold still I will get a hammer and some nails and nail you to the spot.  And the blood will pour out like milk.” 

    Hardly nominates him for cool guy and yes in that era Hitchcock wasn’t even the worst of the worst. 

    I don’t do forensic psychology and I don’t go for excusing crap behavior on the basis of talent.  The man was a genius of a director and a shit of a person from time to time.  End statement.

  16. The text maybe the truth but the author is not the text. They are geniuses by the grace of being the right meat bag in the right place at the right time. And even then, once the text leaves their hands, they no longer own it. Worship the truth not the man or woman.

  17. While some actor-director relationships are definitely less than cordial, no director today would ever be able to avoid a lawsuit after that kind of threat.

    Hmmm… Depends. If you are an actress with some name or at least some money in the bank, then yes you could sue someone who does something like that.

    But it’s completely naive to believe that such behavior doesn’t still exist nowadays at the lower entry level rungs of the entertainment ladder.  I mean, how many interns are there in the entertainment world? And how many of them feel any empowerment to actually speak out against the level of work they are forced to do or the harassment they routinely deal with?

    Also, the world of a career protects de facto behavior above all else.  If Hitchcock were alive today and achieved fame today, I am sure he’d behave the same way but be more subtle about it.  And instead of  there being a formal studio system in place to protect him, there would be a similarly effective cult of personality protecting him.  Others who would tough out the B.S. would easily defend such behavior at the expense of others to simply get rid of the competition.

    Heck, forget about entertainment.  Look at politics: Was John Edwards really punished for his behavior when he screwed around on his ill wife & fathered a child? Dominique Strauss Kahn has a history of sexual inappropriateness, and look, he’s being sued but is he really being punished?

    The world has changed, but it hasn’t changed at all as well.

  18. stephendurnin:the problem right here is that the article is specifically about Tippi Hedren’s experience — and her experience was that her entire career was obstructed and derailed due to Hitchcock. Yes, she was in two of his films that made her famous — but she was also endlessly propositioned, harassed, humiliated which she resisted, and would not play along with. 

    You continue to cite examples, without specifics, about how other actors seemed to find Hitchcock bearable to work with. There is no debate about Hitchcock’s “general nastiness”. You seem unable to process that what Tippi Hedren experienced was very much about Hitchcock’s abuse of power, his sense of entitlement (ie why shouldn’t he be able to fuck the women he has employed, even when they don’t want to fuck him ?). If the actress won’t play along with his casting couch(or continued employment couch, as it was), well then he can just ruin her career by preventing her (through his obstructive and unfair contract)from working in her profession. Now try to imagine this happening to say, Cary Grant, or Jimmy Stewart — or any other male actor of the day– or the editor or camera person or art director.

    Try to imagine this happening to yourself in the workplace. Your male boss is a repellent but also very powerful bully. He wants to fuck you — but you’re straight, so you won’t, so he humiliates you in front of other people, and makes it very clear that he is abusing you, because you won’t fuck him, and the other people in his employ have to play along with this, or they will lose their jobs, too, so basically everyone is afraid of this person. And because you won’t fuck this guy, he is able to prevent you from working for anyone else, so your career is ruined for decades.

    Then imagine, after you have told your story, that someone such as yourself pipes up to say “Well other people thought he was okay, and they worked with him fine.” That is not the story here.

  19. I went to her house in the sixties cause a guy I knew was painting her fence. There was this daughter sunning by the pool. She looked maybe 14. What a beauty.

    Bout four years later I flash back on this when I go to Sue Lyon’s house with friend Nelson. They were buds cause they had the same last name. She was Lolita, he just passed. So long Nelson.

  20. I don’t see a lot of people saying appreciate the art AND condemn the behavior. Though maybe a lot of people are sort of taking that as a given.  If we catch a budding Hitchcock behaving this way in the present, well meaning people should try to stop him.  When it happens in the past, we can condemn it.  At the same time, a movie is a static entity that can be appreciated independently.  The only conflict occurs when the only way to stop bad behavior is though boycott.

    1. I think that standard should apply to everyone — not just budding geniuses. Speak up against tyrants, misogynists, racists, abusers and bullies — especially when the people that you see acting this way are your family, friends and coworkers. 

  21. This is a more general observation, but there is has traditionally been a strong Casting Couch dynamic at work in theatre, film and I venture perhaps even television. I have personal experience of knowing scores of actresses that underwent horrific sexual advances while trying to attain performance time. And I am not talking about “Hey baby, if ya want the role, ya gotta get on your knees” sort of thing, but rather persistent Beaten Dog syndrome where the subject is alternatingly adored and reviled to create a conditioning response for approval. Most performers I have personally known, and I was one myself for almost 20 years, have a genetic NEED to be in front of an audience, which I did not. They are incomplete with that crowd’s attention, and this leaves many of them very psychologically vulnerable, which can be taken advantage of quite easily if a director/producer is sociopathic.  It is easy for the “word’ to spread that a woman is “difficult” making it incredibly challenging to find work, so many of them…um…bite the bullet and move on. I have no citations, merely personal experience and anecdotal hearsay.

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