Posted on

John Russell Taylor, Hitchcock’s official biographer, reviews The Girl

John Russell Taylor submitted the following review. He wrote “Hitch” in 1978 with the cooperation of Alfred Hitchcock:

“I’ve just been watching The Girl. The whole thing is totally absurd to anyone who, like me, knew Hitch, Alma, Jim Brown and Peggy Robertson at all, and Tippi back in the Seventies. Admittedly there are not many of us left, but even in its own terms it is pretty ridiculous and unbelievable. I mean in just the basics, like how a film is shot. For instance, if you are shooting a scene in which a woman enters a room composed and groomed, and is then reduced to a bleeding, crumpled hulk under concentrated bird attack, how could you follow the first take with forty-some more without a single interlude for makeup and hairdressing to return her to how she looked at the beginning for take two plus? And then again, with the telephone box episode, how likely is it that any director would, out of sheer spite, risk seriously disfiguring his leading lady right near the beginning of shooting an expensive production, or indeed ever, however he felt about her personally?

I can only trust that even a relatively ignorant audience will see this for the piece of unmitigated nonsense it is. Toby Jones sounds uncannily like, but doesn’t really look much like – and why is he given a wig obviously designed to suggest that Hitch dyed his hair, badly? The loud, jokesy image presented of a Hitchcock set, with Hitch bellowing dirty jokes to a sycophantically responsive attendance is, as anyone would tell you, totally wide of the mark. I’ve known directors – John Schlesinger, for example -, who loved and encouraged that sort of on-set atmosphere, but never Hitch in a thousand years. His sets were as quiet and orderly as a cathedral. Sienna Miller I thought gives as decent a performance as possible in the circumstances, but never comes within miles of Tippi in appearance or manner. And what about the shooting of the screen test where Hitch tells her to swing her hips and behave more sluttishly? After all, we know what the actual test looks like, as it is on the net and the DVD, and in any case this is the absolute opposite of what Hitch ever wanted of his cool blondes.

A pity Evan Hunter is no longer with us. He would certainly be suing over being made to look like a total idiot. I suppose it was built into the project that no one should be included, Tippi apart (and she was obviously involved with the film) who was left to sue. Well, anyway… Now for the Anthony Hopkins version of Hitch at the time of Psycho. . .”


5 responses to “John Russell Taylor, Hitchcock’s official biographer, reviews The Girl

  1. john harbinger ⋅

    Well, If Alfred Hitchcock did behave like this with Tippi Hedren, she was the exception. All his other leading ladies spoke nothing but praise for him.
    Alfred Hitchcock ruined her career? Hmm, she was only under contract with him for 1 year/18 months after Marnie. Wasnt it during this time he wanted to film Mary Rose with Tippi ? But that never materialised.
    It is claimed françois truffaut wanted her for a movie (A part that went to Julie Christie) But the Truffaut camp always denied this.
    Hedren appeared at the AFI for Hitchcock in 79. Made countless personal appearances with Pat Hitchcock. So why wait now to dish the dirt?
    As for the scene in the telephone box and the glass, i hardly think anyone would want to deliberatly disfigure an actor.
    I found the whole movie distasteful.
    If he was such a vile perverted man to Tippi Hedren, she surely has benefitted from the movies she did with Alfred Hitchcock.
    She still wears the brooch of The Birds the Hitchcocks got her.
    Im just divided on the whole thing to be honest.

  2. Tony Williams ⋅

    I’m teaching Hitchcock again tonight this semester and managed to see THE GIRL with Arabic subtitles the night after its UK TV screening. What intrigues me about the whole business is why Ms. Hedren has waited since now to speak out especially after all those appearances at conventions when she sang Hitchcock’s praises? If Hitchcock actually had a contract asking her to be available sexually does a copy of this contract exist or is this all hearsay since nobody else appears to have been present when these incidents occurred. I notice that Spoto was one of the advisors and this is disturbing since he has built his owm career by tarnishing Hitchcock’s reputation. And what about his daughter who is now in her mid-80s? Hedren and Spoto seem to have chosen the right time to come out with these “revelations” and I hope that Patricia Hitchcock (who may be treating this whole issue with the contempt and dignified silence it deserves) is not in poor health as a result. Were Hitchcock and Alma still with us I expect a libel suit would be forthcoming. Until I am convinced by more firm evidence, I am inclined to take the word of Doris Day, Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, Normal Lloyd and others who knew Hitchcock.

    • john harbinger ⋅

      No idea why i put my last comment that I’m divided. I certainly dont think that. Hitchcock has been my idol since i was a teenager.
      I loathed The Girl.
      Kim Novak’s comments just said it all for me.

      Janet Leigh also adored Hitchcock (Ive read her book) Ingrid Bergman, flew from London to L A when Hitchcock was on his deathbed to see him . And Of Course Grace Kelly was a friend too.

      But Kim Novak’s comments said it all for me, Interesting too as she is (was) friends with Tippi Hedren.

  3. Thomas Yotka ⋅

    I’m afraid you’ll be even more disappointed with the Hopkins/Mirren movie. From a historical accuracy standpoint the film is about 90% fiction (e.g. you know you’re in trouble when the opening date card “July 8, 1959” for the premiere of “North By Northwest” is WRONG!–but this is one of the problems with writing scripts using Wikipedia as opposed to the painstaking research Hitchcock martialed for his films). The film is entertaining, but quite clearly made without the help or cooperation of Pat Hitchcock, the Hitchcock Estate or Universal Pictures. In fact the film is (legally speaking) a PARODY, so that none of the interested parties can sue–note how no dialogue or even recreations of the original sets are use to avoid copyright infringement. Probably the most annoying thing about the picture is the portrayal of Hitchcock as a moody/moping character. My research into his activites reveals someone constantly working, often juggling multiple projects at the same time. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote on January 7, 1960 in the midst of shooting “Psycho” to a writer asking for help:

    “I am sorry I won’t be able to do anything about your story, because I am thoroughly immersed in a production at the moment, which we are making under pressure of time. Immediately following, with only a few days off, I start shooting a one hour show, and three or four days after this is finished, I go into another one hour show.

    Following this, I have to do a one-half hour television show, and then a quantity of introductions for the television show. During this I will be editing the first picture, and attending to the dubbing and music, and also the same for the television shows. This would appear to make me rather busy, don’t you think – and then within a week after, I have finished all this, I am embarking on a tour through the Far East.”

    To enjoy the Hopkins/Mirren film you have to treat it as a Fantasia Based on Themes of Alfred Hitchcock which features two fictional characters named “Alma” and “Hitch” who bear little or no resemblance to the people you knew in real life.

  4. Malu Huacuja del Toro ⋅

    Contrary to everything that an inexperienced actor like Tippi Hedren may want to understand about her own craft, here is the testimony of a really professional actor, the wondrous Liv Ullman, about a prodigious director, Igmar Bergman, and the way he directed her on some scenes, motivating her emotions and creativity for the best. Please watch this clip. She just did her work. What would Hedren said under the same circumstances?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s