How Winston Graham conceived Poldark’s Demelza Carne and Marnie from his feminist point of view

Winston Graham’s Poldark begins on the BBC this Sunday 8th March, 2015. The author, who wrote the novel Marnie, was interviewed shortly before his death in 2003 by Save Hitchcock.

When questioned on his position about the abjection of women in society, Winston Graham described himself as an instinctive feminist. The roots of his feminism can be traced back to his childhood, early in the 20th Century. Graham was born in Victoria Park, Manchester in 1908, six years before the start of the First World War. He already had a brother, Cecil, who was ten years older. Graham’s mother, Anne Mawdsley, wanted him to be a girl, so she molly coddled him as a child. He wrote in his autobiography, “Many years later it dawned on me, looking back over the evidence, that my mother badly wanted a girl when I was born, and although she mostly disguised her feelings she would dearly have loved to dress me up in buttons and bows.”

Because of the age difference between his brother Cecil and himself, Graham was in effect brought up as an only child. When it turned out that he was ‘delicate’ of health as he was growing up, unlike his older brother, his mother used that as an excuse to channel her mixed feelings on wanting him to be a girl by lavishing him with excessive attention and spoiling him, even to the point of delaying his schooling until he was seven. This may account for Graham’s feminine roots and empathy with the woman’s position. “The image my father liked to present of himself was that of a frail child,” says son Andrew Graham. But the reality was Graham was in relatively good health for most of his life and indeed lived until the age of 95. His son believes that he cleverly used his appearance and claims of fragility so that not only was he spoiled by his mother, but later in life, he often pretended to be weak so women would look after him or conduct chores on his behalf. Graham’s mother Anne, also had the reputation of being delicate. Before she married Graham’s father, her mother told him that they could never have children saying that Anne was too delicate. In reality she lived to the age of 80 and produced two sons, whose longevity exceeded hers.

The Graham family never adopted a scientific approach to medicine and remained fearful of ill health. Just before Graham’s 14th birthday, he became seriously ill with pneumonia and his mother also contracted double pneumonia and nearly died. Graham remembers being sent to the cinema one night when she was gravely ill. When Graham was 16, he contracted pneumonia again, and his own life too was in jeopardy. He also had a weak heart and when enlisting for service, was turned down by the airforce, army and navy for medical reasons. “When it came time for me to register I chose what I thought the least uncivilized of the three services, which was the navy,” remembers Graham. But he failed the medical and was passed from the navy to the army. The army too turned him down, so he applied for the Coastguard Service and was accepted in 1940.

Although Marnie is the product of an overtly religious upbringing at the hands of her mother, Graham’s family was not religious. As he mentions in his memoirs, “Were we God-fearing? Not really. My mother kept steadily, if quietly to her beliefs all her life, but her father was very much a free-thinker and associated with atheists and agnostics.” Graham shied away from overt religion and would only go to church twice a year with his mother. But he used his knowledge to create the character of Mrs. Elmer, Marnie’s zealously religious mother in the novel. The girl Christine, his childrens’ babysitter also believed in her faith. “It came from Christine, because her mother was religious at the time,” said Graham. “I transferred my sympathies to her, and anything religious came from the person that I was writing about.” After Graham’s father died, his mother supported him in his writing career. “When my father died I was nineteen and my mother knew there was only one thing I wanted to do in life, and as she could just afford to support me if I lived at home, she offered to do so,” says Graham. “I never earned a living any other way.” His mother was depicted as being frail and of ill health, but in reality she was a very strong character, a proper Victorian lady, who told him frightening stories as a child. “She loved to make your flesh creep – and God, did she not make mine! It was not of ghosts of which she spoke but of ill-health.” She spoke about her cousin Ernest who contracted pneumonia and was dead within a week, and of other relatives who similarly died young, scaring the young Winston with tales of illness and disease.

Andrew Graham believes that his father’s fear of ill health, compounded by his mother’s, enabled him to write about Marnie’s fear of sex. A grave fear of bad health and dying is therefore equated with a great fear of sex. In the free association scene, when Mark offers the word ‘death’, Marnie’s reply is ‘me’. On the origins of the character Marnie, Andrew Graham says that while Christine the baby sitter, and the other women in the newspaper articles undoubtedly helped his father start the process of creating Marnie, “the ideas that come from them are just the start and not more than that. My father believed passionately that characters have to come alive and live in the author’s imagination if they are to have conviction.  Further, I suspect that my father did not have a huge problem in working on Marnie’s introspection. My father’s elder brother was ten years older and so my father was brought up almost as an only child.  What is more his mother “molly-coddled” him and gave him a fear of ill-health and I think he used this to find his way into Marnie’s fears about sex.”

Graham himself acknowledged, “I’m a novelist and I like to create characters sympathetically, and I don’t really use characters to make a point of my own.” The characters in Marnie were those he identified with, such as Marnie’s view of sex equated with his fear of illness. He was definitely writing from Marnie’s point of view during the rape scene, as he was writing in the first person. “All the time you were seeing Mark more of less through her eyeline,” said Graham. “That’s one of the problems in writing from the first person.” The reader was seeing Mark Rutland from the neurotic stand point of Marnie. And Graham firmly believed that Mark was a straight forward stationer with none of the fetishism and hang ups that Hitchcock gave him.

By 1939, Graham was 31 years old and very eligible for work. When he became successful as a writer, he liked to describe himself as the ‘Most successful unknown author in Britain’. It was a part of an image he liked to project and cultivate, and there was some underlying truth to the role he played. He wrote his first Poldark novel, Ross Poldark, in 1945, which quickly became a Book Society Recommendation. This was followed by Demelza in 1946. Up until 1948, when the Poldark novels became a success, Graham was writing a succession of novels but making little money. Living in Cornwall he would write books to order, for example he wrote Cordelia in 1949 for the book of the month club, and gained good income from its American sales. It sold well in 1949, but until the Poldark series no-one knew who Graham was as an author. Soon three quarters of his income would come from theAmerican sales of his books. Later when Marnie hit the headlines in 1962, Graham remarked to the press, “I was the most successful unknown novelist in England.”

Despite the considerable sales of the Poldark novels, Graham still questioned his success as a literary author. In his mind, he didn’t sell very well; as an author he was neither the intellectual type nor did he write blockbusters. He wrote in his memoirs, “I am, I suppose, what is generally called a popular novelist”. But in Andrew Graham’s estimation, the books on Cornwall are far better than their Daphne du Maurier’s equivalents such as Jamaica Inn (1936) on smuggling. Unlike du Maurier who came from a more upper class background – her father was Gerald du Maurier an actor and theatre manager and her grandfather George du Maurier the cartoonist for Punch magazine – Graham was more middle class. Whereas Daphne du Maurier’s writings are solidly upper middle class, Graham coming from a lower class background was able to write an authentic glimpse of what life must have been really like in the Cornwall of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

In his first four Poldark novels he conjures up evocative descriptions of struggling tin miners, half starved labourers and rough squires, all battling for survival in the harsh Cornish environment. It was with this class consciousness that Graham was also able to write Marnie. “I automatically became part of Marnie,” said Winston Graham. “With any luck, I saw she did have a happy ending. I tried to imply at the end of the book that she had now come around and felt about Mark.” Foremost a storyteller, a skill which he developed from childhood, Graham was a novelist rather than an intellectual. He was always putting some of himself in the story. Graham himself described himself as “very young – younger than my years – in spite of having been a professional writer so long; and I was too romantic. My approach to women was too romantic – it still is – but it was by then a part of my nature and was too inbred to be changed.”

Despite Winston Graham’s claims to be a feminist, albeit an instinctive feminist, his son Andrew believes that his father wouldn’t understand what being a genuine feminist was. “He may have been sympathetic to a feminine view of the world. But in terms of his women having rights, few of his characters did apart from Demelza Carne, the servant girl in the Poldark novels, who was feisty,” says Andrew Graham. Also Winston Graham had no view of women running companies, and he was a member of ‘Blacks’, the Gentleman’s club. He didn’t believe that women should go to work, and indeed he didn’t want his wife Jean to go to work. So he really wasn’t a feminist in the true sense of the world. Perhaps that can explain the conflicting interpretations in the Marnie text, and the identification with the Mark Rutland character.

Therefore Graham could never really describe himself as a true feminist because he was never subjected to the pressures of women in patriarchal society. His daughter in law, Peggotty Graham, has read most of his books, and has the opinion that his portrayal of women is unconvincing. “He had a very old fashioned view of women,” said Peggotty. “He was no more of an instinctive feminist for someone of his time. I wouldn’t have thought he understood what feminism was. Maybe outwardly he thought he was an instinctive feminist, but inwardly he wasn’t. I agree with Andrew’s view. He liked to think he was, but he wasn’t. He liked women, but wasn’t a misogynist or anything like that. He didn’t want his wife to work – they did run a bed and breakfast when they first moved to Perranporth.” Winston Graham himself said, “I may be an instinctive feminist, not that I believe in holding banners or anything, because a number of feminists I’ve met have been perfectly awful.”

Read more in Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, Revised Edition

Rod Taylor, star of The Birds, was a handsome leading man who battled with Hitchcock, while engaged to Anita Ekberg

Rod Taylor, who passed away on 7th January 2015, four days before his 85th Birthday, was interviewed by Save Hitchcock on 1st June 2012, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. It was one of the last few interviews Rod gave before his death.

Rod Taylor had come to Hollywood in 1955 from Sydney, Australia and, prior to The Birds, had worked his way up through bit parts and TV films. He had been the winner of the Newspaper Critics Best Actor of the Year award and won a plane ticket to London, stopping off in LA. He liked Hollywood so much that he stayed. His first American film was The Virgin Queen (1955), followed by playing Elizabeth Taylor’s fiancé in Giant (1956). His most famous role to date had been George the inventor in MGM’s time-travelling adventure The Time Machine (1960). At 5 ft 11 in, 175 lbs, with light brown hair and blue eyes, Rod was a natural athlete, expert at tennis, surfing and swimming.

Rod went along with his agent, Wilt Melnick of the Louis Shurr Agency, to Hitchcock’s bungalow in January 1961. ‘The initial meeting with Hitchcock was a disaster,’ recalls Rod. ‘I called him by his first name, Alfred this and Alfred that. He went totally white for 20 minutes, and had total misgivings about our meeting.’ Rod thought he didn’t say all the right things and remembers commenting, ‘I hope the birds and things don’t kind of totally outshadow the people.’ Of course, that’s the story… they’re supposed to. So that was number one. Wrong. But then we really talked about ‘making movies’ and how I loved it, and how I was interested in his work. I brought that up and said the right thing. We didn’t get into any deep discussions about the movie itself at all. No ‘What do you think of the character?’ – none of that. It was taken for granted that I loved it and wanted to work with him.’

When they left Hitchcock’s office, Rod said to agent Wilt, ‘Well, you can forget that movie.’ Two days later, Rod got a call from Hitchcock offering him the part. Rod believes that Hitchcock was influenced by Lew Wasserman, who knew him from films such as The Time Machine. Wasserman backed Hitchcock to the hilt and often suggested actors to appear in his movies, and Rod himself was absolutely flattered and astonished that Hitch would want to work with him.

By 2 February 1962, columnist Hedda Hopper in the LA Times was reporting that Hitchcock had signed a four-picture deal with Rod over the next six years, which was negotiated by Wilt Melnick. At the time Rod was engaged to the Swedish actress Anita Ekberg, who famously jumped into the Trevi fountain in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960). Interestingly, the character of Melanie Daniels is also mentioned ‘jumping into a fountain in Rome’, possibly as a sly reference to Ekberg and the La Dolce Vita years of the early 1960s.

Rod was to be paid $50,000 for 12 weeks work and three weeks additional. He would end up working a total of16 weeks because of overruns on the film’s special effects. The four-picture deal was to commence 31 December 1962 and Rod started work on The Birds on 5 March 1962. By 28 May, a multiple-feature contract had been issued between Rod and Alfred Hitchcock Productions, but issues on the set between the director and star, resulted in the contract being suspended.

‘Any warmth or masculinity to the character came from me and not Hitch,’ Rod says. There was one scene, for example, where Rod was required to leap off the dock and come to the aid of Tippi who had just been hit by a seagull. Hitchcock wouldn’t let Rod show overt physical tenderness towards Tippi during that scene. ‘That’s because he didn’t have any experience of behaving like a masculine and rugged man, whether by jumping off the dock or rushing to a woman in need of aid,’ says Rod. ‘He had no streak of tenderness for relationships between men and women and he just didn’t show tenderness in his movies.’

According to Rod, Hitchcock tried every day to cut off any warmth Rod brought to the character. ‘He did give me a few line readings which I ignored.’ A famous publicity still of Hitchcock on location shows him leaning over Rod, one hand paternally on his shoulder, as he looks over the body of Suzanne Pleshette. ‘That’s a very rare glimpse of him standing over me in that still,’ says Rod, ‘fooling everyone into believing that he was fond of me and how gentle he was. Wrong!’ For Rod, the photograph was pure showmanship for publicity’s sake on Hitchcock’s part.

During the filming of The Birds, Rod was engaged to Anita Ekberg, the voluptuous Swedish actress who famously jumped into the Trevi fountain in Rome in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita which set the mood for the permissiveness of the swinging 60s. Hitchcock used this detail to infuse the character of Melanie Daniels, as a ‘shallow, wealthy playgirl’, with the same background of ‘jumping into a fountain in Rome.’

A couple of years earlier, Rod was offered a part in Thunder in the Night which involved location filming in Italy. It was here that he met Anita Ekberg and the two began a tumultuous on/off relationship in front of the world’s paparazzi. Brawls in bars between the two followed, strange gifts exchanged, including a blue bottomed monkey from Anita, to the point that Rod felt like ‘Every day I was starring in an Errol Flynn movie.”

During the filming of The Birds Anita flew out from Rome, to join Rod on location. “He was a handsome young man, always very pleasant,” remembers Birds crew member Mary Bennett. “He was engaged to Anita Ekberg, and they had a fight, and she had thrown the engagement ring. He was looking for it and couldn’t find it and was telling the story to the amused crew.”

The press had a field day while various wedding dates were set between the couple, but they kept being postponed. The engagement was called off months later, after filming of The Birds, and the two stars would go their separate ways, eventually marrying different people within a year of breaking up.

At the end of their lives, the fate of Rod Taylor and Anita Ekberg was curiously entwined. Rod had been married to his third wife Carol for the last 35 years, living happily in Beverly Hills. But Anita would finally settle in Rome, broken and penniless and plagued with ill health. She died four days after Rod, uncannily on Sunday morning, 11th January 2015, on what would have been his 85th birthday.

Read more about Rod and Hitchcock in “The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds” by Kamera Books

Interview with Norman Lloyd, actor and producer, who is 100 today, remembers his time with Alfred Hitchcock

Norman Lloyd was interviewed by Save Hitchcock at his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles. The impeccably attired, gracious and alert Mr. Lloyd, was reading a copy of the New Yorker when we came to visit him. Erudite, precise, and with incredible recall for the myriad of actors, actresses and directors he has worked with, Norman Lloyd gives insight to working with Alfred Hitchcock.

“Hitch was an entertainer and wanted to tell a good story, he was a great storyteller, and he would himself grip you. He would proceed to tell you every frame of a picture from the opening shot. He used to say “If you can tell it, you can shoot it, but if you cannot tell it, you can’t”. He was an entertainer. Hitch was top of his game when he did The 39 Steps, kids who go to film school, should look at what he did in that picture. I once asked Hitch, who is your favourite leading man? He said Robert Donat – because he set the style and Cary Grant took on Donat’s thing, because he works like Donat. After The 39 Steps, the name Hitchcock became an international name. I was an actor in New York when The Man Who Knew Too Much came out and I remember it had a darkness and frightening quality.

I had done Saboteur for him in 1942, and then I went back to New York and did some theatre work, and I came out to LA in 1944 for John Houseman at Paramount, a picture with Joel McCrae and I looked up Hitch. And I think it was fair to say, we were very sympatico. I was accepted into the family by Alma. Hitch always used to say ‘Your friend Alma’. Always my friendship with him continued. In 1957, Hitch asked me to come out, after the television series started in 1955, and Joan Harrison needed help, because it was too much work. The show had been on 10 years, I did 8, Hitch said that was enough, because he didn’t want to go on after Jimmy Allardice died who did the intros.

Grace Kelly was his favourite actress, and she was a great girl. Even when she was the Princess, there was something regular about her. Hitch loved Grace but not in a passionate way. The thing about Hitch and Tippi has been exaggerated beyond reality. There are claims he had her blackballed. Ridiculous! He could not have done that. He wouldn’t have had that influence. If somebody wanted to hire her, they would have hired her. Hitch wanted me to do The Short Night, but the studio said we can’t call it a Hitchcock picture, so it didn’t happen.

Hitchcock is the most famous director in the world, because he was a great entertainer. People knew with a Hitchcock picture, they would have a good time, we may be frightened, amused, whatever, but he had this individual personality as a storyteller. Hitch had that greatest of all things, a story to tell. For me, Hitch was always about England, he worked so beautifully with John Williams, you saw the British Isles. He will be remembered as a Master. He knew instinctively about camera logic; the camera is placed exactly where it should be to tell the story. In Saboteur, the picture I made with him, the scene where I fall, that shot had to be worked out without a cut, because Hitch said we have to stay with him all the way to the bottom of the statue, that is storytelling, that is camera logic!”

Alexandre of Paris and Grace of Monaco’s hairstylist, Gwendoline, defends Hitchcock on the set of Marnie

In November 1963, Alfred Hitchcock invited Gwendoline, a young French assistant to Alexandre of Paris, to style Tippi Hedren’s hair for Marnie. She was also hairstylist for Princess Grace of Monaco at the time. Gwendoline was interviewed in Paris on June 8th 2014:

1) What does she remember about working with Alfred Hitchcock?
It was such a pleasure, he made everyone comfortable. He was super organized. I was at the Cannes film festival for “The Birds” and it was there that he told me about his next movie “Marnie”. He told me he will call me for me to come to USA and he did it, I was impressed.

2) What does she remember about styling Tippi Hedren’s hair?
It was very nice. She was a substitute to Princess Grace.
At this time, Princess Grace and Hitchcock had the same Press manager.

3) Did she observe anything strange between Tippi and Hitchcock as the media reports?
No I didn’t notice anything at all.

4) Does she think that Hitchcock is capable of sexual harrassment?
No I don’t think so.

5) Does she think that Hitchcock has been unfairly criticized in the press?
Yes unfairly is the word. Princess Grace would not stay if Hitchcock did things like that. She was not obliged to stay, she was famous and rich, she didn’t need help from Hitchcock, she was free to stay or not.

6) Who came up with the designs for Tippi’s hair – Gwendoline or Alexandre?
Alexandre. The preparation was huge: hairdress, costumes, shoes, everything.
On stage, labor union were so important that I couldn’t come to the set. I was based at the hotel and I was dedicated for the preparation only. Everyone liked Hitchcock and I could feel it, his Press manager was very friendly and everything was great.

One day, I had a surprise when I came back into my hotel room: there was a letter and a bottle of champagne for me. It was a Hitchcock gift for me. He thanks me for my work and wrote that the Champagne was for me and my parents in France. He also organized a sightseeing trip for me to New York, very kind.

French Translation:

J’ai participé au festival de Cannes pour “les oiseaux” et c’est là qu’Hitchock m’a parler du prochain film qu’il allait faire: “Pas de printemps pour Marnie”. Il m’a dit qu’il m’appelerai pour que je vienne aux Etats Unis et il a tenu parole.

Très agréable. Elle remplacait la princesse Grace.
A l’époque la princesse Grace et Hitchcock avait la même attaché de presse.

Avez vous remarqué un lien particulier entre Tippi et Hitchcock, comme les medias ont pu en parler?
Non pas du tout, je n’ai rien remarqué de tel.

Pensez vous Hitchcock capable d’harcelement sexuel?
Non je ne pense pas.

Oui très injustement. La princesse Grace ne serait pas rester si il avait été l’homme décrit par la presse. Elle n’avait aucune obligation et n’avait pas besoin d’Hitchcock pour exister.

Il y avait une énorme préparation, aussi bien pour les coiffures, mais aussi pour les costumes, les chaussures, etc.

Sur le plateau il y avait les syndicats, donc j’étais basé à l’hotel et je m’occupais de la préparation uniquement.

Je me rappelle d’un diner chez Hitchcock, c’était vraiment magnifique, et l’ambiance était très agréable.

Tout le monde l’aimait et cela se ressentait, son attaché de presse était adorable, tout se passait bien. J’ai eu la surprise un jour en rentrant dans ma chambre d’hôtel de trouver un mot accompagné d’une bouteille de champagne. Hitchock me remerciait pour mon travail, la bouteille de champagne était un cadeau pour moi et ma famille: il me disait de la déguster avec mes parents en France.

The Truth why Grace of Monaco didn’t play Marnie

“Grace of Monaco” starring Nicole Kidman has just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to controversial reviews. Now read the true story why Princess Grace was offered the role of Marnie by Alfred Hitchcock and subsequently had to decline.

“In 1961, an MCA agent intimated to Hitchcock that Kelly was interested in returning to films under his aegis. Hitchcock’s response to the Boston Sunday Globe was typically nonchalant: “I didn’t hear a word from her at the time. In fact I have not communicated with her by letter or phone regarding the deal. But three weeks ago I was told that she wanted to play the role and please let the announcement come from the palace at Monaco instead of from my office.”

Emile Cornet, a palace spokesman, made the announcement to the world on March 19, 1962. There had been numerous reports during the marriage that the princess would resume her acting career. At one time Prince Rainier issued a formal denial stating that his wife was finished with filmmaking. As Rainier’s wife, Grace had become one of the most titled women in the world. In addition to being the Princess of Monaco, she was the Princess de Chateau-Porciean, twice a duchess, nine times a countess, three times a marquise, and six times a baroness. Cornet concluded, “We are certain she won’t make another film after this one.”

That same day, Hitchcock’s office issued the following press release: “A spokesman for the Prince of Monaco announced today that Princess Grace has accepted to appear in a motion picture for Mr. Alfred Hitchcock to be made in the United States this summer.” London journalist Peter Evans of the Daily Express later interviewed Hitchcock in his limousine, en route to Bodega Bay, where he was filming The Birds. “I never went after Grace you know,” Hitchcock confided.

I saw her and the prince several times over dinner in Paris. I am too much of a gentleman to mention work to a princess. That would be most uncouth. But I waited and finally she came to me. It happened this way. I brought this novel called Marnie and simply could not find an actress suitable for the part. So I sent it to her agents in New York—she always kept her agents, you know—and they passed it on to her. Then a week ago I was told that she would do it, just like that. I have not even spoken to her about it, not even a wire. I suppose I should send a wire, congratulations or something.11

“People, you know, have quite the wrong idea about Grace,” the director continued. “They think she is a cold fish. Remote, like Alcatraz out there. But she has sex appeal, believe me. She has the subtle sex appeal of the English woman and this is the finest in the world. It is ice that will burn your hands, and that is always surprising and exciting too.” When asked whether the princess would have any love scenes in Marnie, Hitchcock replied, “Passionate and most unusual love scenes, but I am afraid I cannot tell you anything beyond that. It is a state secret.”

“Congratulations!” wrote Leonard Kaufman of the Lewin/Kaufman/Schwartz agency in Beverly Hills. “I always said for years that this business needs more sex!” The news that Grace Kelly was returning to the cinema initiated tremendous excitement. Winston Graham remembers getting off a plane and reporters running toward him, asking whether the princess was going to be starring in the film version of his novel. There were journalists ringing his home in East Sussex from all over the world and knocking at the door for almost a week. Princess Grace’s decision to return to filmmaking pleased Graham’s literary agents. A large demand for the serial rights of Marnie from newspapers and magazines in London and abroad followed the announcement from Monaco. The novel had already been serialized in Home before publication. Only a star as big as Princess Grace could cause two serializations, remarked a spokesman for Graham’s agents.

The announcement also started a studio contract row. Metro Goldwyn Mayor claimed that their contract with Kelly was merely suspended and not canceled when she left Hollywood in 1956; therefore, she could only make films for them. On March 23, Joseph R. Vogel, an MGM representative, sent a letter to Hitchcock pointing out that since Kelly’s contract had not lapsed with the studio, they should have participation in the film. Previously, MGM had loaned Kelly to Hitchcock and Paramount Pictures for the films she had made with them before her retirement. Hitchcock’s reply was that because the contract was made in 1953, by law it could only last seven years.

Kelly’s salary for Marnie was another favorite angle for discussion. The princess would reportedly earn $1 million plus a percentage of the film’s profits. According to Hollywood film circles, finance was the true reason that the Rainiers decided to participate. Prince Rainier dismissed the suggestion that Grace was making the film to help Monaco as “ridiculous nonsense.” The simple fact was that Hitchcock agreed to schedule the filming with the Rainier’s annual vacation to the United States: “My wife wanted to see her family, so we decided to spend a month in America with the children.” He added that Princess Grace turned down Hitchcock’s first offer to make Marnie but eventually agreed when the director changed the film schedule to coincide with her vacation plans.

On March 20, the San Francisco Evening Standard reported that Kelly would not be paid a definite salary but would receive a percentage of the finished film. Hitchcock stated that he did not know whether Grace had decided to return to Hollywood because of a shortage of money: “Personally, I don’t think so, although many people will jump to this conclusion. How can she be accused of this when her own family fortune is supposed to be so large. I think the trouble is that too many people, including the English, love stories about failures.”

The princess, possibly piqued by press criticism for her return to filmmaking, announced in a palace statement that she would use the money to establish a charitable fund. On March 23, her following words appeared in The Times: “In the same way as some priests or nuns perform common artistic, musical, or sporting tasks, for example, with the aim of raising funds for their work, I feel I am able to return to the cinema for a film with the charitable aim of aiding needy children and young sportsmen.”

Everything seemed to be falling into place. Grace Kelly was genuinely tempted, and Prince Rainier, who was very fond of Hitchcock, favored the project. Then amid all the anticipation, on April 23, 1962, Hitchcock announced that filming of Marnie was postponed from August 1 of that year to the following spring or summer. He cited the reason for the delay as being the short time elapsing between the completion of his current film The Birds and the starting date of Marnie. It was hoped that the film would be shot during Princess Grace’s annual vacation from the palace next year. Shortly afterward, another statement was issued from the palace in Monaco announcing that the princess was withdrawing from negotiations to star in the film.

In an interview published by the newspaper Nice Matin, Grace said she had dropped plans to appear in Marnie because of the schedule difficulties. When asked whether she might appear in other films, the princess replied, “I don’t like to say definitely, but it’s obvious that the same problems as Marnie would arise.” She had planned to make Marnie while vacationing in the United States with her family, later in the year. Then Hitchcock found he could not begin the film until next year. “I could only have done it if my husband and the children had come with me. This was impossible. Going on with the plan created too many problems so I called Mr. Hitchcock and said I could not do it.”

Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano, whom Hitchcock had contracted to start writing a treatment from the novel, remembers being called into the director’s office: “He informed me that Miss Kelly has changed her mind. I think Hitch was more hurt than angry. He had invested his very special passion in something over several weeks. He was abruptly informed that she wasn’t going to be involved, and his comment was, ‘They probably got the money from somewhere else.'”12

What’s evident from Stefano’s testimony is that Hitchcock at the time believed that Kelly withdrew because Monaco’s financial obligations were fulfilled through other means, rather than her acquiescing to the citizens of Monaco who had objected to the princess playing a thief on the screen. “I never heard that theory, and I doubt that Hitchcock ever did,” Stefano stated. “He was just informed that she wasn’t going to do it. He seemed to be under the impression that she was making the movie because Monaco needed the money, and all of a sudden they didn’t need it and she wasn’t going to make the movie. He was very disappointed and very angry.” However, Hitchcock later publicly remarked, “I thought I had Grace for my new film, Marnie, the story of a girl who’s a compulsive thief, and Grace wanted very much to play it, but the conservative element in Monaco—they didn’t want their princess working in Hollywood, so Grace bowed out.”

Stefano tried to persuade Hitchcock from shelving the project by suggesting that he could name five actresses who would be sensational in the title role: “I thought of Eva Marie Saint. I thought that she would have been even deeper than Kelly. But Hitchcock said, ‘I’m not interested. Let’s put this on the shelf and find something else.’ I was disappointed because I thought it would be a very good movie.”

The real reasons for Kelly’s withdrawal, which Hitchcock later came to accept, can be found within the Marnie files of the Hitchcock Collection. An October 8, 1962, research memo, instigated by Hitchcock, reads, “Expiration date of treaty of friendship between France and Monaco. On April 11th, France renounced the ‘Good Neighbor’ Administration and Mutual Assistance Convention of December 23rd 1951, between the two countries. This will affect taxation, customs, postal services, telecommunications and banking which could cease to exist in six months, as of October 11th 1962.”

The French government was putting pressure on Prince Rainier over the prospect of heavier taxes on Monaco, and he didn’t want to leave the country until the matter was settled. President Charles de Gaulle was irritated over Monaco’s free and easy tax system which included no income or corporation taxes. This subsequently lured many foreign firms and individuals, including Frenchmen, to the prince’s sovereign soil. To make Monaco fall in line with the French tax system, de Gaulle ordered the withdrawal of the 1951 convention governing French-Monacan relations under an older treaty. Monaco had six months to negotiate a new one and otherwise faced economic loss of its French-controlled water supply and electrical and telephone services. To maintain these crucial links with France, the prince was forced to compromise and to make concessions that altered the privileged status of his principality. In the process, Grace Kelly had no choice but to abandon the cinema definitely.”

Extract taken from “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie” Revised Edition

Read more about Grace and the Making of Marnie on


Listen to the Marnie podcast with Tony Lee Moral and Tippi Hedren

Joan Fontaine was a superb Hitchcock heroine in Rebecca and Suspicion

Joan Fontaine (1917-2013), the leading lady of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Suspicion, has sadly passed away. She was Oscar nominated for both of her performances and won for Best Actress for Suspicion. “It was a Romantic Victorian Novel in modern dress and it stands up very well,” says Hitchcock of Rebecca. “(Laurence) Olivier was very good in that picture. He did come up to me once and say this girl (Fontaine) is terrible, you’ll have to change her. I said, no, she’ll be alright really Larry. And she won the Oscar for the second picture! When they miss the first picture, they’re bound to get the second.”


We know the true story says Hitchcock’s Granddaughter Mary Stone

The Hitchcock Family have kept a dignified silence during the recent year, throughout the intense media speculation fuelled by the biopics “Hitchcock” and “The Girl”. Now in a rare interview for Talking History – News Talk Radio, Mary Stone, Hitchcock’s eldest grand daughter speaks out on 14th October 2013:

“To be honest with you, we completely ignore those kinds of things because they are not true and can be very hurtful to the family. And we just decided a long time ago, you can’t stop someone from publishing something or shooting a movie about something, because we just take no opinion of the individuals or works because we know the true story.”

You can listen to the whole interview here:


How to Turn Your Boring Movie into a Hitchcock Thriller now an exciting E-book

For those readers who are avid fans of Alfred Hitchcock, they will be already aware of Jeffrey Michael Bay’s awesome website How To Turn Your Boring Movie into a Hitchcock Thriller. Well, the good news is that it’s now a very readable e-book. Jeffrey, writing as The Master himself, takes the reader through the stages of putting together a Hitchcock thriller, from characters, to dialogue to the MacGuffin, all written in the voice of Alfred Hitchcock, with his lugubrious tones and deadpan humour. Wonderfully comic illustrations accompany each chapter, evoking the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Hitch’s best delivery and comic timing that framed the beginning and ending of each story. Jeffrey has really captured the voice and spirit of Hitchcock so that exposition is never a dull moment.

Order your copy today:

And check out Jeffrey’s amazing website on which the book is based:

Film Techniques of Alfred Hitchcock – suspense  –

Kim Novak slams Hitchcock slurs in The Daily Mail

Outspoken Hitchcock blonde Kim Novak has publicly slammed Tippi Hedren’s claims in this week’s Daily Mail.

“I never had a problem with him,” she says. “He wasn’t that way with me. I found him to be quite proper. I mean, his wife was usually there on set. When she wasn’t he didn’t act any differently, but was just a decent man and a strong director.” In previous interviews she has said, “I feel bad when someone attacks a man who is no longer alive to defend himself. When someone is living is the time to confront them.”

You can read the whole story here:

Always a bridesmaid, Never a bride, The Girl fails at The Emmys

Controversial Hitchcock drama The Girl failed to win at The Emmy Awards, repeating its run of bad luck at the Golden Globes and the Baftas, where it also failed to win in major categories. Toby Jones was predictably beaten by Michael Douglas in the Best Actor category, Imelda Staunton lost Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Single Drama, and Julian Jarrold scored nought for his directing efforts. So ends this year’s television awards season which has seen The Girl being mired in controversy. Maybe Hitchcock’s spirit of ill luck winning an Oscar – he was nominated five times for Best Director – overshadows this unfortunate production.