SIR SEAN CONNERY HAS DIED – A TRIBUTE

RIP SEAN CONNERY (1930- 2020)

It is with sadness that we report that Sean Connery has died at the age of 90. He was one of the last of Alfred Hitchcock’s leading men (William Devane and Bruce Dern are luckily still with us).

Playing Mark Rutland, he brings confidence, virility and compassion to the role, an amateur zoologist who tries to tame Marnie and cure her of childhood nightmares.

Extract from “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie” by Tony Lee Moral

“The director (Hitchcock) was advised that Connery would not consider starring in a film without seeing the script first, and his asking salary was $200,000. Connery was already receiving $60,000 per picture plus $200 a week expenses, in addition to 5 per cent of the gross on Saltzman’s pictures. Later Connery conceded, “For the first time in my life I can ask to read a script, and if you had been in some of the tripe I have, you’d know why.”

The next day, Hitchcock watched “Dr. No” in his private screening room with his agent Herman Citron, and a month later he viewed “From Russia With Love”. No doubt both men saw in Connery an actor of considerable range and star charisma. Hitchcock probably also detected a confident sexuality and hint of sadomasochism that he perceived in the role of Mark Rutland. “I wanted him for my picture because the part requires a virile, aggressive man with a lot of authority”, said Hitchcock.

Sean was universally liked by the cast and crew of Marnie. During the wrap party on February 28th 1964, the crew presented Sean with a watch for his professionalism. He was so touched by the tribute that he took his own watch off and put on the new one. Hitchcock admired his professionalism and potential – Sean went onto play 007 in Goldfinger which is often seen as the best in the James Bond series. RIP Sean you will be missed.

Hitchcock’s The Birds and the Coronavirus Pandemic

As the Coronavirus Pandemic unfolds across the world, and we watch various Government’s response to it, we are reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s remarks to the French director Francois Truffaut during the making of The Birds in 1962. Hitchcock said that his film was about ‘complacency’ particularly the central characters reactions and their response to the unpredictable and escalating bird attacks.

No more than today does Hitchcock’s remarks seem more relevant, as countries struggling to control the Coronavirus from overwhelming their health systems, introduce shutdowns and a variety of social distancing measures. Some countries like South Korea acted quickly, while others such as Spain, the US and UK were slower to enforce lockdowns and are now paying the price for the number of positive cases escalating in Europe and the USA.

Alfred Hitchcock was always ahead of the curve. Psycho(1960) was a pioneering cinematic landmark,  a forerunner of the horror and slasher movies which would dominate the next few decades, while The Birds(1963) preceded the wave of disaster movies and Man vs Nature catastrophes that became so fashionable in the 1970s. Like the mysterious birds that attack Bodega Bay, Coronavirus seems to have come out of nowhere – reportedly from a wet market in China – and quickly spread across the globe, facilitated by our predilection for international travel.

Suddenly all our lives are affected. We are now caged in our houses and apartments, under government orders to stay at home, businesses are shut down and capital cities are in lockdown. Outside, there is evidence that nature is reclaiming what we stole from it. Sika Deer have been spotted in Japan’s cities, raccoons on an empty beach in Panama and coyotes are being seen on the streets of San Francisco. These reports suggest that Nature is rebalancing itself, after decades of being crowded out by an ever increasing human population. Others suggest the pandemic is retribution, as the intermediate host of Coronavirus is the pangolin, the most trafficked mammal in the world.

Like the pivotal scene in The Birds when the residents of Bodega Bay take shelter inside the Tides restaurant, countries blame each other for starting the virus. America blames China. China blames America. Social distancing bans are ignored, subways and buses are crammed, and the complacent attitude of nothing bad is really going to happen to me, is all too prevalent in our society,

Why does Melanie Daniels go up to the attic for the climatic bird attack? Despite all the warnings and everything she has been through, she still enters the avian filled room. Maybe like us she doesn’t think anything bad will happen to her. Complacency must be beaten out of her by the birds, and she narrowly escapes with her life. Just like Coronavirus has taken its toll on those who think of it just as a virus, one notch above the common cold.

The Birds inexplicably attack in waves followed by an eerie retreat. There are predictions that Coronavirus will suddenly disappear. The world will wait and watch. “It’s the end of the world!” spurts the drunk at the Tides restaurant. Coronavirus won’t kill off the human race, but like the fury of the birds, hopefully it will remind us to be more respectful in our attitudes to nature.

Alfred Hitchcock set to feature in a new Broadway play starring Game of Thrones actor

It’s been widely reported in the press that Alfred Hitchcock will make his Broadway debut next year in a play written by John Logan, who co-wrote two of the recent James Bond films. The story focuses on the turbulent working relationship between the director and actress Tippi Hedren.

“Game of Thrones” actor Conleth Hill and Anne Hathaway are reported to star. Let us hope that the play does a better job than the HBO Movie “The Girl” which was a mostly fictionalised account of the relationship between Hitchcock and Hedren. Save Hitchcock will be commenting on the play’s accuracy. In the meantime, for an accurate account of the director’s working methods, read “The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds” and “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie” both available on Amazon.

Doris Day Dies – 1922 – 2019

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It is with sadness we announce the death of Doris Day who died today, Monday May 13th 2019 in her Carmel Valley home, California. She starred in only one Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, but gives a memorable performance and famously sings Que Sera Sera, as well as famously screaming in the climatic scene in the Royal Albert Hall.

Doris Day mentioned in her 1975 autobiography In Her Own Story that initially she found working with Hitchcock challenging during The Man Who Knew Too Much as he never gave her any direction and she felt ignored. But as her hairdresser Virginia Darcy reassured her, “That’s good, that means you’re doing OK.”

Hitchcock expected his performers to do their job and he’d only interfere when they didn’t. Doris in fact gives a remarkable performance in The Man Who Knew Too Much, especially in the scene when she finds out that her son has been kidnapped. “It’s the best thing she’s ever done,” said director Peter Bogdanovich in his interview with Hitchcock who himself agreed.

That didn’t prevent Doris the professional from still worrying. But when Save Hitchcock interviewed her in 2012, Doris had only fond memories to say about Hitchcock; “He was just Mr. Hitchcock, wonderful, a great director and a good friend. I loved working with him. In The Man Who Knew Too Much he shot the scene when I find out that my son is kidnapped from many different angles and he always knew exactly what he wanted. When filming in Marrakech, we’d go out to dinner with Mr. Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart. After dinner Jimmy would play the piano and it was a wonderful time. I wish I had the chance to do more than one film with them.”

As well as her film work, Doris was a passionate animal lover. She worried about the welfare of the animals she saw while filming in Marrakech, remembers Virginia Darcy, and would often give food to the animals on set. Her love for animals became a life long vocation. Rest in Peace, Doris.

Why Alfred Hitchcock was inspired by Mary Rose

Mary Rose, the 1920 stage play by J.M. Barrie was a story which Alfred Hitchcock always wanted to adapt. It was the Master of Suspense’s favourite and he wanted to make it into a film. He thought about the challenges of creating Mary Rose as a ghost with neon lights, but unfortunately was never able to realize his passion project.

The story is about a woman who disappears on a Scottish island and reappears many years later in a ghostly form, while all her loved ones and those around her have grown old. Barrie is best known for writing Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up in 1904, about a boy who has an overwhelming desire to remain young forever.

Taking this premise, Hitchcock thought wouldn’t it be fascinating and sad if the ghost never grew old, while those around him had died? When writing a thriller it is important to distinguish between mystery and suspense. Many readers become confused by the two terms, but they are actually two very different processes. Mystery is an intellectual process like a riddle or a whodunit.

Suspense on the other hand, is an emotional process, rather like a rollercoaster ride, or a trip to the haunted fun house. Good suspense should actively involve the audience in the storytelling. All suspense comes out of giving the audience information. If you tell the reader that there’s a bomb in the room and that it’s going to go off in five minutes, that’s suspense. The suspense in a newly published novel “The Haunting of Alice May” which is inspired by “Mary Rose” is what will happen when Alice finds out who Henry really is. How will she react? What will she do? What will happen when the other sailors come looking for her? This suspense drives the narrative core of the book and invites readers to keep turning pages.

 

Louise Latham who played Marnie’s mother dies at the age of 95

 

Louise Latham, who played Marnie’s mother, has died in Santa Barbara at the age of 95. She gave one of her last interviews to Save Hitchcock a couple of years ago, and was a staunch supporter of Alfred Hitchcock.

“I find some of the allegations hard to believe. My observations are so far from what Tippi claims, and I’m a rather observant person, and was trained in the theatre.  She’s a lovely woman, but I don’t think Tippi should have said those things about Hitch. . . . I wasn’t aware of her being hassled on the set.”

Read her interviews in “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie” available on Amazon.

Why comparing Alfred Hitchcock to Harvey Weinstein is unjustified

The recent reports of Harvey Weinstein have been unjustly compared to Alfred Hitchcock, precipitated by Tippi Hedren’s allegations of Hitchcock’s alleged misconduct on the set of Marnie (1964). Yet, despite Hedren’s evolving reports, with the exception to a much lesser extent by Diane Baker (supporting actress on Marnie), the vast majority of actresses who worked with Hitch have nothing but complimentary remarks to say about him. None of them mention sexual harassment. They span from Grace Kelly in 1953, to Barbara Leigh Hunt, some twenty years later during the filming of Frenzy.

BRIGITTE AUBER, To Catch A Thief, 1955: “I have not changed my point of view on Hitchcock. He was a brilliant and wonderful man.”

DORIS DAY, The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956: “Hitch was wonderful, a great director and a good friend. I loved working with him. In The Man Who Knew Too Much he shot the scene when I find out that my son is kidnapped from many different angles and he always knew exactly what he wanted.”

KIM NOVAK, Vertigo, 1958: “He is one of the great directors and one to be studied. He was a perfectionist and didn’t make any short cuts.”

EVA MARIE SAINT, North by Northwest, 1959: “My experience with Hitch was one of utter respect, warmth, friendliness and humour, and North by Northwest was a glorious time in my life.”

KARIN DOR, Topaz, 1969: “I loved working with Hitchcock and get very upset when other people criticise him”

BARBARA LEIGH-HUNT, Frenzy, 1972: “He never touched me. I was very distressed to read all the reports about him in the newspapers. It wasn’t the Hitch that I knew.”

 

Rita Riggs, wardrobe mistress, dies in LA.

Rita Riggs, the wardrobe mistress on The Birds and Marnie, died in Los Angeles on June 5th 2017. She was the apprentice to Edith Head, and gave many great interviews for Save Hitchcock, as well as The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds and Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie. Rita was a supporter of Alfred Hitchcock and strongly disapproved of the portrayal of him in the media and the HBO/BBC drama The Girl. “It’s like newspapers, it sells,” she said of the rumours, and “I have nothing but good memories of working with him on The Birds and Marnie.”

Portions of her interview will be published on this page.

“He loved beauty so much. He was like the Prince inside the Frog” – Rita Riggs on Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie in paperback

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Just published in paperback, Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie Revised Edition tells the complex story of the director’s most personal and complicated film. With candid interviews from Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren, Diane Baker, Louise Latham, as well as AD Jim Brown, Script supervisor Lois Thurman and wardrobe mistress Rita Riggs, Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie is the definitive guide to a film which continues to perplex as well as enthral. Available on Amazon.