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.

 

Tippi: A Memoir

At the age of 86, Tippi Hedren has published her memoirs, modestly titled Tippi: A Memoir. Starting her career as a New York fashion model, she was discovered by Hitchcock in October 1961, while advertising a diet drink on television. After elaborate screen tests, Hedren went on to star in two of the director’s films, The Birds and Marnie. Hitchcock died in 1980, and some 55 years after first being discovered, Hedren says she now looks upon the man, her director and drama coach, with ‘admiration, gratitude and utter disgust.’

There are only two chapters in Hedren’s memoirs dedicated to working with Alfred Hitchcock, one on the making of The Birds, and the second on the making of Marnie. The majority of the book is dedicated to Hedren’s passion project ‘Roar’, about filming with lions and other big cats, and the subsequent formation of her animal preserve. Unless you haven’t seen the BBC/HBO drama The Girl based on Hedren’s recollections which aired in 2012, you’re unlikely to learn anything new in the memoirs, which reads like a treatment for the screenplay – certainly nothing new about Hitchcock’s psychological directing techniques.

Below is a Review of the main talking points and how recent interviews with Hitchcock’s co-workers on The Birds and Marnie differ from the memoirs.

The First Meeting with Hitchcock

Hedren says after being discovered on Friday 13th October, 1961, she was invited to meet MCA-Universal head Lew Wasserman the following Tuesday. After agreeing to sign a 7-year exclusive contract to Alfred Hitchcock, she describes a luncheon for two for herself and Hitchcock, served with red wine.

In previous interviews Hedren said she met a lower ranking MCA agent named Herman Citron who asked her to sign the contract. This was also confirmed by Universal Production Assistant Jerry Adler – who is still alive, and who was tasked by Hitchcock to find Hedren. Jerry Adler also states he was present during Hitchcock and Hedren’s first meeting; ‘It was around lunchtime, and I don’t remember any wine being offered. Lunch could have been offered but I don’t think so. I don’t remember it as a long meeting.’

“Hitchcock’s only sensual pleasure was food and all you have to do is look at him to know that,” says Yvonne Hessler, Hitchcock’s secretary during Psycho and The Birds, who was interviewed in the spring of this year. “He adored his wife, I never witnessed anything else. There was never a pass to me or Peggy or Joan Harrison and we were all very ladylike.”

The Kiss in the Limo

During location filming of The Birds, according to Hedren, Hitchcock was giving her a ride in his limousine back to the Santa Rosa motel where she was staying, when he suddenly forced himself upon her and tried to kiss her, while some of the crew was gathered outside the motel.

The kiss in the car first came to light in 2008 with the publication of the book Spellbound by Beauty. It was famously re-enacted in The Girl, despite the protests of those who worked with Hitchcock. ‘How else is she going to stay in the eye of the public than by coming up with increasingly sensational stories about Hitchcock?” says Hitchcock’s official biographer John Russell Taylor, in the foreward to his new edition of “Hitch” and quoted in The Bloomsbury Reader. Taylor remarks how strange it is that any onlookers, such as Assistant Director Jim Brown and Hitchcock’s Assistant Peggy Robertson, never mentioned the limo incident in subsequent interviews. ‘He would never have done anything to embarrass himself publically,’ says Jay Presson Allen, a close friend and screenwriter of Marnie. There are no other witnesses on record to prove or disprove this story.

The Telephone Box

The alleged kiss in the limo is used to segue to another infamous incident during the filming of The Birds – the smashing of the glass telephone booth with Hedren inside. During studio filming (according to the memoirs a day after the limo incident), the glass shattered for real, spraying Hedren’s left cheek with tiny shards. Hedren does state that she’s never excused Hitchcock and isn’t excusing him now of rigging the telephone booth, but says a small part wonders if she was being punished for rejecting him.

John Russell Taylor reasons, ‘Is it conceivable for a moment that any director, however crazed (and Hitch certainly was not that) would risk disfiguring and incapacitating his new star in the middle of shooting a very expensive film? He calls The Girl ‘a tissue of melodramatic invention’.

The chronology of this story doesn’t tally with the call sheets or the production schedule. The Bodega Bay location filming was completed at the end of March 1962, and was followed by three months of studio filming at Universal studios in Los Angeles. The phone box wasn’t filmed until June 12th when all the process work had been scheduled, and all the other actors – including Rod Taylor and Jessica Tandy – had departed leaving only Hedren who was on a 7 year contract. In between the two events, months of studio filming occured. It also happened a few days after Hedren was offered the part of Marnie, (during filming of the sand dunes scene) which makes even less sense, that Hitchcock would deliberately try to harm his new star.

The intent to deliberately harm is also denied by wardrobe mistress Rita Riggs, script supervisor Lois Thurman, and hairdresser Virginia Darcy, all who are still alive today and were extensively interviewed.

The Attic Scene

What is true is that during the infamous attic scene, filmed in late May 1962, Hedren endured five days of filming when live birds were thrown towards her.

But any intent by Hitchcock to deliberately harm her is denied by two of the bird trainers who are still alive today. Bud Cardos says, “Hitchcock was all about reality. He wouldn’t interntionally hurt [Tippi], but the birds did fly at her. I think she panicked a couple of times.” Gerry Gero, assistant to Ray Berwick the bird trainer, agrees, “I would say they threw birds at Tippi and it delivered the film. Why she didn’t say something then and waited for after 50 years? If she wasn’t onboard with it, she should have done something about it then. Hitchcock was a fabulous person and I don’t remember any animosity between them at the time. Tippi was a real trooper and tolerated a lot of stuff. I never saw that she was resentful or had any hard feelings about it.” Hedren’s hairdresser Virginia Darcy affirms that, “We were all looking out for her.”

“Miss Hedren was not injured in the shooting of the picture, however she had to take a three day rest after working so strenuously during that sequence,” wrote Suzanne Gauthier, Hitchcock’s secretary to a fan enquiry on May 15th 1963, shortly after The Birds was released.

The Photoplay Award

 In February 1964, towards the end of the filming of Marnie, Photoplay Magazine wanted to present Hedren with an Award in New York for ‘Best promising actress’. Hedren maintains that it was to be presented on a Friday night, and that she wasn’t due to work that day and would have been able to take a long weekend off, and return to the set in good time to work on Monday.

The archival records in the Hitchcock Collection at the Margaret Herrick Library, Los Angeles, tell a different story – the awards were to be presented on a Wednesday, in the middle of a filming week. A memo from Universal publicity manager David Golding sent on January 31, 1964, advised Hitchcock that it was impractical for Hedren to fly to New York to accept the Photoplay award, as the ceremony was scheduled to take place midweek on Wednesday February 5th rather than over a weekend. He cited Sean Connery’s imminent departure at the end of February as evidence of the pressure that the production was under to complete the filming on time. Connery was scheduled to return to Britain to begin filming Goldfinger in March 1964. The award ceremony also clashed with the filming of the powerful flashback sequences as the call sheets held at the Margaret Herrick library testify, and Hitchcock did not want Hedren to break the mood for her character.

Louise Latham, who played Marnie’s mother, and is still alive today says she has sympathy for Hitchcock over the Photoplay event. “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.”

The Big Bust Up

It’s well documented that Hitchcock and Hedren had a big row over the Photoplay event. Hedren goes further to accuse Hitchcock of sexual harassment in her memoirs, as detailed in The Girl.

John Russell Taylor, Hitchcock’s official biographer, gives a markedly different story to The Girl’s version of events; “When I was first going to the studio (in the 1970s), the people around him, particularly Peggy [Robertson] said, don’t mention Marnie because it’s a sore point. It was one of my favourite movies and I told him that. Obviously it had left painful memories and he seemed to be pleased, I liked it and praised him. In some ways it was very close to his heart. I knew about the famous quarrel and I heard both sides, because I subsequently talked to Tippi about it. After about two thirds of the film had been shot, they had this quarrel consequent to which they had a flaming row on set to which they never spoke directly to each other for about a week after, ‘Would you ask Mr. Hitchcock? Would you ask Miss Hedren?’ which I’m sure contributed to the extraordinary atmosphere about the film. So I asked Hitchcock about it, and he said oh we had this row, and she said something that no-one is permitted to say to me, ‘Well, she, hem, referred to my weight.’”

Rita Riggs remarked in 2012, “He could be a total Jekyll and Hyde but I never saw that. I think Hitch did many things to get performances from [Tippi], particularly in Marnie, because he didn’t depend on her with acting technique, he may have shocked her with all manner of his techniques. I never really thought he was serious. He was a jokester and a prankster and I have good memories all through The Birds and Marnie.”

Not being invited to The Wrap Party

Hedren asserts that after the flaming row, Peggy Robertson came to tell her it would be best if she didn’t attend the wrap party. The cast and crew were then insulted, and that the party subsequently was a ‘huge flop’.

The party was according to cast interviews a huge success. A collection was taken up to buy Sean Connery a $750 dollar watch from Ruser’s Jewelry in Beverly Hills. He subsequently took off his watch and put on the new one. The crew were impressed with Connery’s professionalism. On the back of the watch were engraved the words, ‘To Sean from his fellow workers on Marnie’. Connery took off the watch that he was wearing and put the new one on. “I had a great time with Hitchcock,” he recalls. “He tells you on the set what moves he wants. . . . He used to tell me funny stories before a take quite often, but he never dwelt upon the psychology of the character. . . . His humor was pretty schoolboyish.”

Following Connery’s return to England, the first unit filmed more scenes between Marnie and her mother. And on Friday, March 13th, the crew drank the two dozen bottles of champagne that Connery had bought them. According to a memo dated March 20th, Peggy Robertson wrote to Connery on the set of Goldfinger. “Everyone was delighted with your thoughtfulness and they all send you their love and thanks … it was a good end of the picture party.” Peggy mentions in the memo that Hedren contributed Hors d’oeuvres. If you weren’t invited to an end of picture party, why would you contribute hors d’oeuvres?

Never Speaking to Hitchcock Again

Hedren says Hitchcock never spoke directly to her again after the big row.

Yet she is on record saying that she met with Hitchcock and Alma in London in the Spring of 1966. She was invited to have tea with them at the Ritz, while she was filming Chaplin’s A Countess from Hong Kong. She then suggested that Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin have their photograph taken together. Hitchcock’s response was, ‘Why would I want to do that?’

Hitchcock blocking Truffaut’s Offer

In the memoirs, Hedren says Hitchcock kept her under contract for two years saying ‘She’s not available’. The one offer that hurt her the most, which Hitchcock apparently prevented, was her starring in Fahrenheit 451 directed by Francois Truffaut.

Laura Truffaut, Francois’ daughter, who was interviewed in Berkeley, California this spring, denies the story. “I did some research through my father’s correspondence and biography, as well as through a very researched book on his work based on his very extensive archives (Francois Truffaut au Travail, by Carole Berre).  I also asked my mother about whether she had ever heard my father’s mentioning Tippi Hedren as a possible part of the cast of Fahrenheit 451. She was just as surprised as I was. My parents had a close relationship and it is extremely unlikely in my view that my father seriously entertained this project without sharing it with my mother or mentioning it to us in later years. I am all the more confident about this as my father was not secretive about the other actors who were considered for casting in that film. The only other actress seriously considered was Jean Seberg.”

Brooke Allen, the daughter of the film’s producer, Lewis Allen, also denies the claim. “First I’ve ever heard of Tippi Hedren being up for the role in Fahrenheit 451. My father produced that movie and never mentioned any such thing. They were very excited about working with Julie Christie.” The casting files of Lewis Allen for Fahrenheit 451, held at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, corroborates this. They include correspondence for Julie Christie, Jane Fonda, Mia Farrow and Florence Henderson, but there is no mention of Tippi Hedren.

Why Mary Rose was scrapped

Hitchcock was planning a third film with Hedren to star in, based on the JM Barrie play ‘Mary Rose’. Jay Presson Allen wrote the screenplay, but Hitchcock allegedly threatened to cancel it after the Marnie bust up.

According to John Russell Taylor, Mary Rose was shelved because Universal didn’t want to finance a third film with Hedren as star, as the first two films had failed. Universal told Hitchcock he had two attempts to make her a star and they would not finance a third attempt – indeed, forbade him from making Mary Rose for them at all. They deemed it ‘un-commercial.’

“He told various people that the studio took one look at the script and barred him from making it, so there is some truth in it; he was considering it, maybe if things hadn’t gone wrong on Marnie, that was his next. There was also the question of Tippi’s popularity or otherwise with the public. Wasserman was very commercially minded, because he was also Hitch’s agent,” recalls Taylor.

In 1972, Hitchcock was interviewed by the journalist Janet Maslin. In response to his attempt to make a star out of Hedren, Hitchcock said “I later turned her over to Universal, because you can’t have the same woman in every picture. . .they offered to renew her contract if she would agree to do television, which she didn’t want to do.”

As for the other incidents described in the Memoirs, where there were no witnesses, or no studios memos, only Hedren knows if they occurred or not. Louise Latham concludes by saying, “For Hitchcock to go down as this monstrous thing, to the degree that [Tippi] was vulnerable is not accurate.” What would have been fascinating is an account of how Hitchcock taught and manipulated Hedren to give an effective performance in both The Birds and Marnie. Sadly these are lacking in the memoirs.

Differring Accounts

Tippi: A Memoir is published on November 1st by Harper Collins.

Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, Revised Edition by Tony Lee Moral is published in paperback on December 1st by Rowman and Littlefield.

The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds is published by Oldcastle Books.

Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock by John Russell Taylor is published in paperback in January 2017.

https://bloomsburyreader.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/alfred-hitchcock-fact-and-fiction-by-john

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/06/alfred-alfred-hitchcock-sexual-harassment-claims-tippi-hedren-the-birds

The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower says Hitch was a Gentleman

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MARLI RENFRO, a pin up model, who doubled for Janet Leigh in Psycho’s infamous shower scene, was interviewed on 15th October 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

“I was 21 years old when I made Psycho. They wanted a pin up model to double for Janet Leigh in the shower scene. I was hired for 2-3 days and worked for a total of 7 days. When I first met Alfred Hitchcock, he was everything I thought he would be. I’ve always been a big fan of Hitchcock, and would have done the movie for free to work with him. He was very polite, very professional, knew exactly what he wanted. He put me at ease.”

“I have heard various people in the business not speak kindly of him, but for one thing I think it might be personality clashes. The other thing is he knows exactly what he wants. To the T. I can’t say anything bad or negative about him. He was totally professional and had a great sense of humour.”

“I was almost naked doing the shower filming. Except I had a little rubber patch on my crotch and that was it. I was a nudist at the time, so being without clothes was very comfortable. My first day of work I showed up for make up, I was there for 2-3 hours, and I wore a grey and white wig which matched Janet Leigh’s hairstyle. One of the make up men walked me to the set, I took off my robe, and started doing some stretching exercises and stood there nonachantly. When you don’t have any clothes on it’s really very boring compared to wearing say a sexy negligee.”

“Hitchcock was very professional and made sure everyone was very respectful to me. I never got the impression that Hitchcock was lecherous. Nothing even bordering, not a tinge. I would have been aware of it if he had.”

“Once he brought the measuring tape from the lens of the camera and brought it to my left nipple. I thought that was very funny, it was his sense of humour showing. But he didn’t touch me!

“It’s so easy to say things after someone has passed on. I don’t agree with anything like that. To continually press on after somebody has passed on, I take that with a grain of salt myself. To me he is a genius in his field. When filming the shower scene was over, Hitch said thank you, it was a pleasure working with you, and he was very cordial.”

HITCHCOCK AND THE GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT

2016 proves to be yet another year of Alfred Hitchcock in the headlines. Tippi Hedren’s memoirs are due to be published in November and Hitchcock’s ‘The Girl’, makes an appearance at the Hay Literary Festival in the UK this summer. But many people who worked closely with Hitch are still unhappy with the media’s portrayal of the famed director. Over the following week Save Hitchcock publishes some new interviews which aim to set the record straight.

Yvonne Hessler, Hitchcock’s secretary (1960-1962), interviewed on tape in Los Angeles in February 2016:

“My first impressions of Hitchcock was that he was a conservative person. Always dressed in a Navy blue suit with a white shirt, black shoes, black socks. That he was a very good verbal communicator, extremely intelligent and in general a Gentleman.

Knowing Hitchcock as well as I did, there is an enormous amount of fabrication in the media. Hitch was really non confrontational. He would never have gone up to anyone and say anything of a sexual nature. He was a perfect gentleman. He always treated Peggy (Robertson) and I in the office, as a perfect gentleman. In the office he never made a pass. That’s not to say he was passive. He was highly intelligent, that he would never make that kind of overture, to make an assault sexually. Never! He was too smart to do that. That is my judgement. His great sensual delight in life was not women, it was food, plain sensual food.”