Hitchcock’s Obsession with Tippi Hedren: “The Girl” (2012)

Toby Jones and Sienna Miller

Toby Jones and Sienna Miller star in THE GIRL (2012)

THE BOTTOM LINE: Made for HBO and based on Donald Spoto’s non-fiction book, this fascinating film chronicles the productive but rocky relationship between iconic director Alfred Hitchock and beloved actress and star Tippi Hedren. Hitchcock made her a star, but his obsession with her ruined their relationship. Hedren emerges as the stronger of two determined artists.

FRISCO KID’s rating: 4 stars

Movie poster for THE GIRL (2012)

Movie poster for THE GIRL (2012) (image source: Wikipedia)

Production: Amanda Jenks

Direction: Julian Jarrold

Screenwriting: Gwyneth Hughes; screenplay based on the book, Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies, by Donald Spoto

Cinematography: John Pardue

Starring: Sienna MillerToby JonesImelda Staunton

Plot Summary (adapted from IMDB)

The movie opens with Alfred Hitchcock (Jones) looking for a blonde actress to replace Grace Kelly, whose acting in Hitchcock’s  Dial M for Murder (1954) and Rear Window (1954) had made her famous before she retired from acting because of her marriage to Prince Rainer of Monaco. After screen-testing many actresses, Hitchcock and his wife, Alma (Staunton), agree that Tippi Hedren, a then-little-known TV model, is “the Girl” for the female lead in The Birds (1963). When Hitchcock becomes sexually obsessed with Tippi, she rebuffs his advances. Despite his sadistically chauvinistic reaction, Tippi is determined not to give in to Hitchcock despite the severe stresses of working with him. Hitchcock and Hedren make a second film, Marnie (1964), but their relationship continues to deteriorate.

Commentary

Hedren is portrayed as talented and determined to make it in the man’s world of the Hollywood of the 1960s, no matter how badly Hitchcock treats her. The film’s treatment of Hitchcock is even-handed, highlighting both his genius as a filmmaker and his flaws as a human being. He had a knack for spotting and developing talent in actresses, but his own demons prevented him from letting them own their achievements and their new-found status as stars. Miller, Jones, and Staunton’s excellent performances bring this conflict to life. Meanwhile, strong supporting work by Conrad Kemp and Penelope Wilton reveals that there was a more humane side to the Hollywood of that time.

Film Facts (via IMDB)

  • U.S. Rating: TV-14 (suggested MPAA rating: PG-13)
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Color: Color
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1