“He lived in the land of kink. Perverse sex, kinky sex, that fascinated him…. Essentially he was a voyeur.”
– Arthur Laurents, Screenwriter
Cinema is, essentially, an art form dedicated to voyeurism. As we sit in a darkened room, popcorn crumbs on our collars and 3D glasses shading our eyes, we take pleasure in the trials and tribulations of the fictional other.
Of all of Hitchcock’s appellations then (“genius”, “artisan” “tortured virtuoso”) to describe him at his most basic “voyeur” is quite apt. The son of a Catholic green grocer, Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was a child of the East End. “Strict” does little to describe his stringent upbringing, often being marched to the police station by his Father when he’d been “naughty” and compelled to account for all his daily activities to his sharp-tongued Mother – an ordeal he later referred to as his “Evening Confession”.
This fraught relationship with his parents, especially his mother, is often speculated to be the genesis of his sadistic treatment of his female heroines. Each time a leading lady was violated on his silver screen, she became the cinematic embodiment of a son’s resentment.
Poised, refined and affected, Nathalie ‘Tipi’ Hedren was the quintessential Hitchcock heroine. In interviews, Hitchcock frequently compared his new obsession to her glamorous predecessor, Grace Kelly, the Princess Consort of Monaco. However, as Hedren later intimated, she did not want to be known as “the next Grace Kelly”, but rather wished to forge her own identity as “the first Tippi Hedren”.
It was this young woman, the last of Hitchcock’s golden-haired goddesses, that finally broke free of her bonds to cinema’s master of murder, mystery and mayhem. He had subjugated, controlled and abused her, denying her the opportunities other Directors offered the rising starlet in a bid to keep her chained to his side. However, in January 1964, the tables were turned as real-life drama eclipsed the cinematic world Tipi was being compelled to fabricate. In front of a firing line of Hitchcock’s cameras she exploded, hurling at her oppressor a torrent of her pent-up emotion. Furious, Hitchcock never forgave her for her defection; he countered her passion with a ruthless aim to ruin her career.
Her sensational story is set to become the subject of a new BBC2 television drama, “The Girl”, starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchock. As the leading lady herself imperiously informed a meeting of the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills, Hitchcock “ruined my career, but he didn’t ruin my life”. It is this defiant optimism Hedren is set to bring here to City Screen as this inspiring icon, now eighty-two, will be talking to an audience via video-link to discuss her film career, memories of Hitchcock and her contributions as artistic advisor on “The Girl”.
Tickets are available from the City Screen website for this great opportunity to hear first-hand from one of the Hollywood greats on Thursday 16th August at 6.15pm.