Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Master of Suspense: A Tale of Two Hitches

In honor of Halloween, Cinema Style takes a look at director Alfred Hitchcock a.k.a. "The Master of Suspense" who happens to be the subject of not one but two films this fall.

The real Alfred Hitchcock
As gifted as he was, Hitch had a side as dark as his movies. HBO's The Girl explores hiobsession with actress Tippi Hedren (played by Sienna Miller) during the filmmaking of The Birds. He gave the Nordic blonde model her start in films and when she spurned his advances, he terrorized her on the set. The infamous scene where Hedren opens the attic and is attacked by a flock of angry birds was shot in five long days (on purpose) when one day would do. (Rumors abound that the birds were fed whiskey to make them more aggressive and Hedren suffered countless nightmares after filming). Long before the days of sexual harassment suits, Hedren was powerless. Signed to a seven year contract, the director and his muse collaborated on his next film Marni and parted ways shortly after. Actor Toby Jones (who played Truman Capote in Infamous) nails the portly genius right down to his measured voice.

Jones and Miller as Hitch and Hedren

Miller in the Attic

Hedren in The Birds (1963)

The real Hedren and Hitch on set

Hitch's marriage to screenwriter Alma Reveille  is the focus of the upcoming Hitchcock. Starring Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as the married Hitches, Scarlett Johansson as Vivien Leigh and  Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, the film covers the trials and tribulations of making one of the most popular horror films of all time, Psycho (1959).  Hitchcock (Fox Searchlight) premieres November 23rd  and early buzz is an Oscar nom for Hopkins.

Hopkins with the perfect profile as Hitch
Mirren as wife Alma -- note the menacing spider web design on her dres
Brilliant and complex,  his work was designed to scare, excite, titillate, and create a general level of anxiety.  Do yourself a favor, this Halloween forget Hostel one and two, Saw one through six and Halloween one through six and rent Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds. It's classic filmmaking and no one wears a mask and sports a chainsaw. And Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca is pretty creepy too.

Photo Credits: Suzanne Tenner/Fox Searchlight, Universal Pictures, HBO Films