Hitchcock experts rush to defend director over Tippi Hedren’s claims of sexual harassment

Actress says she repulsed advances on The Birds set but film crew dispute story

Cinema historians, former casting and crew and Alfred Hitchcocks official biographer have rushed to the defence of the director after claims that he sexually harassed and bullied actress Tippi Hedren during the filming of The Birds in the 1960 s.

In her new book, Tippi: A Memoir , published on 17 November, Hedren alleges that the director induced sexual approaches to her and regarded her as his personal property. In one passageway she also describes her genuine horror during the course of its filming of the attic scene in The Birds when she was attacked by real birds. It was ugly, brutal and relentless, she writes, adding that Cary Grant, visiting the define that week, had told her how brave she was.

John Russell Taylor, author of Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock , said: In a style I dont blamed Hedren, who I got to know in the late 1970 s when I was researching my volume. She is, I would guess, elaborating memories she feels bitter about but, as Hitchcocks friend, I resent the style her tale has changed over the years.

Hedren, the directors archetypal cool screen blonde, also starred in another Hitchcock thriller, Marnie . She was a New York fashion model when he spotted her in October 1961 in a diet drink commercial. Taylor said that in previous interviews for his book, republished in paperback in January, Hedren said the director had taught her all she knew about movies, even letting her into script sessions for The Birds .

Taylor and a fellow Hitchcock expert, Tony Lee Moral, writer of Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie and The Making of Hitchcocks The Birds , both argue that Hedrens claims are not supported by others who worked on the films, or by the shooting schedules and other documents in Hitchcocks archive at the Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles.

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The Birds trailer

Hedren, mom of 1980 s movie star Melanie Griffith and grandmother to Dakota Johnson, the superstar of last years Fifty Shades of Grey , claims that during place filming of The Birds , Hitchcock gave her a ride to her motel in his limousine and tried to kiss her while others watched.

She repelled his advances, she writes, and alleges he took his retaliation the next day when they filmed the famous telephone kiosk scene in which birds break in to attack the superstar. The glass booths supposedly shatterproof panes splintered, cutting her cheek, and Hedren suggests the sequence was part punishment for her rejection of him.

The allegation about Hitchcocks attempted kiss came to sunlight in 2008 in Donald Spotos book, Spellbound by Beauty , which inspired the 2012 television film The Girl , starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock.

The film elicited protests from those who worked with Hitchcock when it was broadcast and these objections have intensified in response to Hedrens new memoir. The reputation of Britains greatest film director, dread Taylor and Lee Moral, is being tarnished by allegations that do not stand up. After speaking to surviving members of the film crew on The Birds , Lee Moral believes the record should be set straight. Shooting documents demonstrate there was months of studio filming between the time when she was staying in that motel and the phone booth filming, he told the Observer . It also happened a few days after Hedren was offered the part of Marnie , which makes even less sense.

Taylor adds that onlookers, such as deputy director Jim Brown and Hitchcocks assistant, Peggy Robertson, have never mentioned the limo incident when offering other criticisms of the director. He also topics why Hitchcock would have risked disfiguring his new star during an expensive shoot.

Gerry Gero, deputy to Ray Berwick the bird trainer, has backed this view, while Hedrens hairdresser, Virginia Darcy, is on record agreeing that the crew are always looking out for her.

Only two chapters in the new memoir are about Hitchcock, who died in 1980, as most of the book chronicles Hedrens passion for filming with lions and other big cats and the creation of her wildlife reserve near the Mohave desert.

The biggest row between director and his star, all parties concur, was over Hedrens plan to attend an awards event in New York held by Photoplay Magazine in February 1964, during the filming of Marnie , an intense pyschological thriller about abuse co-starring Sean Connery. Hedrens memoir preserves she requested a long weekend away, but Lee Moral claims the records in the Los Angeles library depict the awards evening was held in the middle of a week of scheduled filming.

A memo from Universal publicity manager David Golding send in January advised Hitchcock that it was impractical for Hedren to fly to New York. Connery was scheduled to begin filming as Bond in Goldfinger in March and there was no room for postponements. Hitchcock also did not want Hedren to break the taut atmosphere on the Marnie set.

Louise Latham, who played Marnies mother, told Lee Moral she had compassion for Hitchcock. I find some of the allegations hard to believe. Shes a lovely female, but I dont guess Tippi should have said those things about Hitch I wasnt well informed her being hassled on the define. For Hitchcock to go down as this monster thing, to the degree that[ Tippi] was vulnerable is not accurate.

Taylor told the Observer he once asked Hitchcock about the row and was told that Hedren had said something no one was permitted to say: Well, she, ahem, referred to my weight. Robertson subsequently told him Hedren had screamed: You fat pig. Who are you to tell me what I can and cant do!

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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