In all my years of watching films and mad-for tv productions I have never witnessed quite such a wrongheaded and misguided undertaking as BBC 2’s The Girl, a supposedly accurate account of Hitchcock’s warped obsession with actress Tippi Hedren.
As Hitch buffs already know, Hedren became Hitchcock’s newest blonde muse in 1963, when Grace Kelly refused his pleas to leave her gilded palace in Monaco and come back to work with him. (Kelly had already starred in Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, all Hitchcock films).
At the beginning of the film, Hitchcock and his wife watch an advert on TV and think that the model would be perfect for his new film. So he arranges for her to attend casting and is instantly smitten, giving her the part of Melanie Daniels in his adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds. So far this goes along with reality but soon the story took a dangerous turn into unreality. All of a sudden Hitchcock forces himself onto the uinwitting star, trying to woo her byu reciting lewd limericks and leching over her at every available opportuinity, though whether any of this actually happened is anyone’s guess (Hedren has said in interviews that Hitchcock did sexually harrass her).
In the most disturbing scene, thew director terrorised Hedren, first by flying a mechancial bird on a wire into a phonebooth and shattering her with broken glass, then, in the attic scene, by having live birds swoop and fleck at her and repeating the process a dozen times until Hedren is caked in blood. Again, I doubt very mnuch if this actually took place but the film took every opportunity going to paint the legendary director as a wheezing sex maniac, looking like cross between a circus dwarf and the elephant man. At least Sienna Miller as Hedren was given the opportunity to show how beautiful she can be, although she is in reality too slim and angular to play the inreal life shorter Tippi Hedren, who was also a much worse actress. It wasn’t enough to stop the film from being an unseemly and revisionist account of the twentieth century’s most talened director, and it got it wrong to the last by claimiming that Marnie (1964) was his last masterpiece, when that honour must surely go to Frenzy (1972).