Photo Credit Courtesy of TCM
At the Turner Classic Film Festival this past weekend I set out to screen films I had not yet seen. Things were going just fine until Sunday afternoon I was in such a rush to get to Scarecrow in time that I walked into the wrong theater. It wasn’t until TCM host Ben Mankiewicz introduced Tippi Hedren, star of Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), where flocks of birds inexplicably start attacking humans, that I realized that I had fowled up.
But in addition to invoking a great pun I was fortunate enough to hear an amazingly candid conversation with Tippi Hedren that left me feeling a bit ambiguous about the film I had seen before long ago and was now by accident about to see again. She described it as brutal experience that at one point left her sobbing in the middle of the set. For one scene it was her understanding that they were to use mechanical birds, but used real birds instead by tying a string from Hedren’s clothes to the bird.
Ms. Hedren was also forthcoming about Hitchcock’s unrequited feelings for her that she described as horrible and confining. Her spurning of his affections led to him destroying her career as he said he would. Much of this was covered in the mediocre 2012 HBO film The Girl starring Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock. The performances are good but the film itself is only interesting if you care about the subject matter, which still only carries the film so far. So understanding this going in and then hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth I felt a little strange celebrating a film that was such a harrowing physical and emotional experience for its star that led to downslide of her career.
But Ms. Hedren spoke with incredible dignity, without bitterness or remorse and reminded us that ‘he destroyed my career, but not me.’ So that made me feel better about enjoying this film, which I did immensely, and with a much deeper appreciation as to what it took to make. That’s another wonderful thing about the TCM film festival, here you walk into the wrong theater and still get a Hitchcock classic, always a win-win.
Check out the full photo gallery from TCM here.