AS a celebrated creator of the unexpected, Alfred Hitchcock cultivated his own mystique off-screen, too. But the picture of the director as a lecherous and sadistic sexual predator in a BBC drama broadcast last night is unrecognisable, according to a number of his leading ladies.
The drama is based on the experiences of Tippi Hedren, who starred in 'The Birds' and 'Marnie'.
According to 'The Girl', the BBC Two drama in which Hedren is portrayed by Sienna Miller, Hitchcock subjected the former model to sexual harassment and physical abuse, including threatening her with broken glass. In one scene, the director lunges at her and his attempt to kiss her borders on assault. Her rejection, the drama alleges, was avenged by Hitchcock ordering a propman to send a dummy bird crashing through a phone booth on set, showering the unsuspecting Hedren with glass. But this version of events is disputed by Tony Lee Moral, the author of three books on Alfred Hitchcock. He interviewed former leading ladies .
Eve Marie Saint, who starred in 'North by Northwest', told him: "My experience with Hitch was one of utter respect, warmth, friendliness and humour, and 'North by Northwest' was a glorious time in my life.''
Doris Day, who starred in 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' said: "He was just Mr Hitchcock – wonderful, a great director and a good friend. I loved working with him."
Kim Novak, the star of 'Vertigo', also defended the director. "Hitchcock is one of the great directors," she said. "He was a perfectionist, he didn't make any short cuts." Others to defend Hitchcock included Virginia Darcy, who was the set hairdresser during the filming of 'The Birds' and 'Marnie'.
"You had to take Hitch with a pinch of salt," she said. "Tippi was an innocent from New York. I don't think she could handle herself then.''
The BBC version has also come under fire from Nora Brown, widow of Jim Brown, assistant director on both 'The Birds' and 'Marnie'. She said he would be saddened by the image portrayed of his mentor. (©Daily Telegraph, London)