Tippi Hedren really, really hated Alfred Hitchcock, who - according to the star of “The Birds” and “Marnie” - treated her abominably. You can stlll hear it in her voice 50 years later.
That plays out in HBO’s The Girl (Saturday, 10 p.m.), which is far less interesting than you might expect given the subject matter.
It’s a really ugly story of a young woman, Hedren(Sienna Miller)m subjected to the advances of a creepy old man, Hitchcock (Toby Jones). He sexually assaults her and, when that fails, subjects her to hours and hours of attacks by real birds in “The Birds,” then torments her during a rape scene in “Marnie.”
Listening to Hedren, now 82, talk about what happened is riveting. Here are a few of the comments she made in August about her experiences with Hitchcock:
• “It was something that I had never experienced before. I don’t know what to call it. People have said, ‘Was he in love with you?’ No, he wasn’t. When you love someone, you treat them well. I think we’re dealing with a mind here that is incomprehensible, and I certainly am not capable of discerning what was going through his mind or why. I certainly gave no indication that I would ever be interested in any kind of a relationship with him.”
• “Hitchcock had a charm about him. He was very funny at times. He was incredibly brilliant in his field of suspense. I learned so much from that man about motion pictures, how you make a motion picture. So there are things that weren’t able to be in the film to say, ‘Why would she stick around for all of this?’
“It wasn’t a constant barrage of harassment to me. There were times of delight and joy, all kinds of different things. ... If it had been constantly the way we have had to do it in this film, I would have been long gone.”
• “Actually viewing the film, I have to say that when I first heard Toby’s voice at Alfred Hitchcock, my body just froze.... HBO very graciously granted me a screening for 30 of my friends, and at the end of it, nobody moved. Nobody said anything until my daughter, Melanie Griffith, jumped up and said, ‘Now I have to go back into therapy.’”
• “I had not talked about this issue with Alfred Hitchcock to anyone. Because all those years ago, it was still the studio kind of situation. Studios were the power. And I was at the end of that, and there was absolutely nothing I could do legally whatsoever. There were no laws about this kind of a situation. If this had happened today, I would be a very rich women.”
• “I think [Hitchcock] was an extremely sad character. As I said in the beginning, we are dealing with a brain here that is unusual, genius, and evil, deviant almost to the point of dangerous because of the effect that he can have on people that are totally unsuspecting.”
• “I know Kim Novak, and she never said a word about anything wrong. I didn’t bring it up. I really didn’t talk about this issue for such a very, very long time. While we were doing ‘The Birds’ ... I remember Suzanne Pleshette saying to me, ‘It isn’t always like this.’
“And as far as I know, Vera Miles had a terrible time with Hitchcock, and she wanted to get out of the contract. He didn’t let her. I believe, if you look at ‘Psycho,’ there isn’t one close up of Vera, not one. And she, after that, would never even speak about him to anyone.”
• “Peggy Robertson, [Hitchcock’s] assistant for so many years, and I remained friends until she died. And she, at one point, said to me that he would have these kind of feelings for his leading ladies. And she said, ‘But he never got over you,’ which I don’t know if that’s a compliment.
Half a century later, it’s compelling. “The Girl is decidedly less so.
It’s more exhausting than entertaining, unfortunately.