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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Born This Day In 1931 --- "Tippi" Hedren

During frugal breakfast this morning, I tried to recall what other movies Tippi Hedren appeared in besides, you know, those two. The only thing that came to mind was A Countess From Hong Kong, so I checked imdb, and sure enough, she’s done lots of other shows, still working to this day. I’d read Spoto's story of how Hitchcock placed Tippi in coventry, thereafter consigning her to shabby television serials Universal was beginning to market. Having grown up on shabby Universal television serials, I launched an enthusiastic search for some of those credits. Did Tippi get to work with some of the really big names --- Doug McClure, Tony Franciosa, Leslie Neilson? Would there be a goldmine of exciting guest appearances on The Bold Ones, Name Of The Game … maybe even The Virginian? Well, the search left me somewhat wanting, as Tippi only did a Run For Your Life, one Kraft Suspense Theater (both Universal, so no doubt shabby), and a couple of Bob Hope gigs prior to 1970. I’d hoped for more, but what are the chances of seeing any of these programs again anyway? Think TV Land’s going to ditch The Andy Griffith Show for Kraft Suspense Theater? Me neither. Anyway, Tippi’s at least got The Birds and Marnie. Other than those two, I tend to think of her running around wildlife compounds, usually with tigers I wouldn’t care to occupy a state with. Maybe that's a relaxation after what she put up with on the Hitchcock pictures. Having read Spoto’s book, and much as I love the Master Of Suspense, I’m inclined to think it’s all true. Poor girl. Stardom couldn’t have been worth that --- and she didn’t even get to be a real star. The big push was over as quickly as it began. At least she got to do the Chaplin picture. It’s not much good, but I assume he at least left her alone (especially with Oona there knitting on the set every day). Those two Hitchcock pics look better every time I watch them, and it’s not just the gorgeous DVD’s (thanks, Universal!). I know there’s a lot of cheap mattes in Marnie, and that horseback stuff looks mighty phony, but so what? Hitch was heading into 65 when he made it. Why go out and catch pneumonia when you can fake it on a soundstage? I understand, Hitch (but you still should have made Cary Grant really eat that chicken leg in To Catch A Thief). The Marnie ending doesn’t inspire much confidance in Mark Rutland’s conjugal prospects either. You think she’s going to go straight back home with the guy and give him some right then? After all that bloody flashback revelation with Bruce Dern in his sailor suit? Nope. I’d say there’s years of therapy before she even lets Mark pet Fiorio, let alone her.

Here are some typically screwy Universal ideas to help exhibitors sell Marnie. Would a safe manufacturer cooperate with a window tie-in? Now, I assume this involves hauling your inventory into some hapless merchant’s store and putting it in his show window. Does that seem altogether practical? I mean, aren’t those things heavy? They seem so whenever one falls on Spike in a Droopy cartoon. A judicious showman in 1964 would most likely have passed on the safe bally.

How about that "prettiest secretary"angle? All right --- fine --- and who’s the sponsor going to be? The ACLU? National Organization of Women? Sounds like trouble to me. Better leave that one alone. The "Early Breakfast Showing For Secretaries" seems fair enough, but just how early are we talking about? This is a 129-minute picture! If you want to get those secretaries into work on time, you’ll have to open the curtain before cock-crow, and how many people are up for turgid sex thrillers at 6:30 in the A.M.?

These two behind-the-scenes shots show the Master at work, presumably before the big blow-up with Tippi (after which he wouldn’t speak to Hedren directly and referred to her obliquely as "that girl"). Wonder what was going through his mind when Hitchcock guided this business with Tippi’s bare and fetching legs? Well, the guy’s only human. No wonder he went a little daffy. If Tippi
looked at Vertigo, she probably saw some of this stuff coming!


Blogger Sandra Khoo said...

Aawww MAN! WOTTA GREAT SITE!!! Thank you sooo much for starting this wonderful blog! I love the Oldies....especially during the Golden Age of Comedy. Can't wait to see more posts up here! ^^ Oh and congrat on being mentioned in the Brew! ;)

9:56 PM  
Anonymous orangeguru said...

Sounds like that Tippi got the bad end of the deal? Too bad, she was an oke actress and certainly an icon of her time.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Consider me blown away...

Excellent shots of Hitch and 'Tippi'.

9:40 AM  

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