The Girl


The Girl Information

The Girl is a 2012 British television film directed by Julian Jarrold, written by Gwyneth Hughes and produced by the BBC and HBO Films. The Girl stars Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock, and is based on Donald Spoto's 2009 book Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies which discusses British-born film director Hitchcock and the women who played leading roles in his films. The film's title was inspired by Hitchcock's alleged nickname for Hedren.

The film depicts Hitchcock's alleged obsession with Hedren, the American model and actress whom he took from relative obscurity to star in his 1963 film The Birds. Hitchcock becomes infatuated with his leading actress, but she rebuffs his advances and Hitchcock subjects her to a series of traumatic experiences during the filming of The Birds. Hitchcock's obsession with Hedren continues when she stars in his next production, Marnie. Hedren grows increasingly anguished by his attention and eventually decides she needs to find a way out of the situation. However, she cannot work elsewhere because of her exclusive contract with Hitchcock, effectively ending her Hollywood career.

The Girl received its television debut in the United States on 20 October 2012 on HBO and aired in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 26 December. Jones and Miller were nominated for awards at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards and the British Academy Television Awards for their roles in the film, which received mixed reviews from critics. The Daily Mirror Jane Simon praised Miller's portrayal of Hedren. Although she endorsed the film, Hedren said its running time prevented it from showing some of the positive aspects of her relationship with Hitchcock. Others who knew and worked with Hitchcock criticised the film because of its portrayal of him as a sexual predator. Kim Novakwho starred in one of Hitchcock's films, and Nora Brownthe widow of one of Hitchcock's close friends, both disputed the film's version of events.

Plot summary

The film provides a partly fictionalised account of the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren. In 1961, Hitchcock notices Hedren in a television commercial for a diet drink. He wants to turn her into the next Grace Kelly, with whom he had worked extensively during the 1950s. Hedren passes her screen test and is groomed for the starring role in Hitchcock's latest film, The Birds, during which he instructs her about her dress and appearance.

Captivated by Hedren's Nordic looks, Hitchcock becomes infatuated with her. While working on The Birds, he makes a forced advance on her in the back of a limousine, but she fights him off. In retaliation for this rejection, Hitchcock exposes Hedren to several terrifying encounters with birds. The first of these occurs when a mechanical bird breaks the apparently shatterproof glass of a telephone booth during the filming of a scene, showering Hedren with glass fragments. Then after arriving on set to shoot a scene in which Hedren's character Melanie Daniels is trapped in an attic with attacking birds, she discovers that Hitchcock has ordered the mechanical birds to be replaced with live birds. He demands the scene is repeated several times until he is satisfied that Hedren's reaction appears authentic, which takes several days and leaves Hedren traumatised.

With The Birds successfully released at the box office, Hitchcock and Hedren begin working on another movie, Marnie. But Hedren finds the film's contentincluding a scene involving marital rapeand Hitchcock's continued and unrelenting obsession with her mentally and emotionally exhausting. Hitchcock is frustrated by what he perceives to be Hedren's coldness towards him. During a conversation with the writer Evan Hunter, Hitchcock admits that he has erectile dysfunction, and that his one and only sexual partner is his wifethe screenwriter Alma Reville. Hitchcock subsequently declares his love for Hedren but she walks away, leaving him to imagine a response in which she reciprocates his feelings.

Hitchcock refuses Hedren's request for time off to attend an awards ceremony in New York when she is nominated for the Photoplay Award as Most Promising Actress, and tells her that he will include in her contract a clause requiring her to make herself sexually available to him whenever he demands it. Hedren resigns but Hitchcock refuses to release her from her contract, meaning she cannot work for another production company and effectively ending her Hollywood career. Hedren leaves anyway after completing her work on Marnie. Two notes before the titles inform the viewer that Hitchcock and Hedren never worked together again and that The Birds and Marnie were later considered to be his final classic movies.

Cast

The cast comprises:

Production

Background and development

The Girl is based on Donald Spoto's 2009 book Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies, which examines the relationships between Alfred Hitchcock and the leading female stars of his films. Spoto wrote that Hitchcock sought to turn Tippi Hedren, star of The Birds and Marnie, into his perfect woman, even choosing the clothes and lipstick he believed she should wear. According to Spoto, Hitchcock became so besotted with his protégé that he fantasised about running away with her. This account of Hitchcock was given to Spoto by Hedren.

Details of a film examining Hitchcock's obsession with Hedren were reported in December 2011. The Girl, written by Gwyneth Hughes, would star Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Hedren. In a post-production BBC press release about the film in November 2012, Hughes spoke of her enthusiasm on first being approached about the project while on holiday. "[I] got a phone call from producer Amanda Jenks. She only managed to get out the words 'Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren' before I was already shouting 'yes yes yes!' to this seductive, sinister, deeply touching story of love and obsession among Hollywood royalty." Hughes interviewed Hedren and members of Hitchcock's crew before preparing a script. Speaking about her discussions with Hedren, Hughes said, "her wisdom and insights have helped me to put her real life ordeal on to the screen. I know Tippi is absolutely thrilled, as I am, with the casting of Sienna Miller to play her". The title was inspired by the name Hitchcock used for Hedren after she stopped working for him.

Diana Cilliers designed costumes for the film. She recreated some of the clothesincluding Melanie Daniels' green suitthat Hedren wore in Hitchcock's films. Cilliers said, "[t]here were certain items that we just copiedsuch as the Birds suit and the yellow Marnie bag, but otherwise we looked at clean lines, colours. Nothing too fussy."

Filming

Filming began on 8 December 2011. As part of her research, Miller spoke to Hedren on several occasions during filming and the two became good friends. Miller was in the early stages of pregnancy while filming took place. Live birds were used to recreate the filming of the attic scene from The Birds. Miller told the Radio Times, "I did go through a bird attack for two hours. It pales in comparison to what [Hedren] was subjected to, but it was pretty horrible. There were men off-camera with boxes of birds, throwing seagulls and pigeons in my face."

Jones's role as Hitchcock required him to spend four hours each day being made up with prosthetic makeup and a fatsuit. Jones also underwent daily twenty-minute vocal exercises to imitate Hitchcock's distinctive accent. In an interview with The Scotsman in December 2012, Jones said, "[Hitchcock's] voice was so beautiful. There's something in the rhythm and roll of it that is connected to the way Hitchcock thinks and moves. Then there is everything he ingestedthe cigar smoking and drinking that's imprinted on his voice. And everywhere he lived; you can hear cockney London, California, and a plummy received pronunciation in that voice."

Release

As part of its marketing campaign for The Girl, HBO released a thirty-second trailer in August 2012. During a Television Critics Association press tour to promote the film, Hedren said, "I have to say that when I first heard Toby's [Jones] voice as Alfred Hitchcock, my body just froze." Hedren's daughter Melanie Griffith attended the same screening. When the film finished the audience was silent until Griffith said, "Well, now I have to go back into therapy again!" Hedren also attended a screening in London in October. The film received its US television debut on HBO on 20 October 2012 and was shown on HBO Canada on the same day. It had its UK premiere on 26 December when it was broadcast as part of BBC Two's Christmas schedule. It was released on DVD in the UK on 7 January 2013.

Controversy

Hedren, who did not allege any harassment by Hitchcock until decades after his death, gave Spoto the account of the director as a sexual predator. Hedren's account contrasts with the many interviews she gave about her time with Hitchcock, and her warm tribute she paid to him when he was honoured with the AFI Life Achievement Award by the American Film Institute in 1979.

Shortly before the film was due to air on British television in December 2012, Hedren gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which she repeated her claims about Hitchcock. "He made it very clear what was expected of me, but I was equally clear that I wasn't interested ... Nobody is denying that Hitchcock was a brilliant moviemaker and I enjoyed working with him before I realised he was starting to take an almost obsessive interest in me." Other actresses have spoken of the close attention Hitchcock paid to details of the leading ladies' characters and appearances in his films, but they said that no harassment was involved. Eva Marie Saint, who starred in the 1959 production North by Northwest, told The Daily Telegraph, "Hitchcock was a gentleman, he was funny, he was so attentive to me, with the character, and he cared about everything my character Eve Kendall wore. He had an eye for the specifics of the character."

Kim Novak, who worked on Hitchcock's 1957 production Vertigo, disputed Hedren's and the film's view of the director. Novak told The Daily Telegraph, "I feel bad about all the stuff people are saying about him now, that he was a weird character. I did not find him to be weird at all. I never saw him make a pass at anybody or act strange to anybody." Louise Latham, who played Hedren's mother in Marnie, also dismissed claims of Hitchcock's predatory nature. She told Broadcast, "I find some of the allegations hard to believe ... I wasn't aware of her being hassled on the set."

Nora Brownthe widow of James H. Brown, the first assistant director on The Birds and Marnie who knew Hitchcock for several yearssaid that her husband would not have endorsed The Girls interpretation of events, and that the film's portrayal of Hitchcock would have saddened him. Gwyneth Hughes interviewed Brown as part of her background research for the film, but he died before its completion. In October 2012 Nora Brown told The Daily Telegraph that she had written to Hughes to express her anger. Hughes has said that James H. Brown backed up Hedren's claims of sexual harassment. Tony Lee Moral, author of two books about the making of the Hitchcock films in which Hedren starred, echoed Brown's comments. Writing for Broadcast in December 2012, Moralwho interviewed Jim Brown at length for his 2013 book The Making of Hitchcock's The Birdsrecalled a remark Brown made about Hitchcock. "Some of the things that are expressed about [Hitchcock] are highly over exaggerated. I think Hitch became upset because he thought Tippi wasn't fulfilling the star quality that he thought she had or was looking for."

In an interview with FT Magazines Rosie Millard, Hedren discussed Hitchcock's stance towards her after she decided not to work for him again. Hedren said, "He did ruin my career. He kept me under contract, paid me to do nothing for close on two years." Hitchcock sold her contract to Universal Studios, which dismissed her when she refused to work on one of its television shows. But her acting career continued and she appeared in numerous film and television productions. Hedren said that while she was still under contract with Hitchcock, he turned down several film roles, including an offer from French director François Truffaut of a part in Fahrenheit 451, on her behalf. Truffaut's daughter Laura disputed this, telling Moral her mother had expressed surprise at the mention of Hedren's possible involvement in the project. Laura Truffault herself was sceptical of the story. "It is extremely unlikely in my view that my father seriously entertained this project without sharing it with my mother as he was not secretive about the other actors who were considered for casting."

Reception

Criticism and reaction

The film's portrayal of Hitchcock a sexual predator was criticised. Some members of an audience of a private screening at the British Film Institute expressed their concerns that writer Gwyneth Hughes and director Julian Jarrold had unfairly represented Hitchcock. On the day of its UK television premiere, David Millward of The Daily Telegraph quoted Eva Marie Saint, Doris Day and Kim Novakwho worked with Hitchcockall of whom refuted Hedren's account of him. Writing for savehitchcock.coma website established as a response to the media's portrayal of HitchcockJohn Russell Taylor, author of the 1978 biography Hitch, said the film is "totally absurd".

In an interview with London's Evening Standard in January 2013 Anthony Hopkinswho played the eponymous role in the 2012 Alfred Hitchcock biopic, Hitchcockquestioned The Girls portrayal of the director and the need for a film about that period of Hitchcock's career. Hopkins said, "I talked to Tippi Hedren one day ... and she never mentioned that ... Whatever his obsession was, she didn't want to dwell on it ... I don't think it's necessary to put all that into a movie." Speaking to The Independent later the same month, Hitchcock's director Sacha Gervasi said, "[The Girl] seems a rare one-note portrayal of a man who was a little more complex than that. A lot of people, who were there, do not recognise this portrayal of him as this monster." Danny Huston, who played screenwriter Whitfield Cook in Hitchcock, told WENN.com that he believed Hitchcock would not have contested Hedren's account of him. Huston said, "Hitchcock was such a deliciously dark character that I don't think he would dismiss what Tippi was saying as not true."

Tony Lee Moral also questioned the accuracy of events depicted in the film, particularly their chronology, which do not tally with his research into the production archives of The Birds and Marnie. "Why for example would Hitchcock offer Tippi the coveted part of Marnie on June 7th 1962 during filming of the sand dune scene in The Birds, only to deliberately attempt to physically harm her ... by smashing the glass telephone booth, which was filmed on June 12th only a few days later?"

In October 2012, Hedren said that although she believed the film accurately portrays Hitchcock's negative behaviour towards her, the time constraint of 90 minutes meant it could not tell the entire story of her career with him. She told television critic Rob Salem, "It wasn't a constant barrage of harassment. If it had been constantly the way we have had to do it in this film, I would have been long gone."

Reviews

Before the film's US television debut, Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times was critical of the film's objectives, writing, "[t]he trouble with The Girl is that it tries to psychoanalyze Hitchcock but fails by trying to know the man too much. It's a movie about Hitchcock that ignores his best advice: 'Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement. Richard Brody of The New Yorker also gave the film a negative review, writing that rather than a drama, the film is an unoriginal work of criticism that "points to what everyone ought already to have been talking about in the first place: not least, that it's no surprise to learn that a filmmaker whose art is devoted to pain, fear, control, and sexual obsession also experienced and inflicted them in life." On the day of its UK premiere, James Rampton of The Independent wrote that The Girl was "no mere black-and-white hatchet job on Hitch. It does not seek to portray him as an unambiguous monster; rather, it highlights the profound psychological damage that plagued the director throughout his life." The Guardians Deborah Orr was generally positive about the film and wrote, "[t]here was only one thing wrong with The Girl. There was no Hitchcock in the director's chair to make it the utterly compelling psychological drama that it could have been."

The Telegraphs Nigel Farndale praised the film for giving a balanced view of Hitchcock, writing, "[e]ven though he was portrayed in this exquisite drama as a manipulative, vindictive martinet, the portrait was not unsympathetic." The Daily Mirrors Jane Simon echoed this view, praised Jones's Hitchcock and wrote that Jones, "managed to give [Hitchcock] touches of humanity, too. There are moments when you feel a real pang of sympathy for Hitchcock, although admittedly they don't last long." Simon also wrote, "[g]liding gracefully through it all (and with an impeccable American accent) Sienna Miller brings untouchable beauty and icy glamour, but also captures the extraordinary resilience Hedren must have had to withstand everything Hitchcock threw at her." In The Telegraph, Clive James said, "[a] better choice [to play Hedren] could not have been made than Sienna Miller, who is even lovelier than Hedren was ... Toby Jones, quite believably looked stunned." John Doyle of Canada's The Globe and Mail was less impressed with the actors' performances. Of Miller, whom he described as "good but not great", he wrote, "She doesn't have the iciness that Hedren had in her youth and she struggles to convey Hedren's enormous strength of character as a woman unwilling to let Hitchcock have his way." Doyle was equally critical of Jones, describing him as someone who "seems to be imitating Hitchcock rather than inhabiting the role."

Writing in The Guardian, historian Alex von Tunzelmann gave the film a mixed reception, writing, "The Girl is perhaps a more effective piece of film-making than Hitchcock, though it is also more questionable in its portrayal of the director." She also said, "[t]he film depicts [the attic scene] accurately, though Jones's Hitchcock appears to be more gratified by the spectacle than the real Hitch was." Simon quotes Donald Spoto's book The Dark Side of Genius (1983) for which Hedren told Spoto, "[Hitchcock] was terribly upset by all this," and screenwriter Evan Hunter said, "[h]e wanted to shoot it, but something in him didn't want to shoot it, and everybody could hear how nervous he was." Nancy deWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal wrote that the film should not be viewed in terms of truths or untruths, but instead as "an exquisitely lurid morality play in the Hitchcock style" and called The Girl, "an original masterpiece that pays tribute to Hitchcock's talent and vision ... "

Ratings

According to viewing figures collated by Nielsen Media Research, The Girls US television premiere at 9:00pm on Saturday 20 October 2012 was watched by an average audience of 0.722 million. The first UK screening at the same time on 26 December attracted an audience of 1.8 million according to The Guardian.

Accolades

Jones was nominated for a Best Actor Award at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards for his role as Hitchcock and Miller's portrayal of Hedren earned her a nomination as Best Actress. Miller and Jones also received the equivalent nominations at the 2013 British Academy Television Awards. The film received four nominations at the 2013 British Academy Television Craft Awards.

Awards and Nominations
Award Category Nominee Result
17th Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Sienna Miller
70th Golden Globe Awards Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television Toby Jones
Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television Sienna Miller
39th Broadcasting Press Guild Awards BPG Award for Best Actress Sienna Miller
14th British Academy Television Craft Awards Award for Best Director " Fiction Julian Jarrold
Award for Best Makeup and Hair Design Nadine Prigge, Neill Gorton, Clinton Aiden Smith
Award for Best Production Design Darryl Hammer
Award for Best Writer - Drama Gwyneth Hughes
60th British Academy Television Awards British Academy Television Award for Best Actor Toby Jones
British Academy Television Award for Best Actress Sienna Miller
British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress Imelda Staunton
British Academy Television Award for Best Single Drama



This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Girl_%282012_HBO_film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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