Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Looking very pleased with himself

Quick update before getting into my TCM Classic Film Festival recaps.  I apologize for being so behind, but I had a ton of stuff to get done before leaving for the festival and it was tough getting back into the swing of things after getting home from the festival (I'm taking a little break from paper writing).  Weekend jaunts across the country take more out of me than they used to, but I promise I'll get all my updates done soon.  Before getting into the film festival I just want to share the wonderful experience I had at the Road to Hollywood event out on Long Island.

I was able to make it to the screening of 'The Birds' with special guest Tippi Hedren.  I managed to turn in all my schoolwork and get over to the theater in time to get a seat.  When I arrived there was a very, very, very long line and I thought for sure I wouldn't make it in, again, but luckily I'm a horrible judge of gatherings of people.  I think it's amazing how many classic film fans there really (or they might just be fans of free movies) to see hundreds of people line up to see an Alfred Hitchcock movie on a Wed. well that's just simply amazing.  I also feel lucky enough to live in an area that's close to both New York City and the wonderful Huntington Cinema Arts Centre.  Before leaving for the event I decided to check out the Road to Hollywood website and noticed a slight change:
Do you see it too?  I noticed that Ben Mankiewicz was going to be hosting the event, which I thought was interesting and exciting, I just figured Robert Osborne was taking a break from traveling across the country and I thought it'd be nice to see Ben Mankiewicz in this setting.  It turned out that he was the perfect host for this event.  He seemed to get along wonderfully with Tippi Hedren and they had wonderful chemistry, I'll get into that in a moment.

Before the event started I found a decent seat and was sitting next to a gentleman who had printed out Tippi Hedren's biography and filmography off of Wikipedia, he offered to let me take a look at it.  Looking over Ms. Hedren's filmography I noticed something very perplexing, aside from The Birds and Marnie she hadn't really been in any other notable movies.  You'd think that after 2 Hitchcock films she'd be able to make a career for herself, while I was pondering that the festivities began.

Anyway, yes so Ben Mankiewicz was the interviewer, he addressed the change in host and mentioned that we probably noticed that he was younger and more jewish (very appropriate joke for the location) and gave Tippi Hedren a wonderful introduction.  Then in walked Tippi and she looked beautiful!!

She started the evening with a lovely story about having gone water skiing in Huntington many moons ago and said that she always had positive and warm feelings when she thought about Huntington.  Ben then got down to the hard hitting interview.

We pretty much got the whole story of how Tippi got "discovered" and hired by Hitchcock and what it was like to work with him, what it was like to work on The Birds and how she was ultimately "blackballed" by Hitchcock after working with him on The Birds and Marnie.  She talked about how she was asked to audition for Hitchcock after he had seen her in a commercial.  She said when she first met him that he was "looking very pleased with himself."  This was a running line throughout the night (hence the blog post title).  She explained how she had auditioned and was then under contract to work with Hitchcock and began The Birds.  She talked about how the filming went and that a majority of the birds were real and shared that there were mechanical birds in some scenes.  She also talked about having birds attached to her, as in tied or affixed to her body for the scene in the attic (I don't want to be too spoiler-y, but I also want movie fans to know which scene it is, so I think that should be vague enough).  It was really great to watch for the scene after hearing about that.

After discussing what it was like to work for and with Hitchcock she then talked about something that very clearly answered the question I had been asking myself earlier in the evening, why, after working on 2 Hitchcock movies did Tippi Hedren not have much of a movie career?  It turned out that Alfred Hitchcock had prevented her from signing onto any other films after working with him. Tippi was very candid and indicated that the reason for this was that Hitchcock had made advances and she turned him down.  She was very straightforward and said that he was persistent but that she made it clear that she wasn't interested.  It's crazy to think that something like this could happen.  But what's funny is she didn't have a hint of resentment or disdain for the situation or Hitchcock, it was just very matter of fact and she seemed to just chalk it up to something that happened and she did her best to persevere and live her life.

She then spent a great deal of time talking about her love of animals, her wildlife foundation and what it's like to live with numerous wild animals.  She also talked about her ongoing to struggle to ensure the fair treatment of animals and to put an end to the mistreatment of animals at circuses.   It was awe-inspiring to hear about all of Tippi's hard work and her dedication to protecting and caring for wild animals.  They then opened the discussion up for questions from the audience.  A couple of people asked for more information about her wildlife foundations, someone asked what she thought about current movies, she segued that into discussing her granddaughter, Dakota Johnson and her appearance in 'The Social Network.'  It was really cute, she sounded like a proud grandmother.  Then someone asked her what it was like work with Sean Connery and if they had a relationship off camera.  She said they didn't, that she had enjoyed working with him, but there was nothing more than an onscreen relationship.  She said that she was so absorbed by the role of being a cold, frigid woman that forming a relationship wasn't a possibility.

All in all this was one of the cutest and most candid interviews/Q&As I had ever seen.  Ben did a good job of asking questions that I don't think many interviewers would ask and Tippi was comfortable enough to answer them.  There was an exchange when Tippi was sharing a story about something that happened during the making of The Birds and someone thought that something was cool (damn my memory, I wish I could remember the specifics) and Ben suggested that the person probably really said, "That's bitchin'" and Tippi repeated "yeah bitchin'."  It was just so funny to hear Tippi Hedren say the word Bitchin'.  Anyway, that just kind of encapsulates the laid backed attitude of the whole evening.  It was something really special.

The movie was of course wonderful.  I love seeing Hitchcock movies in the theater, there's more tension, more collective gasping and more collective sighs of relief when you think the worst has come and gone. Thanks again to TCM for this amazing experience and I look forward to next year's Road to Hollywood!

(Coming, hopefully, soon my TCM Film Festival Recap, yes I know I'm the least timely blogger on the face of the earth, thanks for tuning in.)

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