HBO’s dramatic portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with Tippi Hedren in ‘The Girl’ has a voyeuristic, creepy quality to it. You almost feel you’re trapped in one of Hitch’s movies as seen through the eyes of Tippi Hedren who lands the role of a lifetime when Hitch casts her for the leading role in The Birds. The fairytale, however, soon turns into a nightmare when Hitch’s relationship with Tippi includes sexual harassment and stalking.
She realizes there’s a dark underside to her dream role when Hitch starts telling her sex jokes and forcibly kisses her on a ride home in his car. After Tippi’s rejection to Hitch’s kiss, the director then proceeds to torture her throughout the filming of The Birds.
During the iconic scene from The Birds, Tippi is cut by broken glass when Hitch sends a dummy bird straight at the phone booth, shattering the window. After the mechanical birds don’t work, Hitch opts to use real birds for the attic scene.
The shooting with real birds went on for 5 days where Tippi was scratched, pecked and driven to a state of exhaustion. After 46 takes of the attic scene, the traumatized actress had to be dragged from the set from a room full of birds.
After filming wrapped, Hitch offers Tippi the leading role in Marnie. She decides to take the role against her better judgement. Hitch grows increasingly obsessed with Tippi, including calling her on Christmas day and driving past her house.
In one scene, Hitch takes Tippi offset and urges her to “touch him.” He later goes on to tell Tippi about his sexual fantasies. As Tippi continues to reject him, Hitch continues the punishment through her character in Marnie. Hitch decides Tippi’s character should be raped by her husband on their wedding night.
The breaking point comes when Tippi wants a few days off to attend an award ceremony. Hitch believes he’s lavished on her enough gifts and wants her to finally pay him back. He wants Tippi to be sexually available to him whenever he wishes. Tippi finally has the good sense to break her contract with Hitch and finally leave.
‘The Girl’ either will fascinate Hitchcock fans or repulse them entirely. It takes Hitch off his pedestal and portrays him as a creepy and flawed man. The amount of abuse Tippi endured during her working relationship with Hitch is deeply unsettling and probably was more the norm than the exception during that time in Hollywood. Fans might enjoy looking behind the scenes look into the filming of The Birds, but probably will cringe at seeing what the man, not the legend, behind the curtain.