As a casual viewer of Nick-at-Nite reruns of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I knew him only as the cartoonishly portly British man with the protruding lower lip and signature silhouette. But according to a new Hitchcock bio, was anything but a cuddly cartoon: the director famously mistreated the always-blonde heroines of his classic films. The biography by Donald Spoto, called Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies, paints a truly ugly picture of the heralded Hollywood heavyweight. "He pecked away at [the actresses'] insecurities, whispered filthy remarks right before they faced the camera and forced them to do countless takes of physically demanding scenes," USA Today reports. But it gets worse.Hitchcock derived a great deal of pleasure through humiliating his heroines, or, in his own words, "Nothing pleases me more than to knock the ladylikeness out of them." Tippi Hedren, the star of The Birds and the mother of Melanie Griffith, fared the worst of all Hitchcock's leading women. "The aging auteur tutored her, dressed her and even had her handwriting analyzed," according to USA Today. "But nothing topped a week spent being attacked by live versions of her winged co-stars during filming of The Birds, which sent her into clinical shock - except for when he demanded that Hedren be at his sexual beck and call during Marnie, which she refused." Spellbound by Beauty offers some insight into Hitchcock's personal life, which could explain the cruelty he inflicted on his female stars. Apparently, he only had sex once. Hitchcock married Alma Reveille in 1926 and allegedly, their single sexual encounter produced their daughter, Patricia. The sexual frustration, argues the author of Spellbound, "resulted in Hitchcock's compensating need to harass many of his lovely leading ladies." It's undeniable that Hitchcock produced some of the greatest cinema of the 20th century, and for me at least, this knowledge will probably not change my view of his films. As we've pondered before in terms of novelists, is it possible to separate a person's private behavior from their artistic output? Alfred Hitchcock Bio Swoops In On Leading Ladies [USA Today] Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies Earlier: Well, Is There A Scientific Link Between "Genius" And "Shithead"?
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