Talking Pictures (2013– )

Hitchcock's Leading Actors 

A look at Hitchcock's use - and abuse - of his leading ladies.


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Episode credited cast:
Judith Anderson ... Mrs. Danvers (archive footage)
Ingrid Bergman ... Alicia Huberman / Herself (archive footage)
Tony Bilbow Tony Bilbow ... Himself (archive footage)
Sean Connery ... Himself (archive footage)
Mark Cousins ... Himself (archive footage)
Joan Fontaine ... Rebecca (archive footage)
Cary Grant ... Devlin (archive footage)
Derek Hart Derek Hart ... Himself (archive footage)
Tippi Hedren ... Marnie Edgar / Melanie Daniels / Herself (archive footage)
Alfred Hitchcock ... Himself (archive footage)
Janet Leigh ... Mariom Crane / Herself (archive footage)
Kim Novak ... Herself (archive footage)
Michael Parkinson ... Himself (archive footage)
Anthony Perkins ... Norman Bates (archive footage)
James Stewart ... John 'Scottie' Ferguson (archive footage)


A look at Hitchcock's use - and abuse - of his leading ladies.

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Release Date:

9 May 2015 (UK) See more »

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Archive-Based Documentary that Shows Hitchcock in an Unflattering Light
15 August 2016 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock was fortunate in having several performers appearing with him in more than one of his movies - Cary Grant, James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Joan Fontaine and Tippi Hedren. By all accounts he was a meticulous director, even though his view of actors could be scathing on occasions. In one interview (given to Derek Hart in the mid- Sixties) he poured contempt on all those daring to believe in improvisation as a way of finding ways into the characters they played.

How much of his views were actually true, or whether he was simply performing for the camera is open to question. What we do know, however, is that his interest in female performers was often unhealthily possessive. This was especially true of his relationship with Tippi Hedren, a former model who shot to stardom on account of THE BIRDS (1963). As she recalled the way in which some of the most gruesome sequences were rehearsed, we could not help feeling that Hitchcock was rehearsing some of his sado-masochistic impulses on screen, for all his protestations about liking women. The same was also true of MARNIE (1964), based on the Winston Graham novel, where his attempts to control Hedren became unhealthy. He put her under personal contract and refused to let her work for anyone else. It was thus hardly surprising that the actor should want to escape from him as soon as possible.

Viewed in this light, the (in)famous shower sequence in PSYCHO (1960) seems like another manifestation of Hitchcock's sado-masochistic desires. Interviewed by Mark Cousins in 2000, Janet Leigh went through its construction in meticulous detail, but it was evident from her facial expressions that she found the sequence difficult to discuss, even forty years after its initial release. We wondered whether or not the director had deliberately rendered it so traumatic, simply because he hated women so much, or at best had little regard for their feelings.

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