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"Hitchcock's Blondes" | Reviewed by Pat Sainz

In “Hitchcock’s Blondes,” author Laurence Leamer writes about movie director Alfred Hitchock’s obsession with the blondes who starred in his movies. Hitchcock had a fixation with ethereal fair-headed women whose classic looks, in his eyes, raised their status above all other women.

Hitchcock, the most powerful and popular movie director of the 20th century, was a complicated man beset by a childhood of loneliness and unceasing ambition.

The author attributes Hitchcock’s choice of “remote” women as a reflection of his mother’s coldness towards him in his childhood. The beautiful, aloof blondes in Hitchcock’s movies characterized women who wouldn’t normally associate with him because of his heft, protruding lower lip, and short height. Hitchcock made advances toward some of his stars, not all, but he was always rejected.

All of Hitchcock’s female leads were nominated for or received awards thanks to his superb direction. Unfortunately, Hitchcock forced his actresses to rehearse scenes multiple times when they were placed in difficult situations. It bordered on abuse. For example, Tippi Hedren had to practice being attacked with mechanical and real birds until she had physical scars and bruises for scenes in “The Birds.” Eve Marie Saint had no double to practice scaling the faux Mount Rushmore (for appropriate lighting) in “North by Northwest.” At age 99, she still sports scars from those repeated rehearsals.

Hitchcock was notorious for telling extremely ribald jokes his actresses. Today his comments would be considered sexually abusive. None of his actresses flinched at this behavior because putting up with the “teasing” was the price for being in a Hitchcock movie. In fact, all became more well-known for the roles they played in Hitchcock movies, than in any other movies in their careers.

Leamer’s book is special because it includes detailed synopses of the movies Hitchcock directed. The author also offers a brief retelling of the lives of each actress before, during, and after their star appearance in Hitchcock movies.

Fans of Hitchcock’s movies will recognize the main players: Ingrid Bergman in “Notorious;” Grace Kelly in “Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window,” and “To Catch a Thief;” Kim Novak in” Vertigo;” Eve Marie Saint in “North by Northwest;” Janet Leigh in “Psycho;” and Tippi Hedron in “The Birds.”

Hitchcock was successful due in large part to input from his wife Alma, who wrote screenplays, chose actors, hired assistants, and put up with his antics toward his female stars. She stayed with Hitchcock for over 50 years until he died in 1980, an invalid damaged by alcoholism.

About the Author: Laurence Leramer is the author of over 18 books, most of them non-fiction. They include “Capotes’ Women;” “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace;” “ The Kennedy Women;” and “Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

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