Bizarre Things That Happened On Hitchcock Film Sets

Bizarre Things That Happened On Hitchcock Film Sets


Everyone knows that most Hitchcock films are
stone cold classics, many of which are among the craziest, scariest, and darkest movies
out there. But maybe that’s not surprising, considering
the man was pretty crazy, scary, and dark himself. Here are a few of the strangest things to
have happened on the sets of Hitchcock’s movies. Even among Hitchcock’s many classic films,
The Birds has got to be one of the most famous. But it was only in 2016 that leading lady
Tippi Hedren’s memoir gave the public a look into just what went on behind the scenes. For her, she wrote, making the movie was nothing
short of a nightmare. The Birds was Hedren’s first movie job, and
she’d been offered it after Hitchcock had seen her in a commercial where she didn’t
even have a single line. She made an impression, though, and he ordered
Universal to find her so he could offer her a contract…along with a pin made from gold
and pearls, showing a pair of birds in flight. Which seems a little creepy, sure, but that’s
not the half of it. “He’d be standing off talking to people, carrying
on a conversation, and staring at me.” According to Hedren, it wasn’t long after
shooting started that Hitchcock came to the conclusion she was losing weight. So, he did what any other obsessed fanboy
would do: he sent her a basket of bread with a note that read: “Eat me.” If that weren’t enough, Hedren said that his
hugging and touching got to the point where she finally approached his wife, Alma, and
asked her to make it all stop. According to Hedren, Alma just walked away. After The Birds, Hedren was cast as the title
character in Marnie. She says that things only got worse from there,
with Hitchcock regularly grabbing her, telling her about his dreams in which she professed
her undying love for him, and his promise to ruin her if she rejected him. She wrote: “It was sexual, it was perverse, and it was
ugly, and I couldn’t have been more shocked or repulsed.” Writing about how she felt after shooting
Marnie, Hedren wrote: “My soul needed to get away.” Today, you can watch pretty much any movie
safe in the knowledge that any animals shown on-screen would have been humanely treated
behind the scenes. Sadly, that’s not always the case, and it
certainly wasn’t the case in the ’60s, either. Heck, back then they didn’t even treat the
humans right. By the time they were ready to film that iconic
scene in the attic during production on The Birds, Tippi Hedren had already made it perfectly
clear what she thought of Hitchcock’s obsession with her. According to Hedren, that week-long shoot
was one of the most traumatic experiences she ever had. Originally, it didn’t seem like anything out
of the ordinary, and she’d been told that they were going to use mechanical birds for
the scene. But that was a lie. Hedren wrote: “Everybody lied to me, and on the Monday morning,
as we were going to start the scene, the assistant director came in and looked at the floor and
the walls and the ceiling, then blurted out: ‘The mechanical birds don’t work, so we have
to use real ones,’ and then he ran out.” When she got on set, she realized there apparently
hadn’t been any intention of using mechanical birds whatsoever, and that the entire attic
was rigged so bird handlers could stand safely off-camera and spend the next week throwing
actual gulls, pigeons, and ravens at her. At one point, they tied a raven to her leg,
and the understandably freaked-out bird clawed her face in a frantic attempt to get away. The ordeal only ended when the bruised and
bloody Hedren collapsed, after which she was taken into a doctor’s care. Of her experiences with the director, Hedren
wrote: “I got over Hitchcock a long time ago because
I wasn’t going to allow my life to be ruined because of it. It was like I was in a mental prison, but
now it has no effect on me. I did what I had to do to deal with it.” Decades after its 1959 release, North by Northwest
is still hailed as one of the best spy films of all time. “What possessed you to come blundering in
here like this? Could it be an overbearing interest in art?” “Yes, the art of survival.” It’s also notable for being the very first
film shot on location at the United Nations building in New York City. Kind of. It’s probably not surprising that filming
a movie at the UN wasn’t entirely approved of at the time. But if there’s one thing to know about Hitchcock,
it’s that he’s not the type to let little things like rules and regulations get in the
way of bringing his vision to the screen. Even though filming the UN building was strictly
off-limits, Hitchcock set up a hidden camera to get around UN security and the NYPD, in
order to film a shot of Cary Grant heading into the building. Filming inside the UN was right out of the
question, of course, and getting a shot set up inside would have been impossible even
with a hidden camera. In the end, the interior shots were done on
a set, but it was a pretty authentic set for one crucial reason. Hitchcock might not have been able to film
the UN lobby, but he was able to put on his tourist disguise, recruit a photographer,
and wander through the lobby taking pictures as though he were on vacation. The UN wasn’t the only iconic set in North
by Northwest, and it wasn’t the only one that had Hitchcock scrapping with government officials,
either. The movie is also famous for its scenes on
Mount Rushmore, but getting the permissions needed to film there meant going head-to-head
with the U.S. Department of the Interior. According to Hitchcock himself: “In North by Northwest, during the scene on
Mount Rushmore, I wanted Cary Grant to hide in Lincoln’s nostril and then have a fit of
sneezing. The Parks Commission of the Department of
the Interior was rather upset at this thought. I argued until one of their number asked me
how I would like it if they had Lincoln play the scene in Cary Grant’s nose. I saw their point at once.” He had liked the idea so much that the original
title for the film had been The Man in Lincoln’s Nose, and even though he gave up on that as
the ending to the film, he was still hampered by the Park Service’s insistence that filming
actors running along the presidents’ heads would be disrespectful. Finally, they agreed to allow filming to take
place there, as long as the utmost respect was to be shown to the monument itself. Hitchcock agreed and the permits were signed,
presumably while the director had his fingers crossed behind his back. While only three scenes were actually filmed
on site and the rest were filmed on a Hollywood recreation of the iconic monument, the fake
Mount Rushmore was so believable that the Park Service got all worked up anyway. And it didn’t help that press from MGM had
suggested that there was no fake version in the first place. They took the issue all the way to the Senate,
but the movie was released before it could be stopped by the government. In the end, while the Park Service didn’t
manage to stop the release of the movie, they did force Hitchcock to remove a line in the
credits saying they had approved the whole thing. One thing that can definitely be said for
Hitchcock is that he was an absolute stickler for the little details, but nothing quite
matched what he put his crew through in order to recreate a Vermont autumn for The Trouble
With Harry. The idea was to film on location in a series
of small towns in Vermont. But, as anyone who’s been to New England knows,
the weather there can be unpredictable and autumn doesn’t last for long. The weather became unworkable long before
filming wrapped on The Trouble With Harry, so Hitchcock made a decision. By the time filming had come to an end, around
half the movie had been shot on a California soundstage. In order to keep the look and feel of New
England, however, the crew collected bags and bags of autumn leaves in Vermont, sent
them to California, and glued them to the trees on their studio set. Just remember that the next time you think
your job is monotonous. In 1935, Madeleine Carroll and Robert Donat
starred in Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, considered to be the film that propelled the director
to stardom. He was already 18 movies into his career at
that point, however, and that was enough for him to already have propelled his own behavior
from merely “quirky” into downright bizarre. There’s a long list of strange behaviours
performed by Hitchcock on the set of that movie. Whenever he finished a cup of tea, for example,
he’d toss it over his shoulder and smash the cup on the ground. He also reportedly called his stars “Mr. Doughnut”
and “the Birmingham tart,” rather than referring to them by their actual names. The first day Donat and Carroll were on set
at the same time, he produced the handcuffs that would be keeping them side-by-side for
a good part of the film. Slapping the cuffs on them, he went on to
pretend that he’d misplaced the key. “There are twenty million women in this island
and I’ve got to be chained to you.” There are a few different versions of how
that particular story ended. According to Donat, he and Carroll got along
too well for Hitchcock to be amused by their suffering, and the director claimed he had
“found” the key after an hour or so. Other accounts have the gag dragging on for
many hours, with everyone involved getting more and more annoyed with the whole thing. Except, of course, for Hitchcock himself,
who would later remark: “We had a lot of fun making The 39 Steps.” Ask anyone to name the most iconic scenes
in movie history, and the shower scene from Psycho is guaranteed to be among them. In fact, it’s so iconic it’s even been given
a nickname: 78/52, in reference to the 78 setups and 52 cuts that were required to film
the scene. But the gruelling shooting schedule was actually
one of the least strange things about the making of that unforgettable scene. Apparently, Hitchcock wanted to get the sound
effects for the stabbing 100 percent correct, so he sent the prop guy for a watermelon. Since the prop guy had been around long enough
to know where this was going, he brought back a bunch of different melons, and “auditions”
were held to see which one made the best sound when it was stabbed. Hitchcock closed his eyes, melons were stabbed,
and he eventually decided not on a watermelon after all, but a casaba. And thus, a killing was born. Growing up as the child of someone famous
has to be pretty weird, but growing up the child of Alfred Hitchcock? That’s another story entirely. In 1951, Alfred’s daughter Patricia Hitchcock
made an appearance in Strangers on a Train, and she definitely didn’t get any special
treatment from her father while on set. Part of the set was a giant Ferris wheel and,
as luck would have it, Patricia hated heights. So Hitchcock promised her $100 if she would
go for a ride, and she did. Unfortunately, the idea of his cherished daughter
being helpless on a Ferris wheel was apparently irresistible to the director, so he waited
until she was at the very top, cut the lights and the power, and left her there for an hour. And he didn’t even give her the hundred dollars
after. The Guardian’s interview with Pat Hitchcock
many years later suggests that she hadn’t been terrified in the least at the time, and
that she was actually kinda used to things like that happening. That said, even though she claimed that she
wasn’t scared by the trick, she also said that the question of whether or not his “pranks”
had ever made her cry was: “…the strangest thing I’ve been asked. I don’t delve into myself over much.” And that’s life in the Hitchcock household. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
films are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I now see why Hitchcock movies and the Hitchcock theater, had that unusual twist to them. I will pray for those whom have work with Alfred Hitchcock, I truly didn't see this.

  2. Me & my son Jesse have been watching a marathon of Hitchcock movies & he loves these films. His top 3 favorite Hitchcock movies are
    1. Psycho
    2. North By Northwest
    3. Rear Window

  3. My favorite Hitch film is "Strangers On A Train". One of my schoolmates from junior high on through high school graduation was a creepy guy who was similar to Bruno. He sometimes would zero in on me in gym class and totally freak me out. Marion Lorne is terrific as Bruno's mom. And finally that spectacular climactic carousel scene! Along the way there are plot elements which definitely pushed the envelope back in 1951—Guy's wife pregnant with another man's kid, while Guy himself is carryin' on with a SENATOR'S daughter!! Talk about Peyton Place! Excellent movie.

  4. You mean to tell me that Alfred Hitchcock was a sadist, no, not, hitch?! (Sarcasm).
    I love the movie, Marnie, that's one of my favorite films. 👌🏾
    I just feel super bad for Tippi Hedren, and anybody that worked with him, that was a woman, even is poor daughter?! Yikes! 😟

  5. You think that's bizarre? Sheridan Morely mentions Hitchcock's deal with Jane Russell in his biography of David Niven (Dark Side of the Moon). Apparently Russell would do a striptease in her apartment with the drapes open while Hitchcock would watch her from his (and presumably his wife's) apartment across the street, and have a good wank. (😋Fap😝 fap 😩 fap fap fap 🤪 arrrrrgh😆 sigh😊).

  6. Ole Tubby Al was def. a perv. He & Nasty Harvey would have made good cell-buds in prison. I read ole Tubby had a 'thing' for blondes. Me Too late for ole Al but God will sort it out at The Great White Throne.🤔

  7. I'm certain Tippi Hedren is sincere in believing what she says now but her story has changed over time and there are many inconsistencies where the facts can be checked. Check out https://savehitchcock.com where people who actually worked with Hitchcock share their memories. He was well-respected by his crew and collaborators and almost every actress who appeared in his films spoke fondly of him afterwards. It really is a shame to see the innuendo and distortion of recent years.

  8. Met and talked with Tippi Hedren. Lovely woman, and a strong woman, despite being about five feet tall. She was victimized by Hitchcock who benefitted from the same sexism that continues to deface Hollywood, with Harvey Weinstein and others as the current examples. Disgusting, and despite being a fan of Hedren's work, (and of Hitchcock's films, alas), I'm genuinely sorry she or anyone has to go through such revolting things. Power corrupts.

  9. Sounds like a bunch of whining over an old man's quirks. If it bothered anyone that much there are options, quitting perhaps? I'm just watching this for the facts and all I get is another example of a crap woman making the fairer sex look bad.

  10. Tippi, you were a TOTAL BABE in the early 60's !!!! It would kind of be natural for a dude to stare & fantasize about you. I sure as hell still do when I watch those old movies !!! YOU WERE A CALIFORNIA GODDESS !!!!

  11. I wonder if people who banned or wanted to boycott Michael Jackson's music or Kevin Spacey's movies will want to do the same with Hitchcock's work. Hmmm 🤔

  12. Better these weirdos have a safe outlet to make art that entertains the masses instead of quietly working out their sick imagination in real life.

  13. Hitchcock was a master of suspense and visual terror,….he was totally revolutionary and inotive in his originality to achieve the most shocking, and unpredictable,…he would go to extreme lengths to produce the best results possible……he was a nightmare to work with , but he remained insular and focused …..on only making the best moviemaking,he could … ..and he didn't care who he upset, as long he achieved his goals …….a cold man,…a genius in front of the camera

  14. Alfred Hitchcock may have been a Genius Director, but he was also a sick, disturbed psycho., He should have been arrested, let alone thrown out of Hollywood and the Movie Industry for some of the things he did. He makes Harvey Weinstein look like a nice guy next to him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *