Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hitchcock Leading Ladies

As you may already know, Hitchcock, a movie based on the making of Psyco is coming out this weekend starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role and Helen Mirren as his wife Alma Reville. I thought this might be a good opportunity to have a quick look at the style of a few great leading ladies who appeared in some of my Hitchcock's favorite movies. With the links provided, mostly from Wikipedia, it may be a starting point, inspire you to learn more about them.

I started this off by trying to figure out which of the great director's productions was my favorite. I ended up sitting front of a blank screen a long time thinking about this. Choosing one? Not possible! I then asked myself what are my favorite Hitchock movies? *relief* I do have several but probably not the obvious ones.

I was still a teenager when I first saw The Birds (1963) and I remember finding the idea of birds suddenly turning against humans slightly over the top. Tipi Hedren had such a disconnected demeanor that the whole movie didn't do much for me. Psycho (1960) with Janet Leigh, well, not much more. I understood the importance of "the shower scene" after reading what critics of the time wrote about it but again for me it was meh... That remained the case even after learning more about the technical side of the movie in a Cinema class at university.

I know, I probably deserve to be stoned at this point but I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this. The fact that these movies left their mark historically is undeniable and my views might have been different had I seen them when they first came out in theatres but I wasn't around back then.

In this new production, Scarlet Johansson plays the role of Janet Leigh. As you can see from this picture below, the transformation is perfect.

I wasn't able to pin point who exactly is responsible for the makeup. Costume design, Julie Weiss. Here Johansson is seen under a large sun umbrella. No wonder her skin is so luminous!

What are my favorite Hitchcock movies?

If I go according to leading ladies I will have to say the ones starring Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak and Grace Kelly. I could live with the 7 the director did with these beautifully talented actresses.

Ingrid Bergman
Hitchcock recruited her 3 times: Spellbound (1945) with Gregory Peck, Notorious (1946) with Cary Grand, Under Capricorn (1949) with Joseph Cotton. Fabulous at portraying vulnerability, her beauty, unique!

Ingrid Bergman's publicity shot for Spellbound (1945)

Vertigo (1958) with James Stewart. Stunning! Her mysterious beauty combined with her sexy voice where more than captivating. I wanted to look like her.

Kim Novak, 1958 from the Vertigo shoot, 
makeup Benny Lane, clothes Edith Head, photo: ALAMY

Like Bergman, Kelly also appeared in 3 Hitchcock's movies, Dial M for Murder (1954) with Ray Milland, Rear Window (1954) with James Stewart and To Catch a Thief (1955) with Cary Grant. This last one is his most stylish production. With Monaco as a backdrop, the clothes and the makeups where just remarkable. Every picture frame, perfect! Grace Kelly, the strong willed woman personified. 

Grace Kelly, 1955 from To Catch a Thief
makeup supervised by Wally Westmore, clothes Edith Head.

The makeup and the clothes adorn by these great actresses could still be worn today. Seeing Scarlet Johansson in her "retro look" demonstrates that. Makeup and clothes are fun to play with but if you want the pictures taken of you to still look good in 20 years, best go for a classic style. Now if only we knew what this was for hair....

So much has been said about Hitchcock's relationships with his leading ladies all I will say is that he knew how to choose them!

Hitchcock's official trailer

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