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Vertigo film scene
Images source: Laura Loveday

What Does “Hitchcock Blonde” Really Mean and is It True?

What does “Hitchcock Blonde” really mean?

Let’s start by saying that a Hitchcock blonde should gather all the qualities of the stereotypical American woman of the fifties: bashful house wife allure with magnetic looks and elegant style.

Still, there is a bit more to it.

Vertigo first kiss:

For starters, a natural shade of blonde would not do. It should have the gleam and texture of the hair of a doll.

Also, a proper Hitchcock blonde holds the qualities of the femme fatale: sexually almost irresistible and possibly deadly. The usual femme fatale is conscious of how potentially dangerous can became for the man attracted to her. But a Hitchcock blonde is not quite aware of her power in that sense.

Kim Novak hairdo in Vertigo:

The character of Madeleine in Vertigo (1958), drives her guy almost to madness, but ‘apparently’ not entirely willingly.

The frigid Marnie (1964) allows herself to be seduced by the handsome heir played by Sean Connery, only to steal from him. Still, she does not do so because she is bad: she is only deeply troubled inside.

Movies that Show the Real Hitchcock Blonde

Hitchcock’s fascination with blondes is clear throughout his films, although not all blondes in his filmography fit the bill.

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`To Catch a Thief´ (1955)

Grace Kelly portrays the perfect Hitchcock blonde in To Catch a Thief (1955).

In the lookout for a suitable husband, she bumps into charming thief played by Gary Grant. She is aware of the trouble this guy might mean to her – not what a father would approve of!

Still, she seduces him with all her rich-girl charm just because he seems less boring than any perfect guy. Once more, she becomes more trouble for him in any case.

To catch a thief:

***
`Vertigo´ (1958)

The character of Madeleine played by Kim Novak is the pure essence of the Hitchcock blonde. She is beautiful, elegant, mysterious and married to a wealthy and caring fellow. But for some unexplainable reason, she is quite miserable also.

More absentminded than usual, she is being haunted by some disturbing thoughts. Former policeman played by James Stewart falls helplessly in love with her. Despite all his efforts to save her, he finds himself in deeper trouble than expected.

Vertigo:

***
`The Birds´ (1963)

The main character, Melanie Daniels, is a sassy and rich city girl, trying to get away from her own mischievous reputation. She meets a fine-good-guy from small town played by Rod Taylor.

So far, it might sound just like a fairytale. But coincidentally, as soon as Melanie hits the town thousands of birds –for no reason- start to violently kill and destroy the village…

The Birds:

***
`North by Northwest´ (1959)

Eve Kendall plays the lead female character, portraying a double-faced seductress.

***
`Marnie´ (1964)

Tippi Hedren is superb as the beautiful yet sexually constrained Marnie. Her frustrations seem relieved when she steals important sums of cash from her admirers. To keep the police away, she has to play different identities and not remain in one place for too long.

Everything changes when she meets handsome business tycoon played by Sean Connery. Fascinated by her, he unmasks her and forces her to marry him. Though they seem like a happy couple to everyone, she feels caught and incapable of facing her sexual troubles.

Marnie trailer:

***

Movies that Don’t

`The Man Who Knew Too Much´ (1956)

Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much is clearly not one of them. She plays a loving and caring wife who just puts up with the action, but is not causing it. She does not flaunt the sexiness required for a Hitchcock blonde either.

`Rear Window´ (1954)

Grace Kelly impersonates the perfect fiancée as a supporting role.

`Dial M for Murder´ (1954)

Grace Kelly does not portray a Hitchcock blonde in either Dial M for Murder or Rear Window. They are previous to the picture To Catch a Thief, therefore prior to the Hitchcock blonde era. She plays a supporting role –not lead- in both. She impersonates a trusting and innocent wife on this one –not suitable for a Hitchcock blonde-.

***

Debatable

`Psycho´ (1960)

Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960) plays a character far too warm and accessible for a true Hitchcock blonde -but it is indeed pretty debatable-. Plus, she plays supporting role rather than female lead.

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Why Did He Have this Preference?

When it comes to sexual attraction, we all have preferences: hair, height, shape… I would say this guy liked blondes as I like brunets. In day time, for Hitch, if they came in a grey skirt suit and wore their hair up, even better -at night time they should be dressed to kill… yet elegant when required-.

This is how he liked his fantasy women, in my opinion. If he was appealed by that… why would not be the audience also? He perfected his ideal through his movies: and the Hitchcock blonde was born.

What Did Hitchcock Do to Tippi Hedren?

Rumor has it that Hichcock´s obsession started with Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, and hit bottom with Marnie, ruining Tippi Hedren´s career.

What exactly he did to her can be quite a controversial subject. Apparently he harmed her quite a lot psychologically, pressuring her with his obsessions. He took advantage of the power he had over her as an unexperienced actress.

I always thought that Hitchcock must have been with blondes like a little kid playing with Barbie-dolls. He dressed them, styled them, he told them how to talk, walk, look… The trouble is these dolls were real women, and he was no child but a world known famous film director.

He fitted the Pigmalion myth in every detail.

Tippi felt Hitchcock´s treatment was going to end up driving her to insanity, and she called it quits. He considered that, coming from nowhere, she owed her success entirely to him. Sadly, she had signed a contract with him for several years, and he prohibited her to work with any other director during this period. By the time the contract was over, her popularity had come down a great deal, plus she was almost hitting forty. Her career was practically over.

And still, even Tippi Hedren is the first one to preach about Hitchcock´s talent.

Hitchcock‘s use of blondes has been criticised throughout the decades, but no matter how much of a womaniser he actually was, this guy is the master of film-making.

 

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