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American Cinematographer (2012) - Hitchcock Blonde




John Pardue lends a classic‑cinema look to The Girl, which explores Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with Tippi Hedren.

Alfred Hitchcock famously preferred blondes. "The perfect 'woman of mystery,'" he once declared, "is one who is blonde, subtle and Nordic." His fixation on this ideal has been well documented by critics such as Roger Ebert, who noted that the director's female characters "reflected the same qualities over and over again: They were blonde. They were icy and remote. They were imprisoned in costumes that subdy combined fashion with fetishism. They mesmerized the men, who often had physical or psychological handicaps." Hitchcock once wryly observed that his preoccupation was entirely justifiable aesthetically: "Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints."

The director channeled his muse through many of the industry's most striking fair‑haired beauties, but according to HBO's telefilm The Girl, which begins airing this month, his compulsion took a troubling turn when he discovered Tippi Hedren.

Hitchcock and his wife, Alma, spotted Hedren in a TV commercial in the fall of 1961. The auteur immediately summoned her for a meeting and soon cast her as the lead in his next feature, The Birds (1963). Their collaboration began cordially but allegedly turned sour when Hitchcock began making romantic overtures that Hedren rebuffed. Frustrated, Hitchcock reportedly forced her to endure sadistic treatment on the sets of The Birds and his next film, Marnie (1964). Hedren refused to work with him after that.

For The Giri, which was directed by Julian Jarrold, cinematographer John Pardue was tasked with creating a classiccinema look that would dramatize the conflict between the director (played by Toby Jones) and the actress (played by Sienna Miller). Born in New York, Pardue holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and U.K. and has worked on projects all over the world, including some in South Africa, where HBO's production was based. "The Girl was a great opportunity for me as a director of photography, and it gave us all wonderful insights into the period of those great Hitchcock movies," he enthuses. "Julian embraced the Hitchcock style in his directing, just as I did with the cinematography."

During prep, Pardue carefully studied the photographic strategies employe...

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