Quick-witted, cool Hillary would impress Hitchcock
Hitchcock was a bit of a sadist. Certainly, the master of the dark side had “a murderous fascination with blondes,” as the British Film Institute once noted in a tribute.
And now comes Hollywood’s murderous fascination with Hitchcock’s murderous fascination.
HBO’s “The Girl” depicts the making of “The Birds” and “Marnie,” with Toby Jones playing Hitch and Sienna Miller playing Tippi Hedren, fighting off rapacious birds and rapacious director at the same time.
In theaters, “Hitchcock,” with Anthony Hopkins as the auteur and Helen Mirren as his wife and collaborator, Alma Reville, depicts the making of “Psycho,” with Scarlett Johansson taking Janet Leigh’s place in the shower to be stabbed by that crazed mama’s boy Norman Bates.
Next spring, A&E will run “Bates Motel,” a prequel series to “Psycho,” featuring a young, creepy Norman, with Vera Farmiga as his (blond) mother.
Why the fresh fascination with the man with the famous profile? Perhaps the more Hollywood churns out rancid movies, the more it appreciates Hitch, who never got an Oscar.
Hitchcock’s fetish for “Nordic” women, as he called them, started in his 1927 silent film “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog,” about a Jackthe-Ripper-style lunatic. He had his brunet lead actress don a blond wig, and he made all the serial killer’s victims blondes.
As Donald Spoto wrote in his book “Spellbound by Beauty,” Hitch preferred blondes because he saw them as “easier and more dramatic to photograph in monochrome, and he considered their ‘coolness’ and elegance appropriate contrasts to the kind of passion he wanted to reveal beneath the surface.”
Hitch’s blondes came in two shades: the ones, like Leigh in “Psycho” and Kim Novak in “Vertigo,” who were sexy and duplicitous victims doomed to die in spine-tingling ways, and those, like Ingrid Bergman in “Spellbound” and “Notorious,” Grace Kelly in “To Catch a Thief” and “Rear Window,” and Eva Marie Saint in “North by Northwest,” who were sexy and sneaky survivors.
Speaking of American blond obsessions, Hillary Clinton could qualify as a Hitchcock leading lady. Hillary is quickwitted and cool, and we never know exactly what she’s plotting as speculation froths about 2016.
While Republicans continue their full-cry pursuit of Susan Rice, the actual secretary of state has eluded blame, even though Benghazi is her responsibility. The assault happened on Hillary’s watch, at her consulate, with her ambassador. Given that we figured out a while ago that the Arab Spring could be perilous as well as promising, why hadn’t the State Department developed new norms for security in that part of the world?
In the best tradition of “The Lady Vanishes,” Hillary sagely dodged the Sunday talk shows that September morning. She knew it would get messy, given that those killed included an ambassador who had written in his diary about being on an al-Qaida hit list and two former Navy SEALs who worked for the CIA.
It’s possible Republicans lambasting Rice (some neocons much prefer her interventionism to John Kerry’s brand of diplomacy) see torpedoing her as an antidote to their recent routing, a chance to convey that they still have juice against a president who has the whip hand in fiscal cliff negotiations.
They regard Rice as the staffer she was before she ascended to the United Nations — too political, not big enough for the lofty post of secretary of state.
There are suspicions in political circles that negative press about Rice might also be coming from Clintonworld, where some still resent her. Rice was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration but defected to Obama’s 2008 campaign, accusing Hillary of getting “critical judgments” about Iraq and Iran wrong.
It took Hillary a month to defend Rice on Benghazi, and it took until Wednesday — more than two months after the attacks on Rice began — for Hillary to utter the tepid endorsement: “Susan Rice has done a great job as our ambassador to the United Nations.”
Washington mandarins marvel at the cool blonde of Foggy Bottom and wonder whether she’s enjoying watching Rice walk the plank. As one put it, comparing the smooth Hillary and the rough-elbowed Rice: “Hillary’s smart enough to know not to jump on board a damaged vessel. It’s a good contrast between a woman who knows how to navigate the power structure of Washington and someone who’s not quite there.”
A blonde who’s a canny survivor, cool under pressure. Hitchcock would approve.