A look Behind the Scenes on ‘The Birds’

Alfred Hitchcock directed ‘The Birds’ as we all know – one of his very best – a tense and thrilling film with no real explanation in the end – but he was leaving that to the audience to take away whatever they imagined.

There were quite a few ‘jump out of your skin’ moments

BELOW – Is a fascinating shot of Hitchcock explaining what he wants from the actors – among them Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Jessica Tandy

It always appears to me that when he directed a film Alfred Hitchcock was very much ‘the boss’ – however Richard Todd who had played the lead in ‘Stage Fright’ in 1951 said in his Autobiography that Hitchcock seemed to let the actors do their jobs, and he seemed more interested in the Camera shots and angles and the general set up in order to maximise the drama.

Whether that was the case with ‘The Birds’ I am not sure because it was during the filming on this that he is alleged to have made unwelcome advances to Tippi Hedren which she strongly resisted and after the incident he was particularly cruel to he – he made the last scenes with the birds pecking at her very realistic – it took days to film and she endured a pretty terrible time – some of the crew and other actors were appalled at what she endured.

Tippi Hedren in a frightening scene – saving the children

Of course, she did make another film with Alfred Hitchcock – ‘Marnie’ with Sean Connery – not one of the best but not a bad film either. She was still under contract to him and remained that way fort a few more years thus virtually ending any hopes of a film career based on the famous films that she had done.

She had signed a 7 year contract at 500 US Dollars per week just before ‘The Birds’ but after ‘Marnie’ , even though she later claimed that a number of film companies had tried to hire her for a film, Hitchcock always refused thus effectively ending her film acting career

However looking at the imdb site Tippi Hedren did seem to be in quite a number of films and Television shows so maybe there is more to the story than meets the eye. I just don’t know.

Later Tippi Hedren actually had a real life full grown lion living in the family house she shared with her husband and daughter – this is something that she later admitted was a huge mistake

The animal was a 400-pound ‘pet’ lion named Neil. Looking at the photos from the celebrated 1971 LIFE Magazine spread where the lion lived in the home she shared with her daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, they now make her ‘cringe.’

Another regretful decision was the infamous 1983 adventure film ‘Roar’ – now commonly touted as ‘the most dangerous film ever made.’ It starred Tippi Hedren and her then-13-year-old daughter – and 150 lethal lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, panthers, cheetahs, cougars, and tigons from their own personal zoo. The film’s carried the publicity line : ‘No animals were harmed during the making of Roar. But 70 members of the cast and crew were.’ 

Tippi went on to say :-

‘Who exactly did we think we were to risk all these lives — our crew’s, our animals, ours, and most of all, our children’s—for what really amounted to nothing more than a very, very expensive home movie?’

Seventy members of the cast and crew were injured during the making of the film, which also features the actress’ daughter Melanie Griffith and 150 big cats and elephants.

Roar was first released in 1981 and was the brainchild of Tippi Hedren and her then-husband, producer Noel Marshall.

Tippi Hedren And Melanie Griffith

The many wounds were well-documented in press coverage at the time and also in Hedren’s 1985 book The Cats of Shambala, referring to her Shambala Preserve north of Los Angeles, where Roar was filmed.

In one instance, Tippi Hedren was bitten on the back of the head by a lion.

She also suffered fractures and skin grafts after being thrown by an elephant.

9th May 1963:  Alfred Hitchcock and American actress Tippi Hedren explore Cannes together after the premiere of his latest thriller 'The Birds' in which she plays the title role.
Image:Hedren and Hitchcock in 1963

Then-teenager Melanie Griffith – who walked out on the film for a short time because she didn’t want to come out of it with “half a face,” according to her mother – but she did return to the set, only to be mauled and clawed by a lion.

Marshall, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, suffered so many bites, including a few that made the final cut, that he was eventually stricken with gangrene.

To read the above is horrendous and it is just so difficult to reason why anyone would do this – it was not only stupid but criminally stupid had the unthinkable happened. Talk about ‘Health and Safety’ – Thank Goodness for it if this is what people get up to

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