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Spellbound by Beauty, By Donald Spoto
Friday 07 August 2009
An innocent female in a Hitchcock film is handcuffed. The actress was obliged to do many takes, "crying out for her manacles to be removed".
The scene appears in the early silent The Lodger, but was repeated in The 39 Steps. Madeleine Carroll's forced attachment to Robert Donat was prolonged when the handcuff key was "lost" by Hitchcock.
Whether bonds were physical or mental ("Bring on the Birmingham bitch!" was his call for Carroll), his relationship with leading ladies was characterised by domination tinged with Edwardian kinkiness and cruelty. "Are you trying to kill her?" a doctor asked when he wanted to prolong attacks on Tippi Hedren in The Birds.
Janet Leigh refused to bare all for Psycho, but spent six days in the shower. Spoto does a workmanlike job with this rich vein of creepy material.
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