Guest Blog: The Making of a Film, The Making of an Actress by Kathleen Kaska

30 Apr

Please welcome my guest blogger today, Kathleen Kaska, author of the award-winning Sydney Lockhart Mystery series, set in the 1950’s.

Kathleen’s first mystery, Murder at the Arlington, won the 2008 Salvo Press Manuscript Contest. This book, along with her second mystery, Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen published three mystery-trivia books: What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? (newly titled The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book), The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. All three books are being reissued in May 2012 by LL-Publications.

To celebrate the re-issue of these mystery trivia books, Kathleen has kindly agreed to be my guest blogger today. Welcome, Kathleen!

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Psycho had been released two years earlier, and Hitchcock was searching for a film, and a new star, that could rival this masterpiece. He had been working on a film entitled No Bail for the Judge, which was to star Audrey Hepburn. When she refused to do a rape scene, he cancelled the film. He had also been working on the script The Blind Man, with screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who Hitchcock had collaborated with on North By Northwest. This project failed as well, along with several others Hitchcock had in the works. He had become frustrated, not only with the film industry, but with Hollywood in general. Once a much-sought-after figure, Hitchcock found himself excluded from many social events. He’d become highly critical of his film colleagues and had no qualms about expressing his feelings. By the summer of 1961, he’d found himself without a film and without many friends. His despair disappeared one August afternoon in Santa Cruz.

A headline in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about birds attacking a large swath of the Santa Cruz County coastline, caught his attention. Hitchcock had been considering adapting Daphne du Maurier’s novel The Birds, for the big screen. This horrifying true story was just the sort of thing that could make an imaginary nightmare a reality.

August 18, 1961      

Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes;Thousands of Birds Floundering in Streets,

by Wally Trabing

“A massive flight of sooty shearwaters, fresh from a feast of anchovies, collided with shoreside structures from Pleasure Point to Rio del Mar during the night.

Residents, especially in the Pleasure Point and Capitola area were awakened about 3 a.m. today by the rain of birds, slamming against their homes.

Dead, and stunned seabirds littered the streets and roads in the foggy, early dawn. Startled by the invasion, residents rushed out on their lawns with flashlights, then rushed back inside, as the birds flew toward their light.
. . .

When the light of day made the area visible, residents found the streets covered with birds. The birds disgorged bits of fish and fish skeletons over the streets and lawns and housetops, leaving an overpowering fishy stench.  . ..”

 Hitchcock’s discovery of Tippi Hedren happened much the same as his discovery of the bird invasion. One afternoon, while watching the Today show, a Sego (diet drink) commercial aired. An attractive blonde walked across the street, turned and smiled at the camera. Hitchcock picked up the phone and instructed his agent to locate her. Up until now, Hedren had been making a successful living as a model. Four days after Hitchcock spotted her on TV, she was offered a seven-year exclusive contract. What attracted Hitchcock was Hedren’s sexy, but coy persona. He selected actresses with a certain look, appeal, and subtly who would enhance the “suspense” of his films. “Suspense,” Hitchcock said, “is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement.”

Tippi Hedren went on to star in only one other Hitchcock film, Marnie.




5 Responses to “Guest Blog: The Making of a Film, The Making of an Actress by Kathleen Kaska”

  1. Jacqueline Seewald April 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Very interesting info. As a Hitchcock fan, I particularly enjoyed it.
    Jacqueline Seewald
    DEATH LEGACY–new release

    • kathleenkaskawrites April 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      Thanks, Jacqueline. Hitchcock is in a league of his own. No director or producer handles suspense like Hitch. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. jennymilch April 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Talk about things coming together! Thanks so much for the background–I didn’t know this, and it really speaks to kismet in whatever projects we take on, and which might turn out to be our best.

    • kathleenkaskawrites April 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      Writing the Hitchcock trivia book was such fun. I spent an entire summer watching all the videos of Hitchcock films in chronological order. Thanks for stopping by.

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