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A Tale of Two HBO Movies - The Girl and Ethel

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by Melissa Silverstein
October 22, 2012 11:36 AM
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There is not too much that The Girl and Ethel have in common except for the fact that they are both on HBO last week.

The Girl is the story, untold publicly until now, that Alfred Hitchcock was a hideous bastard towards Tippi Hedren and ruined her career when she wanted to get out of her contract.  The movie was incredibly creepy.  Toby Jones gave a disturbing performance as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller played the plucked from obscurity model who became a star.  The movie is about Hitchcock's obsession with Hedren and how he abused his power as a director to try and get her to love him.  What the film also shows is a woman who fought back.  This is not a story of a woman who submitted to a powerful man to get further in her career, it is a story of a woman who said no, who fought back and who had her career ruined.

Everyone around him knew what he was doing.  His assistant (played by Penelope Wilton) tried to get him to back off and he made an incredibly disparaging comment about her looks.  This is from a man who was no looker himself.  There was one scene where Hitchcock's wife Alma (played by Imelda Stauton) said to Hedren that she was sorry for what she was going through.  Hedren begs her to help, saying she is the only one who can help her.  But Alma just walks away.  There is a sorry place in hell reserved for women who turn their backs on other women.

The facts surrounding this film took place decades ago but one can't help wonder how much of what occured to Tippi Hedren is still happening today. 

On the completely other side of the spectrum, Rory Kennedy takes out her camera and puts the lens on her family, specifically her mom Ethel.  As most people know, Ethel Kennedy was married to Robert Kennedy.  Rory is their last child and her mom was pregnant with her when her father was assassinated.  She's the only one of her family who never met her father.  What the film does is show how this woman kept her husband's memory alive in her children and instilled in them a sense of duty and social justice.  This is a beautiful story of a woman who persevered through incredible adversity.  As my mom said, this entire family could do whatever they want with their money and status, but they have dedicated their lives to public service and helping others.  That is their family business.  It's great to see the children talk about their mom and their lives with so much love.  Ethel Kennedy is an example of women's leadership that always doesn't get recognized because it is behind the scenes.  But her leadership is ever so present and will be for generations to come.

A very beautful movie.

Both The Girl and Ethel are in rotation on HBO.

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