(Note: Mr. & Mrs. Smith airs today, 11/16, on TCM at 4:15 pm Eastern/1:15 pm Pacific)
Kim Novak ("Madeleine Elster"/Judy Barton in Vertigo, 1958) Novak was a very popular movie star of the 1950s and a departure from the type Hitchcock had previously cast as his blonde love objects. Among other things, she was more voluptuous than those before her. Her sultry allure was toned down with a chic and often subdued wardrobe as well as the application of quiet but precise makeup. In a new "twist," Novak wore her hair in a stylized up-do throughout most of the film - this was the memorable "French Twist" Hitchcock liked to explore with his camera. Novak's enigmatic performance much enhanced the mysteries of Vertigo.
Eva Marie Saint (Eve Kendall in North by Northwest, 1959) Though not a sex symbol like Novak, Saint was also a departure from the actresses Hitchcock had cast before her. A dedicated dramatic actress, she was known for starring in films like On the Waterfront and A Hatful of Rain as well as live TV dramas - what Hitchcock called "kitchen sink" roles. However, she got the full treatment once chosen to play Eve and was transformed into a cool glamour girl whose urbane artifice belies her vulnerability. Saint was coiffed, costumed and made up to seductive, slightly brittle perfection. Being a solid actress, she was able to carry off with ease the role of a government operative while encased in fullblown Hitchcock Blonde regalia.
Tippi Hedren (Melanie Daniels in The Birds, 1963, and Marnie Edgar in Marnie, 1964) Hitchcock's final pale-haired icon, Hedren's was the most controlled expression of Hitchcock's archetype. More model than actress at the time, Hedren's mannequin-like qualities seem emphasized by heavily sprayed bouffant hairstyles, a sophisticated and strictly coordinated wardrobe and fastidious makeup. Hitchcock coached Hedren closely and constantly, intensely involved in her every move. Her career faltered when she bought out her contract with Hitchcock following Marnie.
Footnote: Truffaut and Hitchcock discuss "the Hitchcock Blonde"
Hitchcock: You know why I favor sophisticated blondes in my films? We're after the drawing-room type, the real ladies, who become whores once they're in the bedroom.
Truffaut: What intrigues you is the paradox between the inner fire and the cool surface.
Hitchcock: Definitely...Do you know why? Because sex should not be advertised...because without the element of surprise the scenes become meaningless. There's no possibility to discover sex.