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Tippi Hedren and the Vietnamese Nail Salons

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I tend to believe that events have their roots in structural causes rather than the actions of a single individual. And I confess to not thinking too much about nail salons. But who knows, maybe the actions of Tippi Hedren in having Vietnamese refugees trained to do nails is why the Vietnamese play such a large role in this industry today.

I will also use this space to say that The Birds, starring Hedren, is my least favorite major Hitchcock film.

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  • Vance Maverick

    Surely the weakness of The Birds (on which I agree with you, despite the great crows-on-the-playground sequence) can be traced to institutional and structural factors, rather than the actions of one individual, however significant in other fields.

    • Salem

      Well played.

  • rea

    Is The Birds really worse than, say, Waltzes from Vienna?

    • Vance Maverick

      The word “major” in the post is doing a lot of work, one might say an arbitrarily large amount.

      • rea

        Waltzes from Vienna isn’t a major Hitchcock film because it is bad, which makes choosing the worst major Hitchcock film rather awkward.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Waltzes from Vienna isn’t a major Hitchcock film because it is bad

          and not popular & not screened with the frequency of those regarded as his “great” films.

          • matt w

            Yeah, I think we can define “major” as something like “Say its name and people will say ‘Oh that Hitchcock film'” or maybe “A non-zero number of people will name it if you ask them to list ten Hitchcock films.” Either way The Birds easily qualifies.

        • wjts

          Jamaica Inn is my favorite bad Hitchcock movie.

        • The Temporary Name

          Foreign Correspondent is sort of a crazy mess…

          • Kathleen

            But…but…Joel McCrea (sigh)

        • skate

          FWIW, “Family Plot” always struck me as a complete mess.

          • Yeah, but it’s the only movie I can think of where Bruce Dern is playing the sane character.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Personally (and not about Hitchcock) I always enjoy Jimmy Stewart playing a psychopathic killer!

              • The second Thin Man movie!

              • LeeEsq

                Jimmy Stewart as a psychopathic killer reminds me of my biggest problem with Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt is a character actor in a leading man’s body. I always thought he did his most solid work playing people who were slightly to very unhinged like his character in Twelve Monkeys. When he had to play a more typical leading man part, he was at his weakest.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              “the great gatsby” in which robert redford plays the insane- or at least deluded- character

    • matt w

      A list that puts Shadow of a Doubt in the top three is a righteous list.

    • Colleen

      Good point!! If he thinks “The Birds” is a terrible Hitchcock film, that just proves he hasn’t seen very many Hitchcock films. Even among his “real” films, Topaz is clearly the worst- virtually un-watchable. As bad as the remade Stepford Wives for plot ideas with nowhere to go.

      I think Tippi Hedren is a great counter argument against all those people that decry celebrity activism.

  • Too lazy to look for it, but there was an article in the Los Angeles Times many yrs. ago about Cambodian refugees & Southern Calif. dough-nut shops. If memory serves, it was all because one Cambodian had a successful dough-nut shop, & decided to sell his shop-starting advice to his fellow refugees.

    • David Allan Poe

      I talked to a guy involved in a campaign in Louisiana (probably not coincidentally against Jindal), and he said they got a lot of support from the very large and influential Pakistani hotelier community there – Comfort Inns or some other equivalent franchise. Same sort of thing – a few Pakistanis back in the day did well and then fronted the money for their friends and relatives to get into the game.

      • skate

        Anyone remember the 1990s and Indians owning motels (cf. “Mississippi Masala”)?

        • Thom

          Presumably both the Indians and the Pakistanis are Punjabis, as is the director of Mississippi Masala, Mira Nair.

        • William Berry

          The Patel name, so common among these folks, is Gujarati. I know several; they attend my wife’s ESL class.

          And this owner-ship trend is current, at least here in the Midwest. Generally, the type of establishment is the old highway motor lodge, somewhat renovated, and super-cheap.

          There is a red-neck guy in a nearby town who is doing very well with I-55 truckers (truckers are generally a racist, red-neck lot; how’s that for a stereo-type?!). Big sign on the Interstate says: “Moor’s Landing: American owned and operated”. His parking lot is always packed with big rigs.

    • Jackov

      The Cambodian ‘Doughnut King’ was Ted Ngoy who would start a shop and then sell it to a fellow Cambodian.

      Indian Americans own about 40% of the motels in the country. I heard the community were major operators of Days Inn which like Comfort Inn began franchising in 1972. South Asians also own a large percentage of America’s convenience stores including 50% of franchised 7-11s.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Same reason there are so many Greek-owned diners in Chicago.

    • joe from Lowell

      Lowell has a lot of Cambodians and a lot of Vietnamese.

      We have plenty of Vietnamese nail salons, but no Cambodian donut shops.

      That’s probably because there’s no such thing as Dunkin Nails.

  • djw

    I’m inclined to agree, for any reasonable definition of major. There was a time when I’d have ranked The birds over Psycho, but I came to my senses.

  • apogean

    I think that the “structural causes” level has something to say about why immigrants with an education and business acumen but without contacts might tend to cluster in an industry where they have connections to other immigrants from the same group. there are no inevitable historical forces pushing Vietnamese immigrants into the nail industry; instead, slight perturbation of the initial conditions could push historical forces in that direction.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Even structural models have to consider chance. If Bill Hewlitt and Dave Packard had met at, say, the University of Chicago, maybe it’d be called Silicon Prairie instead of Silicon Valley.

      • LosGatosCA

        Or maybe Terman would have mentored two other Stanford students to similar success.

        After all, the Varian brothers, Douglas/Lockheed, Fairchild Semiconductor, etc. were pretty successful without HP.

        • There’s a junior high school in Palo Alto named after Terman.

        • Pseudonym

          I thought Douglas was a SoCal concern, and the great wiki suggests that Loughead/Lockheed largely was too. We can only imagine what Silicon Valley would be like without William Shockley’s unique racial views.

        • Philip

          I wonder though; in a related example, what happens if a few of the MIT AI lab people hadn’t gone there? There are a few individual people who I don’t think you can just swap out; for example, what happens to the evolution of FOSS/copyleft/etc without Richard Stallman? Something evolves, sure, but it really seems like it’s the BSDs and that license, and there’s no GPL-like club to enforce good behavior. That would be a very different place, and it really seems like it was Stallman himself, not just his position.

  • partisan

    I would agree that Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho are better movies, as well as Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Strangers on a Train and Rear Window. But I would argue that The Birds is better than Marnie or Rebecca.

    • enemyAI

      Shadow of a Doubt is excellent. Very disturbing.

      • LeeEsq

        One of the creepiest killers and villains imaginable for the Hayes Code era. I’m really surprised it was allowed.

    • Barry Freed

      Rebecca is great. Much better than The Birds.

    • Becker

      Of the “major” films I’ve seen, I liked Strangers on a Train best. But of all the Hitchkock I’ve seen, The Lady Vanishes is the only one I love and will watch over and over. All the rest are only merely interesting.

    • elm

      Marnie is a fantastic film that has not aged well. By that, I mean it is well written, acted, and directed, but the plot and characters are horribly out of date and make watching it somewtimes painful.

      On the other hand, Birds has some great scenes and Hitchcock’s direction is marvelous, but there’s not enough there there to allow it to stand with his other well known films. That said, it’s far better than a lot of his less known films, though as Rea points out, what leads one of his films to be less well known is related to its quality to begin with.

    • LeeEsq

      You don’t think that Sean Connery attempting to play a scion of an established Philadelphian family is comic gold?

    • JB2

      Does anyone agree that Shadow of a Doubt is probably the best “movie made by Alfred Hitchcock”, but not really a “Hitchcock Movie”? I think Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten bring as much to the table as Hitchcock. No other female character in a Hitchcock movie is as smart and self-aware as Charlie, for example; no other villain is as interesting as Uncle Charlie. And the Thornton Wilder elements to the story, his take on small town America, are unique.

  • jeer9

    Marnie, Torn Curtain, and Topaz are all mediocre. He recaptured a bit of Psycho‘s magic with Frenzy.

    I’ve always hated Vertigo, which for some reason many people admire. Perhaps it’s that Novak is even less talented than Hedren, though the blonde obsession, I suppose, ultimately deserved such empty vessels.

    • Barry Freed

      Vertigo is a masterpiece. I recently saw a screening of a 35mm IB Technicolor print and it was amazing. Novak in that emerald dress against that red/magenta wallpaper in the restaurant was an astonishing sight.

      And Marnie and Torn Curtain are both pretty damn good.

      • Becker

        Even on a standard-def DVD, that dress pops.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t hate Vertigo — I like it fine — but I’m mystified by the consensus that elevates it over Notorious and Strangers on a Train and Rear Window.

      • skate

        I’ve just never understood the love for “Vertigo”, which has also undermined any respect I might ever have had for the Sight & Sound poll.

        Hitchcock’s movies are all over the map for me, but I suspect my favorite is “Shadow of a Doubt”.

      • elm

        Not a huge fan of Rear Window (it’s good, don’t get me wrong, it just never grabbed me the way other movies did) so I would replace that with North by Northwest. Otherwise, your top 3 and mine are the same.

        Vertigo is good but, like Rear Window, a notch below the other 3. Ditto Psycho and 39 Steps and a few others.

        • Stag Party Palin

          I’m sorry but 39 Steps sucks the big banana. It changes the plot of the excellent original book for no earthly reason. Mr. Memory is the most ridiculous plot device in the history of Western Civilization.

          PS: the stage play doesn’t make it any better.

          • I haven’t read the book, but the film is amazing.

            • elm

              I’m with Erik. I have not read the book, so I can’t say whether the plot in the book is better or not. But 39 Steps is a great movie, though not in my Hitchcock Top 3 (or even Top 5, probably).

  • Ann Outhouse

    For better or worse, depending on how you view these things, Tippi was also pretty much the founding mother of the movement to establish roadside zoos sanctuaries for exotic animals that other rich Hollywood stars shouldn’t have owned/used in filming in the first place.

    And she baby-pooped Melanie Griffith, who has single-handedly destroyed any number of films.

    • Barry Freed

      That film ROAR is outrageously frightening.

      • Ann Outhouse

        Apparently it was also outrageously dangerous to film. The animals kept rebelling.

        • Dave W.

          There’s an interview with Marshall’s son (Hendren’s stepson) about the making of “Roar” here: http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/roar-making-of-lions-tigers/

          The interview confirms that Hendren is now opposed to the kind of private raising of wild animals they were doing back then, which is why she is not participating in the publicity for the re-release of “Roar.” It also conveys both the sense of “this was insanely funny” and “this was insanely dangerous.” No one was killed in the making of the film, but there were some 70 injuries to cast and crew, some pretty serious.

          One quote:

          We were raising them in Sherman Oaks. I think we probably raised 30 of them in the house. I lived there for maybe a year and a half when we were raising them. We had varying sizes – we raised cubs, one-day-olds. At one point there was a big photo shoot for Life magazine and a big lion was brought in from the ranch. But typically, at home, there were no lions over 8 months old and 150 pounds or something.

          In the house?

          Oh, yeah. Sleeping in bed with us. Running around the house. We had this one neighbor that kept turning us in. We had a routine. Whenever the doorbell rang at seven o’clock in the morning, you knew it was animal control. So Dad would answer the door, and Tippi, Melanie, and I would take whatever animals, whatever lions and tigers we had at the time at home, and we’d throw them over the fence. Our house was on a hill, and the house below us liked us. So we’d throw all the lions over the fence, and we’d be in our pajamas, climbing over the fence to keep them quiet. Then Dad would go to animal control and say, “Nope, we don’t have any lions.”

          • Colleen

            Yes, but keeping exotics as pets was incredibly common back then. As it is now. MILLIONS of exotic cats, primates, lizards ect are kept as pets in America TODAY. I can’t tell you exactly how many because it is virtually unregulated. In most of Georgia it is
            Unlike many people and the US Congress, Tippi Hedren came to her senses and realized it is a terrible idea- for the animals and the community to treat wild animals as toys.
            Don’t criticize her for evolving on the issue when so many still haven’t.

  • Ann Outhouse
  • mikeSchilling

    Then there’s The Trouble With Harry, which can inly be described as an alleged comedy.

  • Oddly, I’ve always wondered about this…

  • matt w

    Hedren spelled backward is “Nerd, eh?”

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