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A Hitchcock blonde and the rise of the Vietnamese nail salons

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Depending on your age you may or may not know who Tippi Hedren is. I used to think she was famous for two things- one, for being the mother of Melanie Griffith (which would have meant more back in the early 90's when Mel was the blonde du jour), but mostly for being the star of one of Alfred Hitchcock's best thrillers ---The Birds.

Turns out she is famous for a third thing. Back in the 70's Miss Hedren made a visit to a tent city in California that housed Vietnamese refugees. She was eager to see if she could improve their lives in anyway. She went decked out in full Hollywood couture, including scarlet fingernails. As the story goes, the women had never seen anything like this and were quite captivated, so the star brought in her own manicurist to give them the full treatment. Turns out though that they didn't want the manicure, they wanted to learn the technique.

What started out as a group of 20 women trained by Hedren's personal manicurist ended up a full-on going concern. These women were soon joined by another wave- the Vietnamese 'boat people' who risked life and limb fleeing in boats after the fall of Saigon in 1975. They trained more women who trained their relatives, who trained their relatives and so on and so on. No other group of immigrants have transformed a single industry as radically as the Vietnamese boat people did with nail salons. Thirty years after the start of Vietnamese-run parlours, the pioneering wave of boat people have all but dried up. More often new recruits are no longer Vietnamese---they are now Eastern Euorpean refugees fleeing their own impoverished countries. So if it seems like there is a Vietnamese nail salon on nearly every corner, you are not far from wrong, and it all started with Tippi Hedren.

Now, back to Hitchcock and his cadre of blondes, of which he was very fond. It is rumored that he was in love with the beautiful Grace Kelly, but as we know, she married a real life prince. So check out Grace Kelly (Rear Window and Dial M for Murder), Janet Leigh (Pyscho), Ingrid Bergman (Suspicion and Spellbound), Doris Day (The Man Who Knew too much) and Joan Fontaine (Rebecca). CPL has all of these titles and they all rank high as movies worth seeing. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that I have seen Rear Window and Dial M at least 20 times---each. I LOVE these two movies.

by MOE


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by Moe
it's a must see- every bit as intense as RW and with a very clever 'reveal' at the end.
by Richard
I'm totally guilty of watching rear window upwards of twenty times, but still haven't seen dial m for murder. I'll definitely check it out this week.
by Jen
Thanks for the insight--I had no idea there was such an interesting story behind Vietnamese nail salons.

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