It's complicated: When filmmakers' legacies intertwine with #MeToo

The legacy of some of Hollywood's biggest names is in doubt this Oscar Sunday, tarnished by charges of sexual misconduct. But should that taint extend to their most beloved works? A question pondered by Tracy Smith in our Cover Story:

If you need to be reminded why they called Alfred Hitchcock "The Master of Suspense," just take a look at his 1963 film "The Birds."

It was 31-year old Tippi Hedren's first big movie role, and she was a natural as the blonde victim. But there was a kind of horror off-screen, too: Hitchcock, she says, made her life miserable.

Smith asked, "You can say, 'Me, too'?"

"Oh yes, oh absolutely. And I did have those 'Me Too' kinds of situations, oh yes," Hedren said.

In her 2016 autobiography, Hedren says the director hounded her for sex -- and lashed out at her when she refused. She says Hitchcock told her he'd ruin her career, "because I turned him down."

"Why do you think there are biographers, people who've worked with Hitchcock who say, 'Well, this wasn't the man that I knew'?" asked Smith.

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Actress Tippi Hedren.

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"Well, aren't they lucky? And how, why would they know? Why would they have the same relationship that I would have?"

For her, the movie will always be clouded by what went on behind the scenes.

Smith asked, "Do you think that we can appreciate a groundbreaking work of art, even if we know that the mind behind it might not be that great of a human being?"

Hedren replied, "It might be difficult. It might be difficult to separate the fact that there is a great piece of art, but boy, you don't want to be alone in the room with him."

So, do revelations about someone like Hitchcock change the way we think about his legacy?

How about Kevin Spacey? He was scrubbed from his TV and movie roles after apologizing for misconduct with a minor, but does that make his earlier work, like "American Beauty," unwatchable?

Winners of the Oscar for Best Picture, "Shakespear

Harvey Weinstein, center, with the Oscar won for Best Picture by the film he produced, "Shakespeare in Love:" in 1999.

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And after a torrent of sexual assault allegations (all of which he's denied), Harvey Weinstein won't be at the Oscars tonight, or any other. 

But the films his companies produced and distributed (including "Pulp Fiction," "The English Patient," "Shakespeare in Love," "Chicago" and "The King's Speech") have won a total of 81 Academy Awards.

If you can't remember all the titles, there's an easy way to find out: Rotten Apples is an online database that'll tell you if anyone connected with a film or TV show has reportedly been accused of sexual harassment or assault.

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Is a film or TV show associated with a "rotten apple"? The online database Rotten Apples will tell you.

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Tal Wagman and Bekah Nutt are two of the site's creators.

Smith asked, "Are you saying, 'Don't watch these if there's a Rotten Apple in them'?"

"We're not saying that; we're saying, 'Here's information for you to decide,'" Nutt replied.

Actresses Uzo Aduba, an Emmy-winner for "Orange Is the New Black," and Amber Tamblyn, known for such shows as "Two and a Half Men" and "Inside Amy Schumer," are founding members of Time's Up.

Smith asked, "Do you think that's even possible to separate the art from the artist?"

"It's hard for me," replied Aduba. "It's hard for me, too," added Tamblyn.

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Actresses Uzo Aduba and Amber Tamblyn.

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"When you look at the Academy Awards, I mean, there are dozens, probably hundreds of movies that were either produced by, directed by, or starring someone who's now accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault. What do we do with all of that art? How do we view it?"

"No film, no TV show, no work of art is paramount, or that genius more important, than the physical bodies or physical selves that have been harmed in the process of making that work," said Tamblyn. "And I think that's really important to remember when we're thinking about people's legacies who are very problematic."

Aduba said, "I am less concerned with how and what sort of future they have, and how their work gets to survive or not survive. I am more interested in what are we doing to make it right."

And in some cases, "making it right" means shunning certain shows and movies, even if it hurts.

Smith asked, "Are we allowed to mourn those things? That art that we loved, that now is tainted?"

"Absolutely," said Aduba. "I did."

"Do you mind sharing specifically what you've mourned?"

"Mine was 'The Cosby Show,'" Aduba replied. "It almost makes me wanna cry, like, you know, feeling that I grew up on that show. I saw myself in that show. I recognize the power of that show.

"But I also recognize that was a show that was spearheaded by an individual who had lasting effects on a number of women. I am a woman; that is my tribe. I stand with those women."

Of course, history is littered with examples of artists behaving badly: Caravaggio, the brilliant Renaissance artist, was wanted for murder. Composer Richard Wagner was a virulent anti-Semite. And Pablo Picasso, who called women "machines for suffering," is said to have abused his wife and girlfriends.

But villains or not, their art is hard to ignore.

When asked if we can separate art from the artist, Ted Braun, a documentary filmmaker and professor of cinematic ethics at USC, replied, "I think it's humanly possible, yes. And I think in some respects it's important."

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USC professor Ted Braun.

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Braun says we could reject troublesome art, but we would be poorer for it.

"It occurred to me that the American Western, which is one of our great traditions, might be viewed in certain respects -- certainly by Native Americans in this country -- as one long celebration of the extermination of Native Americans," Braun said. "And as such, you would look at it very differently than you would if you weren't aware of that. Would you want to remove all Westerns from the shelf? I don't think so.

"I wouldn't want to live in a world where those films were not seen. I couldn't imagine. We would be impoverished."

Now 88 years old, Tippi Hedren, who lives on an animal preserve she founded north of Los Angeles, has quite a legacy of her own: Her daughter, Oscar-nominee Melanie Griffith, and granddaughter Dakota Johnson, both followed her into the movie business.

But while she considers herself lucky, Hedren still has mixed feelings about her own time in Hollywood.

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William Morrow

When Smith asked if she can watch other Hitchcock films, Hedren replied, "Oh yes. Yes, I can."

"And fully appreciate them?"

"And they're two entirely different things."

"Two different things? What do you mean? You're separating?"

"Yes, yes, totally separate my feelings about him, my thoughts about him. But he was a very talented man. Did incredible things."

You might say Alfred Hitchcock will always have a place in Tippi Hedren's life.

And just outside her front door, a miniature of the famous director sits today in an ornate cage -- a monument to a complicated legacy.

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A miniature Alfred Hitchcock in a bird cage at the home of Tippi Hedren.

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Story produced by John D'Amelio.