Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kim Novak in Hitchcock's Vertigo: Still Fabulous After All These Years!

KIM NOVAK IN HITCHCOCK'S VERTIGO: STILL FABULOUS AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!  Wow! Just when we thought we'd seen (and got to know) all the classic Alfred Hitchcock films, Studio of Style was thoroughly excited about the one Hitch film that has so much still going for it: Vertigo.  Filmed in 1957 San Francisco, Vertigo captures The City by the Bay in a moment of time that will never come again: a gleaming white city that is sunlit and blue by day -- and glowing so beautifully in the afternoon sun (such as the scene beneath the Golden Gate Bridge) -- and then twinkling under the cover of darkness and looking so silent and grand during twilight (but then, Hitchcock always had a way with portraying cities, towns and landmarks that forever etches their essences in one's mind!). But the one object that the viewer cannot take their eyes away from is the sensational award-winning actress Kim Novak in her at-turns mysterious/sexy/sad/fragile dual character Madeleine Elster and Judy Barton who drives co-star and romantic interest James Stewart (shown in middle right photo) madly in love with the platinum blonde Novak (and what red-blooded male wouldn't be??). Keep in mind that Novak's character is actually a small-town girl portraying a sophisticated city lady who tries to convince Stewart that she is his best friend's slowly-going-mad wife -- whew! Keeping all this in check by using body language, gestures and carefully-cultivated words would be a feat for any actress -- but Novak pulls it off with amazing grace and composure and believability -- and we, the audience are taken along for a ride that has a lot of twists and turns, for sure. Vertigo was released in 1958 to a wide range of mixed reviews, surprising by today's opinion of the film as a classic -- many a critic thought it too long, too complex, too slow -- but the (now defunct) Los Angeles Examiner and The New York Times both wrote rave reviews and subsequently the film has been reevaluated and recognized for its place in cinema history -- and Novak would eventually receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6332 Hollywood Boulevard) and then leave her handprints and footprints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater, also on Hollywood Boulevard. (Oh, and did we mention the fabulous wardrobe designed by Edith Head -- that famous gray tweed suit worn by Novak!) As for the locations shown in the film, you can actually still see or go to the site of many of them in San Francisco and parts around the Bay Area in Pebble Beach, Route 101 through the eucalpytus grove (one of our favorite drives!!), Mission San Jaun Bautista, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Muir Woods and other locales. And yes, we know that Hitchcock had a host of fair-haired ladies in his films -- Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Doris Day, Tippi Hedren, Joan Fontaine, Eva Marie Saint, Marlene Dietrich and Janet Leigh -- but Kim Novak completely steals our heart with her sensuous and timeless performance found in Vertigo.  What a lovely film to visit -- the next time you want to go to San Francisco!