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Old 08-09-2008, 13:18   #41
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Originally Posted by Douglas R View Post
I've never been keen on Rear Window but, for me, Vertigo is Hitchcock's masterpiece. Maybe it's the difference between reality and fantasy. Is it true that people who love Rear Window dislike Vertigo and vice versa?
Vertigo is my all time favourite film, but that doesn't stop me in any way from loving Rear Window too. I don't understand how anybody could truly appreciate Hitchcock if they don't love both films.

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Maybe there lies the problem. I never considered Novak a 'glacial' or any other kind of beauty - at least not in her youth. Curiously, she did acquire a modicum of poise and elegance in middle age.

Kim Novak was perfectly cast in Vertigo, one of the all time great meetings of actor and character. While not an actress of great range, she always had a slightly self-conscious, hesitant and insecure quality about her. When cast in the right part this meant she brought a touching vulnerability to her performances and never more so than in Vertigo. She just breaks my heart every time I watch the film. Criticising her for not being as attractive or poised as Grace Kelly is missing the point of her character:


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Old 08-09-2008, 17:23   #42
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I'm afraid the only term that I could think of to describe Kim Novak in films like Vertigo, Bell Book & Candle and other films of that era is bovine.
The oldest cliche in the book is also the most truthful: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In this beholder's eye Kim Novak is one of the most alluring women ever to appear in movies.
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Old 08-09-2008, 17:24   #43
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Kim Novak was perfectly cast in Vertigo, one of the all time great meetings of actor and character. While not an actress of great range, she always had a slightly self-conscious, hesitant and insecure quality about her. When cast in the right part this meant she brought a touching vulnerability to her performances and never more so than in Vertigo. She just breaks my heart every time I watch the film. Criticising her for not being as attractive or poised as Grace Kelly is missing the point of her character:

Spot on, sir. I agree completely.
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Old 08-09-2008, 19:41   #44
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The oldest cliche in the book is also the most truthful: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In this beholder's eye Kim Novak is one of the most alluring women ever to appear in movies.
Oh, I agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I don't like overendowed, heavily built women and have to confess that the sight of Novak usually apalled rather than appealed. In fact, she might even be one of the reasons why I was a bit put off by Vertigo. My idea of a beautiful Caucasian woman would be someone like Julie Christie or Judy Geeson in their youth.
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Old 08-09-2008, 21:53   #45
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Oh, I agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I don't like overendowed, heavily built women and have to confess that the sight of Novak usually apalled rather than appealed. In fact, she might even be one of the reasons why I was a bit put off by Vertigo. My idea of a beautiful Caucasian woman would be someone like Julie Christie or Judy Geeson in their youth.
Ah! Now we are getting to grips with the issue: you haven't looked closely enough at Kim Novak! She is/was not over endowed or especially heavily built particularly when compared with most of her blonde Hollywood contemporaries. In fact unlike those of Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren and Anita Ekberg, very few publicity stills of Kim Novak emphasised her figure.

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Old 09-09-2008, 11:07   #46
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Ah! Now we are getting to grips with the issue: you haven't looked closely enough at Kim Novak! .
I have. I have seen Vertigo, Bell Book & Candle, Boys' Night Out and a few others and personally, her kind of looks never appealed to me. But as you say yourself, it is all in the eye of the beholder; I am sure there are men who find Miriam Margolyes attractive.
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Old 09-09-2008, 13:47   #47
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I have. I have seen Vertigo, Bell Book & Candle, Boys' Night Out and a few others and personally, her kind of looks never appealed to me. But as you say yourself, it is all in the eye of the beholder; I am sure there are men who find Miriam Margolyes attractive.
...and it may even be possible to enjoy a film and an actor regardless of whether you find the lead actors attractive. There can't be many people who find James Stewart "attractive" though he was largely responsible for making Hitchcock's and Anthony Mann's films the best films of the 1950s.
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Old 09-09-2008, 14:18   #48
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...and it may even be possible to enjoy a film and an actor regardless of whether you find the lead actors attractive.
Absolutely. But occasionally a certain actor/actress might rub certain viewer(s) the wrong way and so they might try to avoid their films. I am not saying that I do that with Kim Novak, but all of us have heard someone say "Ugh! I'll never see that film cos I can't stand the sight of him/her!"
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:03   #49
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Absolutely. But occasionally a certain actor/actress might rub certain viewer(s) the wrong way and so they might try to avoid their films. I am not saying that I do that with Kim Novak, but all of us have heard someone say "Ugh! I'll never see that film cos I can't stand the sight of him/her!"
I'm sure a thread could be fashioned out of such actors and actresses. Many of my friends seem to shudder at the very mention of John Wayne, for example. They get hung-up on his famous right-wing, Vietnam War-championing, pro-American pro-McCarthy witch-hunt views, and can't see that he was actually one of the most effective and distinctive movie stars of the 20th century...
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:41   #50
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I'm sure a thread could be fashioned out of such actors and actresses. Many of my friends seem to shudder at the very mention of John Wayne, for example. They get hung-up on his famous right-wing, Vietnam War-championing, pro-American pro-McCarthy witch-hunt views, and can't see that he was actually one of the most effective and distinctive movie stars of the 20th century...
I know what you mean. My wife hates Charlton Heston for similar reasons - his extreme Right Wing politics, alleged racist views and support for the gun lobby. I admit that laying bare celebrities' personal lives sometimes makes one overlook their professional competence.

But that was not what I meant earlier. I know very little of Kim Novak's personal life or political leanings and care less; it is just that her screen presence simply does not appeal to me and so I cannot deny that there is an unavoidable psychological minus point the moment I start to see a film with her in it. Likewise, a colleague of mine hates Hugh Grant for no other reason than his acting style and body language and she gets heebie-jeebies at the very mention of going to one of his films, however good it might be. I recall that there is a member of these forums who feels the same way about Tom Cruise. There are plenty such examples where the dislike has absolutely nothing to do with the star's personal life but everything with his/her screen persona.
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Old 10-09-2008, 13:03   #51
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But that was not what I meant earlier. I know very little of Kim Novak's personal life or political leanings and care less; it is just that her screen presence simply does not appeal to me and so I cannot deny that there is an unavoidable psychological minus point the moment I start to see a film with her in it. Likewise, a colleague of mine hates Hugh Grant for no other reason than his acting style and body language and she gets heebie-jeebies at the very mention of going to one of his films, however good it might be. I recall that there is a member of these forums who feels the same way about Tom Cruise. There are plenty such examples where the dislike has absolutely nothing to do with the star's personal life but everything with his/her screen persona.
I suppose it's a simple question of whether or not one has chemistry with the star. As regards Novak, I agree with those here who've argued that she was ideal for the Vertigo role, however much Hitch wanted Vera Miles instead. I wouldn't say that she was exactly "bovine"; rather, that she had a wild and bestial quality in the movie, especially when playing Judy Barton. There are those who think that Jimmy Stewart cuts a vaguely ludicrous figure in the film, mooning around San Francisco in the clutches of an unrequited amour fou. Novak, by contrast, is much more compelling and believeable, though I can fully see your arguments against her - not least the fact that your hackles rise at the very sight of her name on the poster!

Tom Cruise is an interesting case study, because in the 80s, I found him almost unbearable in movies like Top Gun and Cocktail (though the latter has become a bit of a perverse and guilty pleasure, possibly because it is so annoying). But with Stone's bombastic Born on the 4th of July - atrocious in so many ways -- Cruise showed that he could act, and I was completely blown away by him in Eyes Wide Shut, which he seemed to carry effortlessly. He might be utterly bonkers with his Scientology, but he has certainly come of age as an actor.

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Old 10-09-2008, 13:23   #52
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There are those who think that Jimmy Stewart cuts a vaguely ludicrous figure in the film, mooning around San Francisco in the clutches of an unrequited amour fou.
I thought that his ludicrous obsession with the Novak character was the major point of Vertigo? Looked at that way, I would have thought that James Stewart fits the part very well and does a good job of acting it.

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Cruise showed that he could act, and I was completely blown away by him in Eyes Wide Shut, which he seemed to carry effortlessly.
I agree 100%. EWS is a brilliant and very underrated film and Cruise was excellent in a role that was not easy. Strange that you should mention EWS because IMO Stanley Kubrick was the only director who could beat Hitchcock for making a lasting impression on the viewers with his "no pulled punches" style of direction. Again like Hitchcock, the finished product did not always appeal to everyone, but taken scene by scene Hitchcock & Kubrick were a class apart from everyone else in the film industry. The 'morning after' sequence in EWS where Cruise is slowly followed (tracked is more like it) by the menacing bald guy through the streets in the dawn light is a masterpiece of filmmaking.
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Old 10-09-2008, 13:40   #53
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...Again like Hitchcock, the finished product did not always appeal to everyone,...
Considering more Hitchcock films turn up in critics top ten lists than those of any other director and keeping in mind that most of the time his films made a lot of money, I don't quite understand this repeated assertion. I don't think any film appeals to everybody, but Hitchcock's films appealed to more peole than most. There is a reason why he was the only director whose name was recognised like that of any film star.

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Old 10-09-2008, 13:43   #54
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I thought that his ludicrous obsession with the Novak character was the major point of Vertigo? Looked at that way, I would have thought that James Stewart fits the part very well and does a good job of acting it.
Yep - you're right, and I didn't say that I agreed with the Stewart nay-sayers (e.g., the late David Shipman in 1984's The Story of Cinema, whose entry on Vertigo indeed speaks of "mooning" and Stewart's "ludicrous" character.)

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I agree 100%. EWS is a brilliant and very underrated film and Cruise was excellent in a role that was not easy. Strange that you should mention EWS because IMO Stanley Kubrick was the only director who could beat Hitchcock for making a lasting impression on the viewers with his "no pulled punches" style of direction. Again like Hitchcock, the finished product did not always appeal to everyone, but taken scene by scene Hitchcock & Kubrick were a class apart from everyone else in the film industry. The 'morning after' sequence in EWS where Cruise is slowly followed (tracked is more like it) by the menacing bald guy through the streets in the dawn light is a masterpiece of filmmaking.
Agreed. As stated elsewhere in this forum, Eyes Wide Shut is a slow-burner, in the sense that thirty years from now, it'll have risen out of cult-dom and will be recognised as a classic.
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Old 10-09-2008, 13:51   #55
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Considering more Hitchcock films turn up in critics top ten lists than those of any other director and keeping in mind that most of the time his films made a lot of money, I don't quite understand why you keep universalising this personally held opinion.
Because I have met quite a few people who like one or the other of AH's films but not all of them. For instance, there are people who love Rear Window but cannot see the fuss about Psycho and so on. At the end of the day it is the farepaying (or DVD buying ) audience like you and I that matter and not the critics. Sometimes - as in Vertigo for instance - the movie has superb visual and sound elements (Herrmann's music) but the plot is implausible to the point of silliness. That sort of anomaly might not matter to Joe Bloggs, but Jane Doe might feel differently. That's what I meant.
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Old 10-09-2008, 13:57   #56
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Because I have met quite a few people who like one or the other of AH's films but not all of them. For instance, there are people who love Rear Window but cannot see the fuss about Psycho and so on. At the end of the day it is the farepaying (or DVD buying ) audience like you and I that matter and not the critics. Sometimes - as in Vertigo for instance - the movie has superb visual and sound elements (Herrmann's music) but the plot is implausible to the point of silliness. That sort of anomaly might not matter to Joe Bloggs, but Jane Doe might feel differently. That's what I meant.
And of all directors I can think of, Hitch made some masterworks, but was also capable of some clunkers. For Rear Window and Psycho, there was Jamaica Inn, Under Capricorn, Stage Fright, Marnie, Topaz and Family Plot -- films that I'm sure have their fans, but I've never been able to get into them.

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Old 10-09-2008, 14:33   #57
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Considering more Hitchcock films turn up in critics top ten lists than those of any other director and keeping in mind that most of the time his films made a lot of money, I don't quite understand this repeated assertion. I don't think any film appeals to everybody, but Hitchcock's films appealed to more peole than most. There is a reason why he was the only director whose name was recognised like that of any film star.
Hitchcock's great films - like Rear Window - IMO are the purest cinematic form of the 20th century but it's almost certainly the case that the reason why he was the only director whose name was recognised like that of any film star was because of the famous TV show with his silhouetted figure over the credits.

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Old 10-09-2008, 14:38   #58
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Sometimes - as in Vertigo for instance - the movie has superb visual and sound elements (Herrmann's music) but the plot is implausible to the point of silliness. That sort of anomaly might not matter to Joe Bloggs, but Jane Doe might feel differently. That's what I meant.
Hitchcock kept calling those who didn't understand that his films didn't mean to operate on a naturalistic level "the plausibles". A dreamlike film like Vertigo requires the audience to suspend its disbelief and those who approach it on a strictly literal level are looking in the wrong direction and are asking the wrong questions.

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Old 10-09-2008, 14:42   #59
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And of all directors I can think of, Hitch made some masterworks, but was also capable of some clunkers. For Rear Window and Psycho, there was Jamaica Inn, Under Capricorn, Stage Fright, Marnie, Topaz and Family Plot -- films that I'm sure have their fans, but I've never been able to get into them.
Any director who has made as many films as Hitchcock has made a few flops. If they didn't experiment a bit and fell on their face a few times then that would mean that a director had always played it safe.

Marnie is my second favourite film of Hitchcock's btw. and like Vertigo it has under gone a critical re-evaluation since it's release and is generally not considered an artistic failure anymore. While admittedly a slightly lesser film, in both style and content Marnie makes an interesting companion piece to Vertigo.

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Old 10-09-2008, 15:10   #60
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Hitchcock's great films - like Rear Window - IMO are the purest cinematic form of the 20th century but it's almost certainly the case that the reason why he was the only director whose name was recognised like that of any film star was because of the famous TV show with his silhouetted figure over the credits.
Even before the TV show Hitchcock was very smart in markting himself as both a personality and a brand and his name was much better known than those of other directors. No doubt you are right though that he his TV show brought him to an even wider audience and that his intros made him even more famous.

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