Kim Novak

Kim Novak is entering her eighty-third year. She has lately been feted because of the celebration surrounding VERTIGO (Hitchcock, 1958) being named the best film in the history of the cinema by a Sight & Sound poll, as though her own stardom was inherently dependent upon that of Alfred Hitchcock. However her cinematic affect derives from a sort of supernatural opacity that has nothing to do with that white draped coat, so suggestive of what David Thomson once called ‘mute honesty,’ as though her inner strengths struggled to be articulated through generic Hollywood writing. Judy/Madeleine reflected her own position in the industry. She was looked at and controlled.  Her performance in PICNIC (Logan, 1955) really swung her towards superstardom, the dance with William Holden to ‘Moonglow’ being one of the most searingly erotic sequences ever committed to celluloid. That helped her become Hollywood’s number one star for three years.  The legacy of VERTIGO reflects upon Novak’s own dualistic sense of miscasting and her perceived role at Columbia where she fought for a higher salary and greater recognition. Robert Aldrich’s THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE (1968)  would play upon this latterday Hollywood myth but Novak’s performances in biopics such as THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY, JEANNE EAGELS, risque musical PAL JOEY  and the otherworldly role of Gillian in BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE would cement her dignity and secure her own legend. STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET (1960) directed by her fiance Richard Quine would leave its own mark on her reputation – maybe the sexiest woman to ever live next door. She was Billy Wilder’s Polly the Pistol in the much misunderstood KISS ME, STUPID (1964), an hilarious exercise in political incorrectness. She would make an impression in LIEBESTRAUM (Figgis, 1991) although it was a miserable filmmaking experience.  She is a legend. Happy birthday Kim.kimnovak_wp_300x225_082820131224