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August 23, 2010

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Stephen Bowie

My mother always claimed that my father "liked" Sheree North, and not understanding exactly what that meant either, I asked him about it a few years ago. "Sheree who?" he replied.

Clearly a lot of people can disagree about La Kim, but they're wrong. Wrong, I say. Some of them even seem to prefer Doris Day. I don't know how we're all managed to live in the same world together for this long.

Victor Morton

Actually the first Kim Novak film I ever saw was *not* VERTIGO. Rather it was THE MIRROR CRACK'D, an Agatha Christie adaptation from the early 80s, which I watched because I was a Christie fan (I rarely went to movies as a boy or teenager).

It had Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple, solving a murder among a Hollywood troupe filming on location in St. Mary Meade. The troupe included Elizabeth Taylor as the star, Novak as the jealous-rival actress, Rock Hudson as Taylor's husband-director and Tony Curtis as her exlover-producer (other than Liz, I had barely a clue about these people's previous work). The scenes with Novak are camp delights of deliriously over-the-top acting. There's actually a scene set in a producer's office and we see Kim sitting on the edge of the table, looking it her handheld mirror, adjusting her hair and admiring her makeup. And I also loved Novak and Taylor doing the epigrammatic version of chocolate-sauce cat-fights -- Kim to Liz when they take publicity photos: "chin up, darling. Both of them." Liz to Kim: "that dress on you reminds me of a wedding cake. From which everybody's already had a piece." (I'm chuckling myself to Proustian tears even typing this stuff in, though I haven't seen the film in ... gawd ... 15-20 years.) Needles to say, Novak is way better than Taylor in the bitchy vamp contest.

Glenn ... it will test your limits for All Things Kim.

Glenn Kenny

You forget, Mr. Morton, that you are speaking to a man who ALSO (with His Lovely Wife) worships at the Altar Of Lansbury, and who in fact last night watched two, count 'em two, episodes of "Murder She Wrote," from Season 11, no less. So I daresay I'm likely to gobble up "The Mirror Crack'd" when I next encounter it. In fact, I may just have to buy the damn thing now...

Victor Morton

Just to whet your appetite some more, in THE MIRROR CRACK'D Lansbury plays Miss Marple in a much more common-sensical, less-dotty mode than, say, Margaret Rutherford did in that early-60s string of Marple films. If it weren't for the anachronism (THE MIRROR CRACK'D is from 1980), you could almost criticize Lansbury for playing Miss Marple too much like Jessica Fletcher. This was clearly the film that won Lansbury her defining TV role.

But if you and The Lovely Wife want Lansbury in a Christie setting, I'd recommend over THE MIRROR CRACK'D (yes, I know ... Kim) that you see if you haven't already the Ustinov-as-Poirot version of DEATH ON THE NILE. Lansbury plays one of the passengers, an alcoholic romance writer. She is one of the two great sources of comedy in the film (along with Bette Davis and Maggie Smith as a grande dame and her bitter-spinster companion).

chris schneider

Count me as a Novak fan, too. Didn't come to it early, I'm afraid, but I *did* see "Lylah Clare" (which I adore) in its first run at Grauman's Chinese -- which must count for something. I also remember R. Crumb's caricature of Novak.

I've yet to see the entirety of "Eagels," but I like what have seen. Notably that quasi-hallucinatory appearance of Virginia Grey when Novak is onstage. I also remember, when I saw the last half if it on television, mentally comparing the Novak and Agnes Moorehead performances, and thinking "Given a choice between someone 'acting' like crazy [i.e. Moorhead] and someone who simply exists for the camera [i.e. Novak], the latter is going to win every time.

hamletta

My mom loved "Bell, Book, and Candle," and I saw it on TV when I was about 7 and it blew my little mind. She named our cat Pyewacket, too.

Stephanie

It must be a guy thing. The only time Novak has ever had that effect on me is "Picnic." She does her usual sleepwalker routine for most of the movie and then she starts to dance with Holden and she is magic. It goes away again almost as soon as the music stops, but still, for a brief shining moment, etc.

Chris O.

Probably too late getting this info out (unless folks read take note of "Recent Comments" on the right), but TCM just ran the trailer to JEANNE EAGELS (wacky -- "I don't want to know you, Jeanne, I want to MARRY you") as they going to air it this Wednesday, Sept. 1, I believe, at 10pm (EST).

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