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Liberty Valance


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Anyone who doesn't understand why Kim Novak was perfect for Vertigo and why her casting has helped to make the film come to be regarded as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces is very likely missing the point... perhaps by expecting the film to conform to the same standards and/or stereotypes as other, less original movies.

 

Hitchcock generally tended to have female characters that were icy and remote... the sense of Novak's artificial beauty is fully intended, at it is meant to be ironic as it is a statement by Hitchcock on how people's imaginations are manipulated by superficial appearances.

 

The movie wouldn't work as well as it does with any other actress in the lead role, and Hitchcock probably realized this.

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Hitchcock got what he got (Novak) because he couldn't get what he wanted (Miles); anyone presumes to know what Hitchcock realized or didn't realize is being somewhat presumptuous. And anyone who claims that any other person is "missing the point" because they don't share THEIR opinion is, well, wrong. VERTIGO would work well no matter who was in it; don't you think?

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Novak has said in interviews that Hitchcock wanted her for the role and personally requested Columbia chief Harry Cohen to let her do that movie:

http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/kim_novak_c.html

 

In any event, the movie works just great with Kim Novak, and I certainly wouldn't want to be in the shoes of anybody who doesn't appreciate one of Hitchcock's best.

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Oh yeah, I forgot this other tidbit that debunks the myth that Hitchcock was set on Miles:

 

 

Did Hitchcock really want Vera Miles for "Vertigo"?

 

Not exactly, says Dan Auiler. He wrote:

 

"Legend has it that Hitchcock was furious when Vera Miles became pregnant and dropped out of Vertigo. Perhaps a more realistic assessment, though, is that [Alfred] Hitchcock and [James] Stewart had been having their own doubts about Miles as a star.

 

"Hitchcock had discovered Vera Miles during casting for his television series, and he was impressed enough to place her under personal contract; yet according to [samuel A. Taylor], though secure about her acting ability, Hitchcock felt she didn't yet possess that luminous quality that made a star. By placing her under exclusive contract, he hoped to create that quality in her.

 

"From the onset, though, Miles was reluctant to be shaped by anyone--even a director she respected as much as Hitchcock. Her first feature with Hitchcock was not exactly a showcase for the new blonde. The Wrong Man's microscopic focus on the justice process left little screen time for Manny's wife. Dressed down and psychologically shattered by Manny's unjustified arrest, Miles's character is never fully developed. Hitchcock seemed impatient with the wife's story line, and his indifference shows on screen. The film's sanitarium scenes are similar to the scenes in Vertigo, with the same overwhelming sense of helplessness in the face of psychological crisis; yet there was little occasion for Vera Miles to do much else on-screen to make an impact.

 

"This film, and the role in Vertigo that was intended to follow, dominate the Vera Miles story. There is much more, though, to the full picture. Her career had begun with small roles in 1951 in Two Tickets to Broadway and in 1952 in For Men Only; Miles effectively used her television performances as audition pieces for Hitchcock--and for John Ford, who cast her in The Searchers a year before she filmed The Wrong Man. Vertigo was intended as Miles's big break--but even before her first screen tests in November of 1956, there were signs of doubt from Hitchcock. A few weeks before Miles reported to Stage 5 at Parmount for hair, costume, and makeup tests, Hitchcock screened The Eddy Duchin Story, a biopic featuring an actress [Kim Novak] who was being molded by one of Hitchcock's crosstown rivals [Harry Cohn]."

 

See Dan Auiler, "'Vertigo': The Making of a Hitchcock Classic," NY, 1998, pp. 20, 21.

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I was puzzled about the hatbox, too, also puzzled by where that blooming cactus came from that was on the coffin. Maybe the cactus was in that hatbox, you think?

 

It's been quite a while since I saw it; but doesn't the deputy (Andy Devine) say something to Hallie like, I'll bet the cactus is in bloom, and she says they should go out to the desert and see? Right in the beginning of the picture; and she has the hatbox with her.

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She had the stupid hatbox on the train from the beginning. Andy Devine picked the cactus for her from the front yard when they went out to the desert house. After Stewart tells his story to the editor and the newsman, when he went back into the small room, she is still holding the hatbox, yet the cactus is on the coffin isn't it? This is a real pain with a memory that doesn't go back 24 hours, and I don't want to rewind the tape because I have it set up for Eddy Duchin tonight.

 

Johnm 1:

 

What's your take on Kim in Bell, Book, and Candle? A man couldn't ask for a sexier voice or appearance, but that's the movie I think Stewart decided he was getting too old to be the lover-boy any longer, so he went to father and character roles from then on.

 

Anne

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What's your take on Kim in Bell, Book, and Candle? A man couldn't ask for a sexier voice or appearance, but that's the movie I think Stewart decided he was getting too old to be the lover-boy any longer, so he went to father and character roles from then on.

 

I don't think that Kim Novak had any talent. As for her "beauty", I actually think she looks better today, than she ever did in any of her films. Her lack of talent didn't matter in PICNIC, and actually adds to the appeal of that strange film. As for a more "modern" role, I liked her in BOYS NIGHT OUT. Otherwise, I find her without emotion. Just a cipher. My wife and I were looking at BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE, and at once point, we just both looked at one another and wondered why her? As for Stewart being too old. that's what Hitchcock chalked-up the failure of VERTIGO to, Stewart's age. Of course, Stewart remained a popular star for many years more, and even appeared on the Top 10 box-office stars list, as late as 1965. For me, and I would assume many in 1958, Novak was the problem. I mean, was she ever in a hit film? Plus, it's widely believed Stewart was having an affair with Novak.

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> Anne ~

>

> I was puzzled about the hatbox, too, also puzzled by

> where that blooming cactus came from that was on the

> coffin. Maybe the cactus was in that hatbox, you

> think?

 

It was the severed head of a previous murder victim. ;-)

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Or it could simply be your inability to appreciate Kim Novak's talent, couldn't it? There's no denying today that Vertigo is one of Hitchcock's best films, regardless of the box-office returns at that time... and a big part of the appeal of the movie for many of us who enjoy it and appreciate it has to be Kim Novak.

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What was in that freaking hatbox?>>

 

It's been awhile since I the last time I saw Liberty Valance (I tivo'd it the other night) but I think Hallie has a cactus in the hatbox. She placed one in Doniphan's coffin but I think she took another or a clipping of one so she would have a reminder of the man she once loved and probably should have married..

 

She loved Rance Stoddard but she was not happy being the wife of the man who shot Liberty Valance. I think that Rance shooting Valance made him seem more heroic to her but as time went on and she discovered that it was Doniphan who had killed Liberty I suspect it became harder for her to live with her choices.

 

Stoddard, good guy that he is, went on to have the life that Doniphan should have had and I think that Hallie had a hard time adjusting to that.

 

By going back to the funeral and in telling the true story to the reporters, Rance finally comes to understand the toll that the lie that ruled his life has taken on his wife and his marriage.

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I dunno lzcutter, you could be right about all of it except for the part about Stoddard going on to live the life Doniphan should have. Unless you mean with Hallie, and only that, because why would Doniphan have his home so far out from town, if he wanted a public life? Like I asked way, way back in my original post, if I'm not wrong, weren't a couple of people standing in doorways who should have heard the two gunshots, especially since one was a pistol and the other a shotgun, we, as the audience could distinguish them, couldn't we? I did.

 

Anne

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except for the part about Stoddard going on to live the life Doniphan should have. Unless you mean with Hallie>>

 

Yes, I meant with Hallie. Doniphan wasn't Senator material and never would have run for office.

 

The first time we see Liberty killed I think our attention and focus is all on Stewart and Marvin. When I first saw the film when I was much younger the difference in the gunshots never registered with me.

 

If I had seen it for the first time when I was in my 20s I probably would have noticed the difference in the gunshots.

 

But, that's not a certainity because once Lee Marvin starts talking, I am in heaven and don't always hear anything else.

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Leave it to you to be "enthralled with Marvin's voice!"

 

You're right of course, this is probably the 5th or 6th time I've seen it, but it was about the 3rd that I heard the two shots, and actually yesterday was the first time I noticed the hatbox.

 

And, Dang me, if I never realized Edmund O'Brien was the editor back in the day!!!!

 

Anne

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