Tuesday 25 August 2020

On Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO (USA, 1958) - David Hare ponders what might have been with Vera Miles in the lead

Thanks to Joseph McBride for this terrific shot of Vera Miles in wardrobe tests for Vertigo.

The older I get the more immune I become to what I feel is the overpraising of Vertigo. And the more I look at the material on Vera Miles before she bailed out due to pregnancy the more I think the film is seriously reduced in conception by the subsitution of Kim for Vera. 

There are other color costume and makeup tests for Vera which are completely mind boggling and you just wonder how much deeper and more astonishing it could have been. MIles has an ability to convey mystery and darkness without trying, and one feels her Madeleine could have been a truly fantastic, even ghostly character, even while she is “alive as Madeleine” in the screenplay.
And I say this as one who doesn’t hate Kim Novak or her work on the film. Her Judy is extremely fine, and she manages the almost impossible idea that anyone could fall in love with Stewart as he gets more and more obsessive and crazy. But her Madeleine is a painful accumulation of grimaces, accents and mannerisms, seemingly with minimal direction, beyond the Edith Head costumes.
It’s instructive that some of Vera’s test shots including this one use the same wardrobe Hitch used in the film for Kim.

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