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David Poland

By David Poland

DP/30: Eva Marie Saint

8 Responses to “DP/30: Eva Marie Saint”

  1. Sam says:

    I wish she had done more Hitchcock movies. Nobody beats Grace Kelly as the ultimate Hitchcock blonde, but Eva Marie Saint was wonderful in North By Northwest, and no one who came after her managed to measure up to what she did.

  2. The Pope says:

    That is true. I haven’t watched the interview yet, but I have often wondered what she would have done with Vertigo. I know it was the year before, but golly, if ever there was a Hitchcock movie that needed a real actress it was Vertigo. Can you imagine what EMS would have done? Just look at her in NNW and On the Waterfront. She would have knocked it right out of the park. Instead, we got Kim Novak who was just about the most inanimate sweater I have ever seen. It ruins, tragically ruins what is otherwise a compelling movie.

  3. yancyskancy says:

    Pope: Bite your tongue. I thought the whole “Kim Novak can’t act” thing had been put to rest years ago. She had her limitations, but she and Hitch used them beautifully, IMO, and she’s even better in STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET. Really, the only time I find her lacking is in something like THE NOTORIOUS LANDLADY, in which she had to put on a Cockney accent for some scenes (Dick Van Dyke must’ve been her accent coach on that one).

    I know these things are just a matter of opinion, but I dare you to post that Novak heresy over at Dave Kehr’s blog, for instance. You’ll be lucky to get out alive. :)

  4. Triple Option says:

    North By Northwest is definitely one of my top 5 all-time favorite films. With that and On the Waterfront, I was curious why she didn’t have more films under her belt in the immediate years that followed.

    Man, I would’ve had a 1,001 questions for her. Way to keep it organic and not have it turn into rapid fire. She mentioned choices a few times in there. Maybe it would’ve come across cliché but I wonder what she thinks about the choices many young and not so young actresses make today or just the types of choices they’re confronted with.

    Another thing I thought was interesting was that she said basically husband first, kids next and then career. I’m not married nor have any kids but my natural inclination would’ve believed it would’ve been kids first, then husband and still career last. It would’ve been interesting to hear more about her thoughts on not marriage per se but human nature and personal interaction and her perception of the day.

    Thanks for posting.

  5. The Pope says:

    Sorry but nothing anyone can say will ever convert me to Novakia. Thanks though for the pointer to Kehr’s site… and I will wait until the appropriate thread before posting the “heresy”.

  6. Sam says:

    I’ve gone back and forth on Novak in Vertigo over the years, but I watched it again just recently (I’ve been watching the complete Hitchcock chronologically, actually), and my latest verdict is that she was amazing in it. So I guess I’m with yancy on this one, despite my remark.

    Hitchcock himself didn’t think much of Novak and explained to Truffaut, in the Hitchcock/Truffaut interview book, that Novak’s acting style didn’t fit well with his directing style. But Truffaut suggested that Hitchcock’s opinion of the final performance was unfairly colored by what it took to get it. Truffaut admired Novak’s earthy sensuality and air of mystery that the role required. I have to agree with Truffaut on this one.

    That said, I don’t really see Novak as one of the great “Hitchcock blondes” in a generic sense, just because she was great in that particular complex role. I can’t imagine her improving on the roles Kelly, Saint, Day, Miles, and Leigh played, for example. But I can’t really imagine anyone but Novak in Vertigo either. I guess, as Pope says, Eva Marie Saint would have been the best of the alternatives.

    The weak casting link in Hitch’s later career, I think I have to say, is Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Marnie. She’s perfectly fine in them, not bad at all, and Hitchcock is quite right when he reflected about Marnie that there was never an unnecessary expression on her face in it, only exactly what he wanted to tell the story. But she just didn’t have the spark of sensuality that made the roles played by Kelly, Saint, and Novak so intriguing and seductive. In The Birds, that’s less important than in Marnie, a great an underrated film with the flaw that it’s hard to see why Connery’s character is as obsessed with her as he is.

  7. A. Campbell says:

    Somebody needs to give her some voiceover work, stat! Still great, flinty and sexy- and almost ageless.

  8. A. Campbell says:

    As a married man with children whose parents are going to celebrate their 40th anniversary next month, I can say the spouse, children, and then career strikes me as the right order. Of course one bleeds over into the others, but that’s the hierarchy. She didn’t get the headlines and won’t have an estate that puts lawyers’ kids through private school, but I can see how Ms. Saint has the peace in her personal life that so often escaped Ms. Taylor and Ms. Hepburn.

    re: Novak in VERTIGO, no she isn’t the prototypical Hitch blonde– and all the better, since the “real” character, Judy, isn’t a blond at all. There’s this spent sadness to Judy that the Hitch blonds, with their steely remoteness, never approach and that’s absolutely necessary for the movie to resonate as it does.

    And this is just another of the layers of VERTIGO that make it so compelling. Where’s that damn blu-ray already?!

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin