Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Kim Novak Rapes Everyone's Memories Of Vertigo

As reported yesterday by Deadline, Kim Novak - who I sincerely hope you are aware starred in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo - took surprising measures yesterday to air her views about The Artist. It turns out she was unimpressed by the film's use of a few minutes of Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score, and when I say "unimpressed" I mean "violently sexually assaulted".

In a press release and Hollywood trade ad, Novak begins her perfectly reasonable point by stating, perhaps a little melodramatically:
"I want to report a rape."
Holy shitballs Kim, the horror of sexual violence being perpetrated on a septuagenarian is unthinkable! How did this distressing event unfold and why are you casually advertising it to movie insiders rather than informing the authorities?
"My body of work has been violated by The Artist,"
she continues. Ah. I see. So, nobody's actually been raped here, but somebody's used some music from a film you were in once for a new film? I can kind of see how the two might be comparable.

In fairness to the crackers old hag, I myself was surprised and a little annoyed when I first watched The Artist last year and immediately recognised Herrmann's music. It stuck out like a sore thumb in amongst the rest of Ludovic Bource's excellent original score, and I was pulled so far out of the film that it was all I could think about when talking to anyone else who'd seen it. Surprisingly though, most of them - and I'm talking about people who talk about films for a living - hadn't noticed it.

On a second viewing, though, knowing full well it was coming, the Vertigo music seemed to blend in effortlessly. I let it float over me in waves of romance, which is essentially what it sounds like, and concentrated on what was going on onscreen, and by the end I had decided that The Artist was my favourite film of the past twelve months.

When Deadline reported the story of Kim Novak's insane exclamation, they effectively told her to shut the fuck up by asking:
"How many will recognize music from a film released in 1958?"
This in itself is almost as bizarre as Novak's demented ramblings, because Vertigo isn't "a film released in 1958". The Cry Baby Killer is "a film released in 1958". The Black Orchid is "a film released in 1958". Vertigo is arguably the greatest work of art ever committed to film. Some people will recognise it, some people won't like it, and some people will have already decided they don't like The Artist for much more obvious reasons.

Novak's point is a fair one but it's immediately undone by the utterly indefensible way in which she makes it, and the naivety with which she seems to believe that all cinema - including Vertigo and its score - is 100% original. Does she go around crying rape whenever a film uses a song which wasn't written specifically for that movie, or just when it offers her a chance to remind the world she isn't dead yet? She even has the balls to say:
"Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart can’t speak for themselves, but I can,"
shortly followed by:
"It is morally wrong of people in our industry to use and abuse famous pieces of work to gain attention and applause for other than what the original work was intended."
It's fine, however, to speak on behalf of dead people to gain attention and applause, her implication being that Hitchcock and Stewart would be just as outraged as she is about having their bodies of work raped. Seems to me like she's forcing her words into their dead mouths like, well, a penis being forced into an unwilling vagina. Hitchcock would have found the irony delicious.

The Artist would probably have got away scott free if it had borrowed something more obscure, but its director Michel Hazanavicius made a conscious choice to use that piece of music because it's his way of paying his respects to the art that inspired him. Maybe his decision isn't to everyone's taste, and if you don't like it, well, by all means say so. But Kim Novak's ill-advised rape comparison doesn't seem to have made anyone like The Artist any less, it's just made them hate her a lot more. Evidently she prefers being thought of as a senile old cow to being presumed dead.


  1. The person who has more soundtrack credits that any other composer was born in 1813 and died in 1883. He is Richard Wagner, a genius who built his own opera house and commanded every detail of his operas. If Wagner were alive today he would be picking up production Oscars for best everything and live in Valhalla in Brunnhilde Drive, Hollywood.
    Kim Novak, standing at a great moral height above us all must be suffering from a bit of vertigo.

  2. Somehow, Tony, I knew you'd bring Wagner into this. Surprised you didn't mention Tristan Und Isolde though, from which Herrmann borrowed heavily for his Vertigo score. Kim Novak forgot to mention it too.

  3. First Kristen Stewart, then Johnny Depp and now Kim Novak - I really wish actors would stop comparing their minor quibbles to sexual assault. It's offensive.

  4. Don't forget Alan Pardew! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx94jwmMxPs

  5. Beat me to it Anon... great minds!

  6. Why are so many people, including the author of this blog, saying that Kim said this just to "remind people she isn't dead yet" ?? She is only 4 years older than Jane Fonda, who yaps to the press all the time and never gets such criticism for doing so.

  7. Remember that time Jane Fonda claimed she'd been raped when in fact all that had happened was her latest workout DVD hadn't sold very well?

    Me neither.

  8. COLOMBO : Miss, one more thing, exactly when did it become rape?

    MISS : When his cheque bounced.