CANNES CLASSICS – Vertigo: Kim Novak – an extraordinary Hitchcock heroine

Kim Novak © FDC / FL

Kim Novak is guest of honour at the Festival de Cannes. As such, she will present a new restored version of Vertigo. The actress, originally from Chicago, will also present one of the Festival’s awards this Sunday, 26th May 2013.



Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock’s 45th film, directed in 1958, is an adaptation of the French novel The Living and the Dead by Boileau-Narcejac. Scottie (James Stewart), a former policeman recently turned private detective is tasked with following Madeleine Ester (Kim Novak), the wife of a former colleague. According to her husband, the young woman is possessed by the spirit of her great-grandmother. The detective, who suffers from terrible vertigo, gradually falls in love with Madeleine while he is tailing her.

Kim Novak was not supposed to play Madeleine Ester in Vertigo. Vera Miles, another American actress, was down for the role but she refused due to her pregnancy. Alfred Hitchcock never forgave her abandoning him, which gave the shoot and the film an ambiguous and unsettling atmosphere.

Kim Novak was never gentle with her former director. Like many of the master of suspense’s shoots, the filming of Vertigo did not flow smoothly. The actress recently told the newspaper Le Monde : “Hitchcock hoped to find in me a blonde like Grace Kelly, which was not the case, all the while thinking he could change my nature. So we see this resistance on the screen.” Vertigo certainly remains the Hitchcock film that has been the most commented on and analysed by film lovers.

Lisa Revil


Saturday 25th May / Buñuel Theatre / 7 p.m.
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