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David Poland

By David Poland

DP/30: Eva Marie Saint

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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 clichĂ© 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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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon