Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Kim Novak x 2: Boys Night Out / Of Human Bondage

Time for a Kim Novak double feature. We like Kim here at The Projector, one of those essential '50s stars - like Janet Leigh. 1958 must have been her zenith year, not only Hitch's VERTIGO (below) but I also like her other one that year with Jimmy Stewart: Quine's BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (right) where she surely never looked better - reviewed at Kim label.. (It was his last as a leading man, as touching 50 he slid into character roles next year, with ANATOMY OF A MURDER and was soon playing those bumbling fathers in 20th Century Fox comedies and in some good westerns). 
I remember being fascinated as a kid by Kim in THE EDDIE DUCHIN STORY where she appeared impossibly glamorous (before dying tragically), she is adequate in PAL JOEY and JEANNE EAGLES. This item is from a 1965 feature on movie stars in my favourite magazine "Films And Filming" by Douglas McVay (author of "The Musical Film").:
A few years ago, Kim Novak mounted a challenge to Liz Taylor: sailing up the evening river on her floral barge as the Labour Day queen in PICNIC (and that dance with William Holden); conducting touching love affairs in MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET; and being ideally cast as the witch in BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (one particularly cherishes some literally enthralling close-ups of the luscious sorceress holding her equally seductive Siamese blue Pyewacket). More recently, however, with slightly tatty offerings like THE NORTORIOUS LANDLADY and OF HUMAN BONDAGE, Kim’s goddess-potential has tended to peter out.
That was written in 1965, and 50 years later Kim is still here (82 this year) and we are still talking about her and watching her - I have a few of hers to see including the 1962 comedy BOYS’ NIGHT OUT – not seen that since its release, ditto the 1964 supposedly dreadful version of  OF HUMAN BONDAGE where Kim as the slutty waitress Mildred (one of Bette Davis’s best early roles in the 1934 version) and Laurence Harvey famously hated each other. It’s a confusing film – Henry Hathaway walked off it early so direction was taken over by Ken Hughes, Bryan Forbes wrote the script and also appears and t was filmed in Dublin, so there are several Irish players, like Siobhan McKenna, as well as Robert Morley and …..

I must also dig out a 1983 tele-series MALIBU, one of those lush American soaps. Kim is the realtor, and cast includes Troy Donahue, George Hamilton, Chad Everett. Also of course in the early sixties there was her Polly the Pistol in Billy Wilder’s KISS ME STUPID, an acquired taste for some but she acquits herself well here. THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS may be simple fun and a rip off of TOM JONES, but the cast is the thing here: not only Kim but Vittorio De Sica, Angela Lansbury, Lilli Palmer and George Sanders as well as a huge raft of British players of the time:
I simply did not care for THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE at all, though it is a camp classic for some. Kim also pops up in the intriguing JUST A GIGOLO in 1977, but the film belongs to David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich in her few final minutes on screen … (review at Kim label), and she is hilarious in those bitchy scenes with Taylor in the 1980 THE MIRROR’S CRACKED …..
BOYS NIGHT OUT:  I saw this one from 1962,  but could barely remember it as it had never surfaced anywhere since. That early Sixties was a good time for romantic comedies pushing the sexual boundaries of the era. I also liked COME SEPTEMBER from 1961 (where Rock and Gina are a treat - with Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin for us teens - but don't bother with Rock and Gina in 1965's absolutely dreadful STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, totally unfunny and set in a Hollywood backstage version of London). 1963's SUNDAY IN NEW YORK is another terrific one, with the young trio of Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor and Cliff Robertson - as per my review (Fonda label). 
Fred, George, Doug and Howie are quickly reaching middle-age. Three of them are married, only Fred is still a bachelor. They want something different than their ordinary marriages, children and TV-dinners. In secret, they get themselves an apartment with a beautiful young woman, Kathy, for romantic rendezvous. But Kathy does not tell them that she is a sociology student researching the sexual life of the white middle-class male.
The delicious thing about BOY'S NIGHT OUT is that early sixties decor in that apartment. Its lush. The film itself is a pleasant timewaster now and didn't do much for Kim - or Garner - but the guest stars amuse: Jessie Royce Landis, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Patti Page, Fred Clark. Jim Backus etc. Directed by Michael Gordon of PILLOW TALK and other frothy items. 

OF HUMAN BONDAGE. Again, not seen here since its 1964 release, I saw it but it was a distant memory, I knew it was panned, and how, at the time. Seems Kim and Harvey (as one note as ever) loathed each other and it was a troubled production with original director Henry Hathaway walking, and Bryan Forbes more or less taking over (so Mrs Forbes, "the lovely Nanette Newman", is the nice girl at the end), though its credited to Ken Hughes. It could be a Trash Classic or a more interesting B-Movie for those in the mood. The Dublin locations and Irish supporting players are of interest now, but its obvious the young Bette Davis owns the role of Mildred (in the 1934 original (right)).  We will have another look at Kim's amusing THE ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS again soon ... 

11 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Agree about the 60's decor -- worth the price of admission just to reside in those interiors for a while (ditto The Tender Trap, Critic's Choice, so many others). And terrific support, including Randall's risqué stories drowned out by the noise of the commuter train.

    But don't overlook that wonderful ear-worm of a title tune, sung by Patti Page over the credits, but originally slated for Sinatra (far more appropriate to the Ring-A-Ding-Ding subject matter), whose recording exists and is available from iTunes.

    And if you can find it, Novak is quite good in The Third Girl From The Left, a standard issue 70's telefilm (with Mirror Crack'd co-star Tony Curtis and the soon-to-vanish 70's flavor-of-the-month Michael Brandon) made notable by Novak's presence. I remember when it aired, Novak coming out of retirement for a television film was news in itself.

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  3. Thanks for that, I had vaguely heard of Third Girl From The Left, but we never got a chance to see it here.

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  4. Michael! I love that you invoke the name Douglas McVay here, author of the invaluable "The Film Musical." But Douglas is wrong: "The Notorious Landlady" is one terrific comedy, very cosomopolitan. I also appreciate that Neely mentions "The Third Girl from the Left," directed by Peter Medak from a script by Dory Previn. Tony Curtis co-stars and it is worth checking out.

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  5. Third Girl From The Left is available in its entirety on YouTube.

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  6. Thanks for that, I am off to YouTube! I like Doug McVay's writitngs and that little Zwemmer paperback "The Musical Film" is my favourite book on musicals, love how he goes into such an appreciation of A STAR IS BORN,and trust he got to see the restored version with all the extras. I have a dvd-r of NOTORIOUS LANDLADY actually, must dig it out, and it has Fred Astaire too.

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  7. Reading your article just makes me think how few Novak films I have either seen or liked. I missed both BOY'S NIGHT OUT and OF HUMAN BONDAGE and I never liked BELL BOOK AND CANDLE. (I positively hated MOLL FLANDERS). She was, of course, perfectly cast in VERTIGO.

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    1. How awful to be a snooty movie buff who only sees "important" films, and is too lofty to enjoy some popular entertainment or even a Trash Classic. Back to your Tarkovsky boxset with you in your ivory tower.

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  8. Third Girl From the Left was written by Dory Previn, who wrote all those marvelous songs for Neely O'Hara and Helen Lawson!

    Actually an interesting slice of life TV movie, and suits Kim's acting talents (alternately dreamy or sad) well.

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    1. We liked Dory Previn a lot back in the day, those albums of hers like "Mythical Kings and Iguanas". She also wrote Natalie's great song "You're Gonna Hear From Me" for INSIDE DAISY CLOVER.

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