Thursday, March 27, 2014

A look into the working methods of Alain Resnais — and which comic books (and strips) did he read anyway?

Of all the filmmakers in the nouvelle vague, Alain Resnais had perhaps the oddest journey, from rigorous aesthete to director of charming middle-aged romances. These later films were remarkable, in that they were just as concerned with his already-established dominant themes — time and space and the disappearance/appearance of love — and yet they were quite linear and didn’t offer the sort of chronological “puzzles” present in his startlingly innovative early work. 

When Resnais became a Deceased Artiste the other week at 91, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to discuss him on this blog, since his filmography can be easily broken down into several “periods”: the first group of documentaries and shorts; the classic early fiction features, each written by a noted author; his late Sixties/early Seventies work, in which the storylines start to become more linear and big-names (Belmondo, Dirk Bogarde, Depardieu) begin appearing in his films; the first films with his muse Sabine Azema, in which he starts to explore theatrical concerns (in a cinematic context, *always* in the context of movies); and the final group of utterly charming middle-aged (and sometimes senior) romances, all costarring Azema, Pierre Arditi, and Andre Dussolier. (I deeply love Same Old Song, which I wrote about here – with all attribution scrubbed by a later editor of the site.)

I’ve been charting on the Funhouse TV show how Godard has remained the most influential of all the “New Wave” filmmakers (he is also one of three surviving members of the group, along with Agnes Varda and the now-ailing Jacques Rivette). In recent years I’ve noticed that many filmmakers —especially those in Asia, led by Wong Kar-Wai — have been quoting Resnais with equal enthusiasm. His early meditations on time, memory, and identity evidently resonate with these directors, and it’s fascinating to see their variations on his themes.

Resnais was indeed a multi-faceted artist whose work showed the influence of classical art (check out his early shorts on libraries and museums), modernist fiction, and the cinematic masters from different eras (including silent cinema). He also was a comic book and comic strip reader, and made no effort to hide it.

In interviews Resnais betrayed a self-deprecating attitude toward his own skill (see him discussing how he does not consider himself an auteur here). When asked about his strengths as a filmmaker, he often said he felt most comfortable as an editor, that was his truest “vocation.” Clearly his interest in comics fed into that. Thus he was an artist who embraced both the “high” and (so-called) “low” extremes of culture (here he notes he doesn’t mind his films being called “baroque”).

Yes, Resnais was a rabid comic buff who, one obit noted, served as the vice president of the French comic club des Bandes Desinees.” A few other obits reported that he was supposed to have had the biggest comic collection in all of France (as Wikipedia sez, “citation needed” on that bit of trivia).

However many comics he owned, it was clear that, while cinema, literature, and theater were his primary concerns, his love of comic books (and strips) was never that far behind. He wasn't a “pop-art” director like William Klein, and he didn't paint his sets primary colors and use the jump-cut in the comic-like manner of Uncle Jean (aka M. Godard), but every few years Resnais would indeed sneak in mentions of his passion for comics.

In Resnais' 1956 documentary short “Toutes la mémoire du monde,” his study of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, he takes time out (at 8:45) to drift past a stack of Sunday supplements, with “Mandrake the Magician” and “Dick Tracy” on the front page of the top two.

The crew and “cast” (in this case meaning extras) is pretty extraordinary: cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet, composer Maurice Jarre, with “collaboration” from poet Jean Cayrol, cinematographer Pierre Goupil, “Chris and Magic Marker” (that’s how he was billing himself then), Agnes Varda, and the man who created Mandrake, cartoonist Lee Falk.

Then the leap into Sixties comics: Brian Cronin over at the Comic Book Resources site has clarified the rumors surrounding a supposed “script written by Stan Lee and Alain Resnais.” Cronin's research reveals there were two projects the duo were going to work on, the first being an existential story about inmates in a jail in the Bronx, the second a more “personal” work for Stan the Man about a schlocky horror director who graduates to direct a mainstream feature. (The clipping to the right comes from this Tumblr.)

Cronin includes a quote from Lee in which he notes that the second project nearly got off the round, but Resnais refused the prospective producer's request to cut Lee's script – given Resnais' utter devotion to his screenwriters, this sounds more than probable.
What remains from the friendship between the two is an oddity: a four-minute segment shot by Resnais and narrated by Stan Lee for the director Jacques Doillon's political comedy-drama L’an 01 (1973).

The film chronicles the day in which all French workers give up working in protest of the government being, well... the government. This radical action is recognized as a breakthrough around the world (it's not a very well-thought-out political satire, this film), as illustrated by a scene shot by Jean Rouch in Nigeria and a segment shot in NYC by Resnais.

Thus we hear Stan read out imaginary stock exchange rates. It's a fun segment, if only to see NYC in the early Seventies. Doillon's film is more of a joyously nuts historical artifact than a legitimately entertaining (or politically pointed) film, so the Resnais segment is one of its highlights – it begins here at 30:42:

Perhaps it was a good thing that Stan and Alain never got to collaborate, since the Resnais film that most directly celebrates comics, and was scripted by an iconic cartoonist, is one of his most disappointing. 

I Want to Go Home (1989) is the tale of an American cartoonist (played by composer Adolph Green) who visits Paris with his girlfriend (Linda Lavin) on the occasion of an exhibit of cartoon art that includes his work. The exhibit has been curated by a French fanatic for American comics (played by Depardieu); the cartoonist’s visit allows his daughter (Laura Benson) who has been living in Paris, to see her cranky old man and try to heal their relationship.

Considering the fact that Resnais was such a major comic fan, and that the great Feiffer wrote the screenplay, one expects more from the film than it ultimately delivers — plus, Green was a wonderful lyricist, but he really was not a very good actor.
That said, the most interesting moments in the film all take place when Depardieu hosts a costume party in which the guests are dressed like comic book and cartoon characters. In these scenes we see people dressed as Marvel and D.C. characters (the iconic ones, as well as Elektra and the Spectre), cartoon strip mainstays (Popeye, Olive Oyl, Tarzan, and Mandrake — yes, that’s Geraldine Chaplin), and animated favorites (Tweety Bird). The most notable inclusion is a Feiffer favorite (and most likely, one of Resnais’ favorites as well), Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

In the montage below, which I uploaded to YT, I included not only the most colorful scenes from the costume party, but also the moments when Green’s character discusses old cartoonists. (By the way, Green is dressed as his own comic creation.)

That must be the first and only instance of a couple “meeting cute” over Will Eisner books.

As a closer, I offer a three-minute segment from an interview I conducted for the Funhouse TV show with Lambert Wilson, the very talented actor who starred in four of Resnais’ final films. This talk took place upon the U.S. premiere at the “Rendezvous with French Cinema” of Resnais’ Not on the Lips.

The exceptionally dapper Monsieur Wilson (yes, he is French, a fact you’d never know from his beautiful English) elaborates Resnais’ method with his actors from the Nineties onward (in the “middle-aged romance” period I mentioned above). I noticed that he refers to the director throughout as “alainresnais,” presumably in deference to M. Resnais’ age — that is not the case. Check out the various interviews with his actors and colleagues on YouTube, in both English and French, and you’ll find that the filmmaker was most always “alainresnais” to even his chummiest of colleagues (and his wife Sabine!).

Wilson provides us with a valuable insight into Resnais’ work with his actors. Plus, he spotlights Resnais’ favorite movie comedian (he is a lot like Woody Allen in this regard) and which variety of comic he had laying around his house (although I’m sure he loved Marvel too — see above). I had a wonderful time talking to Wilson, and this is definitely one of the highlights of our chat.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 'control freak' who overcame a repressive government: Deceased Artiste Vera Chytilová

Once seen it is never forgotten. Daisies (1966) is an energetic, disturbing, strange, funny, irritating, profound, ridiculous, and mind-altering film that fits snugly in with Sixties cinema, in that it alters the viewer's mind as it presents a story (sort of) that can be taken as an allegory for the circumstances under which it was made, or an allegory for Western civilization as a whole. The woman who made it, Vera Chytilová, died this week at 85, leaving behind a relatively small body of films and a very large legacy of rebellion against the Soviet authority in her home country of Czechoslovakia.

She was brought up a Catholic (which pretty much explains everything – both the adherence and the rebellion) and capsule biographies love to list the professions she had before filmmaker: technical draftsman (draftsperson?), fashion model, photo retoucher, and “clapper girl.” She studied film for five years (1957-62) and made some shorts and a debut feature before the explosion of sight, sound, and insanity that is Daisies.

The film (which got the full-episode treatment on the Funhouse TV show back in the fall of 1995) follows two young women as they roam around, causing trouble, defrauding millionaires (making it an interesting potential co-feature for Hawks' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), having food fights, and being generally both sexy and doll-like, and extremely rebellious. It gets on the viewer's nerves at points, but is so wonderfully stylish and blissfully bizarre that even those who aren't digging it wind up admitting it's a hell of a cinematic ride.

It surely was intended to be an allegory about the ways in which the average person can subvert authority. What Chytilová did to “sell” the film was to make the two lead characters attractive women who are first seen in bikinis – even the most sexist straight male (who believes “there are no good films directed by women”) shuts up when the two cute leads appear at the beginning of the film.

That same sexist (and yes, just about every other male watching the film) gets a little antsy when the film's most mind-warping scene finds the girls cutting up reality itself with pairs of scissors (there seems to be a subtext there...).

The fact that the film was an allegory about rebellion didn't escape the Czech government – in fact most of the films made by the Czech New Wave in the mid-Sixties were very realistically-shot allegories (Vera opted out of the naturalistic, realist approach) that clearly condemned bureaucratic, repressive governments.

As a result, some of the films were banned, most notably Daisies, A Report on the Party and Guests by Jan Nĕmec (1966), and The Joke (1969) by Jaromil Jireš. (All three of these films are in the Pearls of the Czech New Wave DVD box set from the “Eclipse” arm of the Criterion Collection.)

Chytilová avoided offering interpretations of her work (and noted she didn't like “cuddling” her audience), but various interesting quotes can be found in which she offers a personal philosophy. She contextualized the “doll-like” qualities of her two leads with this quote: “Everyone does what they can to avoid thinking. Laziness is the most basic human trait. People don't want to think – they can't make the connection between entertainment and thought. They want immediate kicks. People will not be human until they get pleasure from a thought – only a thinking person can be a full person.”

She stated in an exclusive interview on this blog that the film was not “about the Czech youth,” as had been perceived. “What we wanted to make was an existential film and to use it as a protest against the destruction of the country. What was interesting was that the western part of the world perceived this film as being against all conventions. So it’s clear that it depends from what angle you perceive the film....

“We thought that the creativity as well as destruction was two sides of the same coin because people who are not capable of creation get their kicks from destruction.... The film was laughing at them, ridiculing them, and I think they understood that. Therefore, the film wasn’t shown in cinemas.”

The charges against the film can be found in a document located here. One of the most interesting things about the government ban on the film (which won prizes at foreign film festivals) was that one National Assembly deputy argued in favor of it because Daisies contained imagery of the wasting of food (“the fruit of the work of our toiling farmers”!). In case you wonder what wasting food looks like, this is it:

She made one more film before the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. The Fruit of Paradise (1969) is another incredibly, stylishly odd film. It reworks the story of Adam and Eve and has a gorgeous opening that is pure avant-garde filmmaking (it's no wonder at all that the Czechoslovak Communist Party was threatened by her art).

Unlike her colleagues Milos Forman and Ivan Passer, Chytilová refused to leave Czechoslovakia. She was effectively banned from making films for six years, wasn't allowed to leave the country to attend film festivals, and had script after script quashed by government offices, but she stayed in the country, perhaps because (as is indicated in a later interview cited below) she wasn't the kind of person who took “no” for an answer.

Photo by Tono Stano
In the autumn of 1975, after having several projects killed off and also having found out that she had been invited to foreign film fests that she was not allowed to attend (the government would lie, saying she was unavailable), she wrote an open letter to Czech president Gustav Husak. She noted that the party line was that she lacked “a positive attitude to socialism.”

The letter can be found here. It closes with the stirring statement, “As a citizen, a woman, a mother and a film director, I will continue to fight for the ideals of a socialist society and will do my utmost to bring about their realisation.”

As a result of this campaign, she was allowed to direct her own projects again, her “comeback” film being The Apple Game (1977). At this point it becomes interesting to consider her thoughts about being a “feminist” filmmaker. She was quite proud to be a woman filmmaker, but the feminist label wasn't one she cottoned to, according to a later interview in The Guardian:

“[Chytilová] explains that she does not believe in feminism per se, but in individualism. 'If there's something you don't like, don't keep to the rules – break them. I'm an enemy of stupidity and simple-mindedness in both men and women and I have rid my living space of these traits.'”

What is also revealed in this Guardian piece – in which she is referred to as “the Margaret Thatcher of Czech Cinema” because of her control-freak tendencies – is the fact that “film-making with Chytilova is by all accounts a harrowing experience. She shouts and screams, and gleefully admits to beating up her cameramen when they prove unwilling to try out new ideas.” (Perhaps this is why she could take the metaphorical beating imposed on her by the Czech authorities?)

We know little in America about her later films (there are 13 post-“ban” features and 6 documentaries listed in her IMDB listing, but IMDB is a not-exactly-reliable resource). Perhaps the most bizarre was the box-office hit she directed in 1993 from a script by Czech film and stage star Bolek Polivka. It has the wonderful name The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodday (1993).

According to this review by an American blogger, the film is a broad, “obnoxious” comedy that is tolerable only because one of the female costars is “ridiculously hot.” The reviewer notes the film has no resemblance to Chytilová's earlier avant-garde work like Daisies.

The one festival of her films that brought her post-Daisies work to the American public (well, at least the NYC “metro area” public) was a five-film retrospective of her work in the late 1990s (that included her 1966 classic and four post-"ban" titles, including The Apple Game, right) on the CUNY-TV program City Cinematheque. The piece de resistance was an exclusive interview with Chytilová conducted by host Jerry Carlson (through a translator, if I remember correctly). To my knowledge, Carlson's is the *only * interview of Chytilová done in the U.S. for television. (If you know of others, leave a comment at the end of this piece.)

To pay final tribute to her, I have to turn to the prickly interview she gave the Guardian interviewer. In the article, Chytilová admits to having “recently attempted to direct her own death scene. At home and feeling under the weather, she became convinced her hours were numbered. 'I found the idea rather disagreeable that the moment after my death, I would lose total control of what happened, and someone would have to find my remains.' As it turned out, she was just suffering from wind, but the experience was humbling.”

It seems that, once Chytilová was able to throw herself back into filmmaking full-time (during the six-year ban she made works with her husband under his name and took time out to raise her children) she went at it full-bore. “You always have to work as if what you're working on could be your last,” she says in the Guardian interview. “I want to move on, even if I have to crawl.”

As some visual extras I offer the following clips. First is Chytilová's segment from Pearls of the Deep (1965), “Automat Svet” (without English subs). She has never offered a list of her influences, but this short reminded me of Vigo's timeless L’Atalante:

Next are two other clips from The Fruit of Paradise (1969), her Eden saga. These clips contain no dialogue and are pure dream-like weirdness. The Freudian symbolism is apparent (the man wants to wrap the woman in his red cloth!), but the filmmaking is trippy and wonderful:

A second clip, in which our heroine discovers things inside and outside:

Two clips from The Apple Game (1977), which appear to have been posted because the female in 'em is topless/nude. In any case, it's an example of more linear, scripted scenes that occurred in her later work (plus, again, the notion that she knew how to draw straight male viewers in):

A very short, subtitled scene from her 2001 film Expulsion from Paradise. A film about the making of a film, Expulsion is another, more serious film she directed from a script by Bolek Polvka, the star of her Fuckoffguysgoodday hit comedy:

I'll close out with brief glimpses of the later films by Chytilová that we never saw. This is a commercial montage for a festival of her works:

Friday, March 7, 2014

On aging, beauty, the Oscars, and Kim Novak

She was the “anti-Marilyn” sex symbol, a defiantly sensuous creature onscreen who seemed to defy the viewer's lustful gaze. She was a “thinking man's bombshell” who wasn't the greatest actress in Fifties Hollywood, but her virtues as a intoxicating presence were wonderfully showcased by the wildly underrated Richard Quine, the bombastic George Sidney, and the of course, the master of suspense (and obsessive-compulsive behavior), Hitchcock.

This week Kim Novak was back in the news for the first time in decades because she appeared as a presenter on the Oscars looking as if she had had bad plastic surgery on her cheeks and mouth (she also behaved somewhat stiffly, as if she was on sedatives — speculation was that this might have been a result of her having a horse-riding accident in 2006).

A debate was thus sparked on the Net about what is “expected” of female stars as they grow older, led mostly by women bloggers who were (justly) annoyed at the many bad “Kim Novak's face” jokes that have appeared online since Sunday night.

One of the most interesting tweets having to do with Novak's appearance on the Oscars came from actress Rose McGowan (herself a performer who has been rapped on the knuckles for having had plastic surgery, following a car accident). She wondered why there was no standing ovation for Novak – on a program, it must be added, where all the musical performances and pretty much any beloved performer gets a “standing O” as a matter of course.

Novak was a major star in the Fifties and early Sixties, but she was also an outsider — she was one of the last major-studio “creations,” remade and remodeled by Columbia president Harry Cohn to star in a string of notable high-profile pictures (and serve as a “threat” to Rita Hayworth, much in the way that Marilyn was a threat to Betty Grable).

While she underwent all of Cohn's demanded changes — she had actually been discovered by a Columbia talent scout in a chorus line of “heftier” girls grouped together to make Jane Russell look slimmer — Kim retained as much of her identity as she could. “I had to fight not to be manufactured, “ she told an interviewer recently. This brash attitude made her the polar opposite of the Monroe/Mansfield/Van Doren model of the blonde bimbo sexpot.

There are only two books thus far about Novak, and one of them – the one by Peter Harry Brown in which she supplies “commentary” in between the chapters – is quite accurately called Kim Novak: Reluctant Goddess (St. Martin's Press, 1986). It is her reluctance to be part of the Hollywood machine that made her recent foray into plastic surgery such a surprise and a sad event for those who've followed her career.

Kim's “comments” in the Brown biography are very enlightening in this regard, especially one about being a sex symbol: “You become a slave to the glamour-girl syndrome. They require certain public rituals, and, though I smile and go through the motions, I guess I'll never get used to them. You have to play a role – the star, the glamour girl. That gives me an uneasy feeling. Even though you appreciate the attention of the fans, you wonder if people who come to watch would like you if they knew who you really are.

“...But no matter how much makeup they put on me, no matter how much of a facade they thrust on me, I know the public was always able to see through it – to see the real me – that was some compensation. I fought, and fought hard, to maintain my own identity.” (pp 40-41)

Let me emphasize that I am not condemning Novak for having gone in for “de-aging” surgery. I am merely saddened to see that she finally did consent to play Hollywood’s game, and at such a late point in her life. At this point she has quit acting, often citing Mike Figgis’ 1991 film Liebestraum as her final disappointment. (She has spoken in interviews about how she argued with Figgis in regard to her character. He disagreed with her, and proceeded to cut most of her part out of the picture. As it stands, my only memory of her performance is a vague one of a quite sleazy line of dialogue involving another woman's smell on a man's fingers....)

In the 1986 Brown biography, she is quoted as saying “I have also never been afraid of getting old. To tell you the truth, I never cared that much about my career.... I was more interested in trying to find myself so I could express that essence onscreen.” (p. 255) She apparently underwent the surgery (or series of botox injections) sometime in late 2010, as is evident from this photo promoting the release of a box set of her movies.

There have been several sad cases of actresses deforming their faces with surgery in the last two decades – mostly notably Faye Dunaway, comedic actresses Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Burnett, and the Jocelyn Wildenstein of comedy, Joan Rivers.

Younger, very successful actresses like Nicole Kidman have indulged and have subsequently seemed to try to “set things right” by “un-freezing” their features. The most extreme example found Cher, who had developed an extremely respectable career as an actress, sabotage it entirely with face work that made her look as if she was performing behind a Kabuki mask (this as far back as 1990’s Mermaids, where she is unable to cry convincingly because of the immobility of her face).

As for Novak (seen right at the age of 71 in 2004), she was all the more special as a Hollywood star because she “pulled a Garbo” and got the hell out of town while the gettin’ was good. True, her fortunes were uncertain after the mid-Sixties, but she didn’t stick around to play a slew of aging matrons, maids, and (the eventual) grandmothers. She made a handful of movies and TV appearances in the Seventies and Eighties, with only a scant few (The Mirror Crack’d) being worthy of her talents and presence.

Thus, she would be one of the last older stars one could imagine worrying about wrinkles. However, those who saw the TCM interview with her that aired in March of last year witnessed a side of her personality that was well hidden during her heyday as one of America’s top box-office attractions: the vulnerable, sad woman who could still break down and cry when talking about her father’s disinterest in her accomplishments.

In that interview she also spoke openly about being bipolar. The moment when she cried on-camera was heartwrenching because it didn’t seem staged or phony, as so many interviews do (pick any of the many, many apologies made on television by public figures). It explained why she hadn’t consented to being interviewed at length in a very long time.

If a cream-puff interviewer like Robert Osborne could unintentionally lead to a topic that would make her break down, one can only imagine the kind of fascinating chat she could’ve had with the dean of star interviewers, the great Dick Cavett, in his prime.

Despite her wonderfully defiant presence, Novak was and is a fragile soul who has often noted that she never really wanted to be a star. She has also, as was noted by the bloggers who rose to her defense, lived through seeing her possessions go up in a fire in 2000, had the aforementioned horse-riding accident, and survived breast cancer just a few years ago.

Thus, when not mentored by major-studio advisers — from the nasty but effective Cohn to her one-time companion Quine — she seems like a woman adrift. And there we again collide with the question that sympathetic bloggers have been discussing in the past week — namely “how should an aging movie star look?”

Perhaps the only two stars who kept their privacy in their later years — one can’t help but cringe thinking of the final months of Bette Davis, where she continued to perform post-stroke, heavily made up — are the “Glimmer Twins” of Thirties glamour, two of the most beautiful women ever in film, Garbo and Dietrich. Garbo’s solution we all know; she simply left Hollywood and never came back — I know she toyed with returning at one point (with the amazing Max Ophuls), but the project sadly lost its financing.
Dietrich (who coincidentally had her last movie role in David Hemmings’ film Just a Gigolo, which costarred Kim) took a more radical approach. She stayed hidden in her Paris apartment, not granting interviews and not allowing pictures to be taken of her — only her voice is heard in the late Maximilian Schell’s superb 1984 portrait Marlene. Along the same lines, Billy Wilder told documentarian Volker Schlondorff a wonderful tale about Dietrich ducking him on the phone (affecting a bad French accent) in her later years when he tried to connect with her in Paris.
Novak certainly doesn’t have to be as extreme in her behavior as Greta and Marlene. One could easily imagine her going the route of another one-time Hollywood pin-up girl, Janet Leigh. Leigh might have had “touch-ups” as she got older, but I was always impressed that she let herself get wrinkled — something that is absolutely verboten in Lotus Land. The result might have been that some assholes made jokes about her appearance, but Leigh’s face was still her own, not a surgeon’s “project,” until her death.

For the male equivalent, take a look at Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins’ creased forehead is so much more laudable than the odd appearance of, say, Mickey Rourke.

Nathanael West taught us 75 years ago in The Day of the Locust that Hollywood eats up and spits out its denizens. There is no better example of this than the Oscars, a deadly dull affair (leavened in theory by attempts at “comedy”) that these days allows no time for an appreciation of the history of American movies.

The film-clip montages are few and far between, and contain nearly no b&w material; the Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented at another, prior ceremony, and aren’t allowed on the main broadcast anymore; and, of course, older stars are rarely seen on the program.
Sidney Poitier, Robert De Niro, and Harrison Ford were the only other “older” [read: over 70] performers on this year’s Oscars; Hollywood’s idea of “veteran performers” now points strictly to TV stars who later became movie stars (60-somethings Sally Field, Goldie Hawn, John Travolta, and Bill Murray). Glenn Close is over 60 but best known for film.

Why all these names? To illustrate that Novak was the ONLY person on the program who had a link to old Hollywood, and they had her curiously present the Best Animated Feature award.

Hollywood essentially spits on its past (unless it can merchandise it — thus the Wizard of Oz trib), and we get to watch it on television every year. This time out a great star who had one of the most intriguing screen presences of the Fifties became a laughingstock because she chose to eliminate her wrinkles and went to the wrong surgeon.

The fact that she felt that was necessary is attributable not only to her own insecurities, but to the fact that America has a problem with age and thus does not want to see stars who carry their age proudly, like Janet Leigh or Anthony Hopkins.

Kim’s star will continue to shine brightly. I hope that she can “do a Nicole Kidman” and possibly reverse whatever procedures she underwent, but even if she can’t she will remain a luminous presence, and her films will live on. From the terrific noir Pushover (1954) and the iconic Fifties “lust-drama” Picnic (1955) to Billy Wilder’s brilliantly nasty Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) and Robert Aldrich’s equally incisive and brutal The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968), she has given movie viewers a lot more than we’ve given her.