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The Kim Novak Collection (Picnic / Jeanne Eagels / Bell, Book and Candle / Middle of the Night / Pal Joey)
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It's Labor Day weekend, and fresh off a freight train is Hal Carter (William Holden), a happy-go-lucky drifter who's looking for a brand new start in life. A robust, handsome show-off, Hal has come to Kansas to seek gainful employment in his old fraternity brother Alan's family granary. But despite his high hopes and expectations, Hal's ambitious plans soon go away when his sexual magnetism attracts every woman in town, including 19-year-old Madge Owens (Kim Novak) -- the alluring young beauty queen who also happens to be Alan's girlfriend.
The short and tortured life of Broadway actress and silent screen star Jeanne Eagels was a perfect vehicle for Miss Novak. As a small-town beauty whose ambition for the legitimate stage drove her to self-destruction, the film showcased Novak’s dramatic talents in one of her favorite roles. Richly photographed in Black and White, and directed by George Sidney (Kiss Me Kate, Viva Las Vegas), with strong support from the legendary Agnes Moorehead and Jeff Chandler.
Bell, Book, and Candle
Meet Gillan Holroyd (Kim Novak), Greenwich Village's most seductive sorceress. Powerful, glamorous, and a wee bit bored, Gillian knows that witches can't fall in love. But they can have fun... especially if their lover belongs to another woman! So when Gillian discovers handsome new neighbor Shep Henderson (James Stewart) is the fiance of an old college nemesis (Janice Rule), she promptly puts the befuddled publisher under her spell. But while her sex hex may have heated up Shep's heart, it has also unthawed her own, leading to a romantic complication that not even Pyewacket, Gillian's mind-reading cat, could have foreseen. Presented in eye popping Technicolor transfer that beautifully captures James Wong Howe's stunning cinematography, Bell, Book and Candle co-starring Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, and Elsa Lanchester is "a delightful spoof on witchcraft with the cast members at their very best." THE MOTION PICTURE GUIDE!
Middle of the Night
Paddy Chayefsky’s story, pairing her with actor Frederick March, allowed Novak to again display the richness of her talent. Novak is a young divorcee who falls into an uneasy romantic relationship with her clothing manufacturer boss (March), who is more than twice her age. The anxieties and opinions of family and friends press on the couple and strain the fragile relationship. Directed by Delbert Mann on location in New York, the terrific supporting cast includes Martin Balsam and Lee Grant.
Pal Joey stars Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Kim Novak in a sophisticated musical comedy. Sinatra plays Joey Evans, a cabaret singer who romances wealthy socialite Hayworth into financing his own nightclub, but then falls for voluptuous chorine Novak. Pal Joey took 17 years to get to the screen. Based on a series of stories written as letters by John O'Hara for THE NEW YORKER, the letters were all signed "Your Pal Joey" by a mythical dancer. O'Hara later adapted the stories as a book for the Broadway musical which starred Gene Kelly. When Columbia bought the film rights, studio chief Harry Cohn wanted Kelly for the lead and Hayworth for the younger role of Linda. But Kelly was already contracted to MGM and the project was shelved. At one time, Billy Wilder was interested in doing the picture with Marlon Brando and Mae West-but the studio passed. It finally took the combined talents of Hayworth, Sinatra, and newcomer Kim Novak to bring Pal Joey to the screen. The gossip columns were filled with stories of an impending battle over credits. Sinatra was at the height of his film popularity, but Hayworth's contract stipulated she receive top billing. The battle however, was never fought. Sinatra gladly took the second slot-"I don't mind being in the middle of that sandwich," he quipped. Pal Joey contains some of Rogers and Hart's best songs including "My Funny Valentine," and one of Sinatra's biggest hits, "The Lady Is A Tramp." Hayworth's vocals were dubbed by Jo Ann Greer, Novak's by Trudi Erwin. Pal Joey was nominated for four Academy Awards(r) (1957) for Art Direction-Set Decoration, Sound Recording, Costume Design (by Jean Louis) and Film Editing. Although Pal Joey was a huge commercial success, it would be Rita Hayworth's swan song for Columbia. The studio machine that had turned Margarita Cansino into the glamorous Rita Hayworth, would now turn its attentions to Chicago-born Kim Novak, the last in a long line of studio-made stars.
While Pal Joey (1957) is not a masterpiece, it does have a brilliant song score (the Rodgers and Hart classics include "Bewitched" and "I Could Write a Book") and glorious star power: Frank Sinatra is the breezy bad-boy singer caught between older San Francisco aristocrat Rita Hayworth and chorus girl Novak. As she reveals in an interview included in this boxed set, Novak did not do her own vocals on the sultry "My Funny Valentine"--yet her winsome performance makes the song her own anyway. As for Sinatra's take on "The Lady Is a Tramp," well, there's no question whose for-the-ages vocal that is. After making Vertigo with James Stewart, Novak reunited with him for the fun Bell Book and Candle (1958), director Richard Quine's cocktail-era version of a hit play by John Van Druten. Talk about "bewitched": Stewart's a straight-arrow drawn into the world of Greenwich Village witchcraft, of which Novak, Jack Lemmon, and Elsa Lanchester are key practitioners. Middle of the Night (1959) was a project Novak fought for, a serious Paddy Chayefsky script about a 56-year-old garment exec (Fredric March) falling for a 24-year-old receptionist. The rueful tone, full of mortality and regret, is pure Chayefsky, and a de-glamorized Novak is very touching as a lost soul.
The handsome prints are accompanied by 10- to 20-minute interview segments between Novak and writer Stephen Rebello; she is not seen, except in long shots during a 10-minute backgrounder called "Backstage and at Home with Kim Novak." Some good anecdotes emerge during the interviews (including why she disdained brassieres and why she's "very much a fatalist"), and the low-voiced actress comes across as much feistier and franker than her screen image usually suggested. That image is neatly summed up in this iconic set. --Robert Horton
Reflections In The Middle of The Night
Backstage and At Home with Kim Novak
Select Scenes Commentary with Kim Novak and Author Stephen Rebello
Bewitched, Bothered and Beautiful
Top Customer Reviews
According to Columbia Classics official website, all five of these great Kim Novak films will be digitally remastered in their original aspect ratios. It is about time that these great classics get the restored film treatment that they deserve.
Jump to 2010. The various color-fade processes used to boost color back into dozens of films in the earlier
part of the 2000's have disappeared, replaced by the digital intermediate workflows that have been adapted and adopted over the last few years for film restoration.
So, instead of the trial and error approach of the previous work, we can now scan the faded original negative at a 4K resolution and work to digitally rebuild the colors that are missing from the film. Such is the case with two films we are currently working on in preparation for a new box set of films starring Kim Novak, Picnic and Bell Book and Candle. Both films suffer from severe fading in the original camera negative. Attempts over the last decade to restore these films using traditional means were only moderately successful. The digital restoration of these films, both shot by the great cinematographer James Wong Howe, ASC, will allow them to be shown as close to their original color as possible, in their proper formats (2.55:1 widescreen original CinemaScope in the case of Picnic.)
Along with Picnic and Bell Book and Candle, the new set will include the George Sidney production of Jeanne Eagels (a personal favorite of Ms. Novak), Pal Joey and the Paddy Chayefsky-written Middle of the Night, also starring Frederic March. Some are new to DVD, but all five have been newly-restored and remastered for this new set
The real gem for me - and this is, of course, subjective - was Middle of the Night (1959). Written by Paddy Chayefsky, and Directed by Delbert Mann this film (adapted from a stage play), brings back memories of "the Golden Age of Television Drama". Chayefsky and Mann are both TV veterans and Mann's direction uses camera angles that were developed in the live TV dramas of the 1950s. The stark black and white images are crisp and add to the period of this story of the New York Garment District. Frederic March gets most of the screen time and dialogue though he and Novak share the top billing.
The bonus features include a 15-minute audio interview of Novak with writer Stephen Rebello, with scenes from the film and publicity stills shown. We learn from this interview that, unlike most films, there were full run rehearsals (like a Broadway show) for two weeks before filming. And it shows.
Jeanne Eagles (1957) - also in black and white - was the other highlight for me. It follows a track similar to A Star Is Born, with Novak in the Judy Garland role and Jeff Chandler doing the James Mason part as a producer who discovers - and then marries - a new young actress and how their relationship changes when she becomes a bigger success than he.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great choice of movies. I was pleased "Jeanne Eagels" was included. A very good movie I had not seen before..Published 9 months ago by P. LUCCHESI
Fast delivery and He just loves the movies!! Thank you very much!! They have given him hours of pleasure.Published 11 months ago by Maggie Scheetz
This collection is heaven for Kim Novak fans like me....she never received the acclaim as an actress she deserved...... Read morePublished 12 months ago by jarcom
I never really feel convinced that Kim NOvak was all that great of an actress, yet I love her and all of her movies. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Anita Swillinger
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