Novak was amazing in VERTIGO. She was perfectly cast for that film. I can’t imagine Vera Miles as Madeliene. Miles is a perfectly good actress, however, she just did not have that mysterious, carnal quality you can only get from Novak.
I can think of no actress of the late ’50s who could have embodied the dreamlike quality of Madeleine Elster. Novak was at once vulnerable, seductive, mysterious and enigmatic. Quite an accomplishment for a nervous young woman unsure of her talent. And then as Judy Barton she was, beneath her shopgirl persona, lost and lonely, longing for love and approval: “If I let you change me, will you love me?”
Even when Judy is Madeleine she seems to sense her own existential drift. When Scottie asks her where she is going, she answers, “Oh, just wandering about.” His offer to go with her evokes this ultimately sad recognition of her plight: “Only one is a wanderer. Two together are always going somewhere.”
One day soon I’d like to submit comments about Hitchcock’s unconscious motivations for doing Vertigo, if such critical perceptions can be permitted, and his reasons for ackowledging the reality of fraudulence at the heart of romantic love in the final scene.
“Quite an accomplishment for a nervous young woman unsure of her talent.”
Yes, this is so true. Novak gave a performance no one would have expected she would be capable of. From the seductive Madeleine to the needy Judy she showed a depth of talent never before revealed. Thanks for your excellent comments!!!
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