August 11, 2005
OH, THE THEME SHOULD HAVE BEEN LAMB! Remember the best episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" where the woman kills her husband by clubbing him with a frozen leg of lamb, then thaws it out, roasts it, and feeds it to the cops, who are looking for but can't find the murder weapon? The woman was played by Barbara Bel Geddes. RIP. (Side note: that episode was written by Roald Dahl.) Bel Geddes also touched many hearts with her performance in "Vertigo," as the woman who was not mysteriously glamorous (like Kim Novak). She's quintessentially not sexy. We first see her, in Scene 1, discussing a bra with Jimmy Stewart:
What's this doohickey?
It's a brassiere! You know about those things, you're a big boy now.
I've never run across one like that.
It's brand new. Revolutionary up-lift: No shoulder straps, no back straps, but it does everything a brassiere should do. Works on the principle of the cantilevered bridge.
Later Jimmy will have a hot scene under a bridge, but with Kim, not Barbara.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
I first saw Vertigo when I was in high school in the 70s. I found it simply incomprehensible then (and still do today) that anyone (any male, I guess I should say) would have preferred Kim Novak to Barbara Bel Geddes. Not that anyone would turn their nose up at Novak (as if!); it’s just that Midge was so, so, so ... hot. Those red glasses, her voice, the way she carried herself. It wasn’t a hot cha-cha-cha kind of thing; it was an understated attractiveness. You knew that if you had BBG as your girlfriend (as if!) she would be *yours* and not run off with the next guy along who was taller or better looking or richer or something (the way you knew Novak would). She was *solid*
Which is a long-winded way of saying (politely, I hope) that you are wrong, oh so wrong, when you say that BBG was “quintessentially not sexy”. I know, sexiness is in the eye of the beholder, but you’re wrong.
Aw! Half of this email reminds me of that cool old Jimmy Soul song "If You Wanna Be Happy"
and half of it seems to express a genuine preference for a nice, hardcore nerdgirl.