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The Camera LiesActing for Hitchcock$
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Dan Callahan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197515327

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197515327.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 July 2021

The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie

The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie

(p.190) 14 The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie
The Camera Lies

Dan Callahan

Oxford University Press

In the six masterpieces in a row that Hitchcock made from 1957 to 1964, the Master drew extraordinary work from every actor in his casts. He carefully molded the performance of Vera Miles as a wife who succumbs to depression in The Wrong Man (1957), rehearsing with her over and over again so that the scale of her work would be exactly right, and he let Henry Fonda “do nothing” in this picture in a super-controlled way that ranks with Judith Anderson’s Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca for ambiguous expressiveness under a tightly unyielding surface. Kim Novak gave perhaps the ultimate tensile and contrasting Hitchcockian performance in a dual role in Vertigo, and Novak was matched in that film by James Stewart and Barbara Bel Geddes, both of whom cleanly plumbed the deep pain of their respective characters. Hitchcock worked one more time with Cary Grant for North by Northwest (1959) and brought the Grant persona to its latter-day apotheosis, especially in the love scenes with a somber and very carnal Eva Marie Saint. The Master patiently and closely directed Janet Leigh in Psycho, even sitting off camera and reading the lines her character Marion Crane was supposed to be thinking as she drove to her doom at the Bates Motel. And then Hitchcock controlled the work of Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Marnie, and they both achieved his ideal of maximum expressiveness with minimal means before he crossed a line off screen and their working relationship deteriorated.

Keywords:   Vera Miles, Kim Novak, Psycho, Vertigo, Norman Bates

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