Movie Stars: Novak, Kim–“Lavender Blonde” of the 1950s

Kim Novak Collection: Five Classics Starring the “Lavender Blonde” of the 1950s

The Collection Includes Two Films Making Their DVD Debuts: Jeanne Eagels and Middle of the Night, and Three of Her Most Noteworthy Performances: Picnic, Pal Joey and Bell Book and Candle

One of the most beautiful and talented stars to emerge from the studio era in the 1950s, Kim Novak has made an indelible mark on the cinema, and in the hearts of film fans all over the world.

The Kim Novak Collection, featuring five of Novak’s best-known films, fully restored and remastered, including two new to DVD. The must-have collection includes Jeanne Eagels with Jeff Chandler and Middle of the Night with Fredric March (each making their DVD debuts), as well as the Novak classics Picnic with William Holden and Rosalind Russell; Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth; and Bell Book and Candle with James Stewart and Jack Lemmon.

The Kim Novak Collection also features rare archival photographs of Kim Novak on set and at work on her most popular films as she shares her personal stories in newly recorded intimate conversations with author Stephen Rebello. Rediscover Miss Novak: one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever grace the screen. The Kim Novak Film Collection will be available as a three-disc set for $39.95 SRP.

Kim Novak

Kim Novak is a true original, with her sultry good looks and smoky voice, her earliest film roles seared the screen and brought her almost instant stardom.  Born Marilyn Pauline Novak on February 13, 1933, she was raised in Chicago, and by 18 years of age she’d accepted a scholarship at the prestigious Chicago Art Institute.  Her dream of become an artist now a reality, she took a summer job as a model that accidentally placed her in Hollywood where she signed a studio contact in early 1954.

From 1954-1962, Kim Novak was the reigning goddess at Columbia Pictures, but she was named the No. 1 Worldwide Box Office Star three years in a row.

Novak appeared in more than a dozen films, each role and performance richly varied — which may be why she is also one of Hollywood’s most mysterious and indefinable actresses. Blonde and beautiful, she exuded a daunting combination of intelligence and passion, which was echoed in her best-known performance in Hitchcock’s Vertigo.   The dual roles in that film suggest the range of Novak’s career: cool, calculating and enigmatic one moment, and warm, willing and vulnerable the next.  Novak’s mystique is in part due to her well-guarded private life, which kept her away from Hollywood, while leaving audiences wanting more.

Her first role for Columbia was a star turn playing opposite Fred MacMurray in Pushover (1954, available in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume II DVD collection), and she quickly played lead roles in Phffft (1954, available on DVD in The Jack Lemmon Film Collection) and 5 Against the House (1955, available in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I DVD collection).

With her role in the smash hit Picnic (1955) Novak found herself the hottest sex symbol, a title she wore with discomfort. Unlike other similar stars, Novak was pragmatic and did not lose herself in the glamour of the studio’s carefully manufactured blonde bombshell image of her. Despite her dislike of such publicity chores as providing “cheesecake” shots for the press, and going out on studio arranged “dates” to keep her name in print, she was a trooper and toed the company line.

Novak was cast in a string of box office hits, including The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) with Tyrone Power, Jeanne Eagels (1957), and Pal Joey (1957), before landing her most famous role, opposite Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo, on loan to Paramount.  On returning to Columbia, she was reunited with Stewart for the charming romantic comedy, Bell Book and Candle (1958). She made only three more films for Columbia — Middle of the Night (1959), Strangers When We Meet (1960), and The Notorious Landlady (1962, available on DVD in The Jack Lemmon Film Collection).

Favoring privacy to celebrity, she left Hollywood at the height of her fame in 1966 to live in Big Sur.

Determined to define own her career, her screen appearances became rare: Robert Aldrich’s The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), Tales That Witness Madness (1973), Just a Gigolo (1979) and The Mirror Crack’d (1980) with Angela Lansbury, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.

After a stint on the TV series “Falcon Crest” during the 1986-7 season, she turned down most offers, opting to live away from Hollywood, on a ranch with her veterinarian husband.

Picnic (1955)

Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play, director Joshua Logan insisted on filming on location in Kansas for this slice-of-life story, which was a sensational popular and critical success. Photographed in CinemaScope by the great James Wong Howe, the ravishingly sensual color serves to highlight one of the central themes: desire. Novak is featured in an all-star cast with William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Cliff Robertson and Susan Strasberg. Picnic has a running time of 113 minutes and is rated PG mild language and thematic elements.

Jeanne Eagels (1957)

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.  Jeanne Eagles has a running time of 108 minutes and is not rated.

Pal Joey (1957)

In this adaptation of the Broadway musical, based on the writing of John O’Hara, Kim Novak is Linda English, the chorus girl who vies for the attention of Frank Sinatra, as Joey, against the sultry and sophisticated Vera Simpson (Rita Hayworth). Directed by George Sidney with music from Rodgers and Hart, Novak shines as the catnip that is just ever slightly out of Joey’s reach.  Pal Joey has a running time of 111 minutes and is not rated.

Bell Book and Candle (1958)

A charming romance featuring James Stewart as a publisher and bachelor who finds himself literally under the spell of Gillian Holroyd (Novak), his entrancing downstairs Greenwich Village neighbor. Gillian is a bit bored with her life as a witch and desires a more normal existence, despite the disapproval of her unorthodox brother (Jack Lemmon) and Aunt (Elsa Lanchester). Ernie Kovacs also co-stars in this wonderfully atmospheric and humorous adaptation of the original play. Bell Book and Candle has a running time of 106 minutes and is not rated.

Middle of the Night (1959)

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. Middle of the Night has a running time of 118 minutes and is not rated.


All New Special Features Include:

Featurette: “Kim’s Hollywood Picnic”

 Featurette: “Back Stage and At Home with Kim Novak”
Featurette: “Bewitched, Bothered and Blonde”
Featurette: “Reflections in the Middle of the Night”
Select Scene Commentary on Jeanne Eagles with Kim Novak and author Stephen Rebello
Select Scenes Commentary on Pal Joey with Kim Novak and author Stephen Rebello
Original Trailers