PATRICIA HITCHCOCK O'CONNELL,
daughter of Alfred Hitchcock, recently spoke
about the restoration of
and about her father to HBO Entertainment
News in New York:
I think the film was before its time. It's got all sorts of fears and
phobias, and this is what people want to see today. It was not successful
[in 1958]. It was moderately, but not like
The Birds. And it's
interesting what especially all the younger peple are going to see in it
[today]. I think they're going to love it. I really do.
It was adapted from a French story called "From Amongst the Dead," and I've
heard recently that the French authors wrote it hoping my father would make
it as a picture.
He made his pictures for the audience. He didn't make them for the critics.
And yes, he was upset if critics didn't like the picture. But his main
reason for making the picture was for the audience. He was making it for you.
We're always asked the same old question - why did he say actors are cattle?
He said, "I didn't say actors are cattle, I said actors should be treated as
cattle"! This thing about, is he really sadistic on the set? His sets were
wonderful. Because he'd already made that movie. He knew what that movie
was going to look like. He took a finished script, then drew every shot. So
that when he stepped on that set, he knew exactly what that was going to look
like. He never looked through a camera.
- - - - - - - - - -
also spoke to HBO Entertainment News at the New York premiere of
Vertigo in early October:
There's a strange deja vu with
Vertigo felt not just by the people in it,
but the people who see it. It's almost like you've been there before, and of
course, I have been here before!
|James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo|
It was not highly successful. In fact, [when] I did it, I was under
contract [to Columbia] and they loaned me out, and Harry Cohn called me into
the office and said, "Well, this is a lousy script, but it's with Alfred
Hitchcock, and he's a master, so why not? I'll let you do this movie." And I
read the script, I loved it, because I really identified with the characters
and saw so much in it.
I feel that it showed more of me than anything. I feel I was also allowed
the most freedom I've ever had, by Alfred Hitchcock, who supposedly treats
actors like cattle. It was a great experience to have someone who really
knew about the technical part, and allow me the freedom to bring something to
it. So I feel I was allowed to do my best work in some way.
I was a new actor, I didn't have a lot of experience, so for me it was so
great to be able to have someone give me the technical points that he wanted,
so that I was free not to worry about that, all I had to do was be Madeleine
and Judy, and that wasn't complicated for me, because being more than one
person feels absolutely normal to me! (laughs)
- - - - - - - - - -
The team that restored Vertigo,
James Katz and Robert Harris, spoke with me
in Los Angeles.
Why was this restoration done now?
The negative was extremely faded, the original soundtracks
had been junked in 1967...and we had just found while we were working on
My Fair Lady
the original three-track and mono recordings, Bernard Herrmann's
recordings for the music score in Paramount's vaults. They hadn't done
preservation on them, but thank God they saved them. And they were extremely
rotted. We did preservation on them here, and once we heard those, we knew
we had to do this film and do it now. Because those tracks, that score, is
as it's never been heard before.
As it stands now, the Bernard Herrmann score is the third star,
or fourth star, of the film. And once we realized the quality of the
recordings we had, we had to digitize the dialogue tracks, we lost the foley
and the effects tracks, and subsequently had to redo those, using the
original tracks as a map. It was a major decision on our part, because the
sound is so prominent now, but along with the 70 millimeter picture it works
really well. I think it's a great marriage between the 1958 film and modern
was shot in Vistavision, a negative twice the size of 35
millimeter. It lends itself perfectly to 70 millimeter. It's really being
seen [now] in large format the way it was photographed, the size it was
photographed, for the first time in 38 years. There are things you're going
to see in this film that have never been seen before. You can see details -
I'll give you one example. When Judy steps [across her apartment toward
Ferguson] as Madeleine once again, you see the muscles in her cheeks
twitching and her lips moving, and you could not see that in 35 millimeter.
It's also the first time that audiences will see a huge bruise on Kim
Novak's knee as Jimmy Stewart pulls her out of San Francisco Bay!
You had to re-record sound effects...
As we're reworking the sound, it's with Hitchcock's dubbing notes,
knowing exactly what he wanted on a reel by reel basis, a shot by shot basis.
We know for example that Benny Herrmann didn't want sound effects over his
music. He went crazy if you put effects over them. We did a test back in
April just to see how it would sound, and we put new wave effects as they're
driving towards the bridge, and we said "Nah, he wouldn't be happy!" Then we
screened it for Marty Scorsese at the Ziegfeld [in New York] in June, and he
said, "No. I worked with him on Taxi Driver, you better take down those wave
You're probably aware that
Vertigo was the 1958 musician's guild strike
picture. Bernard Herrmann didn't conduct himself. It couldn't be done in
Hollywood, so it was taken to London with Muir Mathieson conducting, and they
did about a day and a half there, then the London orchestra went out in
sympathy with the Los Angeles musicians. And the entire unit had to move to
Vienna. It was done in three-track stereo in London - incredible sound - and
monoural in Vienna. And each of the magnetic oxide, the mag prints, rotted
differently. And we lost one scene from Vienna, which is the cemetary
sequence where Jimmy is following Kim through the Mission Dolores. We
finally found that [music] on a Spanish language print from an optical track.
The sound department here at Universal made it sound great, and we're able
to spread it and make it sound rich and full. I don't think you'd ever know
it came off an old optical print.
We mixed the picture at the Hitchcock theater [at Universal] and ghosts
abound. It's like having these people there, and we're not going to mess
with them. We have a moral responsibility to them, to make the picture
bigger and better than it was, without changing the intent of the picture.
The picture has color that it hasn't had in 30 years. And it still has
warts. We weren't able to do everything. But compared [with the 1984
reissue] this is night and day.
When it comes to color, we have a lot of problems...because the
original prints were in dye color Technicolor, that look totally different
from the Eastmancolor we use today. We can't recreate that color in
Eastmancolor, it just doesn't work...in order to find out if we're reaching
the color at all that's in the original negative, we find references, and
this... [holds up actual green sweater and skirt Novak wore as "Judy"]...this
gives us the color green that was photographed, so we know where we're going.
[Note: the dress had been rented as a film costume for over 30 years after
Vertigo, as recently as The Brady Bunch Movie!]
Audiences are going to see a film that Hitchcock never saw. They're
going to see a 70 millimeter DTS version of a 1958 classic. People who think
they've seen the film haven't seen the film. We hope audiences that don't
know how it ends will come and see this version. It looks as good as this
picture has in 30 years.
Copyright © 1996 by Steven C. Smith.|
Film poster and still copyright © 1958 by Paramount/Universal.
All rights reserved.