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Vertigo -- Now The Eyebrows Make Sense

Updated on March 14, 2013

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most twisted movies has to be Vertigo. The first time I saw the ending, I didn’t know why there couldn’t have been a happy ending. Now with time, I can see it would never work. Every time I watch the movie, I’m always puzzled on why they had Kim Novak have these thick almost masculine eyebrows. If the movie hadn’t been able to pull you in, you might have been stuck just staring at those eyebrows, they were that distracting. Now after watching the documentary they had on the video of the making of Vertigo and seeing The Wrong Man, another Alfred Hitchcock movie, I think I know why Kim Novak had those eyebrows. If I’m right, the reason is almost as twisted as the movie itself.

Alfred Hitchcock originally wanted Vera Miles for the role of Madeline/Judy. Unfortunately, before filming started Miles announced she was pregnant and couldn’t do the part, so Kim Novak was cast instead. Anyway, while watching Vera Miles in The Wrong Man, I noticed Vera Miles these thick eyebrows that look natural on her face. That’s when I gasped, “My God, he was putting Vera Miles’ eyebrows on Kim Novak.” Hitchcock couldn’t have the actress he originally wanted for the part, so tried to morph Kim Novak into the actress he wanted for the part. Considering the theme of the movie, that’s an extremely creepy parallel.

In the movie, Jimmy Stewart’s character, Scottie, meets Judy, who is a dead ringer for his dead love, Madeline, and he starts making her over to look just like Madeline. And behind the scenes Alfred Hitchcock was trying to make over Kim Novak to look like Vera Miles, who he wanted for the part. It must have been great acting motivation for what Judy was going through, because in real-life Novak had someone doing to her what was being done to her character Judy. However, on an emotional level if Novak realized what Hitchcock was doing, it mustn’t have made working on the film pleasant. It might have also made her feel insecure because she wasn’t who he wanted for the role. It’s never a happy work environment when you’re made to feel you’re second best.

Kim Novak is a very beautiful woman and those eyebrows didn’t look right on her face. In fact, they diminished her beauty to a degree. The eyebrows looked like deformities on her face. They were so horrible you just couldn’t stop staring at them until you got drawn into the scene then you could forget about them.

The sad thing is considering the role of Madeline and Judy, I don’t think Vera Miles would have been right for the part. Miles had a very down-to-earth girl-next-door quality. She didn’t possess this sexuality that Kim Novak had, and to successfully play the part you needed that quality. While Hitchcock couldn’t let go of the fact that he wanted Miles in the part, fate allowed the right person to be cast in that part. I just don’t think Miles would have been believable as Madeline and Judy.


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