Now Playing! Kim Novak, America’s Sweetheart and Jimmy Stewart’s Nemesis

Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Vertigo.'

What becomes a legend most? Olivia de Havilland, you may have heard, is devoting much of her 11th decade on Earth to suing the producers of the F/X series Feud. Another centenarian, Kirk Douglas, keeps a much lower profile, as do the nonagenarians Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte (though look for the latter in BlackkKlansman) and the octogenarians Gene Hackman, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery and Shirley MacLaine. But you know which Hollywood Golden Ager still enjoys the limelight? Kim Novak.

Alfred Hitchcock’s iciest blonde object of obsession made a splash with an exhibition of her paintings at the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society’s 2012 fundraiser at the Old Mint. She returns to her favorite city this Sunday, May 20, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of her double-edged, two-faced tour de force, Vertigo. S.F.’s premiere star wrangler and silver-screen showman, Marc Huestis, has lined up singer Paula West and dancer Rory Davis to entertain the Castro crowd and salute Ms. Novak before she takes the stage for a spill-the-Tinseltown-beans interview with Noir City boss Eddie Muller.

Kim Novak in 'Vertigo.'
Kim Novak in 'Vertigo.'

There’s a movie on the bill, as well, set in a city on a hill, that stars Jimmy Stewart as a pathetic detective played for a sap by a beautiful dame (and her string-pulling husband). Stewart is balls-out brilliant – and downright terrifying, in a pivotal scene – in one of the most humiliating roles ever played by a star of the studio era. For her part, Ms. Novak, as first the enigmatic agent of his destruction and then the romantic opening for his return to civilization (for no place was more civilized than San Francisco in the ‘50s), is simply unforgettable.

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