Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Devil's Work


"I could tell by the way he acted that Marty Ransohoff, the producer of Eye of the Devil, was...in love with [Kim Novak]. Kim refused to be under his control and had just run off and married Richard Johnson, her co-star in her previous film. Marty suddenly canceled all of the expensive costumes I had designed. He told me, 'Take her to the May Company [a low-priced department store] and get her some clothes off the rack.'" -- Costume designer Vicky Tiel

Kim Novak in Kiss Me Stupid (MGM, 1964)
"I can't recall what Marty said to upset Kim, or if it justified her reaction, but I have an indelible vision of her stubbing out a cigarette in his one good eye..." -- Co-star David Hemmings

"Kim Novak's back injury has forced the suspension of shooting on her current movie...The $3,000,000 production was only a few days from completion...Miss Novak said she injured her back in a riding accident while on location shooting for the movie...Reports circulated that MGM is looking for a replacement for Miss Novak." -- Associated Press, November 26, 1965



"Deborah Kerr is to take over the role that Kim Novak was unable to complete in the $3 million film Eye of the Devil..." -- Associated Press, November 29, 1965

"I hoped they might be able to suspend production until I was well enough to return, but it seems that [co-star] David Niven and [director] Lee Thompson have commitments that make that impossible..." -- Kim Novak to the Associated Press, December 14, 1965

"A horrid lady..." -- David Niven's comment about Kim Novak in a letter to a friend


Julie Andrews [the producers' original choice to replace Novak] in Star! (20th Century Fox, 1968)
Deborah Kerr in Eye of the Devil (MGM, 1966)

9 comments:

  1. This is actually scheduled to show on TCM later this month for the first time I've ever seen it available. Already planned to catch it because of the cast but with this bit of extra backstory I'm more intrigued than ever!

    Speaking of the cast, today TCM showed that unusual short film, All Eyes on Sharon Tate. Surely meant as a promotional for both Sharon and Eye of the Devil, that was what she was working on at the time and they reference it frequently with snippets and brief interviews with Niven and others watching it is a poignant experience since she talks so hopefully of the future. How beautiful and full of promise she was.

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  2. I wondered what the story behind EYE OF THE DEVIL was (the film was thrown away here in the UK as a supporting feature, despite its two beautiful ingenues - Hemmings and Tate, both blonde angels - about to become '60s icons, (Hemmings with BLOW-UP). Hemmings in his entertaining memoirs stated that he had a brief fling with Kim, before she walked off the film. (He later directed her in his JUST A GIGOLO with Bowie & Dietrich (I love how their scene is filmed and cut with him in Berlin and Marlene in Paris, for her final moments on film). Kim though is an odd choice as Niven's wife in this French based drama - presumably Niven got his old pal Deborah cast - I wonder if they had to reshoot much. The movie itself is an entertaining time-waster, one of the 4 Niven and Kerr did together.

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    1. The initial casting of Novak IS indeed a head scratcher, but it -- and her subsequent withdrawal (and most latter day accounts have her being fired, with her injury used to save face) probably stem from the producer's lust for her, and their eventual blow up. Certainly, it's odd to have two such similar, beautiful leading ladies (Novak and Tate) in the same film. Deborah Kerr provides greater contrast, and one can certainly believe her as Mrs. David Niven more easily than believing Novak!

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  3. I will check this out on TCM later this month. Thanks for the heads-up! I have seen the "All Eyes on Sharon Tate" short film, and agree that it is a poignant experience.

    I wonder how many more scenes Kim had to film when she left. If it was only a few days from completion, I would think they could have worked around that and make a few adjustments. Of course, if there were still some pivotal scenes with her left to film, they would not have been able to do that. It must have cost them a pretty penny to have all her scenes refilmed with Deborah in her place.

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    1. Because the official story was that Novak was injured during filming, I believe the producers were able to get the insurance company to take the hit for the cost of refilming. Apparently, Novak had completed at least 80% of her scenes, so the film basically had to be completely reshot. It was in production in 1965 but didn't get its full release until 1967.

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    1. Eye of The Devil is a dark, peculiar film, and I think Deborah Kerr is superior to Kim Novak in every way.

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  5. Brace yourselves for a different voice coming out of Sharon's gorgeous mouth. That was jarring in the extreme for me when I saw it, but it was an interesting movie anyway.

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  6. Yes, it began in 1965, but by the time it was eventually released David Hemmings was the hot new start as BLOW-UP was the sensation of the time. MGM cut their losses with EYE OF THE DEVIL and released it as the lower part of a double feature on general release, here in the UK at any rate.

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