Alfred Hitchcock's Revenge
I'm watching the DVD set of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, a half-hour suspense show from the 1950s, where many fine actors (and starlets) got their start. Hitchcock himself introduces each episode in his droll and mischievous tone, which is often hilarious. He sometimes tells the audience the name of the writer; can you imagine anyone in Hollywood today actually acknowledging the contributions of a gifted writer? With the commercials cut out, each episode is about 24 minutes long, quite engrossing, and in glorious black and white. I believe they were filmed on real film then. Alfred Hitchcock directed some of them himself. The first episode of the first season is called Revenge and features actress Vera Miles. She was also in Hitchcock's The Wrong Man with Henry Fonda, one of my favorite Hitchcock films. (Everyone else raves about Vertigo, To Catch a Thief, and North by Northwest, but my favorites are The Wrong Man, Notorious, and Blackmail.) Revenge was made in 1954; The Wrong Man was in production shortly after that. Interestingly, Vera Miles' characters suffer nervous breakdowns in both of them.
As detailed in Donald Spoto's book The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, the fat man was a very strange person. He was a bit of a sadist and a bit of a perv. He was fixated with mothers, bathrooms, blondes, shoes, guilt, body parts, and women's hair. Somewhere between his obsessions with actresses Madeleine Carroll, Ingrid Bergman, and Grace Kelly and his later obsessions with Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, and Tippi Hedren, he was fixated on Vera Miles. He wanted her for the female lead in Vertigo, but Vera got pregnant and couldn't play the part. Hitchcock settled for Kim Novak instead. (Note: Many Hitchcock scholars and film school analysts debate Spoto's view of the director's life, but I am neither a scholar nor an analyst. So screw 'em.) Anyway, Vera Miles was an interesting actress. Hitchcock must have thought so, too, because the Revenge episode features a long pan shot of her sunbathing. Here is a composite photo of the pan shot.