You Must Remember This: The Hard Hollywood Life of Kim Novak

A pilot for a new podcast … or, How I Spent My Spring Break.

What is this? This is the first edition of what I hope will be first a bi-weekly and then, come summer, a weekly podcast. Actually, it’s more like a series of audio historical storytelling essays which I plan to distribute as a podcast. Call it This American Life meets Hollywood Babylon (if you must), although my focus will be a bit wider than Kenneth Anger’s. I’m not solely or primarily interested in scandal, and I’m really excited about being able to draw from the whole of the 20th century, and from high and low and everything in between. Maybe one week I’ll talk about Theda Bara, and the next, Adrian Lyne. I really want to do a big research binge on David Blaine. I’m fairly sure the next episode will have to do with an album Frank Sinatra released in the ’80s. But we’ll see what happens. 

In this first episode — written, narrated, and edited by me, and featuring a guest appearance by Farran Nehme — we work back from Kim Novak’s appearance at the 2014 Academy Awards to trace the ways in which Novak has always been an outlier amongst Hollywood beauties. Briefly the biggest star in Hollywood, Novak’s career has always been defined by the tension between her well-crafted image, and her resistance to being crafted into something she was not.

Special thanks to Farran Nehme, and also to Meghan Lee, Noah Segan and Rian Johnson, who contributed to the making of this episode, and whose contributions ended up on the cutting room floor through no fault of their own. Also, big thanks to the crew who beta tested this episode. I got some really great feedback to take into consideration on future episodes. 

Please note! This episode is the result of my first ever attempt to do anything like this. I taught myself how to use Garage Band as I was making it. I consider it the pilot for what I want to do going forward, and in terms of the storytelling this it’s pretty close, but with every additional episode I hope to refine both the quality and the sophistication of the sound production and editing. Which is a way of saying, I know there are some audio issues here. This is never going to be a professional radio production, but it will get cleaner as I go along. 

Why am I doing this? Since August, most of my time has been occupied with finishing a bookpromoting another book, and teaching. What this amounts to is that I’ve spent a lot of 2014 either talking about work I did a year ago, or doing new writing and research that no one, outside of my editors and students, has yet been able to see. I started itching to do something that I could get out into the world relatively quickly. (That being said, this episode took about 10 days to produce. Much of that was occupied with teaching myself how to use Garage Band, so hopefully it will take less time in the future.)

Also, since I quit my job over a year ago, I’ve been struggling to find the right format and outlet for the kind of work I’m interested in doing. Mostly, this is my fault: increasingly, I’m not that interested in new movies, or in writing about them within the standard conventions of journalism. I’m much more interested in diving deep into weird corners of the past, and taking what I find and spinning it into something personal, and personalized.

So, I decided to create a space which could contain everything I’m interested in, and, at least for the moment, make it as DIY as possible, so that I can figure out what it is without wasting anyone else’s time or money. 

I am hungry for feedback, so please email me at karina dot longworth at gmail dot com if you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions. As I noted above, I didn’t how to make a podcast prior to the weekend before last, so there are clearly aspects of this that I could do better, and hopefully will do better in the future. But it’s a start. 

***Show Notes***

Bibliography

“Let’s Talk About Kim Novak” Farran Nehme, Selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com

“Kim Novak Returning to SF To Share Her Art” Ruthe Stein, SFGATE.com 

“Bell, Book and Scandal: Kim Novak and Sammy Davis Jr.” from The Bad and the Beautiful by Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair

Kim Novak: Reluctant Goddess by Peter Harry Brown

Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic by Dan Auiler

Spellbound by Beauty: Hitchcock and His Women by Donald Spoto

Audio sources

Hitchcock and Truffaut (and translator!) audio

Vertigo trailer

Novak speaking to British Film Institute

The Legend of Lylah Clare directed by Robert Aldrich

Picnic directed by Joshua Logan

 Yahoo! UK report on the Oscars

Songs:

“Perfect Neglect in a Field of Statues” by Eluvium

“Mademoiselle Mabry” by Miles Davis

“Life Round Here” by James Blake