Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart (John “Scottie” Ferguson), Kim Novak (Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton), Barbara Bel Geddes (Midge Wood)
Genre: Mystery – Romance
James Stewart embodies Scottie, a San Francisco detective who suffers from acrophobia (fear of heights). After retiring due to his impediment, he comes across and old aquaintance that asks Scottie to investigate his wife Madeleine, claiming she’s possesed. Scottie doesn’t believe this but accepts the job anyway. As he follows her movements closely and digs more into her story, he starts wondering if she isn’t in fact possesed. Is she? Or is there another explanation? One way or the other, this story will unravel in a way no one imagines.
It is undeniable that Hitchcock had a great talent as a director. But apart from that, he seems to have had a sixth sense for choosing just the right stories for his movies. Vertigo is a good example of this. The book on which it’s based, D’entre les morts (Boileau-Narcejac), provided him with a very intelligent and original plot. I was engaged in it from the beginning, wondering what would happen next and how on Earth such a complicated story would end. And then, just as I started to think there was no possible solution to the problem in the movie, the perfect ending came. Ironic, shocking and perfect. It was there that I realized I was in front of a real masterpiece.
This story was also an oportunity for Hitchcock to experiment with innovative filming techniques. He played with light, colours and blurring, he added a bit of animation in a dream sequence, and he used the Dolly zoom to represent the sensation of vertigo. Some of these cinematic techniques may look laughable nowadays, but when you remember that the movie was made more than half a century ago, you start to judge it differently.
Another remarkable aspect in this film is the music. It was in charge of Bernard Herrmann, who collaborated in many other Hitchcock movies, including the legendary soundtrack from Psycho. The score from Vertigo is brilliant as well, as it increases the suspense and helps create the expected atmosphere. And whenever you listen to that music again, you’ll always remember the movie it comes from.
One of the things I like most about Vertigo is the cast, and that’s mostly because of James Stewart. I just love that man. I saw him for the first time in Hitchcock’s Rear Window (great movie, by the way), and was absolutely marvelled by him. But apart from being so charming, he is a splendid actor. His best scene in this movie is in my opinion, the one at the end, when he’s seized with uncontrollable rage. Luckily for me and any other who likes Jimmy Stewart, he starred in a lot of famous classics, so it’s quite accesible to see more of him. His love interest in the movie was played by Kim Novak, whose performance is not precisely brilliant, but not any bad either. According to what I’ve read, negative reception to the movie at the moment of its release was in part due to the big difference of age between Stewart and Novak. He dobbled her age, since she was 25 and he 50 when they filmed Vertigo. However, this was not a problem to me, since I felt the relationship between them was quite convincing.
I loved every bit of this movie, and I was absorbed in it from beginning to end. Not only did I enjoy Stewart’s performance, but also a smartly wrapped story under the superb direction of Alfred Hitchcock. Vertigo is, in my view, one of the best movies ever made. ☜
Watch the trailer ↓
This is a fan made trailer, which I like more than the original since it doesn’t say too much about the story. The trailer from 1958 has some spoilers, so if I were you, I’d skip it until I watch the movie.
– Written by GuadiRC –