John "Scottie" Ferguson is a retired San Francisco police detective who suffers from acrophobia, and Madeleine is the lady who leads him to high places. A wealthy shipbuilder who is an acquaintance from college days approaches Scottie and asks him to follow his beautiful wife, Madeleine. He fears she is going insane, maybe even contemplating suicide, as he believes she has been possessed by a dead ancestor who committed suicide. Scottie is skeptical, but agrees to the assignment after he sees the beautiful Madeleine.Written by
For the German market, this movie was dubbed three times. For the original theatrical release in 1959 (by Paramount Pictures), for the re-release in 1984 (by Universal Pictures) and again in 1999 for the restoration (again by Universal Pictures). Only the 1999 version has been used on home video releases. See more »
In Ernie's restaurant there are two famous profile shots of Kim Novak; in the second shot however (shot later in production), there is noticeably less background scenery visible. See more »
An entirely new audio track was created for the 1996 re-release using modern recordings and mixed in DTS surround sound. New elements not present in the original film were added and several important details (such as creaky roof tiles) were omitted. This was the version used on all subsequent theatrical re-issues, home video releases and television broadcasts until 2012, when Universal made a DTS soundtrack retaining the original sound effects. See more »
When Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" opened in 1958, it had a cold reception by both critics and audience, and many even consider it a failure in his remarkable career. Even Hitchcock wondered about what went wrong and he blamed lead star James Stewart for the failure. What probably happened, was that this time, Hitchcock's usual walk on the dark side went a bit too far for the times.
"Vertigo", based on Pierre Boileau's novel "d'Entre Les Morts", is a dark tale of romance, obsessions and lies, all spiced up with the lead character's acrophobia. James Stewart is our protagonist, as Scottie, he plays a detective whose sudden retire from the police was caused by an accident involving his acrophobia, his fear of heights.
Hired by Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), a mysterious old friend from school; he accepts the mission of following Elster's wife, Madeline (Kin Novak), who supposedly is possessed by the ancient spirit of one of her ancestors, and that eventually will take her life. As Scottie tries to protect Madeline, he falls in love with her, starting a forbidden romance that is doomed from the start. After Scottie fails to save Madeline's life due to the vertigo caused by his acrophobia, his obsession with her take him to commit unexpected actions.
Boileau's complex story of obsession may had been too much for the critics and the audience of its time; and watching James Stewart going from a regular guy to a man bordering insanity certainly didn't help the film. Nevertheless, time has proved that "Vertigo" was indeed a powerful film undeserving of the cold reception it had.
James Stewart gives probably his best performance ever, the sudden fall from grace that eventually take its toll on Scottie is perfectly portrayed by Stewart. Hitchcock was really wrong at blaming James for the failing, as it was the audience who was not ready to see their hero turned into a grotesque monster.
Kim Novak plays his role with grace, although certainly her character is not as demanding as Stewart's. The movie is all about Scottie and his failed romance leading to the destruction of his life. This complex persona makes him one of the best fictional characters ever written, let alone portrayed on film.
The technical aspects of the movie are superb too, Hitchcock creates a brilliant composition of colors and the visuals are beautiful. Bernard Herrman's score is subtle but fitting, although not as powerful as his famous work on "Psycho".
If a flaw is to be found, I would say that the script developed for the film was probably not the most friendly for the audience. This film is certainly not for everyone, as it's slow pace and heavy darkness in the subject may turn off people familiar with Hitchcock's lighter films as his usual dark humor is not present here The only film I can relate to "Vertigo" in terms of harsh "darkness" would be "The Wrong Man"; although the big difference is, that in that film, the trouble is caused by outside forces, while in "Vertigo", we get a glimpse to that dark part of our soul we do not dare to watch.
The first time I watched it, I was not sure about what had just happened in front of my eyes, not sure if it was good or bad. After a second watch I guess this is of the kind of films that grow on you. Some consider it a failure and others consider it a masterpiece; my opinion stands closer to the latter: I call it a great piece of cinema. 9/10.
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