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Vertigo
James Stewart and Kim Novak




Overview -
VERTIGO is Alfred Hitchcock's haunting tale of deception, madness, and death--a masterful exploration of fantasy and anxiety. The film ranks with REAR WINDOW as one of the director's most closely studied films for its psychological complexity, while the obsession of its protagonist--John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart)--can also be seen to parallel that of Hitchcock's own fascination with the icy-blonde leading lady he re-created at the center of so many of his films. Ferguson is a retired detective, his career ended by the onset of a paralyzing fear of heights. An old friend, the wealthy Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), hires Ferguson to follow his wife (Kim Novak), whom, he explains, has grown obsessed with an ancestor of hers. The assignment, however, draws Ferguson out of his comfortable role as observer and into a complex web of intrigue, mingled with the detective's own fantasies and fears. Stewart gives an exceptional performance as the disintegrating detective, while Novak, who was left largely undirected by Hitchcock, conveys a subtle and powerful psychological journey. Another star of the film is its San Francisco setting. VERTIGO is considered one of Hitchcock's most complex, finest films.

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More About Vertigo

 
 
 

Overview

VERTIGO is Alfred Hitchcock's haunting tale of deception, madness, and death--a masterful exploration of fantasy and anxiety. The film ranks with REAR WINDOW as one of the director's most closely studied films for its psychological complexity, while the obsession of its protagonist--John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart)--can also be seen to parallel that of Hitchcock's own fascination with the icy-blonde leading lady he re-created at the center of so many of his films. Ferguson is a retired detective, his career ended by the onset of a paralyzing fear of heights. An old friend, the wealthy Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), hires Ferguson to follow his wife (Kim Novak), whom, he explains, has grown obsessed with an ancestor of hers. The assignment, however, draws Ferguson out of his comfortable role as observer and into a complex web of intrigue, mingled with the detective's own fantasies and fears. Stewart gives an exceptional performance as the disintegrating detective, while Novak, who was left largely undirected by Hitchcock, conveys a subtle and powerful psychological journey. Another star of the film is its San Francisco setting. VERTIGO is considered one of Hitchcock's most complex, finest films.

Main Cast & Crew

Alfred Hitchcock - Director
James Stewart
Kim Novak
Barbara Bel Geddes
Tom Hellmore
Henry Jones
Raymond Bailey
Ellen Corby
Konstantin Shayne
Lee Patrick
Paul Bryar

 

Details

DVD Format
  • Format: DVD (Digital Copy)
  • Run Time: 128
  • Color Format: Color
  • UPC: 025192143342
  • Genre: Suspense
  • Rating: PG (MPAA)
  • Release Date: March 1998

Related Categories:
Movies > Dramas

Related Keywords:
Classic
Psychodrama
Suspense
Switching Roles
Thriller
Deception
Film Noir
Recommended
Theatrical Release
Essential Cinema

 

Movie Reviews

More Details

Synopsis:
A detective tails a cool, glamorous woman around the equally glamorous San Francisco of the 1950s; his fear of heights prevents him from saving her life. Obsessed with the dead woman, he stalks, meets, and manipulates a suspiciously similar-looking, if somewhat lower-class, woman, who inexplicably falls for him even though he demands she change her identity to match his fantasy. VERTIGO is an Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece, in Technicolor as lurid as its plot. The year 1996 saw the acclaimed rerelease of a restored, remastered version. The film is based on the novel D'ENTRE LES MORTS by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

Notes:
Hitchcock cameo: Hitchcock appears walking in the street about 10 minutes into the film. VERTIGO is number 61 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies. VERTIGO was an original selection to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989. VERTIGO, along with REAR WINDOW, THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, ROPE, and MR. AND MRS. SMITH, was unavailable for several years. It was rereleased in January 1984. Vera Miles, who also appeared in Hitchcock's THE WRONG MAN and PSYCHO, was originally slated to play the role of Madeleine but had to bow out when she became pregnant just prior to production. Allegedly, Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac wrote their novel in hopes that Hitchcock would purchase it for adaptation. James Katz and Robert Harris led an ambitious $1 million restoration of the film. They created a new preservation negative in 65mm from all the film's original large-format elements. Instead of reduction printing in 35mm, however, they transferred it to 70mm--something done for the first time ever--which has been called Super VistaVision 70. They re-created the movie frame by frame, adding new sound effects, remixing the score, and redoing the title sequence digitally. This restored version was shown at the New York Film Festival October 4 & 5, 1996. It was released theatrically in New York City October 6, 1996. Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE) said about VERTIGO, "I got to thinking that Stewart's character is actually quite a fake. If he had been played by John Malkovich, the whole thing would have been different."

Reviews:
"...Alfred Hitchcock took universal emotions, like fear, guilt and lust, placed them in ordinary characters, and developed them in images more than in words....A great film..." - 10/13/1996 Chicago Sun-Times, p.5


"...Widely regarded as Alfred Hitchcock's greatest film and certainly his most disturbing..." - 03/28/1997 USA Today, p.3D


"...An unexpectedly personal tale of obsession..." - 01/11/2002 Entertainment Weekly, p.30


"[T]he best movie ever made about romantic obsession..." - 09/07/2004 USA Today, p.4D


5 stars out of 5 -- "Drenched in suspense and dipped in a dollop of despair, nothing is what it seems..." - 02/01/2007 Total Film, p.48


5 stars out of 5 -- "Authentically scary, sexy and disturbing." - 12/01/2008 Empire, p.211

 

BAM Customer Reviews