Saturday, September 12, 2009

VERTIGO (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock is definitely the favorite director of the 1001 movies list, with close to 20 entries!

I remember in the 1980’s The Screening Room in Atlanta showed several re-released Hitchcock movies, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, Rope, The Trouble with Harry and Vertigo. I believe I went to see them all at the time. Four of these films star Jimmy Stewart and Vertigo may be the most critically acclaimed of the bunch today. (Though I need to see Rear Window again!).

Seeing it again now in a restored version it is a meticulously plotted, suspenseful film, built nicely to a dramatic climax. If you think about the plot too much, the setting up of the acrophobic Scottie Ferguson through the death (?) of the woman he loves might be a little far-fetched, but it hardly ruins the movie.

When Scottie finds someone who resembles his lost love, he tries to recreate her to look or be like her. Is he being a bully? Obsessive? Or is it actually his lost love? Scottie’s recreation of Judy is one of the best parts of the film.

William Goldman mentions in one of his books that he finds Vertigo an overrated film, but doesn’t say why. My guess is that he’s not buying into the plot.“1001 Movies” also mentions that the plot contrivances caused the film to not be a critical success at the time of release.

Overall, I got caught up in the film this time as much as I have during previous viewings. Few films show off a city better than this film shows off San Francisco. And few directors utilize music better than Hitchcock (through Bernard Herrmann’s score).

Interesting supporting performance from a young Barbara Bel Geddes as Stewart’s frustrated gal pal Midge.

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