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Vertigo [1958 film] by Alfred Hitchcock

Vertigo [1958 film]

by Alfred Hitchcock (Director), Alec Coppel (Screenwriter), Kim Novak, Samuel A. Taylor (Screenwriter)

Other authors: Barbara Bel Geddes (Actress), Tom Helmore (Actor), Bernard Herrmann (Composer), James Stewart (Actor)

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Vertigo (1958)

James Stewart – John “Scottie” Ferguson
Kim Novak – Madeleine Elster / Judy Barton
Barbara Bel Geddes – Midge Wood
Tom Helmore – Gavin Elster

Screenplay: Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor, based on the novel D’Entre Les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

Colour. 129 min.


This is a well-deserved classic with but two flaws. Two very serious flaws! The first is that an essential part of the mystery is revealed, in a flashback, full half an hour before the end. This is a fundamental dramatic mistake. I don’t know why Hitchcock allowed it (if he could prevent it). I don’t understand why the screenwriters wrote it in the first place (if they did). Maybe a third party unfortunately interfered? You tell me. That flashback would surely have worked so much better in the end. The other flaw is the very end itself. It is as contrived and lurid as they come. It is much too sudden and it feels like something put there just for the sake of increasing the body count. It is thoroughly unconvincing. The tragic outcome is implied in the dialogue. We don’t need another corpse to confirm it. These flaws aside, this is as intense, atmospheric and gripping a mystery as you would expect from Hitchcock, beautifully shot in glorious colour (San Francisco has never looked better on the screen!), and with outstanding performances by the great Jimmy Stewart, the ravishing Kim Novak and the rather sinister Barbara Bel Geddes (twenty years before Dallas). ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Aug 28, 2017 |
A retired cop is hired to follow a woman whose husband claims she’s possessed.

Suspenseful, fairly unique, and unmistakably 1958. It’s kind of two different movies, one after the other. About two thirds of the way through the film, the first story comes to a climax, things twist around, and a new story starts in a different direction. The first time I saw it, that bothered me a lot, and I wasn't really able to get into the second story. Watching it a second time, it's like a completely different movie. The first section now seems like prolonged set-up to the second section - which, now that I'm not distracted by having the rug pulled out by Stewart's miscasting, I can appreciate as having some of Hitchcock's strongest moments.

Concept: B
Story: B
Characters: B
Dialog: B
Pacing: B
Cinematography: A
Special effects/design: B
Acting: B
Music: A

Enjoyment: A

GPA: 3.3/4 ( )
1 vote comfypants | Jan 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hitchcock, AlfredDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coppel, AlecScreenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Novak, Kimmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Taylor, Samuel A.Screenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bel Geddes, BarbaraActresssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Helmore, TomActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrmann, BernardComposersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, JamesActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com (ISBN 0783226055, DVD)

Although it wasn't a box-office success when originally released in 1958, Vertigo has since taken its deserved place as Alfred Hitchcock's greatest, most spellbinding, most deeply personal achievement. In fact, it consistently ranks among the top 10 movies ever made in the once-a-decade Sight & Sound international critics poll, placing at number 4 in the 1992 survey. (Universal Pictures' spectacularly gorgeous 1996 restoration and rerelease of this 1958 Paramount production was a tremendous success with the public, too.) James Stewart plays a retired police detective who is hired by an old friend to follow his wife (a superb Kim Novak, in what becomes a double role), whom he suspects of being possessed by the spirit of a dead madwoman. The detective and the disturbed woman fall ("fall" is indeed the operative word) in love and...well, to give away any more of the story would be criminal. Shot around San Francisco (the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of the Legion of Honor are significant locations) and elsewhere in Northern California (the redwoods, Mission San Juan Batista) in rapturous Technicolor, Vertigo is as lovely as it is haunting. --Jim Emerson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Scottie Ferguson, a San Francisco police detective is forced to retire when a freak accident gives him a severe case of acrophobia. Ferguson is hired by a rich shipbuilder to follow his wife who is behaving suspiciously and might be planning suicide. He falls in love with her, she is later murdered and Ferguson becomes demonic in his desire to re-create her in another woman.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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