Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vertigo (a 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film)

Here's another one of those classics my husband thought I might enjoy. For once, I'm not sure.

Undeniably, it's well-done. As Nick says, there's an underlying note of tension throughout the movie, and I agree with him. The music and mystery set up the plot beautifully so that by the end you really have a feeling of dread.

James Stewart (of It's a Wonderful Life) and Kim Novak (I'm not familiar with her) star in Vertigo, a suspense/crime thriller about a retired detective recently diagnosed with acrophobia (a fear of heights he developed on his last case) who is hired to follow a friend's wife. The friend says he believes his wife becomes another person, is somehow inhabited by someone else, but he wants to make sure before he sends her to the loony bin. John Ferguson (James Stewart), against his better judgment, takes the case and is soon obsessed with the beautiful Madeleine (Kim Novak). She does, indeed, seem to have a fascination with a woman who's dead, sitting before her portrait in the museum, visiting her graveyard, seemingly unaware that she is doing so. When she tries to take her own life and John rescues her, he falls in love. But there's more to the story than John knows. He's being played, but it might be too late to recognize it.

Really, about half the movie is what I described above, and I can't tell you the other half without spoiling it, so I won't. Why am I not sure about this one? I thought the suspense was great. (And the movie's even in color!). I guess I just didn't like the pay-off. I expected something more, perhaps due to my husband's prodding that probably raised my expectations too high. Maybe I just like happy endings.

If you watch Vertigo, enjoy it for the suspense and the craft. Hitchcock truly is the master.

1 comment:

  1. You're not alone on this one, Natasha. The first time I watched this while in high school, I didn't like it as much as some other Hitchcock films I had seen because I got confused about what Jimmy Stewart's motivations were in the second half. When I got ready to watch it for class in film school, I thought I might get a different opinion about it since I now knew more what Hitchcock was going for.

    Wrong. I still don't like this movie. It's a creepy, unsettling, unfulfilling cinematic experience that I didn't find much enjoyment in. In my opinion, it's a film that asks a lot of its audience without giving much back. I can't rant much more without giving away key plot details, but suffice it to say, I found Vertigo a frustrating experience.


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