Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Vertigo (1958).

Ver·ti·go [vur-ti-goh] noun: a dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being tilting or spinning surroundings

"I have acrophobia which gives me vertigo and I get dizzy. Boy, what a moment to find out I had it!"

IMDb Synopsis: A San Fransisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friends' wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Over the weekend, I (finally) sat down to watch the first film of my 2011 Resolutions list: Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo", starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Tom Helmore. 
Released in 1958, Vertigo was badly reviewed by critics, but is now considered to be Hitchcock's masterpiece.

Vertigo is a film of four different elements/genres: psychological thriller, film noir, mystery, and romance. The screenplay is based on a French novel, The Living and the Dead, by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.
(Credit Wikipedia.)


I thought Vertigo was amazing, and pure Hitchcock. I'll admit I even thought it was better than Rear Window (but Rear Window is still great!).

Some of the films' most significant scenes include the now-infamous Vertigo "zoom"- Hitchcock originally wanted to use this effect in "Rebecca" (1940), but technology at that time had not allowed him to do so. The effect was inspired by a time when Hitchcock fainted during a party. (Credit IMDb).

Vertigo literally had me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was watching it. I had no idea how it would turn out, and I'll admit that Madeleine's death at the church tower was the last thing I saw coming. I may now have a fear of nuns for the rest of my life.

The romance between Stewart and Novak's characters plays a main part in Vertigo. Their chemistry together was wonderful, which is why I was so shocked by Madeleine/Judy's death. I can't wait to watch them in Bell, Book, and Candle.

One of the best things about Vertigo is the direction and special effects. Of course, there's the special "zoom" effect that I noted before, but the classic Hitchcock direction is what makes this film so memorable.

I'm so glad I finally watched Vertigo. One of Hitchcock's best, and I recommend it to anyone.

Academy Awards, 1959:
Best Art Direction, Black-and-White or Color Nominee
Best Sound Nominee


  1. Absolutely agree! VERTIGO is definitely Hitchcock's masterpiece (and for the director of REAR WINDOW, PSYCHO, LIFEBOAT and a slew of others, this is no small feat).

  2. Vertigo for me to is Hitch's best. Masterpiece is the only word for it. He was incredible wasn't he for producing so many great films and yet able to seemingly top each one!