Vertigo (1958)

VERTIGO (1958)
Article #797 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-20-2003
Posting Date: 10-17-2003
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Featuring James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara bel Geddes

An ex-detective suffering from acrophobia is asked by a friend to tail his wife, who he believes may be possessed by the spirit of a woman who committed suicide.

Title check: Since the title refers both to the detective’s illness as well as to the somewhat giddy and queasy nature of the story, I would say the title is very apt.

I saw this movie for the first time years ago after endlessly hearing how great it was, and I was less than thrilled. Now, watching it many years later with more realistic expectations (and even more significantly, a greater sense of just what the movie is about), I can see it and enjoy it for what it is. Hitchcock’s direction is, as always, exquisite; I like in particular how he can use background noises and visuals to highlight and intensify the characters actions and emotions, and Bernard Herrman’s score is equally up to the task. It could be argued that this really doesn’t belong to the realm of fantastic cinema, since the possession angle turns out to have a more mundane explanation, but it plays such a powerful role in the first half of the movie that I for one have no desire to object to the movie’s inclusion on these grounds. Kudos to the whole cast, though I was especially impressed with both Stewart and Barbara Bel Geddes as his long-suffering girlfriend, who vanishes from the story much too early.

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