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Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO
Posted: September 22nd, 2007, 6:10 pm
This one Hitchcock movie, more than any other, seems to strike people very differently. Either they love it or hate it---with the critics mostly loving it. For once I agree with them, even if many of the things read into have still escaped me and though there are some scenes I don't understand.
For me, it is Hitchcock's most deeply romantic, shimmeringly melancholic movie. For others, James Stewart's "Scottie Ferguson" is weird---for me, he is tragic. And it's the only time Jimmy has ever elicited so much compassion from me for one of his characters. Not even in It's a Wonderful Life did I feel as much empathy, maybe because that character was sounder, but not Scottie. Scottie wasn't always responsible for himself or his actions. Maybe that's why control became so important to him after he met "Madeleine's" double.
It's a movie about falling. Falling from heights, as we do in love, and falling for a terrible trick.
Let me know your thoughts, good bad or indifferent about Vertigo---and whether or not you think it was the master's "masterpiece".
Posted: September 22nd, 2007, 8:15 pm
Many images from Vertigo will always float in and out of my conscious mind because the first time I saw this movie was late at night with my Mom when I was about 5/6. The vision of the tower, the staircase, and the confusion about who was real and who wasn't still creates an anxiety about the difficulties of the adult world that still perplex me from time to time, even though I've viewed this movie several times since then. I think Vertigo is a cinematic question mark about the paths our lives might take, and with a doppelganger, that scenario is always a given.
Posted: September 23rd, 2007, 1:19 am
I just had to drop you a note of thanks for using the word "doppelganger" in your response. It's been one of my favorite words since I first encountered it in an old Spiderman comic book lo those many moons ago! As a sight gag it's probably been done to death but rarely, it seems, does the word get the usage it so richly deserves! Thanks for putting a smile on this old guy's face!
Posted: September 23rd, 2007, 9:00 pm
Hi, Hollis. It's great to hear from you! I like Vertigo, even though I know there are holes in the plot.
I think part of it is that it's so visual, but it's also like when you know something has too many calories, but you add it to your menu anyway!
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 4:32 am
I dislike this movie vehemently. It's way too slow, has too many "there's nothing much going on here" scenes, and the dialogue sucks. I borrowed it from my library and I fell asleep halfway through it on my first viewing. I had to watch the movie a second time just to finish it!
"Give me your hand. Give me your hand."
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 12:07 pm
I have to agree with Chris on this one...a thought provoking "cinematic question mark."
OK, it is slow and plodding and the screenplay/dialogue is a little weak...however, it is visually stunning with a magnificent haunting score AND has one of Jimmy Stewart's best (and most offbeat) performances ever captured-a terrific study of obsession. It's painful to watch at times.
Actually, I never met a Hitchcock film I didn't like...
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 12:40 pm
Most of Hickcock's films I can watch over and over. This film never really grabbed me. I'm not sure why. But I think alot had to do with the twists that were never answered in the film. Like What is the explanation for Madeleine's mysterious disappearance from the hotel? There is none.
I guess this is the type of film you have to watch a couple of times to really understand it.
But I'll pass and re-watch "Rear Window"
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 1:46 pm
I actually prefer "Vertigo" to "Rear Window" mainly because I like Kim Novak more than Grace Kelly (please don't stone me) - but they're two completely different movies, so I guess you can't compare. But I thought "Vertigo" was more beautifully shot and the final scene, where she falls to her death, was pretty horrifying. I also enjoy Jimmy Stewart more when he's not playing the wholesome good guy type. The fact that he goes so obsessively crazy is a plus for me.
Oddly enough, Kim Novak would go on to play doubles of herself ten years later in "The Legend of Lylah Clare". It's the movie that killed her career. I have it taped, but I've never watched it, despite the fact that I love the entire cast (Novak, Finch, Borgnine) and the director, Robert Aldrich. I've seen parts and it's pretty bizarre, especially when Lylah's ghost starts speaking through her in a strong German accent!
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 2:17 pm
vallo wrote:Like What is the explanation for Madeleine's mysterious disappearance from the hotel? There is none.
Vallo---I have never understood that scene in particular. Why didn't Ellen Corby see her? Or if she did, why did she lie about it to Stewart? Was she paid? Was Hitch trying to imply that Stewart (and the audience) would find Madeleine more mysterious if this almost supernatural disappearing act were included? I'm tantalized.
The Lavender Girl
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 2:41 pm
I'd love to see "The Legend Of Lylah Clare!" I wonder why it's never played on TCM...or has it? It's from MGM. Too bad it didn't air with Aldrich's "The Killing Of Sister George" during the Screened Out series.
I worked with a woman once who lived in San Jose, CA in the '80's. She was married to a "weekend biker." Her husband sold a bike to a man who lived in a coastal community. They delivered the bike to his home and who answered the door? Kim Novak! Her husband bought the bike.
The woman (I worked with) said Kim was dressed like your typical "weekend biker chick." (I guess they were waiting to take the bike for a run.) She was friendly-offering them drinks-but her husband did most of the talking...
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 8:41 pm
Actually, I think Vertigo is one of Hitchcock's best films. I also consider it his only true noir. The suspense and drama comes as we see the two characters lose the shreds of their humanity as the film pushes on. One will sacrifice her own individuality and soul, the other will remake her to his own ideals both throwing away whatever goodness lies within them to achieve a fantasy that can never be realized.
As for the actual murder mystery, our suspense comes not from what we know, but but what Scottie knows and our perceptions of him as he begins to remake Judy and finally discovers the truth. Scottie is no hero like many of the Hitchcock stories, but a deeply disturbed and flawed individual. Vertigo is not a story about murder. Like the spirals that begin the film it is about a man whose desires lead him in circles and finally out of touch with reality.
Posted: September 26th, 2007, 11:54 am
Hello, friends. I watched a bit of "Vertigo" last time it was on, but I couldn't stick with it. Here's my take:
The theme of mistaken identity/doppleganger was dear to Hitchcock's heart, and the dark consequences of allowing such concepts into your life are given full development in this movie. However, I find it the most pretentious of Hitchcock's films, and I get the sense that maybe the studio was trying to get a Douglas Sirk-type movie out of him. It is curiously lacking in humor, which generally found its way into even the most serious of AH's movies. The screen is just a little too wide and busy, the story is a little too soppy, and the music - well, to my mind it's the worst use of music in any of AH's movies. The score is overpadded and overbearing, and LOUD, and after the umpteenth time of hearing that blaring, two-note motif, I said "Enough, already!" and turned it off. The fact that Mel Brooks used "Vertigo" as his primary point of departure in his Hitchcock tribute/sendup "High Anxiety," should be a clue that this particular movie needed a bit of scaling-down.
I find "Rear Window" a much tighter plotted film, easier to look at, and very tense, even though I've seen it a zillion times. Grace Kelly is very "rarified," but then, she's supposed to be what Stewart considers a hothouse flower. That makes her acting as Stewart's "legs" at the climax all that more interesting.
Posted: September 26th, 2007, 1:27 pm
Although I generally seek out films with a theme of romantic obsession, I'm in the group of folks that get a little creeped out by the character of Scottie in this film. For me, a good deal of it has to do with the casting of Jimmy Stewart. I find his screen persona charming in other films, especially those with June Allyson, but I find the actor to be rather asexual - casting him opposite Kim Novak and Grace Kelly just doesn't work for me. I get really creeped out when Scottie tries manipulating poor low self-esteem Judy into bleaching her hair and making her put on the grey suit.
Posted: September 26th, 2007, 1:30 pm
Jezzy, catch Jimmy in "Shop Around the Corner"
to see him be absolutely sexy (that last scene, whew!)