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Alfred Hickcock's Vertigo Appreciation thread

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Vertigo is a 1958 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film features James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes and tells the story of a retired policeman who falls in love with a mysterious woman he has been hired to follow. Although it received mixed reviews on its first release, it has since gained in esteem and is frequently listed among the greatest films ever made.

Trailer:

[YT]DlF5MYoUa70&feature=related[/YT]


Original trailer:

[YT]gujUrLEuWfA&feature=related[/YT]

Vertigo is my number #1 of all time and that wasn't an easy conclusion to reach as there are other movies that I love too such as The Godfather Part I & II, The Hustler, and Lawrence of Arabia.

I simply adore this movie to the point of obsession but it wasn't until I've done some researched that I learned why.

http://hitchcock.tv/essays/vertigoessay.html
http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/18/18_vertigo.html
http://www.culturecourt.com/F/Noir/Vertigo.htm

Of all of the things said about Vertigo, it is still at its heart a "love story" of the most tragic kind. Two people who are denied their love due to circumstances. Yet the promise of that love is too insatiable to resist regardless of all of the rational reasons to do so.

vertigo_hotel.png





Obsession is the result:

[YT]DBMTC3x1xv4&feature=related[/YT]


vertigo-photo-xl-vertigo-6213358.jpg







Contemporary response


Vertigo premiered in San Francisco on 9 May 1958. It performed averagely at the box office,[6] and reviews were mixed. Variety's "Stef" said the film showed Hitchcock's "mastery", but was too long and slow for "what is basically only a psychological murder mystery".[7] Similarly, the Los Angeles Times admired the scenery, but found the plot "too long" and felt it "bogs down" in "a maze of detail"; scholar Dan Aulier says that this review "sounded the tone that most popular critics would take with the film".[8] However, the Los Angeles Examiner loved it, admiring the "excitement, action, romance, glamor and [the] crazy, off-beat love story".[9]

Vertigo was nominated for Academy Awards in two technical categories: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White or Color and Best Sound.

In an interview with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock stated that Vertigo was one of his favorite films, with some reservations.[10]



verttree.jpg




Re-evaluation

In the 1960s, the French Cahiers du cinéma critics began re-evaluating Hitchcock as a serious artist rather than just a populist showman. However, even Francois Truffaut's important book of Hitchcock interviews mentions Vertigo very little. Dan Aulier has suggested that the real beginning of Vertigo's rise in adulation was the British-Canadian scholar Robin Wood's Hitchcock's Films (1968), which calls the film "Hitchcock's masterpiece to date and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us".[11] Adding to its mystique was the fact that Vertigo was one of five films owned by the Hitchcock estate that was removed from circulation in 1973. When Vertigo was re-released in theaters in October 1983, and then on home video in October 1984, it achieved an impressive commercial success and laudatory reviews.[12] Similarly adulatory reviews were written for the release in 1996 of a restored print.[13]

In 1989, Vertigo was recognized as a "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" film by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, going in the first year of the registry's voting.

The film ranked 4th and 2nd respectively in Sight and Sound's poll of the best films ever made, in 1992 and 2002 respectively. In 2005, Vertigo came in second (to Goodfellas) in British magazine Total Film's book, 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.

In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked the film #61 on its "100 Greatest movies" list. However, 10 years later, when a AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) was released to reflect changing cultural tastes, Vertigo catapulted into the top 10, reaching #9 on the list. AFI also ranked the film #18 on "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions", and #18 on "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills".




Please share your thoughts, commentary and information on what some film historians say is Hickcock's masterpiece.


vertinsnov07.jpg
 
Though this isn't my favorite Hitchcock film, Vertigo is awesome. Nice thread. Looks like you put a lot of effort into it. :up:
 
Though this isn't my favorite Hitchcock film, Vertigo is awesome. Nice thread. Looks like you put a lot of effort into it. :up:

Thanks!

I can understand why Vertigo may not be a Hitchcock fan's favorite movie. Its kind of disturbing and dark. Definitely not an upbeat tale.

For something more fun I would pick North by Northwest, Rear Window and of course Psycho and the Birds.

But once you begin to analyze Vertigo a person can see that its much more that what its presented to be on the surface.
 
Thanks!

I can understand why Vertigo may not be a Hitchcock fan's favorite movie. Its kind of disturbing and dark. Definitely not an upbeat tale.

For something more fun I would pick North by Northwest, Rear Window and of course Psycho and the Birds.

But once you begin to analyze Vertigo a person can see that its much more that what its presented to be on the surface.

You just named all my favorites, with Veritgo included, though my true favorite would have to be either North by Northwest or Rear Window.

I agree, Vertigo has a lot of psychology behind it, and it features all of the great Hitchcockian elements. Also, the score by Hermann is great, and who doesn't love a Jimmy Stewart/Hitchcock team-up?
 
Vertigo has actually become my one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock movies over time. It used to be Psycho was my all-time fave, but now ol' Norman and his momma have moved down the ladder a bit; since that time I've re-discovered this one and North By Northwest.
 
You just named all my favorites, with Veritgo included, though my true favorite would have to be either North by Northwest or Rear Window.

I agree, Vertigo has a lot of psychology behind it, and it features all of the great Hitchcockian elements. Also, the score by Hermann is great, and who doesn't love a Jimmy Stewart/Hitchcock team-up?

Ironically Hitchcock blamed Stewart being too old for the lack of box office success of Vertigo and it was the last time he worked with him.
 
Ironically Hitchcock blamed Stewart being too old for the lack of box office success of Vertigo and it was the last time he worked with him.

I highly doubt that's the reason. I think it's because the film's gimmick, which most of Hitchcock's films had, was less exciting. Also, it was pretty slow-moving.
 
It was a very good film, although not Hitchcock's best one.
 
I highly doubt that's the reason. I think it's because the film's gimmick, which most of Hitchcock's films had, was less exciting. Also, it was pretty slow-moving.

I don't either but thats a true story.
 
Excellent thread!!!

Vertigo is a masterpiece. It's one of my favorites.
 
Rear Window is a better film in every aspect.

Every aspect? You think the cinematography was better than Vertigo? How so?

You seriously believe the musical score and background music was better in Rear Window?

You think the allegory aspects were better and that Rear Window exhibited greater ambiguity and atmosphere to the film sequences?

Please provide evidence to support your position.
 
Every aspect? You think the cinematography was better than Vertigo? How so?

You seriously believe the musical score and background music was better in Rear Window?

You think the allegory aspects were better and that Rear Window exhibited greater ambiguity and atmosphere to the film sequences?

Please provide evidence to support your position.

I think it's just his opinion.
 
I think it's just his opinion.

I know but to say its better in EVERY aspect is greatly overgeneralizing and is an unrealistic and absurd claim.

Simply saying that Rear Window is a better movie would be more appropriate of a statement.
 
A good question is: What makes Vertigo a masterpiece?

Consider these two review:

Classic film review|

Vertigo (1958)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Screenplay by Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor and Hitchcock. Based on the novel “d’Entre les Morts” by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

**** (out of 4)

Much has been said about Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo over the past 50 years since its premier on May 9, 1958. It’s been called Hitchcock’s most personal film (often cited as his best film), James Stewart’s darkest role, Kim Novak’s best work, Bernard Herrmann’s greatest film score and it is often found on many top 10 lists of greatest films, Sight and Sound and American Film Institute, to name a few.

What’s often overlooked in the making of Vertigo is the choice of colors by art director Henry Bumstead. Vertigo is a dark and aberrant tale of obsession, fetish and some jealousy (Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) loves Scottie and is jealous of Madeleine). In heraldry, vert the root in the word Vertigo, refers to a green tincture, or a color used to blazon a coat of arms. No color expresses a sense of unnaturalness more than green. If green is not depicted in nature in a film then it is seldom used, so when we do see green it is seen as different and uncommon.

Green is everywhere in Vertigo:

- Scottie’s sweater in the scene in his apartment after rescuing Madeleine.

- the blue/green waters of San Francisco Bay

- the pale green light emanating from the neon Empire Hotel sign

- Madeleine’s gray suit that appears greenish at a distance

- Judy Barton’s sweater when Scottie first sees her

- the green filter utilized by Hitchcock to show Madeleine and Judy in the cemetery and at the Empire Hotel, respectively.

- the lush green coastal forestry

- the color of Madeleine’s car

Ironically, Bumstead chose green not out of symbolism but because it seemed right to him. In November of 2002 Bumstead spoke to students at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater about illustrious career as an art director and production designer in film. Bumstead had this to say about the use of colors in Vertigo:

“I got letters from all over the world with theories about what each color was supposed to mean. I guess I just hit it lucky. I had no theory; I just painted things the way I thought they should be.”

From: http://dailybruin.com/news/2002/nov/26/bumstead-gives-talk-on-art-dir/


Not to be lost is the use of red at Ernie’s restaurant, the place where Scottie first sees Madeleine dine with Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore). Ernie’s was an actual San Francisco restaurant (closed in 1999) and its interiors and exteriors were replicated by Sam Comer and Frank R. McKelvy as sets. Their choice (and possibly Bumstead’s as well) to copy everything down to the last detail was crucial, because the most striking feature of Ernie’s- the red walls- is especially effective in conveying the lust and the growing passion Scottie feels for Madeleine. It also serves as a warning to Scottie.

Quite often Hitchcock and his A-list stars are given much of the credit for masterpieces like Vertigo or Rear Window, for example. Hitchcock’s stellar direction and hand in writing the screenplay are undoubtedly excellent, as are the performances of actors like Stewart, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Novak, etc.

However, many fail to see that many of Hitchcock’s best films are the product of many great artists coming together. What makes Vertigo a masterpiece is the collective efforts of Hitchcock and his stars, as well as those behind the camera in Herrmann, Bumstead, Comer, McKelvy, editor George Tomasini, cinematographer Robert Burks, title sequence designer Saul Bass and others.

http://cinemapedant.blogspot.com/2008/02/green-with-obsession.html




Vertigo (1958) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes (128 min).

Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, was dismissed as glossy claptrap in many contemporary reviews. It has outlived its critics by becoming a fixture on many lists of the greatest films of all time. Ostensibly a twisty mystery about a detective with a fear of heights, its true subject is the hero’s pathological obsession with a dead woman. Vertigo’s inherent creepiness deepens with each successive viewing, and in fact, knowing the outcome allows the viewer to look at the film in different ways. Analyzed endlessly by film critics, “Vertigo fares best on screen and not in discussions on paper” (Harris and Lasky).

Vertigo was adapted from the book D’Entre les Morts (From Among the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Their previous novels, Les Diaboliques and the Wages of Fear had been made into films in their native France. François Truffaut said D’Entre les Morts had been written specifically to catch Hitchcock’s eye, and it did. The book was set in Paris and Marseilles during WWII, but was transposed to the more familiar environs of San Francisco. A major reason for locating the film in that city was that the village church which was the murder site in the original could be transposed to a California mission church.

Ghostly events have a prosaic explanation in Vertigo, even as an eerie fatalism casts a spell on the characters. Hitchcock was far more interested in mood than in plotting, and, as usual, more interested in suspense than surprise. Taking the audience into your confidence allows much more time for squirming than a simple shock, like the explosion of a bomb. The studio executives disagreed, believing key revelations should be saved for the end of a movie, but this would have completely subverted Hitchcock’s plan, making Vertigo a far different (and lesser) movie.

Creating the hero’s physical sensation of vertigo, with the staircase falling away, was achieved by doing a forward zoom and reverse tracking shot simultaneously. This effect, a first, now part of the standard vocabulary of movie making, was also resisted by the studio, until building the set in miniature reduced the cost from $50,000 to $19,000—an extraordinary amount of money for a single shot.

James Stewart, already a veteran of Hitchcock films The Man Who Knew Too Much and Rear Window, was a full creative and business partner with Hitchcock in the film. After his combat experience in WW II, Stewart resumed his acting career with the intention of tackling more psychologically complex roles. Scottie Ferguson is one of his greatest performances, taking his obsessed character to the edge of hysteria without losing audience sympathy. Novak recalled Stewart “went deep inside himself to prepare for an emotional scene. He was not the kind of actor, who, when the director said ‘cut’ would be able to say OK and walk away. I was the same way. He’d squeeze my hand and we’d allow each other to come down slowly, like in a parachute” (McGilligan). Stewart also acted as a buffer, reassuring Novak that Hitchcock wouldn’t have cast her if he didn’t want her.

Kim Novak’s performance is at the heart of Vertigo, and the arguments about her effectiveness as Madeline have been unceasing for almost 50 years. Originally, Hitchcock had planned for his new protégée, Vera Miles, to take the role, but she inconvenienced him by getting married, and then becoming pregnant, for which he never forgave her. She had already done costume fittings and in a key plot point, a portrait of Carlotta Valdez had been painted in her likeness. Miles, who was not a glamorous actress, was uneasy with being refashioned as the next Grace Kelly (Hitchcock’s probable intention) and was evidently relieved to miss out on the role.

Kim Novak was the most popular star in 1957, according to Box Office Magazine, and perhaps it was his “chagrin over losing Vera Miles kept him from going wild over Kim Novak” (McGilligan). Hitchcock and Novak clashed bitterly over costumes and hair styles, as Novak refused to wear the tailored grey suit which Hitchcock demanded. He enlisted the aid of Paramount designer Edith Head. “Handle it, Edith. I don’t care what she wears as long as it is a grey suit.” Head was used to working with temperamental stars. For their next costume consultation she had a variety of grey fabric swatches and a sketch that Hitchcock had approved. Feeling that they were now collaborating on the design, Novak acquiesced to the director’s vision (Head and Calistro).

Novak’s passive carnality has always provoked adjectives like “mask-like” in reaction to her performances, but it is her stillness that allows both Scottie and the movie audience to read her face according to their own desires. Screenwriter Samuel Taylor said, “If we’d had a brilliant actress who really created two distinctively different people, it would not have been as good. She seemed so naïve in the part, and that was good. She was always believable. There was not ‘art’ about it, and that’s why it worked so well” (Dewey).

Barbara Bel Geddes plays the selfless Midge, Scottie’s spurned admirer. As a reward for this frumpy, thankless role, she was rewarded with the lead in the best remembered episode of the director's tv show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In “Lamb to the Slaughter” (written by Roald Dahl) Bel Geddes murders her husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then cooks and serves it to the investigating detectives.

“We could tell,” screenwriter Samuel Taylor recalled, “that this was a very important project for Hitch, and that he was feeling this story very deeply, very personally.” Many thousands of words have been written about the parallel of the director remaking his reluctant star, and Scottie Ferguson’s behavior in Vertigo. The eroticism of the film, certainly a more demanding aspect of the plot than its logical progression, hinges on Detective Scottie Ferguson’s efforts to dress the object of his desire, rather than undress her.

As an indication of its critical status at the time, Vertigo was nominated only for Best Art Direction and Best Sound Oscars. Bernard Herrmann’s evocative score is such an integral part of the film that Vertigo is virtually unimaginable without it. San Juan Bastista is a real Spanish mission south of San Francisco, and you can recreate Madeleine’s wandering there, although not up to the bell tower, which is a matte shot (painting). I can’t tell you what a strange sensation it was, when, on a California vacation, driving to a historic site on impulse I realized I was at the mission church in Vertigo!

Vertigo is open to many interpretations, what Hitchcock called “the icebox factor.” Do you want to discuss the film when you get home, raiding the refrigerator for a late night snack, and are the plot convolutions not only worthy of discussion but hold up even under examination? Robin Wood, in one of the earliest appreciations of the director’s work, Hitchcock’s Films (1965) described Vertigo as “Hitchcock’s masterpiece to date and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us” (Barr). Or, as James Harvey says, “Because this is the vertigo—this madness of longing, this almost infinitude of painful desire, of longing beyond longing—that Hitchcock has been drawing us into all along”
 
Vertigo was and still is one of my favorite movies. One of Hitch's best.
 
Rear Window is a better film in every aspect.

I disagree with it being a better film in every aspect, but I agree it's a superior film. But both films are excellent, with complex, well written plots, great casts, nail biting suspense, revolutionary cinematography and memorable scores. I rank Rear Window ahead of Vertigo because the pacing is tighter and faster and Vertigo is a bit too grim, and can become confusing at times. It's a film you have to pay attention to.

Both films are landmarks, though.
 
I disagree with it being a better film in every aspect, but I agree it's a superior film. But both films are excellent, with complex, well written plots, great casts, nail biting suspense, revolutionary cinematography and memorable scores. I rank Rear Window ahead of Vertigo because the pacing is tighter and faster and Vertigo is a bit too grim, and can become confusing at times. It's a film you have to pay attention to.

Both films are landmarks, though.

I agree with that but those are some of the reasons why I like it better. I'm kind of a grim person.:csad:
 
I agree with that but those are some of the reasons why I like it better. I'm kind of a grim person.:csad:

Understandable then.

Having to rank Hitch's best, I'd go:

1) Rear Window
2) North By Northwest
3) Vertigo
4) Psycho
5) The Birds
6) Shadow Of A Doubt
7) Marnie
8) Dial M For Murder
9) Strangers On A Train
10) To Catch A Theif (which I often forget is Hitchcock.)
 
Any discussion of Hitchcock is probably a good discussion so thanks for getting this thread going...

I agree with your points about Vertigo, though for me, the best Hitchcock is either Notorious (Criterion really needs to re-issue this), the Saboteur, or Rope. In any event, I love the fact that any time I don't know what to watch, and no matter what mood I'm in, there is probably a Hitchcock movie available to fill the void.
 
A email I received from Moviediva:

Question: Why is Vertigo considered a masterpiece?

Answer:

I would say that a masterpiece is a work of art that you return to again and again, because its complexity seems to grow with each viewing. Many people consider Vertigo a masterpiece because of the complex and flawed characterization of the hero, and the idea that you can--or cannot--relive your life and repair the mistakes you have made.

From a personal point of view, for me, Vertigo has changed radically as I have gotten older. When I was younger, I took it more as a straight mystery or thriller, but the older I got, the creepier James Stewart's detective becomes, so the movie became more and more disturbing on each viewing.

Hope this helps! moviediva
 
After seeing Vertigo, I think Hitchcock became one of my favorite directors. I saw The Birds and Rear Window before, but Vertigo just made me a fan and now I try to see as much of Hitchcock's movies as possible. It's cool that Turner Classic Movies airs a few of 'em a month.

Also, I think it's funny how Hitchcock was the original director for the French film Les Diaboliques, but he directed Vertigo instead. Just think: If he actually directed Les Diaboliques, then Vertigo probably wouldn't be as much of a masterpiece as it is today.
 
After seeing Vertigo, I think Hitchcock became one of my favorite directors. I saw The Birds and Rear Window before, but Vertigo just made me a fan and now I try to see as much of Hitchcock's movies as possible. It's cool that Turner Classic Movies airs a few of 'em a month.

Also, I think it's funny how Hitchcock was the original director for the French film Les Diaboliques, but he directed Vertigo instead. Just think: If he actually directed Les Diaboliques, then Vertigo probably wouldn't be as much of a masterpiece as it is today.

good food for thought!
 
i love vertigo. its the fact that, yes, you do have to actually pay attention, that i love about it. that's what makes it great. and i adore jimmy stewart.
 

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