Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's Finest Work

Vertigo is another one of Alfred Hitchcock's best produced movies that was released in July1958. It's a Hitchcock thriller that you have to see from the very beginning. 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 had mixed reviews on its first release, it has since gained in esteem and is frequently listed among the greatest films ever made.

San Francisco detective John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart) develops acrophobia after a fellow police officer (Fred Graham) falls to his death while trying to save him during a rooftop chase. His acrophobia causes vertigo. He is forced to retire from policework, and is unable even to stand on a step-stool in the apartment of his friend MarjorieWood (Barbara Bel Geddes) without being paralyzed by fear and dizziness.

He is eventually hired as a private detective by one of his old friends who wantshis own wife Madeleine,who is played by Kim Novak, followed. He informs Scottie that he thinks that his wife is suffering from some sort of mental illness or demonic possession. Scottie follows Madeleine to a cemetery where she is seen visiting the grave of a woman named Carlotta Valdes who had killed herself one hundred years earlier.Madeleine wanders around as if she is in some sort of a trance.

Scottie is strongly attracted to Madeleine. He follows her to Fort Point at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge where he observes her jumping into the San FranciscoBay in what appears to be a suicide attempt. She is saved by Scottie and returns with him to his apartment. They end up taking a trip to see the coastal redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. She confines in Scottie that she has dreamed of Mission San Juan Bautista and he takes her there in an effort to conquer her dreams, but she suddenly runs into the bell tower, climbs the stairs, and appears to commit suicide by jumping off the tower to her death.

Scottie suffers a nervous breakdown and runs away. At the inquest that was looking into Madeleine's death, Scottie is accused of negligence but is cleared of prosecution. Elsteris is seen reassuring him when he tells Scottie "we both know who really killed Madeleine,"referring to the fact that she was possessed by Carlotta's spirit. Scottie eventually ends up in a mental hospital where he sufferers from terrifying nightmares. His friend Midge tries her best to comfort him but soon realizes that he is still in love with Madeleine.After leaving the hospital Scottie continues to visit the places where he and Madeleine used to visit together. Then one day he notices a women [Judy Barton] who has an uncanny resemblance to Madeleine. However she is quite different in her mannerisms than Madeleine.
Scottie follows her to her hotel room where he finds out that she is a single working women who is from a little town in Kansas. She tells Scottie that she moved to San Franciscoto start a new life after a series of failed relationships. But after Scottie leaves she writes a letter confessing that she was in fact Madeleine. Elster had hired her to act as a mentally unstable false Madeleine. The women who fell from the tower was in fact Elster's real wife who was actually dead before her husband had thrown her form the tower. Elster had hired Scottie knowing full well about his Vertigo. He knew that Scottie would never be able to climb the stares of the tower. He used him to corroborate his claims of his wife's suicidal tendencies. But Judy then tears up the letter almost as soon as she had written it. She has come to the realization that she has fallen in love with Scottie.

Scottie becomes obsessed with Judy and insists that Judy even dress like Madeleine. At first she protests, but eventually gives in to the man she loves. Scotties eventuallybecomes suspicious of Judy when he notices a red jeweled pendant that he remembers thatMadeleine used to wear. Judy insists that she had inherited it. He then forces her to go the Mission Juan Bautista and forces her to climb the stairs up to the tower again.He wants her to re-enact the scene in which he failed to save Madeleine. He demands that she tell him the truth and Scottie discovers that the emotional experience has conquered his acrophobia, as he has now climbed to the top of the tower. Judy pleads with him and tells him that she is in love with him. Then suddenly a shadowy figure appears at the top of the stairs. Judy backs away from the shadow and steps off of the tower edge and plunges to her death. The shadow turns out to be a nun. Scottie who is still in shock, stares down at Judy and realizes that the emotional shock has cured him of his vertigo ,but was the cost worth it.

This is one of the few films that I had watched more than once, It may have been the combination of the plot, along with the superb acting abilities of the stares, but Iwould rate this as the best Alfred Hitchcock film that I had ever watched. It's a film that holds you in suspense from the beginning to the end.

1 comment:

rahamitz said...

Hi Andrew! I just read your comment in my site! Thanks for that! Appreciate it very much!

Alfred H is a great moviemaker. I would say, one of the foundations of the modern cinema! Keep posting dude. I will be watching your posts.... Have a great day