ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Vertigo (1958), A Hitchcock Classic

Updated on May 13, 2013
Source

The cinema's greatest romantic thriller

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo is ablsolutely unique. It is a strange and haunting film of breathtaking beauty, the crowning artistic achievement of Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant career as a director.

It flopped on its release, which is understandable, as it is easily the most psychologically ambitious, disturbing and unclassifiable of Hitchcock's films.

However its reputation has steadily grown over the years and it is now regarded as one of the best and most important movies ever made.


Movie Trailer

Basic Story Line

The plot is extremely complicated with many twists and turns and depends upon a fiendishly unlikely murder scheme. The following is an abridged version.

The plot is intricate . John 'Scotty' Ferguson is an LA cop who has to quit the force after his fear of heights prevents him from saving the life of a colleague. Working casually as a private eye he is hired by an old friend, Gavin Estler (Tom Elmore) to tail his blonde wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) who is apparently obsessed with a look-alike ancestress who drowned in the nineteenth century. The first half of the film is almost a ghost story as Scotty is drawn to the neurotic Madeleine with the suggestion that her reincarnation is ironically going to lead to her death. After Madeleine's fatal plunge from a bell tower the film becomes even more intense as Scottie comes across Judy Barton (Novak again), a brunette shopgirl who resembles the lost Madeleine, and enters into a relationship with her. He tries to force a re-incarnation of his lost love as he transforms her with a new hairtyle and wardrobe into the elusive Madeleine.

Stewart and Novak
Stewart and Novak

Scotty later learns from Judy that the woman who fell from the tower was Elster's real wife, hurled, already dead, from the tower by her husband. Elster had hired Scottie to follow the false Madeleine simply in order to have someone reputable to act as witness.

Scottie grows suspicious of Judy when he sees her wearing a red, jeweled pendant that he remembers Madeleine claiming to have inherited. He forces her to re-enact the scene in which he failed to save Madeleine. As they inch to the top of the tower, she confesses the truth, but pleads to Scottie that she does love him. The two embrace and the music begins to swell before, suddenly, a shadowy figure appears at the top of the stairs. Judy steps backwards off the tower ledge, plunging to her death. The figure, a nun, whispers, "God, have mercy," and rings the tower bell as Scottie stares down at Judy's fallen body; the emotional shock has cured his vertigo — but at a terrible cost. 

Clips

Summary

Vertigo is an undoubted masterpiece, a genuinely great motion picture. There is so much in it, that a single showing is not enough for a complete understanding. For a full appreciation it demands multiple viewings. Part murder mystery, part twisted love story, the film is steeped in portentous melancholy. Certain scenes have an spiritual quality that returns to haunt the viewer's imagination. When we first see ‘Madeleine’ in the cemetery, she is bathed in a ghostly green light. Later, when Judy finally emerges as Madeleine, she is illuminated by the green neon lights of a theatre marquee (inspired by Hitchcock’s memories of theatregoing as a boy). The scene ends with the famous ‘revolving kiss’. In extreme close-up, Scottie grabs Judy and kisses her violently, the camera appearing to whirl around them as Scottie is transported by memories of Madeleine (in fact, it was the scenery that was spinning). Here, as at other key moments, the insistent probing Bernard Herrman score swells to a crescendo. Herrman’s music is absolutely integral to the mood of the entire movie.

James Stewart
James Stewart
Barbera Bel Geddes
Barbera Bel Geddes

Cast List

James Stewart - Detective John "Scottie" Ferguson Stewart was a Hitchcock stalwart. His ability to portray deeply flawed men who were sometimes overwhelmed by doubt, rage, and hesitancy has never been equalled. 

Kim Novak - Madeleine Elster / Judy Barton Frosty blonde beauty who broke into films in 1954. Novak soon became a popular Hollywood star, with her off-screen romances (Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, amongst others) attracting as much publicity as her film roles.

Barbara Bel Geddes - Midge Wood She will always be remembered for playing the matriarch Miss Ellie in long-running glamorous soap Dallas but had been a successful and well respected actress fom the mid 1940's.

Tom Helmore - Gavin Elster

Henry Jones - Coroner

Raymond Bailey - Scottie's Doctor

Ellen Corby - Manager of McKittrick Hotel

Konstantin Shayne - Pop Leibel

Lee Patrick - Car owner mistaken for Madeleine

Produced by Alfred Hitchcock

Herbert Coleman - associate producer

Written by: * Pierre Boileau - original novel ("D'Entre les Morts")

Thomas Narcejac - original novel ("D'Entre les Morts") * Samuel A Taylor * Alec Coppel

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

More Clips

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • christine almaraz profile image

      christine almaraz 

      9 years ago from colorado springs

      I just saw this movie again a few weeks ago. it's very good but I'm a film buff/screenwriter so i be a bit biased. good hub

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 

      9 years ago

      I do not like much Hitchcock but i saw a few very sacry

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I love Hitchcock though I've only seen around 5(?) of his works! Nice hub, very comprehensive! :D

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)