Vertigo (1958) – Review

When a police detective, John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart), is forced to retire from the force due to personal reasons, he quickly becomes embroiled in an obsession for two beautiful women in quick succession. After the first seemingly commits suicide, he attempts to transform the second into the same lady, while pondering whether the pair have some sort of spiritual connection or not. Another classic Alfred Hitchcock review but for me, this didn’t quite hit the dizzy heights of Rear Window – more on that later.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor, Maxwell Anderson
Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak

After re-watching and reviewing Alfred Hitchcock’s, Rear Window (1954) recently, I decided to explore more of his movie catalogue, firstly by checking out Vertigo. Prior to watching, I’d read many of the positive reviews and on a whole, I’d have to agree with the fact that it is a pretty solid and impressive picture, packed with suspense and mystery throughout. With that being said, I don’t think this was on the level of his previous movie, Read Window.

One of the primary strengths of this flick was most definitely the way in which the filmmakers delivered one or two superb twists along the way. For sure, some may have found them slightly predictable, but at the same time they were entertaining and kept the viewer guessing throughout. It was almost like the movie was some sort of dream, rather than reality, with a hypnotic feel throughout.

With the strengths however, come the negatives. I certainly felt like Vertigo stretched on for a little too long in terms of runtime, with the film spanning a whopping one-hundred and twenty-eight minutes, I wasn’t sure whether there was a need for it to be as lengthy, as it felt like the film could have reached its climax much sooner than it actually did.

In terms of cast, James Stewart adopts the role of “Scottie”, the man leading the obsession, while Kim Novak portrays both Madeline and Judy – the lady at the other end of the obsessive behaviour. Both are impressive, with the latter pulling off a tremendously haunting job in her role as both women. It could even be said that at times, as a viewer, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that they were two totally separate characters played by the same actress.

Some say Vertigo is a flick you really have to watch more than once to gain a full appreciation of its mastery and maybe that’s what I require. Ultimately, a really good film considering its release date but for me, not as impressive as some say, with some issues that crop up throughout.

“We stood there and I kissed her for the last time, and she said, ‘If you lose me you’ll know that I loved you and wanted to keep on loving you.’ And I said, ‘I won’t lose you.’ But I did.”

Scottie – Vertigo

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