Vertigo (1958)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Alec Coppel & Samuel A. Taylor

Having already reviewed this film once on this site, and having already spoken to the film as it is seen on the big screen, I’m not really sure what else I might be able to add to the story. What might make this, my third viewing of Vertigo, interesting is the fact that it is the first while the film sits atop the film world as the #1 film of all time (according to Sight and Sound). Overtaking the long standing “Greatest Film of All Time” Citizen Kane, is no small feat and definitely caught my attention for Vertigo is a film I greatly admire, appreciate and enjoy, but not one I ever thought was held in such universal high regard to overtake Kane. So I paid extra special attention this go round to see if I could appreciate it as fully as its newly acquired moniker.

Hitchcock’s film has always garnered my praise for its visual beauty and composition. Watching this film is an experience all its own even without sound or plot. The images are incredible, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Blu Ray transfer to drink them in in full hi-def. But the fact of the matter is, there is sound in this film, and marvelous sound. Bernard Herrmann composes what might be his most brilliant score for this film, something I had not necessarily noted before this viewing.. The fact of the matter is , there is a plot for this film, and it is one of the most awesomely composed mystery’s by Hitchcock, or anyone else for that matter.

The one aspect of the film which has always been iffy for me is the false ending and the film after that point. It is jarring, and I think I have adapted to it better over time, but I still can’t help but feel the air gets let out of the film and never quit recovers. This is partly aided by behavior from John Ferguson (James Stewart) which is manic. I can’t quit buy into it all the way. I know he has had a traumatic event, but he acts a little too selfishly and narrowly. I also cannot forgive fully the fact that Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) basiclly disappears for the second half of the film. In some ways the obsessive behavior of Ferguson can be made sense of, but Vertigo is a case of the narrative morphing into something that is awkward for me personally. I liked Ferguson, but then I changed my attitude just as quickly as he changed his behavior. That doesn’t make the complete package that is Vertigo any less impressive, perhaps just not my favorite of all time like Sight and sound. Merely Top 100 material is all. Still a masterpiece.

**** – Masterpiece

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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