Vertigo Still Spinning | Sunday Observer

Vertigo Still Spinning

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is an artistic triumph for the master of mystery. Hitchcock chose San Francisco for the setting of this Paramount production. Depicted in VistaVision Technicolor photography, the charm, romance and antiquity of the framed Pacific port glow in one beautiful picture after another. James Stewart, star of Vertigo, gives a detective in a quandary about the behavior of two women, one mysterious, the other excited. With Kim Novak as his inspiration, Jimmy turns into quite a lover-boy. 

It tells a most unlikely tale about a wife-murder, and tells it for more than two hours in a style which is slow, wordy, and, apparently, casual. But the style is thoroughly deceptive, for the film is a rich demonstration of Hitchcock’s particular sleight of hand. The tempo may be generally very slow, but it is not monotonous; the camera work may be unostentatious but it is quietly, calmly efficient in establishing character, atmosphere, and uncertainty. Suspense, once again, is created. Vertigo also combines in an almost unique balance Hitchcock’s brash flair for psychological shocks with his elegant genius for dapper stylishness. 

Vertigo is not a thriller after the best Hitchcock tradition. It’s a mystery melodrama, a cerebral teaser adapted from French novel, D’entre les Morts, by the two writers who conceived Diabolique. The story is intriguing but Hitch has taken his time telling it, this giving audiences too much to speculate on the outcome of the mysterious going ons. 

Vertigo is not a thriller after the best Hitchcock tradition. It’s a mystery melodrama, a cerebral teaser adapted from French novel, D’entre les Morts by the two writers who conceived “Diabolique.” The story is intriguing but Hitch has taken his time telling it, this giving audiences too much to speculate on the outcome of the mysterious going ons. 

Scottie, the detective, suffers with acrophobia. This fear of heights prevents him from seeing clearly into a sinister plan for murder. From this fear of heights he misses getting a murderer simply because he cannot make himself climb up a steep stairway to a tower in order to find out what’s going on there. 

The spying job is given to him by a man who thinks his wife is going insane. This woman Madeleine, is indeed a strange one, wandering alone all over town for a purpose which will not be disclosed here. 

Scottie meets the lady and falls in love with her. From her, he learnt nothing of the killer’s intentions. From Judy, the girl who looks like Madeleine, he is able to put together the pieces of tantalising mystery. And then return to the normal young woman who is waiting, somewhat impatiently, for him. 

There are two ways of approaching Vertigo. One is to see it as a male film on the side of the male view of women; the other is to see it as a satirical attack on the misogynist mindset. They are, in fact, two sides of the same interpretative coin. The imaginative sympathies and dramatic voltage are wired up to Scottie’s anguished point of view.   

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