Filmed in locations around San Francisco that seem oddly empty of life, Vertigo used camera angles and techniques innovative for its time, and much copied in later years. The murder-mystery plot backbone would be hard to buy from any other filmmaker, but with this Hitchcock film noir, the plot is beside the point.
Scottie takes the job only after he sees the gorgeous Madeleine (Kim Novak), out to dinner with her husband, and is immediately fascinated. He starts following her as she visits Carlotta’s portrait at an art gallery, buys flowers that match those in the portrait, sits idly in Carlotta’s former room in an old mansion, now transformed into a hotel -- and of course, when she visits Carlotta’s grave.
After he rescues her from a plunge into San Francisco Bay, he embarks on a mission to somehow snap her out of her obsession. To give away much more would ruin the film for first-time viewers. But suffice it to say, he loses her. And when he runs into a shop girl on the San Francisco streets who bears an uncanny resemblance to the lost Madeleine, his own obsession takes hold, and he tries to remake her in the image of his lost love.
The Cast of 'Vertigo'
Bel Geddes is wonderful as Midge, a warm island of sanity and normality where Scottie can’t quite settle down. Ina dual role, Novak is spectacularly beautiful, provocative and elusive as Madeleine and earthy and pleading as Judy. While there are other characters in the film, they’re little more than props or plot devices. The movie takes place in the little world created between Scottie and Madeleine and their twin obsessions.
'Vertigo' - the Bottom Line
Recommended for YouIf you liked Vertigo, you may like other Alfred Hitchcock films, or other dark love stories like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
'Vertigo' at a Glance:Year: 1958, Color
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Running Time: 128 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures