Vertigo (1958) ★★★★★

Just when you think you have already predicted the plot; then Hitchcock makes a fool of you.

Unlike Hitchcock’s previous works, Vertigo takes a slightly different approach to enticing its audience in. Vertigo is a near-perfect suspense thriller with a devastating tragedy at hand. Retired police detective, “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) is traumatized after a rooftop chase to catch a criminal which ends badly, exposing his fear of heights. An old school friend of Scottie’s, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) shows up out of the blue, asking him for help. Gavin is worried about his wife Madeleine’s (Kim Novak) ever-changing behaviour, believing she might be possessed.

The cinematography holds a vibrant colour scheme; the juxtaposition of the bright reds work particularly well in contrast to the dark, supernatural atmosphere of the film. Though we may be presented with rich and exuberant colours, something threatening is always lurking beneath the surface. The San Francisco backdrop, emphasised by the panoramas along the California coast are simply beautiful. Moreover, the score heightens the suspense throughout. In terms of acting, James Stewart and Kim Novak are on top form, supported by a selection of good actors on the side. Stewart arguably did most of his finest work under Hitchcock. Novak plays her Femme Fatale role beautifully. Due to the convoluted nature of its plot, Vertigo is even more dependent on Hitchcock’s obsessive attention to detail as a means of controlling audience response. His mastery over our emotions continues.

Quite the opposite of a mystery, Vertigo becomes a lesson in dramatic irony, as the audience can only sit and watch a man destroy himself in his blindness. A story of obsession to easily fall in love with; its absorbingly intriguing narrative and slow-burning tension, Hitchcock envelopes you in the mystery.

15 thoughts on “Vertigo (1958) ★★★★★

    • I tend to be like that too with films that have such a hype surrounding them. I didn’t like “The Breakfast Club”, nor do I like the James Bond franchise…so I can completely see where you’re coming from. Thanks for reading though! Great to hear your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a coincidence – I just watched this one for the first time last night! Definitely one of Hitchcock’s best. A perfect example of building suspense and intrigue simply through visual tricks alone. Fantastic work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review, I’m excited to watch this one! I’ve obviously heard so much about all of Hitchcock’s many classics, but I’ve only actually recently watched my first- North By Northwest-a great thriller! Anyways, I managed to snag Rear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho on VHS (I’m an avid collector) so I’m excited to dive into his famous filmography.

    Liked by 1 person

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