Hitchcock October Marathon- Vertigo (1958)

by Nevin Hooper

Hello fans of classic movies! It is getting closer and closer to Halloween, so I shall continue with my Hitchcock October Marathon with one of his most famous films, Vertigo.

For those who have not read my reviews, my grading system is pretty simple. It goes from a 0/10 (movies that are so horrible, that they should never been made), to an 11/10 (movies that are so good, so amazing, that you just can’t give the average 10/10 grade). Now onto the review!

Surprisingly, when this film first came out, no one really liked it. Like, at all. People thought that the plot was unnecessary, the twist could be guessed easily (don’t worry I won’t spoil it even though the film is 59 years old), and the characters were weak. But now people have rewatched the film and it has gained a cult following being considered one of the best films of all time, and rightfully so because Alfred Hitchcock can never make a bad movie. Nonetheless, this one is still my least favorite film by him. This is still a phenomenal movie, but it is just my least favorite one so far that I have seen by Hitchcock. But, I should wait to tell you this after I explain the plot of the movie!

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece, Vertigo, is about a man named John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart, in a rather phenomenal and creepily well played performance). He is a retired detective suffering from some past experience and is also suffering from a sickness called “vertigo” where he is deathly afraid of heights to the point where he either faints or freezes up. The film portrays his sickness actually brilliantly through interesting camera movements, tricks, and colorization. But one of his friends, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), gives him the job to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak, in another absolutely astonishing performance), because he believes she is acting strange. But once John starts to figure out more, and the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, this movie turns into a twisted tale of obsession, romance, false identity, and murder.

Positives first

The acting in this movie is some of the best I’ve seen. Sure, it’s not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) acting masters, but it’s still really good. Kim Novak is so good in this movie though. There were many emotions that she had to play and she masters them perfectly. But, James Stewart is a revelation. I have never seen this kind of performance from him before. I usually find him doing characters like Rear Window (1954), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), so his performance of a mentally crazed man is very different. He is breaking down under so much emotion that he can’t understand a thing that is happening around him. He starts to have errotic visions and dreams (also very effective and disturbingly amazing technically advanced sequences for the time) that drive him insane. The set pieces, the music, the visual aspects, the direction, it’s all phenomenal. Except for one thing….

Negatives next

A movie is divided into what are called acts. And movies and plays are divided into three acts (or as we have come to call them, the beginning, middle, and end), and with Vertigo, the first and third acts are some of the most intriguing scenes from a Hitchcock movie. But the second act really screeched to a halt for me. I felt like the second act considerably slowed down the story. I still cared for the characters, it’s just the first act felt so suspenseful, and then the second act slowed down and dragged. However, the third act immediately picked up and blew my mind. So, that’s my only problem with the film.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love this movie, and I still highly recommend it to anyone. I shall give Vertigo a 10/10.

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