This haunting Alfred Hitchcock film surprisingly wasn’t all that well received upon its release in May, 1958, and received quite a mixed response from audiences and critics. Vertigo was undoubtedly the darkest film that the director had made up to that point and it would appear as though its themes and content were too much for many viewers at the time and they just weren’t ready for it.
Hitchcock would place the blame for the film’s poor reception on the age gap between James Stewart and Kim Novak thinking that might have played a factor in the response. This would be the fourth and final film he and James Stewart would make together and the only one he would make with Kim Novak. Both actors would reunite on screen just a few months later to make Bell, Book And Candle, which features them as a far happier pair of screen lovers.
Over the following decades Vertigo would be rediscovered and reassessed and is now considered by audiences and critics alike to be one of Hitchcock’s greatest achievements. In recent years it has been showered with praise and accolades and even been voted as the greatest film ever made in the annual Sight and Sound magazine poll – knocking Citizen Kane off of the top spot it had held for decades since 1962 – when it won the coveted top spot in 2012, a position it retained until last year’s poll saw it move to second place.
I for one was utterly entranced by the film from the first time I watched it. Vertigo affects me in a way that few other films have ever done. Watching it is like stepping inside a vivid dream that lingers in the memory all the next day once you’ve woken up. No matter how many times I watch it never fails to suck me in and also leave me feeling as though someone has punched my heart.The film is a combination of several genres all rolled into one enigmatic puzzle – part noir, part horror, part romance and part tragedy. It is a story of love, death, obsession, the supernatural, mystery, desire, fear and guilt.
As is the case with films such as Shutter Island and The Sixth Sense, a second viewing will show that there were clues and hints throughout the film all along, but just like Scottie Ferguson, we were all so caught up with the mystery of Madeleine Elster that we were blind to what was staring us in the face the entire time. Is Vertigo Hitchcock’s best film? For me it’s in a solid tie for that title along with Rear Window(1954)and has been for years.
Vertigo is based upon the 1954 novel The Living And The Dead, which was co-written by French crime-writing duo Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud under their pen name Boileau-Narcejac. Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to their novel before it had even been translated into English. Boileau-Narcejac had also written She Who Was No More, which had been adapted for the screen by Henri-Georges Clouzot in 1955 as Les Diaboliques. Hitchcock had been desperate to attain the rights to She Who Was No More but was beaten to it by Clouzot.
When work began on adapting The Living And The Dead for the screen, the playwright Maxwell Anderson(who had recently written the screenplay for Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man) was the first screenwriter to whom Hitchcock and his associate producer Herbert Coleman turned. Anderson’s completed screenplay entitled Darkling, I Listen was rejected because it was too difficult to understand what was going on in the story. The pair next approached Alec Coppel(Mr.Dennings Drives North, Obsession)who turned in a script which still wasn’t entirely what the director was after. Samuel A. Taylor(Sabrina)was approached next and would spend a year working with Hitchcock on the screenplay that would become Vertigo. The Screen Writers Guild determined that both Coppel and Taylor each deserved a screen credit on the finished film for the screenplay.
When work began on the film Hitchcock was joined by Edith Head and Bernard Herrmann as costume designer and composer respectively. Both had worked with Hitch several times before and their respective contributions always add so much to his films but never more so than here. Edith’s costumes are not only beautiful but also help highlight key character components as well as the personality differences between Madeleine and Judy. Madeleine’s sleek grey suit for example highlights her refinement and more reserved nature, while Judy’s outfits are looser and sexier highlighting that she is a far more earthier, free and open woman.
Bernard Herrmann’s score is so integral to the film that it is hard to imagine any other composer having been hired. Not only is the entire score incredibly romantic, mysterious and moving, but parts also manage to capture in sound the swirling feeling of having an attack of vertigo, as well as capturing the darkness and outright horror lurking beneath the surface waiting to emerge in full later in the story. It’s one of the most beautiful and atmospheric scores you’ll ever hear and is undoubtedly Bernard Herrmann’s masterpiece.
The film’s cinematographer Robert Burks was another who had worked many times with Hitchcock and his gorgeous colour photography and the dreamlike/eerie quality he brought to many scenes is truly something to behold. The second-unit cameraman Irmin Roberts would become the one who was finally able to realise a camera effect that Hitchcock had first conceived of while filming Rebecca but hadn’t been able to create at the time.
During the scene where the second Mrs. DeWinter(Joan Fontaine)faints in the courtroom, Hitch had wanted to create a camera effect that allowed us to experience the character feeling as though everything around her was slipping away before passing out. Roberts created for Vertigo the effect which has now become known as the “dolly zoom” and the “Vertigo shot”. The effect is achieved by doing a reverse tracking shot away from the subject while the lens zooms in. The effect keeps the space occupied by the subject constantly in the foreground while the background expands to make it seem as though the surrounding space is distorting and falling away. It is used here to convey what Scottie experiences during his attacks of vertigo. It’s been used by countless filmmakers ever since, most notably by Steven Spielberg in Jaws, during the scene where Chief Brody is sitting on the beach and witnesses the Kintner attack.
James Stewart and Vera Miles were cast in the lead roles of Detective Ferguson and Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton. Both actors were Hitchcock veterans with James having starred in Rope(1948), Rear Window(1954)and The Man Who Knew Too Much(1955), and Vera having starred in The Wrong Man(1956) and the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Vera posed for several costume and hair test photos and also modelled for the painting of Carlotta which is displayed in the museum visited by Madeleine in the film.
Unfortunately the production quickly began to encounter several delays. Hitch fell ill while suffering issues with his gallbladder. By the time he had recovered and was well enough to return to work, Vera Miles had announced that she was pregnant and therefore couldn’t continue working on the film, although she would go on to reunite with Hitch a couple of years later to play Lila Crane in Psycho(1960). Vera’s part was recast with Kim Novak stepping in to take on the key dual role of Madeleine/Judy. I’ve always been intrigued by how Vera would have approached this part and what her performance would have been like, but it’s very difficult to imagine anyone other than Kim in the role now. She is sublime and it’s arguably her greatest screen performance.
The film was shot on location in various areas across San Francisco, a decision which brought a realism to the film and in a way turned the city itself into an essential third character. This particular city serves as the perfect backdrop for this story of the past connecting with modern life because of its own history and the intermingling of older buildings and areas in the city with more modern ones.
The heart of the film is the growing bond between John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart)and the mysterious and troubled Madeleine (Kim Novak). Scottie is a former Police Detective who has recently quit the force following an on duty incident from which he developed vertigo and acrophobia. He develops these conditions after nearly falling from a building during a police chase(a suspenseful sequence which serves as the opening to the film) pursuing an armed criminal across the rooftops. Scottie also blames himself after a colleague died while trying to save him from falling from the roof that night. He is wracked with guilt and fear following this incident. Scottie serves as our conduit into the film and we see the story unfold until the second half through his eyes and only know what he does.
Scottie is aided in his recovery from this incident by his friend/former girlfriend, Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). Midge is genuine, kind, funny and is there for Scottie no matter what. It is equally apparent that Scottie adores her and loves her very much and she’s the sole person he can fully unburden himself to. They make a lovely and playful couple, who are equally comfortable and relaxed in each other’s company. It’s clear to both the audience and to Midge that they should be together. Sadly Scottie ends up ignoring Midge in his pursuit of Madeleine who serves as the femme fatale of this film(typical Noir guy there then).
Scottie is hired by his old friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), to work as a private detective to keep an eye on Elster’s wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak).Elster tells Scottie that he has become very worried about his wife’s state of mind and wants a second opinion from Scottie (in case he is overreacting in his suspicions) before approaching doctors who may potentially commit her to an asylum. He has begun to believe that she may well be possessed by the spirit of her great-grandmother Carlotta Valdes who became insane and committed suicide. Madeleine is acting very strangely and he fears she too may also be suicidal. Scottie takes all this with a pinch of salt but agrees to take on the job simply to try and ease his friend’s fears a little.
Scottie begins to regularly follow Madeleine when she leaves home and drives or walks around the city, and he soon becomes convinced that something is not right with her at all. He also comes to accept that as odd as it may seem, Elster may well be correct when he suspects that Madeleine could be possessed.Scottie slowly ends up falling in love with this mysterious woman when they begin to interact and she too falls for him and turns to him for help and support.
Scottie and Madeleine are two troubled and sad souls clinging to one another. The pair remind me of the way a drowning person clings to a lifebelt or piece of wood to try and stay afloat.
Scottie feels protective of Madeleine and he is drawn to this troubled and shy woman. Scottie can’t see that all may not be as it seems with Madeleine’s situation at all, he is so blinkered by love and desire, that he ignores the reality before him.
In this regard he is the typical Noir detective – a poor sap slowly being drawn towards his doom by the femme fatale whose siren call he is unable to resist and who he desires above all else in life. The irony is that the woman he loves isn’t real in any sense of the word. The woman that Scottie sees before him and knows as Madeleine Elster isn’t even the real Madeleine. Her actions and personality are not even really those of the real woman pretending to be Madeleine. Scottie is basically in love with a woman who doesn’t exist. The woman he loves and longs to have is nothing more than a phantom. Madeleine can arguably be described as the ultimate Noir femme fatale, as she knowingly leads Scottie on, deceives him and remains forever unattainable.
Madeleine starts to like Scottie very much and she can’t deny her feelings for him in return, but she never lets him too close to her. She feels safe with him and wants his help and yet she runs from him, never allowing herself to stay with him for long periods of time. They want to be together but can’t. We in the audience want a happy ending for them but we know that it is highly improbable they will get one. This is Noir and Horror territory that we are in after all.
James Stewart and Kim Novak deliver career best performances here. James in particular goes places that audiences had never seen him go before. For many years James Stewart had been mostly cast in comic and far lighter roles, but had tackled more serious material and shown a darker emotional edge as the suicidal and angry George in the second half of Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, but Hitchcock allowed the actor to go further than that and tap fully into the complex psychological state of his character in Vertigo.
Hitchcock and the Western director Anthony Mann appear to be the only directors who ever seemed to fully realise James Stewart’s dramatic acting potential.
They both provided him with more complicated and edgier characters to play and thereby forever changed his perceived screen image.
Scottie Ferguson is one of the best characters that James played in his entire career. I think he does a superb job in playing this very troubled and tragic character. He really makes us feel Scottie’s obsession, love, grief and trauma. He also does a superb job of conveying the crippling fear experienced by Scottie when he has an attack of vertigo and is left helpless and paralysed in terror, shaking and sweating and desperate to get away from wherever he may be at the time.
Kim Novak is magnificent in the dual role of the ethereal, glacial and regal Madeleine, and the earthier, fun-loving and far more independent and tougher Judy, a woman who is trying to get on in life but is haunted by the memory of what she had been a part of and done to Scottie.Kim does a terrific job of conveying Madeleine’s troubled mind, as well as her fear and vulnerability. She also excels at conveying Judy’s longing,regret and fear much later in the film.
One of my favourite scenes in the later part of the film is when Scottie and Judy are dining in the restaurant where he had first seen Madeleine and he notices a fellow diner walk through who looks like Madeleine. Judy sees the brief flash of hope turn to pain on Scottie’s face when he thinks she’s come back to him, and she finally fully comprehends what she has done to the man sitting opposite her. She genuinely feels awful about it and Kim conveys all that in just a few seconds without any words needed.
Kim gives Madeleine an otherworldly and ethereal air in the film’s earlier sequences and makes you believe that this woman is truly torn between the realm of the dead and the world of the living. There is a far away look in Kim’s eyes during the scenes where Madeleine is possessed. Some of the scenes in the first half are very eerie. Take the sequence in the forest for example. That scene where she measures out her lifespan using the rings of the cut down tree and then slowly walks away and disappears amongst the trees would not be out of place in a horror film. Seeing that sequence always makes me wish that Hitchcock had tried his hand at making an outright ghost film.
Kim isn’t even really playing just two characters because she is actually playing multiple women and multiple states of mind all at once. She is Judy playing Madeleine Elster while also playing Madeleine possessed by Carlotta. In addition to all that she has to play Judy subtly manipulating Scottie and gauging his reactions to her actions as Madeleine in order to report back to Elster as to whether she thinks Scottie believes the deception or not. She’s also Judy experiencing her own emotions and feelings towards Scottie while pretending to be Madeleine.
As the film goes on Scottie is left wracked with guilt and despair once again after he fails to prevent Madeleine from jumping to her death from a bell tower. Scottie tries to save her from jumping but is prevented from doing so by a vertigo attack. In the second half of the film we see Scottie haunted by the memory of the dead Madeleine. He has a breakdown brought on by his guilt at being unable to save her and his deep grief and pain at losing her. Midge tries her best to help him at this time and visits him regularly. When Scottie recovers from his breakdown he wanders the city streets and constantly runs into women and places who remind him of Madeleine and their time together. Scottie then meets Judy (Kim Novak) a young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Mrs. Elster. From this point on we bear witness to another type of horror as a living woman is remoulded into the image of a dead one, and a dead woman is resurrected in her place to be scooped up in the arms of her lover and welcomed home by his deep and desperate kiss.
The second half of the film serves as Hitchcock’s take on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridice, along with shades of Pygmalion, Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein thrown in as well. I find this part even more disturbing and sad than the first half to be honest. In this half of the film Scottie’s obsession with getting Madeleine back in any way he can makes for very difficult viewing indeed, especially when he begins to change Judy into Madeleine by styling her as Madeleine looked and coaching her in the way she walked, talked and dressed. He bends Judy to his will and in a way permanently erases Judy from his life so that he can be with Madeleine again.
While it’s true that Judy retains her own mind and free will throughout and allows Scottie to change her appearance in order to give him what he wants and allow them to both find some happiness, however strange their situation may be, she is definitely uncomfortable with what the process entails and it’s frankly rather stomach churning to watch her submit to his desires and lose pieces of herself at a time. It’s dark, disturbing and bleak stuff for sure. It’s the uncomfortable subject of the male gaze and how some men will stop at nothing in order to sate uncontrollable urges and desires brought to the screen for us to bear witness too.
In this regard the character of Scottie can be viewed as a stand in for Hitchcock himself who famously had complete and total control over even the tiniest aspects of his films and didn’t even let his actors have free reign in how their performances and dialogue should be delivered and spoken. Everything in a Hitchcock film had to be just as he saw it in his head and he was always the puppet master holding the strings and pulling them.
There is no happiness to be found in this film from this point on.We see Scottie learn that his breakdown, guilt and grief were all for nothing because the woman he loved wasn’t even the woman who died, she was really Judy who was Madeleine’s doppelganger and fooled him on Elster’s orders so he could murder his wife and make it look like suicide and have Scottie’s testimony support that. We also see him destroy Judy (the real woman he loved, he just didn’t realise that at the time)and recreate her in the image of the dead fantasy he so desired. We also see Scottie inadvertently cause the death (no bringing her back from the dead now)of Judy/Madeleine by taking her back to the scene of the crime at the end of the film.
The film is constantly pushing us to change who we sympathise with and why. At first we sympathise with Scottie and Madeleine for being damaged and lonely souls who want to be together. We then sympathise with Scottie when he loses the woman he loves and how he blames himself for it. We then sympathise with him even more when we learn he was used, manipulated and lied to. We then sympathise with Judy(and fear for her at times too)when we see how obsessive and unhinged Scottie has become. We then hate Judy when we learn what she did and what she agreed to be a part of. We still feel sorry for Judy though because she was used by Elster and she is being used by Scottie to get what he wants. We then sympathise with Scottie again during that gut punch of an ending. We sympathise with Midge throughout and want to yell at Scottie to open his eyes and see the woman in front of him, and yet at the same time we want him to be happy with the woman of his choice. It’s far from easy and simple to decide where our sympathies and allegiance should firmly be placed as the film unfolds before us. In the end both Judy and Scottie have become as much victims of Gavin Elster as his murdered wife. Judy is genuinely haunted by the events she was party to and Scottie is doomed to be left forever traumatised and broken by his memories of Madeleine and Judy and the changes brought about within himself because of all that.
There are no black and white characters in this (other than Elster who is a clear cut villain) only morally grey ones, even Midge has some moments where she’s a bit unpleasant and vindictive – the moment where she mocks Scottie, Madeleine and Carlotta with that self-portrait. Personalities and individual goals change throughout the film and we like and loathe all main characters at certain times during the film. Nothing in Vertigo is simple and uncomplicated and we’re left with no easy answers at the end. This is precisely why I love it so much. It challenges the audience in a multitude of ways and throws us all for a loop on many occasions.
It’s also one of those films where the more you watch it, the more you will notice and pick up on things that may not have stood out on your first viewing. For example it becomes clear on a rewatch that the first meeting between Elster and Scottie is really for Elster to try to find out from Scottie how the vertigo affects him and what it stops him from doing. I’ve also always wondered if Elster chose him because he knows he cannot resist a damsel in distress and perhaps remembered from college that Scottie was attracted to a certain type of woman, thereby making him even more of a perfect target for Elster’s machinations.
Another moment that took me a while to notice is Judy’s reaction in the scene where Scottie sees her first time outside the florist. At the 1:31:53 mark of the film Kim slightly looks up ahead of her, looks in the direction of the florist and freezes. Judy recognises Scottie and can’t stop her initial physical response at seeing him but then quickly attempts to control and hide her response. As she and her girlfriends stop next to him to say goodbye and part, Kim looks a bit on edge and holds her arm as if trying to stop shivering. Judy knows he’s there but is willing herself not to turn and meet his eyes. It all makes Kim’s performance all the more brilliant because there are so many little moments like this at various points in the film. When you look back at the earliest scenes you realise that she’s subtly looking around her and behind her when Scottie is tailing Madeleine, and she’s doing so to check he’s still with her and that she has his attention. There’s also the moment where Judy is standing in the window of her apartment opening the shutters which mirrors exactly an earlier shot where Madeleine stands in the window of the old hotel.
The colour green is a key presence in the film. We have Madeleine wearing the green and black evening dress when Scottie first sees her at the restaurant with Elster. She drives a green car and stands next to a pile of green boxes in the florist when Scottie opens the door and sees her in there. Madeleine is also often surrounded by green trees, lawns and plants. We have Judy wearing a green dress, green skirts and green jackets. A woman leaves the florist with a green box at the moment Scottie sees Judy for the first time on the street. Scottie wears a green jumper in the scene in his apartment after he’s saved Madeleine from her suicide attempt in the San Francisco Bay, a scene in which he also gives her a green cushion to sit upon when he’s talking with her. We also see Judy being bathed in a green light (shining through her window from the neon light outside) when she’s sitting in the window and again when she walks out of the bathroom now transformed into Madeleine. The colour green symbolises life, resurrection, renewal and jealously – all of which are very pertinent themes for these characters and the overall story.
This is a film where Scottie and Judy deserved a happy ending. Of course if they had got a happy ending I highly doubt we would be talking about this one so much all these years later. Happy endings are not what Noir and tragedy are all about after all. There was an alternative happy ending that Hitchcock was required to shoot in order to satisfy the production code. This alternative ending is included as an extra on the Blu-ray release and shows Scottie and Midge back together again in her apartment and a radio report indicating that Elster has been located by police and will be brought to justice for his crimes. While it’s nice to see that Scottie potentially has a chance of happiness by being with Midge again and that Elster will face justice for his actions, the ending is a betrayal of all that comes before as it lessens the shock and emotional impact of the finale.The original ending as it stands has also always implied that Elster has completely gotten away with his crimes(making him the ultimate Hitchcock villain in the process) and the only one left to suffer now is Scottie. This to me has always made the film that bit more dark and disturbing. The enforced ending feels like it belongs in a different film entirely.
There’s one thing about the film that’s never made sense to me, and that’s Elster leaving Judy alive after they had succeeded in carrying out both the deception of Scottie and the murder of Madeleine. Judy knew what they had done and she could easily have gone to the Police or blackmailed him at any point in the future, even if by doing so it meant she too would have been brought to face justice herself as an accomplice. If Elster wanted zero trace left back to him of the crime why leave Judy alive afterwards?
Then we come to the all important twist/revelation sequence where Judy thinks back to what happened after she reached the top of the belltower. I go back and forth on this many a time. Sometimes I feel that the reveal of the truth of what had happened inside the bell tower was shown much too early in the film and that it would have been more impactful if the truth had been learnt by us and Scottie jointly during the scene where Judy puts on Carlotta’s necklace in front of him and the truth dawns on him. Other times it feels right to me as it is because the suspense lies in whether she will tell him the truth and if he will ever learn it. It also helps us retain sympathy for Scottie even as he’s transforming Judy into Madeleine. Imagine how unsympathetic he would have become and how much darker this half would have been if he behaved like this but we didn’t know the truth of Judy’s identity.
When Scottie(finally conquering his paralysing vertigo thanks to the rage at learning the truth and realising what a fool he’s been made overriding all else in his mind)drags Judy to the top of that bell tower, we’re in for a finale that once seen is never forgotten.
Scottie is Detective Ferguson once again and he is now focused solely on getting the truth and justice. As he takes Judy to the top it’s as though he is the detective accompanying an arrested suspect as they come and stand before justice.
The film comes full circle by ending as it began on a rooftop. Reality, secrets and truth are bared in all their ugliness and rawness, while guilt and fear trick Judy’s mind to such a degree that she is convinced the nun stepping out of the shadows towards the pair is the ghost of Madeleine Elster come to have her revenge from beyond the grave.
Scottie meanwhile is once again left broken and guilt-riddled, but the difference now is there is no second chance open to him this time around. It’s important to also note the way he is standing in that final shot as it’s the exact pose he’s in at the start of his nightmare sequence where he falls from the tower. Will he jump to join his dead love? Will he come down and seek Elster out and bring him to face justice? We’ll never know. What more perfect ending could there be for this story of ghosts, guilt, mystery, deception and all-encompassing grief and trauma?
This is my entry for the Kim Novak Blogathon being held by Ari at The Classic Movie Muse over the weekend. Be sure to visit her site to read all of the other entries. Finally I would like to wish Kim Novak a very Happy 90th Birthday.
11 thoughts on “Vertigo(1958)”
Wow. Maddy, this is a masterpiece of a post. I love how in depth you went into the world of Vertigo, truly compelling reading. James Stewart and Kim Novak gave their all into their performances and the result blows me away every time. I’ve always been amazed at how Kim played Judy/Madeleine – roles within roles – and pulled it off flawlessly and believably. I was saying the other day how I wish she was given more opportunities to play these kinds of roles. She was born to play them. But I’ll happily content myself with Vertigo. Like you said, the more we watch it the more we find.
Thank you so much for contributing this post to my blogathon, Maddy!! 🙂
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Thank you so much, Ari! So glad you liked it. Thanks for celebrating Kim’s life and career with your blogathon.
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This is an amazing analysis of Vertigo. Honestly, this is fabulous.
The film itself is almost hypnotizing, isn’t it, and you feel yourself being pulled in deeper and deeper. I loved how you described this feeling, as well as the technical aspects of the movie. This is my fave post of yours, and that’s saying something since I love everything you write.
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Well this has just about made my day! Thank you so much, Ruth. So glad you enjoyed it.
It is indeed hypnotizing and the more times you watch it the deeper you go and even more subtle moments are revealed. Such a well crafted film.
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That is a really fine and nicely structured reading of and commentary on this great movie.
Filmmaking is of course a collaborative process, but it’s not unnatural that the focus tends to be placed mostly on the director as the one ultimately in charge of what is shot, in this case Hitchcock. It was clearly a deeply personal project for him and he invested much of himself in the production. However, it should be noted that in doing so, he drew the best from his collaborators, both in front of and behind the camera.
Much has been said and written over the years about the intensity of Stewart’s performance, and rightly so. It was the culmination of a process that was set in motion after his return as a very different actor after WWII. As you say, both Mann and Hitchcock got him to draw on some powerful emotions on screen.
Kim Novak’s work on the movie seems to have attracted less attention, which could be said of her career as a whole. I think that has changed a bit over time and there is now greater recognition of her talents in general and her vital contribution to this film in particular. There is much shading and subtlety in her magnetic and compelling reading of her dual role – I have problems visualizing anyone else in the part now, even though we all know Vera Miles was the original choice.
I’m happy to regard this as Hitchcock’s greatest movie, his true masterpiece. I first saw it when it was finally made available after that long period when it had been withdrawn from circulation. That was the early 1980s, I think. I was only a teenager at that time when it got its television showings and I was eager to see it, having already become a confirmed Hitchcock fan. I remember I found the movie quite unsettling, disturbing even. However, I didn’t really like it all that much back then. I’ve seen it multiple times over the intervening years, even catching it on the big screen once at an outdoor summer cinema here in Athens maybe ten years ago. And over those years, my appreciation of it grew bit by bit, every viewing bringing out something new (as all truly great movies do) and the passing of time and my own development as a person allowing other nuances and meanings to take on greater and deeper importance.
So, thanks for highlighting this gem of moviemaking, and how the work of Kim Novak enriches it.
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Thank you so much, Colin. Enjoyed hearing about your own personal journey with the film. It’s the gift that keeps on giving by revealing more and more to us on multiple viewings.
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That was some fine analysis. Reminds me that I need to watch this film again. Great job.
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Some consider this Hitchcock’s masterpiece. I’m in awe of it especially when you watch it frame by frame. I’d argue Rear Window comes close to being his masterpiece. (I might be biased since its arguably my favourite Hitchcock.)
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Brilliant analysis! I’m biased, though. This is my all-time favorite movie. Have you seen Brian de Palm’s semi-remake Obsession (1976)? It is a fascinating reworking of Hitch’s masterpiece. I would love to hear what you have to say about that movie.
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Thank you so much, Eric! That’s a good film and one I’d love to write about at some point.
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