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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vertigo (1958)

No longer able to perform his job as a policeman due to his fear of heights and the ensuing vertigo which resulted in the death of a fellow cop, a man (James Stewart) agrees to work as a private investigator following the wife (Kim Novak) of a wealthy friend (Tom Helmore). The man is worried about his wife's blackouts and suicidal tendencies. What no one counted on was the detective and the wife falling in love and the destructive aftermath. So much has already been written and analyzed about Alfred Hitchcock's greatest film, that there's precious little I can add or say. Is it a masterpiece? Indisputably! Misunderstood when it was first released, its reputation has bloomed considerably in the ensuing 50 plus years till it eventually toppled CITIZEN KANE from its perch in the Sight And Sound poll as the best film of "all time". Those looking for a typical Hitchcockian suspense film are usually disappointed since Hitchcock pushes suspense back in place of a film that is so intricate and layered in its structure that it easily holds up to repeated viewings. Stewart and Novak in career best performances inhabit their complex roles beautifully: a man in love with an ideal that doesn't exist, so obsessesed with that ideal that he wants, like Dr. Frankenstein, to create her out of dead parts and a woman so in love that she risks everything in a game that neither can win. Everyone from cinematographer Robert Burks to costume designer Edith Head is at the peak of their game. But special mention must be made of Bernard Herrmann's great score which becomes a very fabric of the film's existence. Based on the novel D'ENTRE LES MORTS by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (DIABOLIQUE). With Barbara Bel Geddes, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey, Ellen Corby and Lee Patrick.

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