Critics Consensus

An unpredictable scary thriller that doubles as a mournful meditation on love, loss, and human comfort.



Total Count: 73


Audience Score

User Ratings: 102,255
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Vertigo Photos

Movie Info

Dismissed when first released, later heralded as one of director Alfred Hitchcock's finest films (and, according to Hitchcock, his most personal one), this adaptation of the French novel D'entre les morts weaves an intricate web of obsession and deceit. It opens as Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) realizes he has vertigo, a condition resulting in a fear of heights, when a police officer is killed trying to rescue him from falling off a building. Scottie then retires from his position as a private investigator, only to be lured into another case by his old college friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore). Elster's wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), has been possessed by a spirit, and Elster wants Scottie to follow her. He hesitantly agrees, and thus begins the film's wordless montage as Scottie follows the beautiful yet enigmatic Madeleine through 1950s San Francisco (accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's hypnotic score). After saving her from suicide, Scottie begins to fall in love with her, and she appears to feel the same way. Here tragedy strikes, and each twist in the movie's second half changes our preconceptions about the characters and events. In 1996 a new print of Vertigo was released, restoring the original grandeur of the colors and the San Francisco backdrop, as well as digitally enhancing the soundtrack. ~ Dylan Wilcox, Rovi

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James Stewart
as Scotty Ferguson
Kim Novak
as Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton
Tom Helmore
as Gavin Elster
Ellen Corby
as Hotel Proprietor
Henry Jones
as Coroner
Mollie Dodd
as Beauty Operator
Lee Patrick
as Mistaken Identity
Paul Bryar
as Capt. Hansen
Margaret Brayton
as Saleswoman
William Remick
as Jury Foreman
Julian Petruzzi
as Flower Vendor
Fred Graham
as Policeman
John Benson
as Salesman
Don Giovanni
as Salesman
Nina Shipman
as Young Mistaken Identity
Dori Simmons
as Middle-Aged Mistaken Identity
Roland Got
as Maitre d'
Carlo Dotto
as Bartender
Jack Richardson
as Man Escort
June Jocelyn
as Miss Woods
Miliza Milo
as Saleswoman
Jack Ano
as Extra
Joanne Genthon
as Girl in Portrait
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News & Interviews for Vertigo

Critic Reviews for Vertigo

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (22)

  • It's doubtful that Vertigo can take equal rank with the best of the Hitchcock studies -- it has too many holes -- but it assays high in visual confectionary of place, person and celluloid wiles.

    Sep 21, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Combines in an almost unique balance Hitchcock's brash flair for psychological shocks with his elegant genius for dapper stylishness.

    Jul 12, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • A dizzying cinematic experience.

    Jul 12, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The tempo may be generally very slow, but it is not monotonous; the camera work may be unostentatious but it is quietly, calmly efficient in establishing character, atmosphere, and uncertainty.

    Mar 21, 2018 | Full Review…
    Top Critic
  • Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" is an artistic triumph for the master of mystery.

    May 9, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's as much a wonder of suspense as it is a catalogue of the director's themes and an allegory for his own art of enticement-and for the erotic pitfalls of his métier.

    Mar 15, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Vertigo

  • Jul 28, 2017
    What a wonderful, creepy, beautiful, disturbing film this is. From the opening credits, Hitchcock makes us uneasy with spiraling patterns on the screen, which hints at the vertigo/acrophobia to follow, but what we find are so many other disturbances and twists of the mind: obsession, guilt, insanity, and manipulation. There is creepy sexual desire, and what self-abasing lengths a woman will go to do what 'does it' for a man. Jimmy Stewart turns in a great performance, but as a nitpick, he's twice the age of Kim Novak (50 and 25), and also looks too old to have gone to college with his sidekick Barbara Bel Geddes (who's great by the way). The film takes place in absolutely gorgeous scenery in San Francisco, Muir Woods and Mission San Juan Bautista, and it's at once both dream-like and nightmarish. It feels like a quiet movie with its pace and small cast, but there is tension and mystery throughout. There are several stunning moments, which I won't spoil, and the ending is absolutely brilliant. Hitchcock's delving into dark places of the mind, his storytelling, and his camera angles, are all superlative. Excellent film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 13, 2016
    Alfred Hitchcock wowed audiences for decades with an immense talent of deception and artistic flare, and perhaps no movie was a better showcase for those talents than his 1958 hit Vertigo. An impressive tale about obsession. In honor of Alfred Hitchcock's birthday, I decided to re-watch Vertigo and reevaluate just how well it holds up upon repeated viewings. There's nothing quite like the shock of watching it for the first time, but I had a chance to dig my teeth into the legendary performances of James Stewart and Kim Novak while being dazzled by Hitchcock's meticulously crafted story. One of the most impressive aspects about Vertigo is that it's clearly framed as a story about someone with Vertigo dealing with a peculiar case, but really, it's about obsession, and a man digging just a little bit too deep into a case. A theme that Christopher Nolan seemed to take into his film, Memento, in 2000. Vastly different stories, but similar execution from the director's chair. An easy way to identify a film's tone is through the score, and Hitchcock always seemed to get the best out of the legend, Bernard Herrmann. His score here is both haunting and alluring. I love the way he balanced the score with the uncomfortable feeling we get as an audience watching Stewart's character obsess, along with the noir-ish love story that forms as well. Amidst Hitchcock's mind boggling story are a few darn good performances by Stewart and Novak. Stewart, typically known strictly in likable protagonist roles, finds himself in a more complex and even unlikable alley. There's certainly times where the lines between protagonist and antagonist are blurred, but Stewart does a great job at rounding out his character. Novak, on the otherhand, plays a more mysterious role but nonetheless just as significant. Aside from the characters in Psycho, Novak may have had the most difficult time portraying just who Hitchcock desired for this role. If there was ever a Hitchcock blonde who deserved a Best Actress Oscar, I think it was Novak. Overall, Vertigo holds up just as well as the first time I watched it, and perhaps even better in some aspects. There's a reason this film is at the top of so many greatest films of all time lists. +Hitchcock's colorful direction +Stewart and Novak were at the top of their game +Herrmann's score +Themes still hold up 10/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • May 25, 2016
    11/10/2017 - Featuring an unrealistic story and one sizable plot hole, this Hitchcock classic is not without its flaws. However, presenting a great script, score and many twists and turns, Vertigo is quite a feat.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2016
    A beautifully crafted classic. Vertigo works as a love story, works as a drama and works as a thriller all thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's directing skills. This movie literally made me cry and made me appreciate this film a lot. A perfect gem.
    Mr N Super Reviewer

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