After a police detective named John Ferguson causes the death of a police officer due to his acrophobia during a rooftop chase, he retires from that job. He is soon hired by a former college acquaintance of his to keep an eye on his wife, because he fears that she might commit suicide as she believes that she is possessed.
Around the 80 minute mark, it seemed like the movie was about to end. It seemed as if the climax came to be, and the viewer thought that they knew what kind of film it was going to be. However, the viewer becomes shocked to find out that the film is continuing on. The viewer wonders: "What else do they have left to do?". At first, I thought that the movie was going to lose steam as the final third is, admittedly, a little bit slower than the rest of the film. However, the dream sequence gave me a feeling that I was not wasting my time. It interested me a lot, and I was curious to find out how the movie was going to end. This all led up to a shocking and unexpected ending which left a strong impact on me. The plot twist at the end made the film a lot better, and it encouraged me to watch the film again as I wondered how the movie was going to feel on a 2nd viewing.
Looking back at the movie, I noticed how John's acrophobia wasn't present in that many scenes. It was only present a few times in the movie. At first, I thought that it was a bit underutilized. However, after I thought more about how the plot twist at the end effected the film before it, I came to a conclusion that it did not have to be used more than it was. John did not have acrophobia, because Hitchcock simply wanted to add it in for suspense. It was put in the movie as it was essential for the movie's ending to work. If it were to be used any more times in the film, it would've started to feel redundant. Hitchcock did all of the primary tasks with that element without overdoing it.
The acting in this film was really good. James Stewart as John Ferguson did a good job as the lead performance. His performance was pretty solid all around. He provided all the emotions and reactions which were required for his role. Nothing more and nothing less. Kim Novak gave a really great performance as well. She played 2 characters who each had different personalities. When she was Madeleine Elster, she played a woman who looked hopeless and terrified. She was able to do it without sounding annoying or over-the-top. When she played Judy Barton, her role seemed more meaty and strong. She did a good job transitioning between both of these characters. As the movie continued on, I started to notice some subtlety in her performance. She clearly stole the show. They were great as the 2 main leads. I had no particular issues with any of the other actors and actresses.
The film is also pretty to look at. Views of the city and the streets are gorgeous. Some of the shots show dozens upon dozens of buildings. Those shots are overwhelming. Also, some of the other shots in different places around the city look nice as well such as the art museum and the graveyard. Also, it's hard to forget the opening scene where 3 of the characters were running across the rooftops with the evening sky in the background. Also, there's the haunting camerawork in the dream sequence which gives out an unsettling presence. Out of all of Hitchcock's films that I've seen so far, I like the cinematography in this film the most.
In conclusion, this was a well-acted and well-shot crime film which had a very memorable storyline and ending. Is it the best film of all time though? I wouldn't say so. There are deeper films than this one. "Citizen Kane" also has more layers to it and it's a more influential and important film. Also, I enjoyed "Rear Window" a little more than this one. However, this is still a really great film. I can understand why a lot of people like it. It's one of the best Hitchcock films that I've seen so far.
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
+Themes still hold up
Vertigo spawns a very interesting mystery that is brought to a halt towards the middle of the film marking another Hitchcock movie that has a dense but troubling narrative as each half of the film has its own merits; The first half develops the mystery and the second part slowly develops a romance in order to finish the whole ordeal, none of which I found to mesh very well together.