Film Review: Vertigo (1958)

Essay by ce33eeCollege, UndergraduateB, March 2009

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

Director: Alfred HitchcockProducer: Alfred HitchcockCast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel GeddesRunning time: 129 minutesProduction Company: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions"Vertigo stands as one of the thrill master's most psychologically dense and twisted works in which obsession, commitment, and dual identities all merge to create a voluptuous tale of thwarted love" - Marjorie Baumgarten (1996), Austin Chronicle.

All great art reflects human emotion, Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece Vertigo is not only an incredibly thrilling film, but also examines human emotion in a way that makes it stand apart from most other films. According to Auiler (1998a), the title means dizziness, or describes a confused state of mind; that this is a film about that and obsessive love. The film is based upon the novel D'Entre les Morts (From Among the Dead) which was written specifically for Alfred Hitchcock by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (Auiler 1998b).

Jimmy Stewart plays John Ferguson, a San Francisco detective who's had to retire from the force after an attack of acrophobia rendered him incapable of saving a fellow officer from a fatal fall.

Recovering from his physical and mental wounds, Scotty hears from an old college associate with trouble: the man's wife, Madeleine, played by Kim Novak, is behaving strangely and he suspects not adultery but spirit possession. Scottie begins following Madeleine and gradually falls in love with her. But his love is weaker than his acrophobia, and he can't save Madeleine's life when she jumps from a tower. Stricken with grief and guilty conscience, Scottie wanders around the streets of San Francisco until he finds Judy Barton (again played by Kim Novak), an ordinary girl who looks just like Madeleine. His interest in Judy is motivated only by memory of lost love, but the young woman has her own secrets to...