01 November 2014

Vertigo (1958)
128 min.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey.
Is Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece a horror film?

Yes. A lyrical, poetic thriller. And it's ultimately Hitchcock's truest contribution to the supernatural genre.

Set in San Francisco, the surreal story focuses on tormented cop Scottie Ferguson (Stewart) who's hired by old college acquaintance Gavin Elster (Helmore) to follow the latter's strange wife Madeleine (Novak).

Seems Elster believes his wife is going insane, and he fears for her safety.

Ferguson is then drawn into this uneasy web - slowly falling in love with the "mentally unstable" Madeleine...only to see her die in a suicide fall from a mission tower.

Months later, a still tormented Ferguson sees a woman on the street named Judy Barton (Novak) who is the spitting image of Madeleine. He befriends Judy, and attempts to "reconstruct" Madeleine in her.

Has Ferguson begun to lose his own mind? Or has he been duped by some sinister, selfish plan?

Beautiful from beginning to end, Vertigo is full of haunting imagery, from Scottie following Madeleine in the Mission Dolores...to the jump into San Francisco Bay...the creepy tower at the San Juan Baptista...the anguished scenes between Scottie and Judy inside the Empire Hotel...

Hitchcock's classic themes of duplicity and duality are perfectly explored in Vertigo, Stewart and Novak have never been better, and it's all accompanied by a breathtaking score from Bernard Herrmann.

A must see.

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