Saturday, May 5, 2012
Vertigo (Collector's Edition)
#61 (1998) and #9 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 American Movies List.
Vertigo is a 1958 psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes. The screenplay was written by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor, based on the 1954 novel D'entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac.
It is the story of a retired police detective suffering from acrophobia who is hired as a private investigator to follow the wife of an acquaintance to uncover the mystery of her peculiar behavior.
The film received mixed reviews upon initial release, but has garnered acclaim since and is now often cited as a classic Hitchcock film and one of the defining works of his career, appearing repeatedly in best films polls by the American Film Institute
* James Stewart as John "Scottie" Ferguson
* Kim Novak as Judy Barton/Madeleine Elster
* Barbara Bel Geddes as Midge Wood
* Tom Helmore as Gavin Elster
* Fred Graham as Scottie's police partner
* Raymond Bailey as Scottie's doctor
* Henry Jones as the Coroner
* Ellen Corby as the hotel owner
In the 1950s, the French Cahiers du cinéma critics began re-evaluating Hitchcock as a serious artist rather than just a populist showman. However, even François Truffaut's important 1962 interviews with Hitchcock (not published in English until 1967) mentions Vertigo only in passing. Dan Aulier has suggested that the real beginning of Vertigo's rise in adulation was the British-Canadian scholar Robin Wood's Hitchcock's Films (1968), which calls the film "Hitchcock's masterpiece to date and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us". Adding to its mystique was the fact that Vertigo was one of five films owned by Hitchcock which was removed from circulation in 1973. When Vertigo was re-released in theaters in October 1983, and then on home video in October 1984, it achieved an impressive commercial success and laudatory reviews. Similarly adulatory reviews were written for the October 1996 showing of a restored print in 70mm and DTS sound at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.
In 1989, Vertigo was recognized as a "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" film by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in the first year of the registry's voting.
The film ranked 4th and 2nd respectively in Sight and Sound's 1992 and 2002 critic polls of the best films ever made. In 2005, Vertigo came in second (to Goodfellas) in British magazine Total Film's book 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.
In his book Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer, however, British film critic Tom Shone argued that Vertigo's critical re-evaluation has led to excessive praise, and argued for a more measured response. Faulting Sight and Sound for "perennially" putting the film on the list of best-ever films, he wrote that "Hitchcock is a director who delights in getting his plot mechanisms buffed up to a nice humming shine, and so the Sight and Sound team praise the one film of his in which this is not the case – it's all loose ends and lopsided angles, its plumbing out on display for the critic to pick over at his leisure."