VERTIGO - Content
James Stewart and Kim Novak in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo."
For Hicksflicks.com, Sept. 27, 2013
An elite corps of international film critics is polled every year by Sight & Sound magazine to assess the greatest movies of all time, and for 50 years the No. 1 spot has gone to "Citizen Kane." But this year, for the first time, "Citizen Kane" dropped to No. 2, and the film that displaced it is Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo." And I can understand why.
I've seen it many times now, yet my respect for and enjoyment of "Vertigo" only grows with each viewing. It's difficult to understand why some movies rise in stature while others fall from grace, but Hitchcock's enigmatic mystery is certainly one of those. It was ahead of its time and time is now catching up.
James Stewart plays Scottie, a police detective who has been retired as disabled due to a traumatic fear of heights. When an acquaintance wants his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) followed. Scottie is initially uninterested, but he succumbs and begins tracking Madeleine's movements. She appears to be a sad, perhaps depressed woman of sophistication, and at one point Scottie rescues her from a suicide attempt. After this, he's lost, hopelessly in love, and it will prove to be his undoing.
If you haven't seen "Vertigo," to say more would be a crime. What follows is a major unexpected twist, and it won't be the last. And as Scottie begins to unravel, he also begins to realize that he wasn't hired for this job by happenstance.
The performances are great, with Novak giving a career best; the location shooting in and around San Francisco is vivid, as is the brilliant color scheme; and Bernard Herrmann's musical score is, arguably, his finest. And with the guiding hand of Hitchcock everything coalesces to make this a gripping cinematic experience.
To understand why the film's stature has risen in the minds of critics, you really have to see it for yourself. And think about it. And ponder it. And then see it again.
And watching it in a movie theater is the way to go, if that's possible.
And now, it's possible.
"Vertigo" is the last of Cinemark Theaters' latest cycle of classic movies, and it will be shown Sunday, Sept. 29, at 2 p.m., then again on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 2 and 7 p.m.
I'll be there. You should be too.