(1958, Alfred Hitchcock)


A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Acrophobia: the irrational fear of heights, not the same as vertigo, which is the feelings of disillusionment and dizziness.  I am not sure the main character, John “Scottie” Ferguson, played by James Stewart, understands the difference.  Maybe in his day they were the same thing.  Oh, the good old old old days.

I will admit his fainting face is hilarious.


The bad:

Okay, not to be a dick, but Stewart is not my favourite actor.  His voice and accent are strange.  He does seem like he would have been a nice guy, or a raging lunatic, but I guess everyone is like that.


In the movie his character watches a colleague fall from the top of a building, which traumatizes him and he develops acrophobia.  Due to his acrophobia, he leaves the force, where he was a detective.  A friend of his from college, who is also a wealthy shipbuilder, asks Scottie if he will follow his wife, who he suspects is going nuts.  He believes his wife has been possessed the spirit of some chick who killed herself.  Apparently, his wife’s grandmother killed herself, therefore the crazy “is in her blood”.  Stick to building ship’s, buddy.  And killing chicks! Oops.  He also knows everything that his wife does when she is alone.  WHEN SHE IS ALONE?!  Now, how the fuck does he know that?!  He claims her mother told her what she does?!  Yeah, okay.  This guy is weird.

Of course, Scottie follows the beautiful and mysterious, Madeleine, played by Kim Novak (don’t worry, she is in the good), and then falls in love with her.  It really did not take much for two strangers to fall in love in the late ’50’s.

The husband/wealthy ship builder hatches a plan to fake his wife’s death by throwing some other chick out of a bell tower.  Totally believable.  I am sure this kind of thing happens all of the time.  When old Scottie sees her fall his acrophobia/vertigo is TRIGGERED.

Eventually, he finds a chick named “judy” that looks exactly like Madeleine.  He is obsessed and tries to make over “judy” as Madeleine.  Of course, “judy” is Madeleine.  Once again, totally normal.

Basically, the plot of this movie is weird.  It is considered a classic and one of the best films of all time.  I am not sure about that.  Maybe I am too critical, but I like other Hitchcock films more.  It could also be that I just recently listened to Tippi Hedren’s autobiography, and Hitchcock was a total ass to her.  It is hard to like men of that sort of character.


Apparently, when this movie debuted it did not do well.  Hitchcock blamed old James Stewart for being too old.  Yep.  He is old.  Especially compared to the young Novak, and his buddy Midge played by Barbara Bel Geddes, (more about her in the good), who looks way younger and is supposed to be a friend of his from college.  Sure.

The good:

Kim Novak!  She is awesome.  I love everything she wears in this movie.  Of course, that is due to the styling of Edith Head.


Hitchcock had a thing for blondes.  Many blondes played the leading ladies in his films: Janet Leigh in Psycho, Tippi Hendren in The Birds, Eve Saint Marie in North by Northwest, and Grace Kelly in Rear Window.


The scenery in this movie is amazing.  Honestly, Hitchcock knew a good angle!  The shots in this film are incredible.  It really feels like every shot was thoroughly thought out and that he knew exactly what he wanted.  His film-making has always reminded me of Sofia Coppola’s style.


I love Midge!  Her apartment is so cool.  She is an artist, who designs bras?  Sure, whatever.  Basically, she is in love with Scottie, always has been, and is single and lives alone.  She is the old, (but actually young), maid.  It is weird because Midge paints a portrait of herself as Carlotta, (the chick who Madeleine is obsessed with), and is surprised when Scottie doesn’t think it is funny.  She proceeds to have a breakdown.  Turns out there is more than one crazy blonde bitch in this movie.  I can’t believe she took the time to paint the portrait!  It was really good.  That would have taken a long time.  Shouldn’t she be designing bras and taking in stray cats?


In the end, Scottie goes nuts.  He is haunted by the memory of Madeleine.  After dressing “judy” up like her, he takes her to the same bell tower and makes her walk up the stairs.  He looks deranged, and old.  As he is walking up the stairs he is triggered a bunch of times, but just keeps going!  What a trooper.  He ends up overcoming his acrophobia/vertigo by forcing himself up the stairs.  Once.  Not sure that is the way it works, but what do I know.

He should have called this chick!  Saved himself climbing all of those dang stairs.  This guy is olde.  I added the ‘e’ because he is damn old!


Audrey Hepburn apparently wanted Kim Novak’s role.  She would have been excellent!

Of course, the ending is pretty quick.  They get up to the top of the bell tower and she jumps out the window when a nun appears.  My reaction as well.  Then the movie is over.  Was “judy” Madeleine?  Yes.  Actually, she was impersonating Madeleine.  Why? Well, because Gavin had already killed his wife and needed someone to play her.  He wanted to make it seem that she was possessed and crazy, therefore the police would believe she killed herself.  Why did he kill his actual wife?  Not sure.  Why wasn’t any of this actually mentioned in the movie?  Once again, not sure.  It would have been nice to know a little more about the husband and his motives.  Maybe, old Scottie could have been suspicious of him and his treatment of Madeleine.  That could have made the love part a little more believable.  He was obsessed with taking care of the victim, Madeleine.  To be honest, I had to go check out the wikipedia page to fully understand what the hell was going on.  Maybe I am tired or dumb, or both.

Well, this is a classic.  The story is not the greatest, but that is me.  The movie as a whole is beautifully shot, and is worth a watch.

Vertigo receives 4 TRIGGERED old Jimmy Stewart’s out of a possible 5.  (that face! bah!)