Running Time 2 hrs 8 min – Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Starring James “Jimmy” Stewart & Kim Novak – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Big JD (Host)
When retired/emotionally damaged Detective John Ferguson is hired to keep an eye on a man’s supposedly possessed wife he learns that even with his bout of Vertigo he still needs to overcome his fears as well as his love stricken heart. When true love is found will he do what he has to do or will he let it slip by.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1958 this movie just became the #1 movie of all time according to BFI (British Film Institute). Whereas AFI (American Film Institute) has ranked it #9 of all time with a #1 ranking in the “Mystery” genre. The main reason I selected this movie for this week was because the #1 ranking needs to be justified by normal people. Seeing how we are not British will we believe that it is the 9th best movie ever made?
***If you have not seen this movie, if you read further you may risk the chance of hitting spoilers.***
Let’s talk about why this movie is ranked #1 in Britain and the #1 mystery movie in the US. No, let’s just talk about the movie because the people that do those ratings are stuck. It’s like they don’t want to give up that favorite toy they had as a kid because it holds sentimental value. I’m sure they feel that if they rate the movie (and all movies of this type) lower than usual then they are judging by different standards. Well, I say that things change. Movies have changed and these ratings need to change with the times. Now, Vertigo was a good movie. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll talk a bit more about it in a moment but to me it doesn’t deserve the high praise that it has received all these years. Actors become better in their craft. Writing is more scrutinized. The audience isn’t as naive as they used to be. Things have to change AFI/BFI and it all starts with you changing your ratings systems.
“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Let’s get this party started shall we. I went into this movie with my expectations in the basement. My mind was open and sure enough it caught me being intrigued. During the movie I had so many inclinations about what was happening and what I thought should happen. Examples being: I had thought that it would have been nice to see a real personality change with Madeleine when she was being possessed by the ghost of Carlotta. You can imagine my change of mind when I find out that there isn’t any science fiction going on here. So, that went in the toilet. Another example was when John was “crazy” in mourning. I felt that he just needed to come to his senses and shack up with Midge and stop following strangers that looked like Madeleine. Again, I was wrong. Those weren’t the only times either. I was wrong about the direction this movie was going most of the time that I was watching it. Which is nice when it comes to mystery movies.
The acting was typical for any actors/actresses from 1958. Overacting every scene. I guess it’s not their fault, that’s the way movies were made back then. But as I am watching it I can’t help but allow it to bother me. A few uncomfortable acting scenes were as follows: 1) the dizzy fall that John has when he tries to prove to Midge the stepstool test. 2) In John’s apartment after the rescue he touches Madeline’s hand over a cup of coffee. 3) Finally, the interrogation scene at the tree while visiting Yosemite National Park? All of which took me straight out of the movie with a “C’mon! Seriously!” In their time I’m sure they were respected as excellent but every time Madeleine doesn’t want to answer a question she whips her hair back and forth!
Usually not so stellar acting can be blamed on the script or the direction they were given. Well, I’m sure Alfred Hitchcock did everything he could with Jimmy. “Hey Jimmy, you’re going to be climbing these stairs and every time you come to a corner you have to look down for 3 seconds. OK? Roll ‘em!”. No, there were some plot holes believe it or not. 1) How the heck did John Ferguson get down from the building he was hanging onto? The drain gutter was about to bust and there obviously wasn’t anyone else around to give him a hand. There wasn’t any foothold’s. I guess he just mystically floated down to the crowd down below. HOLE! 2) He’s a detective. Sorry ex-detective that should be an expert at following individuals yet, he is on her ass every time he is following her. All she had to do was stop real quick and he would’ve bumped into her! Or turned her head. I won’t call that a HOLE but I will call that careless directing. Ooh yeah, I said it. 3) Midge. Why is she needed? She was good for some banter in the beginning but she kept showing up. If you’re going to keep including her you should make her a part of the story. Amirite? I felt that she wanted to be John’s infatuation but didn’t have the nuts to say it. She could have been a stronger force. I’ll call this one untapped POTENTIAL! 4) Love. Ok, he follows his friend’s wife and he suddenly falls in love with her after saving her life? Oh, and seeing her naked? No, no, no he was just experiencing horniness coupled with the powerful feeling you get after saving someone’s life. But we are somehow to believe that he is willing to use infidelity a weapon against his friend from college after they touch hands over some coffee. He seemed pretty straight to me before that. Big HOLE! The twists and turns I did however enjoy and felt genuinely surprised when something new came up. I liked that.
The score really gave a good assist in the movie and I wouldn’t have changed a thing here. Although the effects were one of a kind back in ’58 I still couldn’t get over the “floating head” scene with the dancing hair. I honestly laughed out loud when that showed onscreen. Hilarious.
The movie ends with a tragic love story ending. Usually I’m not one for tragic endings but during this fit of craziness displayed by “Scottie” I couldn’t see them going back to any kind of normality. So, I needed some finality in which Hitchcock was obliging enough to give me. Now tell me how he got down from the damn building! It’s driving me crazy!
…. Wow, Gee-Willikers Big JD, Nice catch from the Past. This movie came out the year my mom was born. Man is that an old movie.
Alfred Hitchcock’s movies always have a way of snagging me into the movie, at first I thought oh this is going to be a long drawn out movie, but it actually kept my attention, the acting was done very well, it had that suspenseful feeling but not over the top. I hate to say it but I thought Jimmy Stewart was a little crazy, not “Crazy Cage” crazy but still a little out there.
The storyline was done very well, I love movies that get me, and this one got me. I never saw the ending coming. One question I had on my mind was, Was the lady in the Hotel paid off? She never saw her go in or leave, yet she wasn’t in the apartment we saw her go in…I think she was paid off.
Anyways back to the review…I would say this movie surprised me, the music score was done rather well, and the casting I think was awesome. I’ve not seen enough Kim Novak movies in my life but from the ones I have seen she was an awesome actress, as well as Jimmy Stewart. I think this one finally got me to give it the best score.
Well done Big JD.
So first off, I don’t get why this movie has so much critical acclaim. Maybe back 60 years ago when this movie came out it was good (though it actually only received mediocre reviews). If it were released now in theaters I believe no one would go see it. It is hard to judge this movie compared to cinema today because things have changed quite a bit.
For instance, there is no voice over in this movie what so ever. All of the other movies we have reviewed use it in some form. There are also long periods with no dialogue. This doesn’t happen as much anymore. They actually let the actors/actresses act. (What a concept!)
That being said, it was an interesting twist on a forbidden love story with a twist…then another twist (Super twisty!!). I thought the movie was pretty good. The story was interesting and the acting seemed ok. I didn’t see what everyone else must be seeing (Randizzle). It seemed like another love story movie with a tragic ending. (A.k.a boring)
P.S. I don’t think this was in the top 20 best movies ever made…unless you are old. Then you are probably stuck playing with your old toys still. (And will probably never read this because computers are a mystery to you.)
For Those that have seen this movie. What did you think?