My Thoughts On… Vertigo

Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, it may be best to move on!

The whole point of these posts is that they are not film reviews; they are simply my thoughts on the film in question. It feels important to say that about this film in particular, because it’s so beloved by critics these days, and I don’t want to presume to know more than any of those much more qualified people. These posts are simply my reaction to the films as I watch them.

Synopsis

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

What I Liked

  • I always enjoy watching James Stewart in films, especially Hitchcock films. There’s a reason that Hitchcock cast him so regularly, and that’s because he plays the ordinary man so well. He’s also a good looking man. The film came in for some criticism because at 50, he is twice the age of Kim Novak, who he was playing opposite. Firstly, I didn’t even really take any notice of this. And secondly, I never have a problem with age differences in fiction (or real life, for that matter).
  • Talking of James Stewart, it was nice to see him play a slightly different character here; although he is just an ordinary guy to begin with, he becomes obsessed with Novak’s character, and starts acting rather creepily. It’s a bit of a novelty.
  • Kim Novak, who plays opposite Stewart, is of course, another Hitchcock blonde, but I think she does a very good job in her dual role. I was completely convinced by her performance as Madeleine!
  • Knowing how revered this films is by critics, I was surprised to find that, twenty minutes in, I wasn’t really enjoying it. It wasn’t bad, it was just that it felt a bit slow and that it wasn’t really going anywhere. And then, by the time of the big reveal, I was hooked, and amazed by the fact that I hadn’t seen the twist coming.
  • The fact that the reveal comes in the middle of the film and not at the end is a welcome change from most Hitchcock thrillers, and it doesn’t lead to a lessening in atmosphere.
  • As I mentioned in my post on Shadow of a Doubt, I love it when a familiar face pops up in a film I am watching. This time, it was Ellen Corby, playing the landlady of the hotel. She is most famous for playing Grandma Walton, but I know her as the schoolteacher in On Moonlight Bay.
  • The film is set in San Francisco, and the city looks great through Hitchcock’s lens.

What I Didn’t Like

  • As I mentioned, I thought it had a bit of a slow start, but that complaint is rather forgotten in the subsequent action. I enjoyed the film so much by the time I had finished it that I don’t really see it as too much of a problem on the whole.
  • There was one piece of particularly dodgy acting, when Scottie (played by James Stewart) falls from a ladder into the arms of his friend Midge. Really, it was quite comical and it wasn’t supposed to be!

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