RogerBW's Blog

Vertigo (1958) 10 October 2023

1958 psychological drama, dir. Alfred Hitchcock, James Stewart, Kim Novak: IMDb / allmovie. Obsession is not good for you.

Well, this was my first Hitchcock; and it's not a terrible one, though it's much more of its age than many older films, particularly in its portrayal even of relatively "normal" relationships bewteen the sexes. There's a long, lingering shot of Madeleine in her first scene in which we are clearly meant to share in Scottie's sudden obsession with her, and that's apparently enough to excuse everything he then does. (I mean, he's been employed – as far as he knows – to follow his friend's wife and work out what psychological strangeness she's indulging, so one would feel that professionalism alone would be a good reason to try not to fall for her and try to start an affair, but I never got the feeling that he was even making the attempt.)

I never found myself warming to Scottie, even in the early part of the film when I think I was supposed to; his ghastly treatment of Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes, daughter of Norman) just made me think "leave the bastard, lady, you deserve someone who wants you rather than just an arm accessory". (A planned epilogue showing Scottie back with Midge was cut, so at least I can head-canon that she did have the sense to stay away from him after she was dumped.)

My goodness it's an over-complicated murder plot, though. Did Elster pick his wife's double to be part of the scheme first, then start sleeping with her, or did he just happen to have a mistress who looked a lot like his wife? What was his exit plan, given that even in the 1950s saying "I was part of a murder plot, here is lots of evidence that'll let you catch the guy who did the killing" would get one pretty lenient treament? That is not the point at which you dump your conspirator; that's the point at which you say "at last darling we can be together", and arrange a terrible boating accident.

The ending I thought the film might be building to felt more honest than the one we got: at the tower the second time, obsessed Scottie could say "this is where Madeleine died, and this is where you're going to die", and try to throw her off himself.

(And talking of terrible accidents, what a bathetic ending! I got the feeling that the writer's mainspring had run down, each principal had said their piece, and he couldn't see how to end the scene or the film. So off Judy has to go, Frightened By Nun like a Gashlycrumb Tiny.

I talk about this film further on Ribbon of Memes.

Tags: film reviews

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1