Vertigo (1958) Review

director: Alfred Hitchcock

writers: Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor

starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak

genre: Crime | Romance | Thriller

The release of older films to cinemas can only be seen as a grand delight. Especially with older classics like Alfred Hitchcock’s 'Vertigo' which is one of his most acclaimed films. In it, Hitchcock thrills the viewer with mystery and dazzles us with the raw emotions the characters go through. 'Vertigo' is a film not to be missed and a spellbinding experience that constantly tops in the best film lists of all time.


Detective Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) discovers he has acrophobia after on duty incident. Now retired he’s recovering from his new found fear by resting and spending time with his old friend Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) an old acquaintance doesn’t leave him out of his old habits by asking for a favor. Intrigued into helping his old friend Scottie sets to investigate Elster’s wife Madeline (Kim Novak) for her mysterious behavior and her interest in Carlota Valdes. As the film progress Scottie gets deeper into the mystery of the connection the dead Carlota has with living and very strange Madeline. But as we see the detective job isn’t that simple as Scottie gets attached to Madeline and finds theirs price to pay for the thing you want.


What makes 'Vertigo' such a great film and for so many to rank it highly after many years is simple. Its Hitchcock. From his casting choices of the mesmerizing Kim Novak to one of the 20th century great leading actors James Stewart, Hitchcock has never made the audience not feel in touch with the actors he has on screen. Another factor to it is the writing. Hitchcock does put everything into place and his direction is impeccable as ill mention later on, but the writing is to be noted as well. Additionally, I must add Hitchcock may never wrote a script for all his masterpieces, but he need how to pick them. Concerning the script, the way Stewart's character Scottie faces through his trauma and the devastating event that occurs to him in the film which I will not mention is greatly written. A great feel for the character and their motives from finding the true love to not knowing any better what to do. Also the twists the film has are outstanding and will leave you with your jaw open.

The techniques Hitchcock used in countless of his films have influenced filmmakers for generations. With his great Vertigo shot of Scottie spinning, or his the changes of color in his dream. Or even more simply how he lets the mystery unravel so beautifully in front of our eyes. It tragedy that we didn't live in his times to enjoy his films at the time of their release. All he ever did was advance medium with breathtaking techniques, bold and original stories and lifted the artistic capacity of the director from the hands of the producer.

After talking about the obvious qualities of Vertigo I'm going to give some input on the lesser known the film possess. One is the score by Bernard Hermann from his classic opening titles Vertigo music to the silent but enigmatic feeling his music makes us feel when Scottie is following Madeline. Another element I am fond of that many people might not know of is Saul Bass. The edits sequence he has created for countless of films that all are unique and represent a distinct and unique feeling for each film. He has worked many times with Hitchcock and his credits sequence here as we slowly see the vertigo effect towards the eye of a woman is incredible. Also im glad to see that after his long film relationship with Hitchcock he’s moved on to Scorsese where he has continued his great work.


As the poster says this is Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece. If anyone has the free time and hasn’t seen Vertigo before, its about time. Because it’s not ever day that you have the chance to see one of the greats on screen in its true glory. Vertigo is a prime example of cinema at its best, a great piece of art and a deeply entertaining film.

Personal Rating:

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review by Paul Katsaros

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