Hitchcock, directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning over six decades. Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema. He is famous for his narrative and withholding crucial information from his characters and from the audience.
One of my favorite Hitchcock films is, Vertigo (1958). Where Stewart plays "Scottie", a former police investigator suffering from acrophobia, who develops an obsession with a woman he is shadowing (Novak). Scottie's obsession leads to tragedy and this time Hitchcock does not go for a happy ending.
Vertigo(1958). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes. The film was written by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor, based on a novel by Boileau-Narcejac. At first the film received mixed reviews, but now ranked among the greatest films ever made. Hitchcock's film is about obsession, which means that it's about circling back to the same moment, over and over again ...
The story begins in San Francisco, during a police chase across the rooftops, Detective John "Scottie" Ferguson nearly falls to his death. Unfortunately, his partner falls to his death while trying to save him.
After which, Scottie decides to retire from police force, but an old friend Gavin Elster, contacts Scottie and wants him to work for him as a private investigator. His job is to follow his friends wife, Madeleine Elster and to learn the mystery of her strange behavior. Scottie follows them to a restaurant so he knows what she looks like.
In my favorite part of the movie, Scottie now on the case follows Madeleine as she visits the grave and the museum portrait of Carlotta Valdes.
Scottie learns that Carlotta Valdes tragic life ended in suicide and that she was Madeleine's great-grandmother. Madeleine next stop is Fort Point, where she jumps into San Francisco Bay. Scottie jumps in after her and takes her to his home to dry off and rest.
There Madeleine shares with him what she thinks she is living in a bad dream, Scottie believes the location in the dream is Mission San Juan Bautista and takes her there, in hopes to make her ease her mind..
At the mission, Madeleine panics and runs into the church and up the staircase of the bell tower. Scottie chases after her, but his acrophobia prevents him from climbing the staircase. Scottie hears a scream and sees Madeleine fall from the tower. Her death was declared a suicide and Gavin blamed her being possessed by Carlotta Valdes.
Scottie had fallen in love with Madeleine and went into a great depression after her death. As he improves, he begins to visit the places that they had once visited. In his travels, he spots woman who reminds him of Madeleine.
Scottie follows her to her hotel room where she tells him that her name is Judy Barton. At first she is worried he might learn the truth, but after a few minutes she agrees to join Scottie for dinner.
After Scottie has left, we learn of her true identity. She was, in fact, the woman who he knew as "Madeleine". Judy in love with Scottie, decides to hide the truth. Their relationship is troubled by his memory of "Madeleine." He transforms Judy so that she begins to look like "Madeleine."
Scottie becomes suspicious when Judy wears a necklace that he remembered seeing in the portrait of Carlotta Valdes. Scottie takes Madeleine to Mission San Juan Bautista, so he can reenact the tragic event in which he could not save Madeleine. Maybe he has taken his obsession too far.
The wonderful performances of Novak and Stewart make this one of my favorite films. Hitchcock is on the mark for creating hypnotic scenes and a sense of tension which will keep you on the edge of your seat!
The wonderful score of Bernard Herrman is very important in help creating the atmosphere of this movie.
When actress Vera Miles, who was under personal contract to Hitchcock and had appeared on both his television show and in his film, The Wrong Man, could not act in Vertigo because of her pregnancy. The director cast Kim Novak as the female lead. Columbia head Harry Cohn agreed to lend Novak to Vertigo, if Stewart would agree to co-star with Novak in Bell, Book and Candle (1958).
Hitchcock said that Vertigo was one of his favorite films. Hitchcock blamed the film's failure on Stewart, at age 50, looking too old to play a convincing love interest for Kim Novak, who at 25 was half his age at the time.
Filmed from September to December 1957, Vertigo is best known for its location of the San Francisco Bay Area, with its famous steep hills, expansive views, and tall, arching bridges.
The Mission San Juan Bautista, where Madeleine falls from the tower, is a real place, but the tower had to be matted in with a painting using studio effects. Hitchcock had first visited the mission before the tower was torn down due to dry rot, and was reportedly displeased to find it missing when he returned to film his scenes. The original tower was much smaller and less dramatic than the film's version.
The gallery where Carlotta's painting appears is the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
Muir Woods National Monument is in fact represented by Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The redwood tree showing its age is a replica of one that can still be found at Muir Woods.
The coastal region where Scottie and Madeleine first kiss is Cypress Point, a well-known location along the 17 Mile Drive near Pebble Beach. However, the lone tree by which they kiss is in fact a prop brought specially to the location.
The spectacular domed building past which Scottie and Judy walk is the Palace of Fine Arts.
Coit Tower appears in many background shots; Hitchcock once said that he included it as a phallic symbol.
Gavin and Madeleine's apartment building is "The Brocklebank" at 1000 Mason Street, is across the street from the Fairmont Hotel, where Hitchcock stayed when he visited and where many of the cast and crew stayed during filming.
The "McKittrick Hotel" was a privately-owned Victorian mansion from the 1880s at Gough and Eddy Streets, was torn down in 1959.
Podesta Baldocchi is the flower shop Madeleine visits as she is being followed by Scottie. The Podesta Baldocchi flower shop now does business from a location at 410 Harriet Street. It is well-known today as the "World's Oldest Family Owned Florist".
The sanatorium is 351 Buena Vista East, formerly St. Joseph's Hospital, now Park Hill condominiums.
The Empire Hotel is a real place, called the York Hotel, and now (as of January 2009) the Hotel Vertigo at 940 Sutter Street.
Please click here to read Lady Eves article: Shooting on a beautiful San Francisco day.
Throughout his seven decades in Hollywood, Stewart had a very versatile career and performed in the classics: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, It's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo.
Nineteen other classic movie blogs will post reviews and articles on many Hitchcock films. I 'm really looking forward to a day of wonderful movie reviews about one of my favorite directors. Please join us.
The Birds – Classic Film & TV Café
Dial M for Murder – True Classics: The ABCs of Film
The Lady Vanishes – MacGuffin Movies
Lifeboat – Classicfilmboy’s Movie Paradise
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Reel Revival
Marnie – My Love of Old Hollywood
Mr. and Mrs. Smith – Carole & Co.
North By Northwest – Bette’s Classic Movie Blog
Notorious – Twenty Four Frames
The Pleasure Garden – Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Rear Window – Java’s Journey
Rebecca – ClassicBecky’s Film and Literary Review
Rope – Kevin’s Movie Corner
Shadow of a Doubt - Great Entertainers Media Archive
The 39 Steps – Garbo Laughs
Three Classic Hitchcock Killers – The Lady Eve’s Reel Life
Torn Curtain - Via Margutta 51
The Trouble with Harry – Bit Part Actors
Vertigo – Noir and Chick Flicks
The Wrong Man – The Movie Projector