Vertigo (1958)

Genres - Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Mystery, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - May 28, 1958 (USA)  |   Run Time - 129 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

It did middling business and the critics were unimpressed in 1958, but Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo has come to be considered his greatest film for its complex examination of romantic pathology. Seamlessly combining evocative imagery and thematic concerns, Hitchcock structured Vertigo through numerous visual and narrative circles and twists, beginning with Saul Bass's opening title sequence. Steadily drawing the viewer into the figurative whirlpool of Scottie's mind as he investigates Madeleine, Hitchcock then broke the rules of suspense (as he would again in Psycho) with a mid-movie revelation that transforms the film from an eerie mystery into a deeply disturbing story of necrophiliac obsession. Using such visual effects as a track-out/zoom-in to signal Scottie's vertigo, Judy's hazily green-lit reemergence as Madeleine, and a surreal nightmare sequence, Hitchcock reveals Scotty's tortured psyche, belying James Stewart's nice-guy surface. Further ducking convention, Hitchcock allowed a character to get away with murder, while leaving Scottie metaphorically hanging in uncertainty. Admired by the film school generation of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma but unavailable for years due to rights problems, Vertigo had its critical reputation further burnished by its 1983 reissue. Its 1996 restoration returned the washed-out colors to their original clarity and digitally enhanced Bernard Herrmann's haunting score.