And while I always enjoy it, I'm not sure I completely understand it.
It's about overwhelming obsession, OP.
I love this movie
You can sum up the movie like this . . .
You always manipulate the ones you love.
what's not to understand? Becoming obsessed with someone who isn't really what they portray to the public and is unattainable. Every gay man has done that.
I adore this movie! And it does get better with repeat viewings, even lots of repeat viewings, which is probably why the critics love it so.
As to what it's about... yes, loving someone who doesn't really exist. It's part of every relationship, we all delude ourselves about our partner, so it's universal in a way. But it's also about Hitchcock's habit of creating his ideal woman for films, of turning low-rent bimboes into unreal perfection.
I have probably seen this movie at least 20 times and it is one of my all time favorites. I think Kim Novak is very good in it - though some think she was over her head. Love the Judy Barton character.
Hitchcock was the best. Did anyone see Sabotage - 1936 - with Sylvia Sidney? Great movie that I just saw recently. It was less refined than the Hitchcock we think of in the 50's - 60's. no glamour.
What I don't understand is why, after he sees the necklace, and the jig is really up, does he take her back to the tower?
He's so far gone and angry at that point that he wants to teach her a lesson - he's off the deep end when he realizes his obsession was never real.
I don't believe there was ever a time when parking was that easy in San Francisco.
Kim Novak gives a great performance. There are actresses who have won Oscars for less.
If you like the suspenseful ending of this movie, check out "Black Narcissus". It influenced Hitchcock greatly in his conception of Vertigo. It will also give you the shivers.
Wow, I'd never thought of that before, r12. I can definitely see the relationship between the endings. Love "Black Narcissus."
r6 Novak WAS in over her head. As usual, you can see the wheels turning when she acts. r12 & r13, chalk up another fan of "Black Narcissus".
I'm watching Rear Window again at the moment ... one always picks up new little things, how Thelma folds the sheets, how unappealing Stewart looked with his top off ....
"Kim Novak gives a great performance. There are actresses who have won Oscars for less."
Believe it or not, very few people ever won Oscars for appearing in Hitchcock movies. Anthony Perkins wasn't even nominated for Psycho (which is INSANE).
"I adore this movie! And it does get better with repeat viewings, even lots of repeat viewings, which is probably why the critics love it so."
I've hated this movie from the first, and repeat viewings haven't changed my opinion. They lose me right at the start: We see Jimmy Stewart hanging by his fingers from the roof of a very tall building. It looks like he's about to lose his grip at any second, and there is no one right near him to pull him up. Next shot: We see Stewart in his apartment some time later, apparently having sustained only a minor injury from this experience.
The movie is filled with occurrences that don't make any sense in the real world. So I just don't get it, unless the ENTIRE movie is supposed to be a nightmare. Has anyone advanced this theory? That would be a cheap way out of making a movie that makes sense, wouldn't it?
Jimmy Stewart in love with a woman he tries to make over in the image of a dead woman who was really that woman all along posing as a completely different woman.
His apartment set from "Vertigo" uses the same three-window setup as the apartment set in "Rear Window."
A nice cinematic nod to VERTIGO is OBSESSION.
I think I prefer it actually
I find it very difficult to believe someone as beautiful as Kim Novak would ever fall in love with a dull ugly nerd like Jimmy Stewart.
He was the Ron Jeremy of fifties mainstream movies, although with competition from Bogart.
I really, really, really don't like this film. I don't know why. I've tried to watch it several times over the years and I've never made it all the way through. I think it's just because I never liked Stewart that much in the first place, and his character in this film is so weird and nasty.
A clue: his character is supposed to be weird and nasty.
Jimmy Stewart ruins this film. If only Hitch had found someone else...
I've tried three times to watch this, because it's so beloved. But I never make it through. I just don't care what happens to them.
He's really weird in the final scenes.
[quote]They lose me right at the start: We see Jimmy Stewart hanging by his fingers from the roof of a very tall building. It looks like he's about to lose his grip at any second, and there is no one right near him to pull him up. Next shot: We see Stewart in his apartment some time later, apparently having sustained only a minor injury from this experience.
Vertigo is a dream-like film, and I think when you look at it literally, one overlooks what it's all about.
Re Stewart suspended in the opening sequence: as critic Robin Wood wrote, "The effect is of having him, throughout the film, metaphorically hanging over a great abyss." Or put another way: "the tension between the desire to fall and the dread of falling."
It's not a coincidence that the last image of Vertigo is of Stewart with his arms slightly outstretched and his hands open.
I love those dreamy scenes of his following her around San Francisco - but yes the whole film is about the dread of falling, after that pre-credit sequence of him hanging on to the gutter while the cop falls. Obviously he is rescued but Hitch does not need to show us that, just the aftermath where he has resigned from the force because of his fear of heights.
Bel Geddes is wonderful too as Midge. The bit that does not work for me is the blank reaction of Novak when Stewart suddenly turns up at her hotel room door - she does not know he followed her in the street, so here he is again and she looks totally blank, after deceiving him. And why does she put on that necklace, does she want him to know how they deceived him?
She briefly sees him as she is talking to her girlfriends from work but doesn't let on to anyone that she recognizes him. She's not stupid and I'm sure she knew that one day they would spot each other. After all, she didn't leave town.
Her look and makeup though as the second woman is really trashy looking, you would hardly imagine he would see any of the original Madeline in her.
Thats the other thing: shouldn't she have left town - then he would never have found her.
I hate everything about this dated film. And I love most Hitchcock movies (don't get me started on Psycho or Rear Window).
To think it's been voted best film of all time by the BFI while Mulholland Drive (a film about the illusion of cinema, no less) says a lot about how behind those established film critics are at the moment.
I her recent TCM interview Kim spoke about how much she hated wearing the grey suit and that it was really the only disagreement she had with Hitch.
But years later, with hindsight, she realized how brilliant it was of him to make her wear it as it brought out in her a woman who was not comfortable in her own skin.
Fabulous interview, btw, if you have not seen it!
"Thats the other thing: shouldn't she have left town - then he would never have found her."
She'd not only developed real feelings for him in the first act, she quickly realized the earlier events had driven him crazy and she felt horribly guilty. She stayed and put up with his crazy makeover because of the guilt, she wanted to help him and make up for what she'd done.
Like I've always said, you don't really get this movie until you see the events from Judy's POV. Even her attraction to the aged Scotty isn't that unbelievable, she's a low-rent bimbo and her last BF was much more likely to push women into the surf than pull them out.
I saw that interview r33. It was great. Kim came across very well although perhaps a bit damaged by her Hollywood career. She went on and on about mental illness. Sounds very happy now. I guess she never had kids.
"Vertigo is a dream-like film, and I think when you look at it literally, one overlooks what it's all about."
Sorry, R27. I think any movie like this has to be grounded in reality before the weird stuff starts happening. And although I have huge problems with the plot and characters of the film throughout, that bit right at the beginning really destroys the whole movie for me before it even really gets started, because from what we see, there is NO WAY Jimmy Stewart's character would not have fallen from the roof of that building and been killed.
So yes, R28, I do think "Hitch" should have shown us exactly how he was rescued, because it's 100 percent unbelievable to me.
Novak's grey suit and the "cool" musical score (Bernard Hermann?) were both meant to evoke the soft, dreamlike quality of San Francisco's ever-present fog.
Re: The Barbara Bel Geddes character. Can someone explain to me why she just disappears right in the middle of the film? It's the same type of mysterious vanishing that happens to Thelma Ritter In All About Eve.
Is it that the character has served her purpose and there is no need for her anymore?
Vertigo and Rear Window, Hitchcock in his highest level, classics.
You couldn't pay me enough to see it.
"The Barbara Bel Geddes character. Can someone explain to me why she just disappears right in the middle of the film? "
She probably realized that she was wasting her life. She had always loved Scotty, and presumably thought they'd get together someday. But when Scotty fell for someone else, and was so batshit crazy for her that losing her drove him to a mental hospital, she realized that it was never going to happen. She'd had enough.
Any other questions?
Midge will be there again to pick up the pieces once more while Scotty recovers from losing Kim the second time, and this time is for good.
The big mistake in Rear Window is getting Stewart topless for his massage by Thelma - his body looks so unappeaaling ... would any woman, least of all Grace Kelly, find that attractive?
Thelma incidentally vanishes from All About Eve, when the story moves away from Margo's apartment - for the second half where Eve and Karen and Addison take central stage. Margo is also sidelined then to a degree, so there is no more room for Birdie.
My mother told me that when she was a kid, she heard that people actually fainted in movie theaters after the boy-on-the-bus scene in Sabotage. Nothing like that had ever been done with a child character before in English language films.
Hitchcock liked to break barriers. He seemed almost as pleased that he'd sneaked a toilet bowl in "Psycho" as he'd killed the leading lady. There had never been a toilet in a Hollywood movie before.
Jeff has an exciting lifestyle and is a challenge, since he's not keen on marriage. That's why Lisa is attracted to Stewart in Rear Window, not because of his looks.
When Midge repaints that portrait and puts her own face and eyeglasses on it -- hilarious! But Scotty didn't think so, which was also hilarious.
That was probably the only part I liked about the movie, R44
A companion movie to this piece would be Gaslight. Needless to say I like Gaslight much better. Vertigo is boring, boring, boring, annoying to boot.
I looked at Psycho again last night r42 - and noted 3 things about it:
she only steals forty thousand dollars,
the opening titles state it is December 11 - but there is no mention or look of christmas,
and yes, the toilet bowl - first time one was seen or flushed in an American movie, though Marion is only flushing away her torn page with the figures on it.
The score also is so terrific, it is not just the shrieking violins of the shower scene.
Not sure though if I want to see its latest reboot as Bates Motel, on tv.
Bates Motel isn't good, except for Vera Farmiga's over the top performance. Rich Juzwiak at Gawker put together a reel of her best meltdowns.
r42, in an interview with Dick Cavett, Alfred Hitchcock said he learned after the fact that what happened to the boy was a mistake.
I think the interview is on youtube. It's been shown on TCM.
[quote]the opening titles state it is December 11 - but there is no mention or look of christmas,
There are Christmas decorations displayed when she's driving out of town with the money.
[quote]she only steals forty thousand dollars
That is about $240,000 in today's money. That could support two frugal fugitives for a long time. A real woman doing Marion's job probably made no more than three thousand dollars a year.
They had to put the December date on Psycho because when the 2nd unit went out to film the background shots they accidentally filmed all those Christmas decorations
My favorite character from Vertigo is Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). Of course I like Bel Geddes is just about anything. Midge obviously loved Scottie so much and he was completely oblivious.
Awesome movie, just shown at SF Castro Theatre - in 4K. Beautiful.
Why didn't Scotty question why didn't Madeleine jump OFF the GG Bridge, rather than NEAR it? That always irked me.
[quote]And while I always enjoy it, I'm not sure I completely understand it.
Stop watching it on Univision, were it's dubbed in Spanish.
I love it, I love Obsession, I love that final shot in Vertigo. One of my favorite final scenes.
[quote]Why didn't Scotty question why didn't Madeleine jump OFF the GG Bridge, rather than NEAR it? That always irked me.
She knew he was following. It was all set up so he could "rescue" her.
Scotty is an unstable, ill person, and this is the only movie in which I find James Stewart sexy. And that's disturbing. And it's supposed to be.
A GREAT movie.
I love VERTIGO. But every time I watch it I hope Stewart will reach out and grab Novak before she falls.
[quote] The score also is so terrific, it is not just the shrieking violins of the shower scene
I wish we had something in the US like the BBC proms, which do all sorts of musical presentations, including movie themes.
Ridiculous melodramatic schlock.
Jimmy Stewart, who is usually a good actor, was laughable in this and Novak was worse.
Hitchcock was a great technician but was horrible at directing actors. There is no subtlety in any of the performances. He populates his films with caricatures.
The emperor is wearing no clothes.
Also love this James Bond medley from the BBC Proms. The conductor looks like a very excited character from the Yellow Submarine movie.
The location shots in Vertigo are great, which makes one wonder why the house in Psycho looks so ridiculous and inauthentic.
"High Anxiety" was on TCM today.
"Why didn't Scotty question why didn't Madeleine jump OFF the GG Bridge, rather than NEAR it? That always irked me."
She knew he was following. It was all set up so he could "rescue" her. (R57)
R57, what I mean to say is after that incident, wouldn't Scotty query Elster that if his wife wanted to commit suicide, wouldn't a fool-proof method be jumping from ATOP the GG Bridge? I know it would end the movie (and certainly not part of the devious plan), but it is a curious and practical query to anyone.
Why would a genuinely suicidal woman jump off the rocks at Ft. Point and not the Golden Gate bridge?
The Golden Gate bridge walkways are full of tourists who might stop a jumper, while the spot she chose is nearly private. It's a long walk out from the GG bridge parking lots to a good jumping spot, and she was wearing uncomfortable high heels. Maybe Fort Point has some association with the Legend of Carlotta.
There are a lot of reasons a man might not question that particular act, starting with the futility of trying to understand the motivations of crazy people.
What was the metaphorical significance of the redwood trees in the film?
Well, R64, you see---it was two different films. That is to say that the film "Psycho" had nothing to do with the film "The Birds" and vice-versa.
They brought the past into the present, R68.
And they looked great.
Masterpiece. My all-time favorite film. Anyone else catch it tonight?
Martin, I am watching it on Blu Ray now. What a great movie. Kim Novak is a revelation.
R69 - what does "The Birds" have to do with R64 referencing "Psycho" house with "Vertigo" locations?
R72, Revelation indeed. I lost my virginity to Vertigo.
Psycho was a better film - you really feel her anxiety as she is escaping and imagines the police chasing her. But the Victorian heap of a manse that looks like a child's drawing of a haunted house is just ridiculous.
I know I'm in the minority here but I've never liked any of Hitchcock's color films. They're all too....colorful....for the subject matter.
Much prefer the b&ws: The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps, Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, Lifeboat, Notorious, Spellbound, even Psycho.
All of his color films look very artificial (and unthreatening) to me.
"Revelation indeed. I lost my virginity to Vertigo."
Martin. That means you lost it at about age 15 when "Vertigo" was released.
They made a movie about Michael Jackson's skin condition?
They score owes a lot to Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde", to put it politely.
And R76, this is the only one of Hitchcock's color films that I love unreservedly. There's a lot of 19th-century love/death romanticism about "Vertigo", and the lush, painterly colors really bring it out. They also make the most of the setting, there are times when you can see the fog creeping across the top of the frame, and I can *smell* the cool San Francisco air. You can't do that in black and white!
I saw "Vertigo" in its original release in theaters. Too young to really understand everything, but was very surprised at how good Kim Novak was in the film.
Lately I read that Columbia lend Novak to Hitchcock in return for Stewart to star with Novak in "Bell, Book and Candle" at Columbia. A great deal for all involved, especially Novak. "Vertigo" is her one great film, glad she's still around to enjoy its success.