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A movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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Great Movie; Unsatisfying Ending

  • Dec 7, 2000
Pros: Good plot; great concept; excellent direction

Cons: lousy ending

This review is written as per the request of BrundleDan. He has read and rated all of my Hitchcock reviews, and is "dying" to read what I thought about Vertigo. For those of you that don't know, I was fortunate enough to take Ron Crawford's Hitchcock class this semester at UAA. Every week, we watch a different Hitchcock movie. I originally promised to put up reviews as soon as I saw a movie. Unfortunately, I've been really side-tracked since mid-semester. Don't worry, though-- I plan on catching up these next few days.

Now, on with the review...

Vertigo is Hitchcock's movie based solely on a psychological problem. Certainly there are psychological problems present in The Wrong Man and Psycho (among others), but everything in Vertigois related to John's psychological problem.

John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart) is a police officer who finds that he has vertigo during a chase over some rooftops. After finding this out, he retires from the force. Soon, he is hired by his old college friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak). Elster thinks that Madeleine is possessed. Scottie reluctantly takes the job, and falls in love with her. Unfortunately, Scottie can't prevent Madeleine's demise, due to his fear of heights. More stuff happens, specifically Scottie being institutionalized for a little while because of depression. A year or so later, Scottie runs into Judy Barton (also played by Novak), who happens to look exactly like Madeleine.

I think I've told you enough of the plot. I don't want to ruin it anymore for those that haven't seen it. Let's just say that there are a bunch of twists and turns that you don't expect. It's a terrific movie.

The ending, however, stinks. You're left hanging, wondering what happens to Scottie. In the European ending, however, the bad guy gets caught, which makes the ending even worse. (It's just thrown in there.) I want to know what happens to Scottie. Does anything ever happen between Scottie and Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes)? Why does the nun show up? Where did Gavin go? Argh. Way too many questions left unanswered.

The setting of San Francisco is wonderful. There are so many opportunities for height problems. Driving around the city is great, too, in many different scenes. I've never been there, but I feel like I've been just by watching this movie.

Hitchcock, as usual, does a great job of directing. He's the master of suspense - What else can I say about him? The only problem with Hitchcock is that he gets his story out there, has his climax, and doesn't end it off. Everything ends too abruptly, not giving the audience enough time to digest everything.

The restoration done in the 90s is fabulous. They really did a terrific job, and I feel so fortunate to have watched it on the "big screen" in class.

Vertigo isn't my favorite Hitchcock movie, but it isn't my least favorite. Perhaps if the ending were better, I would have liked it more.


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Candice Cain ()
Ranked #405
I own the Candy Cain Travel Co. in Brookhaven, NY. I am a certified Professional Bridal Consultant with the Association of Bridal Consultants and my agency is certified by IATA and CLIA. I specialize … more
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About this movie


VERTIGO is Alfred Hitchcock's haunting tale of deception, madness, and death--a masterful exploration of fantasy and anxiety. The film ranks with REAR WINDOW as one of the director's most closely studied films for its psychological complexity, while the obsession of its protagonist--John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart)--can also be seen to parallel that of Hitchcock's own fascination with the icy-blonde leading lady he re-created at the center of so many of his films. Ferguson is a retired detective, his career ended by the onset of a paralyzing fear of heights. An old friend, the wealthy Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), hires Ferguson to follow his wife (Kim Novak), whom, he explains, has grown obsessed with an ancestor of hers. The assignment, however, draws Ferguson out of his comfortable role as observer and into a complex web of intrigue, mingled with the detective's own fantasies and fears. <br> <br> Stewart gives an exceptional performance as the disintegrating detective, while Novak, who was left...
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Cast: Paul Bryar
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Release Date: 1958
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: Universal Studios Home Video (October 07, 2008)
Runtime: 2hr 6min
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