John "Scottie" Ferguson is a retired San Francisco police detective who suffers from acrophobia and Madeleine is the lady who leads him to high places. A wealthy shipbuilder who is an acquaintance from college days approaches Scottie and asks him to follow his beautiful wife, Madeleine. He fears she is going insane, maybe even contemplating suicide, because she believes she is possessed by a dead ancestor. Scottie is skeptical, but agrees after he sees the beautiful Madeleine. Written by
Hitchcock's most stunning achievement. A fascinating masterpiece which improves with each year and viewing.
I get a bit tongue-tied talking about Hitchcock's greatest movies because they are just so remarkable, so astonishing, so entertaining, so multi-levelled, that it's very difficult to put into words what makes them great. Hitchcock made some of the greatest movies ever made, and 'Vertigo', though by no means his most accessible film, is quite possibly his crowning achievement. It is without any doubt a masterpiece, and I cannot fault it in any way. Every time I watch it I am knocked out, and every time I see something new, some nuance or moment that I appreciate more than I did the previous viewing. Jimmy Stewart, one of the most popular movie star in Hollywood history, gives a remarkable performance throughout, one of the best in his career. Stewart had worked with Hitchcock before, and had always been superb, especially in the much copied suspense classic 'Rear Window' a few years prior to this, but he plays against type in 'Vertigo' and is jaw-droppingly good. It's difficult to remember now that 'Vertigo' is regarded as a movie milestone, that it received many bad reviews when it was originally released, and was a relative failure for Hitchcock. A lot of this had to do with Stewart's intense performance I think, and also the difficult subject matter. 'Vertigo' is essentially a tale of sexual obsession, something most people were probably not expecting at the time! Almost as good as Stewart is Kim Novak ('The Man With The Golden Arm') in a role that she will always be remembered for. 'Vertigo' is a virtuoso piece from Hitchcock, and a movie that will no doubt continue to inspire other film makers over the years to come. However the most important thing about it is that it is still wonderful viewing, and a movie experience that you will never forget. In my mind it is one of the three of four greatest American movies. Simply astonishing.
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