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Vertigo (1958)

8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 205,287 users  
Reviews: 641 user | 187 critic

A retired San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Samuel Taylor) , 3 more credits »
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Title: Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo (1958) on IMDb 8.4/10

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Top 250 #66 | Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Scottie's Doctor
...
Konstantin Shayne ...
Pop Leibel
Lee Patrick ...
Car Owner Mistaken for Madeleine
Edit

Storyline

Former Police detective John "Scottie" Ferguson was asked by a friend to investigate his wife named Madeleine since he was afraid that she might attempt to kill herself due to probable insanity as she thinks that she might be possessed by a dead woman. Scottie agrees and ended up falling in love with her. Unfortunately for him, Madeleine died and he was left alone until a woman named Judy came along and things start to unfold.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Mystery Revised... A Master Remembered! (1996 Restored Film Premiere) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 July 1958 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

'Vertigo'  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,479,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,486,818 (USA) (22 November 1996)

Gross:

$3,200,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1996 restored)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.50 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was unavailable for decades because its rights (together with four other pictures of the same period) were bought back by Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. They've been known for long as the infamous "Five Lost Hitchcocks" amongst film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence. The others are The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Rear Window (1954), Rope (1948), and The Trouble with Harry (1955). See more »

Goofs

When Scotty takes Madeleine out of water her shoe is off. When they have reached the pier Madeleine has both shoes again. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Officer on rooftop: Give me your hand. Give me your hand.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening Paramount logo is in black and white while the rest of the film, including the closing Paramount logo, is in Technicolor. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Face of Love (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Sardis #4
(uncredited)
(Forever Female), from Skylark (1941) (Poochie)
Composed by Victor Young
Orchestrated by Gus Levene
Played as 'cue 12D' by the orchestra while Scottie and Judy are dancing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
You're not lost. Mother's here.
19 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

John "Scottie" Ferguson is a San Francisco cop who decides to quit the service after his acrophobia results in him being unable to save the life of a colleague. Whilst taking it easy he gets a call from an old school friend, Gavin Elster, asking him if he wouldn't mind doing a little bit of detective work for him. The job is simply to tail his wife because she's obsessed with an ancestress who committed suicide, and the wife, Madeline, is showing signs of herself being suicidal. Ferguson tails her diligently and as the tail progresses, Ferguson himself starts to become ever obsessed about the demur blonde Madeline. As the story twists and turns, Ferguson's obsession will have far reaching consequences for both parties...

Vertigo is Alfred Hitchcock's most discussed, dissected and critically reappraised film, based on a novel by Pierre Boileau called D'Entre Les Morts, (also writer of Diabolique), Vertigo was not well liked on its release and unable to be viewed for some time due to copyright, the film was restored from a destroyed negative into a glorious 70mm print, and now in all its glory it can be seen as one of the greatest films to have ever been made. What is most striking about Vertigo, outside of Hitchcock baring his innermost that is, is that its plot on the surface is simplicity personified, but delving deeper, and repeat viewings are a necessity, its apparent that Vertigo is a chilling force of cinema, taking great delight in gnawing away at your perceptions, perhaps even your own capabilities as a human being.

Very much a film of two great halves, Vertigo first seems intent on being an almost ghost story like mystery. Once the prologue has introduced us to Ferguson's fear of heights, we then enter an almost dream like sequence of events as Ferguson tails the troubled Madeline, the suggestion of reincarnation bleakly leading to death hangs heavy as Hitchcock pulls his atmospheric strings. Then the film shifts into dark territory as obsessions and nods to Dante's Inferno and feverish dreams take control, Hitchcock, as we have come to learn over the years, lays out his soul for us the audience to partake in, the uneasy traits sitting side by side with fascination of the story. All of which is leading us to a spine tingling finale that is as hauntingly memorable as it is shocking, the end to our own dizzying journey that Alfred and his team have taken us on.

Technically the film is magnificent, the opening credits from Saul Bass brilliantly prep us for what is about to unfold, while Bernard Herrmann's score is as good as anything he ever did, unnerving one minute, swirlingly romantic the next, a truly incredible score. Hitchcock himself is firing from the top draw, introducing us to the brilliant zoom-forward-track-back camera technique to induce the feeling of Vertigo itself, with that merely a component of two hours of gorgeous texture lined with disturbing little peccadilloes. The two leads are arguably doing their respective career best work, James Stewart as Scottie Ferguson goes real deep to play it out with an edgy believability that decries his aw-shucks trademark of years since past. Kim Novak as Madeline is perhaps the quintessential Hitchcock blonde, perfect with the duality aspects of the role and playing off Stewart's ever creepy descent with seamlessly adroit skill. It however should be noted that Hitchcock and his loyal subjects had to work hard to get Novak right for the role, but the result proves that Novak had ability that sadly wasn't harnessed on too many other occasions.

Vertigo is a film that I myself wasn't too taken with on my first viewing, it's only during revisits that the piece has come to grab me by the soul and refuse to let go, it not only holds up on revisits, it also gets better with each subsequent viewing, it is simply a film that demands to be seen as many times as possible. Not only one of the greatest American films ever made, one of the greatest films ever made...period, so invest your soul in it, just the way that Hitchcock himself so clearly did. 10/10


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