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
After additional location shoots at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the Spanish mission San Juan Bautista, the cast and crew settled in at Paramount Studios soundstages for two months of filming. In the studio, Alfred Hitchcock was in his element and could exert absolute control though he had his share of creative challenges. One very striking sequence is the kissing scene that occurs when Scottie has finally made Judy over as Madeleine. As the couple kiss, the background slowly swirls, and we lose equilibrium as we see Judy's apartment become the livery stables of San Juan Bautista, setting for an earlier emotional scene between Scottie and Madeleine. The shot was achieved with rear projection of the background plates; the camera tracking slowly back, then forward; and with James Stewart and Kim Novak revolving on a circular platform. These simultaneous movements were very difficult to coordinate, and to pull off without the actors getting dizzy - in one take Stewart fell and was slightly injured. Principal photography was completed three days after this shot, just before Christmas, 1957. See more »
When Madeleine arrives at Scottie's apartment to post a letter, the establishing shot shows only a few bushes by the metal railings. However, in the closer two shots, more bushes are can be seen against the railings. See more »
Over the years, this film has been regarded as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. Its been called the most personal, emotional, and complex of Hitchcock's films. I agree with all of these things except for one, this film IS Hitchcock's masterpiece work. All of the others pale in comparison to this. There are phenomenal performances here by Jimmy Stewart who plays the biggest anti-hero of his career and Kim Novak whose stunning beauty and exceptional personalities shine through this dark film. Barbara Bel Geddes provides great support as well. Everything about this film, the cinematography, the story, the depth, etc. leaves you mystified and transfixed on this dizzying, surreal artwork of a film. It truly is flawless. If you are a Hitchcock fan and haven't seen this you need to get up right now and buy, not rent, this as soon as possible!
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