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Vertigo 1958 PG CC

San Francisco police detective Scottie Fergusson develops a fear of heights and is forced to retire when a colleague falls to his death during a chase.

Starring:
James Stewart, Kim Novak
Runtime:
2 hours, 10 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Vertigo is one of those films that is so ahead of its time, no one at the time of release is able to appreciate it. It was dismissed by critics, ignored by audiences and, to my knowledge, didn't win a single Academy Award (this last part isn't shocking -- Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture). It's interesting that the reputation of this film seems to have grown substantially since the public found out more about Alfred Hitchcock's private life. For example, Scottie Ferguson's obsession with Kim Novak mirrors Hitch's own obsession with beautiful blondes, most notably Grace Kelly. Actors often bare their souls to the world, but very rarely are we aware when a director bares his/her soul. Those who dismiss Hitchcock as just a taskmaster director of suspense films should study Vertigo. He is essentially dealing with his own weaknesses and inner demons on film.
Vertigo also contains two great performances -- those of James Stewart and Kim Novak. Stewart reveals a dark side that might shock those who just know him from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life. He is completely believeable as a man (Hitchcock's alter ego) who is consumed by obsession. Likewise Kim Novak is wonderful and totally convincing as Madeline/Judy. Vera Miles (Lila Crane in Psycho) was originally cast, but it's hard to see anyone else but Kim Novak in the role. She is utterly convincing as the distant, aristocratic Madeline AND as the earthy working class girl Judy. I can't think of many actresses who could be so effective in both roles. Grace Kelly, for example, might have been able to pull off Madeline, but probably would have been laughable as Judy. It's too bad more directors couldn't see past Novak's sex kitten image and cast her in more substantial roles.
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Format: Audio CD
Of the "Vertigo" CD's available, I like this one best, even though I know there are some problems with it. Some tracks are mono, because they were originally recorded that way. There are some flaws in the playing, including more bowing from the strings than composer Bernard Herrmann might have liked. And the years have not been entirely kind to the recordings themselves. I say, "So What?" This is the version that has the one thing all others lack- the power to put you back into the strange world of "Vertigo".
It's a very complete version; the only thing I believe is missing is the little bit of stock music used when Scotty and Judy dance at the Fairmont.
But the wonderful thing about this soundtrack is that power to return you to San Francisco, circa 1958, when a decent detective got gulled into playing an unwitting witness to a scam, and lost his soul thereby.
I can testify to that power; I played the CD in the car one day, and found myself driving on one of Atlanta's hillier streets, just as the music for Scottie's following of Madeleine was played. For just a second, I was IN the movie, it seemed; I had to take a moment to bring myself back to here and now- reminding myself that I was on my way to a meeting, not tailing a green Jaguar. If I had been in San Francisco when this happened, I think I might have ended up in San Juan Bautista before the spell broke...
Again, I've heard the other versions, and they're fine. They're well-played and state-of-the-art technically; they try to correct every flaw in the actual soundtrack, and on that score they succeed. They just don't have the ability to evoke the movie the way this one does. Madeleine and Scottie are on this CD, and no other. Play the others, and hear beautiful music. Put this CD in, and be transported. I was.
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Format: DVD
Vertigo is a tremendous film; if rating the film alone, I would give it the maximum rating. Vertigo deserves to have been carefully restored and preserved for posterity. The reason for my low rating for this DVD is that the restorers have seriously overstepped the bounds of conservation, actually changing the film for the worse. They have eliminated many original sound effects and created many new ones, to jarring effect. Evidently, their discovery of a stereo recording of the musical score so excited the restoration team that they felt they had to incorporate it into the restored print. As the original mono mix included effects with the score, this means that the restorers went into a Foley studio and cooked up replacement sounds--newpaper's rattling, footsteps, doors closing, cars driving past, etc. The result is VERY noticable: the modern, digitally recorded sounds have a sharply different quality from the analog originals, and the two are mixed together uneasily. The film was mixed, presumably under Hitchcock's careful supervision, with a mono soundtrack, which has survived in good condition. (Although the individual elements were scandalously destroyed in the 1970s as the result of a tussle over distribution rights to the film.) The soundtrack may have benefitted from some "cleaning up," but there was no good reason to create a new soundtrack. Please, Universal: include the original soundtrack as an option, at least, on future editions of this DVD. (The stereo recording of Herriman's musical score would make a nice DVD bonus track, too.) And please be more circumspect in future restoration projects. (There are problems with the color restoration, too, but at least there the restorers were addressing a real problem--the existing prints and film elements had seriously deteriorated. With the soundtrack, the restorers actively created problems where none existed.)
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