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Considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest cinematic achievements, Vertigo is a dreamlike thriller from the Master of Suspense. Set in San Francisco, the film creates a dizzying web of mistaken identity, passion and murder after an acrophobic detective (James Stewart) rescues a mysterious blonde (Kim Novak) from the bay and must unravel the secrets of the past to find the key to his future. Recognized for excellence in AFI’s 100 Years...100 Movies, Vertigo is a “great motion picture that demands multiple viewings” (Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide).
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Kim Novak has about as much facial expression as Paris Hilton. Oh, she's pretty, but acting should be more than a plastic doll. Barbara Bel Geddes has a part that is not necessary to the plot and she does little with it. James Stewart is his usual laconic self.
The plot is far too complicated. I can't go into much of the difficulty without giving away the ending to those who haven't yet seen the film. Suffice it to say that too many movies devise a Rube Goldberg way to murder someone when a simple gunshot would be more likely to work. In this film the setup takes far too long. Stewart chats with Bel Geddes about nothings and then with his old college friend about this and that before we get down to being introduced to the plot.
Then there are the flaws of reality. Stewart, who is retired form the police force, suddenly flashes his badge to a hotel clerk in order to get personal information. When a cop retires he forfeits both gun and badge. Then on several occasions Stewart follows Novak in his car, and something untoward happens miles from home. But Stewart returns with Novak one assumes in a single car, and yet the other car is also retrieved. Look at the scene again where Stewart saves Novak from drowning and try to figure out how Stewart gets his own car back--or how Novak managed to look so good after being fished from the cold and dirty water of the bay.
Details, details, details. They are what make the difference in a really good book or movie. In this case the details mar the film beyond enjoyment.