Top positive review
If Only I Could Give It Ten Stars
October 8, 2017
My review is focused on the Blu-ray + Digital HD Ultraviolet version (Universal 61131988) of this classic movie, with an aside for those who may never have seen the film or remember it only vaguely.
Since the dawn of VHS tapes "Vertigo" has been a mainstay of my home movie collection. At present I own three different discs of this movie. With this latest purchase I should be able to stop. If the visual reproduction gets any better, my pre-cataract condition would never allow me to appreciate it. (Can you buy cataract surgery at discount on Amazon? Jeff Bezos is probably at work on that right now: just drone in the eye-surgeons. I digress.)
This edition of "Vertigo" is based on the Harris-Katz restoration of the film earlier this century. When it was released in theaters, about 15 years after its return to the screen ca. 1984, the Robert Harris-James Katz version knocked my socks off. It was as though a milky veil had been pulled away from the screen and I was seeing the film as I had never seen it before. Apart from the fact that my home theater does not boast a forty-foot screen, that is much the same experience I have enjoyed watching this Blu-ray/HD version. Do you want crispness of image? With this edition you can see each separate diamond woven into some of James Stewart's neckties. You can also see an ever-so-thin red outline of the white, main title lettering.
Now, for the colors. In this edition they are absolutely stunning. I felt as though I could touch the red-brocaded walls in Ernie's Restaurant. Podesta Balducci's floral emporium has never looked richer. The blue sky of San Francisco behind the Brocklebank apartments is utterly pure. The yellow filter through which Hitch shot Scottie and Madeline's visit to the Mission Delores cemetery has never looked more mysterious. And Kim Novack's climactic entrance as Madeline in Judy Barton's apartment, bathed in ghostly green, is glorious. In case I haven't made myself clear: Technicolor is used dramatically in this movie as never before or after in Hitchcock's films (for that matter, in any other film I can think of). It doesn't make things "pretty." It helped Hitch tell the story.
Regarding the audio, I am unable to discern a qualitative difference between this and the immediately previous DVD edition I own. Evidently nothing more has been done to improve on the Harris–Katz audio restoration. As for extra features, there are repeats of those of earlier editions, with at least three new additions: "Partners in Crime: Hitchcock's collaborators" (namely, Saul Bass, Edith Head, Bernard Herrmann, and Alma Reville), excerpts from the Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews, and a voice-over commentary by William Friedkin.
As for the movie itself, there's little I can add that other reviewers haven't already said. This is not a movie you watch for the plot: while it incorporates twists, the plot itself is meshuga. Nor is this a movie that titillates with exploding cars every five minutes. To watch this movie is to be drawn into a dream: Hitchcock's dreamworld. Leading us into this dream are Stewart and Novack in what is arguably their two finest performances: everyday, decent people whose lives are haunted and finally overtaken by their fantasies, obsessions, and desperation to love and to be loved.
If you have never seen this movie, "Vertigo" is truly a must. If you have seen it but feel cheated that you haven't been able to SEE it in all its visual glory, this version is (at this writing) the twelve best bucks you'll spend.