Although the name Alfred Hitchcock might bring to mind images of bloodied shower curtains and murderous birds, the psychological thriller Vertigo remains one of the director’s finest works. Based on the 1958 novel D’entre Les Morts, the film revolves around Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart), a private eye who is forced into retirement due to his crippling fear of heights. At the behest of a desperate friend, however, Scottie finds himself agreeing to one last case— this one of a rather supernatural nature. His friend’s wife, played by a stunning Kim Novac, appears to have been possessed by a spirit from a former life. As Vertigo’s mind-bending, deeply convoluted plot unfolds, one finds that things are hardly what they appear to be.
Equal parts thriller, romance, mystery, and ghost story, Hitchcock’s classic tale of obsession has topped Best-Of lists for decades and is regarded by many critics to be one of the greatest films of all time. Although the film owes much of its success to its gripping suspense and twisted storyline, Vertigo is also a stunning example of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful cinematic eye. Harnessing color as a powerful symbolic tool, Hitchcock has wonderfully exploited the saturated hues of Technicolor. Roses are not merely red, they jump right off the screen. The same goes for eerie greens and chilling blues— all work together to create a spectacular and oftentimes thrilling feast for the eyes. —Max
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