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Vertigo | 1958 | James Stewart, Kim Novak


The large man from Leytonstone delivers a literally dizzying thriller that achieves classic status courtesy of an ace, and atypical, performance from the legendary James Stewart.
While this is undoubtedly a great film, Vertigo is not without its problems. The director’s love of theatrical effects, which permeates all of his work, is a particular case in point – the blue-screen stunt sequences not only fail to convince, but almost undercut the general atmosphere of suspense.
Almost, but not quite, since Vertigo does feature one truly outstanding special effect – and his name is James Stewart. While it’s hard not to like his good-ol’-boy shtick in Harvey, you have to thank Hitchcock and Anthony Mann (The Naked Spur) for tapping Stewart’s full range and, in doing so, taking him into the realm of the downright weird.
Indeed, Vertigo’s John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson is a frantic, controlling man who couldn’t have less in common with It’s A Wonderful Life’s George Bailey. That Stewart still compels us to identify with this partly despicable character is reason enough that his work here should be appreciated with a sense of awe instead of the usual “Aw, shucks”.

cast
James Stewart as Det. John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson
Kim Novak as Madeleine Elster / Judy Barton
Barbara Bel Geddes as Marjorie ‘Midge’ Wood
Tom Helmore as Gavin Elster
Henry Jones as Coroner
Raymond Bailey as Scottie’s Doctor
Ellen Corby as Manager of McKittrick Hotel
Konstantin Shayne as Pop Leibel
Lee Patrick as Car Owner Mistaken for Madeleine
Bess Flowers as Diner at Ernie’s
crew
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
USA | 128 minutes | 1958

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