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Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO


MissGoddess
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Hello Konway: "In my opinion, Many of what Richard Franklin said is right. But there are some things that I have to disagree with. Kim Novak was great. But we cannot forget James Stewart's performance. We travel through Scottie in the first half. We are able to feel what his character feels about Madeleine. I think this has a huge role in second half of the film. In the second half, the audience knows that Madeleine isn't real. But the audience still has an inner desire to see Madeleine again, because we are able to feel what Scottie feels. I think that's another reason why Vertigo is so great.'

 

Mr. Grimes: "I certainly agree with you. I consider Vertigo to be James Stewart's best performace, just ahead of Anatomy of a Murder. But I must say that Kim's "Madeleine Elster" is what captivates me the most. She mesmerizes me, just as she does "Scottie." What Jimmy (with Hitch's guiding hand) does a wonderful job doing in Vertigo (and Rear Window) is portraying "us." He is we and we are he. Everything flows through him. He's a conduit, an exceptionally male conduit."

 

I am very hard pressed to think of any other actors who could've played Scottie and Madeleine/Judy besides James Stewart and Kim Novak. (I'll go for a unique piece of casting: how 'bout Tyrone Power in the Novak role. I'm thinking of him in "The Razor's Edge" as dreamy Larry).

 

Yes...James Stewart is a tremendous part of the reason this film is remembered fifty years later. I found James Stewart had a very feminine romantic sensibility about him. He was vulnerable and susceptible. His longing is palpable. You are so (eloquent as usual) right Frank, when you say that we experience the film through Jimmy Stewart's Scottie. Scottie falls hopelessly in love with a woman he didn't know and when he finds he's been duped--his anger is primal. And then to lose her again, I daresay, I don't think he'll ever recover this time. He's run out of Madeleines. "I loved you so."

 

And there it is. Madeleine. She is the catalyst for everything. It was such a delicate balance ...a tightrope if you will of ethereal vs. down-to-earth. Her coming through the green glow of neon as Madeleine will go down in history. I really don't know anyone else who could have handled this. Rita...Ava??? Lana??

 

Stewart and Novak are partners in this. But Kim Novak's Madeleine is the raison d'etre for everything. I mean, wouldn't you follow her anywhere??

 

P.S. I love Teresa Wright!!!

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Great Post, Frank Grimes.

 

Thanks, Konway. I appreciate it.

 

Samuel Taylor's script arrangement was very successful. Vertigo (1958) contains lots of great ideas. Some of these ideas can also be seen in Secret Agent (1936) and Suspicion (1941). In Secret Agent, we see Church Bell Tower.

 

I really like the scene at the church in Secret Agent. It's very suspenseful. I didn't think of the Vertigo connection. Thanks for opening my eyes.

 

And Tom Helmore is in both Secret Agent and Vertigo.

 

I didn't know he was in Secret Agent. Quite interesting.

 

Vertigo's Title Design by Saul Bass is also similar to a scene in Secret Agent (1936). In Secret Agent, Percy Marmont's character dies by falling from the Mountain.

 

I didn't realize this, either. "Falling"? :)

 

As for Suspicion (1941), I think I have mentioned similarities with 180 degree kissing in both films, Lina tearing the letter and Judy tearing the letter in Vertigo, Lina trying to find Johnnie and Scottie trying to find Madeleine.

 

Yes, you have mentioned the scene similarities of the two before, but I enjoy reading your points about Hitch's "repackaging."

 

Hola, CineBabe -- I am very hard pressed to think of any other actors who could've played Scottie and Madeleine/Judy besides James Stewart and Kim Novak. (I'll go for a unique piece of casting: how 'bout Tyrone Power in the Novak role. I'm thinking of him in "The Razor's Edge" as dreamy Larry).

 

I like "Scottie" as an "older" man "searching." I think an "older" man falling under the spell of a woman plays differently than a younger man. I also believe "Judy's" attraction to "Scottie" would play differently.

 

Yes...James Stewart is a tremendous part of the reason this film is remembered fifty years later. I found James Stewart had a very feminine romantic sensibility about him. He was vulnerable and susceptible. His longing is palpable.

 

I never thought of such a thing but you are right. I think "Scottie" starts off with a feminine romantic sensibility but it evolves into male sexual desire. I speak of the obsessiveness (male sex drive) of Scottie.

 

You are so (eloquent as usual) right Frank, when you say that we experience the film through Jimmy Stewart's Scottie. Scottie falls hopelessly in love with a woman he didn't know and when he finds he's been duped--his anger is primal. And then to lose her again, I daresay, I don't think he'll ever recover this time. He's run out of Madeleines. "I loved you so."

 

Yes, how many "Madeleines" are there to be found?

 

And there it is. Madeleine. She is the catalyst for everything. It was such a delicate balance ...a tightrope if you will of ethereal vs. down-to-earth. Her coming through the green glow of neon as Madeleine will go down in history.

 

Stewart and Novak are partners in this. But Kim Novak's Madeleine is the raison d'etre for everything. I mean, wouldn't you follow her anywhere??

 

Nicely said and... precisely. Without Kim Novak's "Madeleine," James Stewart's "Scottie" is less. She drives him, Hitch, and many of us.

 

I really don't know anyone else who could have handled this. Rita...Ava??? Lana??

 

I think those are the big three because each of them are stunning AND they exude sexuality, which is something I feel is very important with "Madeleine." Lana, being blonde, would have had the best shot. The thing is, "Judy" must come off as a very "everyday" girl and I'm not sure if Lana could be this or not.

 

P.S. I love Teresa Wright!!!

 

I like her innocence and freshness.

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"In Secret Agent, Percy Marmont's character Caypor dies by falling from the Mountain."

 

I forgot to explain about it. Madeleine Carroll (Elsa) feels guilty about the death of Caypor. In Vertigo, Police Officer dies in the beginning by falling. James Stewart (Scottie) feels guilty about the death of Police Officer. This is mentioned in the conversation with Midge in the beginning.

 

In Secret Agent, there is a scene where Madeleine looking at the people who are spinning the coin inside the bowl. We see the coin inside the bowl is spinning. This reminds me of the title design by Saul Bass where his "eye" design is spinning.

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Como estas Franco : "I like "Scottie" as an "older" man "searching." I think an "older" man falling under the spell of a woman plays differently than a younger man. I also believe "Judy's" attraction to "Scottie" would play differently."

 

I agree with you. Ya kind of feel sorry for an ol' geezer [/i](ooops...let me be more sensitive here-sorry)[/i] an old gent entering the autumn of his years falling head-over-heels for a girl even Brad Pitt couldn't keep. It adds to the pathos. No one could play that longing better than Jimmy. (Not talking about his persona in the Mann westerns). Not even Henry Fonda.

 

"I never thought of such a thing but you are right. I think "Scottie" starts off with a feminine romantic sensibility but it evolves into male sexual desire. I speak of the obsessiveness (male sex drive) of Scottie."

 

I agree with you FG. Not trying to suck up, but you're right. It does evolve...or devolve into the male sexual drive. So if anyone thinks Stewart's Scottie is a big softie...well...sir, you do know what you want.

 

"Yes, how many "Madeleines" are there to be found?"

 

Not many, man. So be careful. She'll either lead you down a garden path (or off a belltower) or you can live happily ever after..if you try not to change her.

 

"I think those are the big three (Rita-Lana-Ava) because each of them are stunning AND they exude sexuality, which is something I feel is very important with "Madeleine." Lana, being blonde, would have had the best shot. The thing is, "Judy" must come off as a very "everyday" girl and I'm not sure if Lana could be this or not.

 

Oh I've seen Lana & Ava in just a plain skirt and sweater. And no doubt their sexuality is hot! hot! hot! But I think the vulnerability is the key to the part. I'd go with Ava. Under Hitch's tutelage, she just might work. But as a brunette...not a blonde.

 

P.S. I love Teresa Wright!!!

 

"I like her innocence and freshness."

 

Me too Frank. Me too.

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I always found it most interesting that many of Hitch's films feature "the Fall" of someone, generally as a result of some transgression or other. Besides some mentioned already in this thread, these would include:

 

NORTH BY NORTHWEST -- Martin Landau

 

VERTIGO -- Kim Novak

 

REAR WINDOW -- James Stewart

 

SABOTEUR -- Norman Lloyd

 

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT -- Edmund Gwenn

 

JAMAICA INN -- Charles Laughton

 

And these are films which include only falls from great heights. There are other films, such as MARNIE and SHADOW OF A DOUBT to name just two, which feature "falls", but not from great heights. I've always found the whole idea of "the Fall" as a recurring motif of retributive justice in Hitchcock a fascinating one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

> {quote:title=konway87 wrote:}{quote}

> SPOILERS

>

> In my opinion, Many of what Richard Franklin said is right. But there are some things that I have to disagree with. Kim Novak was great. But we cannot forget James Stewart's performance. We travel through Scottie in the first half. We are able to feel what his character feels about Madeleine. I think this has a huge role in second half of the film. In the second half, the audience knows that Madeleine isn't real. But the audience still has an inner desire to see Madeleine again, because we are able to feel what Scottie feels. I think that's another reason why Vertigo is so great. When I watch Suspicion, I have the same feeling. The audience can feel what Lina feels. We don't want Lina to lose Johnnie, because he is the only person she truly loved. Like James Stewart's character in Vertigo, Joan Fontaine plays the character so beautifully. I also like Shadow of A Doubt, because of same reason. I think we are able to feel the pain Young Charlie is feeling. The tension between Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten is also incredible.

 

 

Oh Konway I completely agree with everything you wrote---if Hitch didn't make us feel compassion and identify with these characters the movies would not be nearly so vital.

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  • 2 weeks later...

KONWAY: "I also like Shadow of A Doubt, because of same reason. I think we are able to feel the pain Young Charlie is feeling. The tension between Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten is also incredible."

 

I know your post is a month old, but "Shadow of a Doubt" was just on this morning and your remark is so apropos. It felt a little like sexual tension, which made me uncomfortable since they are supposed to be uncle and niece. Teresa Wright is just wonderful for me to watch.

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TCM'S screening of Hitchcock fare today ("Notorious" "Shadow of a Doubt" "Psycho" "Vertigo" "The Birds" "Rear Window") is keeping me company while I clean up my messy room.

 

I want to revisit "SHADOW OF A DOUBT" by quoting Frank Grimes' critique of it which I submit to you below. I couldn't have said it any better myself. Ha! I never do where many of you posters are concerned...love your writing:

 

"I also like Teresa Wright's performance, although she is asked to do something differently than Joan (Fontaine in 'Rebecca.') 'Young Charlie's' emotional scale is that of a straight line. She starts high and slowly starts to go downhill. Joan's emotional scale is up and down. One minute she's happy the next fearful the next sad and disillusioned then happy and hopeful again.

 

Where I feel Teresa's performance is at its strongest is when she is concealing her anger and fear from the family, especially her mother. Those are my favorite scenes of hers. I just love that she knows she is in danger yet still chooses to protect her mother from the truth. Young Charlie believes the truth about Uncle Charlie would 'kill'her mother. It's a very mature decision and one that almost costs her her own life."

 

I believe Teresa does a fine job of outwardly projecting inner fear and disgust, which helps create the ever-important tension in Shadow of a Doubt."

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*Shadow of a Doubt* is a wonderful example of a movie that shows character progression (or is it regression?). If I were making a movie with character development like that, this would be a great example to study. FrankGrimes said Charlie's character went in a straigh line from relatively happy and innoncent on down to frightened and angry. He can write sensibly when he wants to.

 

The movie almost asks you to decide who's view of the world is the true one...Uncle Charlie's, or the Santa Rosa family's. Both seem to willingly blind themselves to certain, balancing truths.

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The movie almost asks you to decide who's view of the world is the true one...Uncle Charlie's, or the Santa Rosa family's. Both seem to willingly blind themselves to certain, balancing truths.

 

Those words have sparked me, yet I have absolutely no time to speak right now. :( I will later on... hopefully.

 

FrankGrimes said Charlie's character went in a straigh line from relatively happy and innoncent on down to frightened and angry. He can write sensibly when he wants to.

 

Sensible? Who wants to be sensible? :P

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> {quote:title=FrankGrimes wrote:}{quote}

> The movie almost asks you to decide who's view of the world is the true one...Uncle Charlie's, or the Santa Rosa family's. Both seem to willingly blind themselves to certain, balancing truths.

>

> Those words have sparked me, yet I have absolutely no time to speak right now. :( I will later on... hopefully.

 

I hope so! I'm glad you brought it up, CineMaven, Shadow of a Doubt never ceases to pull me in no matter how often I see it. I think it's a very nearly flawless film and there is so much "food for discussion" within it. I can appreciate why it would be Hitch's personal favorite.

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Miss Goddess you have given me real food for thought when you write: "The movie almost asks you to decide who's view of the world is the true one...Uncle Charlie's, or the Santa Rosa family's. Both seem to willingly blind themselves to certain, balancing truths." I literally never thought of this. I was so identifying with young Charlie that I didn't even take in to account what Uncle Charlie was espousing. Now isn't that Hitchcockian fer ya...showing us two sides of a coin or making us root for the bad guy (a la Norman Bates). Good food for thought Ms. G.. Thanx!

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Shadow of a Doubt shows many things if you look close, the relationship between

Uncle and Niece is almost telepathic, they are both "Charlie" , the business about

the telegram at the beginning, is very telling, you see, The niece is the one family

member Uncle Charlie cannot fool, it is this link they share that shows to young

Charlie, the monster her uncle truly is. The duality of the situation is most apparent

when uncle takes niece into the 2 o'clock club, where it is two o'clock, the waitress

tells them she has been working there for two weeks, he orders a double bourbon

I also like the bookish sisters reaction when Charlie was almost killed by exhuastion

from the car, she breaks out crying and throws herself on her sister, sobbing...

finally the mother begins to notice...'first the stairs, now the garage'

all in all a superb film, with wonderful touches of family life..a real American tragedy.

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SPOILERS

 

Shadow of A Doubt contains many ideas. I don't know if mentioned this. For Example, Hitchcock mentions Oscar Wilde's famous quote ""You destroy the thing you love?"

 

It is mentioned in the interview with Peter Bogdanovich. Many of his films have this theme in it.

 

1) Shadow of A Doubt - Little Charlie and Uncle Charlie

2) Under Capricorn - Samson Flusky and his horse

3) Marnie - Marnie and Forio

4) Topaz - Rico Parra and Juanita de Cordoba

 

But in Vertigo, it is different.

 

There are also some connections between Uncle Charlie and Ann Newton. Before his cycle accident, Uncle Charlie was exactly like Ann Newton. He was always reading. But after the accident, he was completely different. This was mentioned right before Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie go to the bank.

 

Many of these psychological connections can be seen in many of the Hitchcock films especially Hitchcock films written by playwrights. For Example, Playwright Thornton Wilder wrote Shadow of A Doubt. Hitchcock enjoyed working with Playwrights, because he can share his visual ideas more with them than novelists. Samuel Taylor was a playwright. He wrote the screenplay for Vertigo. There were other playwrights like James Bridie (Under Capricorn), Arthur Laurents (Rope), Ben Hecht (Notorious), Robert Sherwood (Rebecca), Frederick Knott (Dial M for Murder), and Charles Bennett (The 39 steps, Sabotage, Foreign Correspondent and others).

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You continue to impress me with how much you know about Hitch, Konway! You should write a book.

 

I NEVER even noticed the Oscar Wilde reference and therefore would not have paid attention to those correllations in the other movies.

 

That's what is so nice about film discussion; hearing what others notice in a film gives me something fresh to look for the next time, even in a familiar favorite.

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SPOILERS

 

Norman Bates and Mother is also another example. Norman Bates loved and respected his mother. But he ended up destroying his mother.

 

In Psycho, Norman says this "I don't hate her. But I hate what she has become." This can be connected to Young Charlie. She doesn't hate Uncle Charlie. She loves him. But she hates what he has become.

 

In Laura (directed by Preminger), Waldo loved Laura. And he tried to destroy her. Vertigo has huge connections to Under Capricorn. In Under Capricorn, Michael Wilding recreates the illusion of Lady Henrietta from his past. In Vertigo, Scottie recreates the illusion of Madeleine from his past. The audience understands this situation in Vertigo. In Under Capricorn, the audience doesn't completely understand this situation, because Charles Adare is a man of mystery. We don't know anything about his past and his intentions. But he creates something that is so beautiful from his past. That is one of the reasons why I consider Under Capricorn so beautiful.

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Wow, you might say PSYCHO is the "ultimate" example of the "you destroy what you love" theme!

 

It's a shame that UNDER CAPRICORN remains neglected for a special dvd release. However, in light of MGM now bringing so many other titles out in a new box set (they have all been previously released separately but there will be new extras), perhaps UNDER CAPRICORN will get more attention in the future, being that it will be the only one left.

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SPOILERS

 

Although Alec Coppel was also a playwright, still he wasn't successful in developing Vertigo. Alec Coppel did some contributions. But Most of the story developments were done under Hitchcock and Samuel Taylor. Unlike Alec Coppel, Samuel Taylor knew very well about the location of San Francisco. This was a big help in the development of Vertigo.

 

Vertigo and Shadow of A Doubt also has a certain character connections. For Example, the relationship between Scottie and Madeleine are similar to the connections between Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie. Scottie believed that Madeleine was real. Young Charlie loved Uncle Charlie and she thought Uncle Charlie was the greatest. When both Scottie and Young Charlie saw the truth, they both were in complete state of anger.

 

Shadow of A Doubt, Under Capricorn, and Vertigo can be connected to illusion of the past. In Under Capricorn, an illusion of Sam's past can be seen through Winter. In Shadow of A Doubt, Uncle Charlie can be connected to Ann Newton and Roger ("Youngest"). In Vertigo, Gavin Elster shows an illusion of Scottie's past.

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