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Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO


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>Let me join in the fray. Nobody gives a good **** **** **** what your ********** bozos think about "Vertigo."


I didn?t mean to insult anyone with my opinions about Vertigo. Normally, I don?t read posts that are critical of my own favorite movies. That allows people to be free to post their opinions about various films, and I still get to enjoy the movie I like, without getting mad at people who don?t like them.


And I?m critical of some of my own favorite movies. For example, half my life I?ve gone around mumbling, ?Curtin should have tied up Dobbs once he realized Dobbs was dangerous.?




Here?s a little treat you might enjoy: Rebecca Screen test


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Dobsie, you are a big man. No need to worry about giving your opinion, at least with moi. I've had to take it on the chin for *Gone With the Wind* many times, and thank you for including a clip of my darling Viv trying to get a part she was much to pretty for. ;)

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>Sure you meant it.


No, I didn't mean to insult anyone here. People express their opinions -- both good and bad -- about movies all the time. It's the script I was insulting. It was silly.


When people criticize my favorite films, I just don't read their critiques. Let them have their opinions. They are perfectly free to have their opinions. There is no need for me to be insulted about it.

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Miss Goddess -- For me, it is Hitchcock's most deeply romantic, shimmeringly melancholic movie.


Huh? I have absolutely no idea why you would come to this conclusion.






I don't see anything romantic in that. Just the sight of this "Madeleine" lady doesn't do a thing for me. Hey, who turned on that music?








That's romantic? I just don't see it, I only see flowers, some green leaves, a red ruby necklace... NOOOOO!!!!









This Scottie will be watching Vertigo tonight. I need a refresher. I'm also in the mood for tortured romance.


Love them pics, Midge, I mean, Miss. Hey! Retract those claws. Publicity shots are almost always my favorite. I love the one with Kim caressing Jimmy.

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Watch Obsession, instead!


Lynn has been on me to see this film and now your throwing the half-court trap on me. I'm not avoiding the film, that's for certain.


By the way, have you seen Madeleine? I'm not looking for her but I'm looking for her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Miss Capable Goddess -- Let's see, you started this thread on September 22nd and the last post was by you on October 6th. Geez, I really should have cleaned my room sooner. It was a major mess, though. I'm hoping a clean room today is better than no clean room at all.


For me, it is Hitchcock's most deeply romantic, shimmeringly melancholic movie. For others, James Stewart's "Scottie Ferguson" is weird---for me, he is tragic.


I think Vertigo is Hitch's most obsessive film (The Paradine Case is probably next) but I also find that obsession to be deeply romantic and something else. Yes, it's going to be one of those kind of postings from me. Get ready.


To Catch a Thief, Notorious, and Spellbound are the other Hitch films that I find to be deeply romantic.


I wholeheartedly agree (I hope you didn't faint) with your point about Scottie being a tragic figure.


Scottie wasn't always responsible for himself or his actions. Maybe that's why control became so important to him after he met "Madeleine's" double.


I actually think Scottie had lost control, which is what fueled his controlling nature with Judy.


It's a movie about falling. Falling from heights, as we do in love, and falling for a terrible trick.


I like that. Love can sometimes be a terrible trick, too. I'm not speaking of true love, though. Yes, I'm still a card-carrying hopeless romantic. Retract those claws.


Let me know your thoughts, good bad or indifferent about Vertigo---and whether or not you think it was the master's "masterpiece".


The following will be my thoughts for the most part, but I will reference Hitch's own words on a couple of occasions to clear some things up. Yes, the word "sex" is going to show up. Naughty side is in effect. Don't blame me, blame Hitch and his Freudian games. For you see, the best filmmakers love to wink at the audience. It's up to the audience to catch the winks. Hitch is the greatest winker of all time. Like Hitch, I'm also someone who loves winks. ;)


Do you want a big wink? What if I were to tell you that the famous kissing scene is a sexual release for Scottie?


Alfred Hitchcock:


Cinematically, all of Stewart's efforts to re-create the dead woman are shown in such a way that he seems to be trying to undress her, instead of the other way around. What I liked best is when the girl came back after having had her hair dyed blond. James Stewart is disappointed because she hasn't put her hair up on a bun. What this really means is that the girl has almost stripped, but she still won't take her knickers off. When he insists, she says, "All right!" and goes into the bathroom while he waits outside. What Stewart is really waiting for is for the woman to emerge totally naked this time, and ready for love. ;) (I thought I'd add Hitch's wink for him.)


One more random thought for you. Duplicity is a serious component to Vertigo and it is shown via mirrors.









The primary reason why Jimmy Stewart's character is known as "John" and "Scottie" is to show that he also has two personalities just as Kim Novak's character has "Judy" and "Madeleine". Why "Scottie"? Because his last name, "Ferguson," is Scottish. Those who don't truly know the real "John" call him, "Scottie." Midge really knows him and she calls him Johnny.


Hey, Bronxie -- Why is Scottie so obsessed with Madeline? It seems to take him about 5 seconds to look at her at the restaurant for the first time and fall in love.


You raised quite a few brilliant questions. Speaking as a guy, it can only take 5 seconds for a woman to flip your switch. I'm not talking about all of a man's switches, just one big one. Scottie had a woman he cared for in Midge but Midge was the "mother" figure to him. He wasn't sexually turned on by her at all. Madeleine flipped his sex switch to "on."


Scottie most definitely enjoyed being in the company of Midge. She was his best friend, but he didn't want to take it any further with her. She kept hoping that he would. Madeleine was the ideal for Scottie. She was sexy and mysterious. Scottie was initially attracted to Judy because of her sexuality. She possessed that side of Madeleine for Scottie, especially since she wasn't wearing any bras for goodness sake. It's quite a contrast to Midge, who was a bra designer. By the way, many refer to Judy as Mary Magdalene. I happen to agree with that thought.


Does Judy unconsciously want Scottie to know she's Madeline when she "inadvertantly" puts on the necklace before they go out for that steak dinner? Would that be her way of saying to him (instead of in the letter she tore up) "And so you found me".


I think you are very correct. Judy's line to Scottie is "can't you see?"





Is Novak as Madeline foretelling her own death as Judy to Scottie when she talks about the open grave waiting for her?


I never thought of that. That's an interesting observation.


I believe the words Madeleine says to Scottie in the forest and along the ocean have to do with her great internal conflict. This is the scene where she's trying to tell Scottie that Judy loves him but that they cannot be, for Madeleine is not real and must die.


Madeleine: Why did you run?


Scottie: I'm responsible for you now. The Chinese say that once you've saved a person's life you're responsible for it forever; so I'm committed. I have to know.


Madeleine: There's so little that I know. It's as though I... I were walking down a long corridor that... that once was mirrored, and fragments of that mirror still hang there; and when I come to the end of the corridor, there's nothing but darkness. And I know that when I walk into the darkness, that I'll die. I've never come to the end. I've always come back before then. Except once.


(I think the corridor represents Madeleine and the fragments represent Judy. The darkness is the end of the scheme but also Judy's loss of Scottie's love. Their love will die, so she will die emotionally. I believe her saying she "never come to the end" means she's never been in love "except once" (Scottie)).


Scottie: Yesterday?


Madeleine nods her head.


Scottie: And you didn't know what happened 'til you found yourself with me. You didn't know where you were. But the small scenes, the fragments in the mirror, you remember those.


Madeleine: Vaguely.


Scottie: What do you remember?


Madeleine: There's a room... and I sit there alone, always alone.


(I feel this to be Judy speaking about herself.)


Scottie: What else?


Madeleine: . A grave.


Scottie: Where?


Madeleine: I don't know. It's an open grave and I... I stand by the gravestone looking down into it. It's my grave.


Scottie: But how do you know?


Madeleine: I know.


Scottie: But is there a name on the gravestone?


Madeleine: No. No it's... it's new and... clean and waiting.


(Again, I think this is Judy speaking of her love being buried.)


Scottie: Well, what else?


Madeleine: This part is a dream, I think there... there's a tower and a bell, and a garden below. It seems to be in Spain, a village in Spain. It clicks off and it's gone.


Scottie: Well, a portrait. Do you see a portrait?


Madeleine: No.


Scottie: If I could just find the key, the beginning, and put it together, I...


Madeleine: And so explain it away? There's a way to explain it, you see. If I'm mad, then that would explain it, wouldn't it?


(I feel this is Judy attempting to get back into character. She has to return to being Madeleine for the scheme's sake. It's why she says, "this part is a dream." It's not Judy speaking.)


Madeleine then darts off.


Scottie: Madeleine!


Scottie catches her and they embrace.


Madeleine: I'm not mad! I'm not mad! I don't want to die. There's someone within me, and she says I must die. Oh, Scottie, don't let me go.


(This is Judy speaking again. She doesn't want her love for Scottie to die.)


Scottie: I'm here. I've got you.


Madeleine: I'm so afraid.





Madeleine: Don't leave me. Stay with me.


Scottie: All the time.






Hiya, CineSage -- There's no logic to Judy's reaction to seeing the nun; it's actually Hitchcock's comment on his detested Catholic upbringing.'


That's definitely a big part of it, but the final line of the film is also a statement on the madness: "I heard voices."


Hitch didn't want audiences to realize Judy and "Madeleine" were one-and-the-same.


Alfred Hitchcock:


The truth about Judy's identity is disclosed but only to the viewer . . . that Judy isn't just a girl who looks like Madeleine, but that she is Madeleine! Everyone around me was against this change; they all felt the revelation should be saved for the end of the picture. I put myself in the position of a child whose mother is telling him a story . . . . In my formula, the little boy (sic), knowing that Madeleine and Judy are the same person, would then ask, "And Stewart doesn't know it, does he? What will he do when he finds out about it?" . . . . We give the public the truth about the hoax so that our suspense will hinge around the question of how Stewart is going to react when he discovers that Judy and Madeleine are actually the same person.


Hi, Dobbsy -- You and I exchanged comments on Vertigo on another "Vertigo" thread earlier this year. As you probably remember, I agreed with the vast majority of the serious plotholes you point out. I still do. I also know you still like the film and you watch it usually once a year.


If one is to view the film from a literal point of view, they will walk away disappointed. I allow the film to enter my system emotionally. This Scottie becomes "Scottie." I think Vertigo is a "senses" film more than anything else. It's very much Hitch's "art" film. It's masterful from that angle. The subtext is extraordinarily rich, which is something I feed off of.


Hey there, Janet -- in watching the documentary on the making of this film, it is said that Hitch paid particular attention to colors. Has anyone else ever noticed the color scheme here:


After her leap into the Bay, Scotty brings Madeline into his home and sets her to warm by the fire.

He places GOLD colored pillows on the floor for her to sit on.


When he brings Judy back to his place, he gives her the same treatment....a la GREEN pillows. The pillows come from the same sofa and look to be the same shape and size, just changed in color.


Now, does this mean his Maddie is Royalty and Judy can be bought? I love it, but wonder what he was really thinking...also Scotty's door is painted red. Red doors on homes have significance in some cultures. Friendship or such meanings. Curious observer......anyone else notice these types of things?


Color plays a MAJOR role in the film. All of my words on the color schemes are going to be of my opinion, so please keep this in mind.





I believe "green" represents life or the living. When Scottie first sees Madeleine, she's wearing green. She is born that day. She's alive to him. Her car is green. When Scottie saves Madeleine from drowning and then takes her back to his place, he puts on a green sweater. He's now alive again. The forest scene is very green because their love for each other becomes alive there. It's why the nightmare sequence features green leaves. Judy is first seen wearing a green sweater. She's alive to him. The Empire Hotel sign where Judy stays is lit by a green light. It's where Judy lives and is alive to him. And, in the most famous scene in the film, Judy emerges from green light as Madeleine. Madeleine is born again; she's alive again.


In my mind, I haven't nailed down the other colors as much as I have green. I believe "red" represents obsession and passion. Red is first prominently displayed at Ernie's restaurant, which is awash in red. Scottie's obsession and passion is born the second Madeleine comes to life (wearing green). The two colors collide. Madeleine is wearing a red robe in Scottie's place. His obsession and passion for her is on fire. The red ruby necklace is the biggest symbol of Scottie's obsession. Midge is wearing a red sweater in her mock portrait scene. I take that as her attempt to light his fire. It BACKfires... horribly.


Grey is a color I'm still wrestling with. My current feeling is that is represents ambiguity, mystery, and "in a fog." Grey is also smack dab in the middle of black and white, which are the two colors that I believe represent reality. It's prime duplicity zone. If you notice, Scottie awakens from his nightmare due to black and white colors.


Scottie is wearing brown when he's John; being a detective; being inquisitive and doubtful. Scottie is wearing brown while talking with Midge in the beginning. The Gavin Elster setting features a strong mahogany look, which is a mixture of brown and red. Scottie is wearing a brown suit when he's tailing Madeleine. He's also wearing a brown suit when he asks Judy questions for the first time.


I believe "blue" represents guilt, which is a major theme in the film. The start of the film is very blue. Most everyone is wearing blue at the trial. Scottie is wearing blue while recovering from his nervous breakdown. His nightmare also begins in blue.


Purple? Clashes with red.


Miss G -- Eyes and mind?

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Frank, This is a great point by point look at Vertigo. You nailed down everyones points and provided some great answers to questions. I learned quite a bit. Vertigo is a film of amazing depth, but too many people get hung up on the surface story. Just as Madeline is an illusion, so is the plot of this film which is actually an amazing study of obsession, control, love, and many other things. Once again, great post. Let me know when you tackle Marnie!

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Hey, Arkadin -- Frank, This is a great point by point look at Vertigo. You nailed down everyones points and provided some great answers to questions. I learned quite a bit.


Thank you very much. That really does mean a lot to me since it's coming from one of the very best film analysts on this board. I know I gotta bring some game if I'm gonna hang with some folks on this board, particularly you and Professor Dewey. And I will return to film analysis in the noir forum soon enough. I still have to get to my Nightmare Alley thoughts. That's yet another overdue assignment for me. I have to watch In a Lonely Place, too.


There is great irony in your words, by the way. I'm going to eventually (a terrible word for me) post on the "Dial 'M' for Murder" thread but, the thing is, you've already said so much. Some of my words to you were going to be, "fantastic points" and "I learned quite a bit." You will read those words from me again when I post there.


I guess I really should learn to post my feelings immediately, but I tend to be a little too calculated when it comes to film analysis. My playful interactions with board members are immediate and heartfelt, but when it comes to discussing a film in depth, I need to put some thought into it. It's one of the reasons why I took so long to get to this thread. My feelings about Vertigo run pretty deep. I just can't express them in a few minutes. Yes, it takes me a good hour or two or five.


FYI, your film tastes are very close to mine, which is something I believe you understand. You are at a far more advanced stage than I. I am still very much in the learning process. It's why I seek out people on this board who I believe can help me grow, people like you, Dewey, ChiO, and Miss G, to name the primary suspects.


Vertigo is a film of amazing depth, but too many people get hung up on the surface story. Just as Madeline is an illusion, so is the plot of this film which is actually an amazing study of obsession, control, love, and many other things.


That's quite a profound statement, one that I totally embrace. The French critics really understood this because they tend to open up their emotions, thus allowing them to be taken on a journey. American critics at the time didn't always do this, but time has allowed opinions and emotions to evolve and mature in America. Doors have opened.


Once again, great post. Let me know when you tackle Marnie!


More self-torture. Poor, poor Marnie. She's actually a very sympathetic figure compared to Scottie. She's truly a victim.


I still may have some Vertigo thoughts to share, it's just a matter of digging them up. I put a little more thought into Elster's office and the strong mahogany look of it and the best thing I can come up with is that mahogany is brown with a reddish tint, which tells me that John is being aroused. The brown shows his doubtfulness but the hint of red shows his stimulative juices are starting to flow. His mind is beginning to paint a wonderful, mysterious portrait, will the image in his mind meet his expectations? Well, we know the answer to that one, now don't we? Ohh, that Elster, he's a cagey one. "Madeleine" is a helluva trap. A trap many men have been caught in.


The other scene I'd like to mention is one I believe many see as rather ordinary, but I think it's quite powerful and telling.


The scene I speak of is Midge visiting Scottie after his nervous breakdown.




Midge: Oh, John-o. You don't even know I'm here, do you? But I'm here.


Those are Midge's final words to Scottie. They do paint a portrait.



Doctor: Yes, Miss Wood.


Midge: Doctor, how long is it going to take you to pull him out of this?


Doctor: Well, it's hard to say. At least six months. Perhaps a year. It really could depend on him.


Midge: He won't talk.


Doctor: No. He's suffering from acute melancholia together with a guilt complex. (That's the color blue.) He blames himself for what happened to the woman. We know little of what went on before.


Midge: I can give you one thing: he was in love with her.


Doctor: That does complicate the problem, doesn't it?


Midge: I can give you another complication: He still is. And you want to know something, Doctor? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all.




Yes, Midge surely knows John-O. By the way, did you catch Midge's last name, "Wood"? More like "Would." Midge "would" do anything for her John-O. She loves him like a mother loves her son. It's why she looks the way she does in the film, too.


The last time we see Midge harkens back to the words Madeleine tells Scottie along the ocean front:


"It's as though I... I were walking down a long corridor that... that once was mirrored, and fragments of that mirror still hang there; and when I come to the end of the corridor, there's nothing but darkness. And I know that when I walk into the darkness, that I'll die."


Midge walks down her corridor. There are no mirrors in her corridor because she is who she is. But just like Judy's corridor, there's darkness at the end. There's an open grave for her love for John-o. This is the final image of Midge in the film. She's dead.









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Thanks to our Scottie for the best analysis of *Vertigo* I've read. I look forward to watching *Vertigo* again with all these deep points settling in. I intuitively picked up on many of these points, but it's the language of film with which I am still not fluent. I am seldom sure what colors and visual images represent to Hitch and other filmmakers so this breaks it down nicely for me. (I have the same problem in literary and art analysis: understanding the symbolism of objects and settings) The corridor with the mirrors sequence was always beyond me. Are they supposed to mean some sort of change in the character's point of view or feelings?


Corridors seem to mean a great deal in movies---John Ford uses them sometimes and it's always significant of something deep. I remember Hitch also featured them in Spellbound and Rebecca, too.

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