Monday, January 15, 2007

Vertigo (1958)

Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

Eeee, Time travel doesn't suit Jimmy's complexion...

Genre: Drama Mystery Thriller Romance

Starring: James Stewart (Rope; It's a Wonderful Life), Kim Novak (The Man With The Golden Arm)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Spellbound; The Manxman)

Overview: A detective suffering from vertigo takes a job following a man's wife, embroiling himself in a strange mystery.

Acting: I read once that Kim Novak, while in this role, constantly felt as thought she was pressured by Hitchcock to play Grace Kelly, or rather BE Grace Kelly. You see, he had Grace as a leading lady for three recent films, and it was pretty obvious to Kim that there was no way she could live up to the high expectations Hitchcock already had in his mind. Poor girl. But just between you and me, she ain't got the same charm and chemistry with Stewart either...
Rating: 8

Cinematography: I was astounded at how not impressed I was with this. Don't get me wrong, it's a great little movie and those harrowing moments are quite something, but when you have good story it's nice to crop it visually rather than simply set up a standard framing. For the high tension at great times it's fantastic but it could have been so much more frightening.
Rating: 8

Script: Crap all over me for this but I found the script uninspired and all too expository, "Hey we were engaged once, you remember that?" Who the hell asks that question? You might as well just have stood up, walked stage front-left while a spotlight fell on you as you spoke directly to the camera, Jesus.
Rating: 7

Plot: A deep psychological fear meshed with a clunky story. Potential defiled. I'm being so hard on this one only because I expected so much, but the mystery of the first half was really quite bland. The end, that twist with all the dominoes falling into place does quite the interesting thing to the mind, but I didn't find that it redeemed the rest of the film for me.
Rating: 7

Mood: It's called Vertigo for a reason, and that reason should have been played up a little bit more. One more scene where he's deeply affected by the nausea that sweeps over him would have made it just that much better. I'll tell you this too, the whole early part of the mystery, the following of the wife, it's rather ordinary, regardless of all the expository mystery about it. The mood set was fine, but really nothing more.
Rating: 7

Ding-A-Dang Dong my Ding-A-Long Novak!

Overall Rating: 74% ("I'm Just Sick About This...")

Aftertaste: I must say that I remember this being much more impressive the first time I saw it. I think it was the first Hitchcock film I'd ever seen and perhaps I was blinded by the veneer of the legend. Yes this is a classic, and yes it's solid, but the power balance between the sexes is so ridiculously dated, it suffers for it. Culture Shock, for sure. Wow, I guess women really WERE spineless back then. Still, the now-retro-cool special effects definitely haven't lost their edge for me, and though not one of my favorites was enjoyable enough.