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Although it wasn't a box-office success when originally released in 1958, Vertigo has since taken its deserved place as Alfred Hitchcock's greatest, most spellbinding, most deeply personal achievement. In fact, it consistently ranks among the top 10 movies ever made in the once-a-decade Sight & Sound international critics poll, placing at number 4 in the most recent survey. (Universal Pictures' spectacularly gorgeous 1996 restoration and rerelease of this 1958 Paramount production was a tremendous success with the public, too.) James Stewart plays a retired police detective who is hired by an old friend to follow his wife (a superb Kim Novak, in what becomes a double role), whom he suspects of being possessed by the spirit of a dead madwoman. The detective and the disturbed woman fall ("fall" is indeed the operative word) in love and...well, to give away any more of the story would be criminal. Shot around San Francisco (the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of the Legion of Honor are significant locations) and elsewhere in Northern California (the redwoods, Mission San Juan Batista) in rapturous Technicolor, Vertigo is as lovely as it is haunting. --Jim Emerson --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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The story is good, incorporating drama, suspense, and romance. Vertigo has one of the finest, most gripping, finales I have come across in any motion picture. Even after repeated viewings, the ending still manages to send shivers up my spine.
The acting is good all the way around. Jimmy Stewart delivers an absolutely wonderful performance as the slightly disturbed John 'Scottie' Ferguson, a man with a strong fear of heights and an obsession with the mysterious Mrs. Madeleine Elster. Madeleine is played to a cool, smooth perfection by the talented Kim Novak.
Robert Burks brings a lot of atmosphere to Vertigo through his cinematography. The colors are vibrant and glowing, giving the film a haunting aura.
Bernard Herrmann is at his best, delivering an absolutely riveting and disorienting musical score. The effects for the opening title sequence combined with Herrmann's score really set the tone of the film.
Hitchcock's direction is fantastic as always. For this film, he created the infamous "dizzy effect" shot by simultaneously zooming forward and reverse tracking with the camera. This shot has been imitated by many but rarely has it been as effective as it is here.
True, the new extra features and the marginally better quality image as compared to the previous anamorphic version in the Hitchcock Masterpiece box set are probably enough for a die hard fan of this masterpiece to shell out for still another version of the DVD. Even the Friedkin commentary is quite enjoyable and offers some useful insights, contrary to his somewhat spotty reputation as to his commentary talents.
However, the two audio tracks are replicas of the attempt at modernizing it in the 90s by making a stereo version. The absence of the original sound effects track led to some tinkering and yielded certain strange results, most notably the double gunshots during the initial rooftop chase and a generally less-detailed aural picture. Strange that the edition in the boxset did include the original mono mix, but Universal dropped it in 2008. For those who insist on purchasing only the most perfect edition, this is not quite it then. It was not enough to stop me, but I do notice that the sound experience is slightly less interesting with this edition.
As for the improvement in image quality, it may not be visible on all systems. I did the comparison on two other systems and in one case the improvement was also noticeable, the image being sharper and the colors more vivid, while on the other one my friend and I saw no difference.
In conclusion, perhaps a Blu-Ray edition will one day bring it all together, correcting the audio deficiencies and adding HD quality, should it appear one day.
A detective with a fear of heights, a slightly 1950ish kooky artsy girlfriend, and a "friend" who wants his wife "watched"; the wife - cool, aloof, stunning, blonde, extraordinary - and maybe quite dead[ly]. Stewart is perhaps just a little too dry for this one, maybe slightly too old - now William Holden, an interesting match, more sex appeal [something Hitch commented on later]. BUT this is possibly Novak's best - exquisitely costumed [although she did resist the gray outfit and the shoes - those shoes!] Everything else pales by comparison.
Moral of this tale? Beware of friendly favors!
A flawless enetrtainment, sets, costumes [Edith Head], music [Bernard Herrman's superior score], mood cannot be faulted, and it still is quite a disturbing study of male deception and male obsession another fragment of the PYGMALION myth.
This is an excellent DVD - the fully restored work is essential for the serious collector.
Now for pure FUN double-bill this one with "Bell, Book and Candle" also with Stewart and Novak [more chemistry this time around]. Or Triple-bill with De Palma's "Obsession" - a worthy tribute!
Most recent customer reviews
Regarder des films d'Alfred Hitchcock C'est existant on peut dire que c'est le maître no 1 du cinéma.Published 13 months ago by Gilbert Lebreux
This is one of my favorite films of all time. Vertigo may very well be my most cherished of all of Alfred Hitchcock's body of work. Read morePublished 22 months ago by ESBÉ
beautiful products, fast delivery, smooth trade, thanks for everythingPublished 24 months ago by laguna
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