Time: 129 mins.
Nominated for Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Sound.
It took me awhile to actually sit through VERTIGO. The ads never really appealed to me. I had no idea what the film was supposed to be about except Jimmy Stewart's fear of heights. I recently had the chance to see the restored version and I have to say I was impressed. It takes a while to get going, but once Hitch gets his hooks in you there's no turning back. It has to be one of his most subtle films, leading you along one path only to have everything you believe to be true, suddenly destroyed. Stewart actually gets to play a character with a dark side, unlike most of the roles he played throughout his career. Hitchcock uses him well, making you believe that he's trustworthy and honest, a decent man, which makes his inevitable downfall all the more painful.
The film opens with a dramatic rooftop chase that introduces the audience to Scottie (Stewart), a police detective, and his darkest fear. He's paralyzed by heights. Even though everyone tells him the death of a cop during the chase wasn't his fault, Scottie retires from the force rather than taking a desk job so his "disability" doesn't endanger anyone else. Even though he's retired he decides to help an old school chum, Ulster, uncover the mystery of his wife Madelaine's daily disappearance. All he wants Scottie to do is follow her and tell him where she goes. He fears she might be mentally unstable and on the road to a complete breakdown, maybe even suicidal.
Scottie is unconvinced of the danger, but agrees to follow her at least for a couple of days. What he discovers, unnerves him, but once he starts unraveling the mystery of Madelaine's movements, he can't escape the tendrils of her beauty and helplessness. Mainly because he's fallen for her. However, even his love for her, can't stop her descent into madness or her tragic fate. His inability to save her from her demons his infernal vertigo disables him in her time of need causes him to lose the war against his own inner demons, which even time can't erase. In fact, he can't forget her and it's this overwhelming passion that places him on a path to ultimate destruction.