DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock
May Contain Spoilers!
Hitchcock’s relationship with James Stewart was certainly a prosperous one. The Man Who New Too Much (1956), Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958) stand the test of time, with the latter two more so. Jimmy Stewart was an edgy actor, often mistaken for a family star due to his role in the Capra classic It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), he was perfect for the off beat roles which Hitch would cast him and here we have the vertigo inflicted private detective, who is hired to find out whether there is any true in a man’s wife’s ghostly delusions.
But at the half way mark, she falls to her death and Stewart is racked with guilt as he had also begun to fall in love with the woman (Kim Novak). But soon after he finds her double, befriends her and then embarks on a twisted mission to reshape her into woman who he had lost.
Subversive as ever, this was what Hitchcock did best. He plays with the themes of manipulation, because don’t we all try to shape the people we love, whether we should or not? But here, it’s hyper real as Hitchcock holds a mirror up to us all, as we see reflected an American icon acting in a way which is clearly twisted if not aberrant.
The only problem that I have with Hitchcock’s films is that the production styles can often look like poor or appear like cheap production values. He still used rear projection to a great and I feel unjustified extent, which make his films look stagey but I suspect that was also partly his intention.
But his themes and execution are brilliant, to this day, managing to send a clear message to the audience. Tonally, he deals with complex psychological issues and this is no exception but he was also a master of suspense.
Vertigo is one of Hitchcock’s best films but The Birds (1963) will always be greatest work as far as I’m concerned.