“(My analysis of Vertigo will be divided into two parts.)
In 1956 Paramount purchased two books as potential Alfred Hitchcock projects: Flamingo Feather, and D’entre Les Morts (From Among the Dead). He was planning to make Flamingo Feather first; it was announced in the trade papers as his next movie, and he went so far as to take a trip to South Africa, scouting locations for the movie. What he saw there discouraged him. He felt the movie would be costly, and the political subject matter touchy. So after returning to Hollywood, he scrapped this movie for From Among the Dead, the movie that would become Vertigo…
From the Alfred Hitchcock Blog
“I need you to be Madeleine for a while”
From The Monty Andrew
I saw North by Northwest for like the 200th time last night ( not that I’ve been counting ) because it’s my favorite movie and I hadn’t seen in about like an entire year and it has my favorite actor in Cary Grant, as well as my favorite director Alfred Hitchcock. I was just in the mood to see that movie again and watch Cary make a comedian of himself in every basic scene in the movie, with absolutely no direction from Hitch. The scene where he’s climbing out his hospital room and sneaking into another room from by going out his window into another window, is a perfect example of that. So I’m sort of in a Hitchcock mood, plus I love Kim Novak as well.
Vertigo is not the perfect movie, but North by Northwest is, but Vertigo has a lot things in it that are perfect. Where the movie takes place and is shot which is San Francisco, which is at least arguably the best looking big city in America, if not the world. You couldn’t shoot a movie in a better looking big city than San Francisco. The director who I don’t need to mention. The two lead characters with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. Kim playing a woman who in many ways is a lot like herself. Sort of shy and lacking in self-confidence. Which is almost impossible to believe when you look at Kim Novak and then she’s also a very good if not great actress as well, because she’s so real and turns herself into the women she plays.
To be familiar with ‘I want you to be Madeline for a while”, you have to be familiar with Vertigo itself. Which should go without saying, but it’s about a man who hires an old classmate of his who is a retired San Francisco police detective ( or inspector ) who is now in retirement completely and I guess living off of his pension, to essentially spy on his wife, because he believes she in some type of trouble. Or that’s what he tells Scottie ( played by Jimmy Stewart ) but really what this is about is Gavin Elster ( played by Tom Helmore ) playing Scottie for a fool and making him believe that Madeline ( played by Kim Novak ) is in love with him. And he falls in love with her and then she suddenly dies in the movie or that is what Gavin and Madeline want Scottie to believe. And he goes crazy and has a nervous breakdown and is not able to communicate at all and even does some time in a rest home to recover from his condition.
And then Madeline comes back, except that Madeline is now Judy Barton ( also played by Kim Novak ) and Scottie sees Judy who he believes strongly resembles Madeline at a store and Scottie is still in love with Madeline and decides he wants Judy to be Madeline and dress like Madeline and go to the same restaurants and places that Scottie and Madeline went to when they had their affair. Except that Judy is really Madeline Elster and she never actually died. She and her husband are just playing this scam on Scottie that he never figures out ( even though he’s a detective ) until the last scene in the movie. Where she actually does die for real.
If I had to do a scale for the best Hitchcock movies of all-time, Vertigo would be like number five. Alfred Hitchcock made a lot of films and made a lot of great films, but North by Northwest, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, Dial M For Murder, Family Plot, are all better so Vertigo wouldn’t even be in my top five, but again Hitch made a lot of great movies, so number 6 is actually pretty good. But it had a great cast, great director, the writing is a little cheesy with grown men and women using words like darn with no sense that any of these people are very religious at all and there in San Francisco and in the late 1950s when moderate swearing in Hollywood movies was becoming somewhat noticeable. But it has am iterating plot and Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, are both very entertaining by themselves and Kim is hot, sexy, and adorable enough to get met to watch her in anything that she does.