Vertigo

Alfred HitchcockUSA128 minutes1958PGColourEnglish

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A former detective (James Stewart) develops a fatal obsession with an otherworldly blonde goddess (Kim Novak), in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece of erotic fixation.

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One of Hitchcock's personal favourites, and voted the greatest film in the history of cinema in the most recent Sight & Sound poll, Vertigo lives up to its title as it pulls us into a dreamlike vortex of obsession. San Francisco cop Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) retires from the police force after a rooftop mishap leaves him with a paralyzing fear of heights. When he is hired as a private investigator to follow a friend's seemingly suicidal wife (Kim Novak), Scottie finds himself falling in love with the doomed woman — and after she is taken from him, he seeks to recreate her in the person of a cynical shopgirl (Novak again). A film of spiralling illusion, in which Scottie's desperate attempts to remake his past leads him into a grim fixation on a phantom, Vertigo is cinema's greatest liebestod in its portrait of a passion that leads to death; Bernard Herrmann's anxious-making score adds to the film's aura of inexorability, in which time and memory form a vertiginous whorl that cannot be eluded. "Hitchcock's masterpiece ... and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us" (Robin Wood).

FantasyRomanceMystery + Thriller