Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo

Please join us for one of Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller films, "Vertigo" starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. We will be outside the theatre box office at 1:30 PM for the 2:00 showing of this film (the matinee price still! WoooHooo!) and going inside no later than 1:45. Please look for our group in the theatre if you arrive after that time.

 Looking forward to seeing you there!

Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) is a San Francisco police detective who, during a rooftop chase, nearly plunges to his death. The psychological scars left by this incident and, probably more significantly, by the guilt of having been responsible for the death of a fellow officer who tried to rescue him, induce in Scottie a phobia--Vertigo, or fear of high places, the phobia which initially caused his accident.

Throughout the rest of the film Scottie remains psychologically and symbolically suspended from that rooftop. He takes on a job as a private detective for an old college friend named Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) who is worried about the strange behavior of his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), whom Scottie has never met. Madeleine is a wanderer, and in trailing her, Scottie becomes one too. As he follows her through museums (SF's Legion of Honor) graveyards, and forest haunts he becomes obsessed with this phantom woman who apparently believes herself to be the reincarnation of a turn-of-the-century belle named Carlotta.

Visually, Hitchcock reinforces this loss of objectivity and descent into obsession by photographing Scottie's wanderings in soft-focus and at a gliding, dreamlike pace. In the scenes of Scottie tailing Madeleine by car through the streets of San Francisco, the vehicle seems to be floating above the pavement. This feeling is enhanced even more by the lilting, musical background of master film composer Bernard Herrmann. With the growth of Scottie's obsession comes an equal and concurrent increase in the credibility of Madeleine's claims. Her appearance, her strange visits to places which Carlotta frequented, and her speech all seem to confirm her belief that she is the reincarnated Carlotta. As noted before, however, Scottie is no longer a logical, detached observer, and because the viewer is given no more information than Scottie, neither is he. 

 

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  • Ellen
    Assistant Organizer
    Event Host
  • Francois
    Assistant Organizer
    Event Host
  • Carol M.
    Assistant Organizer

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