Synopses & Reviews
In the 1992 Sight and Sound
poll critics and filmmakers voted Vertigo
the fourth greatest film of all time. Released in 1958, Hitchcock's masterpiece is a pinnacle of the cinema. Yet in it Hitchcock abandoned his trademark suspense, allowing the central mystery to be solved halfway through. What remained was a study in sexual obsession, as James Stewart's Scottie pursues Madeleine/Judy (Kim Novak) to her death in a remote Californian mission. Novak is ice-cool but vulnerable; Stewart--in the darkest role of his career--genial on the surface but damaged within.
Though it seems to many to be Hitchcock's most personal film, Charles Barr argues that, like Citizen Kane, Vertigo is a triumph not so much of individual authorship as of creative collaboration. Barr documents the crucial role of screenwriters Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor and by a combination of textual and contextual analysis explores the reasons why Vertigo has come to exert such a continuing fascination both on general audiences and on a wide range of critics and theorists.
Charles Barr looks at the Hitchcock classic with a 'Hamlet-like' status set in and around San Francisco.
The author documents the crucial role of screenwriters Alec Coppell and Samuel Taylor and, by a combination of textual and contextual analysis, explores the reasons why Vertigo has come to exert such a continuing fascination both on audiences and on a wide range of critics and theorists.
About the Author
Charles Barr is Professor of Film at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of Ealing Studios (rev. edn, 1999) and English Hitchcock (1999). He was researcher and co-writer of Stephen Frears's film Typically British: A Personal History of British Cinema (1995).