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Vertigo (1958)

Universal

Cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore.

Rating: PG.

Run time: 128 mins

Genre: Drama

Verdict: Brilliant (see rating system)

Many believe this to be Alfred Hitchcock's best film, and it's certainly right up there with North By Northwest, Rebecca and Notorious.

A brooding, obsessive masterpiece, Vertigo casts James Stewart as Scottie Ferguson, a San Francisco cop with a fear of heights who retires after a colleague falls to his death from a rooftop while trying to save him.

Still wracked with guilt over the incident Scottie spends his days aimlessly, relieved only by the chance to unburden himself to his artist friend Majorie "Midge" Wood (Barbara Bel Geddes), who is in love with him.

When old pal Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) asks him to follow his troubled, possibly suicidal wife Madeline (Kim Novak), Scottie is reluctant, saying he doesn't do private eye stuff. But when he glimpses the stunning Madeline, Scottie is seduced into doing the job.

Scottie discovers Madeline is obsessed with a long dead relative known as "Mad Carlotta", visiting her grave and an art gallery containing her portrait. She might in fact believe she IS the reincarnated Carlotta.

Scottie becomes more and more entranced by Madeline and when she leaps into San Francisco Bay in an apparent suicide attempt, he dives in and saves her. But when Scottie finds himself frozen by his fear of vertigo in a subsequent life-or-death situation, tragedy strikes and the story takes a dark turn.

A magnificent picture, Vertigo maintains a creepy atmosphere, features great locations and solid performances. Kim Novak never looked lovelier. And the music! Bernard Herrmann's eerie score is just perfect.

Universal's Collector's Edition features a great documentary on the making of the film, the locations, andthe recollections of his daughter Pat, producer Herbert Coleman and restorer James C. Katz who helped rescue the crumbling original print and restore it to the incredible level it is today.

Every movie collector should have this classic.

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