I recently had a kind of Desert Island Discs experience where I came up with my favourite novel, poem, music, and film. I have a joint top two favourite films.
1958 … 122 mins … U.S. … Alfred Hitchcock
From the novel ‘D’entre les Morts’ by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
I watched it for the umpteenth time recently and it had lost none of its allure. I also noticed details for the first time. I watch it about every couple of years.
In 2012 it replaced Citizen Kane as the best film of all time in a Sight and Sound critics’ poll.
James Stewart, an ex-policeman forced to retire because of vertigo, is hired by an old acquaintance to follow the latter’s wife who is given to unexplained absences and a morbid fascination with a dead woman. Stewart falls for her and she seems to reciprocate. To say any more would be to rob you.
I love its eroticism, and this in a film where kissing is as extreme as it gets. I love the acting … James Stewart is superb as the Hitchcock archetype …the innocent dupe. He plausibly moves between nice-guy affability, bewilderment, and wild terror. Kim Novak, in what many believe is her finest performance, transforms herself convincingly from cool lady to shopgirl. I love the San Francisco settings, the rich colour, the music composed by Bernard Herrmann, the above graphics by Saul Bass, and a dream sequence put together by Salvador Dali. As far as the master- manipulator Hitch is concerned, I’m perfectly happy to be his innocent dupe.