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.

VERTIGO

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.

xxx

 

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