In a recent poll, Citizen Kane was dethroned as the best movie ever by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Although I can appreciate the cinematography in Citizen Kane, particularly in the context of the time it was made, I have always thought the story was weak. For starters, no one was in the room to hear Kane say, “Rosebud,” and if you’re going to base most of your movie around that, it seems like it would have been an easy thing to fix. But anyway, this post is not about Citizen Kane. It’s about Vertigo.
I’ve long been a Hitchcock fan, but I never thought Vertigo was his best. I feel that Dial M for Murder and Rear Window are superior films, but it occurred to me that it had been a long time since I’d watched Vertigo and maybe I should give it another chance. So, I watched it again.
Nope, still not my favorite Hitchcock movie.
Of course, this is all rather subjective, and in the end, it really doesn’t matter whether I agree with the poll results or not. The movie has some great shots, and even though the dream sequence seems a bit cheesy by today’s standards, I have to imagine that it was pretty cool for 1958. However, watching Vertigo again made me realize that there are a few things about it that I need to say. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know some critical things about how the film plays out.
- When John tails “Madeline” to the McKittrick hotel, we clearly see her in the window of the hotel. However, when he goes in, the desk lady insists that she hasn’t been there that day, and she is not in her room. When John looks back down at the street, Madeline’s car is gone. I will concede that Madeline could have hidden undetected in the hotel room and that Gavin could have driven the car away, but what would be the point of this? The plot was to make John believe that Madeline was insane and on the verge of suicide, not to make him believe he was following a ghost.
- After “Madeline” jumps into San Francisco Bay, John fishes her out, puts her in his car, and takes her to his home. When she wakes up, her car is also at his home. How did it get there?
- In the latter half of the film when John is making Judy change her hair and her clothes so that she looks more like his beloved Madeline, he keeps saying to Judy, “It can’t matter to you!” Um…has this guy met a woman before? Her hair and her clothes can’t matter to her? I can suspend disbelief for all sorts of stuff, but come on. Perhaps some men don’t understand why hair and clothes matter so much to most women, but is any man dumb enough to suggest that they don’t or can’t?
- What ever happened to poor Midge??
Maybe I’m nitpicking. It’s still a pretty good film. Best movie ever, though? Not in my book.