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: Vertigo (1958)  ( 56493 )
dave jenkins
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« : August 31, 2012, 09:39:17 AM »

DCP restoration playing the film forum for one week, 12 - 18 Sept. In the meantime, Alex Ross's impressive take on the score is worth re-reading.
http://www.therestisnoise.com/2006/07/vertigo.html



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« #1 : September 03, 2012, 09:01:56 PM »

I definitely want to see this one. (And I spoke to a nice woman at Film Forum who told me that anytime the volume is too low, I can just tell an usher and they'll raise it  ;))


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« #2 : September 07, 2012, 12:46:24 PM »

No original audio on the Blu, apparently, http://enthusiasm.org/post/31062742832



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« #3 : September 13, 2012, 12:22:19 PM »

Hey, wordpress has a Vertigo-themed theme (called "Vertigo"): http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/vertigo/



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« #4 : September 13, 2012, 01:26:29 PM »

Cool! It's more Tumblr-like than Wordpress, but cool!


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« #5 : September 13, 2012, 07:27:55 PM »

I just saw Vertigo yesterday at The Film Forum.

(I discuss the theater experience itself, eg. the sound and picture quality, in the "Film Forum's thread" (so to speak) here http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11250.msg159429#msg159429

This is the first time I have seen the movie in full. I saw the first 45 minutes or so a while ago. And I knew the full plot. So it's definitely not as suspenseful as when you see a movie for the first time without any knowledge of the story, but still, it was a nice experience.

Let's get the "rankings" nonsense out of the way:IMO Vertigo is not the greatest movie of all-time, not even the top 10, and not even the best Hitchcock (among Hitch's movies that I've seen, Psycho was better) But fuck that, this was a lot of fun.


Okay, as for.....THE MOVIE Stewart, Novak, and Bel Geddes were all terrific. Bel Geddes's character is particularly refreshing, cuz it's rare to see a woman exist as a real CHARACTER, rather than just something to be had or desired by the male protagonist (Leone had a similar criticism of females in American Westerns -- how she doesn't exist on her own, but only to be had by the hero). Sure, Bel geddes and Stewart had something going once upon a time, but she really exists as an interesting character unto herself, regardless of any sex appeal issue, and that is very refreshing and unique.

I loved the cinematography.

Much of the discussion about Vertigo focuses on the themes of the movie, the story and the characters and their psychology and feelings and desires, and the score by Bernard Herrmann. Those may all be great, but for me, what stood out is how amazing this movie is visually:

There is an incredible use of LIGHT Eg. the hazy light peering through the trees as Stewart and Noval are visiting the redwoods. And I just LOVED the scene when the two of them visit the church for the first time (when she supposedly commits suicide) As they arrive, they are standing outside the church, under the collonade/arcade (I am not sure which term is correct, for the pillars outside the church), they outside the church but are under the roof of the collonade and therefore in the dark, and it is a brilliantly sunny day. It is a wonderful shot of the two of them in the dark under the collonade, with the brilliant light just past them. Recently,  we've been discussing the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico's Metaphysical Period (which were a major influence on Leone), and how they feature high-contrast light, collonades, arcades (and several other elements).

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=8921.msg159339#msg159339

Well that shot I mentioned of Stewart and Novak standing under the darkness of collonade, with the brilliants light just outside, looked to me like it could be straight out of a de Chirico painting!


This movie also has such an amazing use of COLOR: There is a wonderful nighttime shot of Stewart and Bel Geddes in her studio. There are some incredible scenes with a heavy use of red, which traditionally implies sexual desires. There is also that amazing shot in Ernie's Restaurant, the first time we are introduced to Novak, where she is wearing this incredible (sorry, I am running out of positive adjectives!) green gown -- of course, that's the only thing in the entire room that is green, making it stand out even more than it would otherwise. It reminded me of Michelle Pfeiffer's majestic entry into Scarface, in the glass elevator. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8widwQ1hD0
Here, a similar effect was achieved with Novak, but without her actually entering the scene: she is already there, sitting at the table! But the great use of color makes her "entrance" something to remember as well, despite the fact that the only real entrance is made by the  camera  -- which is basically using Stewart's POV. At that moment, Stewart's POV is our POV, and we are just as amazed by discovering Novak there as Al Pacino  was to discover Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface
(And I guess that you can argue that we always see Novak -- whether she is playing Madeliene, Carlotta, or Judy -- through Stewart's POV, even when this is not shown clearly with a conscious "POV camera."  
------

 One question I had: there is one scene in middle of the movie where Stewart enters Bel Geddes's studio, and she is wearing a red sweater. Now, the heavy use of red in the scenes with Novak certainly has a sexual connotation, but I was wondering if anyone thought there was a particular significance to Bel Geddes's red sweater, or if that just happened to be a nice color but there was no particular thematic significance to it?

Also, it was hard not to notice how, in the scene where Novak is "Judy," when Stewart is in her hotel room (I believe she is wearing a green sweater there) just before they are going to go to go out she seems to be, how shall I put it, flipping and flopping around, with no bra. Knowing nothing about women's wear, I asked the female friend I was with, who immediately laughed and confirmed my suspicions.... But later, when Novak is wearing an evening dress, she definitely had something "supporting" and thus accentuating her fantastic upper assets. Was hard not to notice the contrast, especially after Bel Geddes's earlier speech about "everything a brassiere is supposed to do"  ;D ).

« : December 23, 2012, 06:07:23 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #6 : September 14, 2012, 10:12:28 AM »

Some good observations there, drink. Be careful about assigning exclusive meanings to colors; the same color can have more than one meaning, depending on context. You are right that red can signal sexual longing, but it is often associated with danger (because of the color of blood, Stop signs, Emergency lights, what have you). If I remember correctly, there's a flash of red when Judy remembers her first flashback, hinting that she is both a femme fatale and perhaps that she is courting danger herself. Green is the color most associated with Miss Novak, however. As you say, she is introduced to us in a green dress. Judy is later bathed in green from the outside neon sign that invades her apartment, making her appear ghostly. Green make-up is a once-used method to confer ghost-status upon characters in drama (see Blithe Spirit), so AH was perhaps using a bit of theatrical shorthand at that point. Paradoxically, green is also the color of life, so it fits with the theme of eternal return suggested by the Carlotta possession story. And don't forget that a lot of talk about immortality takes place during the Muir Woods scene among some very old trees. Should I point out that redwoods are considered evergreens?



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« #7 : September 14, 2012, 10:32:04 AM »

Some good observations there, drink. Be careful about assigning exclusive meanings to colors; the same color can have more than one meaning, depending on context. You are right that red can signal sexual longing, but it is often associated with danger (because of the color of blood, Stop signs, Emergency lights, what have you). If I remember correctly, there's a flash of red when Judy remembers her first flashback, hinting that she is both a femme fatale and perhaps that she is courting danger herself. Green is the color most associated with Miss Novak, however. As you say, she is introduced to us in a green dress. Judy is later bathed in green from the outside neon sign that invades her apartment, making her appear ghostly. Green make-up is a once-used method to confer ghost-status upon characters in drama (see Blithe Spirit), so AH was perhaps using a bit of theatrical shorthand at that point. Paradoxically, green is also the color of life, so it fits with the theme of eternal return suggested by the Carlotta possession story. And don't forget that a lot of talk about immortality takes place during the Muir Woods scene among some very old trees. Should I point out that redwoods are considered evergreens?

And don't forget Madeliene's green car (maybe her "husband" gave her that specifically cuz it stands out and would be so easy to follow)


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« #8 : September 14, 2012, 10:34:05 AM »

 If there is one thing that disappointed me here, it's the way that the secret was revealed to us, by Judy having a flashback. What did you think of that -- is that the best way to reveal to us the key to the movie?


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« #9 : September 14, 2012, 11:55:43 AM »

Think about the alternative: the secret is revealed at the end of the movie.

If that had happened, you would have felt gyped (or you would have guessed the ending and felt bored). Revealing the secret is for me a stroke of genius. It gets rid of a potential problem, the fact that the murder scheme isn't very plausible (how could Gavin Elster have counted on everything going to plan? Any number of random occurances could have derailed things. And would you really build a plan around a man in an unstable mental condition? Also, after throwing the body down, Elster and Judy had to wait in the bell tower until the coast was clear--HUH????) So, with the solution of the mystery revealed, the audience can forget about it and begin focusing on something more interesting--Stewart's creepy behavior. Hitchcock actually creates more suspense by getting everyone to wonder, What's Stewart gonna do when he finds out the truth? Will he go 100% psychotic? What will become of Judy?

It's a move like this that takes Vertigo out of the realm of an Agatha Christie novel and places it in the pantheon next to, say, Othello.

Apparently, this plot point was devised by the third screenwriter, Sam Taylor. Taylor took earlier drafts that weren't successful and restructered them (and added the character Midge). The original novel had a very different ending (and it maintained the secret to almost the very end). My surmise that Taylor was responsible for the change is due in part to the fact that very late in the production process Hitchcock got cold feet and tried to go back to keeping the secret until a big reveal at the end. Apparently, at a studio screening, Joan Harrison (who was producing his TV show for him) argued that the secret should be kept until the end. Hitch was persuaded (or more likely, just overly cautious once he'd removed his director's beret and put on his producer's hat). He then tried getting the prints back (they were already in distribution) to re-cut the film. Nothing came of this, partly because the task wasn't feasible at the 11th hour, but also, no doubt, because of the extra cost Hitchcock would have personally incurred. So the film went out as it had been originally approved. Later, of course, as the film gained a critical rep, Hitch took credit for moving the reveal from the more traditional ending point to where it is now. But it had to be Taylor's idea, or Hitch would never have considered re-cutting the finished film. It was such a novel idea for the time. You just didn't give the secret away like that.

But the film is much better as a result. You need only look at Diabolique (a film based on the previous novel of the guys who wrote the novel on which Vertigo is based). That film has a big secret that is revealed at the end. It works the first time you see the film, but once you know the ending, there's never any reason to watch the movie again. Vertigo, on the other hand, repays many viewings. I don't think I've watched any other film as many times.



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« #10 : September 14, 2012, 12:15:53 PM »

But Hitchcock did reveal the "secrets" in his films nearly always after about two thirds of the screentime. So nothing new in Vertigo.

But Drink asked not about the moment the secret was revealed, but about the way it was revealed. By that flashback.

Les diaboliques is indeed a bit disappointing. I saw this ending coming from at least half of the movie (so it would have been a good idea to reveal is after two thirds). The scene in the bathtub looks quite effective, but the then following happy end with the out of nowhere appearing Charles Vanel is ridiculous. And of course the "twist" of the plot turns most of the suspense elements which were shown before into a joke.

Best part of the Diaboliques is the atmospheric portrait of the everyday life at the school.

Clouzot's even better known The Wages of fear is for me a similar overrated film. Not disappointing, but less good than it should be. Again the portrait of the town at the end of the world is more interesting than the thriller parts.


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« #11 : September 14, 2012, 02:22:52 PM »

But Hitchcock did reveal the "secrets" in his films nearly always after about two thirds of the screentime. So nothing new in Vertigo.
Actually, most of his films don't deal with "the big secret that explains things" kind of approach. But in films like The 39 Steps, Suspicion, The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca, Under Capricorn and Psycho, which do use that formula, they each have a big secret revealed in the last reel. But as I say, that wasn't the kind of film he most often made. Usually his films are simply about a man or woman who have a problem they need to solve, one that requires extra determination rather than knowledge. Vertigo is unusual in a lot of ways, and one way it is unlike other Hitchcock films is that it is more like a film noir than usual. He took a form that others were practicing and did his own unique take on it.



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« #12 : September 14, 2012, 02:33:24 PM »

Here's someone who doesn't like the colors on the DCP restoration: http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2012/09/still_screwed_u_1.php

Difficult to know how to take this. As far as I can determine, these are pretty much the colors we've had on VHS/LD/DVD since the 1996 restoration. Maybe they're just more noticeable in 2K/4K.



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« #13 : September 14, 2012, 03:01:44 PM »

will the Vertigo blu ray be available alone, or only as part of the big box set?


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« #14 : September 14, 2012, 03:20:39 PM »

At present, only as part of the set. And the release date for that has just been put back a month. Eventually, I'm sure they'll put out the titles in the set individually, but who knows when that will be.



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