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File:Vertigomovie restoration.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Saul Bass
Directed byAlfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by
  • Alec Coppel
  • Samuel Taylor
Produced byAlfred Hitchcock
  • James Stewart
  • Kim Novak
  • Barbara Bel Geddes
  • Tom Helmore
  • Henry Jones
CinematographyRobert Burks
Edited byGeorge Tomasini
Music byBernard Herrmann
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • May 9, 1958 (1958-05-09)
Running time
128 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$7.3 million[1]

Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. The story was based on the 1954 novel D'entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac. The screenplay was written by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor.

The film stars James Stewart as former police detective John "Scottie" Ferguson. Scottie is forced into early retirement because an incident in the line of duty has caused him to develop acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement). Scottie is hired by an acquaintance, Gavin Elster, as a private investigator to follow Gavin's wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who is behaving strangely.

The film was shot on location in San Francisco, California, and at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. It is the first film to utilize the dolly zoom, an in-camera effect that distorts perspective to create disorientation, to convey Scottie's acrophobia. As a result of its use in this film, the effect is often referred to as "the Vertigo effect".

Vertigo received mixed reviews upon initial release, but is now often cited as a classic Hitchcock film and one of the defining works of his career. Attracting significant scholarly criticism, it replaced Citizen Kane (1941) as the best film ever made in the 2012 British Film Institute's Sight & Sound critics' poll.[2] In 1996, the film underwent a major restoration to create a new 70mm print and DTS soundtrack. It has appeared repeatedly in polls of the best films by the American Film Institute,[3] including a 2007 ranking as the ninth-greatest American movie of all time.


File:Vertigo 1958 trailer Kim Novak at Golden Gate Bridge Fort Point.jpg

"Madeleine" at Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point, shortly before she jumps into the bay.

After a rooftop chase, where his fear of heights and vertigo result in the death of a policeman, San Francisco detective John "Scottie" Ferguson retires. Scottie tries to conquer his fear, but his friend and ex-fiancée Midge Wood says that another severe emotional shock may be the only cure.

An acquaintance from college, Gavin Elster, asks Scottie to follow his wife, Madeleine, claiming she has been possessed. Scottie reluctantly agrees, and follows Madeleine to a florist where she buys a bouquet of flowers, to the Mission San Francisco de Asís and the grave of Carlotta Valdes, and to an art museum where she gazes at the Portrait of Carlotta. He watches her enter the McKittrick Hotel, but on investigation she does not seem to be there.

A local historian explains that Carlotta Valdes tragically committed suicide. Gavin reveals that Carlotta (who he fears is possessing Madeleine) is Madeleine's great-grandmother, although Madeleine has no knowledge of this, and does not remember the places she has visited. Scottie tails Madeleine to Fort Point and, when she leaps into the bay, he rescues her.

The next day Scottie follows Madeleine; they meet and spend the day together. They travel to Muir Woods and Cypress Point on 17-Mile Drive, where Madeleine runs down towards the ocean. Scottie grabs her and they embrace. Madeleine recounts a nightmare and Scottie identifies its setting as Mission San Juan Bautista. He drives her there and they express their love for each other. Madeleine suddenly runs into the church and up the bell tower. Scottie, halted on the steps by his vertigo, sees Madeleine plunge to her death.

The death is declared a suicide. Gavin does not fault Scottie, but Scottie breaks down, becomes clinically depressed and is in a sanatorium, almost catatonic. After release, Scottie frequents the places that Madeleine visited, often imagining that he sees her. One day, he notices a woman who reminds him of Madeleine, despite her different appearance. Scottie follows her and she identifies herself as Judy Barton, from Salina, Kansas.

A flashback reveals that Judy was the person Scottie knew as "Madeleine Elster"; she was impersonating Gavin's wife as part of a murder plot. Judy drafts a letter to Scottie explaining her involvement: Gavin had deliberately taken advantage of Scottie's acrophobia to substitute his wife's freshly killed body in the apparent "suicide jump". But Judy rips up the letter and continues the charade, because she loves Scottie.

They begin seeing each other, but Scottie remains obsessed with "Madeleine", and asks Judy to change her clothes and hair so that she resembles Madeleine. After Judy complies, hoping that they may finally find happiness together, he notices her wearing the necklace portrayed in the painting of Carlotta, and realizes the truth. He insists on driving her to the Mission.

There, he tells her he must re-enact the event that led to his madness, admitting he now understands that "Madeleine" and Judy are the same person. Scottie forces her up the bell tower and makes her admit her deceit. Scottie reaches the top, finally conquering his acrophobia. Judy confesses that Gavin paid her to impersonate a "possessed" Madeleine; Gavin faked the suicide by throwing the body of his wife from the bell tower.

Judy begs Scottie to forgive her, because she loves him. He embraces her, but a shadowed figure rises from the trapdoor of the tower, startling Judy, who steps backward and falls to her death. Scottie, bereft again, stands on the ledge, while the figure, a nun investigating the noise, rings the mission bell.


  • James Stewart as John "Scottie" Ferguson
  • Kim Novak as Judy Barton/Madeleine Elster
  • Barbara Bel Geddes as Midge Wood
  • Tom Helmore as Gavin Elster
  • Henry Jones as the coroner
  • Ellen Corby as the manager of the McKittrick Hotel
  • Konstantin Shayne as bookstore owner Pop Leibel
  • Raymond Bailey as Scottie's doctor
  • Lee Patrick as the car owner mistaken for Madeleine
  • Margaret Brayton as the Ransohoff's saleslady
  • Fred Graham as Scottie's police partner (falls from rooftop)
  • Paul Bryar as Capt. Hansen (accompanies Scottie to coroner's inquest)
  • Nina Shipman as the girl mistaken for Madeleine at the museum
  • Dave McElhatton as the radio announcer (alternative ending)
  • Alfred Hitchcock makes his customary cameo appearance walking in the street in a gray suit and carrying a trumpet case.


Critics have interpreted Vertigo variously as "a tale of male aggression and visual control; as a map of female Oedipal trajectory; as a deconstruction of the male construction of femininity and of masculinity itself; as a stripping bare of the mechanisms of directorial, Hollywood studio and colonial oppression; and as a place where textual meanings play out in an infinite regress of self-reflexivity."[4]

Critic James F. Maxfield suggested that Vertigo can be interpreted as a variant on the Ambrose Bierce short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (1890), and that the main narrative of the film is actually imagined by Scottie, who is left dangling from a building at the end of the opening rooftop chase. This theory is supported by the fact that the first draft of the Vertigo script that Taylor wrote is entitled "From among the Dead, or There'll Never Be Another You, by Samuel Taylor and Ambrose Bierce".[5]



File:Vertigo 1958 trailer Novak.jpg

Kim Novak as "Madeleine", who has woken up naked in Scottie's bed after an apparent suicide attempt by drowning.

The screenplay is an adaptation of the French novel D'entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Hitchcock had attempted to buy the rights to the previous novel by the same authors, Celle qui n'était plus, but he failed, and it was made instead by Henri-Georges Clouzot as Les Diaboliques.[6] Although François Truffaut once suggested that D'entre les morts was specifically written for Hitchcock by Boileau and Narcejac,[7] Narcejac subsequently denied that this was their intention.[8] However, Hitchcock's interest in their work meant that Paramount Pictures commissioned a synopsis of D'entre les morts in 1954, before it had even been translated into English.[9]

Hitchcock originally hired playwright Maxwell Anderson to write a screenplay, but rejected his work, which was entitled Darkling, I Listen (a quotation from Keats's Ode to a Nightingale). A second version, written by Alec Coppel, again left the director dissatisfied.[10] The final script was written by Samuel A. Taylor — who was recommended to Hitchcock due to his knowledge of San Francisco —[9] from notes by Hitchcock. Among Taylor's creations was the character of Midge.[11] Taylor attempted to take sole credit for the screenplay, but Coppel protested to the Screen Writers Guild, which determined that both writers were entitled to a credit.[12]

File:Mission San Juan Bautista.jpg

The scenes with "Madeleine", and subsequently Judy, at Mission San Juan Bautista used the real Mission location with a much higher bell tower as a special effect.

Vera Miles, who was under personal contract to Hitchcock and had appeared on both his television show and in his film The Wrong Man, was originally scheduled to play Madeleine. She modeled for an early version of the painting featured in the film.[10] Following delays, including Hitchcock becoming ill with gallbladder problems, Miles became pregnant and so had to withdraw from the role.[10] The director declined to postpone shooting and cast Kim Novak as the female lead. Ironically, by the time Novak had tied up prior film commitments and a vacation promised by Columbia Pictures, the studio that held her contract, Miles had given birth and was available for the film. Hitchcock proceeded with Novak, nevertheless. Columbia head Harry Cohn agreed to lend Novak to Vertigo if Stewart would agree to co-star with Novak in Bell, Book and Candle, a Columbia production released in December 1958.

In the book, Judy's involvement in Madeleine's death was not revealed until the denouement. At the script stage, Hitchcock suggested revealing the secret two-thirds of the way through the film, so that the audience would understand Judy's mental dilemma.[13] After the first preview, Hitchcock was unsure whether to keep the "letter writing scene" or not. He decided to remove it. Herbert Coleman, Vertigo's associate producer and a frequent collaborator with Hitchcock, felt the removal was a mistake. However, Hitchcock said, "Release it just like that." James Stewart, acting as mediator, said to Coleman: "Herbie, you shouldn't get so upset with Hitch. The picture's not that important." Hitchcock's decision was supported by Joan Harrison, another member of his circle, who felt that the film had been improved. Coleman reluctantly made the necessary edits. When he received news of this, Paramount head Barney Balaban was very vocal about the edits and ordered Hitchcock to "Put the picture back the way it was." As a result, the "letter writing scene" remained in the final film.[14]


Vertigo was filmed from September to December 1957.[15] Principal photography began on location in San Francisco in September 1957 under the working title From Among the Dead (the literal translation of D'entre les morts).[10]

File:Vertigo 1958 trailer embrace 2.jpg

James Stewart as Scottie, and Kim Novak as Judy, in Scottie's apartment, with Coit Tower visible out the window

The scene in which Madeleine falls from the tower was filmed at Mission San Juan Bautista, a Spanish mission in San Juan Bautista, California. Associate producer Herbert Coleman's daughter Judy Lanini suggested the mission to Hitchcock as a filming location. A steeple, added sometime after the mission's original construction and secularization, had been demolished following a fire, so Hitchcock added a bell tower using scale models, matte paintings, and trick photography at the Paramount studio in Los Angeles.[10] The original tower was much smaller and less dramatic than the film's version. The tower's staircase was later assembled inside a studio.

Following 16 days of location shooting, the production moved to Paramount's studios in Hollywood for two months of filming.[10] Hitchcock preferred to film in studios as he was able to control the environment. Once sufficient location footage had been obtained, interior sets were designed and constructed in the studio.[10]

Hitchcock popularized the dolly zoom in this film, leading to the technique's sobriquet, amongst several others, "the Vertigo effect". This "dolly-out/zoom-in" method involves the camera physically moving away from a subject whilst simultaneously zooming in[16] (a similar effect can be achieved in reverse), so that the subject retains its size in the frame, but the background's perspective changes.[17][18] Hitchcock used the effect to look down the tower shaft to emphasise its height and Scottie's disorientation.[19] Following difficulties filming the shot on a full-sized set, a model of the tower shaft was constructed, and the dolly zoom was filmed horizontally.[10]

The "special sequence" (Scottie's nightmare sequence) was designed by artist John Ferren. The painting of Carlotta was created by Italian artist it [Manlio Sarra].

The rotating patterns in the title sequence were done by John Whitney, who used a mechanical computer called the M5 gun director, which was used during World War II to aim anti-aircraft cannons at moving targets. This made it possible to produce an animated version of shapes (known as Lissajous curves) based on graphs of parametric equations by mathematician Jules Lissajous.[20]

Hitchcock and costume designer Edith Head used color to heighten emotion.[10] Grey was chosen for Madeleine's suit because it is not usually a blonde's colour, so was psychologically jarring.[10] In contrast, Novak's character wore a white coat when she visited Scottie's apartment, which Head and Hitchcock considered more natural for a blonde to wear.[10]

Alternate ending[]

A coda to the film was shot that showed Midge at her apartment, listening to a radio report (voiced by San Francisco TV reporter Dave McElhatton) describing the pursuit of Gavin Elster across Europe. Midge switches the radio off when Scottie enters the room. They then share a drink and look out of the window in silence. Contrary to reports that this scene was filmed to meet foreign censorship needs,[21] this tag ending had originally been demanded by Geoffrey Shurlock of the U.S. Production Code Administration, who had noted: "It will, of course, be most important that the indication that Elster will be brought back for trial is sufficiently emphasized."

Hitchcock finally succeeded in fending off most of Shurlock's demands (which included toning down erotic allusions) and had the alternative ending dropped.[9] The footage was discovered in Los Angeles in May 1993, and was added as an alternative ending on the laserdisc release, and later on DVD releases.[22]

Music and titles[]

Main article: Vertigo (film score)

The score was written by Bernard Herrmann. However, the score was conducted by Muir Mathieson and recorded in Europe because there was a musicians' strike in the U.S.[23]

In a 2004 special issue of the British Film Institute's (BFI) magazine Sight & Sound, director Martin Scorsese described the qualities of Herrmann's famous score:

Hitchcock's film is about obsession, which means that it's about circling back to the same moment, again and again ... And the music is also built around spirals and circles, fulfilment and despair. Herrmann really understood what Hitchcock was going for — he wanted to penetrate to the heart of obsession.[23]

Graphic designer Saul Bass used spiral motifs in both the title sequence and the movie poster, emphasizing what the documentary Obsessed with Vertigo calls, "Vertigo's psychological vortex".[10]

Filming locations[]

Filmed from September to December 1957, Vertigo uses location footage of the San Francisco Bay Area, with its steep hills and tall, arching bridges. In the driving scenes shot in the city, the main characters' cars are almost always pictured heading down the city's steeply inclined streets.[15] In October 1996, the restored print of Vertigo debuted at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco with a live on-stage introduction by surviving cast member Kim Novak, providing the city a chance to celebrate itself.[24] Visiting the San Francisco film locations has something of a cult following as well as modest tourist appeal. Such a tour is featured in a subsection of Chris Marker's documentary montage Sans Soleil.

In March 1997, the cultural French magazine Les Inrockuptibles published a special issue titled Vertigo's about the film locations in San Francisco, Dans le décor, which lists and describes all actual locations.[25]

Areas that were shot on location (not recreated in a studio):[24]

  • Scottie's apartment (900 Lombard Street) is one block downhill from the "crookedest street in the world". Although the door has been repainted, the entrance is easily recognizable save for a few small changes to the patio. The doorbell and the mailbox, which Madeleine uses to deliver a note to Scottie, are exactly the same as they were in the film. A spite wall was erected in 2012 by the current owner of the property. The wall encloses the whole entrance area on the Lombard side of the building.[26]
  • The Mission San Juan Bautista, where Madeleine falls from the tower, is a real place, but the tower had to be matted in with a painting using studio effects; Hitchcock had first visited the mission before the tower was torn down due to dry rot, and was reportedly displeased to find it missing when he returned to film his scenes. The original tower was much smaller and less dramatic than the film's version.
  • The Carlotta Valdes headstone featured in the film (created by the props department) was left at Mission Dolores. Eventually, the headstone was removed as the mission considered it disrespectful to the dead to house a tourist attraction grave for a fictional person. All other cemeteries in San Francisco were evicted from city limits in 1912, so the screenwriters had no other option but to locate the grave at Mission Dolores.
  • Madeleine jumps into the sea at Fort Point, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • The gallery where Carlotta's painting appears is the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The Carlotta Valdes portrait was lost after being removed from the gallery, but many of the other paintings in the background of the portrait scenes are still on view.
  • What purports to be Muir Woods National Monument in the film is in fact Big Basin Redwoods State Park; however, the cutaway of the redwood tree showing its age was copied from one that can still be found at Muir Woods.
  • The coastal region where Scottie and Madeleine first kiss is Cypress Point, along the 17 Mile Drive near Pebble Beach. However, the lone tree they kiss next to was a prop brought specially to the location.[27]
  • The domed building Scottie and Judy walk past is the Palace of Fine Arts.
  • Coit Tower appears in many background shots. Hitchcock once said that he included it as a phallic symbol.[28] Also prominent in the background is the tower of the San Francisco Ferry Building.
  • The exterior of the sanatorium where Scottie is treated was a real sanatorium, St. Joseph's Hospital, located at 355 Buena Vista East, across from Buena Vista Park. The complex has been converted into condominiums and the building, built in 1928, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Gavin and Madeleine's apartment building is "The Brocklebank" at 1000 Mason Street on Nob Hill, which still looks essentially the same. It is across the street from the Fairmont Hotel, where Hitchcock usually stayed when he visited and where many of the cast and crew stayed during filming. Shots of the surrounding neighborhood feature the Flood Mansion and Grace Cathedral. Barely visible is the Mark Hopkins hotel, mentioned in an early scene in the movie.
  • The "McKittrick Hotel" was a privately owned Victorian mansion from the 1880s at Gough and Eddy Streets. It was torn down in 1959 and is now an athletic practice field for Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School. The St. Paulus Lutheran Church, seen across from the mansion, was destroyed in a fire in 1995.[29]
  • Podesta Baldocchi is the flower shop Madeleine visits as she is being followed by Scottie. The shop's location at the time of filming was 224 Grant Avenue. The Podesta Baldocchi flower shop now does business from a location at 410 Harriet Street.[30]
  • The Empire Hotel is a real place, called the York Hotel, and now (as of January 2009) the Hotel Vertigo at 940 Sutter Street. Judy's room was created, but the green neon of the "Hotel Empire" sign outside is based on the actual hotel's sign (it was replaced when the hotel was renamed).
  • Ernie's Restaurant (847 Montgomery St.) was a real place in North Beach, not far from Scottie's apartment. It is no longer operating.
  • One short scene shows Union Square at dawn, with old-fashioned "semaphore" traffic lights. Pop Leibel's bookstore, the Argosy, was not a real location, but one recreated on the Paramount lot in imitation of the real-life Argonaut Book Store, which still exists near Sutter and Jones.[31][32]
  • One apparent discrepancy between the movie and current San Francisco neighborhood designation is Elster's Mission District Shipping Company (the Mission being described as "Skid Row"). The Mission district of today is actually inland, and the designation of a Mission Bay neighborhood only occurred in the 1980s; today, the area including Mission Bay is referred to as South of Market (SoMA). At the time, the designation Inner Mission or "South of the Slot" applied to the waterfront, including its working piers located to the south of Market Street, encompassing today's Mission Bay and South Beach. In the 1950s, the area south of Market was indeed skid row, which is why it was torn down by redevelopment in the 1960s to clear the way for the new high-rises of today.[citation needed]


Contemporaneous reception[]

Vertigo premiered in San Francisco on May 9, 1958 at the Stage Door Theater at Mason and Geary (now the Ruby Skye nightclub).[33] While Vertigo did break even upon its original release,[34][35] earning $2.8 million in gross rental in the United States alone against its $2,479,000 cost,[36] it earned significantly less than other Hitchcock productions.[33] Reviews were mixed. Variety said the film showed Hitchcock's "mastery", but was too long and slow for "what is basically only a psychological murder mystery".[37] Similarly, the Los Angeles Times admired the scenery, but found the plot "too long" and felt it "bogs down" in "a maze of detail"; scholar Dan Auiler says that this review "sounded the tone that most popular critics would take with the film".[38] However, the Los Angeles Examiner loved it, admiring the "excitement, action, romance, glamor and [the] crazy, off-beat love story".[39] New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther also gave Vertigo a positive review by explaining that "[the] secret [of the film] is so clever, even though it is devilishly far-fetched."[40]

Additional reasons for the mixed response initially were that Hitchcock fans were not pleased with his departure from the romantic-thriller territory of earlier films and that the mystery was solved with one-third of the film left to go.[41] Orson Welles disliked the film, telling his friend the director Henry Jaglom that the movie was "worse" than Rear Window, another film that was not a favorite of Welles.[42] In an interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock stated that Vertigo was one of his favourite films, with some reservations.[43] Hitchcock blamed the film's failure on the 50-year-old Stewart looking too old to play a convincing love interest for the 25-year-old Kim Novak.[44]

Hitchcock and Stewart received awards at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, including a Silver Seashell for Best Director (tied with Mario Monicelli for I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street aka Persons Unknown) and Best Actor (also tied, with Kirk Douglas in The Vikings). The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, in the technical categories[45] Best Art Direction - Black-and-White or Color (Hal Pereira, Henry Bumstead, Samuel M. Comer, Frank McKelvy) and Best Sound (George Dutton).[46]


In the 1950s, the French Cahiers du cinéma critics began re-evaluating Hitchcock as a serious artist rather than just a populist showman. However, even François Truffaut's important 1962 book of interviews with Hitchcock (not published in English until 1967) devotes only a few pages to Vertigo. Dan Auiler has suggested that the real beginning of Vertigo's rise in adulation was the British-Canadian scholar Robin Wood's Hitchcock's Films (1968), which calls the film, "...Hitchcock's masterpiece to date and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us."[47]

Adding to its mystique was the fact that Vertigo was one of five Hitchcock-owned films removed from circulation in 1973. When Vertigo was re-released in theaters in October 1983, and then on home video in October 1984, it achieved an impressive commercial success and laudatory reviews.[48] Similarly adulatory reviews were written for the October 1996 showing of a restored print in 70mm and DTS sound at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.[49]

In 1989, Vertigo was recognized as a "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" film by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in the first year of the registry's voting. As of 2016, on Rotten Tomatoes the film has a "certified fresh" rating of 97%.[50]

Among international film critics, the film has experienced a similar re-evaluation. Every ten years since 1952, the British Film Institute's film magazine Sight & Sound has asked the world's leading film critics to compile a list of the 10 best films of all time. Not until 1982 did Vertigo enter the list, and then in 7th place.[51] By 1992 it had advanced to 4th place,[52] by 2002 to 2nd.[53] Vertigo was voted in first place in Sight & Sound's 2012 poll of the greatest films of all time, both in the crime genre and in general, displacing Orson Welles' Citizen Kane from the position it had occupied since 1962.[2][54] Commenting upon the 2012 results, the magazine's editor Nick James said that Vertigo was "the ultimate critics' film. It is a dream-like film about people who are not sure who they are but who are busy reconstructing themselves and each other to fit a kind of cinema ideal of the ideal soul-mate."[2] In recent years, critics have noted that the featuring of James Stewart as a character who becomes obsessive and disturbed was a daring choice of casting that enhances the film's unconventionality and effectiveness as suspense, since Stewart had been known to audiences as an actor of warmhearted and sympathetic roles.[55]

In his 2004 book Blockbuster, however, British film critic Tom Shone suggested that Vertigo's critical re-evaluation has led to excessive praise, and argued for a more measured response. Faulting Sight & Sound for "perennially" putting the film on the list of best-ever films, he wrote that, "Hitchcock is a director who delights in getting his plot mechanisms buffed up to a nice humming shine, and so the Sight and Sound team praise the one film of his in which this is not the case – it's all loose ends and lopsided angles, its plumbing out on display for the critic to pick over at his leisure."[56]

In 2005, Vertigo came in second (to Goodfellas) in British magazine Total FilmTemplate:'s book 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.[57] In 2008, an Empire poll of readers, actors, and critics named it the 40th greatest movie ever made.[58]

American Film Institute recognition

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies #61
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills #18
  • AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores #12
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions #18
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) #9
  • AFI's 10 Top 10 #1 Mystery[59]

The San Francisco locations have become celebrated amongst the film's fans, with organised tours across the area.[60] In March 1997, the cultural French magazine Les Inrockuptibles published a special issue titled Vertigo's about the film locations in San Francisco, Dans le décor, which lists and describes all actual locations.[25] In October 1996, the restored print of Vertigo debuted at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco with a live on-stage introduction by Kim Novak, providing the city a chance to celebrate itself.[24]

Director Martin Scorsese has listed Vertigo as one of his favorite films of all time.[61]

Home media[]

In 1996, director Harrison Engle produced a documentary about the making of Hitchcock's classic, Obsessed with Vertigo. Narrated by Roddy McDowell, the film played on American Movie Classics, and has since been included with DVD versions of Vertigo. Surviving members of the cast and crew participated, along with noted filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Alfred's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock.[10] Engle first visited the Vertigo shooting locations in the summer of 1958, just months after completion of the film.

Vertigo was first released on DVD in March 1998. It was subsequently released on Blu-ray in October 2012 as part of Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection, in June 2013 as part of Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection, and finally in May 2014 as a stand-alone Blu-ray edition. Some of the home video releases also carry the original mono audio track.


File:Vertigo 1958 trailer Stewart on a laddder.jpg

James Stewart as Johnny "Scottie" Ferguson in Midge's apartment, standing on a stepladder trying to overcome his acrophobia

In October 1983, Rear Window and Vertigo were the first two films re-released by Hitchcock's estate after his death. These two films and three others -- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Trouble With Harry (1955), and Rope (1948) -- had been kept out of distribution by Hitchcock since 1968. Cleaning and restoration were performed on each film when new 35mm prints were struck.

In 1996, the film was given a lengthy and controversial restoration by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz and re-released to theaters. The new print featured restored color and newly created audio, utilizing modern sound effects mixed in DTS digital surround sound. In October 1996, the restored Vertigo premiered at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, with Kim Novak and Patricia Hitchcock in person. At this screening, the film was exhibited for the first time in DTS and 70mm, a format with a similar frame size to the VistaVision system in which it was originally shot. When restoring the sound, Harris and Katz wanted to stay as close as possible to the original, and had access to the original music recordings that had been stored in the vaults at Paramount. However, as the project demanded a new 6-channel DTS stereo soundtrack, it was necessary to re-record some sound effects using the foley process.[10] The soundtrack was remixed at the Alfred Hitchcock Theatre at Universal Studios. Aware that the film had a considerable following, the restoration team knew that they were under particular pressure to restore the film as accurately as possible. To achieve this, they used Hitchcock's original dubbing notes for guidance of how the director wanted the film to sound in 1958.[10] Harris and Katz sometimes added extra sound effects to camouflage defects in the old soundtrack ("hisses, pops, and bangs"); in particular they added extra seagull cries and a foghorn to the scene at Cypress Point.[62] The new mix has also been accused of putting too much emphasis on the score at the expense of the sound effects.[63] The 2005 Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection DVD contains the original mono track as an option. Significant color correction was necessary because of the fading of original Technicolor negatives. In some cases a new negative was created from the silver separation masters, but in many instances this was impossible because of differential separation shrinkage, and because the 1958 separations were poorly made. Separations used three individual films: one for each of the primary colors. In the case of Vertigo, these had shrunk in different and erratic proportions, making re-alignment impossible.[10] As such, significant amounts of computer assisted coloration were necessary. Although the results are not noticeable on viewing the film, some elements were as many as eight generations away from the original negative, in particular the entire "Judy's Apartment" sequence, which is perhaps the most pivotal sequence in the entire film. When such large portions of re-creation become necessary, then the danger of artistic license by the restorers becomes an issue, and the restorers received some criticism for their re-creation of colors that allegedly did not honor the director's and cinematographer's intentions. The restoration team argued that they did research on the colors used in the original locations, cars, wardrobe, and skin tones. One breakthrough moment came when the Ford Motor Company supplied a well-preserved green paint sample for a car used in the film. As the use of the color green in the film has artistic importance, matching a shade of green was a stroke of luck for restoration and provided a reference shade.[64]

In October 2014, a new 4K restoration was presented at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. This version gives credit to Harris and Katz at the end of the film, and thanks them for providing some previously unknown stereo soundtracks. This version, however, removes some of the "excessive" Foley sound that was added in the 1996 restoration.

Derivative works[]

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  • High Anxiety, a 1977 film by Mel Brooks, is a parody of suspense films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, but leans on Vertigo in particular.[65]
  • Obsession, a 1976 film by Brian De Palma, is heavily influenced by Vertigo, while his 1984 thriller Body Double combines the plot elements of both Vertigo and Rear Window.
  • The Vertigo Murders, a 2000 novel by J. Madison Davis, is a detective story with Hitchcock as a character, set during the filming of Vertigo.
  • To Kill For, a 2008 play by Lucy Gray, is a biographical fantasy in which Hitchcock and his wife interact with the characters from Vertigo.
  • The Testament of Judith Barton, a 2012 novel by Wendy Powers and Robin McLeod, tells the back-story of Kim Novak's character.[66]
  • Harvey Danger's song "Carlotta Valdes", from the album Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, summarizes the plot of the film.[67]
  • The "Love Theme From Vertigo" was used for an extended sequence in the 2011 black and white silent film The Artist, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • Chris Marker's 1983 video-essay Sans Soleil makes reference to the movie, declaring it the only film "capable of portraying impossible memory" over footage of Vertigo's shooting locations and stills from the film.[68]
  • Hail, Caesar!, a 2016 comedy by the Coen Brothers filled with references to 1950s Hollywood and the Studio system, features a character by the name of Carlotta Valdez.

See also[]

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  • Vertigo effect
  • Alfred Hitchcock filmography
  • Cinema of the United States
  • List of American films of 1958
  • List of films considered the best


  1. "Vertigo (1958)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Vertigo is named 'greatest film of all time'". BBC News. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  3. "AFI's 10 Top 10". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  4. White, Susan (1999). "Vertigo and Problems of Knowledge in Feminist Film Theory". In Allen, Richard; Ishii-Gonzales, Sam (eds.). Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays. London: BFI. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-85170-735-8. cited in Barr, Charles (2002). Vertigo. London: BFI. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-85170-918-5.
  5. Barr, Charles (2012). Vertigo. BFI Film Classics (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-84457-498-8.
  6. "Thomas Narcejac, 89, Author of Crime Novels". The New York Times. 1998-07-05. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  7. Truffaut 1985
  8. Jones 2002
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Auiler 1999, p. 30
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 10.15 "Obsessed with Vertigo", directed by Harrison Engle, documentary included on many DVD releases
  11. Auiler 1999, p. 51
  12. Auiler 1999, pp. 61–2
  13. McGilligan 2003, pp. 547–548
  14. McGilligan 2003, pp. 563–564
  15. 15.0 15.1 Auiler 2000, p. 185
  16. Some sources say that Vertigo uses dolly-in/zoom-out. The Obsessed with Vertigo DVD documentary says that the shot was achieved by "zooming forward and tracking backward simultaneously".
  17. Klein 2005, pp. 33–5
  18. Mamer 2008, p. 25
  19. Sipos 2010, pp. 120–1
  20. "Rhizome". Rhizome. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  21. Vertigo 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2008.
  22. Brooks, Richard, "Arts: Final reel of a long suspense story - Our reporter sees two Hitchcock propaganda films from World War II, which made the Foreign Office too nervous to release them for 50 years". The Observer, June 20, 1993
  23. 23.0 23.1 Scorsese, Martin (September 2004). "The Best Music in Film: Martin Scorsese". Sight & Sound. BFI. Archived from the original on July 11, 2010.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Kraft & Leventhal 2002
  25. 25.0 25.1 Various (March 1997). "Vertigo's". Les Inrockuptibles.
  26. "Vertigo - Scottie's House". Reel SF. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  27. Auiler 1999, p. 90
  28. Kraft & Leventhal 2002, p. 122
  29. "From The Flames Of St. Paulus The Free Farm Blooms at SocketSite™". Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  30. Podesta Baldocchi, World's Oldest Family Owned Florist - Since 1871.
  31. Guthmann, Edward (April 10, 2012). "Antiquarian bookstore was favorite Hitchcock haunt". Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  32. "Argonaut Book Shop". Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Auiler 2000, p. 174
  34. Monaco 2010, p. 153
  35. Lev 2006, pp. 203–4
  36. Canning 2010
  37. Variety Staff (June 14, 1958). "Vertigo (review)". Variety.
  38. Auiler 2000, pp. 170–1
  39. Auiler 2000, p. 172
  40. Crowther, Bosley (May 29, 1958). "Movie Review - Vertigo - Vertigo,' Hitchcock's Latest; Melodrama Arrives at the Capitol". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  41. Sterritt, David (June 13, 2008). "At 50, Hitchcock's Timeless 'Vertigo' Still Offers a Dizzying Array of Gifts". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  42. Jaglom, Henry (2013). Biskind, Peter (ed.). My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles. Metropolitan Books. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  43. Truffaut 1985, p. 187
  44. Eliot 2006, p. 322
  45. "NY Times: Vertigo". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  46. "The 31st Academy Awards (1959) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-21.
  47. Auiler 2000, p. 177
  48. Auiler 2000, pp. 190–1
  49. Auiler 2000, p. 191
  50. "Vertigo". 1958-01-01. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
  51. "BFI's Sight & Sound Critics' poll 1982". BFI. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  52. "BFI's Sight & Sound Critics' poll 1992". BFI. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  53. "BFI's Sight & Sound Critics' poll 2002". BFI. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  54. "BFI's Sight & Sound Critics' poll 2012". BFI. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  55. Robey, Tim (August 2, 2012). "Is Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Vertigo really the best film ever made?". The Telegraph. Retrieved March 2, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help) "Audiences didn’t like seeing Jimmy Stewart in such a strange and often unsympathetic role, craving the same sense of being on his side that Rear Window (1954) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) had given them."
  56. Shone 2004
  57. "Who is the greatest?". Total Film. 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  58. "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire Magazine. January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  59. "AFI's 10 Top 10". American Film Institute. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  60. Such a tour is featured in a subsection of Chris Marker's documentary montage Sans Soleil.
  61. "Scorsese's 12 favorite films". Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  62. Katz, cited in Auiler 2000, p. 198
  63. "Vertigo". Universal Pictures International.
  64. Auiler 2000, pp. 190–193
  65. Parish 2008, p. 221
  66. Thomson, David (June 10, 2012). "Haunted by Hitchcock's 'Vertigo'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  67. "Harvey Danger: Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?". Sputnik Music. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  68. " : Chris Marker : Sans Soleil". Retrieved 8 March 2016.


  • Auiler, Dan (1999). Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic. London: Titan Books.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Auiler, Dan (2000). Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-26409-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Canning, Bob (2010). Block, Alex Ben; Wilson, Lucy Autrey (eds.). George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-By-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-177889-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Klein, Richard B. (2005). Coles, Felice Anne (ed.). In memory of Richard B. Klein: essays in contemporary philology. Romance Monographs, University of Mississippi.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Eliot, Marc (2006). Jimmy Stewart: a biography. Harmony Books. ISBN 978-1-4000-5221-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Kraft, Jeff; Leventhal, Aaron (2002). Footsteps in the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco. Santa Monica Press. ISBN 1-891661-27-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Jones, Dan (2002). The Dime Novel and the Master of Suspense: The Adaptation of D'Entre Les Morts Into Vertigo. Saint Paul, Minn.: University of St. Thomas.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Lev, Peter (2006). Transforming the Screen, 1950–1959. Volume 7 of History of the American Cinema. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24966-0. |volume= has extra text (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mamer, Bruce (2008). Film Production Technique: Creating the Accomplished Image (5th ed.). Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-41116-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • McGilligan, Patrick (2003). Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light. ReganBooks.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Monaco, Paul (2010). A History of American Movies: A Film-By-Film Look at the Art, Craft, and Business of Cinema. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7434-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Parish, James Robert (2008). It's Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-22526-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Shone, Tom (2004). Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-6838-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Sipos, Tomas M. (2010). Horror Film Aesthetics: Creating The Visual Language of Fear. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-4972-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Truffaut, François; Hitchcock, Alfred (1985). Hitchcock. New York: Simon and Schuster. OCLC 273102.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[]


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