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Vertigo Poster A Previous Dizzying Presentation
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Friday the 17th of August

A Special Hitchcock Birthday Presentation!

<With a special prize for spotting the director's cameo!>

"You shouldn't keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn't have been that sentimental."
--Scottie Ferguson

USA: 1958 -- Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes.
  (Click on names for photos!)

"Alfred Hitchcock engulfs you in a whirlpool of terror and tension!" - original tagline

Many consider this to be Hitchcock's greatest picture. The film is definitely one of his most artistic and beautifully shot in the city of San Francisco. The haunting Bernard Hermann soundtrack is one of the best by Hitch's longtime collaborator. James Stewart plays a police detective who reluctantly agrees to pursue the wife (Kim Novak) of a long time friend. Soon, Stewart finds himself falling in love with the woman while, at the same time, plunging deeper and deeper into a complex plot of deceit and intrigue. In Vertigo Hitchcock created a haunting film with a surreal quality. (review courtesy Wicked Al's Reviews)

Hope to see you there. I'll save you an aisle seat and a climb up to the bell tower afterwards!

"Here I was born, and there I died. It was only a moment for you; you took no notice. " --Madeleine Elster

Madeleine at the Golden Gate Bridge


Nominated for Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Sound (That's all?!)

Won 1996 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Most Distinguished Re-issue

#61 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies list

Inducted into National Film Registry, 1989

Memorable Quotes

Scottie Ferguson: Did he tell you exactly what to do, what to say? You were a very apt pupil too, weren't you? You were a very apt pupil! Well why did you pick on me? Why me?

Madeleine: Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.

Judy: Couldn't you like me, just me the way I am? When we first started out, it was so good; w-we had fun. And... and then you started in on the clothes. Well, I'll wear the darn clothes if you want me to, if, if you'll just, just like me.

Scotty: What's this doohickey?
Midge: It's a brassiere! You know about those things, you're a big boy now.
Scotty: I've never run across one like that.
Midge: It's brand new. Revolutionary up-lift: No shoulder straps, no back straps, but it does everything a brassiere should do. Works on the principle of the cantilevered bridge.
Scotty: It does?
Midge: An aircraft engineer down the penninsula designed it; he worked it out in his spare time.
Scotty: Kind of a hobby, a do-it-yourself kind of thing!

Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart Kim and Jimmy on the set


Hitchcock invented the famous combination of forward zoom and reverse tracking shot to convey the sense of vertigo to the audience. The view down the mission stair well cost $19,000 for just a couple of seconds of screen time.

Hitchcock originally wanted Vera Miles to play Madeleine, but she became pregnant and was therefore unavailable.

The Empire Hotel where James Stewart eventually finds Kim Novak is today (1999) the York Hotel located at 940 Sutter Street in the heart of San Francisco. Novak's character lived in room 501, which still retains many of its aspects captured in the film.

San Juan Batista, the Spanish mission which features in key scenes in the movie doesn't actually have a bell tower - it was added with trick photography. The mission originally had a steeple but it was demolished following a fire.

The film was unavailable for decades because its rights (together with four other pictures of the same period) were bought back by Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. They've been known for long as the infamous "5 lost Hitchcocks" amongst film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence. The others are The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Rear Window (1954), Rope (1948), and The Trouble with Harry (1955).

Pay attetnion to the numerous uses of repetition and reflection throughout the film. There is also a motif of spirals in the film, as literal shapes in the opening credits, and as the more abstract shape of the movie's plot, as well as the shape of the pivotal tower staircase.


As Scotty and Judy (Madeleine) are driving on a two lane road to Mission San Juan Bautista, it is obvious Scotty is driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Reportedly, when this was pointed out to Hitchcock, he replied, "You drive your way; I'll drive mine."

When Scotty and Madeline are on the coast, she's wearing a white coat with a gauzy black scarf. The scarf is arranged differently in different shots and sometimes is missing entirely.

When they are talking outside Scotty's apartment, the same red/white 1955 Oldsmobile goes past several times.

Kim Novak as Madeleine...or is it Judy? Hang On, Jimmy!