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George At 

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For my money, the best of Alfred Hitchcock and one of the best films ever made, 1958's VERTIGO is as powerful today as ever.

Jimmy Stewart is terrific as police detective Scottie Ferguson. As the film opens, Scottie is pursuing a man across the rooftops of San Francisco. In classic Hitch style, the scene ends with Stewart dangling by his fingertips off the edge of a roof gutter and a policeman falling many stories to his death.

We flash forward to Scottie, now almost fully recovered and being enticed for a quiet job by a wealthy acquaintance Gavin Elster, to follow his wife Madeline.

Madeline's been acting strangely, almost seeming possessed. Gavin wants Scottie to keep an eye on her. Scottie thinks that Madeline probably just needs a shrink, but reluctantly agrees to follow her for a few days.

When Scottie (and we) first see Madeline (played perfectly by Kim Novak) she's mysterious, impeccably dressed and wandering about San Francisco with a simultaneous focus and apparent lack of direction.

Day after day, Scottie follows. Intrigued and then entranced, Scottie becomes fascinated with the why of where Madeline is visiting each day.

These long, 10-minute+ dialogue-free sequences in the film are photographed on location in San Francisco and set to one of Bernard Herrmann's (Psycho) best music scores.

The tension builds alongside the mystery.

One day, Madeline jumps into the bay beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and Scottie jumps in to save her, carrying her back to his apartment and waiting for her to come out of her trance.

It's a turning point in the film when Scottie's fascination begins to turn to obsession.

When Madeline's actions take an even more drastic turn halfway through the film, it's Hitchcock's all time best twist, turning the entire film on its head and beginning an entirely new story that feeds on Scottie's obsession.

An hour after that, everything that we and Scottie thought we knew has been twisted, turned inside out and exposed.

To say any more would be to give away the magician's secret.

Stewart has never been better and Novak was very underrated at the time. At the end of the film, think about Novak her performances within the film. Only on the second or third viewing do you realize all the emotions playing just beneath the surface when Judy meets Scottie.

The makeover scene in the hotel in which Scottie becomes determined to make Judy look like another woman paints Scottie in a pretty ugly, green light, but somehow Stewart makes you understand Scottie's passion.

Hitchcock is full of visual tricks throughout, from the now classic "vertigo" scenes in which he thrust the camera downward while pulling back focus at the same time, to the fact that in all of Stewart's car scenes following Judy, the car ONLY drives down the hills of San Francisco.

You never see Scottie going up a hill, only down, subliminally depicting Stewart's descent into obsession.

The ending is sad and twisted, but by the finale, Hitchcock, Stewart and Novak have taken you so far down the road and up the stairs, that there is only one way down.

VERTIGO is one of the best films ever made and in my all time Top 10. It's a timeless A+ that audiences will still be discovering centuries from now.

If you haven't seen it, I'm envious.

It took me three viewings to truly understand what was happening from the moment Scottie first meets with Gavin.

Like all great films, I can't wait to see it again.

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