I finally saw this classic – on the big screen at the Lightbox, no less!
And it was gorgeous. And weird. And wonderfully artificial in many senses – the look, the theme. In fact, that’s probably my favorite thing about Hitchcock- his beautiful artifice.
Just look at those eyebrows!
Rear Window remains my favorite of his films, though, and I think it’s because the whole thing is movie-movie artificial. It’s obviously a set and the thing works as a whole. What was most jarring about Vertigo for me were the exterior shots in the California countryside- too natural! Too normal! I was taken out of the film and reminded of all the California-set detective shows I saw as a kid. (Not fair to Hitch, I know, but…)
One of the best parts of Vertigo for me was the scene in the bookshop, where the light is slowly dying as the shop owner is talking. When James Stewart and Barbara Bel Geddes walk outside, the lights come on inside (behind them) and it’s wonderful- we’ve watched night fall in a totally contrived way- I loved it! I love lighting cues like that in movies. And the control, the craft, the colour! I love sets that look like sets – The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a great example.
Also loved the crazy obsession that is the driving force of the film – some say a pointed attack from Hitch to Grace Kelly – his favourite cool blonde who had recently quit acting to become royalty. A “see? I can turn anyone into a cool blonde like you” kind of thing.