Tag Archives: jimmy stewart

Film Favorites: Vertigo

A man is tempted by an insidious, curvaceous force that feigns the feminine form and he slowly finds himself wound up like a ball of yarn for the cats’ night out. That’s how Vertigo begins, but only in the most superficial sense how it dissolves. It stars James Stewart as Scottie Ferguson, a private eye hired by a friend to spy on the friend’s wife Madeline (Kim Novak), whom the man believes is possessed by a familial specter who has long overstayed her tenancy in the human body. Soon enough, Scottie finds himself in love, and perhaps so too does Madeline. Things truck along in ghostly romantic chiller fashion from this point on, but director Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t resist slopping some blood on the tracks.

In 1958, Hitch was on top of the world, but he was about to blow the roof out. Over the next three years, he would release perhaps his tripartite masterpiece, spinning wildly from the psychoanalytic modernism of Vertigo to the boisterous, brash thrills-a-minute of North by Northwest, and sticking the landing with the black-hearted chiller Psycho, which would forever redefine horror filmmaking. All apologies to his latter two efforts, Vertigo is his time-capsule piece, and arguably the most singular and unclassifiable American film of released post-Welles. The reason for the film’s success is simple: it is quite clearly Hitchcock having the most fun he ever did behind a camera, cackling some of his most dementedly grotesque chuckles in the process. It’s a maddening, cataclysmic, ungodly little curio that plays a downright mean trick on the audience, and goes home laughing all the way. Continue reading

Film Favorites: Rear Window

Edited for clarity

Perhaps no film director has been studied, debated over, written about, psychoanalyzed, copied, butchered, chastised, and celebrated as Alfred Hitchcock. Inevitably, the question always comes up: What’s your favorite Hitchcock? A tough question, and admittedly not one I would retort to with Rear Window But if the question was “what is Hitch’s greatest commentary on film?”. Well, that’s another story altogether.

The story is simplified to its bare, jagged essentials, allowing depth and filmmaking craft to take over for breadth. Essentially, we have LB Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart), a photographer here rendered bed-ridden by an accident which forces him into a cast. Bored out of his mind, he takes to observing his neighbors across the street through their apartment windows from his own window, aided by his trusty camera. Soon enough, he witnesses what he grows to think may be a murder of a wife by her husband, known to Jeffries as Mr. Thorwald (Raymond Burr). Jeffries has no evidence, but we soon find out a pesky thing like truth isn’t enough to get in the way of a man with a camera and his ego. Continue reading