The last of the film noir movies showing at the Providence Public Library was last Sunday. Or so I thought. They added six more dates including one movie that had been cancelled due to weather. I convinced my wife to see Vertigo.
Scotty Ferguson (James Stewart) is a detective afraid of heights. It happened all of a sudden, one day while dangling by his fingertips over certain doom. Rather than become a desk jockey, he retires. Midge Wood (Barbara Bel Geddes) is his cute college buddy who he never managed to hook up with.
Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), an old college friend, stops by to hire Scotty. Seems his hot, young, trophy wife (Kim Novak) is haunted, and that concerns 'oll Gavin. He wants Scotty to keep an eye on her.
Turns out that Madeleine has a great grandma who committed suicide, and g-gram seems to be sending Madeleine on the same career path. Can Scotty save her? She sure in purdy!
Despite being an early critical and financial failure, this is regarded as Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece. AFI ranks it the tenth greatest film and best in the category of Mystery. Just about every organization that likes to rank films, ranks near the top. Even IMDB ranks it 40th (behind The Matrix and all three Lord of the Ring films, of course). I don't know if was despite or because of this that ...
I was disappointed.
Sacrilege, I know, but that's where I ended up. The high point is the story. It made sense from all angles, a rare feat with mysteries. Also, it was a visually appealing film. What I disliked was, well, Stewart. His stammer was charming back in his youth, and worked for him as a troubled banker, but as a 49 (and not looking a day over 51) year old detective, he was a muttering old fool. And what's this about it being film-noir? Noir is supposed to be a hard-boiled detective story. Stewart was soft boiled, at best.
And I must say something about the tedious pans and overdone score. I was really getting sick of the violins.
There also seems to be a missing scene. Midge (way too young to have gone to college with Stewart) visits Scotty in the Boobie Hatch (spoiler alert!), has a brief conversation with the doctor, then disappears from the movie. Then suddenly Scotty is roaming the streets, apparently fully recovered. Transition, please!
I know the reputation Vertigo has. It had many great elements. Maybe it's a victim of high expectations, I don't know. AMRU 3.
Kim Novak was hot.