Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vertigo (1958)

The movie starts at with two cops doing parkour.  One is really shitty and falls off the roof.  The other one is dangling from the roof because he can't jump worth anything.  This one is played by James Stewart.  He better not fuck up this movie.  James Stewart has his leg propped up and mentions he's getting the cast around his middle taken off.  He then proceeds to stand up without any help from his cane, walk around, and bend down with no effort at all.  He picks up his cane and says that soon he'll be "without this miserable thing".  Haven't seen him use it at all.  Honestly, it's too short for him.  He would be a lot better off with a taller cane.  His real problem is his acrophobia, the fear of heights.  It gives him vertigo and reminds him of the high ledge he almost fell off.

So, Scottie, the cop played by James Stewart decides to retire. Maybe he should go on vacation. No, instead he stays in his town of San Francisco.  Good idea, there are no steep hills there or any tall buildings. He'll totally be safe.  While "relaxing", his ship-building friend asks him a favor.  He wants Scottie to follow his wife, not because she is cheating, but because she exhibits strange behavior.  Scottie gets to see his friend's wife at a restaurant.  She has platinum blonde hair, is wearing a dark blue and green dress. Then, we see Scottie looking at her out of the corner of his eye. As her profile comes into full view, the music swells really loud. That's "he wants to bang her" music.

So, the wife, Madeleine, is supposedly possessed by the spirit of her dead grandmother, who wants to kill her. Years ago, her grandmother killed herself and now I guess wants to kill her too, I don't know.  Anyway, Scottie follows her to an art gallery to look at her portrait, get flowers, drop them off at her own grave, then go out and look at the bay.  Suddenly, she jumps!  If you have ever been out there, then you know that water is freezing!  Scottie rescues her and takes her back to his house.  Eventually they're going to kiss, I know it.  Madeleine is 24 years old while Scottie is 50!  That's the difference in ages between my dad and I.  Girl, why would you want to kiss anyone that old?  This is my reaction when I saw that:

Everything leads up to this old mission.  Madeleine "remembers" everything about it, then runs for the bell tower.  Scottie can't follow because of his fear.  He sees her body fall and flees.  He and her husband go to court.  The lawyer guy totally burns Scottie all about his weakness, letting two people fall off the roof, and running away like a chicken.  The look on his face is so great.  Later he has a tripped out acid dream and wakes up in a panic.  He actually looks scared now.  So he does have another emotion besides self-righteousness.

 Does he feel guilty for Madeleine's death?  Shouldn't he have taken her to a hospital after she jumped in the bay, knowing her family history of mental illness and suicide?  NO, wait, that's Madeleine right there.  She's alive!  Or is he seeing things? No, that's her definitely being alive. What is going on?  I have never seen this film before now and I am like "Whattt".  "Madeleine" is a lookalike named Judy who was hired to fake her suicide.  Madeleine's husband told him about her grandmother, the spirit possessing her, everything.  Judy was just an actor.  She jumped in the bay to affirm her 'suicidal' tendencies.  Madeleine's husband knew he couldn't follow Judy up the bell tower stairs, where he was waiting at the top to throw her lifeless body away.  Scottie doesn't know this yet, but is happy he has Madeleine back.  He begins the extremely creepy process of turning Judy into Madeleine.

All is going great until one fateful day when Judy is getting ready for dinner and puts on Madeleine's ugly necklace!  Scottie recognizes it immediately but stays silent.  Shit is about to go down. How can Judy be so careless and stupid?  She should have thrown the jewelry away a long time ago.

He takes her back to the bell tower and reveals that he knows everything about what she did.  In a panic, she leaps off the bell tower. So she's dead.  But what about him?  He gets to live.  Yes, he gets to live knowing he watched three people fall from a roof one three separate occasions and could never do anything to save them.  But wait, he shouldn't have been mad about Judy staying because she loved him.  Truthfully, he loved her too, he couldn't get the image of Madeleine out of his head.  He never loved Madeleine; he loved Judy-as-Madeleine.  He yelled at Judy that she was great at acting our her mannerisms, how would he know what she acted like?  He never met the woman before.  The only time he ever saw her was at the restaurant the first night and I'm not sure that was the real Madeleine either.  He would have no idea what the real Madeleine was like at all.  That's why he was so content to change Judy's appearance since that's all he noticed.  Dude is shallow.

I would never go so far as to call this a masterpiece, but it was enjoyable in most parts.  I will give it a 7/10.

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