Why I Love Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”

Towngate Theatre presents "Vertigo"

By Mario Muscar

I love movies–the escape, the beauty, and the magic they provide and exude. I like going to the theater and seeing them on the big screen or watching them at home cuddled up on the couch. The Academy Awards (which just happened this past Sunday) is like the Super Bowl for me. I like rooting for my favorites and seeing what happens.

I have my favorite directors and moviemakers. Tarantino, Anderson, Kubrick. These people have made films that inspire and entertain me. I love the films of Italian ¬¬neorealistic/surrealistic director Federico Fellini so much that my son’s middle name is Federico. And another director that is in my list of the greatest filmmakers ever is Alfred Hitchcock. While many people go with “The Birds” or “Psycho” as Hitchcock’s best movie, I believe that his masterpiece is the 1958 classic, “Vertigo.” And it is certainly my favorite.

From the opening title sequence with the dizzying swirls that suck us into the vortex of the film to the unexpected ending, “Vertigo” hits me in all the right spots. Jimmy Stewart’s character, ex-police detective Scottie Ferguson, goes on a journey of infatuation, obsession and deviant psychological behavior that asks us the question “What is real and where does truth lie?”

The movie is also visually stunning. San Francisco provides the backdrop and many classic San Francisco locations are used to flesh out the plot. Kim Novak, in dual roles as Madeleine/Judy, goes through a striking transformation in this film, and the costuming is a big part of that. And the use of color is something that one could teach an entire film course on.

One thing that always sticks with me in “Vertigo” is a sequence where Scottie is following Madeleine in his car. There is shot after shot of him just driving. Hitchcock is often thought of for his big, high energy moments. The shower scene in “Psycho.” The attack of the birds in “The Birds”. But this scene in “Vertigo” with Scottie following Madeleine is striking. How Hitchcock frames the sequence and the serenity of the camera positions truly highlight the obsession of Scottie as he follows her everywhere she goes. And Bernard Herrmann’s score adds to the moment and the entire film.


Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre and Wheeling Film Society are giving us the opportunity to see a free screening of “Vertigo” this Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm. I think everyone should do themselves a favor and go see this amazing movie on the big screen at Towngate with some popcorn and a beverage.

*The dinner prior to the film is sold out.  But, you can still come and enjoy the film. No reservations are necessary. Seating is first come, first served. Admission to the film is free.