Vertigo (1958)

on May 28, 1958 by BOXOFFICE Staff
With this masterfully conceived spine-tingler, Alfred Hitchcock once again affirms his standing as movieland's king of the suspense-drama, and with the potent marquee combination of Kim Novak and James Stewart, the film should be one of the year's top draws at the boxoffice. Photographed in San Francisco in exquisite color, the authentic backgrounds, including the famed Ernie's restaurant, Mission Dolores, and Nob Hill, lend added impact to the tautly drawn screenplay by Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor which manages to tell three distinct types of story in this one picture without a moment of audience confusion. Through it all runs Hitchcock's superb directorial hand, gleaning from a meticulously chosen cast top performances. Stewart gives his finest screen portrayal to date in an exacting role that keeps him on camera almost continuously, with Miss Novak providing a solid bit of thespian art that should establish her as something more than one of filmland's glamour girls. Barbara Bel Geddes handles her rather limited role as Stewart's practical-minded girl friend with sureness and humor, and Tom Helmore and Henry Jones are stand-outs in smaller parts. Technical credits are tops.

Ex-police detective James Stewart is asked by a friend to shadow his wife (Kim Novak), who is described as a suicidal neurotic obsessed with the idea that she is possessed by the spirit of her great-grandmother who went insane and took her own life. Stewart falls in love with the girl and is shattered when, overtaken by an attack of acrophobia, he is unable to prevent her from leaping to her death from a church tower. Some months later, he meets another girl (Kim Novak) who bears a striking resemblance to the dead woman, and following a series of suspense-laden incidents an exciting climax ensues in which he is able to overcome his phobia.

Center exploitation around topliners James Stewart and Kim Novak, letting patrons know this is their first film together, and Kim's first attempt at a dual role. Whet audiences' interest by advertising that no one will be seated during the final 15 minutes so as not to spoil the exciting, surprise ending. Ask local police and detectives to a special screening. Play up Hitchcock's reputation as a master of suspense drama.

He Thought His Love Was Dead, Until He Found Her in Another Woman... See Kim Novak and James Stewart, Teamed For the First Time on the Screen in the Year's Outstanding Suspense Tale. Paramount 123 mins.

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