Sorry, you two. I've been moving and been without intertubes access for a week. I'll try to make up for it with a second post later this week.
8. Vertigo (1958)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Written by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor.
Starring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore.
Warning! This post contains spoilers for Vertigo. If neither of you has seen Vertigo, watch it before reading this. Everybody deserves to see Vertigo unspoiled.
Kim Novak's performance as Madeline/Judy might be the best I've ever seen. For a long time I lamented that Hitchcock couldn't use Grace Kelly, my favorite actress, in the role because she was off princessing (yeah, I just verbed it). But then I realized that while Kelly could play Madeline Elster in her sleep (Regal, icy, self-possessed. Check, check, and check.) I'm less sure about her ability to play Judy Barton (earthy, small-town, easily swayed). And after another, more recent viewing I concluded that Kim Novak was perfect. In the scene at the mission just before Madeline's death, she tells Scottie "it's too late" as she's pulling away from him. We think that Madeline means that the spirit of Carlotta Veldes is compelling her and that it's too late to stop her. As we find out later, that's actually Judy speaking, telling Scottie that despite her burgeoning feelings for him it's too late for her to back out of Gavin Elster's plot. And if you go back and look, you can see Judy peeking out from behind her Madeline mask as she struggles in Scottie's embrace.
Vertigo is one of many films to receive mixed reviews at the time of release--such as 'The Night of the Hunter' or 'Duck Soup' or 'Bonnie and Clyde'--but has grown into a classic. Why is that? Are some films just so far ahead of their time that they cannot be appreciated fully in their own? Or is something else going on? I wonder if any underappreciated films of the last ten years will be regarded as classics. I think that will be the subject of an upcoming post.