While I don’t think Vertigo is nearly the “greatest film ever made”, it certainly is great, and more deserving than many films that could’ve ended up on there. And, despite the fact that it “dethroned” the infinitely superior Citizen Kane, which is possibly the deepest, most profound film ever made, I don’t much mind. It made things a little more interesting and, with the real possibility of it leading up to the poll, more suspenseful.
On the other hand, I haven’t seen the final tally of the still unreleased “director’s poll” votes which may yet prove Kane to be the overall winner if it beat Vertigo by 35 or more votes. Which would bring about a whole new series of arguments and justifications now that the cinematic news world and film communities the world over have already anointed Vertigo the victor. Vertigo may prove to have just enough at #7, combined with its #1 critic’s poll victory but… anyway … just sayin’ :)
For those who’ve seen VERTIGO only once and dismissed it, I think that’s premature. It wouldn’t make my top 100, but it’s a movie that kind of has to grow on you.
I didn’t vote in the poll. As I have no regular berth.
I hadn’t heard that Hitchcock had (reportedly) said that of Stewart. But then he siad ( or more often than not “said”) so many things.
Jazz said: “I’ve been wanting to re-watch (Vertigo), so here’s my question. When I do watch it again, can someone provide some tips or a guide to watching the film—tips that will help me understand why people think this is a great film?”
First off, I think that Vertigo really is one of those films that demands multiple viewings to really appreciate it’s greatness. The first time I saw it, I think I had a similar reaction as you. Just sort of “OK, it wasn’t bad, but I don’t see what the big deal was”. The first viewing was when I learned the plot, the basic characters, and the basic style employed by Hitch. But it was in multiple viewing where I really started to become fascinated with it. Here is a very good video essay: Vertigo Variations . It was posted on Notebook back in December. My personal advice is to watch Vertigo at least once more, and then watch the essay afterwards, but either way, it is certainly worth watching.
Also, Vertigo is possibly my favorite film to fall asleep to. That may sound like an insult, but it really is not at all :)
I guess that’s the problem with someone like Ray Carney who must go bollocks at the sight of this list. He simply doesn’t “get” why Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick are considered great filmmakers. No, I don’t mean he doesn’t understand the acclaim in the sense that he claims but that it simply goes over his head. Carney’s only one person, but for what it’s worth, he doesn’t seem to have much of an appreciation for formal innovation in cinema, which is intrinsic to having an affinity for HItchcock, Welles, or Kubrick.
If you did vote what would your submissions have been?
Mars in Aries, that isn’t true about Carney. He very often lists the precise reasons why people love Hitchcock, Kubrick, Welles, Tarantino, and others (articulating them in a way that fans of such directors would probably agree with). He just doesn’t think those are good reasons. In other words, he is able to acknowledge and articulate what those filmmakers do well, but he doesn’t think the things they do well are the things that matter.
Well that’s part of my point. For Carney, content seems to matter far more than form.
I’ve always felt the reason for the stature of Citizen Kane was its unbridled delight in the possibilities of cinema and not for it’s scenerio.
Perhaps its being knocked from the top spot will encourage people to see it less as a museum piece and more for the playful romp through cinema language that it is.
As for Vertigo (which I’ve seen more times than I can count), it really isn’t much fun (from a director who usually nothing but fun – and I mean that in the best way) but it is a truly impressive piece of work and seeing Hitch so clearly working out his obsessions right there in front of us is pretty strong stuff indeed.
@ Elvis: The only thing I don’t like about your post is that it implies that Vertigo will come to be seen as a museum piece, especially if it retains its title next go round. You may be right, but that would be very sad.
Anyone looking for a critical guide into Vertigo might want to read the Vertigo chapters in Robin Woods Hitchcock’s Films (revised as Hithchcock’s Films Revisited) and Donald Spoto’s The Art of Alfred Hitchcock.
Captain, sad but true.
Citizen Kane was the perfect “greatest movie of all time” for a period when cinema history was young and limited and could be fully grasped. CK could be placed in a context in which it was fully understood what came before it and what came immediately after it, and it’s importance was obvious. But now cinema has become too big and diverse to grasp from a singular point of view. It’s a mystery with too many meanings. So it’s “greatest movie of all time” should also be a mystery with too many meanings: Vertigo.
Mulholland Drive will make it for 2052, hope I’m dead by then.
I stand by my claim that Blue Velvet is Lynch’s greatest achievement, but Mulholland Drive is incredible as well. I’d love to see him get representation on the list.
I’ll throw myself into the camp of those who did not get Vertigo’s appeal or greatness upon first viewing it. But it sort of stuck into my unconscious for a few years following, until the time came where I couldn’t stop myself from being curious enough to see it again. I finally ended up re-watching it and it’s a film that blooms tremendously with each viewing and has become one of my favorites and would certainly be in my top 10, which I could say about maybe 3-4 films. It’s an endlessly fascinating movie in which I always notice something new upon each subsequent viewing.
I recently re-watched Vertigo, obviously needs a second viewing as it’s the most complex Hitch film. I liked much better than the first time, aesthetically, technically i have nothing to say, but I still find the end laughable, Stewart should be throwing her instead, i know about those times policy in Hollywood but i don’t really care because in another Hitch films he uses this with subtle meanings, another thing i don’t like is that the love story is sooooooooooooo shallow, so typical classic Hollywood, i can’t stand it. I like to consider it a film about suspense, obsession and betrayal, romance is important in the movie but i find hard to believe all the relationship they have.
Mulholland Drive: Thriller + romance + noir + melodrama + horror (the homeless) + porn + meta-cinema + musical + surrealism + comedy (the killer scene). Okay there is no Sci Fi and no western, too bad.
I’m really comparing Vertigo to Mulholland Dr:? no… that’s crazy. YES I AM!
“Okay there is no Sci Fi and no western”
There’s the Cowboy character and the room with the producer behind it giving off a techno-futurist vibe.
If we have to stretch so far.
It was nice to see Vertigo on top. As Jerry pointed out it does seem more indicative of the times. Hitchcock’s greatest film so why not I suppose. It’s probably my favorite of the 10 with the possible exception of Man with a Movie Camera which I was thrilled to see on there. The Vertov film might have made for a more interesting #1 but Vertigo is totally fine where it is. Anyone even vaguely interested in film should see all of those films anyway.
Slap yourself for trying to compare Mulholland Drive to Vertigo. Lynch corrected himself when he made Inland Empire. I agree Blue Velvet is his masterpiece, and Lost Highway is a personal favorite.
“3. If Hitchcock was considered an “entertainer” rather than a serious filmmaker I wonder if Spielberg or James Cameron may one day find themselves in that position. I can’t in a million years see any Spielberg film making the S&S top ten, but in 1962 I’m sure people thought the same about Hitchcock.”
No. The practice of analysing ‘studio auteurs’ has been well entrenched for decades, whereas it was only really kicking into gear during Hitch’s time. Spielberg in particular has been analysed to death. It didn’t take 30 years for ‘Vertigo’ to be regarded as one of the best films of all time. I watched it in high school in the early 90’s and it had been a classic well before i even saw it.
Cameron is a simpleton film maker, and Spielberg films have some depth but generally lack complexity. Hitch’s best films, on the other hand, are more like puzzles, and it takes a lot for me to admit that because i think he is one of the most overrated directors in film history but his place in the canon is well deserved.
Ray’s and HItchcock’s films were being seriously analyzed and acclaimed in France as they were being released in the mid to late 50s. The same can’t be said for Spielberg or Cameron. So the answer would be highly unlikely. It’s not as though Hitchcock only started being perceived as a serious artist 40 years after the fact.
One of the best neo-noir films you can say…
If it’s the kind of film that requires multiple viewings to appreciate, how on earth can it even be a contender for greatest film of all time? The greatest film of all time should be an absolute knockout, first viewing.
I did love it on my first viewing. Loved it even more the second time around.
@Max: Yet another sliver of it’s magnificence. I remember there being a special kind of admiration for this film, just from knowing that I hadn’t “gotten it” my first time around. Though it is a puzzle (perhaps even an unsolvable puzzle?), it initially appears to be all out in the open, just a mistaken-identity mystery story with beautiful cinematographyy and middling acting. But the more I loved it, the more I was charmed by how un-exceptional it seemed to be at first. Haha, not sure if that makes any sense.
Honestly, I can think of a lot of films considered to be some of the greatest ever made that I hope this also applies to. I’m always a little extra disappointed when I watch something that is canon or just highly praised, and I come out of it thinking “so what”
Sorry, my mouse has been actin funky, thus the dp’s
I figured the reason Vertigo overtook Kane was greater accessibility.
I do think Vertigo is better than Kane when you take historical magnitude out of the equation. There are too many films on the list greater than both that lack nothing but the precedent to fall in the top spot.
I don’t think Stewart throwing her off would be the optimal ending, but there had to be something better than some contrived accident. Women causing their downfall by suddenly behaving hysterically is Hollywood tragedy’s most common copout.
But why did she behave so hysterically? How was it rendered visually? And what was the significance? Don’t write off a masterwork so easily. There’s nothing “common” about Vertigo or Hitchcock.