I've only written about Alfred Hitchcock's immortal Vertigo (1958) once for an episode of the old series "May Flowers" so I thought I'd dig up that old piece now that Vertigo is in the news having been named "The Greatest Film" by Sight & Sound. I always think of Vertigo as an early summer movie. What other movie besides its closest descendants Robert Altman's Three Women and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive feel more ruled by twin sign Gemini? Hitchcock films generally deserve complete dissertations but we don't have Scottie Ferguson's (Jimmy Stewart) stamina when it comes to fetishizing doppelgangers. So today let's merely glance back at his introductions to Madeleine/Judy (Kim Novak).
Ferguson has been hired to follow Madeleine and as he first spots her in a deep rose red restaurant. [Click here to open a panoramic shot in a new window]. Hitchock slow zooms out from Scottie (far right) at the bar and pans left, following his gaze, into the dining area filled with flowers and well heeled customers and even a painting of a floral arrangement framed by floral arrangements before it finally stops at Madeleine (tiny, far left) in her emerald green dress.
As she leaves the restaurant we get Kim Novak's first bewitching close up, carefully calibrated and emphasized by Hitchcock's editor George Tomasini and cinematographer Robert Burks. Scottie likes what he sees but this is a job.