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Alfred Hitchcock: The Shape of Suspense

Thursday, March 14, 2013
7:00 p.m. Vertigo
Alfred Hitchcock (U.S., 1958)

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Introduction/Doug Cunningham


Doug Cunningham teaches film studies and literature at Westminster College in Salt Lake City and is the editor of The San Francisco of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo: Place, Pilgrimage, and Commemoration. A book signing follows the screening.

A radical meditation on man’s (or, more precisely, men’s) obsession with illusion, Vertigo reflects back on itself as cinema, and as a sadly ironic view of romantic love in the fifties. James Stewart was never less “romantic” than in this film; his urgency is frightening and compelling. Kim Novak knowingly portrays the two faces of woman, icon and victim (with a beautiful turn on the movie standard—she’s a smart blonde, a dumb and manipulated brunette). Formally, and in its deeply felt expression of the ultimate love triangle—man, woman, and death—this is Hitchcock’s most poetic film. As Marilyn Fabe wrote, “The hero’s simultaneous desire and dread are given brilliant and haunting visual expression through the ambivalent camera movements—especially the combination of forward zooms and reverse tracking shots.”

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Alec Coppel, Samuel Taylor, based on the novel D’entre les morts by Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac. Photographed by Robert Burks. With James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore. (128 mins, Color, ’Scope, 35mm, Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive and Lowell Peterson, ASC, permission Universal)