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Considered by many to be director Alfred Hitchcock's greatest achievement, Leonard Maltin gives Vertigo four stars, hailing it as "A genuinely great motion picture." Set among San Francisco's renown landmarks, James Stewart is brilliant as Scottie Ferguson, an acrophobic detective hired to shadow a friend's suicidal wife, Madeleine Kim Novak. After he saves her from drowning in the bay, Scottie's interest shifts from business to fascination with the icy, alluring blonde. When he finds another woman remarkably like his lost love, the now obsessed detective must unravel the secrets of the past to find the key to his future.
Although it wasn't a box-office success when originally released in 1958, Vertigo has since taken its deserved place as Alfred Hitchcock's greatest, most spellbinding, most deeply personal achievement. In fact, it consistently ranks among the top 10 movies ever made in the once-a-decade Sight & Sound international critics poll, placing at number 4 in the 1992 survey. Universal Pictures' spectacularly gorgeous 1996 restoration and rerelease of this 1958 Paramount production was a tremendous success with the public, too. James Stewart plays a retired police detective who is hired by an old friend to follow his wife a superb Kim Novak, in what becomes a double role, whom he suspects of being possessed by the spirit of a dead madwoman. The detective and the disturbed woman fall "fall" is indeed the operative word in love and...well, to give away any more of the story would be criminal. Shot around San Francisco the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of the Legion of Honor are significant locations and elsewhere in Northern California the redwoods, Mission San Juan Batista in rapturous Technicolor, Vertigo is as lovely as it is haunting. --Jim Emerson