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Alfred Hitchcock

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Title: Vertigo
Directed by:
Alfred Hitchcock
Written by:
Boileau-Narcejac, Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor

John Ferguson (James Stewart) is forced to retire from his job as a detective when he develops acrophobia after failing to save a colleague from a deadly fall. However, he is soon recruited by an old friend who wants him to keep an eye on his wife, Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak). Why? Because he says that he believes there is something paranormal about his wife’s activities and he is worried that something bad is about to happen. This is true, to say the least, but even so, few things in Vertigo are as they seem.

I like carefully thought out plots such as the one presented in Vertigo. It is not something someone has put together in a few hours, but rather an elaborate story with many twists and turns. Throughout the film, I never lose a sense of mystery and suspense, which is of paramount importance for a film such as Vertigo. Also, I have come to like James Stewart rather a lot (I have recently watched Rear Window and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

However, I think there are flaws in this film that forces me to lower the grade somewhat (even though the four snails I give it is pretty good). For instance, I think there is a fault in the flow of information in the film, especially in the middle. In the beginning, it is okay to have just a sense of suspense and wonder to drag the viewer along, but that cannot go on forever. Gradually, parts of the plot have to be revealed, because otherwise I become bored. This goes too slowly in parts of this film. So, even though I think the film regarded as a whole is very good, parts of it felt rather dull, to be honest. The end wraps things up neatly and promptly asserts the notion that Vertigo is a well-made film indeed. The finale is well worth waiting for, but with such a mediocre middle part leading up to it, I cannot give more than four snails to Vertigo.

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Rear Window

Title: Rear Window
Directed by:
Alfred Hitchcock
Written by:
John Michael Hayes, Cornell Woolrich
Year: 1954

Even though I now live in Taiwan and much on this website has focused on my arriving here, I still read books and watch films. This means that I have written quite some reviews not yet published. Of course, posts about recent events here will take precedent over reviews, but I think there will be opportunities to post on occasional review now and then. The first few posts of this kind are even from before I left Sweden, which says something about how many reviews I have in queue.

There are some films which, when describing their plots, sound like they would be very dull. This is not something spectacular in itself, because some of these do indeed turn out to be very dull. On the other hand, films with a weak-sounding story that turn out to be good are quite spectacular. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window falls into this category.

The story revolves around L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart), a professional photographer who suffers from a broken leg and is confined to an apartment for quite some time (one week remains in the opening scene). Not having much to do, he spends his time watching through the rear window overlooking the courtyard, spying on his neighbours. He and his friends speculate about their various lives and gradually become convinced there is something fishy about one man in the opposite building. It looks like murder and the police is called in.

This does not sound like it would be worth much, does it? Admittedly, it took about twenty minutes to convince me that Rear Window was worthwhile, but after that point, the film just became better and better. Primarily, this is due to James Stewart, but the directing is pretty good as well.

Still, the story and the situation offers only so much, and that is not enough to make it a masterpiece. Yes, it is a nice film, and yes, I seriously doubt that it would be possible to make a better film with the same premise, but that is not how I grade films. I find this film highly entertaining, but it lacks much require, so four snails will have to do.

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North by Northwest

Title: North by Northwest
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Ernest Lehman
Year: 1959

I have never been a thriller aficionado, at least not when it comes to films. In my teens, I liked thriller authors such as Frederick Forsyth, Eric Lustbader and Robert Ludlum, but not today. Therefore, North by Northwest feels a bit nostalgic, even though I have not seen it before. The plot revolves around Roger Thornhill, a businessman who is falsely assumed to be an FBI agent. Soon, he is suspected of several crimes, including murder, and has to flee for his life. As the film progresses, he seems to grow into the role someone else has created for him.

This film is neatly held together with very few loose strings. The story is not too obvious, has some interesting turning points and manages to keep my attention throughout its entire length. Still, I do not love thrillers and a film such as this can only be interesting to a certain degree. North by Northwest comes close to that degree, earning four snails.

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