After a rooftop chase during which a fellow police officer falls to his death, San Francisco detective John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) retires out of fear of heights and crippling vertigo. But when an old friend approaches him about his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) and her increasingly bizarre behavior, Scottie agrees to tail her. And so begins the rare ascent into madness, as Scottie grows unhinged observing Madeleine as she appears to commit suicide… then reappear as her own double, Judy. Who will get caught up in this web of manipulation and terror?
Alfred Hitchcock invented the dolly zoom for Vertigo, creating its trademark visual disorientation and giving bad horror directors an optical shortcut forever. But Vertigo is Hitchcock at his most psychological and least flashy, in a lot of ways. The plot isn’t especially kind to Novak, but then Hitchcock was notoriously unkind to his actresses too. It’s an almost grotesque but visually kinetic and technically stunning examination of what would today be called gaslighting. And even after 65 years, its ending will still follow you home.
Guests are invited to stick around after the screening for a post-show Film Talk and audience Q&A with Film Studies & Screenwriting Lecturer at the University of Tampa and horror/suspense cinema expert Ryan Terry.
The Summer Classics Movie Series has been presented by Bank of America since 2015. Promotional support for the series is provided by WEDU-PBS.