Tuesday, October 14, 2008


When I'm feeling a bit down or overwhelmed I tend to resort to watching one of my comfort movies. Three films, that I've long consider as some of my favorites, consistently rise to the top whenever I am away from California. The movies have little in common plot wise but all were filmed in San Francisco and/or the Bay Area. Location may in ways be irrelevant to how much I enjoy the film as a whole (and the plot) but I can not deny that having glimpses of places which hold memories for me adds something extra to the whole cinematic experience.

The first film I'll blog about is one from a director that I've immensely enjoyed ever since I can recall. Frequently I use the blanket phrase "I hate horror movies" but its less that I dislike being scared and more I don't particularly enjoy seeing body parts fly around in a realistic fashion. That tends to send my already overactive imagination into overdrive long after the movie experience is over. I love a classy psychological thriller and many of the films directed by Alfred Hitchcock fit that bill.

By todays standards, the "chills" in many of his films seem quaint and I'll even admit that I'm not the biggest fan of when he went all out in Psycho or The Birds.

Shadow of a Doubt was the first film that gave me a good scare. The heroine realizes that her beloved uncle is really a serial killer and will anyone listen to her? No! At the tender age of six I was both frightened and riveted by her plight to escape the clutches of both the killer and make everyone else realize who Uncle Charlie really is. Needless to say this is 1943 and you won't see body parts flying. Just a clever use of sounds, lighting, and purpose to send your mind reeling.

Not all of Hitchcock's films involved blatant killers. An often reoccurring theme seems to be the poor hapless fellow who ends up over his head due to a situation that found him. Classics like Rear Window and North by Northwest tends to follow this general scheme, as does my favorite Hitchcock film Vertigo.

I will forever be dumbfounded to know that Vertigo was not very successful at the box office when it was first released in 1958. It stars James Stewart and the gorgeous Kim Novak, it's filmed in beautiful San Francisco (and some surrounding locations) and the story is absolutely mesmerizing! Even after you've already seen it and the initial twists are no longer surprising, I think its still plays as a very romantic film!

In a sort of twisted way....

The first time I saw "Vertigo" I was a bit young (7-ish) and subsequently could not completely follow the plot... but boy did I think Madeline (Kim Novak) was pretty.

and that suit!
I'd do horrible things to people for a suit like that...
(in a Hitchcockian fashion, of course)

Every time I watch Vertigo my heartbreaks for Scotty (James Stewart) and his illfated romance with Madeline... but in recent years a small part of me gets peeved that while Scotty is preoccupied running after the tragic Hitchcockian goddess. Who comes in and tries to set his mess of a life right? Good 'ole Midge.

Both to the audience and Scotty the girl pretty much stays on the back burner. She rushes in when her sensible nature is needed just to be overshadowed the next instant by the supernova that is Madeline.

Midge (Barbara Bel Geddesis) is the antithesis to Madeline. Of course she's not gonna grab Scotty's attention by floundering around in a puddle like a damsel in distress. The girls got a career, a level head and better things to do than spend hours getting dolled up or getting into trouble.

She's adorable, quirky and totally overlooked.

Beautiful, tragic, unattainable, as a little girl I loved the idea of the Hitchcock blond. It was almost as if she was an anti-heroine in a world filled with anti-heros. To this day I'd love to be siren in the vein of Madeline but as I get older the more I realize I'm destined to be a girl just like Midge. Every time I watch Vertigo I begin to see Midge as slightly cooler and hope that post-film she gave Scotty a swift kick in the ass for being such a jerk.

What about Midge you dofus??!!

(screencaps taken from screenmusings.org)

1 comment:

Missa said...

I have similar feelings on horror films and I love Vertigo, it's definitely my favorite Hitchcock film too.