VERTIGO by Dan Auiler


The Making of a Hitchcock Classic
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A yeomanlike study of one of the few deserving films not yet granted an entire book. Carefully and thoroughly (and with the cooperation of Hitchcock’s daughter), film collector Auiler’s first book traces Vertigo to its start as a pesky alternative to another Hitchcock plan for a more studio-agreeable extravaganza called Flamingo Feather. Auiler then details Hitchcock’s interest in the authors of Vertigo’s novel source (their first novel became Les Diaboliques) and reports the screenwriting process, spanning playwright Maxwell Anderson, Angus MacPhail, and credited authors Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor. The book brims with behind-the-scenes material, all presented matter-of-factly. Unintoxicating (and pregnant) Vera Miles was replaced by “heat”-carrying Kim Novak, who attracted problematic paramours Sammy Davis Jr. and Rafael Trujillo Jr. and who said she understood her character Madeleine/Judy’s desire to be loved. Jimmy Stewart was a pro and an avuncular counselor to Novak; Hitchcock did shoot efficiently, except for the troubling post-rescue encounter. The film’s crew considered Vertigo “just another Hitchcock project,” and on release, the movie was generally praised but panned by Time as “another Hitchcock and bull story.” And maybe the movie showed that Hitchcock never recovered from losing Grace Kelly to Monaco. Yet even more interesting is the author’s noting how Vertigo has grown in stature over the past 40 years, through a survey of Hitchcock scholarship, interviews with those involved in its restoration for 1996 rerelease, and speculation that it reveals a “longing for what we can never have again.” This book assumes the film’s worth and through well-researched explication of its subtleties leads even skeptics to understand it, too. (50 b&w photos, 8 pages color photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-16915-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998