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Her performance as a cool and icy blonde recalled the way that Hitchcock often presented and treated his ethereal leading ladies, who included Madeleine Carroll, Grace Kelly, Vera Miles, and Tippi Hedren. The film was passed over by the Academy for the frothy musical tale of Gigi with a record nine Oscar wins, including Best Picture , about a young woman trained to be a courtesan of a wealthy suitor.
The title of the film "Vertigo" zooms out slowly from the depths of her widening pupil. Spiraling, vertiginous, animated designs of various configurations and shapes replace the closeup of the iris, and the remainder of the credits plays over a black background after the pupil is entered and the eye fades away. The background returns to the eye still reddish and the final credit emerges from its center: Two hands grab the ladder rung - the top bar of a roof ladder on a fire escape - as a fugitive is being chased across a flat San Francisco city rooftop.
A uniformed SF policeman Fred Graham and another dark-suited, plainclothes pursuer later identified as James Stewart follow the man.
Two shots are fired. The policeman turns back to offer help and leaves the criminal to escape. Holding onto the creaking and collapsing gutter, the hanging man is frozen by his fear of heights acrophobia. He looks down many stories into the deadly abyss below and experiences a dizzying sensation called vertigo. The simultaneous, opposing movements - a forward zoom and a reverse tracking shot - also represent the attraction and repulsion that the main protagonists experience in their relationships.
The camera effect is used in this scene, and in the first mission stairwell sequence. The terrified man is left hanging there to witness the death. He gazes down on the pinwheel-shaped body of the policeman flattened on the pavement. The image of the man suspended there - dangling helplessly from the rooftop and downward-looking - [his rescue is never displayed] will be the overriding, symbolic, emotional and psychological position that he will remain in throughout the rest of the film.
Part of his own psyche and stability also falls with his partner. She is drawing a supportive, cantilevered bra for an advertisement. In a chair next to her is the San Francisco man who survived the gutter pipe experience. Midge asks him about his "aches or pains. Guilt-ridden, he fears he may cause the death of more innocent people: Johnny, the doctors explained to you. I have acrophobia which gives me vertigo and I get dizzy. Boy, what a moment to find out I had it! You mean and sit behind a desk, chair-bound What about my acrophobia?
You mean to forget? While Midge is sketching a new brassiere design, he asks her a direct question. Scottie pointing out a bra hanging next to her work area: You know about those things. But does everything a brassiere should do. Works on the principle of the cantilever bridge He worked it out in his spare time. Kind of a hobby.
Girl on the Run (1958) - FilmAffinity
But you were the one that called off the engagement, do ya remember? Scottie mentions that he has received a phone call message from another old college friend, ship-building tycoon Gavin Elster, after many years absence following the war.
She had learned from her doctor that the only cure for the "disease" of vertigo may be death. Midge offers him a prophetic warning: To "lick" his vertigo and to experiment and test out a theory, he tries different heights and progresses through them one at a time. Scottie believes he may be able to acclimatize himself and be cured. As she supervises, as a mother might do, he first starts out with a small stepstool.
He hopes to gradually get used to the sensation as he chants: What do you want me to start with? The Golden Gate Bridge? I look up, I look down. From there, the scene cuts to Scottie, who is to meet with his old college friend - the well-dressed, prosperous, handsome Gavin Elster Tom Helmore. The wood-paneled office is decorated with a few suspended chandeliers. There, Scottie immediately learns - after a dissolve - that Gavin married into the "dull" shipbuilder business and has taken responsibility for it: Someone has to look after her interests.
The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast.. I should have liked to have lived here then - color, excitement, power, freedom.
"77 Sunset Strip" Girl on the Run (TV Episode 1958) - IMDb
Scottie notices old maps and woodcuts from the wild days of San Francisco. Scottie describes his disability and a little background on his life: Is it a permanent, physical disability? But there are plenty of street-level bars in this town. Gavin proposes to hire him as a private detective "as a special favor" to trail his strange, neurotic, potentially suicidal wife, to help protect her from some harm that may come to her from "someone dead. Do you believe that someone out of the past, someone dead, can enter and take possession of a living being?
At first, Scottie is comically skeptical and quickly refuses, although Elster believes that his wife is deeply-disturbed or possessed. Suddenly the words fade into silence. A cloud comes into her eyes and they go blank. How often does this happen? More and more in the past few weeks. And she wanders - God knows where she wanders. She even walked a different way. Got into her car and drove off to Golden Gate Park.
Sat by the lake, staring across the water at the pillars that stand on the far shore. You know, Portals of the Past. Sat there a long time without moving. I had to leave, get back to the office. Where did she go? Elster insists that he only wants Scottie to do the job, to follow her and discover where Madeleine goes and what she does, before consulting a professional doctor and "committing her to that kind of care. The restaurant was noted for its striking red interior, and later appeared in the Woody Allen film Take the Money and Run There, he surreptitiously sees Gavin at a table with the lovely, elegant, and beautiful blonde Madeleine Kim Novak wearing a dark, nakedly-backless evening dress with green trim [green is a predominant color associated with Madeleine - and Judy - throughout the film].
As she leaves the restaurant, Scottie, half in profile, has his nervous, "ghostly" first encounter with the woman. His first view of the beautiful female is incredibly transcendental - she is half-seen in a close-up profile as she deliberately pauses behind him [to display herself to him] and awaits Elster, with the radiant light reflecting off her hair. Fascinated by and attracted to the woman that he has heard fantastic stories about, he starts to romantically and dependently "fall" in love with the ethereal, inaccessible and complex woman - already obsessed and desiring her.
Jaguar sedan all over San Francisco as she drives around and around almost always driving down streets, going left then right, left then right. He first starts to follow her from her high-rise apartment building on Nob Hill to a flower shop [a significant location and motif] on Grant Avenue through a narrow back alley and back door, where she buys a red and white nosegay bouquet as he voyeuristically peers at her with an ingenious split-screen effect.
He sees her in a mirror reflection on the left through a cracked doorway on the right [the mirror is a means to see into the underworld and past].
Next stop is Mission Dolores - a Spanish mission with a backyard garden cemetery, where he enters a dark arched doorway and finds her after winding and turning through the cemetery path. In soft, diffused, surrealistic and hazy sunlight, she is standing and gazing in front of the grave headstone of "Carlotta Valdes born December 3, died March 5, Scottie notices that her single lock of swirling vertigo-like hair and hand-corsage bear a striking resemblance to the bouquet and hairstyle in the painting.
Finally, he trails her to an old hotel on Eddy Street, the McKittrick Hotel, where she stands in a second-floor window facing the front. Scottie enters the Hotel to follow the ethereal woman - he looks up the stairs past a magnificent, suspended hanging chandelier with crystal pendants.
Girl on the Run (1958) directed by Richard L. Bare • Film + cast • Letterboxd
He asks the hotel manager-landlady Ellen Corby to identify the tenant of the room on the second floor. She describes the two-week old occupant of the rented room whose name is Carlotta Valdes: She just comes to sit, two or three times a week. He again stares at the chandelier as the landlady climbs the stairs to check the room - and then climbs up the optically-steep staircase himself without - uncharacteristically - any disorientation when she offers to show him the empty room to prove it.
The detective is thoroughly confused, and naturally wonders whether Madeleine is indeed an illusion - a spirit, a ghost, or a phantom. Oh, you mean the gay old Bohemian days of gay old San Francisco.
Juicy stories like who shot who in the Embarcadero in August But Midge is suspicious of his search and wonders what he is looking for: She recommends the owner of the downtown Argosy Book Shop.