Since its lukewarm premiere in 1958,
"Vertigo" has slowly and steadily climbed the pantheon of American
cinema, finally usurping Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" and ascending
to the top of Sight & Sound's list of the best movies of all time. Lists
and rankings aside, few would argue that "Vertigo" is anything less
than a feverish masterwork, the epitome of Hitchcock's formal prowess and his
most emotionally fragile work.
Pervaded by love and lust, betrayal and loss, the
dark tale of an emasculated man (Jimmy Stewart) driven to chasing obsession on
a destructive path. As an inscrutable ruse, it rarely falters as a
murder-mystery so well crafted you don't even know it's a murder-mystery until the
last third of the film.
The effects of "Vertigo" have seeped into the crevices of
American cinema, popping up in some reliable places (the works of Brian De
Palma, Hitch's biggest fan) and some surprising ones as well (Paul Verhoeven's
"Basic Instinct," Tony Scott's "Deja Vu"). The best thing
about BAM's "Vertigo" Effect series is how the eclectic pool of films
makes you draw connections you might otherwise have missed: Just by being
selected for the series, films like "Last Embrace," "Mississippi
Mermaid," and "Special Effects" will now reveal deeper mysteries
and previously-missed Hitchcock-derived details. And, of course, it only
further elucidates the profound beauty, and tragedy, of Hitchcock's best film.
Here are 9 highlights from the series. [