Vicky has been out of town for 2 weeks now, but it feels like much longer. Her rotation in Chicago means she is gone for over a month, so we try to maintain the relationship with phone calls and video skype. This has led to a strange feeling that my wife has been transformed to an apparition—a face and voice, but no body. I could have insisted that she stay in L.A., but I let her go. What a strange state to be in when I finally got around to seeing one of Hitchcock’s finest films about a man burdened by guilt and obsessed with the death of a lost love. My advice is: when you are sad about missing someone you love….don’t go see a movie about a guy who goes crazy being sad about missing someone he loves.
Vertigo is wonderful. The color, framing, pacing, music, etc. all lived up to the hype. There are many essays about the merits of the film and Hitchcock’s creative prowess. (like here) After seeing Jimmy Steward in It’s A Wonderful Life dozens of times, it was a shock to see him as a sexually fixated, increasingly deluded sap who loses his mind. Also, the culture shock of the male-dominated world of the 50’s got some laughs that probably weren’t there for original audiences. Seeing Steward forcibly lead Kim Novak around by the arm, making her drink when she doesn’t want to, and changing everything about her appearance until she looks just the way he wants her to… was hard to watch. As with most masterpieces, I’m sure multiple viewings will yield greater insight and appreciation.
I have to say, screening old films in old theaters is one thing I love about L.A. The Aero theater in Santa Monica that screened Vertigo is also doing various marathons this summer—every James Bond and Jurassic Park film ever made. My 13-year-old self just high-fived me from the past.