Vertigo is Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece and perhaps his most personal film. To view it once is to be devastated. With each subsequent screening, most viewers notice bits of business, depths of thought, and stunning ironies that had previously eluded them. Vertigo is a riveting experience, haunting its fans in the same way that Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) is haunted by the mysterious Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak).
Upon researching the film, author Dan Auiler found that "this odd, obsessional, very un-matter-of-fact film was created" under "systematic, businesslike, matter-of-fact circumstances." His book gives us the opportunity to witness the construction of a film that seems at once amazing complex and absolutely seamless. He discusses the painstaking development of the screenplay (including its controversial explication of the mystery only two-thirds of the way through the film), the decision to cast Novak instead of Vera Miles opposite Stewart, the typically meticulous Hitchcock shoot, the film's amazing special effects and extraordinary credit and dream sequences, and the legendary musical score composed by Bernard Herrmann. Upon finishing the book, readers will appreciate the various contributions of Hitchcock, Herrmann, Stewart, Novak, actress Barbara Bel Geddes, Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau (who wrote the book upon which it is based), uncredited scenarists Maxwell Anderson and Angus MacPhail, screenwriters Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor, cinematographer Robert Burks, editor George Tomasini, costume designer Edith Head, and many others. The book includes a list of cast and crew, an appendix discussing the VistaVision process in which it was shot, a forward by Vertigo enthusiast Martin Scorsese, and hundreds of production photos, reproductions of memos, storyboard sketches, and posters. Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic has enhanced even this avid fan's appreciation of a film he's long known and loved. --Raphael Shargel [via]