Vertigo (1958) remains the top contender for the best film of Hitchcock’s impressive oeuvre. In the film, John “Scottie” Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart) suffers from vertigo after pursuing a robber over rooftops and plummeting nearly to his death. After his near-fatal accident, he is hired to investigate Madeline (Kim Novak), the wife of an old college friend, who is acting strange, almost possessed. As Ferguson pursues Madeline, he not only saves her from drowning, but ultimately falls in love with her. But his vertigo prevents him from saving her life a second time when she appears to throw herself from a church tower. The second half of the film follows Ferguson as he recovers from a mental breakdown and meets Judy, a woman with such a striking resemblance to Madeline (Judy is also played by Kim Novak) that Ferguson becomes obsessed and remakes her in Madeline’s image.
Tag: Jimmy Stewart
George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story is a fascinating film, rewarding the viewer with each repeat viewing. The film is perhaps the quintessential remarriage comedy, the finest of a popular cycle of films produced in Hollywood during the 1930s and ‘40s that share certain formulaic narrative similarities. The Philadelphia Story contains some of the best acting performed by screen legends Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart (who won an Oscar for his performance). It reinvigorated Hepburn’s stalling career by turning a healthy profit and earning an Oscar nomination for the actress who had been recently labeled “box office poison” by the Independent Theatre Owners of America.
The Philadelphia Story – 1940 – dir. George Cukor
There are few movie treasures as evergreen as The Philadelphia Story, few movie stars as everlasting as the incomparable Katharine Hepburn. Labeled “box office poison” by Hollywood after making a string of nascent hits followed by a string of stinking bombs, Hepburn fled to her native East Coast to lick her wounds and find solace on the stage, namely in Phillip Barry’s play, “The Philadelphia Story” which became a lucky theater penny for everyone involved, Great Kate most of all.
Hepburn had the savvy to buy full film rights to the vehicle, provided she play the lead. She saw the play as her ticket-to-ride back to Planet Stardom, a kingdom she was to rule over for the rest of her life.
By Peggy Nelson
It’s A Wonderful Life – 1946 – dir. Frank Capra
Recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, It’s a Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra, 1946) has been variously described as a heartwarming celebration of family values, an historical appreciation of vanished small-town life, “sentimental hogwash,” an indictment of centralized banking, and a communist manifesto. It is all of these things. And yet, it is also something more.
Written by Sean Rogers
USA, 1954. 115 min. Paramount. Cast: Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter with Raymond Burr; Music: Franz Waxman; Cinematography: Robert Burks; Produced by: Alfred Hitchcock; Based on a Story by: Cornell Woolrich; Written by: John Michael Hayes; Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Rear Window was Alfred Hitchcockâ€™s first film at Paramount following a stint at Warner Brothers that had ended only months prior with the 3-D chamber piece Dial M for Murder. For this new project, the director returned not only to Dialâ€™s confined setting and control over its viewersâ€™ vision, but also to its female lead, Grace Kelly. Some few years removed from both her careerâ€™s commencement and its premature end, and scant months away from an Oscar win, the future princess would share the screen with Hollywoodâ€™s favorite everyman, Jimmy Stewart. While Kellyâ€™s star was about to go supernova, Stewartâ€™s had been shining more darkly since his return from the war. We remember him now, of course, for his role as the thwarted, suicidal George Bailey, but he further complicated his onscreen persona in those years through collaborations with Anthony Mann â€“ in whose westerns he played troubled, vulnerable, and sometimes quite bitter heroes â€“ and Hitchcock. In Rope, Hitchcockâ€™s first picture with both Stewart and Warners, and another chamber drama concerned with visual tricks (the film seems to be one continuous take), the actor portrays an intellectual who espouses the righteousness of murder. Few other Hollywood stars could depict such moral confusion so convincingly and so genially.