Vertigo Study Guide

Vertigo is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best-known films, a 1958 psychological thriller based on the 1954 novel by the French writing team Boileau-Narcejac, D'entre les morts. It was shot in San Francisco and employs several different camera techniques to create the effect of the protagonist's titular vertigo. James Stewart and Kim Novak star.

The film follows the story of Scottie Ferguson, a detective who has to leave the force after suffering from a bout of vertigo that has catastrophic repercussions. In his semi-retirement, Scottie begins working for an old acquaintance, Gavin Elster, following Elster's wife, Madeleine, who seems to be possessed by some kind of occult force and is at high risk for suicide.

The film was met with lukewarm reception at the time of its release, but over the years has gained recognition as one of the greatest films of all time. It has accumulated a great deal of attention from critics in the years since its release. In a retrospective review of the film, Roger Ebert wrote, "Vertigo (1958), which is one of the two or three best films Hitchcock ever made, is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art. It is about how Hitchcock used, feared and tried to control women."