Vertigo Summary and Analysis of Part 5


Judy, as we will now call her, goes to her closet and takes out a purple dress. That night, she goes to dinner with Scottie at the restaurant where he first met Madeleine. Suddenly, a woman with blonde hair in a gray suit walks past and takes a seat nearby.

After dinner, Scottie drops Judy off at her hotel and walks her to her room. "Can I see you tomorrow?" he asks, but Judy tells him she has to work. He insists that he will take care of her, but she declines, thinking he wants her to be some kind of kept woman.

"We could just see a lot of each other," he suggests. Judy is suspicious that he just wants to remember his affair with Madeleine, but he insists that he just wants to be with her as much as he can. Judy considers it, and then decides to skip work the next day after all.

The next day, Judy and Scottie go on a date, walking in the park and then dancing in a dance hall. He buys her some clothes and a floral brooch. At a department store, Ransohoff's, he searches for the gray suit that Madeleine wore on the day of her death. Anxiously, Judy says she likes the other dresses, but Scottie becomes single-minded in his search for the dress. He insists that none of them are right, and Judy grows suspicious that he's looking for Madeleine's suit and rushes to the corner of the room.

Suddenly, the saleswoman comes out with the suit Scottie is looking for, and despite Judy's protestations, he buys it. He insists that the store be able to make the necessary alterations by that evening, and the saleswoman agrees. He then asks for a short evening dress, with very specific qualities in mind.

That night, at his apartment, Scottie gives Judy a drink and she begs him to stop trying to transform him. "What good will it do?" she asks, and he doesn't know. He tells her that since meeting her, he has been happy for the first time in a year. He touches her for a moment, then pulls away. "Couldn't you like me, just me, the way I am?" Judy asks.

"If I let you change me, will that do it?" she asks, "If I do what you tell me, will you love me?" He kisses her and they sit by the fireplace.

The next day, Judy gets her hair dyed to look like Madeleine. She comes back to the hotel to meet Scottie, and she looks exactly like Madeleine, but her hair isn't pinned back. Scottie scolds her for not doing her hair in the right way, so she goes in the other room and pins it back. When she emerges, she looks like Madeleine and they kiss passionately.

Later, Judy asks where they ought to go to dinner. She comes out in a black evening dress and puts on a necklace, saying that she plans to get a steak at Ernie's. When Scottie goes to help her with the necklace, he recognizes it as the necklace from "Portrait of Carlotta."

Scottie now suddenly realizes that Judy is Madeleine, but does not tell her. She finishes getting ready and kisses him, and Scottie suggests they go somewhere out of town for dinner.

They drive out of town, and Judy wonders where they are going. "I just feel like driving," he tells her. When she asks him where he's going, he tells her there's one final thing he has to do in order to be "free of the past." They arrive at the mission where "Madeleine" died, and he asks her to climb up the bell tower with her.

He speaks like a maniac about the last time he saw Madeleine, and leads Judy up the stairs, narrating the course of events of Madeleine's death. As he walks up the stairs, he still experiences vertigo, but continues on nonetheless. "This is as far as I got, but you went on," Scottie says, revealing that he knows her true identity because of her necklace.

He drags her upstairs and guesses what actually happened. Judy tells Scottie that Elster had broken his wife's neck before throwing her over, as he shakes her and berates her for getting so taken in by Gavin Elster. "Why did you pick on me? Why me?" he yells. "Your accident!" she tells him, and he pulls her up to the top. There, he realizes that he made it to the top without succumbing to his fear of heights.

At the very top of the tower, Scottie guesses what happened to Judy after the incident, the fact that Gavin must have given her some money and Carlotta's necklace as a reward for her work. "You shouldn't keep souvenirs of a killing," he snarls at her, as she cowers in the corner. Judy pleads with him, insisting that she still loves him, and that she's stayed with him because she loves him. As she embraces him, Scottie says it's too late. They kiss, as a dark figure approaches. Judy runs in fear, falling from the tower, as it is revealed that the figure was just a nun, coming to investigate the voices in the tower.


Hitchcock uses vibrant color throughout the film. When Scottie drops Judy off at her hotel room at the Hotel Empire, she is wearing a bright lavender dress, and she sits down in front of the window, which is lit up with a neon green glow from a sign outside. The image is almost surreal, something out of a dream, and the colors in the film serve to make the action seem all the more dreamlike, further contributing to the sense that nothing is what it seems.

A strange betrayal occurs in "Madeleine" and Scottie's second affair, in which Judy suspects that he is only interested in her because she reminds him of "Madeleine," a character that she devised on Gavin Elster's instruction. Judy Barton is actually a simple girl from Salina, Kansas, who has none of the class and elegance of the character she once played. As a result, she feels miffed by Scottie's interest now, because she suspects that it has nothing to do with her innate qualities, but with the qualities she once affected.

Judy's feeling of betrayal causes her to enact her own betrayal; in the process of uniting with Scottie, she opts not to tell him about Gavin Elster's plot or the fact that she is indeed the woman that he came to know as "Madeleine." They pursue an affair as if anew, with Scottie suspecting she is a new woman who looks just like Madeleine and Judy going along with it. They embark on a romance, with Judy trying her best to be herself, and Scottie trying desperately to change her into the image of the woman he wants her to be.

Indeed, that is precisely Scottie's aim: to turn Judy into Madeleine. He embarks on a Pygmalion-style renovation project. Under the auspices of being Madeleine's financial provider, he turns her into the woman he wants her to be, buying her clothes that remind him of Madeleine, asking her to dye her hair, and transforming her image into that of Gavin Elster's high-class wife. He rebuilds and re-performs the past using Madeleine's image, and creates the woman of his dreams, all in the hopes that if he can commune with Madeleine once again, he will be able to save her from death, in a way that he was unable to before.

In the end, Scottie follows Midge's advice and re-traumatizes himself by reenacting the incident of Madeleine's death. It has exactly the intended effect, curing him of his vertigo, but it comes at a steep price. While Scottie manages to cure himself of his fear of heights, he ends up experiencing a greater trauma when Judy falls to her death, frightened by the approaching nun. The film ends on a tragic and horrific note; Scottie has overcome his fears, but he has become himself a kind of terror.