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Vertigo (1958)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Associate producer Herbert Coleman, restoration team Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, commentary producer Laurent Bouzereau, co-screenwriter Samuel Taylor, Bernard Herrmann biographer Steven Smith, actor Kim Novak, art director Henry Bumstead, Paramount publicity director Herbert Steinberg, director's daughter Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell, and script supervisor Peggy Robertson Rating:7.9/10 (11 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by sirgawayn on January 21st, 2006:Find all reviews by sirgawayn
This commentary is dominated by Harris and Katz, who are watching the movie together with Coleman; they conduct a detailed and involving discussion of the film restoration process. I really came to appreciate the amount of painstaking work they had to do to restore "Vertigo" to its present condition, and I understood their anger at the poor job Hollywood has done taking care of its heritage. I was surprised to learn that when the screen goes red at the start of the crucial flashback, it's not a camera trick by Hitchcock but an example of film decay that the restorers couldn't fix. Coleman relates various stories about the movie's production, responding to questions by Harris and Katz.

This discussion takes up about half of the track; the other half consists of interview clips from various people who were involved with the film. Most of their comments are not scene-specific, but they give a good picture of what it was like to work with Hitchcock, from the perspective of their various jobs. Late in the track, the various participants discuss how Hitchcock planned to cut Judy's flashback out of the film, and the controversy that raged over whether he should put it back in.

Commentary producer Laurent Bouzereau appears briefly to discuss the creation of the original story by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, and Bernard Hermann biographer Steven Smith discusses the composer's contribution to the film. Smith's description of how Herrmann handled the scene Judy reveals herself to Scottie looking like Madeline is particularly interesting.

This commentary is not an exhaustive study of "Vertigo" by any means, but it touches on many different aspects of the film and its restoration, offering a wealth of fascinating details. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by sedna on December 3rd, 2013:Find all reviews by sedna
FYI: I listened to the William Friedkin commentary, which is not posted as an option on this site. I heard horror stories of Friedkin doing narration and he does do it here - as if we don't see what's happening BUT - he does usually pay off the narration with something relevant happening in those particular scenes. There's a story of how Friedkin met Hitchcock somewhere halfway into the film. For most of the film he describes how this is unlike any of Hitchcock's films because of how he wasn't concerned so much with a plot or story than the visuals driving the entire film. It didn't particularly expose me to anything I didn't know about Hitch however.
Reviewed by reidca on August 10th, 2014:Find all reviews by reidca
Agree with Sedna. Friedkin's own commentaries are boring affairs and while he narrates this one at times he punctuates with moderately interesting thesis. Although my impression is that this analysis is nowhere near as comprehensive nor thorough as a good book on Vertigo. Still this is a better than average listen. 6/10