Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) is a policeman who has left the force after developing a fear of heights while chasing bad guys across the rooftops of San Francisco. He is hired by college chum Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) to trail his mysterious blonde wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak) a woman seemingly possessed by a dead countess.
Scottie falls in love with her, much to chagrin of his earthy female confidante Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). When he fails to rescue Madeleine from a suicidal plunge off a bell tower, he sinks into depression. But then he meets Judy (also Kim Novak), a red-headed woman who uncannily resembles the dead Madeleine. Scottie desperately attempts to recreate Judy in Madeleine's image. But Judy has her own secrets.
Release date: May 9, 1958
The film is based upon the novel D'Entre les Morts (From Among the Dead) which was written specifically for Alfred Hitchcock by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. They had heard that he had tried to buy the rights to their previous novel Celle qui n’était plus (She Who Was No More), which had been filmed as Les Diaboliques1955). Source / More (Book)
The movie contributed a new type of camera shot to history, a rapid panning-out and then zooming-in shot. It’s called “Hitchcock zoom” or “contra-zoom” or “Vertigo shot”. Source / More (Book)
The 96-room hotel York will be renamed as the Vertigo. Kim Novak’s character lived in room 501, which still retains many of its aspects captured in the film. Source / More (Web)
The Spanish mission doesn’t actually have a bell tower - it was added with trick photography. The mission originally had a bell tower but it was demolished in 1949 because of dry rot. Source / More (Book)
The encyclopedia on Vertigo: Sensation that a person’s surroundings are rotating or that he himself is revolving. Usually the state produces dizziness, mental bewilderment, and confusion Source / More (Web)
Kim Novak: “Hitchcock didn’t like me in his picture and he felt I was ruining it.  I got some of the best notices in my career. But Hitchcock couldn’t blame himself, so he blamed me.” Source / More (Book)
Hitch: “In the second part of Vertigo, when she’s dark and looks less like Kim Novak, I even managed to get her to act. But the only reason I took Kim Novak was because Vera Miles was pregnant”. Source / More (Book)
Director Billy Wilder: “Vertigo without Kim Novak is no fun” . Source / More (Book)
Stewart was very interested in starring in North by Northwest, begging director Alfred Hitchcock to let him play Thornhill. Hitchcock claimed that Vertigo’s (1958) lack of financial success was because Stewart looked too old.
May 20, 1908
James Maitland Stewart
July 2, 1997
James was born and grew up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA. He made his acting debut in a boy scout play.
After graduating from Princeton in 1932 with a degree in architecture, he joined the University Players whose members included such future stars as Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan.
His first motion-picture appearance was in 1935 in The Murder Man. Stewart's career gained momentum after his well-received Frank Capra films, including his Academy Award nominated role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
James served in the US Army Air Forces in World War II and was heavily decorated.
After the war, Stewart returned to the theater in Harvey (1947) (he later re-created the role in the 1950 film version of the play).
During the 1950s, he took on more challenging roles and expanded into the western and suspense genres, thanks largely to collaborations with directors Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock (Rear window (1954), The man who knew too much (1956), Vertigo (1958)).
James undertook some television projects in the 1970s, but with little success. Late in life Stewart made a series of popular appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, reading his own poetry.
1985 Honorary Award
1960 Nominated Best Actor for: Anatomy of a Murder
1951 Nominated Best Actor for: Harvey
1947 Nominated Best Actor for: It's a wonderful Life
1941 Won Oscar Best Actor for: The Philadelphia Story (1940)
1940 Nominated Best Actor for: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Michael Munn -> Jimmy Stewart : The Truth Behind the Legend
Donald Dewey -> James Stewart: A Biography (1996)
Jonathan Coe -> Jimmy Stewart : A Wonderful Life (1994)