The rehabilitation of Hitchcock's <i>Vertigo</i> is now fully complete – its reputation is as assured as that of Citizen Kane, and can only have been helped by a long period in which it was out of circulation – but what an oddity it is. Viewed as a conventional thriller, this adaption of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac's 1954 novel, Sueurs Froides (D'Entre les Morts), is hardly the tightest of constructions. And there is also the notorious left-field touch of giving away the twist some distance before the end. But then, plot matters far less in <i>Vertigo</i> than the machinations of desire and obsession – and about those there is no finer film.
James Stewart plays Scottie, an acrophobic private eye who receives an unusual assignment: to follow Madeleine (Kim Novak), the wife of an old friend, who is drifting around San Francisco in a dazed funk. She seems to be under the spell of a long-dead ancestor named Carlotta, who committed suicide, but soon Scottie is lost in his own reverie.