Friday, February 06, 2009

50th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 1958


Vertigo (238 points/32 votes)

Even within Alfred Hitchcock's body of work, Vertigo sticks out as something of an odd duck - a slow-moving, languorous movie from a director known, at the time, for his colorful and action-packed thrillers, a strangely meditative and operatic movie in which the ‘mystery' is solved well before the climax, with a messy plot, a downbeat ending, a pair of major stars performing in distinctly un-starlike ways, and a vision so embarrassingly personal that the movie was shrugged off by critics and audiences alike, resulting in one of the rare flops in Hitchcock's career.

But Hitchcock, more than usual, was simply ahead of his time, harnessing the full power and scope of the Hollywood dream factory to create his own personal nightmare. No other movie of the 1950s makes as much use of the full array of cinematic tools that were at Hitchcock's command, from the lavish locations and sets to the the thundering yet dizzy score by Bernard Herrmann, and Hitchcock's own mastery of image and mood. Most importantly, this film relies on the completely dedicated, anguished performances of James Stewart and Kim Novak, never better, as a man and woman each in love with something they can't quite grasp.

In a sense, the film is a grand folly - one of the great control freaks in cinema history baring his soul to tell the story of a man's futile attempt to create and control something impossible - but to a modern audience, we can see this film as one of the grand personal expressions of the 20th century, an era in which fantasy and tragedy had never been more entwined. And this peculiarly modern, complex film's legacy lives on in works from admirers as varied as Chris Marker (La Jetee), Mel Brooks (High Anxiety), Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys), and Brian DePalma (uh, most of his movies). ~ Jeff McMahon

Runners-up:
Touch of Evil (205/29)
The Hidden Fortress (91/16)
Mon Oncle (57/10)
Elevator to the Gallows (40/7)

Click here for complete results

9 comments:

lucas mcnelly said...

so 5 people left Vertigo off their ballot?

Jason said...

I was just going to ask the same thing about the missing VERTIGO ballots.

Paul C. said...

One explanation is that not everyone voted in the anniversary awards.

Jeff McMahon said...

Wow, somebody else voted for I Bury the Living? Whoever you are, mystery voter, you have excellent taste, and I recommend this to anyone who voted for The Blob or House on Haunted Hill.

Craig Kennedy said...

Vertigo!!!!

Kza said...

Yay! All five of my movies made the Top 20!

Y'all better have voted for the right movie for 25th Anniversary, else I'll stick a VHS tape in your guts.

Matt said...

Y'all better have voted for the right movie for 25th Anniversary, else I'll stick a VHS tape in your guts.

If by "the right movie" you mean De Palma's SCARFACE, then I got your back Mr. Kza.

Kza said...

SCARFACE? Bah! Bah, I says!

(It'll probably win.)

Bemis said...

I went with the other Cronenberg from '83, though I love both and I suspect Videodrome will rank significantly higher.