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‘Vertigo’: Another chance to judge its greatness


Times are changing. But for the moment, Alfred Hitchcock is still considered one of the great 20th-century filmmakers — despite his questionable attitudes toward women, both on the set and off.

The two most recent biopics of Hitchcock, "Hitchcock" and "The Girl," both released in 2012, don't show the director in the most favorable light — to say the least. That said, few filmmakers influenced the course of world cinema more than Hitchcock did.

"Vertigo," Hitchcock's 1958 suspense film starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, is a case in point. It's man's story, that of the policeman played by Stewart and his relationship — more likely obsession — for the mysterious woman (actually women) played by Novak. While Novak puts in a powerful performance, she is basically a femme-fatale prop.

Even so, "Vertigo" is considered one of the century's best films. In its 10th Anniversary edition of its 100 Greatest Films of All Time, the American Film Institute ranked "Vertigo" at No. 9 — just behind "Schindler's List" and just ahead of "The Wizard of Oz."

The late Roger Ebert explained why, in his opinion, this is so. "There is another element, rarely commented on, that makes 'Vertigo' a great film," he wrote. "From the moment we are let in on the secret, the movie is equally about Judy: her pain, her loss, the trap she's in. Hitchcock so cleverly manipulates the story that when the two characters climb up that mission tower, we identify with both of them, and fear for both of them, and in a way Judy is less guilty than Scottie."

Intrigued? Puzzled? Well, even if you've already seen "Vertigo," Fathom Events is giving you another opportunity to see the film in a new light. The film will play in a 60th-anniversary showing at 2 and 7 p.m. on March 18 and 21 at both Regal Cinemas' Northtown Mall and Riverstone Stadium theaters.

Time to see how well greatness holds up. And whether it makes a difference.

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