What's The Matter With Vertigo? --- Part Two
I am at verge of calling Vertigo the definitive "guy" flick, providing said guy is of intensely romantic bent and subject to obsessions not unlike ones Scotty experienced. Do women dig Vertigo? Not ones I've spoken with --- Ann barely recalls our watching beyond dismissal of it as lesser Hitchcock (Rear Window's her idea of great, a sentiment shared by '58 exhibs). Does Stewart/Scotty creep out distaff viewers? It might me were I female. Lest we forget, "apt pupil" Judy falls only after Scotty drags her up the bell tower stairs. Now, there are certain men, lots I suspect, who see themselves in Scotty. I heard from a few by e-mail since last week's Part One. What they shared was too personal to include among comments, but rest assured, their identification with "Old Available Ferguson" was intense. One calls Vertigo simply the finest motion picture ever made. Obviously Hitchcock glimpsed Scotty in mirrors more than once. Did he sense as much in all us males watching?
There's an extra on Universal's DVD that could change, if not wreck, our perception of Vertigo were it appended to circulating prints. Hitchcock was Code obliged to film a tag-on indicating dragnets, in
The ideal of romance, be it man or woman's, doomed or otherwise, is best exemplified by Bernard Herrmann's extraordinary music. We may argue Vertigo's merits till cattle come home, but votes are unanimous to place his among all-time greatest scores. I'm listening now, in fact. A big reason lots (inc. me) repeat view Vertigo is Herrmann. Had Hitchcock forecast same, he might have fired the man a lot sooner than Torn Curtain. Alf didn't like any collaborator becoming indispensible. Writer John Michael Hayes found out (via pink slip) shortly prior to Vertigo. Frank Capra's One-Man, One-Film mantra was one AH applied like a club, this an aspect of the Master's ego that would cost him dearly. To take Herrmann away from Vertigo is to lose half (at least) of the pic's value. His score is that crucial, and Hitchcock of all participating had to know it.
The costing dearly part would come with Torn Curtain in 1966. The story of Herrmann being dismissed and his score thrown out is a long one and needs not recounting here (better told elsewhere). I'll digress by mentioning that sequences from TC were rescored with Herrmann's music for a DVD extra. For those fourteen or so minutes, Torn Curtain suddenly (and finally) became a good movie for me. I ask some of you filmmusic experts out there --- could Torn Curtain be fixed with a complete overlay of Herrmann substituting the John Addison music used for release prints (and subsequent videos)? I read BH's music extended to the bus sequence, which is most of the way in. Could themes from his score be reprised to fill in the rest? Surely a Herrmann-devoted arranger/conductor could step up and, at long last, repair Hitchcock and Universal's misstep of 1966. If an Orson Welles memo could revitalize Touch Of Evil after so many years and be warmly received for the effort, couldn't restoration of Bernard Herrmann's score (a great one, and largely unheard beyond a few soundtrack CD's) do as much to rehabilitate Torn Curtain's standing among Hitchcock's late-career output?
But back to Vertigo and Hitchcock's not-always infallible judgment. He was bullish from the start on a one-word title after fashion of prior Notorious, Spellbound, etc. Vertigo's shooting moniker, From Among The Dead, wouldn't do because, said Variety, (
|Billy Eckstine Makin' With That Mellow Vertigo Sound|
One thing Hitchcock insisted on was Saul Bass-designed poster art to promote Vertigo. Swirling enigmas these were, minus art of stars
Part Three and Conclusion to Vertigo Coming Next Week.