On this day, 22 May, in 1958, Vertigo went into wide release. It had its premiere on 9 May in San Francisco. Then it was released in the UK. Finally, the week after, it was released in the US.
People who have been reading me for a while are probably thinking, “Oh no! Not another hit piece on Hitchcock!” But it’s not! Rather, I want to look at the other side of it.
Imagine Destroying John Carpenter’s Career
One of my favorite filmmakers is John Carpenter. There is no filmmaker who consistently delights me more. A number of his films are my very favorites: The Thing, They Live, and In the Mouth of Madness.
But if people spoke of John Carpenter as though he was some brilliant art film director, I wouldn’t be able to take it. And I say that knowing that Carpenter is as skilled and creative a director as you will find. If he wanted to make art films, they’d be wonderful.
But he doesn’t make art films. (I wouldn’t love his work as much if he did.) It would be an insult to him to pretend that he does — an insult to him but also an insult to the kinds of films that he makes and that I love.
Hitchcock Was Better Than Vertigo
I wish that I could do something for poor Alfred Hitchcock. He deserves better. Above all, he deserves to have his great films admired. I think Vertigo is a joke.
The contortions I’ve seen critics go through to justify why it is a great film! Oh yes, the boring pastels of the film are so meaningful! And the boring plot? Pure genius!
Vertigo is the Alfred Hitchcock film for people who don’t like Alfred Hitchcock. Almost any other Hitchcock film would be a better symbol of his talent. And it shows that all those critics and film “scholars” who supposedly love his work so much don’t really appreciate it at all.
Vertigo poster by Paramount Pictures Corporation — in the Public Domain.