Released 50 years ago this week, Alfred Hitchcock’s most desperately cynical film is as black-hearted and twisted a love story as you can find.
James Stewart is Scottie, an acrophobic private eye tasked with following Madeleine (Kim Novak), the wife of an old friend. After rescuing her from a suicide bid he becomes increasingly obsessed, but can he conquer his own fears to save her again?
The plot is labyrinthine, and when Hitch finally plays his trump card, it is both a relief and a torment – a punch to the stomach disguised as his trademark wink and nod.
While Psycho may have had the shocks, Vertigo is a far more disturbing portrait of the despicable nature of human frailty.