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Week 9 Lecture : Music and Art in Hitchcock’s films Screening : Vertigo (1957). Readings. Readings: Cohen, T. Volume 2 Cohen Volume 2 Part III Jump Cuts Time machine pp 107 - 137 Matrixide pp 138-168 Recommended Readings: Sloan, J., Hitchcock : The Definitive Bibliography (pp. 289-295)

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Week 9 Lecture : Music and Art in Hitchcock’s films Screening : Vertigo (1957)

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Readings:Cohen, T. Volume 2 Cohen Volume 2 Part III Jump Cuts Time machine pp 107 - 137 Matrixide pp 138-168

Recommended Readings: Sloan, J., Hitchcock: The Definitive Bibliography (pp. 289-295)

White, S. "Vertigo and Problems of Knowledge in Feminist Film Theory" (Allen pp279-307)

Hitchcock "On Music in Films" (1934) (Reader)

origins genre
Origins & Genre

A psychological thriller: Film noir/Drama

The film is an adaptation of the French novel Sueurs froids: d’entre les morts (Cold Sweat: From Among the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac; Screenplay:Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor


James Stewart - “Scottie" Ferguson

Kim Novak - Madeleine Elster & Judy Barton

Barbara Bel Geddes - Marjorie "Midge" Wood

Tom Helmore - Gavin Elster

jimmie stewart 1908 1997
Jimmie Stewart (1908-1997)

James Maitland Stewartpopularly known as Jimmy Stewart. Parents of Scottish origin, Alexander M. Stewart and Elizabeth Ruth Jackson, in Indiana Penn. He was the eldest of three children (two younger sisters, Virginia and Mary) and father a prosperous hardware store owner. Also military career in USAF rose to rank of Brigadier General

jimmy stewart
Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart was named by the AFI the third greatest male star of all time . He is one of the most represented stars with five films on the list of the top 100 films and is one of the most represented stars with ten films on the list of 400 nominees. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo # 9 ; Frank Capra's It’s a Wonderful life #20; Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington #26 George Cukor The Philadelphia Story #44 and Hitchcock’s Rear Window # 48

afi top ten actors
AFI Top ten Actors
  • Humphrey Bogart Katharine Hepburn
  • Cary Grant Bette Davis
  • James Stewart Audrey Hepburn
  • Marlon Brando Ingrid Bergman
  • Fred Astaire Greta Garbo
  • Henry Fonda Marilyn Monroe
  • Clark Gable Elizabeth Taylor
  • James Cagney Judy Garland
  • Spencer Tracy Marlene Dietrich
  • Charles Chaplin Joan Crawford
kim novak 1933
Kim Novak (1933-

Kim Novak (Feb 13 1933) was born Marilyn Pauline Novak in Chicago Illinois; a Roman Catholic of Czech extraction (cw. Annie Ondra in H’s Blackmail). Her father was a railroad clerk and former teacher; her mother also was a former teacher, and Novak has a sister.

some locations
Some Locations

Madeleine jumps into the sea at Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

Coit Tower appears in many background shots; Hitchcock once said that he included it as a phallic symbol


The Mission San Juan Bautista where Madeleine falls from the tower, is a real place, but the tower had to be matted in with a painting using studio effects.

The gallery where Carlotta's painting appears is the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The Carlotta Valdes portrait was lost after being removed from the gallery, but many of the other paintings in the background of the portrait scenes are still on view

showing its age is a replica of one that can still be found at Muir Woods.

Muir Woods National Monument is in fact represented by Big Basin Redwoods State Park however, the cutaway of the redwood tree

At Mission Dolores for many years tourists could see the actual Carlotta Valdes headstone featured in the film (created by the props department). Eventually, the headstone was removed as the mission considered it disrespectful to the dead to house a tourist attraction grave for a fictional person.


The McKittrick Hotel was a privately-owned Victorian mansion from the 1880s at Gough and Eddy Streets. It was torn down in 1959 and is now an athletic practice field for Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School.

  • The sanatorium is 351 Buena Vista East, formerly St. Joseph's Hospital, now Park Hill condominiums. It looks much the same from the outside; the best view is from the Corona Heights neighborhood park.
  • The Empire Hotel is a real place but is now called the York Hotel at 940 Sutter Street. Judy's room was created but the flashing green neon of the "Hotel Empire" sign outside is based on the actual hotel's sign (it was replaced when the Hotel was re-named).
  • Ernie's Restaurant (847 Montgomery St.) was a real place in Chinatown, not far from Scottie's apartment. It is no longer operating.

Robin Wood’s Hitchcock's Films (1968), which calls the film “Hitchcock's masterpiece to date and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us.”

Release in 1996 of a restored print to great acclaim

vertigo rankings
Vertigo Rankings

2005, Vertigo came in second (to Goodfellas) in British magazine Total Films book of the top 100 films of all time and 2nd in Sight and Sound list.Vertigo is #9 on the AFI list. The film has been deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry

Vertigo has been described as “an intense psychological study of a desperate, insecure man's twisted psyche (necrophilia) and loss of equilibrium. It follows the troubled man's obsessive search to end his vertigo (and deaths that result from his 'falling in love' affliction) and becomes a masterful study of romantic longing, identity, voyeurism, treachery and death, female victimization and degrading manipulation, the feminine ‘ideal,’ and fatal sexual obsession for a cool-blonde heroine. Hitchcock was noted for films with voyeuristic themes, and this one could be construed as part of a trilogy’ of films with that preoccupation:Rear Window (1954)Vertigo (1958)

Psycho (1960)

cinematic techniques
Cinematic techniques

Hitchcock used two simultaneous devices to achieve the effect and create an approximation of the disoriented psychological state of the Jimmy Stewart character - the camera both tracks away from the subject while also zooming towards it. The simultaneous, opposing movements - a forward zoom and a reverse tracking shot - also represent the attraction and repulsion that the main protagonists experience in their relationships. The camera effect is used in this scene, and in the first mission stairwell sequence.

week 10
Week 10

Lecture: Surveillance through two Rear Windows

Screenings: Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock; Ross Bleckner Rear Window (clips) (1999)

Readings: Cohen Vol 2 Part IV The Black Sun 8 Prosthesis of the Visible pp169-190

recommended readings
Recommended readings

Readings: Cohen Vol 2 Part IV The Black Sun 8 Prosthesis of the Visible pp169-190

Modleski, T. "The Master's Dollhouse" Rear Window

Stam, R and Pearson, R., "Hitchcock's Rear Window: Reflexivity and the Critique of Voyeurism" (Reader)

Belton, J. The Space of Rear Window" (reader)

http www youtube com watch v zc5uhvwciyg

Rear Window Origins:

Cornell Woolrich’s short story “It Had to be Murder”John Michael Hayes (screenplay)


James Stewart...L. B. JefferiesGrace Kelly... Lisa Carol Fremont

Wendell Corey... Detective Lt. Thomas J. DoyleThelma Ritter...Stella , Insurance company nurse

Raymond Burr... Lars Thorwald

Judith Evelyn..Miss Lonelyheart

Ross Bagdasarian... Songwriter

Georgine Darcy... Miss Torso

Sara Berner... Wife living above Thorwald

cast continued
Cast continued

Frank Cady... Husband living above Thorwald

Jesslyn Fax...Sculpting neighbor with hearing aid

Rand Harper...Newlywed man

Irene Winston..Mrs. Anna Thorwald

Havis Davenport...Newlywed woman

Marla English.. Girl at songwriter's party

heat wave
Heat wave

During a heat wave, normally itinerant news photographer L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) finds himself confined by a broken leg to a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment.  Each day, and often into the night, he has little to do but gaze out his rear window at the activities of his neighbours in the surrounding apartments. 


Jeff’s main visitors are his fiancée Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), a high-fashion model and Stella (Thelma Ritter), an insurance company nurse who provides him with therapeutic massages. 

heat wave plot device
Heat Wave Plot device

More than a plot device explaining why everyone has their windows open, the heat wave intensifies a crisis for which it also serves as a metaphor for vulnerability.

windows open, the heat intensifies a crisis for which it also serves as a metaphor


Jeff: I wonder if it's ethical to watch a man with binoculars and a long focus lens. Do you, do you suppose it's ethical even if you prove that he didn't commit a crime?Lisa: I'm not much on rear window ethics.Jeff: Of course, they can do the same thing to me, watch me like a bug under a glass if they want to.


Lisa: Jeff, you know, if someone came in here, they wouldn't believe what they'd see.Jeff: What?Lisa: You and me with long faces, plunged into despair because we find out a man didn't kill his wife. We're two of the most frightening ghouls I've ever known. You'd think we could be a little bit happy that the poor woman is alive and well.

character parallelism
Character Parallelism

Hitchcock scholars (Mulvey, Modleski, Woods et. al.), have discussed the way the relationship between Jeff and Lisa parallels the lives of the neighbours they are spying upon. Many of these points are considered in Tania Modleski’sThe Women Who Knew Too Much.


Almost the entire film is shot from inside Jeff's bedroom, and most of the point of view (POV) shots are his. However, at key points in the movie this rule is broken; usually as a dual or triple POV shot, but also with single POV shots of detective Doyle, Stella, and Lisa.

h s cameo
H’s Cameo

Alfred Hitchcock appears in one of his most inventive cameo appearances as the man winding the clock in the songwriter's apartment as he is playing the composition that he is working on during the course of the film.

art references
Art references

Seven + lively arts:

Painting, sculpture, dance, music, theatre, opera, literature, photography and, of course, film.

Pets: The dog who knew too much.


Surveillance, ocular ethics, doubling, uncanny.

Everyone needs to love…someone.

The fine art of murder

Symbolic relationship between spectator and screen.

The wrong man becomes the right man

Suspicion = suspense

The violability of the fourth wall

literary influences source kenn mogg
literary influences Source: Kenn Mogg,

“E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale of the uncanny ‘The Sandman’ (Hitchcock owned several editions of Hoffmann), H.G. Wells’s 1894 short story ‘Through a Window’ (Hitchcock owned a set of Wells’s complete works), and Aldous Huxley’s famous 1922 short story loosely based on the then-current Armstrong murder case, ‘The Gioconda Smile.’ 

hoffman s sandman
Hoffman’s Sandman

“The relevance of Hoffmann’s tale may be seen from even a partial synopsis.  The student Nathanael becomes fixated on a house opposite his own occupied by Professor Spallanzani and his beautiful ‘daughter’ called Olympia.  Watching the house through binoculars, the student quite loses interest in his regular girlfriend, Klara.  One day, he goes to the house and at last encounters Olympia - who turns out to be just a life-size doll.

freud s the uncanny
Freud’s “The Uncanny”

Also the basis of the ballet 'Coppélia' (1870).  The tale is also the main subject of Freud’s famous essay ‘The Uncanny’ unheimlich , in which he alludes to Spallanzani as a potentially ‘castrating’ father-figure.”


In Jeff's rear window world, each story is resolved. Miss Torso is reunited with her military boyfriend. Miss Lonelyhearts hooks up with the songwriter, whose music prevents her from committing suicide. The Thorwalds apartment is being repainted. The childless couple gets a new dog. The sculptress finishes her work, Hunger. The newly-weds are beginning to have marital strife.

Life goes on…..


Principal photography was completed by January 1954, having taken approximately eight weeks.  The overall budget scarcely exceeded $1,000,000.  Following its world premiere at New York’s Rivoli Theater on 4 August 1954, the film and its performances were hailed by critics and public alike.  'Time' thought it ‘possibly the second most entertainingpicture (after The 39 Steps) ever made by ... Hitchcock.’  By May 1956, it had grossed $10,000,000.

homage to rear window
Homage to Rear Window

In 1998, Christopher Reeve (Superman) as the paraplegic architect Jason Kemp appeared in a remake of Rear Window that retained the original title, but had the main character completely paralyzed instead of just having a recently broken leg (due to Reeve's real life condition). The Lars Thorwald character is replaced by an English sculptor thus racking up the art/murder connection.

other homages to rear window
Other homages to Rear Window

Brian De Palma paid homage to Rear Window with his movie Body Double (which also added touches of Hitchcock's Vertigo). The 2001 film Head Over Heels starring Freddie Prinze Jr., in which a young woman falls for a man she believes she saw commit a murder, closely follows the plot of Rear Window, as well as the 2007 film Disturbia - although in this film, there is no accident, and the suspect has no wife. Marcos Bernstein's The Other Side of The Street (2004 also makes a reference to Rear Window.


Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery, in which Allen and his wife suspect an elderly neighbor of murdering his wife and are forced to investigate for themselves when no one else takes their concerns seriously, could also be said to owe a debt to Rear Window.


Many animated series, including Tiny Toon Adventures, Rocket Power and The Simpsons, “Bart of Darkness" is heavily influenced by the movie, with Bart breaking his leg and coming to the belief that he witnesses Ned Flanders killing his wife.

Rocko's Modern LifeHome Movies, and The Venture Bros. Pay homage to Rear Window in different ways. Robert Zemeckis' What Lies Beneath is another film that pays tribute to this film and other Hitchcock features.