A friend’s wife, played by Kim Novak, is suffering from a form of dissociative fugue (sudden personality changes combined with travel to non-customary places and the inability to recall what happened). As she wanders off, she behaves as though she’s embodied an ancestor that committed suicide a century earlier. The husband hires Stewart to follow her around to both protect her and to be sure of her illness before committing her to a sanatorium.
As Stewart becomes increasingly infatuated with Novak, a love triangle forms. His not-so-secretly-in-love-with-him buddy, played by Barbara Bel Geddes, becomes increasingly concerned over Stewart’s new obsession.
Stewart was 50 when this movie was made. Novak and Geddes were 25 and 36 respectively. As a 43 year old male, I like to fantasize that women in their mid-twenties to mid 30’s will be attracted to me when I’m 50. But, alas, this only happens in the movies. 🙂
Vertigo is shot in and around 1958 San Francisco. The city and surrounding countryside play integral roles in the plot. A first kiss at Cypress Point is punctuated with a wave crashing to the shore. A flock of birds takes off from the lagoon as the characters stroll past the Palace of Fine Arts. Coit Tower stands prominently outside the windows of both Stewart’s and Geddes’ apartments. The streets of San Francisco are constantly highlighted as Stewart follows Novak around.