Must-see Hitchcock thriller for any classic movie bug.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: July 14, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1958
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A woman allows an obsessive admirer to make her over in the image of a lost love.


Some physical violence implied; none seen. Some tense moments.


Subtle sexual undertones haunt the movie.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie's mature subject matter isn't suitable for all teens, but it's a must-see for any classic movie bug, Hitchcock fan, or lover of complex suspense. Some mature themes parents may wish to discuss after viewing: obsession, murder, deceit.

What's the story?

VERTIGO stars James Stewart as Scottie Ferguson, a police investigator who retires when he discovers he has a debilitating fear of heights. When a friend asks Scottie to find out whether his wife is possessed, Scottie agrees and begins trailing Madeleine (Kim Novak). Scottie follows the blond beauty to various areas in and around San Francisco, and then saves her life when she throws herself into the bay. He begins to fall for her, but mystery surrounds Madeleine -- and danger, too.

Is it any good?


Poorly received during its original 1958 release, Vertigo has since been hailed as one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest achievements. It's certainly one of his most disturbing--and by his own accounts his most personal--picture, burrowing deep into what are said to have been some of the director's own darkest wormholes: obsessions with women, the desire to control them, and to mold them into a personal ideal. Such psychologically complex material is best suited for adults and mature teens, who will find more to enjoy here than a simple suspense story. This is the work of a master, whose genius shows in unconventional use of color and intricate storytelling that unwinds slowly, like the dizzying spirals of the opening credits sequence.

Stewart, is easy to sympathize with as the good-natured guy who learns too late that he's been set up. Kim Novak is also eerily convincing in a difficult role, and Barbara Bel Geddes is irresistible as Midge Wood, the woman Scottie would be in love with if he knew what was good for him. A painstaking two-year restoration project saved this movie for future generations. The colors are dazzling, and Bernard Herrmann's extraordinary score is crisp and haunting. Hitchcock would indeed be grateful.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different components that turn a suspense movie into something extraordinary.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 9, 1958
DVD release date:March 6, 2000
Cast:Barbara Bel Geddes, James Stewart, Kim Novak
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008


Vertigo was boring, confusing, and mostly dumb. The first half was okay, but the rest is pointless and wanders without a definite plot. It had little objectionable material besides being a bit disturbing or intense, but kids and many adults will fall asleep quickly. Probably Alfred Hitchcock's worst movie.
Kid, 11 years old June 12, 2009


Alfred Hitchcock is brilliant, I was totally on an edge the whole movie! You never know what will happen next. SEE IT!!
Kid, 11 years old November 26, 2009
Its one of my favorite movies,but some parts may be to violent for younger children
What other families should know
Too much violence


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