A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
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, and it's certainly one of his most disturbing. It's also, 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love thrills
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.