Where is the Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane these days? Not at the number one spot on the greatest films of all time anymore! After decades of being the number one film of all time, Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane has been knocked down, thanks to the British Film Institute http://www.bfi.org.uk/. Although Citizen Kane is a great character study of a recluse millionaire, the lead character lacks all human ability to relate or love others, making this classic film noir a depressing journey into the blocked heart of a mogul. The only time he shows any affection, aside from quirky habits, during the film is at its end when he whispers the infamous line "rose bud". Viewers are hopeful that a lost love is about to be revealed during the protagonists' last moments of life but are let down when they find that rose bud is the name of his childhood sled. This dark film narrowly missed the Top Ten Most Depressing Films of All Time by a hair http://www.examiner.com/article/film...ms-of-all-time but because it didn't quite have the senseless pain level of the other contenders, it missed the films to slit your wrists by. http://www.examiner.com/article/film...ms-of-all-time
The victor over Welles' greatest celluloid creation? None other the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. 1958 thriller starred James "Jimmy" Stewart and Kim Novak. Internet Movie Database (IMDB) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052357/describes the plot as "A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. " Sounds like a simple plot but the complexity of the characters and the phobia of the lead crawls its way into the viewer's skin making it a pleasantly uncomfortable ride. Hitchcock was a master at exposing the dark caverns of the human psyche and he doesn't disappoint in this classic.
View slideshow: Contenders for Best Film of All Time
Please watch the 1958 original trailer for Vertigo to the left and see the film in its entirety. Its worth your time.
For more film and celebrity related articles, see: http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-norfolk/renee-roland
While I like Citizen Kane, and I am able to appreciate why it's constantly topping lists, it's never been my number one. Or even in my top five. So I'm happy BFI has mixed things up a little bit... but Vertigo? I'll out myself and admit I never cared much for Vertigo on it's own or compared to others in Hitchcock's body of work.
Am I alone in this? (Probably.)
I always liked Citizen Kane, but then I watched it with the Roger Ebert commentary that's included on the DVD and the Blu-ray. After that, I became convinced that it's the greatest film ever made. Ebert does a great job of explaining so many different facets of the film that were truly groundbreaking for their time and how every filmmaker since has been impacted by what Welles accomplished in Kane. If you haven't listened to Ebert's commentary, I highly recommend it -- it will change the way you view the film.
Vertigo BFI's top film, according to a BFI survey?
Leads one to wonder if the survey respondents had a case of acute vertigo while taking the survey.
I always liked North by Northwest and even Strangers on a Train better than Vertigo.
I wouldn't vote for Vertigo as the greatest film of all time, however I think it's Hitch's masterpiece!
As Hitchcock films go, Rear Window should replace Vertigo.
I saw this reported on tv as the "best film" , Vertigo i have owned for a while , it's in my "pile to watch" .... guess i better get on that Pronto !
Just have to chime in here. All of these Hitch films don't hold a candle to VERTIGO. To say that Jamaica Inn is better is just perverse. It seems that some people have never been taken over by romantic obsession. Quite sad. I have great admiration for KANE, but it's cold at the heart, whereas VERTIGO has a personal resonance that shows us that Hitch had some burning embers that were well hidden. I just finished Simon Callow's first volume of Welles's biography, where he spends a good deal of time talking bout KANE. Welles was never anything but one of those extremely rare people we call "genius." Mozart, Bach, Einstein, Welles - there aren't that many of them. However, throughout the making of KANE Welles had stellar support from Gregg Toland and the optical printing master technicians at RKO that gave the film its special look. Ultimately the decisions on sound, photography, etc ., were Orson's , but as a first time director he had a lot of people holding his hand. I have seen VERTIGO dozens of times, and the scene in the hotel room with Madeleine bathed in the green light never fails to give me goose bumps. Hitch knew how to hit a nerve. Anyone who has never been this deeply involved romantically, well, you have my sympathies.KANE astonishes the brain, but VERTIGO is an arrow to the heart.
I'm in agreement with Bob. As usual, he expressed it better than I could!
Does it make sense to put B&W films in the running against color films? They just seem like two different art forms to me, in the same way that silent films are different from sound films. Not better, not worse, just different.
Anyway, I really need to rewatch Vertigo. I'm pretty sure I've only seen it once (twice at the most) and that was a long time ago. It didn't have the same impact on me as some other Hitchcock films, but I feel as if it's a film that would be more meaningful to me now. About five years ago I lost someone who had been very close to me, and I started seeing her everywhere, just like James Stewart starts seeing Kim Novak everywhere, and Vertigo has been in my mind ever since as a film I desperately need to watch again.
Sir Alfred’s obsession with blonds is well articulated in his masterpiece Vertigo. It is reassuring to know that a deep examination of romantic obsession is the objective standard by which to measure and judge films. It is also reassuring to know that art is objective and the perception of art is measurably objective as well. Art is objective truth.
Indeed, comparing Jamaica Inn to Vertigo is perverse. To like and be obsessed with Charles Laughton is in fact extremely perverse, especially given the general consensus about Mr. Laughton’s limited acting range despite his handsome features and Charles Atlas physique. “Vanities of vanities; all is vanity.” How very sad it is.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hitchcock’s personal favorite film, Shadow of a Doubt, which portrays a sociopath amongst family innocents, is perverse as well because the film does little in the way of exploring romantic obsession. Sir Alfred’s failure to understand the objective standard of romantic obsession in film is probably how he arrived at the false conclusion that Shadow of a Doubt was his personal favorite. What was he thinking?
As for Kane, his grandiose cold-heartedness does not reflect the modern, caring moguls of Wall Street and the corporate humanitarians who export jobs to the needy. Kane is an old-fashioned corporate titan…a greedy economic sociopath of a bygone robber baron era. Citizen Kane is out of touch with modern society. You cannot drink a wine before its time, a portly gentleman once proclaimed. And you certainly cannot drink a wine that has turned to vinegar. Kane is an anachronism.
Last edited by Hard-Boiled-Rick; 08-09-2012 at 10:54 PM.
Interestingly, the Scottie/Madeleine dynamic is not unlike the Kane/Susan Alexander relationship in which Kane attempts to remake her into his own vision of what he wants her to be (less sexually obsessive, perhaps, but no less controlling). Kane is no more monstrous than Scottie; his great wealth only allows him to exercise greater and wider control. But why CK is supposedly cold when VERTIGO has heart leaves me scratching my head. At least we have enough background on Kane the character to suspect why he is the way he is. Maybe it's because Kane's monstrousness is front and center in CK while Scottie's in VERTIGO requires more effort to recognize. After all, VERTIGO is told almost completely from Scottie's p.o.v. (only once, briefly, do we get scene not involving Scottie - when Judy writes the letter and then tears it up) and Scottie is cast as a victim for a large part of the film, all of which makes it easy for the viewer to let him off the hook for his awful, destructive behavior.
And I don't understand why it's necessary to point out Welles' collaborators on CK, as if Hitchcock made his film all by himself!
Last edited by Arthur Bannister; 08-10-2012 at 10:40 PM.
The more that I've been following this thread, the more I realized that I needed to see this film again. Like Adam, I had only see this probably twice-the last time probably at least 5 years ago. My memories were foggy. The main thing that I remembered is that it didn't make as strong an impression on me as North and Strangers.
So, I watched it tonight. My recollections were poor and I remembered nothing from the second half of the film-after the first scene on the church bell tower. It's certainly better than I remember. I have no problem with it being considered a great film. But after seeing the romantic obsession for myself, I must say that it really creeped me out. Now, movies that make you uncomfortable can still be really great movies, but it may be harder for me to have affection for them. It's not an iron-clad rule with me, but having affection for some of the characters and caring about their fate usually moves a film up my list. It's probably why Casablanca is my all-time favorite film. It's also probably why likable John Cusack's obsession in "Say Anything" doesn't seem as bad as it really was.
I had a hard time relating to Jimmy Stewart's character. I couldn't understand why he didn't realize how awesome Barbara Bel Geddes was (even if Novak was younger and more beautiful). Maybe I'm getting older, but I love a lady with a personality. I also didn't identify well with the obsession. I have been romantically obsessed in my life (albeit not with a lady that I thought was dead). My obsession was probably fairly unhealthy, but after watching this, it seems almost cute and quaint compared to Stewart's obsession. I suppose I shouldn't hold it against Stewart's character because he was obviously still mentally ill from the loss of his love. Still, to be so in love with a ghost to treat a person like a piece of modeling clay just doesn't sit well with me. I wanted to understand, but I just couldn't. It seemed to prevent me from enjoying this film more. It is still a great suspense film.
I don't know if I would call this a cold film, but I wouldn't call it a warm film either. I don't think that there is a right or wrong way to feel about this film. Reaction to film is intensely personal-you can love/hate, identify/not identify/think it's good/think it's the best or any combination. There's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't make any one person's opinion better or worse just because others agree with you or not. There was a thread awhile back about overrated noirs and it seemed almost everything thought at least one classic noir was overrated. That's natural. I don't recall anyone calling anyone else's opinion "perverted" in that thread. It's good that we don't all think alike-it allows us to be exposed to more films. I'm glad I got to see this film again. Kim Novak was a pleasure-and I do love the neon green light.
Now, I'm not saying most folks can relate to Stewart in Vertigo. Of course no one should do what he does. But he's the every man dealing with something even he can't control (a former upstanding, logical cop).
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