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Hitchcock was a Crank
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In the past few weeks I've seen Vertigo and North by Northwest, both of which are in the AFI's list of the 100 best American films. Vertigo is number 9!

I'll say it: these movies suck. They're slow, boring, and dumb. Ludicrously dumb.

Let's recap each (spoilers ahead):

Vertigo tells the story of a cop (Jimmy Stewart) who becomes terrified of heights after chasing a suspect across rooftops and not being able to save a cop who plunges to his death. He becomes a private investigator. One of his acquaintances hires him to follow his wife, who he says he thinks is possessed by the spirit of a dead Spanish countess (or something).

The whole thing turns out to be a frame job. The husband found some other girl who happens to look exactly like his wife and pays her to dress up like his wife and drive and walk around pretending to be possessed while Jimmy Stewart's character follows her. At one point he follows her to a bell tower. She goes up, but he can't follow, because he's got vertigo! Then he sees her plummet to her death out the window. What really happened was that the double ran up the bell tower and once inside the door, the husband was waiting with the real wife, and he the pushed her out of the bell tower. He wanted to kill his wife and make it look like a suicide, so he found an exact lookalike who would do all this, and a private detective who was terrified of heights. Sounds simple, right?

But we're not done yet. Stewart's character runs into the double (why wouldn't the husband pay for a bus ticket out of town?). Stewart's character had fallen in love with the wife, and now he's fallen in love with the double. He makes her dress up like the dead wife, and eventually takes her to the bell tower. At the end of the movie, a nun pops up out of the bell tower door, and the double plummets to her death. I laughed out loud it was so stupid. It didn't look intentional...She just got spooked by the nun and fell off the tower. That's brilliant writing! The End.

North by Northwest is about an advertising guy (Cary Grant) who gets mistaken for a non-existent spy (an identity the FBI makes up to distract the bad guys, who are apparently spies for the Russians). They try to kill him by getting him drunk and putting him in a car to drive off a cliff, but he's a good enough drunk driver to veer back onto the road and escape. The next day nobody believes him, so he investigates everything himself. At the United Nations the next day, he's talking to Lester Townsend, the man who owned the house where he had been taken. As he shows the man a picture of the man who abducted him, one of the bad guys throws a knife into Townsend's back. Yeah, in broad daylight in the middle of a crowded room. Grant's character pulls the knife from his back, and of course at that point everyone thinks he killed Townsend. Uh huh. That was believable.

So then he's on the lam, and along the way the bad guys try to kill him with a crop duster. What? He's out in the middle of nowhere, and so they come at him with a plane. Makes perfect sense. A gun or a knife would just be far too...plain and easy. Of course the plane hits a gas truck and it all explodes and Grant's character gets away. The climactic scene has him running around on the faces of Mount Rushmore, fighting the bad guys.

I mean, come on...the stories were so stupid. They don't hold up well over time. They're not suspenseful in the least. I've always heard Hitchcock was a genius, reinventing the language of film with the types of shots he used. Honestly I don't see it. Some of the shots are interesting, though most of the direction dates very poorly.

There are great movies that hold up extremely well over time (e.g. Casablanca). These movies just don't, and I don't get the universally collective praise for them either.

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