Vertigo (1958) – Esoteric Analysis

Film Poster. Note the spiraled vesica piscis atop the pillar.

Film Poster. Note the spiraled vesica piscis atop the pillar.

By: Jay Vertigo is the best place to start a Hitchcock analysis.  While many themes repeat in his films, Vertigo is most memorable for its psychological depth and mystique.  Containing some of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema, Vertigo is also the "master of suspense's" deeper message about the psychological manipulation that can occur in our own lives, in society, and amongst the elite.  My thesis is that Vertigo is not just a film about an average guy that is caught up in a spiral of madness (a common theme in Hitchcock), but also an insight into the control and manipulation we see from those who are our masters.  Not only does Vertigo present an elite shipping magnate that manipulates Scottie (Jimmy Stewart, protagonist), it demonstrates the lengths to which these powers are interested in, to use the words of the Collins brothers, "managing the beyond."  Vertigo is therefore a film about the manipulation of beliefs. Initially the audience is shown a series of eyes, probably of Kim Novak, with spirals emerging.  The spiral has the significance here of alerting the viewer that we are trapped.  The swirling spiral of madness will grip us, causing us to dissociate, losing our sense of self and identity.  Losing one's balance, or falling, is thus a metaphor for the loss of place and identity: this will be the crucial point in Vertigo.  How far can the manipulation of the psyche go to create and induce the loss of identity?  In  the opening scene we see a flashback to Scottie, a traumatized former police detective who was involved in the death of a fellow officer.  While not intentional, Scottie was stuck on a ledge following a chase, which resulted in another officer falling to his death.  Scottie emerged from the scene with vertigo, and only after a few years has he begun to make progress toward recovery.  It is worth noting that for Scottie, the causes of his further descent into his downward spiral of obsession, mania and dissociation revolve around trauma. Scottie spends his days with the homely "Midge," waiting for something interesting to happen in his life, eschewing marriage.  Midge is sexually frustrated, annoyed that Scottie has no sexual interest in her (or in anyone apparently).  Upon receiving a special invitation to see his old war buddy Elster, Scottie reluctantly decides he must go, ignoring the innuendos of Midge.  Meeting at a disguised location, Elster explains that he married into great wealth, particularly a family involved in the shipping business.  Elster tells the fantastic tale that his wife Madeleine is possessed by a ghost - a dead woman named Carlotta Valdes.  Scottie is incredulous but finally caves and agrees to Elster's request that he follow Madeleine.  Elster says Madeleine dissociates and drives to the Golden Gate Bridge and stares at the "pillars - portals to the past."  This will be significant later, especially as twin pillars are constantly seen throughout the film.
The spiral associated with the eye and entering the psyche.

The spiral associated with the eye and entering the psyche.

Scottie spots Madeleine at a club called Ernie's and follows her to a florist, where Scottie begins to develop a fascination for voyeurism.  Interestingly, he spies on her in the shop through a mirror which is a classic  symbol of the psyche and its double.  Scottie begins to fall in love with Madeleine, which only sucks him deeper and deeper into the spiral of insanity that awaits.  The reference to wealthy shipping magnates and British power calls to mind the research of Fritz Springmeier, who is generally accurate in his claims.  According to Springmeier, we can assume that the mention of connections to elite merchant and sea power is not accidental.  He writes in regard to Hitchcock, the Onassis shipping magnates and Grace Kelley:
Elster, the elite British shipping magnate.

Elster, the elite British shipping magnate.

"Grace had many affairs including one with Bing Crosby.  Grace Kelly worked for MGM. Alfred Hitchcock was the one who is credited with seeing a superstar in Grace. Alfred Hitchcock came from a British generational occult family, and was a dark genius who produced many exceptional films.  Grace Kelly acted for three of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. Dial “M” for Murder was the first. Later, Hitchcock visited Grace and Prince Rainer at their Paris  home, and Grace made a rare public appearance in Apr. ’74 with Hitchcock in New York. Hitchcock’s life has been described by someone who knew him as “an enigma within an enigma.” Hitchcock was very secretive about his own life and   his parents. We do know that he was instructed by the Jesuits at St. Ignatius College which he left in 1913. He had an extreme fascination for sadomasochism, which can be seen in his movies such as Frenzy.

Use with caution. Excessive blonde hotty usage may result in mental disorders or death.

Scottie begins to transform into the voyeuristic control freak that is Elster.

Scottie begins to transform into the voyeuristic control freak that is Elster.

Hitchcock liked to read sexual murder material, Edgar Allan Poe’s material,  George Bernard Shaw’s writings, and Fabian New World Order advocate, H.G. Well’s books. He was extremely fascinated by the real life murderer John Reginald Holliday Christie who could only get a sexual erection by strangling women while having sex. Hitchcock’s own personality was unpredictable, and at times was cruel and tyrannical. He enjoyed cruel jokes on people and also enjoyed psychologically breaking down his actresses. He made several movies showing split personalities such as: Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, Psycho, and Frenzy. Hitchcock learned to create and sustain dissociation in both his murderer and the viewing audience in his films. This can be seen in his film Blackmail. The concepts of dissociation, doubles, murder as love, mirrors, sadism, and humiliating people are common items in creating monarch mind-controlled slaves: they are also common items seen in Hitchcock’s movies. I don’t know the exact connection, except to say Hitchcock was familiar with the occult world and some of their mind-control techniques. The Queen knighted Alfred Hitchcock.”

One of the many instances of twin pillars.

One of the many instances of twin pillars.

Patterns and motifs begin to emerge, particularly in regard to espionage, mind control and psychological manipulation.  I don’t think this is an accident, especially since Hitchcock was in the company of those at the top in British and international elite circles.  Only a year later, Richard Condon would release his novel The Manchurian Candidate about a brainwashed assassin, highlighting the MKULTRA program, which would become a major Hollywood production three years following.  It can therefore be reasonably assumed  Hitchcock was aware of these methods of mind control, which originated in British and US intelligence circles.  Is Vertigo an early “MKULTRA” type film?  It certainly contains the themes of mind control, manipulation, dissociation and MPD/DID, which are important elements of that specific wide-ranging project.  Consider how few among the public would have even known in 1959 of the existence of such a program, much less that it was as wide-spread as it was, with dozens of universities participating, despite it being featured in Condon’s novel.  It is also significant that Madeleine’s first staged suicide attempt occurs at the Presidio Naval Base, which is on record for later being involved in mind control testing, programming and occult ritual activity.

Back to the film:  Elster meets again with Scottie and informs him that Madeleine is possessed by a ghost that lost her daughter.  Carlotta Valdes had committed suicide, and Madeleine will eventually.  Once again, this brings to mind the various mind control programs that were pioneered by US, Nazi, British and Soviet social engineers and psychologists due to “suicide programming.”  In the history of mind control techniques, one of the early failsafes put in place to protect handlers and their respective governments was the suicide program, which made sure the subject would commit suicide to keep from revealing too much if the “alters” were unlocked.  This is explained in my article here.  I am not proposing my interpretation of Madeleine’s death at the end of the film (who is really Judy) was definitely a suicide programming, just that it is possible.  Why exactly Judy/Madeleine jumps or falls is supposed to be up for debate.

Scottie's psychedelic dream before his dissociation.

Scottie’s psychedelic dream before his dissociation.

In Vertigo, however, it’s not ultimately Madeleine that is the subject of the most rigorous mind control, but Scottie.  We learn that all the events had been arranged by Elster, yet supposedly for the purpose of getting rid of his wife.  Scottie was to be the alibi that would be fooled into seeing what he thought was Elster’s wife plunging to her death from the tower of the Catholic mission.  Yet, why would a powerful shipping magnate need all the elaborate narrative just for a murder?  Couldn’t a man powerful enough to arrange such a massively intricate manipulation and subterfuge of Scottie also simply hire a hitman?  If this were only a story about the “perfect crime,” why such a big production?  Why involve all the other people in the plot, who would also be accessories, if the desire was to only have Scottie as a witness?  It is my contention that Elster is more like Maurice Conchis in The Magus, the master elite manipulator.  Like Nicholas in The Magus, Scottie is drawn deeper and deeper into a narrative that is intended to manipulate his beliefs and desires to the point of total dissociation and splitting of his personality.  And just like Nicholas in The Magus, Scottie cannot comprehend or handle the twisting of his psyche that his elite benefactor engages in.  The average guy cannot fathom other men entirely different from he that live to play chess games with other men’s psyches.

One of the more mysterious scenes is the redwood forest, where Scottie takes Madeleine and tells her he loves her.  Madeleine appears to be “triggered” into her Carlotta alter when she sees the spirals in the cut redwood.  Here Madeleine walks between two pillars (trees) and becomes Carlotta.  While it is true that Madeleine/Judy is scamming Scottie, it would appear that she may be beginning to actually believe she is possessed by Carlotta.  If this analysis is correct, it would explain why she jumps at the end (unless she falls, but she doesn’t appear to fall).  Madeleine/Judy and Scottie were both victims of mind control.  Another piece of evidence supporting this is Madeleine’s dream she tells Scottie.  She explains that in her sleep, she walks down a hall with mirrors with fragments (her split psyche), and at the end is darkness, which is her grave.  Following this comes the first tower scene where Elster murders his wife and Scottie is again traumatized from the height.  Scottie has a trippy, cartoon-like dream (is he drugged with a hallucinogen by Elster or just going mad?) and placed in the mental hospital.  Scottie’s dream is exactly like Madeleine’s, but with him walking down the corridor to his grave.  While in the mental institute, Scottie is completely dissociated, unresponsive to Midge’s entreaties. As a side note, the redwoods of San Francisco is where the elite Bohemian Grove Club is located, and earlier in the film, “Bohemianism” was mentioned, suggesting another possible correlation.

Although we don’t know if Scottie is drugged, his vision or dream does appear to be very hallucinogenic.  Trauma-based mind control was known for employing the use of LSD and other psychedelics to cause a split in the personality.  Although Scottie does not split into alters, he does transform, becoming oddly enough more like Elster.  After he recovers from his mania in the mental institute, he becomes obsessive and controlling towards Judy (Madeleine), whom he meets a year later.  Scottie is fixated on transforming Judy into Madeleine, and becomes murderous when he realizes Judy has the same pendant Madeleine had, proving they’re the same person.  Interestingly, Judy reveals that she was a Midwest small-town girl who fled home to try her fortune in California.  Unfortunately, Judy got mixed up with Elster and was paid and brought into his nefarious designs.

To what degree Judy is merely an accomplice or a pawn in Elster’s game is up for debate, but the final scene gives the impression that she actually began to believe Elster’s narrative for her – that she was possessed by Carlotta.  When she falls or jumps, it could therefore be due to the fact that the shadow of the nun she sees represents Carlotta (she thinks), divine judgment for her deception, or possibly Satan himself.  Elster could also be a powerful member of the Bohemian Club, and the robed figure she sees could hearken back to her “cult programming,” should that be the case.  In this reading, Vertigo would be foreshadow something like Mulholland Drive from the genius David Lynch.  In that film we also see a young hopeful starlet make her way from the Midwest to California, only to be caught up in a occultic spiral that leaves her dissociated and insane – a sacrifice to a dark evil behind Hollywood.  I am admittedly speculating here, but it would definitely appear that there is an “MKULTRA” element to Vertigo, but why exactly Madeleine/Judy falls or jumps is a matter of debate.   Another option is that Scottie has transformed and become like Elster: he pushes her out of rage due to his obsession.  Is Vertigo about trauma-based mind control? Given Hitchcock’s associations and fascination with espionage, split personalities and elite machinations, it’s not a stretch.

The robed figure emerges. Does Madeleine/Judy think it's a ghost? Is she programmed to suicide herself? Is she pushed?

The robed figure emerges. Does Madeleine/Judy think it’s a ghost? Is she programmed to suicide herself? Is she pushed?

18 Comments on Vertigo (1958) – Esoteric Analysis

  1. Good article. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Have you read Michael Hoffman’s Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare?

  2. Great article.
    I’ve been a big fan of ‘Vertigo’ for years and have been pondering on it’s deeper meaning ever since I first saw it. Thanks for re-igniting my interest. I was meaning to write my own piece but you beat me to it..
    Yes – I believe you are right. ‘Vertigo’ suggests pure mind control. But it on 3 different levels.
    To begin, it’s a typical Hitchcock movie, highly visual and cinematic, using point-of-view editing to convey character and audience relations. Hitchcock would have loathed ‘Lincoln’ – ‘All talking heads and no visuals.’ he would have said in his trademark cockney accent. Hitchcock wanted his audience to be absorbed with what they saw, not what they hear. Visuals were his forte.
    One reason why watching ‘Vertigo’ is so hypnotic – hypnotic being the operative word.
    At the beginning, Hitchcock hits the audience with hypnotic imagery, putting them into a trance before the first scene.Then, he uses all his powers and waves his wand, his holy wood- Hollywood – to cast his spell. The audience is sucked in. They believe in this false reality through their senses. Hypnotized.
    The 2nd level is the story itself. It is my view that Elster is one of the most evil characters ever put on screen. He manipulates, kills and makes misery – all in the background. An evil puppet master who makes Judy betray her soul to kill his own wife. Yes- the plot is convoluted and doesn’t ring true. But if it’s a psychological operation in the field – an earlier experiment. It could be more understandable. Elster is a mind controller. At one point he even says to Scottie this hypnotic words in the screenplay : “The things that SPELL San Francisco to me are disappearing.” Pure trigger words. He is putting Scotty into a trance, making him associate with death and the past.
    The reason why Scotty is so susceptible is that he is a victim himself, a victim of his guilty conscience – for leading the policeman to his death in the first scene. He is a mark – ready for programming. He associates death with the past. The story was based on a French book called “The Living & the Dead”
    In my view, Judy is also evil – although not the degree as Elster is. She is more likely a ‘cutout’ – an undercover agent for an intelligence agency. She looks a little old to be a student and she is too good at manipulating people and deceit to be just an ordinary student.
    Her looks are based on a typical Blond bombshell archetype – a 50’s sex bomb – or an MK ULtra programmed sex slave, depending on your point of view. She is transformed, altered, re-fashioned to look like a Holywood icon – Level 1 filtering through. Her name is Madeleine – sounds a lot like Marilyn to me.
    Judy falls because she is confronted by her own guilt, like Scotty is manipulated by his- in the guise of the Nun. Judy is shocked by realising her own evil side.
    The 3rd Level of “Vertigo” I believe to be esoteric. It’s the denial of the real self and the seduction by the false self. Scotty is seduced by this false reality – as the audience is , as we all are in our normal lives. In the film, this false reality is obsession with the past, which takes undeniable possession of us all. It has no real basis in reality, as past is an illusion just as the film is and Scotty’s love for Madeleine. Hitchcock is well aware of this.
    Elster, is in the know and fully aware of his own evil being, admits his own hand in murder when he talks to Scotty. He says ,”There’s no way for them to understand (the ignorant masses) You an I know who killed Madeleine. (Elster admits here his own guilt to Scotty’s higher self).
    The film ends when Judy/Madeleine dies and Scotty snaps out of his hypnotic spell. His false guilt – Vertigo- gone and his false self also. He has regained his true self..

    • Great comments and insights. I think you’re spot on.

    • As a fan of Hitchcock and especially Vertigo, I enjoyed your analysis very much, Martin.

      May I make one suggestion regarding your comment on Madeleine’s name? “Her name is Madeleine – sounds a lot like Marilyn to me.”

      Another angle is worth consideration. As a fan of Poe, Hitchcock may well have “borrowed” the name of Roderick Usher’s twin sister, Madeline, from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Here we have the concept of the twin, the double, buried alive. Scotty, in essence, “kills” the living Judy as he gradually converts her into his image of Madeleine.

      • I think the name Madelaine is probably derived from Magdalene. As Madelaine she represents the whore and as Judy she represents the good Jew. Just a thought

      • Bert, it looks like you could be on to something. As we know, Hitchcock was a Catholic, though not always a strict or practicing one. In most Western Churches, Mary Magdalene was looked upon as an example of a “repentant sinner,” a prostitute before becoming a disciple of Jesus. The Catholic Church canonized her before the 12th Century, but the image of her as a “sinner” lingered on and was still in the public mind at the time Hitchcock shot the film, late 1950’s.

        So, this could have been what Hitchcock was using with the name “Madeleine.”

        It should be noted that this history of Mary Magdalene had been challenged over the centuries, and in 1969, scholars generally agreed that several women named “Mary”(common in Jesus’s era) has been conflated and Mary Magdalene was exonerated. She was one of Jesus’s closest, if not the closest disciple.. With the Gnostic Gospels, and the “Gospel of Mary,” her reputation has risen to one of a wise and reflective woman.

  3. Great analysis. Have you seen Marnie, with Tippie Hedren and Sean Connery. In short, it could also be viewed as tale of multi-generational mind control and trauma based techniques used on children.

  4. I think Madeline is actually a ghost, as in how we see her so casually entering the rooming house and then mysteriously disappears from its upper floors, where she was shown looking out from…

  5. Both Jay’s and Martin Neary’s posts have reignited my interest in Vertigo, one of my favorite films. Both had some cogent insights to make. I’ll add some more thoughts of my own.

    I’d like to add some things here that may contribute to this analysis. First off, it looks like Jay had some incorrect storyline points. Scotty just doesn’t spend his days hanging around Midge’s apartment all the time. He mentions in a later scene that he wanders around San Francisco, sometimes hitting the groundfloor bars in the early evenings. Scotty gets a invite to meet an old college chum, Elster, but it’s NOT at “a disguised location,” but at Elster’s luxurious office, overlooking the shipping yards he’s a magnate of. Elster does NOT tell Scotty that his wife, Madeleine, goes to the Golden Gate Bridge and stares at the “pillars-portals to the past.” He says that his wife drives to Golden Gate Park and stares at a lake for long hours.

    Elster uses mind control to get Scotty to come and just see his wife from a distance that evening at Ernie’s, a restaurant/bar, where Elster will be dining with her before the opera. Scotty spots her there and immediately is intrigued and probably infatuated with the beautiful Madeleine. Another clever mind control by Elster to have a beautiful and sexy lady to lure in Scotty even more. But, Scotty does NOT start following her from Ernie’s, but from the huge Apartment residence the next morning where Elster lives.

    There are two scenes that both Jay and Martin left out that are of some significance. The one at the McKittrick Hotel where the actress Ellen Corby is the landlady is strange. Scotty follows Madeleine there and sees her go in and then in an upstairs window. He goes in and the landlady denies anyone came in, but Scotty saw her, he insists. They go up to the room he saw Madeleine in and it’s empty. He looks down at the street and see’s her car gone. Did he imagine this? Was the Landlady in on the trickery? It’s never resolved.

    And the bookshop scene with Pop Liebel, the owner. He tells Scotty and Midge the story of the “real” Carlotta Valdes, and he repeats a phrase that Elster said to Scotty in their initial office meeting, that in old late 1800’s San Francisco, men had the power and freedom to do what they wanted with women. Was Carlotta a real historical figure? Or was Pop bought off by Elster to tell Scotty a yarn? Could be interpreted either way.

    As for plot and story holes, there are some that stand out. Jay mentions some, especially why would Elster. a man of wealth, want to go through all the mind control and back story trickery to use Scotty as an alibi to kill his real wife when he could have easily hired a pro hitman? But, assuming he felt that was too dangerous to deal with a criminal element, why would this man of wealth not pay off Judy with more than enough money to move out of town and be well situated? Here we see her working in a department store and living in a very moderate monthly hotel room. Wouldn’t she have demanded more to be put through all that training to be Madeleine and to be involved a murder, to boot?!

    A way around that, slightly at least, is to go the mind control/CIA involvement of Elster. He had her under a hypnotized spell. A person just doesn’t pick up these techniques and be able to use them effectively by reading about them. There has to be hands-on training with mentors. What did Elster do after he left college? It’s only mentioned he married into the shipping business via his wife and all her relations have died. Could he have been recruited by the CIA from College? Worked assignments for them around the world? Maybe. Also, he would have had to have help in his mind control and setting up all the backstory trickery. I’m surprised Hitchcock didn’t insert a quick scene of Elster exchanging glances with someone at the Gentlemens Club where he meets Scotty at one point.

    Another story problem is the fact that Scotty obviously has sex with Madeleine more than once. Of course, it had to be intimated at due to the film code at the time of that era, circa 1959. Then he obviously has sex with Judy, thinking she only has a facial resemblance to Madeleine. To put it delicately, wouldn’t the exact similarity of their naked bodies be a tip-off to him? Of course, it could be argued that Scotty was under a mind control spell at the time and would have overlooked all this.

    Wikipedia has mention of an “alternate ending,” but it’s actually a post script ending. It was filmed, is on the laser disc edition, and was due to the U. S. Production Code Administration of that era. In it, we see Scotty and Midge(who mysteriously disappears from the storyline after Scotty gets out of the mental hospital) sitting around at her apartment drinking cocktails and listening to a radio report of the authorities chasing down Elster in Europe. The bad guy had to be punished! Hitch managed to finally fight that off, along with demands to cut some erotic overtones(innocent by today’s standards) and the tagged on ending never made it to the screen. Thankfully.

    It wouldn’t have made legal sense, anyway. What did the authorities really have on Elster? The only real witness and “partner,” was Judy, and she was dead. Scotty’s word would have been that of a former mental patient, hardly reliable. With Elster’s wealth to get the best lawyers, even if charges were brought, he would easily have gotten off.

    The esoteric/occult analysis of Jay’s brings up some good material, as does Martin’s. I’ve read the Hitchcock bio “Darkside of Genius” and numerous articles on Hitch and don’t recall any mention of his interest in these areas. But, there are other bios out there that may dig deeper. There are esoteric symbols in his work, to be sure, and it’s more than likely that he kept that interest of his underwraps, for obvious reasons.

    I’ve got more to say, but I’ll leave it off here for now.

  6. What are your thoughts on the rooftop chase sequence at the start – the “hanging from the loose drain pipe by his fingernails” scene?

    It’s always bothered me just how Scotty got out of that predicament!

    Could Scotty have fallen to the ground and his fall been broken by the policeman’s body?

    I think the tunnel-vision, up-down camera movement matches well enough the feeling one gets when overcome with vertigo. However, the height doesn’t have to be extreme. It’s only over a certain threshold that things get shaky. For example, if one gets the “dizzies” looking down from a 3rd, 4th or 5th floor balcony the ground sways or tilts and the height appears far greater than it actually is.

    I’m suggesting the rooftop was not as high as we’re led to believe through Scotty’s warped POV. Thus, although the fall may have seriously injured the cop it may not have killed him. Since there is no way Scotty could have climbed back unto the roof and because rescue is not imminent (time is of the essence given the pipe or whatever is about to give way) he may, indeed, have lost his grip and fallen. His landing on the body effectively kills the cop (or the cop is already dead), but fortuitously breaks Scotty’s fall. He next appears complaining of the body cast and holding a cane.

    This would put a new spin on following conversations about Scotty’s “accident,” “fall,” and his ensuing mental and emotional fragility.



    • Hi, Babette.

      I have Vertigo on DVD and just re-watched that opening scene three times. The suspect, the uniform Policeman and Scotty are seen running across a rooftop with San Francisco in the background. The building appears fairly high up, as you can see the tops of other tall buildings in the background. More than five stories, I’d said. They all jump from one building to another one near by with a slanted roof. Scotty is last and slips and starts to fall, but saves himself by grabbing onto the drainpipe. The drainpipe bends, but doesn’t appear to break. There’s no closeup of the drainpipe about to give way, so Scotty could have held on for some time. The uniform Policeman reaches out to rescue Scotty, but he’s frozen by his vertigo, and the Policeman slips and falls to his death.

      We don’t see Scotty hanging from the loose drainpipe “by his fingernails,” but with both hands firmly holding on and going through his “vertigo” moment.

      In the next scene, he’s at Midge’s apartment with a cane, saying his “corset” around his lower back(not a body cast) will be taken off tomorrow. Obviously, he didn’t fall, for there are no broken legs or back, only probably a badly sprained back from handing onto the drainpiple for so long before being rescued. Personally, I’d figure his shoulders, hands and arms would be sorely strained also.

      I don’t see how what you say puts any “new spin” on his “accident” or “fall,” if you’re referring to Scotty leaping onto the slanted roof and slipping, catching himself on the drainpipe. It’s his vertigo that causes him to freeze when the uniform Policeman offers his hand to rescue him and thus causes the Policeman to fall off the building to his death. It’s this guilt that haunts Scotty and is doubled when his vertigo freezes him again and he can’t save “Madeleine” later on. (or rather, is tricked into thinking he didn’t save her at the mission)

      Perhaps I’m missing something in what you’re getting at. Maybe Jay has a different slant on this and will weigh in, also.

  7. Thanks, Michael, for your in-depth explanation.


  8. In the first mission scene Madeline’s death is faked? How? Assuming Judy and Elster were in the tower how could they possibly have escaped without being detected by the nuns or police? Is this Hitchcock’s way of playing with our sense of reality?

    • That would seem a possible plot hole, Keith, but I’ve thought it over. Obviously, the whole caper took a lot of preparation and pre-arrangements. Elster would have cased the mission alone several times, seeing what the schedule was of the nuns and whoever else helped with the caretaking of it. He would have found the best hours when there were no visitors and the nuns, etc., were away from the chapel with their daily duties. Plus, spotting all back doors available. In that era, believe it or not, churches and missions were left open and unlocked. Then, he and Judy, posing a tourists, would have done a dry run or two inside the chapel and bell tower, walking through it all. Thus, Judy would have known the best hours to entice Scotty to drive down there.

      Once Elster’s wife was throw out of the bell tower and landed, all attention of the nuns and anyone else would have been there, running towards the body, when it was spotted. Scotty, only briefly seeing a body dressed as Judy had been, falling to the ground, was already experiencing vertigo trying to get to the top of the bell tower, was thrown into further mental disarray. Elster and Judy then quietly crept down the tower once Scotty had gone down below and the two snuck out a back door to his vehicle parked close by. It would have taken some time before the police arrived, meanwhile, all attention on the dead body of Elster’s dead wife.

      It would have been nice if Hitchcock had shown a quick scene of the them escaping in the flashback episode that Judy has in the hotel room later in the film, when the twist is revealed. Maybe he filmed it and decided to leave it out in the editing process.

      Admittedly, Hitchcock leaves a lot of space here for the audience to fill in.

      • Hey, thanks for that great response, Michael. I’m buying it! I don’t mind the ambiguity as long as I know I didn’t miss a key plot point 🙂

7 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Jay’s Top Ten Conspiracy Films | Jay's Analysis
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  3. Hitchcock, Hollywood Spies & North by Northwest | Jay's Analysis
  4. Esoteric Hollywood Hr 1: Hitchcock’s Psycho Psyche & MK Ultra w/Jamie Hanshaw | Jay's Analysis
  5. Hitchcock, Hollywood Spies & North by Northwest | SecuritySlags
  6. Hollywood Spies: North by Northwest | Espionage History Archive
  7. friendly reminder for the Film Society’s screening of Vertigo this evening – cocoonministries,inc.

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