One of Hitchcock's most discussed films. Retired police detective
Stewart, who has a fear of heights, is hired by old school chum
in San Francisco to keep an eye on his wife (Novak), eventually
falls in love with his quarry and that's just the beginning;
to reveal more would be unthinkable. Alec Coppel and Samuel
Taylor scripted, from the novel D'entre les Morts by Pierre
Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Haunting, dream-like thriller,
with riveting Bernard Herrmann score to match; a genuinely great
motion picture that demands multiple viewings.
The film is based upon the novel "D'Entre les Morts" which
was written specifically for Hitchcock after the authors heard that
he tried to buy the rights to their previous novel "Diabolique".
San Juan Batista, the Spanish mission which features
in key scenes in the movie doesn't actually have a bell tower - it was
added with trick photography. The mission originally had a steeple but
it was demolished following a fire.
The screenplay is credited to Alec Coppel and Samuel
Taylor, but Coppel didn't write a word of the final draft. He is credited
for contractual reasons only. Taylor read neither Coppel's script nor
the original novel, he worked solely from Hitchcock's outline of the
Hitchcock reportedly spent a week filming a brief scene
where Kim Novak stares at a portrait in the Palace of the Legion of
Honor just to get the lighting right.
Hitchcock invented the famous combination of forward
zoom and reverse tracking shot to convey the sense of vertigo to the
audience. The view down the mission stair well cost $19,000 for just
a couple of seconds of screen time.
Hitchcock originally wanted Vera Miles to play Madeleine,
but she got pregnant and was therefore unavailable.
Hitchcock makes his cameo appearance about 11 minutes in wearing a gray
suit walking past Gavin Elster's shipyard.