Hitchcock and the murderous nun – Grace Holland

Okay, spoiler alert, although if you haven’t seen the film, and it’s been out since 1958, I’d argue that you’re not likely to watch it any time soon.

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for that click bait title, but I promise, there is indeed a nun, and she does cause a death, so keep reading.

Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo, while not as famous as Psycho, is a classic in its own rights, but bringing light to a film unwatched by many of our generation isn’t the point of this review, or at least, it’s not the sole intention.

Vertigo follows John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson, an ex-detective with vertigo, as he follows Madeleine, or rather the fake Madeleine. It is a two hour film, with beautiful sets, backgrounds, costuming, and not too shabby acting, and it hasn’t even aged that badly in terms of aesthetics, unlike many films of its era.


So what’s the issue? Well, how about Scottie’s friend Midge Wood, a woman who he was engaged to for three weeks in college, who after an hour of the story, we hear or see nothing more of, despite seeing her everything few scenes of the first hour. She simply disappears, not spoken of again.

Or if you’d rather not bring up the disappearing character, how about the fact that Scottie emotionally abuses not just Midge to a small extent, but emotionally and physically abuses the fake Madeleine, after the crime is committed and she has gone back to being ‘Judy Barton’ as he drags her up the stairs of the clock tower in order to get his own piece of mind; he changes her appearance by force, buying her clothes and forcing her to wear them, forcing her to dye her hair and wear it differently, all for his own bizarre lustful obsession with a women that until the last scene of the film, he believes to be dead. Scottie uses Judy to fill in the hole left when Madeleine, or who he thought was Madeleine died, and because she ‘loves’ him’, despite knowing her crime and knowing that he doesn’t love her as Judy, but only because she looks, unsurprisingly, like Madeleine.

If you don’t want to talk about this either, let’s talk about Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock, famed director of Psycho, has a certain penchant, which is a polite way of putting it, for a certain type of woman. Blonde, icy, remote, prisoner to costuming that combined fashion with fetishisation, and she usually mesmerises the man, who is usually either mentally or physically handicapped, or in Scottie’s case, both as he suffers a back injury and vertigo. The ‘Hitchcock’ woman, will also always be humiliated. For Judy, it’s that the man she loves, fell in love with her while she was playing a part, and now he is obsessed with the character, instead of her, however despite this she devotes herself to him, and in this way, they both lose.
Or, and this is why you clicked to check this out: we could talk about the nun who causes the death of the fake Madeleine, after which the film just ends. Nothing else, just the accidental death by falling off a clock tower of a woman who conspired with a man to murder his wife, caused by a nun. A nun who then just rings the clock tower bell, without saying a word. I’m not suggesting that Hitchcock didn’t make a good film, I’m just suggesting that it’s weird.

So I guess maybe I did bring light to this film, but I hope I also brought light to the issues it suffers as it’s own film, and the issues that films for that era, or by Hitchcock, suffer. I in no way mean that you shouldn’t watch and enjoy Hitchcock classics, because they are classics and as entertainment they are supposed to be enjoyed, but maybe next time you watch Psycho, or Rear Window, or Dial M for Murder, or maybe even Vertigo, despite that fact that I have perhaps ruined it entirely, you could think about Hitchcock and his truly bizarre Vertigo.

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