Hitchcock’s most famous psychological thriller is a film that took me some time to fully appreciate. Similar to North By Northwest I used to categorize this as one of his most overrated films. Over time however I’ve grown to appreciate the decisions Hitchcock made with this film in regards to its storytelling and it’s main revelation. Jimmy Stewart plays the retired detective put to work by an old friend to follow his “possessed wife” played by Kim Novak, theoretically. As it turns out Novak has been put to the task of impersonating the man’s wife, in an elaborate scheme involving the real woman being thrown off a bell tower. Of course it all makes sense because Stewart conveniently suffers from a fear of heights and won’t pursue the imposter up the spiral staircase, highlighting a rather farfetched script perhaps too incredible to believe.
And yet the film still works because of the magic of Hitchcock. It is my interpretation that Hitchcock either knew the film’s best secret was too implausible or perhaps not it’s best feature after all, and therefore revealed it to the audience sooner than later to focus on the romance and deception within their actual relationship. Moreover the process in which Stewart unravels the truth is arguably just as riveting to watch from a perspective of knowing the facts as opposed to being left in the dark, in some respects similar to a formula used in Dial M For Murder. However the performances in that film are far superior than what Stewart and Novak brought to the screen, therefore leaving this film slightly out of the Top 10. The final scene however is extremely memorable despite it being even more dubious than the very basis of the film is to begin with.