Vertigo (1958) **

Strangely underrated on its release, and hysterically overrated thereafter, this oddball melodrama is usually now cited as the greatest of all Hitchcock movies.

I'd choose something slightly more typical myself: this one (though often hailed as quintessential and boasting obvious - if superficially developed - thematic appeal to those whose love of Hitchcock is dependent upon his being acclaimed as an intellectual screen artist) has a strange and intense atmosphere that makes it seem in many ways quite untypical (as does its reliance on plot mechanics for its cinematic effect).
Too long in all, clunkily structured and with a plot that makes no sense, it is nonetheless very impressive and frequently engrossing scene by scene, with uninhibited leads and several bravura sequences and visual touches.

It should be noted, however, that its chief claim to academic veneration - the seemingly necro-erotic sequences in which an increasingly obsessed Stewart attempts to mold Novak into the image of her supposedly dead alter ego - are broadly and hurriedly developed, after more than an hour of the cornball mystery plotting to which they then almost immediately give way again, as the film rushes to its hurried if undeniably effective finale.