To enjoy a quality cinema session, Alfred Hitchcock never fails us. Especially if you opt for this masterpiece…
Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography is undoubtedly full of masterpieces. Psychose, The Birds, Window on the courtyard… Great titles in the history of cinema have been signed by the legendary filmmaker. However, there is none with the almost mystical sublimity that characterizes Cold Sweats.
No one doubts that this film stands out for its cinematic value. If you ask the critics, they’ll agree that it’s one of the best ever made. Since 1995, Cold Sweats has been considered by the United States Library of Congress as “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”, in addition to appearing in dozens of classifications. It’s one of the best works of the 7th art, but it’s not the first title that comes to mind when talking about the best films in history.
The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola is the one that usually tops the list, followed by Stanley Kubrick’s legendary film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or even Citizen Kane by Orson Welles. All of them are more popular than Hitchcock’s creations, but here could begin a heated debate about the best movie ever made, which, most likely, would never end. And the truth is that the outcome doesn’t matter either. In case you haven’t seen it yet, we strongly recommend that you spend a few hours of your life discovering Cold Sweats: you shouldn’t regret it…
A SLOW COOKED SCARY ROMANCE
“There is a certain slowness in Cold Sweats, a contemplative rhythm that is not found in his other films, often built on speed”, said François Truffaut about the film in the book Cinema according to Hitchcock. This is one of the points that distinguishes it from other titles by the filmmaker, who here allows himself the luxury of giving time to the gazes between the protagonists, showing the space and letting the characters evolve in front of the viewer.
The Master of Suspense continues as usual, but in this film he shifts the tension to other levels. It is no longer something that comes from outside but exists inside, in fear of death and indestructible lust. One of the many ways to describe Cold Sweat is as a tragic love story locked in obsessions, and a lot of its fascination stems from that. The director tells a depressing and, in a way, terrifying romance. The protagonist’s unattainable pursuit to get the woman he thinks he loves offers multiple reads and today we could surely find even more to say about it than when it was released.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMES STEWART BECOME SCOTTIE
Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t the most outgoing person on set, but he knew very well how to work with his actors to get what he wanted. He thus asked James Stewart, one of the greatest American actors of all time, to completely disappear behind his character until the personality of the star had completely evaporated. The result is impressive.
Stewart perfectly portrayed Scottie, a doomed man – traumatized, unable to pursue his career as a police officer and have a relationship – who gets carried away by his memories until he completely disappears into the body of the person he was.
“VERTIGO”, THE FEAR OF FALLING
But what is Cold Sweats (or “Vertigo” in its original version) about? The epicenter of the story is policeman John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (James Stewart) himself, who suffers from acrophobia, the fear of heights. After a chase on the rooftops of San Francisco that ends in the death of a partner, it is a traumatized and guilt-ridden Scottie who decides to resign from the police force. When a former classmate (Tom Helmore) asks him to follow his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), however, he reluctantly accepts the job. He has no idea what hair-raising depths this will lead him to.
Cold Sweats received fairly subdued reactions from audiences and critics when it hit theaters in 1958. Today, that has changed a lot. There is perhaps no other Alfred Hitchcock film that has been the subject of so much academic debate or has been so often praised as this must-see masterpiece.