Vertigo: The Joan Harrison Cut

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Faneditor Name:
Tagline:
Surprise, not suspense.
Original Movie Title:
Genre:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1958
Original Running Time:
128
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
124
Time Cut:
4
Subtitles Available?
Available in HD?
Brief Synopsis:
I've removed the “flashback scene” from Vertigo to align with a) the source novel “D’entre Les Morts” and b) Alfred Hitchcock’s longtime screenwriter/uncredited collaborator Joan Harrison’s insistence that the movie worked better without this scene, which gives away a major plot twist nearly half an hour before the film's climax. Prior to its theatrical release, Harrison arranged for a screening of her cut for Hitchcock and his wife Alma, James and Gloria Stewart and the film’s producer Herbert Coleman, which ended with a divided audience. Ultimately the film’s producer and distributors swayed Hitchcock to their side and the scene stayed in, with Hitchcock later stating that he preferred suspense to surprise.
Intention:
I wanted to recreate the edit seen in the private screening organized by Joan Harrison so viewers can judge for themselves which version is superior.
Special Thanks:
Thanks to DigModification, Q2 and Spicediver for extraordinary assistance.
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
Used "cut-on-sound" technique to bridge the two scenes using the sound of a door closing as Scotty leaves the apartment. The DVD commentary track featuring the film's associate producer Herbert Coleman and the restoration team of Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, as well as the interview book "Hitchcock/Truffaut" were invaluable research on the pre-release background of this edit.
Cuts and Additions:
- Deleted the scene of Judy writing her confessional letter to Scotty about her involvement in Madeleine's murder.

User reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
8.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0(3)
Visual Editing
 
8.3(3)
Audio Editing
 
10.0(3)
Narrative
 
9.7(3)
Enjoyment
 
8.0(3)
Overall rating
 
7.6
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
6.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
6.0
Ok, just a quick one: this review I may amend if an update comes around. I appreciate recordwrangler’s attempt here. It’s a simple edit, but, knowing Vertigo so well with and without the letter writing scene, everything for me hinged on the quality of the single edit that was made.

If any edit takes place for this film, to excise the letter scene, we need a quick fade-to-black, and a quick fade back in Ernie’s.

Or, another dreamy dissolve. Vertigo thrives on its dissolve shots and an occasional quick fade. There are no quick edits from one setting to the next.

This edit also makes the edit at a most awkward moment (the back of Judy’s head). No professional editor would choose to cut the film there.

I’ve long envisioned the edit to be:

Judy: uh-hun
Scottie: ok

Dissolve the shot from Scottie closing the door of the hotel room to Ernie’s. No cut back to Judy, no splice. Fade to black or dissolve. It fits with the cinematic language of what Hitch was going for.

The merits of both versions of Vertigo are so worth exploring I won’t even go there now. The source here uses the toned-down remaster, and it looks and sounds lovely. But the one edit made pulls me right out of the film.

User Review

Format Watched?
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 1 1
(Updated: August 29, 2022)
Overall rating
 
8.7
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
I love Vertigo! It's one of my top 5 favorite movies! And because I love it so much, I was curious about the Joan Harrison cut when I first heard about it. Out of my own curiosity, I wanted to see if taking out that one scene improves on perfection or not.

So I'm sure the question on your mind is "Did it improve on perfection?" It's a good question, but I think the best way to know is to see it for yourself and make your own judgment. However, since this is a review, I suppose I have to bring up my two cents. If I have to decide, I think that ol' Hitch made the right choice in keeping "the scene" in.

My reasons for this are two-fold. Reason number one is that it's the only time where we get to learn Judy's true motivation. Without it, we have no understanding for why Judy puts up with Scotty's bizarre antics, or why she goes along with turning herself into Madeleine again. While it is true that her motivation is hinted at during the end in this version, we can't rely on it by that point. For all we know, she could be lying to get out of trouble, and she's pulling a Barbara Stanwyck from Double Indemnity. By throwing in the big reveal early, and seeing Judy's "innocence," we get a better understanding of her character and where she stands.

My second reason is that the removal of the scene removes all the tension during the Scotty/Judy romance section. Part of the reason Alfred Hitchcock is called the master of suspense is because he was willing to take dangerous writing risks and somehow pull them off. The shower scene in Psycho is one notable example, and I would argue that the early reveal in Vertigo is yet another act of brilliance from the master. In any other film, this would be a mistake. But Vertigo is no ordinary film. One of the reasons the Scotty/Judy section was so interesting was because it left us wondering if Scotty was going to find out the truth or not, and what he would do to Judy if he found out. But without the early reveal, the Scotty/Judy section gets boring, and we're left to ask ourselves why we're watching this up until Scotty finds out the truth.

Still, regardless of whether this is an improvement or not, I will say that it is an interesting change, and I would still recommend it, especially if you're a die-hard fan of the film like I am. I'm interested to see what other reviewers have to say about this one, because it makes for some good coffee table conversation.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
(Updated: August 21, 2022)
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Looks and sounds excellent, the one cut made was not noticeable, though I am not sure whether it makes for a better or worse film. The stated aim was to substitute the original's suspense for surprise and one is certainly left more in the dark now than before, but I think that elements occurring after the removed reveal still give sufficient clues as to what happened, the final minutes only confirming suspicions,

Of course this would be better judged by a viewer unfamiliar with the story, thanks to recordwrangler95 such an experiment can now be carried out. I wonder if the use of a different (and perhaps more conventional) structure would have affected the films reception back in 1958.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
P
Top 100 Reviewer 45 reviews
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