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9.4 4 10
FanFix August 02, 2022 1375
(Updated: August 29, 2022)
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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.

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