Alfred Hitchcock is known, in a sense, for being a master of subtlety. That’s what makes a good master of suspense, though, right? The ability to slyly manipulate plot and character in innocuous ways that escalate covertly until they are ready to be revealed in all their devilish detail.
But it wasn’t just in the thrills and chills departments that Hitch worked his subtle magic. Humor in his films is often delivered this way, dryly and droll (many of the director’s cameos count as examples of this), as is bawdy sexual innuendo. That’s right, Hitch was a little ribald, and as such he snuck many a double entendre, Freudian slip, and bit of blue language into his films, each with the same grace and masterful manipulation as he did facets of suspense. And lucky for us, Rob Ager from Collative Learning has collected the 12 best of these innuendos and compiled them into the following analytical video that reveals and removes the drapery over Hitch’s lewd intimations and recasts this classic flick in a most different light.
VERTIGO has always been about sex, at least tangentially, as it’s about a man’s desire to control himself by controlling the object(s) of his obsessive affection. Unlike Ingmar Bergman’s PERSONA and David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE – two of the more obvious films that take a direct influence from VERTIGO – the sexual side of this story is far more insidious, which in part is owed to the standards of the time in which it was produced, but in a larger part is owed to the intentional repression of the theme by Hitchcock, which makes a seedy sort of subject more so by burying it beneath the guise of true (crazy) love.
Perhaps the most fun part about this video and its eight-minute-plus runtime is that Ager manages to keep up a pretty convincing Hitch impression for the whole thing, even if he cracks himself up a time or two along the way. In all seriousness, though, Ager is one of the most respected and revered video essayists in the game, and it’s entertaining analyses like this that have rightfully earned him that reputation. Not exactly NSFW, but I wouldn’t go playing it too loud unless the idea of Jimmy Stewart’s “very large bulge” is the kind of thing that flies at your office.