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11 Dizzying Facts About Vertigo

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Evening Standard/Getty Images

Though it was a box office dud upon its release, in the 57 years since its premiere, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo has slowly become one of the director’s most revered films. (In 2012, it even managed to snag the title of Greatest Film of All Time from Citizen Kane, which had boasted the accolade for more than 50 years.)

Starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, the thriller tells the story of an injured cop (Stewart) suffering extreme acrophobia who’s hired by an acquaintance to investigate his distant wife (Novak). What ensues is a twisted tale of death and romantic delusion that would make any on-the-fence Hitchcock fan a true believer. If that’s you, let us feed your frenzy: here are a few things you might not know about Vertigo.

1. ALFRED HITCHCOCK BLAMED JIMMY STEWART FOR VERTIGO’S FAILURE.

Marred by mixed reviews, the $2.5 million Vertigo did comparatively less than Hitchcock’s previous movies, and was widely recognized as a failure. Frustrated with its reception, Hitchcock partly blamed star Jimmy Stewart’s aging appearance. At the time of filming, Stewart—who had starred in Hitchcock’s three previous films—was 50 years old which, according to the director, was too old to convincingly play then-25-year-old Kim Novak’s love interest.

2. EDITH HEAD USED COLOR TO HIGHLIGHT THE CHARACTERS’ STATE OF MIND.

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When having costume disagreements with Kim Novak about her famous gray suit, Head “explained to her that Hitch paints a picture in his films, that color is as important to him as any artist,” the costume designer says in Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic. After a discussion with the director when Head wouldn’t relent, Novak finally understood their creative choices, telling The Telegraph, “I thought, ‘He knows my point of view, he must see a reason why that would work. He wants me to feel that discomfort as Madeleine. And, of course, she should feel that way because she’s actually Judy, playing the part of somebody, so that edge of discomfort will help me.’”

3. KIM NOVAK WAS ALREADY BEING CONSIDERED TO REPLACE VERA MILES, HITCHCOCK’S FIRST-CHOICE LEADING LADY, BEFORE MILES DROPPED OUT DUE TO A PREGNANCY.

According to Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, Hitchcock began to have doubts about Miles’s ability to be a breakout star when she showed signs of reluctance to be shaped by the director. Thus, Hitchcock sought a possible substitute. Author Dan Aulier writes, “A few weeks before Miles reported to Stage 5 at Paramount for hair, costume, and makeup tests, Hitchcock screened The Eddy Duchin Story, a biopic featuring an actress [Kim Novak] who was being molded by one of Hitchcock's crosstown rivals [Harry Cohn].”

4. HITCHCOCK EXPLORED NECROPHILIA WHILE SHOOTING THE FILM.

In a series of 1962 interviews between Hitchcock and Truffaut, restored by director Kent Jones for his 2015 documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut, Hitchcock elaborated on the most perverse scene of Vertigo: the part in which Novak’s Judy dresses up as the dead woman with whom Stewart’s Scottie is obsessed. “I indulged in a form of necrophilia,” said Hitchcock. In the scene, Scottie can’t bring himself to have sex with Judy until every detail matches his former lover, Madeleine.

5. AN UNCREDITED CAMERAMAN CAME UP WITH THE FAMOUS "VERTIGO EFFECT."

According to associate producer Herbert Coleman, it wasn’t Hitchcock who came up with the film’s famous camera technique (which essentially involves zooming forward while pulling the camera backward); rather, it was an uncredited second unit cameraman, Irwin Roberts. “He didn’t get screen credit on Vertigo because they gave the screen credit to another close friend of ours [Wallace Kelley] who did all the process work on the stage,” Coleman said.

6. THE PRODUCTION CODE ADMINISTRATION POLICED THE MORALS OF THE FILM’S CHARACTERS.

Considering this was the 1950s, any kind of sexual activity was scrutinized. According to Auiler’s book on the making of Vertigo, the Production Code Administration, under the leadership of Geoffrey Shurlock, wanted to eliminate several scenes that contained illicit sex. This included, but was not limited to, discussions between Scottie and Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) about her bra and her love life, and any underwear pictured during Madeleine’s suicide attempt.

7. THE FILM WENT THROUGH SEVERAL TITLE OPTIONS.

While the source novel’s literal translation was From Among the Dead, which is the title under which the film was cast and shot, it didn’t stick. According to Auiler, a few Paramount execs weighed in with their suggestions, which included A Matter of Fact, The Mad Carlotta, Face in the Shadow, and Possessed by a Stranger. As a title for the first draft of the script, original writer Maxwell Anderson submitted Darkling I Listen.

8. A MUSICIANS GUILD STRIKE AFFECTED THE FINAL CUT.

In 1958, the same year Vertigo was in post-production, Hollywood's musical status quo changed drastically. Studios were dissolving their in-house music departments, so the industry’s composers, orchestra members, and musicians had to start working freelance or were out of jobs. According to a 1996 interview with Hitchcock’s daughter, Patricia, the union had a lot of things working against them: a leader who didn't look out for them, Hollywood using cheaper old recordings from Europe, and a tense intra-union split amongst members.

“Bernard Herrmann didn’t conduct himself,” said Patricia. “It couldn’t be done in Hollywood, so it was taken to London with Muir Mathieson conducting, and they did about a day and a half there, then the London orchestra went out in sympathy with the Los Angeles musicians. And the entire unit had to move to Vienna.” During the film’s restoration in the 1990s, each country’s recording ultimately aged differently, leaving the folks at Universal to remaster its sound.

9. ALFRED HITCHCOCK CHANGED THE SETTING FROM PARIS TO SAN FRANCISCO.

The French source novel, D'entre les Morts, was set in Paris, but Hitchcock believed that San Francisco was more interesting. As noted by Auiler, with the city's vertiginous streets and hilly landscape, the location perfectly matched the film’s themes. In a city where there were such extreme physical highs and lows, awful for anyone with acrophobia, Scottie’s vertigo became a character in and of itself.

10. THE INFAMOUS BELL TOWER HAD TO BE RECONSTRUCTED BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL ONE WAS IN RUINS.

The iconic scene where Madeleine falls from the tower was filmed at Mission San Juan Bautista, which was a Spanish mission in California. It was associate producer Herbert Coleman’s daughter who suggested the beautiful bell tower. However, the steeple, which was added after the original construction of the mission, had burned down in a fire.

According to Auiler, Hitchcock had no choice but to add a bell tower using scale models, matte paintings, and trick photography, all within the Paramount studio lot in Los Angeles. The real tower was smaller than the film's version, and the staircase was also built inside a studio, where Hitchcock preferred to film. He shot only what was necessary on location, then recreated things in the studio so that he could totally control the environment.

11. DESPITE HITCHCOCK’S TASKMASTER REPUTATION, KIM NOVAK GOT ALONG WITH HER DIRECTOR.

Happy to be on loan from Columbia, the Harry Cohn-run studio under which Novak was contracted, Novak reveled in her experience with Hitchcock. “I didn’t find him controlling whatsoever,” she told The Telegraph. “I found him a joy.” In a 2003 interview with MacGuffin, she elaborated saying, “[Hitchcock] didn’t make me feel ‘less than.’ He never said, ‘You’re not doing it right…’  What I would do after a take is to look in Jimmy Stewart’s eyes … I used Jimmy to give me what I needed to keep going and to know that I was on the right path with it … So, Hitchcock wouldn’t say anything about my work in the movie but, on the other hand, he wouldn’t complain, either.”

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Flurry Road: 5 Tips for Safe Driving on Winter Roads
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For drivers in the Upper Midwest, traveling during the winter can range from slightly unsettling to deadly. Between 2011 and 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center, an average of 800 fatalities occurred annually as a result of weather-related accidents. Icy roads, poor visibility, and other factors can make cold-weather commuting a dicey proposition.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can increase our odds of navigating slush-filled roadways successfully. Mental Floss spoke with American Automobile Association (AAA) driving education expert William Van Tassel, Ph.D., for some key tips on how to get your winter driving in gear.

1. GATHER SUPPLIES.

Before you even start your car up for a trip through inclement weather, Van Tassel recommends you pack a worst-case scenario trunk full of supplies. “In case of emergency, you want things on board like water, a blanket, a flashlight, gloves, and kitty litter,” he says. (That last one is for traction in case you get stuck in a snowbank.) You should also have road flares, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a fully-charged cell phone to call for assistance if needed.

2. SLOW DOWN.

Posted speed limit signs assume you’re driving on clear and clean roadways. If snow or ice has accumulated, you need to adjust your speed accordingly. “In slick conditions, tires lose a lot of traction,” Van Tassel says. “You should be cutting your speed down by half or more.” Unfortunately, a lot of people learn this the hard way. “After a snowstorm, we’ll see more crashes on day one than days two or three.”

Van Tassel also cautions to avoid becoming overconfident on snow tires. While they provide better traction in bad weather, it’s not license to speed up.

3. MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM OTHER CARS.

You should be doing this regardless, but bad weather makes it even more crucial. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance from cars behind, in front, and off to the sides, as well as away from pedestrians or cyclists. If you need to brake suddenly, you need time—and space—to avoid a collision. “You really want more space in front,” Van Tassel says. Try to stay between seven and 10 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. That means seeing a landmark and then counting down until you pass the same marker. If you’re only a few seconds behind, you’re too close.

4. DON’T STEER INTO SKIDS.

“That was an old rule of thumb,” Van Tassel says. “The problem is, by the time I remember to steer into a skid, I’m already in a ditch.” If you feel your vehicle sliding, it’s better to steer in the direction you want to go. “You’ll drive where you look, so don’t look at a telephone pole.”

To help maintain control of the car, you want to focus on doing one thing at a time. “If you’re going through a turn, brake, finish braking, then turn. Don’t brake and turn at the same time.”

5. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON.

Yep, even in broad daylight. Bad weather limits visibility, and headlights allow both you and your fellow drivers to orient a vehicle. “You’re twice as visible to other drivers that way,” Van Tassel says. “When people can see you, they can avoid you.”

Van Tassel also recommends that drivers avoid relying on fancy car technology to keep them safe. While blind spot monitoring and lane changing sensors are useful, they’re not there so you can zone out. “The tech is there to back you up if you need it. Drive the car, but don’t rely on those things,” he says.

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25 Polite Compliments You Can Pay a Coworker
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January 24 is National Compliment Day, and a great way to celebrate is by making a concerted effort to praise the people you work with. Be sure to consider when an appropriate time and place for a compliment would be (for instance, shy people would rather be commended on their stellar presentation in private rather than in front of a crowd), but know that whether a coworker is a longtime friend or more of an acquaintance, lauding their work performance and letting them know you appreciate their skills could really make their day.

1. "YOU HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR."

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Every office has one person who knows how to ease tensions at work by cracking a quick joke or sharing a funny link. If this person's sense of humor makes your job a little more enjoyable, make sure to let them know.

2. "NICE JOB ON THAT PRESENTATION."

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Public speaking is intimidating, especially to someone who's new to their job and not used to giving presentations. Notice your coworker is nervous before a big meeting? Seek them out afterwards. Letting them know you enjoyed and learned from what they said will hopefully make them feel more confident next time.

3. "YOU ALWAYS KNOW WHEN TO LEND A HAND."

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You probably know someone who's always willing to help out with a project when you need it most, and odds are they rarely receive the recognition they deserve. Next time a coworker offers some relief when you're feeling overwhelmed, don't let it go unnoticed. Set aside time to tell them you see the great work they're doing and you appreciate it.

4. "YOU'RE A SAVVY PROBLEM-SOLVER."

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Being able to see problems differently is a valuable skill in the workplace. It can open up a team to new ideas and save precious time and resources. Sometimes you may be the person to spot the way out of a problem, and other times it's a coworker who points out the solution that was right in front of your face. If you're grateful for their point of view, they deserve to hear it.

5. "YOU'RE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR."

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Without communication, collaborating with the people in your workplace would be impossible. A great communicator knows how to understand other people's perspectives, explain their own, and make sure they're never keeping anyone in the dark. They're also not above receiving a compliment every now and then.

6. "I LOVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM."

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For some people, getting up and going to work each day is easy: They're personally invested in the company they work for and enjoy helping it succeed. Maybe you're not there yet, but you might see this level of passion and enthusiasm in at least one person you work with. Don't let that inspiring attitude go unrecognized.

7. "I APPRECIATE YOUR TRUST."

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Effective management is just as much about offering guidance and support as knowing when to back off. Sometimes leaving employees room to breathe is the best thing managers can do to encourage growth and creativity. It's also a thankless move that often goes unrewarded. Expressing your appreciation to your manager can make a big difference in their day.

8. "WHAT A FUN PARTY (LUNCH/HAPPY HOUR/ETC.)."

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People take certain work events for granted without stopping to consider the employees who make them possible. Birthday cakes don't magically appear and after-work happy hours don't plan themselves. Behind every fun break you get from your day-to-day duties, there's a coworker who took the initiative to make it happen, and they would like to hear that you enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

9. "YOU'VE GOT A KILLER WORK ETHIC."

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We all wish we could be the employee who blows through projects without breaking a sweat. If you're not that person, the least you can do is pay the tireless person in your workplace a compliment—especially after a big project that had them tackling most of the work.

10. "YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS INFECTIOUS."

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Just like one pessimistic employee can bring down the whole office, a positive person can have the opposite effect. It's hard to feel grumpy about starting a new week when the colleague sitting next to you does everything with a smile on their face.

11. "YOU ASK GREAT QUESTIONS."

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Asking about something you're not familiar with at work can be intimidating, whether it's about a new policy or procedure or perhaps about the ins and outs of a department you don't usually work with. But asking for help or clarification is also the only way to learn and grow. Complimenting a coworker who asks a lot of questions lets them know that not only is that OK, it's valued.

12. "I LOVE YOUR IDEAS."

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When someone introduces a great idea at work, people often respond in one of two ways: They get upset that they didn't think of it themselves, or they admire the person for their brilliance. If you want to strengthen work relationships and feel better in the long run, we suggest expressing the latter.

13. "YOU'RE GREAT AT TAKING INITIATIVE."

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Employees who take initiative help businesses run smoothly. Managers don't have to worry about babysitting them, and their coworkers never end up picking up their slack. Next time you go into work, find the person you know who always takes initiative and compliment them for their efforts.

14. "YOU'RE VERY CREATIVE."

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Even if your job isn't particularly inspiring, you may have coworkers who find everyday opportunities to be creative. Their creativity might shine through in the form of a sharply designed flyer, a well-written memo, or an innovative solution to the problem at hand. Sometimes people who don't work in a traditionally artistic field are rarely complimented for their creativity—you can change that.

15. "I APPRECIATE YOU TAKING RESPONSIBILITY."

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Do you know someone at work who's taken responsibility—whether for a botched performance, a failed pitch, or a missed deadline—even when they could have gotten away with keeping quiet? That's not easy to do. Recognize their actions, and they may be inclined to do it more often.

16. "YOU'RE SO FLEXIBLE."

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Sure, you can promise your coworker this is the absolute last time you'll ask them to push a meeting back a couple of days or move up a deadline by a week. Or, you can compliment them on being so flexible and thank them for working around the changes so efficiently.

17. "I LOVE YOUR CONFIDENCE."

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Confidence in the workplace is hard to ignore. It radiates from everything a person does, and when you're working on a project with such a person, it can make you feel more confident as well. Let this employee know that you appreciate their poise and self-assuredness.

18. "I APPRECIATE HOW TECH-SAVVY YOU ARE."

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Who do you turn to when your screen freezes, or when the long email you spent the last 15 minutes crafting suddenly disappears? Likely, instead of running to I.T. every time, you ask a nearby coworker who always seems to have the answers. Even if they don't share their know-how for the praise, they deserve a compliment and gratitude.

19. "YOU'RE A GREAT BAKER."

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People who bake for their coworkers are a special breed. By sharing what they made with the office, it means that they not only took the time to cook with you in mind, but also that they're sharing a bit of their personal likes or hobbies with you. What better time to compliment the chef than when they bring platter of fresh cookies to the morning meeting?

20. "I ADMIRE YOUR LEADERSHIP."

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A good leader is many things, including fair, compassionate, and hard-working. But whatever qualities your manager exhibits that make you appreciate working for him or her, find a chance to let them know you commend their leadership, and that you're a better employee because of it.

21. "YOU HAVE A MIND FOR DETAIL."

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Details make a big difference at work, whether you're writing a big report or a thank you email. Sometimes the details that make the biggest impact on a project are hard to notice on their own. See if you can spot the smart, subtle details the next time you're evaluating your coworker's work, and tell them if you're impressed by what you find.

22. "YOU'RE ON MY WAVELENGTH."

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It may not always top lists of most valuable skills to take into the workplace, but empathy can do wonders for office culture. When team members practice empathy and really make an effort to understand the people they work with, they make everyone's job easier. This is one skill that definitely deserves recognition.

23. "THANKS FOR BEING SO RELIABLE."

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No matter what you do for work, it's impossible to do your job entirely on your own. Reliable coworkers you can depend on for support, guidance, and inspiration are a priceless resource. If they make the effort to show up and work hard consistently, the least you can do is show them you appreciate it.

24. "YOU'RE A REAL TEAM PLAYER."

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In order to succeed as a team, your colleagues need to have the right attitude. Maybe there's one person on your team who sets a good example for the rest of you: They know exactly when to step back and listen to other people's ideas and when to come forward with their own. Sometimes being a good team player means swallowing your pride to do what's best for the group, and that's behavior worth celebrating.

25. "YOU GIVE GREAT ADVICE."

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At some point in your career, you've likely relied on a more experienced coworker for advice. Without mentors, many of the world's most successful people wouldn't be where they are today. Never be ashamed to ask for guidance, and once you receive it, make sure to show your gratitude.

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