When mining the Hitchcock greatest hits canon, I prefer Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, and The Birds, but Vertigo contains a blatant perversity and experimental subversion those films lack. These traits might explain the universal critical love bestowed on this shifting nightmare of calculating deception and jaded comeuppance, because the film creates a consistent mood out of such uneasy tonal shifts. The fact remains Vertigo is an oddity of massive proportions, unsettling, demented, layered, and brutal. This time around, the issue of fate vs. personal trauma burst from the seems, mainly because Hitchcock constructs the San Francisco locale as an elaborate minefield of historical manipulation, cramped space, and fractured identity. The ending still seems a bit tacked on to me, but Jimmy Stewart’s mental deformation in the last act stands tall as a truly disturbing metamorphosis, one of the most jolting in film history.