I have noticed that throughout several of Hitchcock’s films there have been falls (or near falls) from height, which have even resulted in some character deaths along the way. North by Northwest, Saboteur, Secret Agent, The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief, and Rear Window all have these falls from high places, however, the most notable being from the recent film we just watched Vertigo. I was able to find five instances where characters were falling from a great height, of these instances three characters ended up plummeting to their death.
The first was in the opening scenes of the film; Scottie and a police officer are chasing a man on the roof of a building when he slips and starts sliding. Scottie manages to keep hold of the gutter, but as the officer reaches his hand out Scottie is paralyzed by his acrophobia and the officer falls off the roof to his death.
The second instance was when Judy jumped off of the ledge into the San Francisco Bay. Here she is pretending to be Madeleine overtaken by the ghost of Carlotta when she spreads her arms and falls into the bay.
The third fall comes when the real Madeleine is thrown off of the bell tower by her husband after Scottie fails to make it up the stairs to the top, paralyzed by his acrophobia once again. She falls to her death from the tower, which will evidently set the stage for the next two falls in the film.
After watching who Scottie thought was the love of his life fall to her death, it takes an emotional toll on him. The film’s elaborate dream sequence features Scottie falling from the bell tower as well as falling into Carlotta’s hollowed out grave before he wakes up in fear from what he just dreamt.
The final fall from height in the film comes when Judy falls from the same bell tower where Madeleine was thrown from. Able to conquer his acrophobia Scottie forces himself and Judy up the stairs, angry and upset after learning the truth about Madeleine’s death. While he is grabbing Judy a nun walks up the stairs obscured by the shadows and startles the both of them. It is highly debated, however, if Judy’s fall was a suicide or an accident. Regardless she falls from the tower and is killed on impact as Scottie watches from the ledge.