The one thing that holds Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo back from full emotional/psychological integration is a thing that Hitchcock himself lamented after the fact: James Stewart looks too old and square and plugged-up to be a tragic romantic figure. You just can’t invest in him as a man with an unruly libido. And that awful brown suit he wears in the early to middle portion of the film is like anti-matter. It’s the worst looking suit ever worn by a movie star in Hollywood history.
I understand that anyone of any age can fall ridiculously or pathetically in love, but the Stewart of Rear Window — a younger (and slightly younger looking) fellow with a less constricted vibe — should have played John Ferguson, not the Kiwanis Club Republican that Stewart seems to be in Hitchcock’s 1958 film. Stewart could have shaved five years by blonding his hair, but he went white-ish gray — mistake. He looks too tense and stodgy to fall for a woman 20 or 25 years younger. Plus he and Kim Novak are just not a good visual fit — he looks like her sleazy uncle, or some insurance salesman who’s paid for her favors behind his frumpy wife’s back.