Study Guide

Vertigo Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes)

Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes)

Good Old Midge

A late addition to the adaptation of the novel Vertigo was based on, Midge is Scottie's ex-fiancée and current pal. She's trained as a painter but now illustrates fashions for a living. She's still devoted to Scottie despite the breakup; she helps him with his acrophobia and does her best to warn him about getting caught up in the supernatural stuff she's been hearing about. She can't believe he's starting to believe the story about Carlotta Valdez:

MIDGE: And the idea is that the Beautiful Mad Carlotta has come back from the dead, to take possession of Elster's wife? Ah, Johnny! Come on!

This isn't the Scottie she knows and loves. His obsession with Madeleine upsets her not only because she thinks it's crazy, but because she still loves him.

Midge quickly wins a place in our hearts. She's independent, down-to-earth, smart (she wears glasses), and fun. She provides comic relief to counter all the melodrama. She has one serious problem, however—she's real.

Scottie and the Real Girl

Midge doesn't have a chance with Scottie, because she's up against a woman who doesn't exist. Scottie's pursuing a fantasy woman who's the complete opposite of Midge: withdrawn, mysterious, vague, and ethereally beautiful. Midge is too conventional and independent for Scottie. It's clear the type of woman he's drawn to has to be strange, helpless and wounded.

According to film analyst Danny Peary, this shows Hitchcock's belief that given a choice in women, weak men will choose the helpless over the independent, the mysterious over the honest, the sexy over the plain, the icy over the accessible, and the fantasy women over the real ones (source).

Not exactly a recipe for healthy relationships.

We root for Midge, because we think she's a better choice for Scottie. Even when he's sunk in guilt and depression over Madeleine's death, Midge is there. She tries her best to cheer him up and encourage him to pull himself out of his sorry state. No luck. All she can do is give the doctor some helpful information about Scottie's love for the dead Madeleine. The last time we see her, she's slowly walking down the corridor of the hospital.

European audiences saw Midge again, though. The film was released there with a different ending, one that implied that Gavin Elster would be brought to justice for his crime. Midge listens to a radio broadcast of the news about Elster, and Scottie comes into her apartment. She makes them both a drink, and the film ends with them staring silently out the window. Does she get another chance with Scottie? At this point, does she want one?

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...