If you’re going to remake a movie, why not remake one of the most acclaimed movies ever made?
Paramount Pictures has preemptively acquired a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic psychological thriller “Vertigo,” as a possible starring vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. The actor is producing the project with his wife Susan Downey through their Team Downey production company, along with John Davis and John Fox via Davis Entertainment.
“Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight is set to write the script, hot on the heels of his commitment to write an untitled “Star Wars” movie for Lucasfilm, as Variety reported on Wednesday.
Downey has kept a low profile as an actor since the release of 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which is one of the highest grossing movies ever made, and 2020’s “Dolittle,” which is not. He produced and appears in the documentary “Sr.,” about his father, and he’s next set to appear this July in Christopher Nolan’s historical epic “Oppenheimer” opposite Cillian Murphy. But otherwise, Downey’s dance card has remained remarkably open.
The original “Vertigo” starred James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, a San Francisco police detective who retires due to a paralyzing fear of heights brought on by a severe case of vertigo. After he’s hired to tail an acquaintance’s wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), Scottie becomes obsessed with her, but his fears renders him powerless to save her when she climbs the tower of a Spanish Mission and plunges to her death. And then things get truly strange.
“Vertigo” was not a smash success when it was first released in theaters, and it divided critics. But by the 1980s, it started to gain recognition as a masterpiece. In 1982, in a survey of the best movies ever made by the British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound publication (conducted every 10 years), “Vertigo” cracked the top 10, and continued to climb the list, reaching the number one slot in the 2012 survey. (Variety recently ranked “Vertigo” 32nd in its list of the 100 best films ever made.)
The movie has eclipsed the French novel that inspired it, “D’entre les morts,” or “The Living and the Dead,” by Boileau-Narcejac (the pen name for writing partners Pierrer Bolieau and Pierre Ayraud). The book follows the same storyline as “Vertigo,” but is set in Paris during the height of World War II. (The ending is also much different.)
A handful of Hitchcock films have been remade over the years, most notoriously the shot-for-shot remake of 1960’s “Psycho” by Gus Van Sant in 1998. Hitchcock even remade himself, redoing his 1934 thriller “The Man Who Knew Too Much” in 1956 with Stewart and Doris Day. And filmmakers as varied as Brian De Palma (with “Obsession” and “Body Double”), David Lynch (with “Mulholland Drive”) and Mel Brooks (with “High Anxiety”) have drawn heavy inspiration from “Vertigo” in particular. But no American studio has attempted an outright remake until now.
Deadline first reported the news.