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Vertigo 60: Margaret Wood’s Voracious Love

By: Alonso Díaz de la Vega @diazdelavega1
This text belongs to the fanzine Vertigo 60, coordinated by Carlos Rodríguez, and presented on June 16 at Casa Tomada, on the occasion of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s emblematic film.

 

Her profile does not gleam on a red background. Margaret Wood, Midge, does not come back from the dead or return with them. She is not a classic figure like Madeleine. However, Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock), and in particular its protagonist, Scottie, would be different without her. The obsessed and tragic lover would be just an unlucky romantic. His unstoppable desire for a woman more invented than discovered would only be the love of a deluded person. But Scottie is perverse.

In the second scene of Vertigo, Scottie is in the apartment of Midge. She designs women’s underwear and is the only person in the movie who calls Scottie by his real name: John. She calls him Johnny affectionately. Or Johnny’o. While they talk about Scottie’s upcoming retirement and the annoyance of walking with a cane, a turn in the conversation reveals the origin of their friendship. Scottie asks about Midge’s love life and she replies that there is only one man in her heart. “Me,” says Scottie. They were engaged three weeks during college and Midge remains obsessed with what could be, even though she broke the engagement.

midge wood vertigo hitchcock

Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Often Midge acts maternally. She takes care of Scottie, tolerates him and even watches over him. Hitchcock films it several times in a close-up to show the self-deceit and immediate disappointment. When Scottie rescues Madeleine and takes her to her apartment, Midge arrives just as the girl walks out. She wonders if she’s a ghost to herself.  Midge smiles when she asks Johnny if it was fun, pretending that she is glad that the love of her life has a girlfriend, but soon her mouth breaks the curve and aligns in misery. She goes after Scottie and Madeleine and shows us that her love, though not necessarily healthy, is more genuine than that of the woman who sets a trap. Scottie chooses the tragedy.

In her most desperate attempt to recover Scottie, Midge paints the portrait of a ghost that Madeleine sits and observes for hours and who seems to possess her. But in the face of Carlota Valdés, Midge puts his. When Scottie sees it, his reaction is devastating: he feels offended.

We will never know exactly what goes on between them, but they clearly feel safe. Midge directs Scottie to tragedy with his motherly mimes and he gives her the company that she may have lost completely by refusing marriage. It is a perpetual punishment that culminates with a long image of her moving away from the room where the man she loved until she broke lies motionless.