• Robert Downey Jr. plans to remake Hitchcock's Vertigo because he believes he can do it better, citing his own experiences with fear and rock climbing as inspiration.
  • Many of Hitchcock's works have been remade or inspired new genre efforts, but few have achieved the same level of critical success as the originals.
  • It remains to be seen if Downey Jr.'s Vertigo remake can overcome the curse that has plagued other Hitchcock-inspired films, especially as his track record with remakes has been mixed.

Though considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time, Robert Downey Jr. is chalking his decision to remake the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo as feeling he can do it better. Based on the French novel D'entre les morts, the 1958 psychological thriller centered on a former police detective who becomes a private investigator after developing an extreme fear of heights and is hired by an acquaintance to learn the truth behind his wife's bizarre behaviors. Led by James Stewart and Kim Novak, Vertigo is largely seen as one of Hitchcock's best in spite of its early mixed reviews.

While speaking with the New York Times for a career-spanning feature, prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, in honor of Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr. was asked about his reported plans to remake Hitchcock's Vertigo. In addition to confirming he and his team are "looking into" a new take on the classic, the actor/producer felt "we can do it better", though indicates it's still in the early stages of development. See what Downey Jr. shared below:

We are certainly looking into it. You know why? Exactly! Not even risky. Advisably ridiculous to even consider. Great, let’s look into it! First of all, who would our partners be in it? Love them, respect them. Second of all, let me reread the original synopsis. I think we can do better. [Laughs.] I’ll tell you why. I have been rock climbing before and gotten stuck in that panic freeze, and if not for the sheer embarrassment, I would have asked to have been hoisted off that rock. I lost my confidence in my positioning, the drop was too far, my body reacted. It wasn’t fight-or-flight; it was freeze-and-about-to-faint. I’ll never forget it, and it made me think there are cinematic devices that have yet to be fully utilized that I think would provide an experience in trying to say, “What does it feel like to be psychologically silly with fear over something that should be manageable?” That might be entertaining.

Can Downey Jr.'s Vertigo Overcome The Hitchcock Remake Curse?

Scottie dangling from a building in Vertigo

Having brought his vision to a variety of projects in his time, many of which were adaptations of novels, Hitchcock's works have found themselves remade or inspiring new genre efforts in the decades since his original movies were released. Some of the most notable include his own remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, as well as that of Gus Van Sant's Psycho with Vince Vaughn as iconic serial killer Norman Bates and was largely a shot-for-shot remake, and the Michael Douglas-led A Perfect Murder, another attempt at Dial M for Murder.

Amid the various direct remakes and loose inspirations, very few have enjoyed the same level of critical success as Hitchcock's original movies, with Psycho winning two Razzies and bombing at the box office, while A Perfect Murder saw a more mixed response, netting a 57 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the Shia LaBeouf-led Disturbia, which was a modest critical and commercial success, couldn't escape its Hitchcock-inspired roots as a lawsuit was brought against the movie for its seeming adaptation of the short story that was the basis for Rear Window, though was ultimately dismissed.

While it's unclear the approach Downey Jr. intends to take with his Vertigo remake, it will be interesting to see if it can overcome the Hitchcock curse hovering over the majority of other titles. The former Iron Man actor has himself seen a range of responses to remakes he's been a part of developing, with Dolittle proving a historic bomb on its 2020 release, while the Perry Mason reboot garnered largely favorable reviews across its two seasons before being cancelled by HBO. One can hope he looks to the noir-driven roots of the latter to find the right team to introduce Hitchcock's Vertigo to a new generation of viewers.

Source: NY Times