A retired police detective, turned private investigator is haunted by an enigmatic woman who he is hired to follow.
Released in 1958, Vertigo is the sixth! film directed by Alfred Hitchcock to be featured here on food & a film (first, second, third, fourth, fifth), and is widely regarded as one of his very best. While this particular Hitchcock film does not feature food as heavily as some others, it does contain quite a few drink moments, as well as has a few scenes set in a restaurant.
The film’s very first food or drink moment occurs roughly 17 minutes in during a scene set at Ernie’s, which was an actual restaurant in San Francisco at the time of filming. Scottie (James Stewart) is seated at the restaurant bar, surveilling Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) and his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), who are seated at a table in the dining room. We can see people eating and drinking at their tables throughout the room; however, there are no close up shots of any of the food or drink throughout this scene.
Vertigo‘s next food or drink moment comes when Scottie fixes himself a drink when he gets to Midge’s (Barbara Bel Geddes) apartment. Scottie asks Midge if she wants a drink and she declines. We then see him in the kitchen fixing his drink (most likely a scotch and soda), and can hear the clink of the ice cubes as they hit the highball glass. When Midge goes to bring Scottie to meet Pop Leibel at the Argosy Book Shop, Scottie chugs what he can of his freshly made drink before departing the apartment.
Following this scotch and soda moment, the next scene to feature food or drink occurs when Scottie meets with Gavin to brief him on Madeleine. The two men are seated in some sort of lounge or club room and there are a couple of drinks consisting of brown liquor and ice in highball glasses on the side table between their two chairs. The drinks go untouched through the scene; however, right before the scene ends, Scottie picks up his drink and says, “Oh, I need this.,” and takes a sip from his glass just as the shot fades to black.
After this second highball appearance, the next scene with food or drink occurs at Scottie’s apartment after he has rescued Madeleine from the San Francisco Bay. After tending to the fire, Scottie sips from a tea cup as the camera pans to the left. He is seated on the couch, and there is a coffee table in front of him that has a tray with an aluminum coffee pot on it. Then after taking a phone call, which wakes Madeleine, Scottie gets a teacup and saucer out of the kitchen cabinet, in preparation for when she comes out of the bedroom and joins him. When Madeleine joins Scottie in the living room, Scottie asks if she would like some coffee and she shakes her head “no.” However, Scottie brings the coffee pot over to Madeleine anyway and says, “Well here, you better have some. Or perhaps you’d like a drink?” After Scottie talks with Madeleine for a bit, he takes the coffee pot and pours some coffee into the teacup, telling her, “Here, you better have some coffee. I think it’s still warm.” Scottie then hands Madeline the cup and saucer, which also comes with a small silver spoon. We do not see Madeleine drink her coffee at any point in this scene, yet when Madeleine goes to pick up her coffee, Scottie reaches for her cup as says, “Here, I’ll get you some more coffee.”
Following the coffee scene at Scottie’s, the next drink moment occurs when Scottie arrives at Midge’s apartment and she tells him, “I’ll get you a drink.” We then see Midge in the kitchen where there is a bowl of oranges on the counter, and we can hear the clinking of ice cubes in an ice bucket. Midge then puts a large bottle containing a clear liquid on the counter and pours a different bottle into the highball glass before pouring the clear liquid in, creating seemingly yet another scotch and soda for Scottie, which he then drinks.
After the third scotch and soda moment in the film, the next drink moment comes when Madeleine arrives unexpectedly to Scottie’s place. Upon Madeleine’s arrival, Scottie says to her, “Here, get some brandy.,” as he goes over to his bar table and fixes her a shot of brandy, which Madeleine then proceeds to drink.
The next scene to feature food or drink, occurs back at Ernie’s where Scottie is once again seated at the bar. Like with the first scene at Ernie’s, there are no close ups of any of the food or drink being consumed at the restaurant throughout this scene. Just before the scene ends, however, Scottie turns to the bartender and places his usual order: a “scotch and soda.”
After this scene at Ernie’s, the next and final scene featuring onscreen food or drink occurs back at Ernie’s once again when Scottie takes Judy out to dinner. The two are seated at a table with entrees in front of them, as well as glasses of both wine and water. There is also a small loaf of bread on each of their bread plates, and although it is unclear what the duo are dining on, we see both parties take bites of their dishes.
Following this final scene at Ernie’s, there is a scene between Judy and Scottie where they talk of food and their favorite restaurant: Ernie’s. Judy asks Scottie, “Where shall we go for dinner?,” to which he replies, “Anywhere you like.” Judy then says, “Ernie’s,” and when Scottie responds, “You have a thing about Ernie’s don’t you?, Judy replies, “Afterall, it’s our place.” A while later Judy says, “I’m suddenly hungry. Would you rather go somewhere else?,” and when Scottie responds, “Oh no, Ernie’s is fine.,” Judy declares that she is, “gonna have one of those big beautiful steaks.” Finally, when the two are in the car driving, but clearly not on their way to Ernie’s, Scottie asks Judy, “You terribly hungry?.”
Seeing as Ernie’s Restaurant was an actual restaurant in San Francisco until it closed its doors in 1995, I ultimately decided to hunt down a menu for Ernie’s to use as inspiration for my Vertigo food pairing. For my appetizer, inspired by the Beluga caviar offering on the menu, I found a vegan caviar option created from seaweed and made blinis with caviar and crème fraîche. For my main dish, I prepared a vegan filet mignon with sides of wild rice and roasted asparagus.
For dessert, once again inspired by an actual Ernie’s menu, I opted for a miniature cheesecake with a cherry on top. And for a beverage, I had to go with Scottie’s beloved scotch and soda.
And finally for the table setting, I found a fabric inspired by Madeleine’s iconic gray skirt suit to use as a tablecloth, as well as put together a floral arrangement to match Madeleine’s custom Carlotta Valdes-inspired bouquet.
And that does it for April’s installment of food & a film! Thank you so much for tuning in, and be sure to check back next month for another new entry!