Cinema & Car: Vertigo’s Jaguar Mk VIII

vertigo jaguar mk viii automobilesdeluxe

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via

VERTIGO is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s all time greats.

Shot in 1957, released in ’58, the film is a distant, surreal look at unrequited love, betrayal, and revenge. Vertigo envelops us in a San Franciscan fog of mystery. There’s little dialogue and each scene takes on the dreamlike, melancholic din of an Edward Hopper oil-on-canvas.

It’s said that Hitchcock dedicated months to story boarding so that every cinematic moment would symbolically transmit the plot’s (and perhaps his own) naked message of lust, vulnerability, and rage.

Our darkest conditions, in otherwords.

When I first watched Vertigo ten years ago, I discovered that part of this gothic work’s appeal is in how Hitchcock artfully implements automobiles in establishing scene and, of course, to transport the story. Herein the graceful Jaguar Mk VIII played a central role.

The casting was perfect.

jaguar vertigo

Jaguar represented an exotic alternative in the American car market circa 1958. The Mark series presented the same upstanding chrome and burl inlay qualities of a Bentley but with the sporting forward lean of the Jaguar S-Type.

The big cat’s flowing fenders, shown in the above screenshot in three quarter, perfectly compliment the deportment of our mysterious, anglophilic lady (Kim Novak).

Notice how the car’s right fender is in direct line with the Golden Gate’s abutment and seems to point at the actress; framing the action that’s about to ensue. An artful confluence of automobile and cinema, no doubt.

And, ladies & gents, a stylish template for automotive product placement for years to come.

January 15, 2010

About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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Filed Under: JAGUAR


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  1. Does anyone know what happened to the white Desoto driven by James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcocks Vertigo?

  2. Does anyone know what happened to the Jaguar MK V111 that was in the film Vertigo? Is it still around somewhere?

  3. The Jaguar MkVII, VIII and IX register, it belongs to Michael Rogers, in Arroyo Grande, Ca.

  4. “Notice how the car’s right fender is in direct line with the Golden Gate’s abutment and seems to point at the actress…”

    That’s actually the edge of Fort Point at the base of the bridge, and not a part of the bridge itself. In the film Novak refers to it as “old Fort Point,” but everyone here in San Francisco just calls it Fort Point. Before 9/11 you could walk around to the back side under the bridge, but since then they’ve erected ugly cyclone fencing. The stairs coming up out of the water were never really there. That was a Hollywood set, but in all other respects it looks the same (except you can see empty posts in the film that they removed “swagged” heavy chain from to not impede the action of Novak jumping into the bay. I’m sure they were put right back up after filming, as they’ve always been there (I was born in 1961).

    See more about Fort Point here:,_San_Francisco

    Congratulations, by the way, on summing up the film. That’s very accurate. It’s got a very special mood, almost like a dream, a somewhat detached dream.

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