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Jacobean Visions
Date of Review: 
Professor Leland Poague, Iowa State University
Leland Poague, Screening The Past

"The authority Taylor cites in adducing the Jacobean features of The white devil employs “the Baroque Tradition of pictorial representation” (p. 44) to model the kind of effects Webster sought and achieved - assaulting the senses (in Taylor’s words) “through sensationalist displays of high emotion and melodramatic grandstanding” while simultaneously assaulting the intellect “through an informed and self-conscious working of resolute dramatic irony” such that “the safety of a reliable narrative frame disappears” (p. 44). That this description so readily pertains to Vertigo - with ‘Madeleine’ as the grandstander (especially in her kiss-by-the-sea scene with Scottie) and Hitchcock as the ironist, most especially when he (and Judy) reveal Elster’s plot to the viewer well in advance of its discovery by Scottie - confirms the aptness of the comparison..." "Despite its seven-word title, Taylor’s Jacobean Visions is clearly a book about Hitchcock, though it may find appreciative readers among Media Educationalists. As a book chiefly about Hitchcock, though Hitchcock as cultural force and avatar, Jacobean Visions infuses some of the enthusiasm of old-style cinephilia into the more au courant if not world-weary discourse of postmodernism. Though Taylor’s ideas, on his own account, underwent a lengthy period of consideration and development, his book seems breathlessly urgent..." Leland Poague, co-editor of A Hitchcock Reader. Iowa State University Press, 1986. A wide-ranging collection of scholarly essays on Hitchcock, updated 2009.