1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)
The Characters, their relationship to each other, either implied or stated in dialogue is what's given the most attention so it's going to be most important to the coming plot.
2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film?
He's an outsider who's second-language is English, but seems to have a previous, seemingly not completely pleasant, relationship with the skier. I'm assuming that the nice demeanor will be merely a facade for a more dubious character.
3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.
All three films set off with a bang, and then cool into Character introductions, but this particular opening seems less intent on meandering with characters than setting up the upcoming plot rather quickly. Unlike the opening to the others, the ski race doesn't seem to have any tie to the main plot,but as I've not seen the complete film I might be wrong on this account.