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Daily Dose #7: Mr. Memory (Opening Scene from The 39 Steps)


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#1 Emma D.

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 08:03 PM

1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

A mysterious figure entering a crowded, public place jogs our memory (pun intended).  We see some exhibits of dark humor being showcased with some tongue-in-cheek jests and the appearance of unusual or strange characters.  A deviation from the typical patterns we see could be the first lines our protagonist utters.  As we look back, do any other first lines signify important messages or meanings such as these?

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

While it is possible that our main character may be innocent, the first twenty-two seconds we see of him do not show his face at all.  With this, as we all know, comes a mystique surrounding our protagonist, an uncertainty that has the capability of leading and wandering to many things. 

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

All that we see in this short scene reflect points made on the Hitchcock touch, notably the ordinary people and setting, the hero's plight, and the unleashing of valuable information prematurely.  



#2 phillyfilmbuff

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:16 PM

1. Opening in a crowded public place where everyone is enjoying themselves. It's so much fun how can something bad happen here?
A departure in that nothing alarming has happened yet. (We'll this setup repeated in films like North by Northwest)
2. Agree that Hannay is introduced to us as laid back likeable guy in a jovial setting. As we learn more about him we accept how he gets in desperate situation by his own helpfulness, curiosity and spirit of adventure.
3. We're introduced to Mr. Memory, the playfulness of the audience and just a fun scene not knowing how important this place and the performer will play later on. Also we first hear the refrains of a tune that introduces Mr. Memory which becomes a recurring musical footnote throughout the film.

#3 Rejana Raj

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 02:38 PM

1.) I believe that Robert Donat was the ultimate prototype for the "Wrong Man" which would later be an inspiration for another wrong man played by Cary Grant in North by Northwest. Not only that, we are introduced to the main hero much later.

2.) I agree with Rothman that the hero is an innocent person who gets accused of a crime he didn't do. As I said, he was just a man who ultimately got caught in the web of espionage without knowing the consequences or which will follow him.

3.) As mentioned in lectures, most of the espionage adventures takes place with lots of people. Let's say that nefarious events occurs when multitudes of people are gathering at a same place (i.e. Opera houses, Movie theaters, Auction houses etc). Here, the scene takes place in a music hall with the performance of Mr. Memory, who claims to have ultimate memory .

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#4 dsanders

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 01:53 PM

Daily Dose #7: Mr. Memory

 

This film gives me the same thrill I get from watching Strangers on A Train, or North By Northwest. The pacing never lets up and everything seems to lock together in a satisfying way, and drive forward to a conclusion. Other Hitchcock films seem excruciatingly slow in pace, though you see the genius touches along the way.

The opening here is similar to other openings that we have seen in that it starts with a bang. The flashing letters “MUSIC HALL” seem to announce to the viewer, sit up, pay attention, something disturbing and important is about to happen. The cant of the shot suggests we are entering another work of anxious unease, where the normal will slide off the screen and the unexpected is at every turn.

 

I agree with Rothman that this character is more innocent. Robert Donat is such an engaging actor in his expressions and open looks. So much of what he achieves is in his eyes (Think Anthony Perkins in Psycho), and those side long glances we get after he has an interaction, and turns away, so that only the audience gets his full feelings about what is happening. I disagree with Rothman’s idea that this character is an evolution of the lodger, “the break with the lodger.” In that film Hitch’s intention is different, Igor Novello, I think, was really supposed to be the monster people take him for, and only ends up as the good guy, because he was a matinee idol. So The Lodger character is a prototype for Shadow of a Doubt, while The 39 Steps is a prototype for the character in North by Northwest.

 

The Music Hall setting reminds me of Cary Grant at the auction, where he starts calling out ridiculous bids, ending up sabotaging the norms of polite society in a hilarious way. Here the crowd is heckling Mr. Memory in similar fashion, but it sets up a tension between the threatening ridicule of the mob, and the creepy apparently supernatural recall of the little man, that holds some fear over the audience and can quickly lead to panic, as in The Birds. Hannay is the touchstone center of this scene, quietly persisting with his serious, factual, mundane question about the distance between Winnipeg and Toronto. After all is said and done, how would Mr. Memory know such a random and trivial fact?



#5 MagdaK83

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 05:24 PM

Yes! We are in a crowded place where everyone looks cheerful and has some fun but it is in this ordinary ball room the extraordinary thing will happen!



#6 visball

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 11:06 PM

1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

 

The bit of mystery at the beginning of the film fits in with how Hitchcock starts other films such as The Lodger. Other opening scenes such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, reveal the characters right away.

 

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

 

It's hard to tell how innocent the character is in this opening scene. He certainly has a confident air about him and doesn't join in with the crowd in mocking Mr. Memory.

 

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

 

Here, Hitchcock is opening with a non-threatening location where people are enjoying themselves. This seems to be a common theme.

 


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#7 FilmFan39

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 08:40 PM

1. The opening scene of the 39 steps is similar to the opening of his previous movies in that he sets an mysterious tone in a rather common place i.e a dance hall, ski competition and in this instance a music hall.

 

2. I think that Robert Donat's character Hannity comes cross as much more ambiguous than the previous lead character in his fims. This will become something of a staple character choice in the films he will make with Cary Grant and other well known actors of the time.

 

3. I think the setting of the music hall is used to lull the viewer into a sense of complacency. The atmosphere is so congenial and warm that noone would suspect that something bad was about to take place.



#8 pumatamer

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 12:17 PM

Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? We see off-color humor, suspicion, and a closeup on specific characters that help the viewer get to know the characters better. 



#9 mavfan4life

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 12:58 AM

1. Once again, Hitchcock opens with a crowd scene. In this case, there doesn't appear to be anything ominous afoot. The only thing that puts us on edge is the opening sequence of Donat purchasing a ticket and entering the theater with all the shots being down. Beyond that, the smile on Donat's face and his willingness to have fun asking a meaningless question, breaks that initial tension. Even "Pleasure Garden" had a more threatening opening with the pickpocket. 

 

2. I would disagree that Donat is intentionally portrayed as an innocent because Hitchcock goes to such lengths to track him mysteriously into the music hall, then casts him a room of children, bawdy women, and old working stiffs with a cruder taste in humor. Donat seems to not fit into the crowd, standing above them almost humoring them in a condescending way. That certainly sets up an imbalance. 

 

3. Phillips' point #3 describes the use of seemingly normal locations (i.e. music hall) & #4 amplifies that it is also not a place you would associate with evil. Yet, we do sense evil lurking because of Donat's entrance.

 


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#10 Suj

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 01:11 PM

!. Fitting a pattern: 

a) the setting. the theatre audience in The Pleasure Garden and an outdoor audience in The Man Who Knew Too Much. In the Lodger the audience are not technically an audience but a crowd listening to the lady describing the murderer.

 

B) entrance of Hannay: a mysterious figure entering, no face shown similar to the description of the murderer in The Lodger

 

c) the Music Hall lit sign as in the lit signs in the Lodger

 

d) the music: lively as in The Pleasure Garden

 

e) atmosphere of the setting: lively theatre as in The Pleasure Garden or open air in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

 

Deviation from this pattern:

The setting:  a different type of audience in Downhill, the 4 characters are the audience and stage performers eg initially the lady watching the headmaster and the 2 boys. In Blackmail, the audience is a little group of people around the lady describing the murderer.

 

Unlike in The Lodger and in Blackmail where the murder has been committed, in The 39 Steps, there is no mention of murder except for the mention of a murderer, Dr Crippen in the question put to Mr Memory.

 

The subject matters differ in the films: Downhill is not about murder but about an accusation and The 39 Steps has a more light-hearted opening scene with no obvious hint of the danger to come.

 

2. Unlike in The Lodger and Blackmail, where the murderer or possible murderer is introduced to the cinema audience in the opening sequences, there is no murderer except for a hint (or red herring) that Hannay, the dark shadowy figure may be one in the first few seconds.

 

3. The setting of the music hall is a place where everyone can go and is unthreatening.

 

The performer Mr Memory is prominent and Hitch hints to the audience that he may become important later to the plot. Hannay is also thrown into the spotlight by his question.

 

Some of the audience don't take Mr Memory seriously and ask him silly questions. Mr Memory is a MacGuffin. He does not seem to be important to the plot but he and his knowledge is what will drive the plot forward. Same goes for Hannay.

 

 


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#11 James Dean

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:04 PM

1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

It matches the films we've previously touched, in terms of introducing a setting via multiple shots, but differs since there is no sparkling energy. No murder, no music hall dancing, rather the slow upstart of a low-end vaudeville routine.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

I'd agree. Although we've seen other innocent characters (Please Garden comes to mind), often times it's always tipped toward the dangers presented by other characters. In this film's opening, there is no identifiable villain or sense of danger.

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

The Hitchcock touch is notable mostly in setting and our lead character. We note that he's quite ordinary (he buys a ticket to a low-rent bar/Music Hall), and a traveler from Canada (which separates him from any rooted sympathy, presumably). A lot of attention is also given to the music hall, and how roomy and jolly it's patrons are. Almost as if Hitchcock is letting us settle in for the fun, while somewhere else something horrible is going on behind the scenes.

 


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#12 GeeWiz

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 04:58 PM

1. Hitch uses multiple camera angles such as to reveal the marquee letters (one at a time), the titled angle to hide (not revealed initially) the protagonist, and the use of a common public place with a large crowd.

 

2. I believe he is more innocent than other protagonists. The every man/reluctant hero.

 

3. Hitch uses places viewers feel are common and safe. The large crowd scenes provide a plethora of potential antagonists, and the viewer must pay close attention to try and identify clues and other items of importance. The crowd treats Mr. Memory with derisive mocking, almost contemptuous. They are not necessarily impressed with his knowledge.

 

 


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#13 slp515

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:53 PM

Daily Dose #7:  Mr. Memory
Opening Scene from The 39 Steps (1935)

1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

The rolling sign - the mysterious approach to the story and the presentation of the angles of each shot all
fit a pattern we have seen previously which deviated from other opening scenes.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

Yes, I do agree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films. A mysterious figure walks into the theater and there is no view of his face until he sits down. Nothing like his other films.

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

The music hall was at first quiet until the performer, Mr Memory was introduced. It seemed that he was suppose to be the smartest man on earth until he asked the crowd for questions. The audience started shouting questions at him and even answered their own. They became boisterous and at times scary.

Gene Phillips gives a checklist to describe the on-screen elements that play into Hitchcock's touch. For example:
- Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.
- The hero is thrown back on his own resources, and the audience sympathizes with his plight
- Evil can lurk in places that at first glance seem normal and unthreatening
- Villains (Hitchcock's) commit their mayhem in amusement parks and respectable restaurants - not in locations that we tend to avoid in order to escape potential harm, such as a dark alley
- He takes the audience into his confidence early in the story by sharing with them information that other directors might withhold for the sake of a surprise ending.
- Using MacGuffin: “simply the thing that preoccupies the hero and heroine and because of which they are thrown into danger, such as a vital secret formula. “

#14 Reegstar

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:28 PM

1.   Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

 

In The 39 Steps, as in The Pleasure Garden, the opening scene takes place in a music hall/entertainment venue; as in The Ring, a handsome character is observing some sort of show (carnival boxing match), and, subsequently, participates by taking part in asking questions.  There is a neon sign blinking letters in the beginning of The 39 steps and in The Lodger.  Unlike most of the earlier films we've seen, there is no ominous undertone, nor is there any tension.  There is the merest hint of something when we don't see Hannay's face right away, we only see his legs and back. I would venture the idea, that those initial shots let you know you're about to see a Hitchcock movie.

 

2.   Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?

 

I would agree with Rothman's assessment.  In The 39 Steps, no crime has occurred, nor does one happen in these opening minutes of the film.  I think it is closer to the opening of The Man Who Knew Too Much, where we don't see a crime occur or anything ominous.  Again, we have a hint at something not quite right when we glimpse Peter Lorre's face.  Other than that, it does break away from some of the earlier film openings.

 

3.  Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

 

You feel safe, until you're not.  The audience is lulled into a happy place by the music and gay entertainment.  As in some of Hitchcock's other movies, the group of people comprising the audience is mostly working class people enjoying themselves - throwing out jokes, laughing, etc.  The audience, in my mind, is similar to the crowds of people in The Lodger, who are trying to find out about the murder.  Or, as in The Ring, it's a local carnival with working class people aiming to have a good time that doesn't cost much.  We know we're not at an opera, or classical music program with high class people in dinner jackets.  I find the class distinctions quite significant in these British films.



#15 lovebirding54

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 03:47 PM

The opening fits a pattern with opening with a crowd as in the Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much. In this and the Lodger, Hitchcock uses a sign. In both The Man Who Knew Too Much and the 39 Steps something in the opening is crucial to the ending. It deviates from the others as there is no woman or blonde character is in the scene. Also, we do not have an indication of something sinister or going wrong for the main character.

 

Yes, I agree with Rothman's assessment that this film is focused more on introducing a more innocent lead character. The scene is lighthearted and Hannay takes part in the opening with questions.

 

These on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch with his use of ordinary characters in a setting that ordinary people would go, and his use of comedy and lightheartedness. But it differs from Rothman's touch in the opening scene because we are not aware of anything sinister and there is no hint of a MacGuffin.



#16 ChristyKelly

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:30 PM

1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes?
Unlike The Lodger, The 39 Steps opens at a public stage in a big crowd of middle and lower class audience. the Lodger opened with the scream (albeit silent) of a murderer's victim. The 39 Steps does not reveal it's nature until several scenes later with the death of Lucie Mannheim. Likewise the Man Who Knew Too Much opens in a public sporting event introducing you to characters without many hints about what may be important about them.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?
I agree that this film definitely introduces an innocent character, although knowing it's a Hitchcock film, we're a bit cautious about Mr. Donat at first, haha. He doesn't have the drawl of innocence that James Stewart had in the remake, so we're just not sure. Many unsavory characters take refuge in a theatre, although when Mr. Donat asked questions of Mr. Memory, I was pretty sure he was an innocent since he didn't mind being notice.

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?
First of all Robert Donat introduced as an ordinary person placed in an extraordinary situation. The double chase where the authorities are chasing him but Donat is chasing the guy in the know who could clear him; but wait, instead of clearing him, he shoots him. And poor Donat is also mistrusted by the farmer because he has convinced the farmer's wife to help him out. The music and shadows make the film that much more suspenseful and quicken the pace of the film. Then comes full circle when our hero is back in the theatre where Mr. Memory reveals the MacGuffin of the film and dies trying.

#17 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 02:13 PM

1. It does fit a pattern. All opening in public areas, introductions to the characters and you get an overall sense of the type of film you will be watching.

2. Yes this guy seems to be just some nice innocent more. His appearance, his demeanor and even the question he keeps asking, so innocent and unassuming. Someone the audience can feel sorry for when he gets into trouble.

3. The music hall is quite ordinary someplace we all might have gone. We get the impression that Donat is just an ordinary guy. The fact the the audience keep asking silly and humorous types of questions while Donat keeps asking the same innocent question. Will that be important later?

Definitely someone you can feel sorry for when he gets into trouble....Hitchcock has drawn in our emotions from the very start of this film, and we've become emotionally connected to Hannay right from the start!



#18 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 02:12 PM

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

 

I do believe that Hitchcock has focused on introducing a more innocent (seemingly of course) character at the beginning.  There is no murder or action sequence as it starts.  Just what seems like a regular scene out on a Saturday night for someone of that time period.  You may feel like the character isn't innocent at first because of the way that the face is not visible as he comes into the music hall but with a more handsome face in this case and the innocent event, you assume that he is innocent.  

Agreed!!  You start to think that there's going to be some big mystery here....I almost did a double-take when the man was finally revealed, thinking that this wasn't the suspicious character I thought he was going to be.  Hitch totally got me on this one!



#19 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 02:10 PM

After seeing so many introductions to Hitchcock films (I have DVRd EVERYTHING and have been watching all of the films), the opening of The 39 Steps includes that sense of mystery at the very beginning....there are the lights, the man with his back to the camera.  I love how Hitchcock grabs your attention right from the start with both hands.  There is no sweet, gentle opening, EVER.  You are wondering what comes next from the very first few seconds of his films.  A little different this time, I don't get the impression that a whole lot of information about the story itself is given in the first part of this film.  I mean, there's the introduction of the Mr. Memory....but I'm left wondering what this has to do with the mystery man from Canada.  Very intriguing, Hitch!  I totally agree with Rothman....nothing seems to be frightening or deceptive about this character at all.  His face isn't covered with a scarf, he isn't giving anyone suspicious looks of recognition.  He seems very "normal".  In order to add to the Hitchcock touch, this opening scene shows what appears to be a very public, very common occurrence in Britain at the time.  The audience is just a crowd of ordinary people doing what they would commonly do...something that certainly fulfills the Hitchcock touch checklist!



#20 Tiger1318

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 05:32 PM

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

 

I do believe that Hitchcock has focused on introducing a more innocent (seemingly of course) character at the beginning.  There is no murder or action sequence as it starts.  Just what seems like a regular scene out on a Saturday night for someone of that time period.  You may feel like the character isn't innocent at first because of the way that the face is not visible as he comes into the music hall but with a more handsome face in this case and the innocent event, you assume that he is innocent.  


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