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Daily Dose #11: Thought I'd Left (Opening Scene of Mr. and Mrs. Smith)


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#181 johncrann

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 09:10 AM

1.    What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc.? 

 

The most obvious touch to me is the way AH likes to guide the observer with camera movement around the set. He fills the lens with props and images that help one make judgements on where, when and who is occupying the space.

 

In this scene, via props and set dressing, we are invited into what appears to be a hotel room that has been occupied by two people on a holiday. Neither party is in a hurry to get up and out of the room. The room is comfortable, spacious and service people are on hand to support the whims of the two guests. Lighting and camera angles are standard I believe, with camera movement being the best indicator of AH in the chair. (NOTE: my Daily Dose clip did not have sound).

 

2.    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not?

 

I cannot say it is typical due to the fact that it is a theme not normally associated with AH films from previous lessons. There is a light tone from the get-go…no harsh shadows or foreboding imagery or music. 

 

3.    What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

 

 

I think there could have been numerous professional star quality actors cast in this film that could perform at the same level. In this clip it is difficult to gauge the totality of the chemistry & performance. One would have to watch the whole picture to make that evaluation. I could not tell you why these two were chosen as the leads. Apparently, they satisfied all the evaluations and criteria sought by director, producer and anyone else involved in the casting process.


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#182 A_Laff

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 09:03 AM

1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 
 
One Hitchcock touch I see here is the messiness of the room, which seems to reflect the couple accurately. Another Hitchcock touch is that we meet several characters, and dialogue between the minor characters gives us a better characterization of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. ("I'm running out of dishes!") As always, the use of music here is very well done, and my favorite moment is when Carole Lombard's eye pops open in perfect concert with the music in that moment. 
 
2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 
 
I would agree that the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical Hitchcock opening based on other openings I've seen. Many of the reasons I agree with this have to do with the Hitchcock touches I outlined in the first question. Additionally, what you seem to see is an ordinary couple in a pretty ordinary looking situation for the most part. But knowing Hitchcock -- suspense or comedy -- you have to wonder what will happen to them! The set also takes on a bit of a "character" role in this opening as well. 
 
3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 
 
I believe that Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery are excellently cast. They have a lot of chemistry, and their relationship seems very natural. 

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#183 LRH

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 09:02 AM

What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple?

 

The thing that struck me immediately was the first shot of Carole Lombard.  Only her eye peeked out from the covers, and the camera focused and moved right in on that and held as she looked out.  Precursor to the end of the shower scene in Psycho?  The two shots are so similar, and yet for such different types of stories.

 

They seem to live the lifestyle of Nick and Nora Charles.  Swanky house, servants, meals delivered.  As he says, he can afford to take days off at the office.

 

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not?

 

Rather than beginning with people moving around chaotically, here he sets the scene with two fairly static people among the chaos of the opening set.  Montgomery is sitting among the huge mess of dishes, and Lombard is in the very rumpled chaos of the unmade bed.  So here he shows us two people who are pretty single mindedly doing what they will, even as the world moves on, somewhat chaotically, around them.

 

What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

 

It works for me.  When Montgomery flops on to the bed and cradles Lombard in his arms, I buy it that they are in love.  So in love, that it’s hard to believe they’re quarreling.  It’s a rather tender moment I think.  This opening makes me want to see this film, which I haven’t before.

 

As to the comments in the Video Lecture about the couples at the ends of screwball comedies not staying together…., hmm.  I’m not so sure.  I can totally see K. Hepburn and Cary Grant staying together in Bringing Up Baby.  And as to the X of the skis at the end.  Yes, it’s ambiguous.  It shows the “intersection” of the two people.  Perhaps the X as in, watch out, this won’t work.  But I saw it as the X of xxoo (kisses and hugs – when did x become a sign for a kiss)?  So that doesn’t discount the X of warning, but I do think it adds another layer of meaning to this ending.  All this talk of Hitchcock working out the idea of marriage in his films – which I totally agree with – brings up the question.  Are we suggesting anything about Hitchcock’s own marriage which seems to have worked, at least professionally?  I have no clue if they were happy at home.

 

One last thought: I’ve never thought of The Thin Man movies as screwball comedies, mostly because Nora is NOT at all screwy, and the films are so much a detective/mystery story on the surface.  But underneath there’s great commentary about this very happy marriage.  But, just like there’s a continuum with film noir (style, genre, etc.), perhaps there is with screwball comedy.  There are tons of drop dead funny moments in all of The Thin Man films, and mostly it’s the antics between Nick and Nora (tweaking each other, teasing, pretending not to care, I could go on and on).  And the vibe I got from this opening of Mr. and Mrs. Smith was way more Nick and Nora than, say, Bringing Up Baby.  (Lombard just isn’t wacky enough – at least, not yet….)  Of course, these two here are no Nick and Nora!  But I feel like, just seeing these opening scenes, that we’re closer on the continuum to Nick and Nora.


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#184 Master Bates

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:54 AM

  1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc?


    The opening sequence, at least the part in the bedroom, is essentially a silent movie. There is sound, of course--sound effects and music. But Hitchcock, proving that his roots in silent film go deep, is allowing the mise-en-scene and the camera work exposing it to do almost all the "talking."

    The music is bright and cheery. The room is well-lit, sunny, with morning shadows on the walls. What Hitchcock puts on screen is giving the viewer much information: plush bedroom expensively furnished, a floor strewn with china, crystal and silver, the detritus of many meals obviously eaten in the room. As the camera pans this mess, it's transmitted to the viewer that for this couple, this Mr. and Mrs. Smith, money is no object. The two house servants in the kitchen further underline that fact.

    ​But true to Hitchcock, there is some sort of conflict here. While the light-hearted music and cheery lighting bespeak happiness, we see the husband is seated on the floor quietly playing cards so as not to awaken his wife who remains in bed. If he doesn't want to disturb his wife, why doesn't he get up, get dressed and go to work--or at least leave the room? Why is he staying in the room playing cards on the floor? Hitchcock sets up their "rule" about not leaving the room after a quarrel, not until they've made up.
    Screwball, indeed.
     
    ​I would be remiss not to mention the incredibly lovely Carole Lombard. She may not be of the "icy" variety a la Tippi Hedren or Kim Novak, but she is a blonde. This is, after all, a Hitchcock picture. 
     

     
  2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

    ​Unlike many other openings to Hitchcock films that open in public places filled with the hubbub of many people, MR. AND MRS. SMITH opens in the private, intimate setting of a married couple's bedroom. This is new territory for Hitchcock. Married life is apparently going to be the topic.   

     
  3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

    ​From what I can tell from this brief clip, Lombard and Montgomery seem well-suited as a comedy team. But I can't help but wonder what the comedic brilliance of Cary Grant opposite Lombard would have brought to the role.   

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#185 jamesrspencer

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:45 AM

  1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc?

Mr and Mrs Smith retain several of the Hitchcock touches.  The first and most notable is the slow panning over the dirty apartment which sets up the moods of the two main characters.  We also get the extreme close ups of first Mr. Smith's face and then a pan to Mrs. Smith hiding under the covers. It sets up the obvious trouble in their relationship.  The props and decor set up the trouble in the relationship well. The apartment though elegant furnishing with satin sheets on the bed, room service etc.  we see booze bottles on the floor and general disarray.  The musical score is quirky and sets up the comedy elements. One gets the impression that the couple are spoiled and rich. Mr. Smith plays solitaire.. for ex.. little touches like this are Hitchcock

 

I have to be honest this is one of my least favorite Hitchcock's.  I'm personally not a fan of screwball comedies. Mr. Smith character seems so cliche bumbling dumb husband pushover and Mrs. Smith has a bit of a sinister drama queen streak.  Though Carol and Robert have great chemistry... it is just not my favorite genre. 

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

 

I feel though the film has some Hitchcockian devices.. it doesn't feel like a typical Hitch film.  I prefer Hitch when he is more dramatic, darker, psychological and shocking...   Though Hitch is a master of all genres... I feel it is not the style of movie Hitch fans would prefer to see.  I'll personally stick with Psycho, Vertigo and Rebecca.  I personally don't find screw ball comedies all that funny..  The tedious fights and make ups get old and don't sustain my undivided attention.  

 

I also feel that Hitch deviates from his BLONDE formula of heroines with Carol Lombard.. this feels a bit weird for me. I so prefer Grace Kelly, Tippi Hendren and Janet Leigh which are more iconic, haunting and glamorous. 

 

  1. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not?  

I actually feel Carol and Robert are good together, but they just don't have the screwball star quality for me of let's say Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers or Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  But maybe I'm biased as I never cared for screwball comedies much. I much rather watch suspense, and film noir. There is something oddly juvenile about their performances due to the story line.  I personally find it a bit annoying.  Like the scene with Mr. Smith and not opening the door and signing in pencil...  .. he is behaving like a spoiled child.  I also feel I can buy screwball comedy if the couple is sexier... I have seen later modern screwball romantic comedies  with more sexuality.  I think Hitch new to this genre wanted to play up the comedy elements over the sexual tension. This movie lacks for me the titillating undercurrent for example compared to let's say the opening voyeuristic approach of Janet Leigh and John Gavin in Psycho.. Both were sexier and glamorous. it made you want to be the voyeur.. and keeps you glued to the screen.   

 

I admit I have watched Mr. and Mrs Smith twice.. and it just doesn't hold my interest. 


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#186 obuprof07

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:39 AM

1.    What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 
The “touch” begins with an apartment that is cluttered with trays of food. The disorganization signals us that things will be just a bit wacky. The trays (this is probably a stretch) symbolize the obstacles the Smiths face in their relationship.
2.    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 
I would say, “Yes it is typical.” I base my response on the fact that the background is a “player,” i.e. the clutter of trays of food become a character in the scene. It is not private, as we see there are others who trying figure out what is going on, a kind of voyeurism) the maid and another character try to take a peek at the room. The room (an apartment) has now become a public space of sorts.
3.    What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not?  Yes, I think they are cast perfectly. Carole Lombard was a master of screwball comedy – her finest work (in my opinion) is in “My Man Godfrey.” As regards Montgomery, his 1929 film “So This is College” is a screwball “bromance” Montgomery began his career doing comedy. 

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#187 TonyZao

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:23 AM

Hitchcock opens the film showing us a perfectly married couple, in an idyllic, almost unreal situation. They're in love, they're rich, they don't care about anything. In typical Hitchcock fashion, it appears that nothing can go wrong for the characters displayed in this scene, except everything does in the rest of the picture. One could say that the "ordinary guys in extraordinary situations" doctrine appears in this film, too, with the difference that this time the ordinary guys (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) are largely to blame for being driven into their troubles.

 

Hitch shows us a panoramic view of the room where the couple shares their love, the luxury, the comforts, the calmness. Nothing shadowy or sinister here. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is not a typical Hitchcock film but it features some Hitchcock touches, and that's the case in this scene. Although the film opens in a **** and not in a public place like most openings we've seen, the light-hearted atmosphere and characters are similar.

 

I personally don't like the film very much because of the main characters. Even for a typically bitter and dark-humored screwball comedy, Mr. Smith is too dumb for my taste and Mrs. Smith is too sinister. However, nobody can blame Montgomery and Lombard about this, they are both great and the chemistry between them is obvious throughout the film. As much as I didn't like their characters, it was enjoyable to watch them together and I believe everyone should watch the film once just out of curiosity.

 


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#188 Mandroid51

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 06:11 AM

1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc?

Hitches ability to build the miscenscene with the staging of set design and clutter seems a touch. We are informed of their lifestyles from the dialogue of the staff and Mr. Smith's office. Hitch's touch comes in the form of lighthearted music to also set the mood of this screwball comedy. It's a quirky music which would fit that genre. The closeups we end on with characters seems a touch from Hitch as well. Silk instead of corduroy.

2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not?

It seems atypical in comparison to other openings we've seen in that it's a master and two shot as opposed to audience or group shot openings with the single shots of the character being the exception. Even still it's been a contrast between the amount of folks in the frame. I'd say it builds similarly and has a pace that captures our attention like only Hitchcock could present.

3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not?

I see what seems an effortless portrayal from both Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery. They seem the right casting choices and agree that they appear to be well cast from this opening, not just the comfort they seem to share but the comfort they put the viewer from the naturalistic interplay. Haven't seen this movie yet either.
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#189 dwallace

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 03:33 AM

The opening scene is very much a Hitchcock scene. Camera pans the floor of the room, bottles of liqueur mostly empty, glasses strewn around. Large meals partly eaten, panning over several newspapers. This during the Great Depression? These are not ordinary Americans. Then we see cards and Robert Montgomery playing solitaire, in PJ's and robe, unshaven with bed hair. Then a closeup of his face. Then the camera moves to the large bed with Carol Lombard tossing, with the covers over her head, finally a closeup of her and one eye opening. Then the maid brings breakfast, and goes back to tell cook what she saw. Then on telephone with his boss we learn they have been in there three days, and she is running out of dishes.

 

Montgomery is then called to sign a legal paper and with walking stick slams the door, hiding behind the love seat, waiting to see if dishes or other items will be thrown. Lombard sits up and Montgomery pops head out and both smile. Peace! Then they cuddle in bed and we learn that this is one of their longest arguments. Lerning from the cook and the boss the background is very much in the Hitchcock manner.

 

When Montgomery begins to move around the music starts and the flute sounds very much like a cuckoo clock. This could have been the opening of a suspense movie, but the music lets us know it is a comedy.   


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#190 Dr. Rich Edwards

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 11:03 PM

Today's Daily Dose is Hitchcock's third American film, the screwball comedy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith

 

Watch the opening scenes in the Canvas module, then come over here and reflect on Hitchcock's "typical American comedy about typical Americans." 

 

Here are three questions to get the discussions started:

 

  1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc?
     
  2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 
     
  3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

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Richard Edwards, PhD

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Instructor: TCM Presents: The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)

 

 





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