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About Biff

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  • Birthday 01/14/1961

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    New York, NY
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    Movies, Theater, Literature, Music, Politics

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  1. Biff

    Undeterminded Sexuality!

    The sexual tension between Mr. Dean (Farrar) and Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) practically melts the screen! Also Dean has that line about the Sisters doing him a favor when they start to "educate" the young women of the village. The sexual innuendo was apparent. I'd love to claim the character... but in this case, I don't even see any sub-text to support it.
  2. 1. Compare the opening of The Lodger to the opening of The Pleasure Garden - what similarities and differences do you see between the two films? The striking similarity is that in both films we, as spectators, are watching spectators. In The Pleasure Garden we are watching an audience watching a show; however in The Lodger we're watching an audience witness the aftermath of a murder. It's hard not to think of the chorus girl's fake "golden curl" in the earlier movie when one sees the "To-Night Golden Curls" legend come up on the screen at the beginning of The Lodger (and later in the film, of course, chorus girls will be disguising their blond hair with fake dark curls). In The Lodger there is a far greater use of cross-cutting in the early sequences as compared to The Pleasure Garden; but then, the need to establish excitement and fear is greater at the beginning of the later movie. 2. Identify elements of the "Hitchcock style" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Even if you are not sure if it is the "Hitchcock style," what images or techniques stand out in your mind as powerful storytelling? Or images that provide an excess of emotion? The scream, as discussed in the third question, is definitely a hallmark of Hitchcock's style; as is the extensive use of crosscutting. The use of the news teletype, the headline marquees, and the newspapers are doubly effective by providing the movie audience with key information as well as showing the process of dissemination. Probably the most haunting image in the opening sequence is the look on the woman's face as she peers from the crowd at the crime scene and sees the corpse. Also effective was the distorted image of the bystander who mimics "The Avenger's" wrapped up lower face. 3. Even though this is a "silent" film, the opening image is one of a woman screaming. What do you notice in how Hitchcock frames that particular shot that makes it work in a silent film even though no audible scream that can be heard. And what other screams like that come to mind from Hitchcock's later work? The camera angle of the shot gives the visual impression of the scream being carried out into the audience (both the film spectators and the residents of London within the fiction of the movie). Murnau achieved similar effects in both The Last Laugh and Sunrise. In the former when the neighbors are gossiping from their windows into the courtyard, the camera seems to follow the sound; and in the latter when the man is calling out for his wife after the storm near the end of the movie. The scream in The Lodger reminds me most of the mother's scream at Albert Hall in both the 1934 and 1956 versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The landlady's scream turned into a train whistle in The 39 Steps also comes to mind.
  3. 1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. The use of subjective camera effects (the-out-of-focus reaction shot of the gentleman watching the dancing girls which comes into focus as he raises his binoculars and then clicks into perfect focus after he adjusts them). Hitchcock would use similar effects throughout his career to aid the audience in experiencing a character's senses (most famously in the in the "vertigo" shots in the movie of the same name) 2. Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50-year career? Absolutely! First of all there's the first "Hitchcock Blonde," then the mutual flirtation - bordering on seduction - between a powerful man and a woman who knows exactly what she's doing (think Cary Grant's Roger Thornhill and Eva Marie Saint's Eve Kendall in NORTH BY NORTHWEST). Also the theme of disguises is hinted at when the chorus girl removes the false curl from her hair... a bit of a stretch perhaps, but one could link it to Norman Bates' "mother's" wig! 3. Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue? ​Hitch never needed dialogue, but I do think he was greatly aided by the advent of synchronous sound, because he was a master at manipulating sound for maximum effect. He does already seem in full command of his skills here in THE PLEASURE GARDEN, with or without sound.

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