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About riffraf

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    Houston, Texas
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    Film, photography, movies, history, & movies

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  1. So true, and I think The Hot Spot (1990) is a modern Noir masterpiece for Dennis Hopper. As for the Hitchcock touches, Hopper weaves and blends an amazing soundtrack of blues with music composed by Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Jack Nitzsche, and Taj Mahal to emphasize and underscore scenes of tense drama, robbery, adultery, passion, betrayal with an excellent ensemble cast of characters (William Sadler, Jerry Hardin, Barry Corbin, Charles Martin Smith and Jack Nance) in the same sensitive style Hitchcock worked with his collaborators. Don Johnson plays a drifter, fulfilling the “everyman role” and maybe not quite so innocent but more so than others he encounters. Based on the book Hell Hath No Fury, the plot twists and turns with blackmail, obsession and is it really “murder”? Plenty of MacGuffins in this one and Hopper is keen on using his camera and camera movements to set the scene as well as to add information to the story. This takes place in a small Texas town re-enforcing the Hitchcock ideal, how an everyman type character can get caught up in a web of intrigue way over his head in any location large or small. Check it out!
  2. A few more that would have been interesting with the Hitchcock touch during his prime... Bound (1996) Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon Red Rock West (1992) Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) Kevin Spacey, John Cusack Tightrope (1984) Clint Eastwood, Genevieve Bujold Identity (2003) John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet Silent Fall (2000) Richard Dreyfuss, Linda Hamilton, John Lithgow Original Sin (2000) Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie The Hot Spot (1990) Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connelly The Satan Bug (1965) George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis
  3. Gotham (1988) with Tommy Lee Jones and Virginia Madsen, contains murder mystery, sexy blonde, determined detective, ghosts, plot twists, mistaken identities and more.
  4. Not to be confused with Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (1956) but Jim McBride's thriller The Wrong Man (1993) with Rosanna Arquette, Kevin Anderson and John Lithgow, contains mistaken identify, innocent man accused of murder, a sexy blonde, exotic locales, stairs, trains, buses, action, chases and an iconic cigarette lighter.
  5. In comparing Vertigo to Laura, you have (eventually) a controlling and obsessive Scotty Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart) versus a controlling and obsessive Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) who becomes a murderer. With the women you have Judy/Madeleine (Kim Novak) who is somewhat weak in personal character and easily manipulated by men, and Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) also weak and easily manipulated. I assume the “likable character” being Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) who though, not as educated or prosperous as Lydecker, is handsome, dedicated to his job, in love and without any major flaws. What I think is being overlooked here are two major characters in Vertigo that, in my opinion, are basically flawless and independent of the script and/or actors for better or worse. The city of San Francisco, as mentioned in our lectures and commentaries is in itself a character in this film. Rich in architecture, history, color and culture and an abundantly rich environment, much the same way Mount Rushmore was chosen as a backdrop for scenes in North by Northwest. Imagine had Vertigo been filmed in Anytown, USA, then the character of the city would not have measured up to Hitchcock’s (or our) cinematic expectations. The other character I refer to is Bernard Herrmann’s beautiful soundtrack. His music can stand on its’ own without the film and be just as emotionally moving and a rich listening experience, yet there it is, perfectly in sync with the moving images to the sound of a love theme, the mystery of Carlotta Valdes and the madness and confusion within the state of acrophobia boarding on madness. For those reasons I would find it hard to discount a film for having minor flaws in the script or unlikable characters when it has so much more to offer as cinematic art.
  6. Greetings Mr. Philippe and Professor Edwards, Knowing that the shower scene in Psycho was such an elaborate accomplishment with so many camera set-ups, unique editing cuts and then married so well to the soundtrack, I'm wondering if the edited version of the scene was made first and then given to Bernard Herrmann to score or was there some back-and-forth, "make the image fit the music or more music fit the image"? They are so well synced there must have been some artistic communication between the editor and the composer. Thank you, Ron Ferguson
  7. Apparently an alternate ending was filmed (probably at the insistence of the studio) for those who prefer a "Hollywood ending" or those who prefer their fiction abide by the old production code days of censorship and strict moral ethics when criminal activity and persons less than self righteous are punished before the film ends. https://youtu.be/VJBSSkn0Ldw
  8. I'm in the same boat and unfortunately missed the interview that I was so looking forward to!
  9. I can't imagine anyone else to play these parts!
  10. The Lodger (1927) opens with a disturbingly intense soundtrack accompanying a graphic of a dark shadowed character and transitions to an extreme close-up of a woman’s face screaming in agony followed with a late-evening riverside view of her lifeless body whereas Frenzy starts us out in broad daylight with a birds-eye view of London, much like a travel log along with a grand musical accompaniment of pomp and circumstance. The obvious differences being day and night and the major similarities, a woman’s body in or near the river Thames of metropolitan London. As mentioned in today’s lecture, we are back to basics for “Hitchcock touches” starting with a large crowd of people (the common people including the “everyman”), dark humor as the politician speaks of cleaning out this river of human refuse when he’s interrupted by a body being discovered floating nearby, and of course the auteur’s cameo. The cameo itself may be homage to the crowd shot used in Strangers on a Train (1951) where Hitchcock, like Robert Walker, is the only person in the crowd not moving. True to Hitchcock’s pattern of using iconic landmarks as backdrops to his stories, for Frenzy his camera follows the Thames river up to and under the historic Tower Bridge as it seems to open over his directing credit, and welcomes home Great Britain’s favorite son, Alfred Hitchcock!
  11. From the opening sequence of Marnie we know her character is young, attractive, in transit, mysterious, incognito, well dressed, uses an assumed identity, and has a lot of cash. Visually she is well posed meaning she carries herself with the ease and confidence of a high fashion runway model. She appears to be very neat, precise and organized in the way she packs her new clothes into the suitcase. We are apparently witnessing a routine (and most likely a crime) she has performed many times over like a skillfully executed covert operation. Hitchcock uses Bernard Herrmann’s score in his usual way by building the suspense within the scene using a slow and low, mellow background soundtrack accompanying wide shots, medium shots and close ups of the action until Marnie, the mystery woman, washes and rinses herself off her former identity. (And I’m counting on my classmates with the musical expertise to give us the breakdown of technically what we are hearing) but as she morphs into her real or new persona, Herrmann’s score builds to a crescendo sounding very much like the track he performed for Kim Novak’s transformation in Vertigo. I believe this is the first time Hitchcock actually looks into the camera during his cameo. Maybe he’s experimenting with a new approach as to how he puts his signature on his films and this is his way of saying, “I’m still here, and this is my new and improved (1964) style!”
  12. And what about her coat? ...even the birds are critics....
  13. I too love to visit iconic film locations! This is how the "Bodgea Bay School House" looked in 2012 as a private residence.
  14. The opening scene in The Birds follows the elements of a romantic comedy rather than a horror film by introducing a beautiful and sophisticated blonde who is initially mistaken for a sales clerk by a very suave and handsome man which leads them into a playful repartee duel regarding love birds. We learn right away that both Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) have a sense of humor, both are somewhat attracted to each other and enjoy toying with one another in a farcical way as they discuss the mating habits of birds. Hitchcock’s sound design introduces us to the birds via their loud and grating cawing before we ever see them on camera. It’s the sound cue of a young boy’s flirtatious whistle that turns Melanie around before entering the store and another sound cue of louder and more pronounced bird sounds as she sees, and the audience sees for the first time a large mass of seagulls circling over Union Square in San Francisco. The mood created from the loud and piercing sounds of the birds is a keen awareness. This is unusual. Have you ever seen so many gulls? Must be a storm at sea that can drive them inland. So within the first few moments of the film, we have been prepared and informed that there is an undercurrent of things being not quite normal. Hitchcock’s cameo exiting the pet store with his two dogs seems very apropos concerning the theme of his film and utilizing the very location his stars will be using to start their relationship. Maybe my imagination but from the over the shoulder shot of Tippi Hedren conversing with the pet store proprietor, her hair seems to be styled very similar to how Kim Novak’s hair was done when she was emulating Carlotta Valdes in Vertigo. On a humorous note on the opening scene it has been pointed out to me that a “people wrangler” (production assistant) in a light colored trench coat can be seen stopping a little old lady from crossing the street to prevent her from being in Tippi Hedren’s crosswalk shot. As many times as I have seen this movie, I never noticed, always being focused on Tippi Hedren, of course.

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