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Everything posted by TonyZao

  1. My ideal combination would be something like Hitchcock as director, Tarantino as screenwriter, DiCaprio and Liam Neeson starring and Morricone composing the score. That would be a fitting dream team!
  2. One thing I've always liked about classic Hollywood films is the way the protagonists are flirting with each other. It's subtle, classy, elegant, flirting is turned into an art, something you don't see much in modern films, because there is no censorship and everything can be said or shown. In this scene, the actors are talking about something primate and vulgar such as sex, yet they're doing this in a way you could believe they're talking about a work of art. Grant was an expert in such scenes for decades, Saint was not so experienced, but here she is at least his equal. Hitchcock always liked trademark items, like the letter R in Rebecca or Guy's cigarette case in Strangers on a Train. His films are frequently cases of dubious or mistaken identities, so these items, such as the R.O.T. matchbook here help us connect the name with the person. As for the "O stands for nothing" line, I believe it's directed to his not-so-favorite producer David O. Selznick (the "O" in his name really stood for nothing, he just made it up). The background music in this scene is typical for a romantic one, and not typical of Hitchcock. However, the other background sounds, arguably connected with the moving train, are there to remind us we're still in the thrilling Hitchcock universe, given his known preference for using trains in his films.
  3. Although I've always found Vertigo a bit too creepy and complicated for my taste, I have to admit that it's Hitchcock's most trademark film, along with Psycho. Even the opening credits are disturbing and add to the mood of the film. I'm a computer engineering student myself and I've studied Lissajous figures quite a bit, and I never imagined they could be used in such a subjective way to create distorting, formalistic images, and even dizziness. By watching this brilliant opening sequence, you know that what's gonna follow is not ordinary, and is probably going to play with your mind, even make you feel uneasy. It's difficult to pick a single image as the most powerful, but if I had to I'd pick the last one, the human eye with this disturbing spiral figure in its center. Even the colors are disturbing in this one, and the way this figure is moving and the eye blinks is almost frightening. Bernand Hermann's one of the most brilliant film composers of all time. His score there is perfect for the kind of film Vertigo is and is beautifully combined with the title sequence. Just like in Psycho two years later, and even later thrillers such as Jaws (another genius, John Williams, composed this one), it's a score fit for a thriller; disturbing, high-toned, it makes you feel you're gonna have a tremendous, terrifying expierence for the next two hours or so.
  4. The opening scene isn't a Jeff's POV shot, yet the camera moves in an entirely voyeuristic way. It quickly shows us the entire field of action of the film, the apartments Jeff is able to look at through his camera and, finally, his own. Hitchcock gives us a taste of the claustrophobic, voyeuristic style of the entire film and wants to make us feel a guilty pleasure that we're watching all these people in their private lives. Jeff is shown sweating, visibly dissatisfied with the fact he's unable to move because of his broken leg. The words written on his bandage is another display of Hitchcock's black humor. Afterwards, the camera moves to his apartment showing many photographs of important events, in order to let us know his profession, as well as fashion magazines. The first image we take of Jeff is one of a restless, adventurous man who is really bored to death because of his accident and tries to find a pastime fit to him. Apart from the guilty pleasure I've already mentioned, the real feeling of watching a film comes to the mind in this scene. After all, when we're watching a film we are bound to our seats watching a story in which we have no part, and penetrating through the thoughts and feelings of the men involved. The way the camera moves through the apartment is disturbing and emphasizes these unique feeling. I'm not sure if Rear Window is the most cinematic Hitchcock film, but it's certainly a strong candidate. It takes film back to its roots and meaning as "moving pictures", and this film is probably closer to the fundamental principles of "moving pictures" than anything else he's done.
  5. I really love Strangers on a Train, and the main reason is this whole criss-cross idea with the switching murders that captures your attention from the beginning (even Danny DeVito tried to imitate it!). Hitchcock uses the railroad tracks to show us two different paths that cross that each other, and then the two characters; their shoes, their equipment, their clothing, but not their faces until later. He uses time and coincidence, two seemingly ordinary people, strangers to each other, who just happened to catch the same train and sit opposite each other. Once more, Hitch tries to say that what's gonna happen could easily happen to anyone of us. Guy and Bruno appear like two ordinary people at the beginning, but they still seem different. Bruno's clothes are more fancy, his way of talking more refined, his attitude more social. Guy, although he's the one who's famous, is more of an everyday guy who looks after only his own business. Personally, I think that the casting of Robert Walker and Farley Granger (a guy who usually played innocent-looking characters getting into a lot of trouble in a blink of an eye) in the respective roles is just perfect. Dimitri Tiomkin wrote many excellent film scores in classic Hollywood, and this is one of his best. This score can be easily connected with film noir; it creates an intense, disturbing mood and atmosphere and sets the pace for the huge suspense that's gonna follow.
  6. I absolutely love Notorious from every angle. Hitchcock is masterful from the first scene to the last one. In this scene, the subjective, expressionist, shadowy POV shot of Cary Grant entering the scene is one of his very best, and a proof that he was more handy with B&W filming than color. This time, the scene is dark-toned and the atmosphere is heavy, introducing us to two characters who are gonna be the heroes in the picture, but are not saints by a long way (typical noir). I personally believe that Notorious is as close as Hitchcock ever got with film noir theme and scenery. The camera is moving constantly, once even making a 180 degrees rotation on Cary Grant. Grant's characters appears colder, more formal and slightly sinister, while Bergman, whose POV shots is combined with disturbing close-ups of her face, is more hot-blooded and disillusioned. Grant is formally and impeccably dressed, Bergman is certainly not, but she's still incredibly attractive, No Hitchcock film, in my opinion, had better casting than Notorious. Two gorgeous and tremendously versatile film stars, with great chemistry with each other and with Hitch, portraying complicated characters with star power and acting depth (perhaps the best performances of their respective careers). Both actors were known for playing heroes, nobody couldn't see them as villains but, in this film, Grant is almost villainous (despite being on the "good guys" side), while Bergman is not the "good girl" she usually was, but maybe as close to a femme fatale as she ever got.
  7. 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.
  8. Hitchcock's contribution to film noir was immense but largely ignored. I think that the main reason Hitch is not considered an important noir director is because his films were so unique that trying to fit them into a particular style or film movement is irrelevant. Uncle Charlie could be compared with many noir characters in this opening scene. He seems calm, not disturbed by the fact two unknown men are looking for him, nor by the large amount of money in his room, he's nonchalant, calculative, and lacking any sentiment. If he feels fear or anything else, it's well hidden. That's his attitude throughout the whole film; he doesn't care about anyone, he doesn't respect anyone he looks only after himself and his well-being. Lighting, shadows, the setting and dialogue from this opening scene remind me of film noir style. The first lines are practically the same with the ones in The Killers. However, Uncle Charlie isn't like the Swede, he's not giving up and he has an air of invincibility ("they've got nothing on me", he says to himself). Music frequently helped Hitchcock as a precursor to the most suspensful moments in his films as well as setting the mood and the tone for the audience. In this opening scene music is almost disturbing, in typical noir style, because what we're watching is disturbing, too. So, what we hear emphasize what we see, and the viewer uses more of their senses than just vision.
  9. Hollywood's influence is obvious in this opening scene. Hitchcock very rarely used flashbacks in Britain, yet he begins his career in the US with one. In the UK, Hitchcock's films typically opened in packed public places with light-hearted dialogue. In this one, there is no humor or levity, the first character, bar the voiceover, appears two and a half minutes into the film and the locations are remote and somewhat scary. Rebecca is not only the first American film for Hitchcock, but also one that is not the most characteristic of his style. However, the "Hitchcock touch" is there, with the disturbing shots, the subjective flashback and, more than anything else, the long shot with the cliff and then Olivier's appearance. This shot is, in my point of view, one of the most terrifying and breathtaking in Hitchcock's career. Secondary characters are very important in Rebecca (Mrs. Danvers, Jack Favell, even Mrs. Van Hopper at the beginning), but Hitchcock manages to make a character of both the unseen Rebecca and the house itself. Joan Fontaine's narration and description of Manderley is more fit for something with a soul and powers of its own rather than just a building. Hitchcock's shots and camera movements through the mansion make us correctly guess than the place itself with play a part when the plot unfolds.
  10. Hitchcock's favorite opening scenes were arguably these international public places. In The Lady Vanishes, the setting, the folklore Central European music, the smiling hotel manager who speaks in all languages, the characters coming from every corner of the world, are contributing to a playful, light-hearted tone. Once again, nothing is there that can make us believe this film is a crime thriller. Charters and Caldicott are somewhat the typical Englishmen of the 30's, obsessed with cricket, with a characteristic accent and way of talking, and friendly towards other nations. They add even more levity to the whole scene, as well as some "British-ness" with which the British audience of the time could identify. I always like to compare their appearance here with their next one, in Night Train to Munich, another thriller also starring Margaret Lockwood, made just after UK declared war to the Nazis. Thus, Charters and Caldicott, initially minding only their own business, suddenly become staunch, active patriots, and this shift perfectly reflect the UK's shift of international policy from appeasement to open war. As he did in The 39 Steps, Hitchcock has the way of introducing his star even in this international set full of different characters. Lockwood bosses the scene the same way she bosses both her companions and the hotel manager. The polished way she talks and walks, the way the camera moves towards her and gives her most of the frame, everything expresses her dominance. Her performance as a bratty socialite turned into an amateur sleuth is just amazing, and I think it's the best ever in a Hithcock film by a brunette.
  11. Hitchcock had developed a habit of starting his films in public places, with pleasurable atmosphere and much of levity by his very early days. Once more, we see a bunch of ordinary people, including the one who's gonna be the reluctant hero of our story, entertaining themselves. This time, however, nothing seems to be disturbing or precursing a crime or a manhunt, and by this scene alone you couldn't guess this film's gonna be a spy thriller with crime, suspense and manhunt. Another deviation was the fact that this time Hitch wants us to identify with one character by the very opening scene. Although Robert Donat's character doesn't do much to distinguish himself from the rest of the audience, the way the camera moves to him gives us a hint that he's more important than the others; not as a man, but to the plot that's gonna unfold. That's exactly Hitchcock's touch, an ordinary man, who could easily be you or me, who is practically randomly picked to become first a target and finally a hero. I believe suspense is higher in this kind of films because the viewer realize it could be them in the hero's place and identify with them. In this light, it's only natural that Hitchcock preferred public places packed with crowd as his scenery for much of the action. My favorite scene of this kind is the auction from North by Northwest, his trademark innocent-man-on-the-run film. In the opening scene from The 39 Steps, Hitchcock's touch is there: the ordinary hero in an ordinary setting, before everything turns to chaos and, of course, the Memory Man, one of his greatest Macguffins of all time.
  12. What I like about Hitchcock's late British films compared to the famous American ones (although I generally prefer the latter) is their simplicity and the levity of the scripts. The two versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much pose the perfect example. In this version, I think that this opening scene makes us anticipate that characters will be more important than the plot, as it shows us nothing really interesting in terms of events, but introduces us to colorful characters. Peter Lorre's character looks really cool in this opening scene. A humorous, seemingly well-natured foreigner who has no trouble to strike up a casual conversation after a near-accident. When I watched the film I was suspicious of him only because I have often seem similar characters portrayed by Lorre and turning out purely sinister, otherwise he doesn't reveal anything that would make you anticipate he's a villain. Lorre was the perfect guy to play such characters and I wish he had worked more with Hitchcock in his career. This opening scene is similar to that of The Pleasure Garden because they're both light-hearted but make you suspicious something more serious is gonna happen. I can't find many similarities with The Lodger, when a crime has already happened. Hitch's style by 1934 was much different than the one of his silent days, although he never forgot his roots, and The Man Who Knew Too Much is perhaps the most important film in his career, as it paved the way for most of his later famous films in both sides of the Atlantic.
  13. Hitchcock is known for his audacious experimentation in his films, but, in my opinion, nothing tops Blackmail. The most important invention in film history, sound, appears for the very first time in the whole Europe in his hands, in a film that was made to be silent, yet still he manages to innovate and use it to achieve his targets. Hitchcock knew that, when people have something in their minds, everything they see and hear appears to be somehow connected with this, and reason starts to fail. With this in mind, we can understand Anny Ondra's reaction when she repeatedly hears the word "knife", and, generally, anything that has to do with the murder she's thinking about. It's amazing that Hitchcock managed to use sound to give a POV of the main character to the viewer in his very first sound film. Typical for Hitchcock, the scene becomes increasingly disturbing until the climax (Alice throwing the knife away). At the beginning, she just happens to hear a woman talking about the murder, then starts to only listen to what she has to say about the murder weapon -a knife- ignoring everything else she says. Finally, her hearing of the word "knife" becomes distorted and, combined with the fact she had to use a knife to cut the bread, she panics and throws it away. I believe that images and shots are much more simple to use subjectively than sound and dialogue, because there's much more room for editing and it's easier for the audience to identify with what they're watching rather with what they're hearing.
  14. Once more, Hitch uses a technique, this time POV shots, to subvert the normal objectivity of watching the film and make us identify with the character whose POV we are watching. Everything is about looks here, the angry look of the girl, the even more angry one of the headmaster, the terrified one of the innocent but framed character played by Novello and the guilty but pleased one of his classmate. Hitchcock wants us to understand the characters just be looking at them and getting into their shoes, without showing much. I personally think that one of the reasons he experimented with POV was the fact that films back then were silent, so he couldn't use words and dialogues to bring us closer to the set-up and the characters, only looks and expressions. As it was the case with many of his techniques we have seen this week, such as the rapid cuts and meticulous montage, he probably tried to eliminate the handicap of silent films with them, yet they were very successful and trademark of his in his sound career as well.
  15. The Ring is certainly not your typical Hitchcock film, yet his flirting with German expressionist ideas and the importance of montage and film editing dominates the film, and it continued to influence his way of filmmaking throughout his career. Rapid cuts, very different from one another and somewhat disturbing to the audience, are used again by Hitch to create a subjective atmosphere. Also contributing are some distorting stills that resemble a painting rather than a film scene, and the constant change of pace from fast to slow and vice versa. Hitchcock uses this disturbing effect to make us identify with the main character, a boxer who's afraid he'll lose his wife to the champion, and comes to believe that the way to win her is to become the champion himself. A couple of close-ups to his face and his expressions emphasize this jealousy and ambition that has overcome him and, combined with the fast-paced but disturbing dance sequence are used to make us be closer to one character rather than objective viewers. Hitchcock sets the stage perfectly to emphasize the rivalry between the two boxers, who are ready to fight not only for the championship but for a woman as well. Throughout this whole sequence we are watching them willing to escalate this rivalry and ready to take action against each other.
  16. The Lodger was filmed less than two years after The Pleasure Garden, yet Hitchcock's style became siginificantly more mature and distinctive. The only similarities are the exaggerated, almost non-realistic expressions of the people involved, but even this is only for suspense in this film, while in his first he tried to express more emotions, and it was typical in silent cinema. In my mind, the beginning of the film resembles the one of the penultimate movie Hitchcock ever directed, Frenzy. A serial killer targeting young girls creates havoc and mystery among the people. Hitchcock emphasizes this with rapid cuts, disturbing camera angles and constant moving of either the camera or the people in the scene. He used several of these techniques very often later in his career. As for his first of many and unique cameo appearances, it's almost unrecognisable. I happened to remember his appearance from a compilation video of his cameos, otherwise I would never find him. Still, it's further proof that The Lodger is the first true Hitchcock film. Hitchcock used screaming, especially from women, a lot in his films (most notably in Psycho) and he knew that sometimes it's more disturbing for the audience to just watch the woman screaming without actually hearing her. Someone who has seen a lot of Hitchcock knows that screaming is usually a precursor of a heinous crime or something really shocking, and one could argue that this is another of his trademark techniques first used in The Lodger.
  17. The Daily Doses and the discussion about them was one of my favorite parts in both previous courses and I already think this is going to be the case here too! I'm not very familiar with Hitchcock's British films, especially the first, silent ones, but in this very first scene of his very first film I think there is a Hitchcock touch, especially in the opening stairs sequence. The whole is scene is humorous yet disturbing, subtle yet suggesting, weird combinations that made a trademark of Hitch's long and distinguished career that had just started. The rapid cuts referred by Spoto was the first thing that came to my mind as "Hitchockian" when I was watching the scene. However, there are more. Hitchock's self-contradictory view of sex and seduction is certainly there as we see well-dressed, serious-looking men behaving like a bunch of teenagers watching the lightly dressed girls dancing. And then, hilarity and levity are followed by a much more serious sequence until the scene comes to an end. Hitchcock generally used dialogue very deftly in his sound films, but I don't think there are much that could be changed if this particular scene contained dialogue. As is most often the case with silent films, dialogue could just help the director express his ideas more clearly, yet its absence leaves the viewer to use his imagination about what could be said and how the scene could unfold.
  18. Ferrell and McKay's style, as shown in Anchorman, embodies every single slapstick characteristic, as defined in the very first day of this course. This scene is absolutely exaggerated, physical, make-believe, ritualistic and, above all, violent. The fact that this is a scene practically independent from the rest of the film (which is a spoof with some slapstick in it) brings it even closer to the standards of slapstick as we've seen it from the 1970's and beyond. Slapstick here is self-conscious just like in Mel Brooks or Woody Allen's films, but no one in the film seems to care about it. Just like in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, cameos, especially when the actors appearing are comedians, make the whole scene more absurd and at the same time familiar with the audience. The fact that in this fight scene people suddenly appear from nowhere, perfectly equipped for a violent fight while they're only journalists is funny enough; the fact that these people are played by famous actors gives an air of complete absurdity and paranoia to what is going to happen. Ferrell's style was certainly influenced by many slapstick actors and directors before him. I would say that Peter Sellers and Mel Brooks are the ones with the most influence; the former because the characters played by Farrell are often similar to his own, and the latter because Farrell's general approach to comedy has the same touch as his. I've much enjoyed these Daily Doses (as I did in #NoirSummer last year) and the main reason for that is because they gave me the chance to think about many things, express my opinions in public and read other people's opinions for the same subject in order to make conclusions. I'd like to thank my classmates and professor Edwards, and hope that similar courses will be made in the future.
  19. Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker were, in my opinion, the last true masters of slapstick in film. Their combination of extremely exaggerated visual and verbal humor and their relentless parody of genres such as disaster films (Airplane), spy films (Top Secret!) and police procedurals (The Naked Gun) brought many of the funniest moments in the modern years of cinema. While Mel Brooks also excelled in parody and spoof of other genres, his approach was usually more subtle and made in a way his films also pay a homage to their parody victims. ZAZ, on the other hand, are relentless and show little respect to their targets. In this clip, for instance, we see Frank Drebin panicking when someone appears to try and hit him with a car, while actually the car is his own and it's just the airbags triggered by his clumsy parking driving the car. ZAZ's approach to parody resemble that of Blazing Saddles and some of the later films made by Brooks (Spaceballs, Dracula: Dead and Loving It) rather than the more subtle and delicate handle in Young Frankenstein. Drebin and Clouseau have much in common: they're hard-working, honest policemen always striving to solve the case and usually having (by luck) the exact right idea about it. They don't hesitate to investigate even the richest and more prestigious people, something that infuriates their superiors. They are, of course, extremely clumsy and socially awkward, and they produce laugh with their actions as well with their dialogues. However, Sellers' Clouseau is more of a gentleman than Drebin, something natural because of the different eras they appeared in. Drebin can be compared in this field with the more modern Clouseau portrayed by Steve Martin.
  20. I just love Young Frankenstein and I consider it the most successful parody ever made. This particular scene features the late Gene Wilder looking, talking and behaving like the mad scientists of the 1930's horror films, and the other characters aren't as normal as they should be in this environment. Even the skeleton in the background plays its part, making the whole set-up looking much more sinister (and ridiculous, too) that it should. As in the whole film, this scene is an example of a perfect combination between subtle and crazy humor. Unlike another Brooks/Wilder masterpiece made in the same year, Blazing Saddles, this film is much more well-defined and structured and it's not just a sequence of chaotic events. In this clip, for instance, we see Victor Frankenstein (Wilder) hitting a patient as part of an experiment, in a complete slapstick way, while later he tells his assistant to "give him an extra dollar" because his unnatural reaction helped the doctor establish his cause to the students. This is the first of many such instances in this incredible movie. I've always believe it was a great choice by Brooks to shoot this film in B&W. The entire atmosphere, the foggy landscapes, the strange creatures (Marty Feldman being the weirdest of them all), the monster, even the "Puttin' on the Ritz" routine play their part in making this film both a spoof and a homage of the early Universal horror films, and that couldn't be showed in such way in color. I believe that making this film in color would be like colorizing classic films, a process which I don't embrace so much.
  21. From all modern directors, Woody Allen is by far the one with the most knowledge, respect and passion for classic Hollywood, and this is demonstrated in many of his films. What he's magically able to do, though, is making films which are both a homage and a parody of these classic films, and Bananas is just the case. The scene is structured in typical Woody Allen style: people talking nonsense with casual style. First, we see a group of rebels making Allen's character go to bring them food, and also make him believe it was luck who picked him of all others. Then, Allen opts not to rob the food store in the first place, but make an impossibly large order, which, paradoxially, the store owner has no trouble to fulfill and takes it as completely normal. Only after everything's ready, the rebels do rob the store. Everything is ritual, exaggerated and make-believe just like in classic slapstick gags, yet the scene and dialogues in it are self-conscious and admit that their happening is something weird. Allen relied much more on verbal than visual humor, and one could argue that he did with words what Mack Sennett and other silent comedians did with just the view. His comedies all have a definite plot but short, weird deviations are frequently made and they provide most of the laughs. However, I don't totally agree with the view that his films are closer to Sennett's view than The Great Race and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, because this films used more or less the same techniques, combining visual and verbal gags.
  22. The Great Race is one of the most hilarious and underrated comedies ever made. It could be the best performance in Jack Lemmon's long and distinguished career, while Blake Edwards is simply a master behind the camera. The film is full of cartoonish, violent slapstick humor, often creating situations like falls, fights, accidents and explosions that otherwise would be deadly, but the victims here are more humiliated than harmed. This clip features the first of numerous attempts at Leslie's life executed by Fate, with initial success but complete failure at the end. These backfiring attempts are trademark in this film. We could compare the film to a Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon; extreme violence, exaggeration and ludicrous mechanisms used, but no serious damage made. There's no doubt that the film pays a direct homage to silent and early sound slapstick comedies. Besides, it's dedicated to two of its greatest representatives, Laurel & Hardy. Its humor is mainly visual and physical, just like in the silent era, while the famous pie fight scene is another homage to the early days of comedy. The characters of Leslie and Fate spoof the image of the classic Hollywood hero and villain, respectively. Leslie is depicted as a brave, elegant, handsome, self-confident but likeable womanizer, and is always dressed in white. His would-be nemesis is in all-black and executes diabolical plans to destroy him. Throughout the whole film, Fate seems more dedicated in beating Leslie than achieving fame and money, and we could assume that if he succeeded in killing or otherwise destroying him then his life would have no purpose.
  23. Inspector Clouseau is one of the best comedy characters ever made, and the fact that films with him are still made (although after Sellers no one was even close to him) proves his lasting legacy and popularity. Sellers' Clouseau has no match when it comes to combining visual with verbal gags. Here, we watch him angrily confronting the incomparable George Sanders with his trademark outrageous French accent, while at the same time he's having trouble with a weird billiard cue the latter gave him, and later with all the cues. Clouseau is a typical comedy character, naive, dim-witted, well-natured and always cool, even when the world is collasping right next to him. This clip shows one of the very few moments when he becomes really furious, shouting nonsense at Sanders' character, though his tend to blame others for his own mishaps (as in the last moments of the clip) is another trademark of his. Despite his general kindness, Clouseau thinks he's always right (paradoxically enough, he usually is, when it comes to serious matters), even when his conclusions make absolutely no sense, and will not take it easy when someone challenges his methods, ideas and conclusions. Policemen appear in film comedy from the very early years but, as mostly seen in Charlie Chaplin's films, they are usually antagonists. Clouseau was perhaps the first protagonist cop, and his success helped mixing comedy with other genres such as police procedurals and crime films. Film franchises like Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez, Police Academy, Beverly Hills Cop and The Naked Gun all used similar or different policemen as protagonists and the "cop comedy" sub-genre has become vastly successful. Clouseau was one of the keys to this success.
  24. We tend to associate slapstick comedy with Hollywood, so it's good to have a Daily Dose coming from Europe. Besides, European cinema has a rich tradition in comedy and stars like Charlie Chaplin, Peter Sellers, Louis de Funès and Roberto Benigni have contributed in in its development for a century now. In this clip we watch French comedian Jacques Tati portraying a character similar of those of silent comedy stars; a likeable, everyday man with a simple life, ambitions and manners. Always friendly, polite and smiling, there's nothing not to like in this man. There's little dialogue, music background and visual gags, it could be a clip from a silent comedy of the 1920's. Buster Keaton was the first film comedian to use arhitecture as an important tool for his visual gags (his most famous scene is when a house falls on him) and Tati follows his footsteps in this clip. The building where he lives in has an unusual architecture and seems old-fashioned. Color helps him emphasize the aspects of the building. He's seen crossing the entire building to reach his apartment, and his clown-like way of walking makes the scene funny and make-believe.
  25. I think Abbott and Costello were much more of a product of their time than W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. That's perhaps a reason that their legacy is somewhat inferior in modern times, though they remain popular and funny. Abbott and Costello relied much more on verbal than visual comedy, in my point of view, and they were the first and most famous film comedy duo in which the two actors played distinctly different characters, the pure comedian (Costello) and the straight man (Abbott, for whom a common misconception is that he wasn't funny and his partner did all the work, while in fact Costello couldn't produce most jokes without him). Costello plays a naive, simple man who's easily frightened and lets his partner make all the decisions, while Abbott is the thinker, looks serious (but he isn't) and gets often impatient with Costello's way of thinking (which, as seen in this clip with Dracula, is sometimes the right way). Their chemistry and humor are, in my opinion, more comparable to that of the other great duo, Laurel & Hardy, than that of the Marx Brothers or Fields. I don't believe that there is no taste or timing in contemporary comedy, but I agree that in the old days comedians had found a magical way to make films that were funny, timeless and a success in the box-office, while most modern comedies accomplish only some of these factors, if any. Public taste about humor and comedies in our time is the most probable reason for that. Abbott and Costello modernized slapstick, introduced gags and routines (e.g. Who's on First) and connected slapstick comedy with totally different genres such as sci-fi and horror films. All these contributions influenced many great comedians of the next generation (Mel Brooks, Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, just to name a few) and are still important today.

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