dwallace

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About dwallace

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  1. I watched all the TCM offerings, and then a few of the ones on Youtube and the attached list in resources. Could only watch until 2 and then finish up the next morning. Basically TCM has done the same basic style of programming for other other two courses and it fits into how they also do "star of the month". The "Slapstick" course was at a bad time so I had to ignore that one, but Noir and Hitchcock worked well for me.
  2. There was another movie on the same topic of the Russian infiltration of the French Government Le Serpent or Night Flight from Moscow. Starred Yul Brynner as the defector with Henry Fonda. A Franco-German production.
  3. I can remember visiting London in 1972. The London we are returning to with Hitchcock is not the one he left. Hitchcock has enjoyed opening with scenes, or having scenes of famous places in his films, here we have one of Europe's great cities. Not only the city of history, Shakespeare or antiquity, but a New London. The cranes on the right building modern skyscrapers, and tall buildings standing over the old London. The minister of parliament is talking about cleaning up the Thames River, you can see the river is low and clogged, it is not low just because of tides. It also looks brown, dirty and smelly. They are talking about cleaning the river, even further up and bringing to the city a river that is again clean, that they can be proud of. Then the man yells “Look”. And we see a naked body, disposed in the river like the dirt and refuse and sewage that has been dumped in the river for hundreds of years. It is the opposite of what we have been hearing about. When I was in London in 1972 the great “cleaning” was going on. That alone would be enough to draw Hitchcock back to make a film. I can recall almost anywhere you went you saw the steam cleaning going on. The old stone buildings being cleaned of the decades of residue from the coal fires that made London, that drove the industry that made it the Great City of Europe. Also the coal used in everyone's house for cooking and heating. The buildings dull and dingy with coal smoke residue, about to be made shiny. The floating body, like so many in the Thames, probably since Roman days or before. Pirates set in cages in the river, killed slowly by the rising tide as punishment for their misdeeds. You may be able to clean the surface, and change the landscape, but that won't clean the past. The music is almost majestic even hymnal. We can be sure we will not be staying in the better parts of London.
  4. Marnie is a woman who uses her sexuality, the introductory shot is of her hips and bottom and how much she swings them (“needs a porch” as the old sexist observation used to go). Hitchcock is different here in that he is the voyeur, watching Marnie as she walks away, as he came out of his hotel room, and giving us a look, before turning away. Marnies purse is bulging, and it is with money as we see shortly, and she is very materialistic with all the new boxes being carried to her room show. She dresses to go with the lower class look she has. Then we see her with two suit cases being filled, one quickly, the other a little more carefully, the further one, gray, is for old things, the closest is for new sweaters, designer clothes from “Albert's”. Walking into the train station the initial shot is now on her legs, moving up to show her in designer clothes. She is now a society lady. Having changed her clothes, identity from Marion Hillard to Margaret Edgar, her hair from black to blonde. She is a new woman. All of this and Hitchcock's cameo verify this will be a sex mystery, as advertised. There are touches from his other movies, the purse, money and washing out hair dye from Psycho, the key from Notorious and Dial M For Murder and the grate from Strangers on a Train. The music is completely different also, it is quieter, relaxing not really a suspenseful sound yet. This will be an interesting movie.
  5. What interests me is how quickly people meet and fall in love in Hitchcock movies. It is always fast, but this is like a speed train, if they aren't playing and really don't know each other. A warning for women not to go to rural California with a man you just met. No wonder Suzanne Plushette's character seemed so hostile.
  6. I especially like the use of the Trautonium for the bird sounds, and Herrmann's composition for that. Miklos Rozsa had already done something similar with the Theremin, an earlier electronic sound device, for Hitchcock in Spellbound. It was also used a lot at Universal which was known as the "horror" and science fiction company. Frankenstein and all the sounds of the equipment when the monster was created. Definitely taken to a new level by Herrmann. Theremin: Herrmann The Day the Earth Stood Still soundtrack: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/day-earth-stood-still-1951/id645119942 Trautonium: Here it is with Sala, in German but with directions to translate or just enjoy the sounds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh8-qTjPV9g
  7. As Melanie walks to Davidson's Pet Shop, we see a typical city scene opening from Hitchcock, the San Francisco trolly blocking part of our view, then as Melanie comes in walking she passes a poster of the Golden Gate Bridge she looks very well dressed, in black top and tight fitting skirt with a white blouse. Stylish clothes, and a young teen gives her a wolf whistle, she turns and smiles. She enjoys making an impression and having it appreciated. This is a common element in romantic comedies, (like Barbara Stanwick in the Lady Eve. Though while everyone else notices her clothing Henry Fonda goes on about her “perfume”). When Melanie arrives at the store and the saleswoman tells her: “I was hoping you would be late 'He” hasn't arrived yet.” We are thinking of a man, then it switches to a Myna Bird. We are not surprised when Mitch shows up and mistakes Melanie for a saleswoman, since she is leaning over the counter writing, still not many saleswoman in pet stores especially, would be wearing designer clothing. Melanie plays along with Mitch asking what he is looking for, “Love Birds, a new variety … for his sister's 11th birthday...doesn't want them too demonstrative”. It seems they are playing and may know each other, but definitely there is flirting going on, especially on Melanie's part who shows more and more how little she knows about birds, but audience thinks may be talking about themselves. As when Mitch asks for the ornithological reason for keeping canaries separate, and her response of their “moulting”. How can you tell they are moulting? And she responds with “hangdog expression”. A couple who might have had a minor argument earlier in the day? Since we know from earlier dialog between Melanie and the saleswoman, it is now after three. The Birds may be going back to more of Hitchcock's earlier work, especially German Expressionism, since for music they use only the Trautonium an instrument for sound effects that Hitchcock learned about during his time making films in Germany. We hear it immediately in the raucous noise as Melanie is walking, the sound of gulls hovering around a food source, or an intruder, as we see them and hear them at a beach, or over a landfill. Perhaps an expected sound from San Francisco, except as Melanie gets closer to the pet store we see people looking up, and then Melanie looks up and we see the birds. We immediately get an answer for it, when Melanie comments on it to the saleswoman, who says it happens when there is a “storm at sea”. While the sound is disconcerting, we are turned away from that by the flirting between Melanie and Mitch later, but even sooner, by seeing Hitchcock lead his two terriers out of the store. Hitchcock was a dog lover and his two terrier's names were the name for one of his production companies “Geoffrey Stanley” that made Marnie. When the little dog in Rear Window is found dead with it's neck strangled, the response of the owner, shows Hitchcock's love of dogs, the opposite of birds in Hitchcock's films. Dogs steadfast and loving, birds are wild, you may own one, you may teach it to talk, (which Melanie obviously is not looking forward to having to do), but given an open cage and door or window that bird will be gone, it is still wild it is not domesticated. We can see this in the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill documentary about colonies of escaped parrots in San Francisco, and there are colonies around NYC of Monk Parrakeets. Still, we will have the two love birds bought for Mitch's sister as the opposite of the birds outside, ravens mostly, and long before Poe seen as a bird of evil, a familiar of witches. The birds that will take back the earth from those who are destroying it.
  8. The opening credits of Psycho are strong, using the black background, white lettering and the thick gray lines that go with the Music of Herrmann. The music makes the credits work, they are dancing almost to the music, together they pull you in, both strange, emoting a psychotic episode like the title. Especially the ones that look like an audio signal visual output. The opening scene gives a certain realism to the film, like it truly happened, it places it in the now, and since the film is in black and white, it gives it that television aspect, as in the Wizard of Oz the beginning and the end are reality, Oz in color is fantasy. Hitchcock as a TV producer is using that and is well aware of it, just as Spielberg did with reversing the Oz aspect for Schindler's List. There is also a repetition aspect from his other films here, as when as in Rear Window we look through the window to see Marion and Sam together, focusing on Sam's chest. Then following Marion's body her shoulder's, along her spine the criss-cross of her bra. The concentration is on Marion, camera staying on her, but also her words, “This will be the last time for this...”. Marion wants more than just a meeting when Sam comes to town for business, in a seedy hotel. The rest of the film will be following how Marion is going to be achieving that...with or without Sam.
  9. Cary Grant is at the top of his form in this film, he has long since moved from romantic comedies to dramatic roles, but he is Cary Grant. Like John Wayne and others from the Golden Age of Hollywood, we go to see him, they are not actors, they were personalities. As the lecture stated, Cary Grant did not have to go shopping with Hitchcock for wardrobe. Archie Leach just put on his Cary Grant persona, and we had what we expected, well groomed, custom made clothes, expensive, always fitted out perfectly. He was not a method actor and knew what Hitchcock wanted and like Jimmy Stewart, “Just do it”. The camera loves Grant, and the audience does also. Eva Marie Saint, is a method actor. She learned acting at the home of “method acting, and from Lee Strassberg, considered by many the “father” of method acting. Hitchcock did not like method actors overall, found them hard to work with, like Montgomery Clift, they clashed over I Confess. Saint, though, listened to Hitchcock, and Grant, and did it the Hitchcock way. The movies she has done, have made her a star and yet she is able to follow Hitchcock and disregard some of her method training. If his actors will trust him and follow what he wants, the wardrobe, makeup, all the other external parts and listen to his story and the story boards, then they have the movie and all they have to do is deliver their lines. That's what they do here and for the time period, it sizzles with innuendo. When she puts her hand on his, holding the “rot” book of matches and then blows out the match used to light her cigarette, we know what that means, it is a cliche that goes back to silent films, yet is still fresh here. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/08/movies/film-history-is-written-in-smoke.html?pagewanted=all Garbo and Gilbert smoke and kiss
  10. I do like the way Hitchcock got past the sensors with the kiss of Cary Grant and Ingred Bergman.
  11. This is a Hitchcock film, so the audience has some idea of what to expect, but the opening credits by Saul Bass makes it even more so. You really don't know what kind of film this will be. Moving from the lower left of the face, then to the lips, up along the nose, then the eyes, is something that could be expected, but the music sends a chill up your spine and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it is jarring, They will not be getting this on the top 100 hits Billboard. “The bump in the night” starts right off. The colorization as the close up of the right eye and the images coming from that eye, spinning, growing larger. We know it from Universal and B horror films, but this is different from what to expect from Hitchcock, this is a mad doctor idea from horror genre, While we expect the unexpected from Hitchcock, this is almost too much. The psychological issues will be great in this film, no matter where we are going. To use something for music as they did in Shadow of a Doubt would confuse, but in no was as the music of Bernard Herrmann does. Interesting that in Shadow of a Doubt the waltz scene at the beginning and end and the photograph with the date 1888 puts it in the time frame of the real killer, the movie was based on, Earl Leonard Nelson, who did his crimes in the 1920's, while the movie is set in 1945 Santa Rosa, surprisingly untouched by war. This is a interesting link to Nerdwriter about how Hitchcock blocked out the first scene in Vertigo, that sets up everything for the rest of the movie. It is worth watching about 10 minutes. Watch on a BIG screen, if you can.
  12. This scene from Rear Window, brings us in as voyeurs also, more than just a passive audience. The scene pans out from the room to the apartments across the court yard and then down, we see a cat going up the stairs, then a couple finishing dressing, as the camera pans back to the left, birds fly down diagonally from left to right. A shot of a bathroom with a woman combing her hair. Then back back into Jeff's room where he is lying, eyes closed, back to the rear window, face all sweaty. This is not Jeff looking, this is us, we are now participants along with Jeff, no longer being just a passive audience, we are active in the voyeurism. Quickly we go back out passing the thermometer showing 94 degrees. We can see the musician, shaving, moving to fiddle with the dial of his radio. The couple sleeping on the fire escape, their alarm going off and waking. Then Miss Torso, comes out of the bathroom half dressed doing a bend to pickup and put on her bra, turning to us and doing leg scissors, with a number of birds congregated on her roof. As the camera pans left again we can see a small street scene through the narrow alley the milkman is going through. Then to the woman putting her pet bird outside and taking the cover off the cage. Finally, pulling back into Jeff's room, Still sleeping, sweating in the heat, down to leg in a cast signed "Here lie the bones of L. B. Jefferies". Then a pan over to broken, smashed camera, and possible the shot that got him hurt and camera destroyed, of a race car crash head on in front of the photographer, then panning over more pictures that show the dangerous work that Jeff does. Finally a negative of a model, that ended up on a magazine cover with caption "Paris Fashions". We know knew the work Jeff does, why he is in the cast, and a foreshadow of how he met Grace Kelley. All the elements are there though for us to want to get back to looking out the rear window. What might we miss. That is where action will be taking place, stairs, cat, birds tell us that. 1954 in technicolor films the "color consultant" is still listed. To make a technicolor film had to rent equipment and hire a color consultant. They made the decision of what colors went or did not go in a scene. Herbert Kalmus invented it, and kept close control of it, and it gave his ex-wife and partner a job, and she could make things difficult for directors with her demands on color schemes. By 1954 she is no longer involved and on this film Richard Muller did that role.
  13. Alfred Hitchcock is definitely a “special case” in film noir. Hitchcock is known for suspense, that is what you expect to see when you go to a Hitchcock movie, and to see if you can find him in his film. A director such as Anthony Mann is known well for many types of films: noir, westerns and even epics such as Fall of the Roman Empire. In Fall of the Roman Empire Mann is making a film that Hollywood would use to counter the problem of television on the “big screen”, 70mm in Technicolor, with big name stars from around the world. Hitchcock would be more like Disney in using his suspense television series to bring people to see his theatrical releases on the big screen, not just the small screen. He would use the techniques of noir, the criss-cross of tracks leaving the train station, as we saw in our first week. We always expect and Hitchcock always gives us more. The opening as in many movies we have seen with just feet and legs showing, yet here we have the flashy two-tone shoes of Bruno (Robert Walker) and the staid tied mono dress shoe of Guy (Farley Granger) walking into the station, then through the train, both sitting at the same table in the club car and guy hitting Bruno's foot, crossed over his leg, as he crosses his own legs. Hitchcock builds suspense and anticipation here that we will see fulfilled throughout the film. We also have the Warner Brothers' style here, as well as Hitchcock's own style. He uses trains to great effect as the main mode of travel outside the city, as he does in North by Northwest at the end of the film as the train enters the tunnel: a substitute for sex, which he can not show on the screen. In the beginning he uses the taxis bringing the two men to the train station as the main mode of transportation in the city. Showing the mobile and existential ideas that will allow the agreement they will discuss one seriously the other jokingly.
  14. Jones/Haverstock (is this a joke on having to change your name, as many did in Hollywood? Constantly losing the bowler hat. In hotel calling for everyone to go to his room, almost like Marx Brothers in the ships cabin in Night at the Opera. Comedy.
  15. We know that Joan Fontaine is the opposite of Rebecca, right off we learn that from Joan's employer Mrs. Van Hopper. That is what draws Maxim to her. She is new to her new role and Maxim is too occupied with other issues to notice or to give her help. Others like Maxim's sister can understand that Mrs. Danvers scares her. We can see Maxim's love for her in the honeymoon pictures, ""look at you, won't our grandchildren be surprised when they see how lovely you were". But he has just rejected her new hair style and clothes as "not your type". Then she goes to Rebecca's room. Mrs. Danvers shows her around, not nicely, but how she can never take Rebecca's place. Maxim loved her so, bought her things all the time, How Mrs. Danvers can her Rebecca in all the rooms. Joan finally stands up, montage of Mrs. Danvers, the room, all the things with R on them. Next day giving orders to get rid of Rebecca's things. Mrs. Danvers suggests the dress. Lot more murder and mayhem in the movie. Maxim murdering Joan's youth and innocence that he loves, Mrs. Danvers trying to get Joan to jump from Rebecca's window. The murder of Manderlay and suicide of Mrs. Danvers.

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