• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited


About Catherine.g.ens

  • Rank
  • Birthday

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling
  1. The opening scenes of Frenzy and The Lodger involve the same dramatic event; the public discovery of a dead body. However, Hitchcock deals with the subject differently in these two opening scenes. In The Lodger, we first see a close up of a woman, open mouthed, screaming in terror. This is followed by a shot of the body, and a woman who witnessed the murder telling the police what she saw. In contrast, Frenzy begins with a very long aerial shot of London. The discovery of the body is delayed, as we see a crowd gathered by the river listening to a political speech about pollution. While The Lodger, as a silent film, depicts the information visually with the witness pointing, in Frenzy we get an actual shout of Look! The body floating in the river is just as disturbing, but through different cinematic means. In The Lodger, there is terror from the very first shot. Here, the sight of the body is surprising and unexpected given that we have just been watching a fairly normal scene. In both films, Hitchcock maximizes our feelings of shock and horror. It seems that location is very important to Hitchcock when creating opening scenes. For example, in the opening of Frenzy, the location of London is emphasized through the long aerial shot. Many of his films also begin with crowds, whether, as in Frenzy, they are listening to a speech, or, as in other films, they are attending a performance or sporting event. I feel that Hitchcock saw these moments as the optimum time to reveal something horrific or shocking. Maybe the reason is because we all have experience as part of such crowds or audiences. Therefore, we can easily picture ourselves being caught up in such a scene. Finally, I feel Hitchcock used his opening scenes to "hook" or grab the audience. They often evoke strong feelings of suspicion, shock, or intrigue. For example, the appearance of a body is a common occurrence in Hitchcock's openings. We are immediately invested in the story and want to find out more.
  2. Like the opening scene of Strangers on a Train, this first scene of Marnie shows us the main character without revealing her face. The famous opening of Strangers on a Train focuses in the shoes of the two men just before they meet; here, we see Marnie from behind and then simply her arms and hands as she interacts with various objects. The effect is that we as an audience are forced to pay attention to what she is doing and make inferences about her as a character. Marnie is methodically dumping items from one suitcase to another, many of them new and still in their packaging. She takes a purse and turns it upside down, revealing several wads of cash. We are already wondering where she got the money, where she is going, and why it seems she is concealing her identity. When she washes her hair, we finally see Tippi Hedren's face. She changes from a brunette to a blond. Music swells as she does so. This reminds me a lot of Vertigo and Kim Novak's physical transformation. The Hitchcock cameo is notable as he actually briefly looks at the camera. This may be significant considering that we have not yet seen Marnies face.
  3. In the opening scene of The Birds, Hitchcock is playing with the genre of romantic comedy. When Melanie and Mitch meet in the pet shop, it is a typical "meet cute" moment; Mitch assumes Melanie works at the store, and she plays along. He is looking for "love birds", which is an innuendo for the two of them finding one another attractive. However, the humor for the audience is that Melanie does not seem to know the first thing about birds. There is nothing sinister about this pet shop scene, but the fact that Hitchcock precedes the scene with the gulls flying overhead creates an interesting and ironic juxtaposition. While Melanie and Mitch both come into the store in search of birds to buy, and both have difficulty getting what they are looking for, the gulls are already descending on them just outside, of their own accord and uninvited. Therefore, Hitchcock introduces a darkness into the film from the very beginning. He seems to be trying to portray the unpredictability of life; things happen which are beyond our control. Sound design is also used in a remarkable way in this opening scene. There is no music soundtrack, only bird sounds. The gull sounds we hear as Melanie enters the pet shop are quickly replaced by the less sinister chirping of the caged birds. This immediately shifts the mood, so Hitchcock is again playing with the genres of horror and romantic comedy in the same scene. His cameo happens early in the film, as he can be seen leaving the pet shop with two small dogs on leashes. This plays into the comedic nature of the scene, and yet the dogs are walking in front of him, almost taking him for a walk, suggesting perhaps that animals/nature will prevail in the film.
  4. Saul Bass' title design and Bernard Herrmann's music come together in the opening of Psycho to create a mood that is stark, forceful, relentless and disturbing. The black background is dark and sinister, while the letters being slashed in half remind me of a knife. Like the title sequence for Vertigo, this is successful in establishing the themes of the film. This has a harsher feeling overall than the spirals we saw in Vertigo, which I think is a good fit for Psycho. The fact that we are shown a very specific date and time (Friday, December the Eleventh at Two Forty-Three P.M) gives the feeling of a crime documentary -- the time is bound to be important to the story. It sets the atmosphere and gives the viewer the thought that something dark is bound to happen. As we enter the hotel room through semi closed blinds, I am reminded of Rear Window. Hitchcock moves us from the exterior to the privacy of the characters sharing an intimate moment. It has the same effect as Rear Window, in that we feel we probably should not be witnessing these lovers.
  5. From the start of the dialogue in this scene, Cary Grant's tongue in cheek remarks "well, here we are again" and "I know, I look vaguely familiar" establish in the back of our minds the idea that the two stars themselves are flirting. By now, Grant was one of Hollywood's most established and recognizable leading men. The references to his face being familiar are a nod to this, while Eva Marie Saint's quiet seductiveness is the perfect match for Grant. When Grant says the line "The moment I meet an attractive woman, I have to start pretending I have no desire to make love to her" it is in line with the playboy character who wins the hearts of practically every woman, a character that he has become known for. But Saint's question "What makes you think you have to conceal it?" is intriguing to him. Their dialogue is like a game of tennis; we listen to the back and forth.
  6. In this early scene from Notorious, Hitchcock is choosing to show a contrast between his two characters, played by Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Bergman's face is shown in close up, and she is lying on a bed, while Grant is standing upright framed by a door and we see his whole body. Hitchcock then uses the camera to playfully tilt our view of Grant until he is upside down. The two actors are not shown together in the same frame, thereby emphasizing the fact that they do not see eye to eye. The way Hitchcock chooses to photograph these two stars is not accidental, as each had their own persona known to the public. While Bergman was relatable for women, and therefore shown in a natural position and in close-up, Grant was the epitome of a debonair leading man, so it makes sense for him to presented as "the whole package" dressed "like Cary Grant". In this scene, Hitchcock is capitalizing on the special appeal of each of the two stars.
  7. The title sequence from Vertigo hooks you from the start. You feel yourself becoming hypnotized as the music and images work together. It's amazing how many aspects and themes of the film can be encompassed by these few images. The woman's eye and the colorful repetitions of spirals hint at many things to come. It is difficult to imagine not knowing what the film is about, because it has made such an impact on me. Each time I see the title sequence I am reminded of the reason why. The music is startling, disturbing, dramatic, and the images are haunting. This film really impressed me when I first saw it in my early twenties. I thought about it for days afterwards. The title sequence really grabs you, and the film never lets you go. Some of the themes indicated by the title design include the woman's facial features (an important element of the story), the theme of obsession and repetition, the feeling of a dream-like or hallucinatory state brought about by the endless spirals, and the terror indicated by the widening eye. The spirals also remind us of falling down a spiral staircase. I know I have had a falling dream where I never seem to reach the bottom. The spirals overlaying the woman's eye have the impression of entering into the deep psyche of a human being. It feels that we emerge once again by the end of the credits, as once again the spiral is placed over the eye. I feel that the spiral is the most powerful image of the sequence. Its many forms, colors and patterns hint at the depth and breadth of human psychology. The images have a kaleidoscopic effect. I can't say enough about how great I think this film is.
  8. The opening scene of Rear Window establishes the audience as the primary viewer, or voyeur. Rather than Jeff, who is asleep with his back to the window, it is we, the film audience, who are placed in the role of spectator. In some ways, it almost feels we are being forced into this position. From the very first shot, in which the camera slowly moves us from inside the apartment to the external view, framed consciously by the windows, we are being thrust into the role of a "Peeping Tom". As we survey the various apartments, it becomes clear that the neighbors are unaware of being observed, as many of them are engaging in activities that we would only do in private. For example, the girl who is dressing and leans over in a revealing way towards us would probably be humiliated if she knew we had such a great view. Similarly, the couple who have been sleeping outside on their small balcony (probably due to the heat) would be mortified to learn that we can see their every move. By showing us such private moments, Hitchcock is making us feel uncomfortable but, in another way, intrigued. He appeals to the "Peeping Tom" he feels is in all of us. This opening scene establishes the premise of the film beautifully and without any dialogue. Everything is shown to the audience through visual means. Like so many other Hitchcock opening scenes we have studied, he shows us, his audience, various clues in a particular order so that we are to make for ourselves a certain conclusion -- a conclusion that he intends us to make. The shot of Jeff with his brow perspiring is followed by a thermometer showing it to be an extremely hot day. The fact that he is asleep makes us feel he is somewhat struggling in the heat, and we empathize with him. Next, Hitchcock chooses to show his broken leg, followed by the camera and photographs revealing that Jeff is a travel photographer. All of this information is revealed to us visually. From the start, therefore, we have our own set of eyes, as we are seeing things that Jeff cannot while he is alseep. However, we also connect with Jeff as the protagonist in a number of ways. We relate to his Peeping Tom habits because, before he even wakes up, we have already been engaging in them ourselves. I can't help but feel like a victim of one of Hitchcock's practical jokes. I can almost hear him laughing because he has us in the exact place he wants us. It is almost as if he catches us in the act of spying.
  9. In this opening sequence from Strangers on a Train, the criss cross train tracks are used as a metaphor for the two men's intersecting lives. Though we know very little about them, the contrast in their walks and shoes suggest ways that they may differ. Bruno's shoes are white and shiny, and his walk is confident and brisk. The music accompanying his walk is also bold and dynamic. Guy's shoes are black and his persona is a little more mysterious, as it is harder to decipher from his walk what kind of character he is. When the two men do meet in the train, Bruno is more forthcoming, while Guy is less eager to talk. I think this is a very effective opening scene.
  10. The first scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith is typical Hitchcock in that it opens with a view of objects. The camera moves across the table strewn with dirty dishes, then up to Montgomery as he plays cards. Next, the camera moves to Lombard tossing and turning in bed. Hitchcock gives us a close up of her face, and we realize she is not asleep; her eyes are open. This is similar to other opening sequences we have watched, because Hitchcock is controlling what he wants us to see. It's all about what he wants the audience to pay attention to. Like the opening of Shadow of a Doubt, we are forced to view objects or people one at a time in a particular order, and then we make a conclusion based on that series. In this sequence, we learn that the couple are extravagant and carefree. The table filled with dishes followed by Montgomery playing solitaire and his wife lying in bed helps us form this opinion of them. They are in no hurry and feel no pressure to do the mundane tasks awaiting them. We gather, therefore, that they are a couple of substantial means. The lighthearted music contributes to the humor of the scene. We get a feeling of a sort of "game" taking place between husband and wife. Also, the maid who knocks on the door with the breakfast tray is eager to peer into the room, and there is a discussion about looking through the keyhole. This voyeurism is typical of Hitchcock's films. He establishes the couple as one that is worth spying on. I think Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery seem very well cast from this opening scene. They have a playfulness that works well in the sequence. Their facial expressions show their feelings towards one another. After Montgomery pretends to leave the room, and Lombard springs upright in bed, their love for each other seems real as they embrace. I'm looking forward to seeing this film, as I have not seen many Carole Lombard pictures, and I am interested to see how Hitchcock handles screwball comedy.
  11. In this opening scene from Shadow of a Doubt, we learn that Charlie is renting a room temporarily rather than living in his own apartment. He appears to be in a state of agitation and contemplating something as he lies on the bed. The money lying on the table and floor indicate a sense of desperation. We learn that Charlie is being followed by two men. Although he appears to maintain a cool, calm presence while his landlady is in the room, we soon see his escalating temper when he throws the glass across the room, gathers a few belongings, and decides to face the waiting men. We are unsure what Charlie will do when he sees the men. We watch him walk towards them and wonder if there will be a confrontation, but he simply walks past them, around the corner. The opening scene reminds me of a film noir in several ways. First, there is the narrowing focus, as the scene begins with boys playing on the street outside, followed quickly by a shot of a boarding house, then the room, the window, the bed inside, the close up of Charlie, and finally the money on the table and floor. This "closing in" on Charlie from a larger to a smaller and smaller focus makes us feel that someone may be narrowing in on him. We find soon that in fact, two men are following him. The shadowy lighting and escalating, ominous music also have feelings of film noir. The music adds greatly to the sense of tension in the scene. While the landlady is in the room, the music is quiet and hardly noticeable, but as she leaves, the music builds up very quickly. We get the sense that this matches Charlie's mounting anxiety and beating heart. When he throws the glass, the music accompanies this sudden, unpredictable action with a quick stop. As Charlie opens the front door and begins moving towards the two men on the corner, the music has a marching rhythm that adds to the sense of footsteps. This continues after Charlie has walked down the street, as the two men begin following him.
  12. Happy Monday, everyone! First, I want to say that I am a big fan of the novel Rebecca and have seen the film adaptation several times. I would say that this film is closer to other film adaptations of novels from this period, such as Gone With the Wind or Wuthering Heights, than it is to other Hitchcock films we have watched. For that reason, I tend to forget that it was directed by Hitchcock. But the scene in which Laurence Olivier's character is staring into the sea from the cliff above does have a strong Hitchcockian feeling to me. It is reminiscent of scenes from Vertigo involving heights and thoughts of jumping. The particular way that Hitchcock cuts to the character's shuffling feet on the edge of the cliff and has the camera facing directly downwards at the huge drop almost gives me that feeling of "vertigo"! In the opening scene, the way the camera slowly tracks down a shadowy, winding path creates an ominous atmosphere for the audience and a sense of dread. Before we see Manderley, the voiceover of Joan Fontaine's character accompanying this visual "journey" makes us almost fear seeing it, and thus creates suspense for the audience. The way the camera moves is at times shaky, making us feel unsteady as we are forced to enter the gates and walk the winding path. This opening is very different from those we have seen from Hitchcock's British years. This scene is much more isolating, as it has a more gothic influence, whereas Hitchcock tended to start his British films in crowded, public places. Often, even if the film is later dark, a Hitchcock film will open with a scene of enjoyment and recreation, such as a theatre, a music hall, or a sporting event. For me, this opening scene from Rebecca represents a break from this pattern.
  13. The tone of the opening scene and its music is lighthearted, pleasant, and jovial. The people in the waiting area do not seem anxious or overly frustrated. They are reading or sitting contentedly, waiting patiently. The movement of the camera in the very beginning matches the music, as it bobs slightly around the room focusing on different characters. Caldicott and Charters seem quintessentially British in their humor and style. They cannot understand why everything is not said in English, and expect everything to be orderly and the way they are used to. They appear to be a team, walking together and talking only with each other as they try to get information from those around them. As we hear the two of them talking, we can tell that they have traveled together and been side by side for a time. They almost finish one another's sentences and understand one another well. They also add a comedic element to the scene, although they are straight faced themselves. Of the three girls who enter from the doorway and make their way up the stairs, Iris is established as the star of the scene as she steps in front of the other two. The camera is always facing her and catches her every glance, whereas the other two girls fade into the background and look around, sometimes away from the camera. Iris becomes the center of the frame as she walks up the stairs, and we can tell from the fact that she is the one speaking that Hitchcock wants us to pay attention to her.
  14. Interesting; thanks for bringing that up.
  15. The opening scene from The 39 Steps fits a pattern that we have seen before in Hitchcock's films. Like The Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much, again we are thrust into a public space and caught up in a performance, with the spectators of great importance to the scene. Even when those on stage are speaking, we see them from an angle within the audience, and are aware of audience members in front of us. Therefore, Hitchcock deliberately makes us pay attention to the watchers, in a way that we have seen in previous films. This element of "the Hitchcock touch" is emphasized as once again we see cuts from the observed to the observers. Similar to The Lodger, the first scene of The 39 Steps hides the identity of the character in the first few shots. However, as Rothman observed, a distinction is soon made between our view of Ivor Novello's character in The Lodger and the protagonist in The 39 Steps. We are made to feel that the gentleman who buys a ticket and takes his seat in the music hall audience is trustworthy, and we can identify with him because of his seemingly innocent participation in the questioning of "Mr. Memory." When he has to repeat his question several times, we feel he is relatable, and we can identify with him as a normal, non-threatening member of the audience.

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:


Having problems?

Contact Us