CaseInPoint

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  1. I will have to defer to my more knowledgeable, up-to-date colleagues on this topic as I am a self-admitted 'old soul' who, believe it or not, rarely goes to current-release movies these days. As long as TCM is around, my movie cravings are satisfied! So my knowledge of current writers, art directors, composers, etc, is somewhat limited. One recent film I did see, however (and that was a couple of years ago!), was Woody Allen's Irrational Man, mainly because of the reported Hitchcock influence. I see where one of the other writers here mentioned Allen as perhaps collaborator as screenwriter with a contemporary Hitchcock, which I think would be cool since they both share a droll sense of humor and inject subtle sophisticated wit into their movies. Another potential collaborator that just popped into my head would be Danny Elfman for music. There are, of course, the great, whimsical scores for Tim Burton (yet another potential collaborator and influence mentioned here), and I remember him as front man for the zany new-wave band Oingo Boingo in the early 80s. I think Herrmann's score for Trouble With Harry sounds a bit like Elfman's style, so Hitch may have gone for it and appreciated it. That said, however, since we are being speculative here -- I would be further intrigued to think about how Hitch would respond to the current craze for social media, gadgets, and the growing phenomenon of interpersonal relationships becoming more mediated. Since much of Hitchcock's work involves identities (mistaken identities, doubles, etc), the cyber world might have presented Hitch with inspiration, perhaps to situate a story plot line in the cyber space -- or at least a space in which to move the narrative. Perhaps as a MacGuffin or place to situate a MacGuffin. A final note of thanks to Rich Edwards, everyone who worked so hard to bring this course to life and everyone who posted in these forums. I have learned SO MUCH from this deep dive into the craft of the Master. Hate to see it end! Best regards and a great summer to all!
  2. Looking back through these posts (which are GREAT) I'm glad to see a couple of references to the other grand man of 20th century cinema -- Orson Welles. In addition to Touch of Evil and The Lady from Shanghai, I would like to add a film in which Welles appeared, The Third Man. To me, the film has certain aspects of North by Northwest and certainly a film noir feel. Perhaps even add Citizen Kane to the list, coming out a year after Rebecca and featuring one of the first Bernard Herrmann scores. I have often wondered how much Hitchcock and Welles may have influenced each other as they 'grew up' in Hollywood at about the same time -- Hitch being able to navigate the landscape of the studio system much better than Welles. Does anyone know of anything that has been written or analyzed about this?
  3. One film that immediately comes to mind (and I don't think has been mentioned yet) is Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966). Many of the touches are there, especially the fabulous score by Bernard Herrmann. In addition, we see long tracking shots, POV shots, use of back projection, a blonde leading actress (Julie Christie) in a dual role. One touch I've always liked about this film, in prelude to a story about a world where reading and books are banned, no opening credits are shown written or in text to read, all are spoken. On first viewing of this film many years ago, not knowing much about it, I immediately thought of Hitchcock.
  4. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison. The long slow POV shot of the opening in Frenzy flows smoothly from the long track along the Thames River and through the Tower Bridge, immediately establishing the setting in London (the opening 'London' graphic is almost unnecessary) with music building to a grand crescendo above, and softening as the camera lowers the audience toward the speaker and crowd, almost lulling the audience into a false sense of security (the white birds fluttering softly along the riverbank are a nice touch!). In contrast, the opening in Lodger is more jarring and sudden, cutting from opening credits immediately to the scream closeup. The comparison shows how Hitchcock's style becomes more polished visually over time, with access to advancements in technology, from 1927 to 1972, and the master's willingness to experiment to bring him to a far different opening approach for a similar 'Jack the Ripper' story. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. The opening theme music in Frenzy is lush and evocative, alternating from soothing to thrilling and grand. Interestingly, I have read where Henry Mancini was the original composer for the film, but Hitch was furious at hearing the first recordings, saying it was 'too much like Herrmann'. I hear, however, certain aspects of Herrmann's style in this score -- full orchestration with a generous lacing of harp underneath. Again, we see a long POV opening shot (e.g., Rear Window, Psycho), a crowd in a public place (The Lodger, North by Northwest) and later in the opening of Frenzy, the use of dark humor (also present in the opening of Lodger). As disturbing as some of the scenes are in Frenzy are, I think it is one of Hitchcock's funniest movies! 3. Using Frenzy as an example, what thoughts do you have about the various purposes Hitchcock had in mind when he created his opening scenes? In the Daily Doses, we have focused on opening scenes, so there should be patterns or strategies you have noticed over the course of opening scenes spanning Hitchcock's 50 year career. I've alluded to some of the similarities in response to question 2. As I think more over the openings we have analyzed so far in the course, one common element I see in the first few minutes of most Hitchcock films is the immediate establishment of location. We have learned that Hitchcock was fascinated by places and maps, and most of his films visually situate the audience to where they are in the story right off the bat. Examples: Strangers on a Train ( the capitol building establishing the start in Washington, DC), To Catch a Thief (travel posters for France and the Riviera), Vertigo (San Francisco bay in the background, with the iconic bridges), North by Northwest (the BRILLIANT establishment of a mid-century modern skyscraper facade by Saul Bass in the opening credits, immediately suggesting New York City), Psycho (the location "Phoenix" actually displayed over shots of the skyline with date and time), The Birds (the pan following Tippi Hedren across a travel poster of San Francisco, transitioning from location to studio shot) to name a few.
  5. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. Right away, we get the distinct impression that this is a woman running away from something. She is first shown with the bright yellow bag and suitcase on a train platform. Later, in a hotel room (once again, a hotel room as starting point of a narrative associated with theft) we see money dumped out of a bag, making the assumption that the woman must be the thief, and has expensive taste, having acquired new clothes and what appears to be a very nice new suitcase (the box inside obviously from a high end boutique with the fancy cursive 'Alberts' logo). The stash of social security cards with varying names and issue dates as a way to visually convey a change of identity is GENIUS. New things neatly packed, while things from the previous life tossed carelessly into the old gray bag. So -- a woman, probably a thief, with good taste who is running away and changing her identity -- all without one word of dialogue. I also like the comments from the professors' lecture video that the shot of washing the dark hair dye down the sink resembles the Psycho shower 'drain' shot, and also the Judy/Madeline makeover at the spa in Vertigo. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The score goes into a soft, almost contemplative mood as the camera follows Marnie, again from behind, we have yet to see her face. As we see the hair dye being washed out, the tempo and volume slowly increase and climax into the opening theme's motif when we finally see Marnie's face, almost a fanfare of her introduction. Another word about sound -- if one listens closely to the announcements being made on the public address system in the train station, the cities being announced indicate that Marnie is about to head south -- "Wilmington, Washington, Richmond, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Fayetteville, Florence, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville".... Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? Hitchcock definitely looks as if he has been caught doing something naughty by the audience. I like the comments by the others in the forum that this is the first cameo where he breaks the 'fourth wall' and seems to acknowledge the audience...never thought of that! To this point, in my readings about Hitchcock, I have always had the impression that he was a man that was frightened of the world in many ways (fear of the police, fear of driving, etc) and always saw this cameo as (also) of a frightened Hitchcock venturing into the world, or into the world of the film's setting.
  6. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? In looking the glib dialogue and the verbal sparring between Melanie and Mitch, one could almost substitute Doris Day and Rock Hudson from one of their three romantic comedies (almost 'screwball' comedies) contemporary to the time. The two spar back and forth (like a couple of birds about to mate?) and Mitch is obviously pleased that he has tricked Melanie into playing along. Mitch's constant questioning of Melanie hints at his occupation as a lawyer. Later, when Melanie calls the newspaper office, we hear that she is able to coerce the city editor into looking up Mitch's license plate and that "daddy is in a meeting" -- enough information to tell the audience that she is a spoiled rich girl. Also, we first see Tippi in that severely-tailored black suit, forcing her to walk, almost hop, like a bird. The scene opens on Union Square, a popular open space in San Francisco surrounded by upscale hotels and shopping, a setting much more associated with a light-hearted, sophisticated comedy than the end of the world. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? I love how the bird sounds crescendo and fade away, starting with the gulls over Union Square and especially the captive birds in the shop as Melanie comes into view at the top of the stairs. As in most of Hitchcock's previous work, deliberate care is given to the sounds of the city (traffic, streetcar bells, etc) giving the realistic aural accompaniment to the visual. One other note -- per the lecture notes, we have learned that Hedren was discovered by Hitchcock via her appearance in a 1960s television commercial for a diet drink called "Sego". As I remember from the day, one of those commercials featured an off-screen cat-call whistle to which the model turns and smiles -- exactly as Hedren does in the first few frames of the film, a nod to the source of his new star's discovery. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. One of our classmates here made a great observation about the dogs representing 'double' or 'pair'. I have also heard that those were indeed Hitchcock's personal dogs (might have been in the lecture notes) and have read that they were even associated visually with Hitchcock's Shamley Productions, perhaps in a logo (?). A big stretch here, but could it be somewhat of a 'thumbed nose' at the studio system that Hitch is now his own 'system' and at a point where he can do whatever he wants?
  7. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? I have always loved the all-strings composition of the score in this film. While the lower strings carry the melody or main theme, the higher strings act as the rhythm, in a 'slashing' sound of the same notes on the quarter beat (and vice-versa). If one were to watch the musicians performing it, the bows of the violins, violas, cellos and basses would be slashing, like the knife in the famous shower scene. Similarly, Saul Bass' design is a simple series of bars slashing across the screen, cutting apart and re-forming the names of the actors and principals. Another thing I like is how some of the names are moved on and off the screen. Almost every single credit moves as a whole either up, down or to one side. Janet Leigh's credit is 'slashed apart' with half the name Janet and the other half Leigh moving to opposite sides, much like she is murdered halfway through the move. Another interesting note is the two Saul Bass credits -- the first for Title Design and the second for Pictorial Consultant, where the other contributors' names move to one side while Bass along moves in the opposite direction. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? The details of the day and time remind me of "Dragnet", or what a police report subsequent to the crime might use to document or investigate the case -- or perhaps how it might have been presented in court after we have witnessed the film, as if the film itself was 'exhibit A' ? As for the long tracking shot into the room through the window (which is AMAZING), clearly establishes the audience as voyeur, looking behind the blinds (reminiscent of the bars in the opening credits). As for comparisons to other doses so far, this one most closely resembles Rear Window, with the camera lingering at the bottom of a window with similar blinds, then venturing forth into a world of private drama. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. We see the couple in a hotel room, but soon learn through the dialogue that they are not a married couple. At least not yet. We learn a lot in the dialogue about the guilt and shame they feel about meeting in a cheap hotel and about being "secretive" One of the things I like about the screenplay is use of variations of the same word -- meeting in "secret" and being "secretive" or eating in an "office" as too "officious". So there is a lot of ambiguity from the start. The couple has obviously been intimate, but neither (especially Sam) seems ready to commit to a relationship. But Marion says "Sam let's get married" and "I'll lick the (alimony mailing) stamps." This scene also shows Marion in a white bra, the first glimpse of her face framed 'between the hills', white usually associated with cleanliness and purity. Later, after the temptation and theft of the money, she is shown in a black bra, yet another risqué shot for 1960, as a woman willing to resort to 'risky' measures to escape her drab world and start anew with Sam.
  8. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. At the point that North by Northwest was made, Grant, in particular, had already appeared in Hitchcock films (Suspicion, Notorious and To Catch a Thief) in which he played opposite famous blondes (Joan Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly). So merely in context of Hitchcock films, the line 'I look vaguely familiar' may be a bit of homage to those appearances (?). There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. After following Hitch's direction (according to lecture notes) and sitting with her hands unseen for most of the scene, Eva Marie produces a cigarette, at which point Grant responds accordingly by offering to light. Instead of a lighter, however (which Guy Haines offered in "Strangers") Grant has monogrammed matches. These perhaps more clearly convey the monogram of ROT and especially establish a connection that is very important later in the film when Grant writes the note in the matchbook. The observation that 'O' stands for nothing seems to indicate the superficial nature of his life as an advertising executive, a career associated with glamour but often ridiculed by Hitchcock especially in his television series of the time. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. The sounds are oddly soothing, with the continuous sound of the train moving over the tracks creating an underlying rhythm accompanying the quiet 'elevator music' of the dining car. Hitchcock is careful to include occasional sounds of the other diners laughing, sounds of silverware clinking, etc. One of the things I love about this scene is how the soothing sounds of the train's interior and the actors' voices juxtapose with the view out of the windows of the world rushing by at a maddening pace. The conversation is seductive, slow and steady while the world seems to be almost coming apart outside.
  9. Describe what you think this film will be about simply from the sounds and images in these opening credits. Even if you have seen the film, try to focus on these sounds and images themselves and “the story” (or if not "the story," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. Even if one has not seen the film, the title "Vertigo", by its definition, already communicates that the film will somehow be about 'verticality', dizziness, a spinning sensation and probably a fear of heights. The film, of course, delivers on all points. The Lissajous figures are a great choice, as their design is 'spun' in the colors that will perpetuate in the film, and they spin themselves in the blackness of the background. I like Saul Bass' minimalist design on the black background, like floating in an endless, nightmarish space. The typeface Bass uses also reminds me of faces used in eye charts, as the title sequence opens on extreme closeups of an eye. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. The extreme closeups of the face, panning from mouth to eyes and lingering on the right eye of the model. This personally makes me a bit uneasy, being this close to one of the most expressive points of a human face, looking into the blackness of the pupil, from which the title of the movie, the spiral graphics and the director's credits emerge. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The reactions of the models face and certain points of the transitions in the spiral graphics coordinate beautifully with transitions and crescendos in the music. Herrmann alternates from grand brass and full orchestration during spinning graphics to a simple harp repeating the theme, during which Bass stops the spiraling and shows static graphics -- shown smaller as well, as if lost souls just floating in space. Additional observations -- I have read where a main theme of the music, the two-note high to low, is reminiscent of the fog horns sounding in San Francisco bay. This motif is accompanied by a series of triplets, alternating from low to high to high to low notes. Accordingly, Bass' graphics alternate to fading away from view to zooming in to view. The loud blasts of brass followed by the simple triplets of a harp in the blackness are particularly powerful. A simple, beautiful sequence, I can't watch it enough. A great piece of entertainment on its own.
  10. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window? To me, Hitch is guiding the gaze of the audience as voyeur, as they will become active participants of the voyeurism in the movie along with Jeffries. We get acquainted with the 'world' outside Jeffries' window and get a glimpse of some of its inhabitants. We linger on a brief shot of Jeff, we know it is summer and hot, and with the pan over a camera, photos of 'danger' (car wrecks, bombs going off, etc), we surmise he is a photographer who likely got hurt taking a dangerous shot. So Hitch establishes an urban environment, summer and heat contributing to one windows, and an injured photographer confined to a chair. Interestingly, the only shot we see that doesn't seem to portray danger is of the woman, first in negative then in actual print. Or is this one just another FORM of danger??? What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? As mentioned above, the pan over the camera first, then over the photographs. A viewer can make a connection between the visual content of the photos having something to do with Jeff being in a cast. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? The scene is, to me, definitely a POV tracking shot for the audience. Hitch tempts us with just enough information about each window across the way and the inhabitants to want to see further in. The sounds are amazing in this sequence, as well as the entire film, as well -- the music from the studio apartment, the radio ad, the alarm clock, children in the street. The scene makes me want to see what's behind the other windows that are closed as well! Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? Yes, as the audience shares the experience of Jeff in watching all the windows and the dramas unfolding within as 'little movie screens' across the way. Hitch knows we are trapped in a theater seat and can't look away, much like Jeff. The fact that Jeff looks through a camera adds to the motif of the film as being about watching drama in a cinematic way...with the participant observer choosing what to see in closeup or long shot, or static shot (slide viewer). I think Vertigo is very cinematic as well, with the Scotty and Elster both making over the same woman as an actress to fit their needs and desires.
  11. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific. The most obvious is the high angle POV shot of the train tracks. Shortly after, both men cross their legs with the shoes we have been watching bumping each other to start the conversation. At the very start, the direction in which the characters cross the screen, alternating from left to right to right to left, is almost a 'criss cross', in addition to the idea of mirroring. Similarly, one car (the car in which Bruno arrives) has 'suicide doors' hinged at the rear, while the doors on Guy's car opens the opposite way. Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example. The shoes, of course, and the suits -- Bruno appearing a bit more tailored and polished than Guy. The shot of the tennis racquets immediately establishes Guy as, potentially, more of a man of leisure, although we soon come to know that, really, almost the opposite is true -- Bruno is the one who has the means to roam about the country at leisure. The way Walker delivers the dialogue for Bruno is brilliant -- syrup-y sweet and confident, while Guy seems shy and hesitant. While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence? As in many of Hitch's pictures to date, the music is light-hearted and upbeat, a contrast to the more dark aspects of the film to come.
  12. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? Clever use of lighting and the subtle touches of shadow to suggest a window, for example, in the bedroom -- more German Expressionist influence. The POV shot of Bergman looking at Grant is amazing, ending up with a view of Grant upside down and showing the ceiling (which was likely very difficult to do on a sound stage!). How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography? As most have already noted, Grant is shown in black, usually associated with sinister or 'devilish' characters. I particularly like the way Grant pronounces the character's name -- not as the usual two-syllable DEV-lin, but as three syllables -- DEVIL-in. I am intrigued by the choice of the blouse with heavy black horizontal lines for Bergman. The style, with what appear to be sequins for a bit of glitter, suggests something that a party girl might wear, yet the horizontal black lines also suggest what is sometimes associated with a prison uniform. A woman imprisoned by her past, perhaps? I may be way off, but it's an interesting thought. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? I think it's a mixed bag. For Grant, I think the scene is a challenge, having appeared in what were essentially romantic or screwball comedies (The Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday) and a dark comedy (Arsenic and Old Lace) prior to Notorious. In the example scene, he comes across as cold, uncaring and controlling Bergman, however, exhibits some of the vulnerable wholesomeness with a strength and fire just beneath the surface, as seen in her iconic Casablanca role.
  13. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? Instead of establishing the entire scene from the start, Hitch begins with a pan along the mess of dishes slowing pulling back to establish a disheveled, unshaven man playing solitaire on the floor. Just from the title, this is enough to tell the audience that the man is probably Mr. Smith and, if he is playing solitaire, something must be awry in his relationship with the yet unseen Mrs. Smith, all without a word of dialogue. A great wink, I think, from the master. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smithis a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? Not typical in that the opening occurs in a more domestic, even intimate, setting -- not in a busy place with a crowd or in an urban setting as in some of the earlier work. Typical, however, in that Hitch goes several minutes into the opening, giving the audience a lot of information visually without spoken dialogue. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? Having never seen the film, my first reaction was the contrast between the two visually. Although both characters are first shown early in the morning, disheveled after what is later revealed to be a quarrel, Montgomery appears as what most audiences would associate with a typical guy, not a chiseled 'matinee idol', while Lombard seems to exude the glamour-under-the surface (the first view of her after all is underneath a blanket) that audiences associate with blondes. Perhaps a bit of an 'opposites attract' thing?
  14. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. The character is very well dressed in a suit, even while lying down for a nap, creating a polished veneer. He reacts to disturbing news from the landlady in a calm way, but when alone, the polished veneer boils over to rage, accompanied by the raising volume of the music, to throwing the glass. He is shown in a seedy rooming house yet we see lots of money laying around in the open. Why? Something is not right, the guy in some sort of fix, decides to flee, the 'inquiring minds' of the audience want to know more. Also, I love the observation by the professors that the opening scene serves to establish Uncle Charlie's association to the 'mean streets' of American cities, soon to descend upon and tarnish innocent small town America. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations). I have not seen The Killers but, based on experience with and reading about film noir, the opening of Shadow of a Doubt does exhibit some of my expectations to how film noir should look; the rooming house, the urban setting, two strange men in suits lurking on a street corner, a main character who appears to be polished and sophisticated yet in some sort of predicament, especially the influence of German Expressionism and the strategic use of shadows and juxtaposition of light and dark. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? To me, the light and breezy waltz tempo of the opening music creates a contrast to what one might expect settling in to view a picture titled Shadow of a Doubt. Why would we not hear a lot of low strings and brass? The accompanying visual of well-dressed couples dancing, fading in and out of soft focus, immediately (to me) creates a juxtaposition in context of surrounding visual that something 'is not quite right' in this world. As noted above, tempo and volume increase as the rage of the character increases. Another note about music in the film -- the transitions to jazz, especially when Charlie and Uncle Charlie are in bar settings and the conversation turns more sinister.
  15. 1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? Unlike previous films, Hitchcock uses the voice of a narrator to immediately establish that the story will be told from her perspective. The narration is accompanied by long, slow tracking shots (I would even say POV shots of the narrator (?) in a very dark, gothic/horror setting. The opening music is much more subdued than in previous films -- what most audiences would associate with a feeling of foreboding. This is also an early example of a tracking shot visually taking the audience through a gate or wall. I also like the jarring cut from the dark, moody views of Manderly to the bright crashing of the ocean and low angle shot of Olivier. Almost like Madeleine and Scotty and their rendezvous by the crashing Pacific in Vertigo. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? As mentioned above, the long tracking or POV shot that lingers outside the entrance of Manderly and moves through the gate. Reminds me of the long pans and slow zoom through the hotel window in the opening of Psycho. 3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? As the camera first lingers on Manderly, the narrator (Fontaine) gives a detailed account, or reflection, of the important 'role' the house played in her life. Her reflection also helps support the visual with a detailed description of the structure of the house. The scene indeed serves as a vocal flash-back to set the stage for the film.

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