BarbaraGrahamTucker

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  1. Instead of addressing the questions, this will just make some comments. What I am getting from these clips is a wicked sense of irony in Hitchcock. Show one thing, mean another. Say one thing, show another. Juxtaposed images. Beautiful regal music over a polluted river. Politicians saying we are going to clean up the river, dead body floating naked. This is not just a technique or motif in this film, but in others. In The Birds opener, Tippi Hedren goes into a shop of caged birds after she has looked at a skyful of wild, menacing, unexplainable, and uncontrolled birds. Janet Leigh in Psycho is making love and being "protected" by her man but is going to end up slaughtered. It leads me to think that beneath the layer of entertainment, he is somehow implying an existentialism that I don't want to call meaningless but is very dark and random and pessimistic. It also leads me to think he saw women as victims and very paternalistically. Sorry, this is negative. Cinematically all of this is brilliant but leaves me a little depressed. I feel this way about the later films more than the earlier ones (like Notorious, which is my favorite).
  2. . She wants to acquire objects and the power they give her to create new selves or identities. She is dishonest and clever about it, successful at beating the system (how did she get four different Social Security cards, the money). She can discard items even though she needs them for her rues. She buys (steals) the best. She wants to live high class and will do what it takes. I would guess that she interacts with objects better than people. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? It gives a sophisticated feel. The cameos are sometimes cute but they get annoying, and from the perspective years later they are like Stan Lee being in the comic book movies. In this one he looked briefly at the camera—that’s new. It adds a level of self-awareness, winking at the camera feel. This is also done in such a way that no one would miss it.
  3. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? It’s very bare, black and white, primeval, shocking. Nothing good is going to come of this. No happy ending. Reminds me of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring which has similar feel and theme as Psycho. 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? I think he was borrowing from the True Crime type of film, as if this were true and he is reporting on it, like a documentary. Peeping Tom is the feel I get, as in Rear Window. There is also the sense of a private eye (Martin Balsam later) trying to look into and investigate this character, who is really not a nice girl. 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. She is having an affair, rather sleazy with the fellow, and doesn’t seem too worried about societal conventions. She steals money and runs off with it. She is going to die in a hotel room. Do we feel sympathy for her? We never, in my opinion, get a reason to. Her murder is sudden, shocking, insane, almost random.
  4. Cary Grant was the epitome of Mr. Suave. He is quoted as saying, “I wish I were Cary Grant” because it was a part he played, not his reality. However, here she is in control. She has manipulated the meeting, she knows all about him, he can’t hide, she makes the passes. So it’s a turnabout for subtle laughs, plus no doubt what she wants sooner or later. Of course, she’s lying to him as well and playing a part, just like he is trying to play a part of not being Thornhill. Some levels of irony. Fire is the metaphor. He lights it, she puts it out. She is fluid and gentle but is moving his hand to take control. He would have given himself away with the initials even if she hadn’t known better. He has made up his name; he is an advertising; he is a fake in many ways. The O is not real, just so he can have the initials ROT. The music subtle, the way the scene is subtle. She never raises her voice, and the music doesn’t either. The music supports her character.
  5. 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. Those images pretty much state that this will be an unsettling film about mental conditions or mental anguish or something along that lines. Who is that woman at the beginning? She’s not one of the stars, so her random anonymity is fascinating from the beginning. The images of the various spirals is another matter. First, they approximate certain aspect of nature, such as shells. The images move counter clockwise, instead of clockwise, which is unsettling until you think about. Each image is a different garish color. Someone could get hypnotized by the credis. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. The women’s face being panned and then turning blood red. However, I had to remind myself how (some of) the spiral designs, which are remarkable, were done on a very early and primitive computer and how amazing that is because the spiral designs are so fascinating andinricate. The white one looks like a cocoon where someone is trapped. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? I closed my eyes and listened to the just the music. Without the images it is amazing because there is no melody, just a recurring pattern of sound that at one point is going up in pitch in such a way that you feel like you are going up winding stairs, and after a few bars there is a harsh discordant sound, and at one point the sensation of falling is real.
  6. 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? The camera goes full circle, twice really, both times ending on Stewart, once to show the temperature, the second time to show his cast and then his camera and photographs. He is establishing that this is an open world. Due to the heat, his neighbors seem to haven given up on the concept of privacy for a while, but they could close their blinds, so they are responsible for what is seen. He is only looking at what he is allowed to see, is given access to see. I think it is the shared vantage point. Remember, though, everybody can see into his window, too. It is a mutual voyeurism, if it is that. We just don’t have their point of view, but maybe they watch him, too, and wonder. I can’t help but think of social media, which allows us to see what traditionally would be private. 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 give us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? There are no words for the first 3 minutes, which Hitchcock seems to do a lot. Since Hitchcock has already established the camera as panning in a circular way at the neighbors, now we turn the same way to him. We know he is injured, he takes black and white photos of sporting events and war scenes. He goes for drama—race car crashes. He was a strange negative in a frame of the woman on the magazine cover. I think there must be something to that negative. Who puts a negative in a frame? And why that woman? Maybe that’s his real love, not Grace Kelly. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? Actually my first feeling is that people should close their windows, but they seem not to be bothered. In a sense it is pre-modern. It is as if close quarters or the heat or something has sent them back to a communal time before we became obsessed with privacy and having our own spaces closed off from others. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I think the author/creator gets to comment on his own work and not be argued with. I don’t think I would agree with that, though, in terms of the whole movie.
  7. 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. Obviously, the train tracks have the criss-cross design for track changes. The going back and forth between two men, who are clearly going to be different types of men. They both cross their legs before hitting feet, which means they will. Since Bruno is looking for Guy, they are crossing paths “intentionally” although I am not sure how Bruno happens to find him. I imagine he would go look for him if Guy passed by. 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. Both have some social status and money because they don’t carry their own bags. Guy is not as stylish (his suitcoat) but he’s an athlete who is probably less concerned about that; he was a more vigorous, let’s just get there walk. I think at that time Bruno would have been seen as a bit effeminate in his mannerisms and walk and those shoes. When they start to talk Bruno just gets creepy really fast. He sits too close and doesn’t know when to stop; Guy is not arrogant but likes that he is noticed as a good athlete. He has no idea how creepy Bruno is going to get. 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? I closed my eyes and the score definitely works at an important level. The opening music is almost epic or tragic; no hint of humor in it. But when they start getting out of the taxis the music sounds, well, like a Western rodeo to me, not to be taken seriously. Yet as they get closer together something underlying is happening with the music. It does seem to say there is a dark undercurrent in the world even though we can seem lighthearted on the surface. What I am getting out of the Hitchcock talks is a very dark view of the universe underlying veneer of civilization, which is really true in this movie.
  8. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? The camera is enjoying her face, even when she is hung over. (she still looks good). He does some side-ways or unusual camera angles. 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? Cary Grant is totally put together and in control. She is not in control, and she is a mess. She is vulnerable but she does what he says. She argues but you know she is going to give in. I feel in this film that she has no where else to go. Her father is a traitor, she has no other family, she’s a party girl with only party friends. The scene where they are framed in the doorway says “partnership.” 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? Cary Grant was at this time more known for light or comedic parts. Here he is dead serious, nothing funny. In this scene he just seems like a sincere agent trying to engage her, but he works in a world of spies, so he can be duplicitous, and he ends up being that way. He is torn between love and duty but doesn’t do it very well through the movie, treating her badly because she took on a task for love and duty (love of him and duty to country). He gets mad because she does what he asks and is now with another man (who even though he is a Nazi treats her better). As for her, she is playing somewhat against type, but even though she didn’t usually play a bad woman she did usually play a sensual woman who was driven by emotions and love (all over that expressive face) rather than self-interest or reason. (Women in movies weren’t allowed to be motivated by reason or intellect but by duty or love or self-interest.)
  9. 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? At first, I didn’t see much here, so I had to think about it. It seemed like a typical 40s comedy. My interpretation was that they were hold up having sex for days, not that they were fighting. Hitchcock lets the visuals tell the stories as much as the dialogue in his early pictures, and there is no talking until 1:40. They are wealthy or at least well off. They would rather fight and hold on to their side of the argument even if it means living in squalor for days on end. Since real people can’t do that, these are not people living in a real world. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? If Hitchcock made movies for over 50 years, he is going to change. Things he would do as a typical opener at the beginning (lots of action and public places) is not going to be that way for every movie. Since he likes to experiment, he changed it up. So, no, this does not seem typical up to now. 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? Probably. I haven’t watched the whole thing. She is wonderful in To Be or Not To Be, a very funny movie. He’s ok in the things I’ve seen him in, not all that distinguishable. I tend to get him confused with Robert Young.
  10. 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 sense I got was a corpse lying in a coffin. He looks dead, lying there in a nice suit. And his soul is dead, in a sense, and cold. It is all he can do to tolerate that talking of his landlady. He is obsessed with money but does not value it. He is angry and bitter and violent. He is being followed by two men who don’t know what he looks like, or else they are horrible detectives because he walks right past them. 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 am not sure this scene does it so much as later ones, such as at the dinner table. The sense that Charlie is subversive as a character and that this is a dangerous world is the film noir aspect.. He is not just a criminal out of desperation, but out of choice. He comes from a middle class family and has a sister who is Mrs. Middle America, so how did he become so cold? At the same time, something about him makes women want to take care of him. His dialogue with the landlady is weird and evasive. 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? The waltz-type music really seems out of place! Disjointed with the image of this strange man playing with a cigar while lying on a bed in seedy boarding house in a full suit. After she leaves it builds til he throws the glass and starts to build in intensity with a sound of a train whistle as he leaves.
  11. 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? This is far more conventional and starts like a lot of movies, with voice over and camera panning over a scene. There is no liveliness, and no people. Up to now, Hitchcock has used social (parties) or public settings (music halls, inns) at the beginnings. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? I actually did not see any. Sorry. I have watched this many times and for some reason it did not strike me as Hitchcock and I hadn’t realized it was his. There is a “spooky” and “mysterious” feel to it at the beginning. Later scenes with Mrs. Danvers feel more Hitchcockian. I think what it is about Rebecca is that I consider if a very “female point of view” movie, such that the men don’t seem all that important. It’s a showdown between the unnamed second Mrs. DeWinter (who is such a cipher she doesn’t have a name) and Mrs. Danvers. Why doesn’t Maxim just fire that old bag instead of letting her terrorize the house? I think Hitchcock’s movies use women but have a male point of view, and this one doesn’t, which proves me somewhat wrong but I still don’t see much Hitchcock in this scene. 3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What effect do the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? The key thing is the lighting. I feel like Rebecca the great is hovering over the scene, that the shadows are her shadows, but I have seen this many times so it’s not a fresh perception. The fact that we realize that the house is in ruins at the end should be a shock; why would she think well of a ruin? The fact she is recounting a dream adds to spookiness. It just occurred to me how this film parallels Jane Eyre. Young, innocent, homeless girl marries rich man with a secretive first wife story, and the house burns down in the end. Hummmm.
  12. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? Public places. Entertainment places Common people, not high tone or cultured kinds of things (not an art museum but a vaudeville act) Energy Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? I don’t see that. We can’t know if he is innocent, but he looks wholesome enough, and he asks an innocent, innocuous question of Mr. Memory and is pegged as a Canadian (I assume he is). He seems to be at the music hall for a fun time, not to meet a confederate. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? Hitchcock does not hate people. He likes them and their everyday lives. He is amused by the normal person but generally I think is laughing with them rather than at them or getting us to do a wink, wink, nod about how corny they are. He is not amused by them in an elitist way, or if he is, he knows better than to show it if he is going to be commercially successful, which he has to be to keep making movies. I see this in the enjoyment people are having. They are calling out funny questions but generally going on with his act and showing their amazement at his trivia trap brain. Phillips notes that Hitchcock uses public normal places as the setting for “mayhem from the villains.” The main character (anybody can figure out he’s the protagonist by the camera shots, by returning to his question, and by his good looks) is just a normal Joe going to a show although he’s dressed somewhat better.
  13. 1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet) Well, I’ve seen it, but I’ll say plot. The characters are kind of stereotypical or stock, except for Lorre. And I think Hitchcock was really more into escapist plots. The fact that the girl allows her dog to almost kill the man and everybody is ok with it is bizarre, when you think about it. 2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? He’s trying too hard to be jovial after being knocked down. But his quick double take when he sees Louis is telling. There would be no reason for it unless he already knew him from somewhere or had a plan for him (such as to kill him). I wouldn’t know if he was the villain from this sequence but he wouldn’t be there if he weren’t important, and of course he looks creepy. He has a keeper who doesn’t act like his wife, more like his nanny. 3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes? We jump right into the action, dramatically. No elegiac shots. The Lodger starts with a woman’s scream and frightened people, TPG with active flirty scantily clad dancing girls, and this with a ski jump gone awry. In TMWKTM and The Lodger we have more similarities, since TPG starts out for laughs.
  14. 1. In this sequence, describe how Hitchcock uses sound design to put you into the subjective "mind of Alice"? Be specific. First, Sounds that she hears are exaggerated. Second, when she is in the phone box, even though the nosy customer is talking, we can’t hear it. She is in a totally silent world because she is preoccupied with her problem (I assume she has seen the murder; beyond that I don’t know the plot of this film) even though in reality the woman’s voice would still be audible to her in the box. The woman’s chattering signifies the things swirling around her even though she is submerged in this concern. When she sees the knife, the only thing that starts to be going around in her head is knife. Since we don’t really hear what the chattering woman is saying, she might not be saying knife over and over and might not even yell it; everything is in Alice’s mind. Describe the different ways that the sound design of this scene operates in counterpoint to the visual track. For example, how does Hitchcock set up the shot where the knife flies out of Alice's hand so that it registers a shock in his audience? Pay attention to both what is happening visually and aurally. Be specific. I think we are sort of hearing the words over and over again at the same volume and then it gets loud to surprise us and her. Again, I don’t think the woman screamed it, especially since her words “and then in Chelsea” don’t have any thing to do with “knife!’ Alice only heard it loud. She also hears the last doorbell louder than it really is. Visually, Alice is summoning all her strength to touch the knife so she can cut the bread. Aurally the tension is building. Why do you think this particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema? Well, first movies tend to use music for a lot of purposes nowadays. Second, it comes across a little melodramatic to today’s audiences. We associate it with people with mental problems. Third, it can be confusing to have the subjective sound and the real sound at the same time.
  15. 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? It struck me as pure German expressionism. It definitely gave the feeling of how the boys were experiencing this predatory woman—moving toward them like a snake or in a dream. They are scared to death because they have an inkling of what it is but she is still trying to decide who she will pin her pregnancy on. 2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? Mainly to experiment with getting the sense of her approaching them like a snake and to show the sense of time elongated and rising tension as she makes her accusation. 3. What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. The POV. The lack of dialogue or need for it. Strong facial expressions make up for words. Physical movement (dancing) in TPG and TR, specifically by women. Nothing static. More about emotion than information or story in the sense that the dynamics of the story aren’t as important as how they feel about it and how he is showing that through visuals. The Lodger uses montage to show the panic people are feeling in the aftermath of the murder. Women as free spirits and anything but “housewives and mothers.” Even the woman who is pickpocketed in TPG is trying to get into show business. Women can be victims but they can victimize as well, so there is equality; if not equality, they matter and are not invisible. jOnly in TPG do we get his sense of humor.

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