shamus46

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  1. For film scores, there are so many great talents. I think John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman and Howard Shore are proof that great composers are still creating fantastic movie scores. I love the Coen brothers work and think they would fit perfectly with writing and producing films that match Hitchcock's style. I don't know who the major story writers are today that are as prolific as Stephen King. Chandler and Hammett provided so many great stories brought to the screen, but, in my opinion, King's works just aren't portrayed as well as his written word. The new movies coming out: The Dark Tower, the 'It' remake, and Mr. Mercedes may prove different. The only current fashion designers I know of are: Armani, Tom Ford and Dior. Givenchy dressed Audrey Hepburn so spectacularly but Edith Head was just so dominant in film fashion. Adrian and Orry-Kelly also come to mind in some of the greatest films ever made.
  2. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Frenzy opens with a long shot to a crowd on the river side, when a body is discovered in the water. The Lodger opens with a scream, a body and a crowd gathering around. Essentially the same parts in the movie, just in different order. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. The long shot as in Rebecca's winding drive, a crowd, a body, a bit of humor with the speaker talking about cleaning up the pollution just before a body is found. The majestic score as the City of London is viewed in the long shot. 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. He gives us information of location, who the people are, what crime has been committed and leads us along as the story grabs our interest and curiosity.
  3. 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. She is a con-woman with multiple identities. In this scene she is shedding her character by throwing things in the gray suitcase that she is discarding. She neatly packs the items she intends to take with her. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The music is soft and captivating during the sorting of items but swirls and swells in crescendos as we see her face and her blonde hair of her new, and perhaps, real identity. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? He comes out into the hall, directly into the scene, hesitates, and looks back at the camera. Perhaps he's just getting the cameo shot out of the way so the audience can focus on the movie, and does it in a way that no one can miss it.
  4. 1. 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? The flirting conversation between two young attractive characters. Melanie pretends she works at the pet shop since Mitch assumes she does. Mitch quickly finds out that she really doesn't know anything about the birds. They're both well dressed and look like they are well paid in their profession. 2. 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? The sounds of the seagulls that Hedren looks at while on the sidewalk gives an uncomfortable feeling due to the large number circling and the increase in volume as the birds are the focus of the shot. The bird noises in the shop make us feel more relaxed because these are caged and under control, so non-threatening. 3. 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. Hitchcock comes out of the pet shop with two dogs on leashes. I don't really know if this cameo has any particular meaning to the scene...thinking about other cameos...do many have any particular meaning?
  5. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? The intense staccato music score with high pitched strings and a rapid pounding beat add an intensity and an edge of your seat nervous quality, which when combined with Bass' design of rapid multi-lined graphics cutting into the titles /credits that make them appear sliced and disjointed, how perfectly it expresses the sudden decision by Marion Crane to embezzle, and the mental illness of Norman Bates to murder. 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? Setting up a timeline that it is late in a work-day on a Friday, we see that a week-end is approaching. Entering the room through the window, I think, helps show the secretive liason between the two characters meeting in a "cheap hotel room" acting as a married couple. Rear Window voyeurism on display again. 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 hear Marion say "it's the last time" and see that she is dissatisfied with how things are. She is obviously ready and willing for a change, whether it's good or bad.
  6. 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. Grant is a considered a suave well-dressed leading man that can sweep a woman off of her feet. Here, he is the one being "approached" quite blatantly by Saint. He is not accustomed to her directness, but is still enjoying the interplay...along with the audience. 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. The matchbook is used as a prop in which to give Saint the opportunity to touch Grant's hand. Just like offering a woman a cigarette and then a light...gave a man time to open a conversation with a woman. The ROT matchbook is displayed here because it will be used later to deliver a warning. Also, Thornhill states that the "O" doesn't mean anything. Selznick also added an O to his name to add some rhythm or class or balance? to his name....is this another poke at Selznick? albeit belatedly. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. The sounds of the train and low background, almost seductive, music adds to the seductive feel of this scene.
  7. 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. Both the sound and images gives the impression of troubled uneasiness. The music reminds me of Sci-fi films and the feeling of the unknown about to be revealed. Will it be threatening or an instance of beneficial revelation? The swirling images contribute to the uneasiness. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. The close-up of the eye, opened wide with pin-point iris', and bathed in red, enhances the image of volatility. The spiral originating within the eye could give the viewer some sense of vertigo. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The images and music score are in sync. They play off of each other and create an unsettled edginess. A different score would've probably destroyed the whole effect.
  8. 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 vantage point is that of the audience, revealing our own voyueristic inclinations and piqueing our curiosity. We want to see more. 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 in other Hitchcock films, he describes the characters by the rooms they inhabit. The smashed camera along with all the framed photos on the wall show us that Jefferies is a photographer and the dangerous shots indicates that he strives for THAT photo of THAT INSTANT of climactic chaos. He lives on The Edge. 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? Yes! We get a sense of uneasiness, of spying on others, but also, we don't want to look away. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? Before this course, I would have chosen North By Northwest as more cinematic. Now, I have to agree with The Master.
  9. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. Be specific. They both arrive in Diamond Taxi's but on opposite ends of the Train Station. Bruno walks from the right of the screen, while Guy walks from the left. The train tracks converge from the left then cross over to the right side. Even on the train, they walk in the same direction up until they sit and finally make contact. 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. Bruno is flashy to the point of tackiness with the two-toned shoes. His suit is a tailored pin-stripe. Guy's shoes are simple plain brown and look well worn along with the jacket and pants. Rather or not he has the money, he doesn't spend it on his attire. Bruno does all the talking. Guy only smiles and says "How do you do". Guy seems shy and reserved while Bruno is a fast talker and dominates the meeting. 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? The music is faster paced and emphasizes the action of the movement. The movement or action from the taxi's to walking through the station. The train on the tracks, to the action within the train and the two characters meeting.
  10. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? The camera angles..tilted to upside down. Grant framed by the doorway and Bergman close-up in the bed. The ominous feeling of the scene. 2. 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? Grant is ominous in the shadow, framed by the doorway, well dressed. Bergman is disheveled in the bed, nauseated with slept-in clothes and hair a mess. 3. 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? The casting of both is brilliant / perfect. I don't understand the question of their character parts to their star personas. They're actors...it's a part. These parts conform (Grant) and challenge (Bergman) their personas. They are both symbols of class and fashion...
  11. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? The roving shot of the room. All the dishes and unkempt look. They are upper class with servants and have routinely stayed at home for days. 2. 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? I agree. The music, with the flute, gives a light-heartedness to the scene and the panning shot leading up to the close-ups. The maid and cook discuss the couples actions and the office calls to see what is going on. This helps describes the characters and gives background. 3. 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? I think they are well suited for each other...as well as Lombard and Jack Benny is. Lombard has a fun ability to capture the scene with her comedic talents, and Montgomery is able to play goofy too. Over-all, I've always liked this movie, even before I learned Hitchcock directed it.
  12. 1. This scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. He is almost in a meditative state, considering his next move. Thinking about all he's done, his victims, and although he kills for the money, it means nothing to him. You can sense the inner turmoil and the increased anger boiling up in him. Restrained, but boiling. 2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? The brooding character and building of tension in the scene. Finding out that he's been found and realizing he needs to take action to avoid capture. His arrogance of knowing they have "nothing on me". 3. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? Tiomkin's music underscores everything...the tension within the building, the crescendo up to the door. The Merry Widow theme running throughout. The music portrays enough of the story that dialogue is not needed.
  13. 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? The scene is one of location instead of characters. First, the gate. then the drive encroached by nature, twisting and turning. What a great way to approach the scene of one of the main characters...Manderley. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? The scanning of the waves crashing, up the cliff to the figure of a man. The POV...the close-up of his face and his POV from behind, looking down. 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? The voiceover sets the eeriness of the story, the twisting drive helps in setting the twisting plot. The narration describes how the house seems alive and forboding...and now unlivable.
  14. 1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. Mostly comical with a flute playing and the people sitting quietly, while the concierge is on the phone. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. They add a disconnect to the whole picture as they discuss sports, the Hungarian National Anthem, and also add some tension because they talk about completely inane topics which delays the continuence of the storyline. 3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. She dominates the scene when, while everyone is waiting for the concierge, he walks away to talk to the girls and concentrates only on them. The camera is fixed on Iris while she dominates the conversation.
  15. 1. 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? By keeping his face hidden, we are more curious and drawn into what is taking place. We pay more attention to the audience and the humor of their questions. They are 'lower class' people that are out for some entertainment. This is similar to The Pleasure Garden except for the class of people. 2. 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 agree. Donat appears more unassuming and non-threatening. 3. 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? The audience is out to have a good time and are enjoying their good natured ribbing of Mr. Memory. The humor just makes you feel a part of the crowd.

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