Master Bates

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  1. 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 LODGER (1927) OPENS with the (silent) full screen shot of a woman screaming. This gets us right into the action: the body of a woman has been discovered on a London street. Forty-five years later, however, Hitchcock has come a long way--and so has the movie industry: FRENZY (1972) opens with an extended, technically flawless aerial shot above the Thames, following the river, going through the raised gates of Tower Bridge, resolving on a crowd above the river's embankment. As an announcement is being made that pollution of the river will be cleaned up, someone alerts the crowd to the body of a woman floating face-down in the river. (Pollution, indeed!) The juxtaposition of the anti-pollution announcement with the immediate discovery of the floating corpse is a subtle Hitchcockian touch of humor--black humor, but humor nevertheless. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. THE HELICOPTER AERIAL passing through the opened gates of Tower Bridge reminded me of Hitchcock's camera--e.g. in SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and in PSYCHO--going through windows to kick off the story. There's something theatrical about this. The blinds are slightly pulled up in PSYCHO, as if a curtain is being raised on a play. The same analogy applies to the blinds being raised during the title sequence of REAR WINDOW, like stage curtains rising within a proscenium arch. In FRENZY, the gates of Tower Bridge are partially raised between the bridge towers, which form a proscenium. Hitchcock was apparently influenced by the time he and Alma spent going to the theater. Another Hitchcock touch is the abrupt sound of an explosion, scream or yell breaking the routine calm: ​--in FRENZY (1972), the startling "Look!" by a man in the crowd as he alerts everyone to the corpse floating in the river ​--the bomb going off in SABOTEUR (1942) ​--Doris Day's scream shattering the civilized calm of Royal Albert Hall in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956) ​--a pleasurable, soul-cleansing shower suddenly turning into a bloodbath in PSYCHO (1960) ​--the beauty of Nature all of a sudden--with no warning and no explanation--turning on Man, as in THE BIRDS (1963) In every instance, Hitchcock seems to be showing how Life--everyday, mundane life--can turn on a dime, with absolutely no warning, and we are shocked out of our complacency. As for Hitchcock's signature cameo, this time we discover him in that opening crowd--center screen, jowly, lower lip slightly protruding, wearing a British bowler. That shot made me chuckle. 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. IN ADDITION TO WHAT'S included above, full disclosure re FRENZY: the opening at first didn't seem like a Hitchcock picture. I expected--wanted?--the psychological probing of a Bernard Herrmann score a la VERTIGO. But as the helicopter shot tracked above the Thames, I thought, "Okay. This isn't going to be VERTIGO. VERTIGO has already been done. Hitchcock seems to be moving on. Give this a chance!" The music is in stark contrast to the agitated--and agitating, in a good way--scores of Bernard Herrmann (e.g. VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO). Ron Goodwin's score, however, fits this grand aerial high above London. It conveys the majesty of British history. It practically has the pomp and cadence of a royal ceremony at Buckingham Palace. But as the shot flies us between the gates of Tower Bridge, it's also a glorious return to where it all began for Hitchcock--his native England. It is significant that the bridge gates are open. Hitchcock seems to be saying he is quite aware that his native country would always welcome him back. While honoring his roots, he also seems to be celebrating his homecoming. Another tip of his hat to his fellow Brits in FRENZY? He isn't depending on the star power of a Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart or Grace Kelly to lure people to his movie. He's using British actors--not a famed Laurence Olivier, as in REBECCA (1940), or a Ronald Donat as in THE 39 STEPS (1935)--but, rather, British actors virtually unknown by American audiences. Was he trying to prove--to audiences? to himself?--that he could make a movie that didn't depend on the wizardry of Hollywood? That he didn't require Hollywood stars to produce a hit? That he didn't need American landmarks--the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, the United Nations building--as bait to attract international audiences? Was he feeling guilty that he had perhaps "abandoned" his native England during his three decades in Hollywood? Did he feel he "owed" his native country for having given him his start in motion pictures? Would it be easier for him to separate himself from--and compete with--the Hollywood of the 70s, when the young turks and recent film school graduates--Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Friedkin, Bogdanovich--were overtaking Hollywood and running with the ball in new directions, making radical changes to the established order? Or was it simply that Hitchcock, now in his 70s, needed a change of pace--and place? Whatever his reasons, Hitchcock now has new freedoms--the Production Code having given way to a rating system categorized by age. The director is now free to depict nudity, sex and graphic violence, in which Seventies movies will be awash.
  2. 1. 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 out of the gate, we see there is something "hidden," something "underneath" about this character, this Marnie. Methodically, she unboxes and takes the tissue off new clothes apparently bought at an upscale store. She obviously has money to spend on expensive clothing, which she carefully packs in a light-colored suitcase on her hotel bed. Meanwhile, she casually tosses undergarments into a second (darker) suitcase, taking no pains to pack them with care. Her highly groomed hands take feminine accoutrements--compact, comb, lipstick--from her purse and set them aside. All those items pertain to her appearance, her surface. In setting them aside, she's keeping them at hand for whenever she needs to "put on her best face." Also, in setting them aside she's revealing that whatever is "underneath" is something other. She doesn't reach into the purse to remove anything else. Instead, she turns the purse upside down and shakes out the remaining contents. Money--and lots of it, wrapped in packets--that was hidden at the bottom of the purse is now on top in her suitcase, revealed. At no point does she actually touch the cash. Why not? Why doesn't she? Is the money somehow tainted? Could be, because next, after removing her Social Security card from her wallet, using a metal fingernail file she deftly pries open a compartment behind her compact's mirror. From this hidden compartment, she reveals three, hidden Social Security cards, each bearing a different name. She replaces the one she removed from the wallet with one of these hidden cards. She travels under various identities. This is further underlined when, in the bathroom sink, she washes black dye from her hair. We now see she's a natural--what else?--blonde. Packed, she's now putting the dark suitcase that contains her undergarments in a bus station locker which she locks. She intentionally drops the key onto a floor grate, taking care to ease it through the grate with her shoe. In this opening sequence, Hitchcock--without any dialog--has had the camera tell us that this Marnie is feminine, attractive, has lots of (probably ill-gotten) cash and is traveling under an assumed name. The camera has also revealed that hidden under her cool, calm and collected exterior, she's some sort of thief. ​In time, as the story unfolds, we will realize how telling her handling of these items is: she is a sexually frigid kleptomaniac. 2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? Herrmann's score here is a romantic--but disturbing--5-note phrase immediately echoed by the same 5-note phrase and repeated, over and over. It sounds like a small creature, a fly perhaps, weakly struggling to extricate itself from a spider web in which it has become ensnared. This 5-5 pattern repeats, as said, over and over. But when this Marnie has rinsed the dark dye from her hair, and as she throws back her now-blonde hair, we see her face revealed for the first time. Here, the music swells full orchestra with lots of strings to show us the woman underneath, revealed. Over her face, the music seems to say "glamorous." It think it significant that at this moment, Hedren is centerscreen, facing us but looking at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. "Glamorous," then, is how she sees herself. No matter what she has just done with dyed black hair, she sees herself now as cleansed, purged of this darker side, if only temporarily. When the scene cuts--with a hard-edit, not a dissolve--to a rear view of her carrying the two suitcases, the score moves from violins and harps briskly down the scale and abruptly stops. This abrupt end to the music is replaced by a voice on the bus station's public address system announcing bus routes. The music also stops just before the dark suitcase is put into the locker. 3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? In his cameo here, Hitchcock was not only closer to the camera than anyone else in the shot, as he's coming out of a hotel room, he turns, looks into the camera--directly at us--and immediately turns away as we see Marnie and a porter further down the hallway. I know this is going to be sacrilege and I can't believe I'm actually criticizing any shot in a Hitchcock film, but while his cameos are always fun to spot, I found this one jarring and off-putting. It took me out of the movie. Actually, it looked like an outtake that wasn't even supposed to be in the finished film, a so-called blooper. It simply was not deft and subtle as all his other cameos seem to be. It smacked a bit too much of "self-promotion"--as if he needed it. This one didn't work for me. Now, I will say this: If the idea is to place us in the hallway, that works. We--members of the audience--have come out of ​our ​rooms, too, and he's acknowledging us as we join him as co-conspirators--or co-voyeurs--as all of us follow Marnie through the impending story. While I now see how that might have been his intent, it was not my immediate reaction. Maybe Hitch wanted me to think--beyond ​surface​, deeper. He's tricky. And that's one reason why his films are so endlessly fascinating and watchable. So, Hitch wins. Even in death, he wins.
  3. 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? ------ AN UPSCALE, WELL-LIT pet shop is antithetical to the typical horror film setting. It isn't a fog-shrouded castle in Transylvania, or some mad scientist's laboratory. But it's typical of Hitchcock to open in a public place--in this case, a pet shop with many well-heeled patrons; and, on the second floor, LOTS of birds. It's here that our two stars--'Tippi' Hedren and Rod Taylor--"meet cute", not unlike Tracy and Hepburn in their romantic comedies, or other players in screwball comedies. (But literally hovering ominously over this cute first encounter is that large flock of various species of birds that we see even before "Melanie" enters the pet shop. Hitchcock plants the hint that something is amiss in Nature even before "Melanie" begins her flirtatious "mating dance" in the store.) When "Mitch" (Rod Taylor) mistakes "Melanie" ('Tippi' Hedren) for a clerk, she finds him attractive and plays along, as she tries to sound knowledgeable when answering his questions about various species. He wants to buy a pair of love birds for his sister's 11th birthday. When he says he wouldn't want them to be "too aloof," he's really commenting on his first impression of "Melanie" herself. Another of Hitchcock's "cool, icy blondes," Hedren is the most exotic thing in the pet shop. (Hitchcock irony here: in the pet store, the birds are caged and "Mitch" is looking for love birds, while just outside the store, birds are free--free to fly, to soar...and, eventually, attack.) Fine-boned, with bird legs, Hedren gives the impression that, like a bird, if startled she might just fly away. Hedren's finely groomed hands are featured in many shots of the opening scene. Bony-fingered with blood-red nails, her hands are not unlike a bird's claws. There's something off-putting about the way she's dressed. Although her attire is stylish, she's dressed in an armor-like, tight-fitting suit--solid black--and almost fetishistically groomed. Before she enters the pet store, someone on the sidewalk gives her an off-screen wolf whistle. She stops and accepts the whistle with a beaming smile. But once she's in the store she never really smiles. At moments, she almost smiles. But, like a bird, her face remains almost constantly in repose, frozen, expressionless, like that of a bloodless store mannequin. She seems cold, icy--almost frigid. Even when she's obviously attracted to "Mitch," she plays it cool, never giving him a smile, big or small. Other than a small amount of white blouse showing at her neck and slightly beyond the jacket sleeves, she's all in black. In light of Hitchcock's meticulous attention to detail, this isn't by accident. The barest amount of visible white could signify at least some capacity for "good" beneath "Melanie's" black, icy and blonde (!) exterior. Hedren's black-over-white is a reversal of Kim Novak's white coat over black sweater in VERTIGO when she delivers a note to "Scotty's" apartment, thanking him for pulling her out of San Francisco Bay. In that film, the attire is a manifestation of something dark beneath the façade--the act--that Judy, as "Madeleine", is trying to project to "Scotty." Another example of black vs. white appears in separate scenes of the first twelve minutes of PSYCHO. In the opening scene, when we discover Janet Leigh and John Gavin in their adulterous affair, Leigh is wearing a white slip. Although she's committing adultery, Hitchcock in this scene elicits our sympathy for her. Not only is she wearing white, Hitchcock increasingly uses tighter shots of Leigh over Gavin, making it obvious she is going to be the main player in the story. The color white also denotes that her love for "Sam" is pure. Later, after her boss gives her $40,000 to deposit over the weekend, we discover her at home, packing a suitcase. In this scene, she's now wearing a black slip and bra. Hitchcock is letting her exterior clothing tell us about her interior, immoral decision to steal the money. In THE BIRDS, when we meet "Melanie," there's something mysterious about her, even ominous--perhaps as ominous as that dark, agitated cloud of birds swarming and swooping above her before she enters the store on her fast-footed, bird legs. Despite her freedoms as the spoiled daughter of a rich man, she's as "caged" as those pet store birds--caged in Daddy's money. She's overly groomed, artificial. But this veneer, by movie's end, will be stripped--or, rather, painstakingly pecked--away. In that opening scene, are the birds swarming with "Melanie" as their intended target? As the story unfolds, we will learn that she's the daughter of a San Francisco newspaper publisher, a "playgirl" with nothing to do except...play. And get in trouble. By movie's end, she will be a changed person, having (barely) survived her "baptism by fire"--the near-apocalyptic attacks by the birds. Nature's force will have sparked in her a maternal protectiveness over "Mitch's" little sister and a mature and growing relationship with "Mitch." Of course, to reach this point, she will first be attacked by a seagull while crossing Bodega Bay in an outboard motor boat; a large flock will gather on the schoolyard jungle gym, as if waiting for her, then attack her as she tries to hustle the children to safety; they again attack when she seeks refuge in a phone booth. In the film's climax, the birds will seem to be waiting for her in the attic. In what amounts to a virtual rape scene, "Melanie"--and Hedren, who reportedly had to be hospitalized after shooting the scene--is driven into shock when the birds come close to pecking her to death, tearing her clothes-- her polished (phony?) exterior--to shreds. In contrast to "Melanie" in the opening scene, "Mitch" is serious and no-nonsense, apparently successful in his own right. Dressed for success in a suit, he's also obviously kind as he's taking the time to buy his little sister a special birthday gift. Above all, he's savvy. Although he at first mistakes "Melanie" for a clerk, he rather quickly picks up on the fact that when it comes to birds, she's a bird-brain, apparently knowing nothing at all about things ornithological. And yet, he's intrigued by her play-acting, her cool flirtatiousness. From his point of view, she may be a little wacky--and she may appear more than a little unobtainable-- but he's attracted. ------ 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? WHEN THE CAMERA picks up "Melanie" crossing the intersection beneath a cloud of swarming birds, Hitchcock emphasizes the visual with the loud crowing and cawing of the birds. As if to ensure we "get it," the sound of the birds seems to be amplified, as if emanating from an echo chamber, giving the effect that Nature is always surrounding us and is, ultimately, dominant. This sound effect must be the result, as pointed out in the lecture notes, of the electroacoustic Trautonium, invented by Dr. Friedrich Trautwein, something Hitchcock had heard on the radio way back in the 1920s. Once again, we see Hitchcock experimenting with (in this case, old) technology, but using it in a new way--in film. In short, in 1963, when THE BIRDS was released, Hitchcock, at age 63, was not above trying new things. Meanwhile, Hitchcock's masterful composer Bernard Herrmann, while on staff for THE BIRDS, wasn't exactly composing another memorable movie score, but instead was working with the electronic composer to create a soundtrack composed completely of actual and electronic bird sounds. Was this Hitchcock's way of pulling rank on Herrmann, getting back at the composer for having had so much to do with the success of VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST and PSYCHO? What a pity that after MARNIE, Hitchcock fired Herrmann when the latter's score for TORN CURTAIN wasn't the jazz-inflected score that Hitchcock had requested. I must say that as much as I admire Hitchcock's genius, his greatest, most popular films--VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO--would not be what they are--would not stick in the mind as they do--without Herrmann's music. It's exactly how I feel about the films of Steven Spielberg. They needed John Williams's scores to be the iconic films that they've become. ----- 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'S CAMEO in THE BIRDS has him coming out of the pet store just as "Melanie" is entering it. His two white Sealyham terriers--Stanley and Geoffrey--are on leashes and are leading him out of the store onto the sidewalk. His real-life lookalike dogs are yet another example of his favored motif of "doubles." We saw it in SHADOW OF A DOUBT ("Uncle Charlie" and his favored niece "Charlie"); in THE WRONG MAN, when "Manny" is falsely accused of armed robbery simply because of the doppelgänger effect: he bears a striking resemblance to the actual criminal); in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN ("Guy's" wife "Miriam" and her lookalike, "Anne's" younger sister, "Barbara"); in VERTIGO ("Judy" as "Madeleine" and "Judy" as herself); in PSYCHO (the "doubles" of a split personality: "Norman" and "Mrs. Bates"). In the opening scene of THE BIRDS, "Melanie" seems to be a double of herself. As stated earlier, we've seen her give a big smile to a total stranger on the street and yet, when she meets "Mitch" and seems interested in him, she withholds such a smile and plays it cool. Is this the two sides---Good Girl vs. Bad Girl--of her personality. I do believe because Hitchcock introduces "Melanie" with this seeming duality, she's a mystery magnet that pulls us into the movie and makes us want to know more. Like, "What IS it with this woman?! What's her story?" I've wondered why Hitchcock was so intrigued by this idea of doubles. Was it merely the juxtaposition and filmic possibilities of "black vs. white," "good vs. evil", "yin vs. yang"? Or was it something else? One thing's for sure: it certainly gave him numerous opportunities to show "surface," then startle--and sometimes shock--us with the "underneath."
  4. ​I think Hitchcock and composer Stephen Sondheim could have produced a major collaboration. There are several reasons why I say this: ​1. Sondheim's love of movies. He's on record saying he's never been a reader, but he's a great lover of movies and has been all his life. ​2. Sondheim loves puzzles. This would seem to be a perfect match for Hitchcock's love of the same: working out the "puzzle" of a character's psychology, etc. ​3. With "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," Sondheim has said that he wrote the score as if he were scoring a motion picture--a horror picture at that. ​4. "Sweeney Todd" contains many of the themes present in many Hitchcock films: ​ a. romance: young lovers trying to get together: ​ "Johanna" and "Anthony" in "Sweeney" cf. "Marion" and "Sam" in PSYCHO ​ b. grisly murder: "Mrs. Lovett" turning "Sweeney's" murder victims into meat pies; ​ "Marion's" brutal slaughter in PSYCHO ​ c. shock value: "Sweeney" singing beautiful ballads while drawing his razor across his patrons' throats; "Marion's" cleansing, "baptismal" shower suddenly turning into a gruesome blood bath ​ d. musical dissonance: high-pitched factory whistle slicing through the score of "Sweeney Todd"; ​ Bernard Herrmann's high-pitched staccato scrapings on violins and other strings during PSYCHO's infamous shower scene. ​ e. touches of humor: comic relief, ditziness of ​ 1. "Johanna" who is trapped like a bird (!) by "Judge Turpin" in Sweeney Todd" and her ironic song questioning whether caged birds are "singing or...screaming." ​ 2. "Mrs. Cunningham" (Norma Varden) ​ allowing "Bruno" to demonstrate strangulation on her throat in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN ​ 3. "Mrs. Anthony" (Marion Lorne) as "Bruno's" mother. Unable to acknowledge she has raised a psychopath, she escapes into her "soothing" painting. ​ The only painting we see looks like Dorian Gray's horrific portrait that he hides in the attic. f. Treatment of the psycho-sexual 1. In "Sweeney", "Judge Turpin satisfying his lust, flagellating himself while watching his ward ​ Johanna (Sweeney's daughter) through a keyhole; ​ In PSYCHO, Norman watching Marion through peephole while she undresses before showering ​ 2. In VERTIGO, Scottie's love/lust for Madeleine, a woman who doesn't actually exist, or is dead. ​ Psychologically, a form of necro******; obsession to remake "Judy" into "Madeleine" ​ 3. In "Sweeney," Mrs. Lovett's lust for Sweeney, who's merely using her to dispose of his victims 5. Commentaries on marriage: Sondheim's "Company" and "Follies"; "Chief Inspector Oxford" and "Mrs. Oxford" in FRENZY ​6. Love of theater/show business: --Hitchcock's THE PLEASURE GARDEN; THE 39 STEPS; STAGEFRIGHT --Sondheim's "Follies"
  5. In VERTIGO, why is the manager of the McKittrick Hotel (Ellen Corby) insistent that "Carlotta Valdez" hasn't been at the hotel that day? We have just seen "Madeleine/Judy" opening the shade in the room above the lobby. Or have we only seen her there through Scottie's eyes? Through his...imagination? In which case, is she there...or not?
  6. 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? Saul Bass's bold, black-and-gray, parallel bars that slide back and forth--and through each other--are an abstract manifestation of a knife slashing (vertical bars) or stabbing (horizontal bars), then pulling out of, a body--repeatedly. This is a stylistic representation of the brutal murder that will be at the heart of PSYCHO. The murder--the granddaddy of all slasher scenes--often imitated, but never duplicated--has Janet Leigh the victim of a psychopath's continuous slashing with a large, sharp knife. Saul Bass's animated bars in the title sequence mimic--or, in this case, foreshadow--the infamous shower scene. The graphic lines slide in and out of each other--smoothly--just as a sharp butcher knife would slide in and out of human flesh. When the bars surgically slice the title--PSYCHO--horizontally into thirds, they presage the split personality that will commit the crime: 1 body, 2 personalities = 3. Bernard Herrmann's accompanying score in the murderous shower scene will feature famous staccato and high-pitched, or shrieking, notes on violins and other strings. But in the title sequence, we don't hear any of the shower music. Instead, we get jagged, nervous traveling music that will later play over Janet Leigh's nighttime drive in the rain after she steals $40,000 from her place of employment. The title music conveys the rapid, nervous heartbeat of an animal being chased, darting through the woods, running for its life. In Marion's case, she's being chased by her guilt as she drives from Phoenix to Fairvale to give "Sam" the stolen money. Bass's sliding lines, especially the vertical ones, could also represent the repeated center stripes from her POV as she travels down the road that will lead to an off-the-beaten-path motel and, ultimately, to her doom. Finally, those horizontal lines in the title sequence also represent the Venetian blinds hanging in the window of the No-tell Motel. It's through those blinds that the camera--we--enter the room where "Marion" and "Sam" are finishing another tryst in their ongoing adulterous affair. 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? By fonting "Phoenix" and a specific day, date and time on the screen, Hitchcock is giving us what amounts to a police-blotter style of reportage that had been popular on television throughout the decade prior to 1960, especially with the police procedural "Dragnet." ("Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true....," etc.) Right out of the gate, Hitchcock is adding this touch of verisimilitude, as if he's saying "What you are about to see is not just a movie. It's real.​ It happened." The camera-through-the-window tracking shot is reminiscent of the opening sequence of SHADOW OF A DOUBT when the camera passes through the window into the darkened room-for-rent, discovering "Uncle Charlie" lying on the bed, staring into space, at one point with his eyes closed--like a corpse. Also, in the opening of REAR WINDOW, the camera goes out a window, pans the courtyard, then comes back through the window revealing a sleeping "Jeff" and his apartment. 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. In NORTH BY NORTHWEST, "Eve" and "Roger" are fully clothed. The sexuality of their scene in the train's dining car is transmitted strictly via their risqué banter and the looks that pass between them. The scene is sexy through innuendo, letting the dialog and facial expressions do the talking. In contrast, PSYCHO's motel scene is far more "raw": Janet Leigh is wearing bra and slip; John Gavin is shirtless. Our first view of Leigh is a foreshortened view--the POV from the foot of the bed--in such a way that her pert breasts, although farther from the camera than her feet, dominate the shot. Although the Production Code is beginning to lose power in 1960, Hitchcock was still unable to shoot it as a nude bed scene, as it no doubt would have to be shot today. By today's standards, nothing else would seem realistic. However, Hitchcock is pushing the envelope, so to speak, doing as much as he can to imply that sex has taken place and that the couple, when we first see them, have put some of their clothes back on. (On the other hand, strictly judging by their hair, I'm not exactly sure they've actually had sex. Both Gavin's and Leigh's hair is perfect, every hair in place. Maybe they are supposed to have used so much hairspray that day that their hair wouldn't have budged even in a hurricane. But, this is Hollywood when stars were still being glamorized to a ridiculous, unrealistic degree.) At any rate, when they stretch out on the bed face-to-face, we learn through dialog that this is an illicit affair, that "Sam" is married. "Marion" tells "Sam" "This is the last time," apparently meaning "We've got to stop meeting like this!" Of course, she's probably said this innumerable times before. But she's tired of the surreptitious trysts and wants them to have a legitimate life together. This is what causes her to later throw caution to the wind and steal the $40,000, money they can use to pay off "Sam's" debts and start a new life together elsewhere. The motel scene also establishes "Marion" as a flesh-and-blood human being. It also titillates the audience, especially the male audience. Having seen her in the very opening scene half-undressed, once it later becomes apparent that she's going to take a shower, the (male) audience is again titillated into expecting to see her fully nude. When PSYCHO was released in 1960, Leigh was familiar to moviegoers, having appeared in more than than 30 movies at that point. Although her name is the last cast name listed in opening credits ("...and Janet Leigh as Mario Crane"), she is ostensibly the star of PSYCHO. But knowing he has teased the audience into thinking she will perhaps be visibly nude in the shower, Hitchcock pulls a switcheroo: he instead, right before their eyes, has her killed. It's as if he's saying, "Oh, you think you can predict what's going to happen in my movie? Oh, really? You want to see something? Well, get a load of...this!" (Cue the shrieking violins.) Hitchcock was a trickster: he's not only killing off his apparent star; he's slashing the moviegoers' naughty expectations, throwing at the audience one of the most effective curve-balls in the entire history of film. He played the audience like a Stradivarius. In short, Hitchcock has set us up: the fact that Leigh is the presumed star of the picture; her character's humanity; and her familiarity with the audience all serve to make "Marion's" brutal murder in the shower--some 47 minutes into the film--all the more shocking. Right before she is murdered, she has decided to return the money and take her lumps. We root for her. This, also, makes her savage murder in the next couple of minutes doubly horrific. Personal Note: I know firsthand just how shocking the movie was in 1960. Having heard my parents talk about VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST, when they were going to PSYCHO in its first release, I insisted on going with them. I was 10. Not knowing what the movie included, they took me. To this day, I remember grown-ups yelling at the screen during the shower scene, "Oh my God!" It was as if everyone in that theater was being stabbed with each slash of the knife. Fortunately, it was a cold, wet Sunday when we went to the theater. Consequently, I was wearing a car-coat with a detachable hood--which, lucky for me, was attached. During the shower scene, I pulled the hood over my head and with the drawstrings reduced my view to a peep-hole (shades of Jimmy Stewart in REAR WINDOW). But I never looked away from the screen. To this day, almost six decades later, the montage of the shower scene and the reaction of that entire audience remain indelibly etched--slashed, if you will-- onto my grey matter
  7. 1. 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. EVEN THOUGH CARY GRANT is playing a role--"Roger O. Thornhill"--in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Hitchcock--and Grant--are not letting anyone forget that he is still Cary Grant. Right off the bat, he's wearing "movie star" sunglasses, ostensibly because his character is on the run from thugs who have mistaken him for someone else and from police who think he stabbed a man to death inside the United Nations building. But the sunglasses also give Hitchcock a chance to remind the audience, "This is Cary Grant, folks!" Grant's line--"I look vaguely familiar"--is another wink at the audience who already feel they know him from his previous starring roles: GUNGA DIN (1939); HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940); THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940); Hitchcock's SUSPICION (1941); ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944); Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS (1946); Hitchcock's TO CATCH A THIEF (1955); AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957)--to name only a few. Eva Marie Saint ("Eve Kendall") five years earlier had won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in her powerful screen debut, Elia Kazan's ON THE WATERFRONT (1954); and she was a well-known face from many dramatic roles on 1950s live television. In NORTH BY NORTHWEST, her fans were getting to see her as a big-time, glamorous and quite sexy movie star. Here, in big-screen VistaVision, Hitchcock is playing off the audience's familiarity with these two stars whose on-screen chemistry sizzles like bacon in a skillet. 2. 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. MOVIES ARE MOVIES, in part, because, well, because they move. It's not for nothing that the very word a director says to begin filming a scene is "Action!" However, there are times when no "action" is necessary. This scene in NORTH BY NORTHWEST is one of those times. The repartee between Roger and Eve is so intimate, so risqué, so sexy--certainly for 1959--that we hang on to every word. The only "action" is the blurred landscape we see through their dining car window as the train moves across the country. The only time the two actors are not on screen--either in reaction shots or 2-shots with the scenery whizzing by--is when Grant pulls out his matches and Hitchcock takes a tight-shot cutaway on the matchbook. That matchbook provides two functions. First, its monogram--"R O T" for "Roger O. Thornhill"-- provides comic relief when Grant gives us one of his patented Cary Grant line-readings--"That's my trademark...ROT!" as only Cary Grant could. It's another wink at the audience as Grant seems to imply, "I've been around in movies so long, I'm going to rot!" Or--and I am merely speculating here--could the "O" in "Roger's" monogram be yet another dig at David O. Selznick? Despite their collaboration on the Oscar-winning REBECCA, etc., their professional collaboration had ended after sparks had flown between them due to their wholly different approaches to filmmaking. Selznick had reportedly added the "O" to distinguish himself from an uncle of the same name. We've already seen how, five years earlier in REAR WINDOW, Hitchcock cast Raymond Burr as the villain "Thorwald" because he could so easily be made to look like Selznick. So, while in REAR WINDOW he made Selznick the villain, in NORTH BY NORTHWEST he perhaps took another swipe by having Cary Grant say that the "O" stands for..."nothing." The matchbook as prop also gives our two stars their only chance to actually touch in this scene. The matchbook business occurs right after Roger suavely accepts Eve's proposition that they spend the night together. Grant tears off a match, strikes it and holds it to the tip of her cigarette. She gently cups his hand. Once the cigarette is lit and he starts to take his hand away, she seductively pulls it back and gently, seductively, blows out the match. As he takes his hand away, she gives him a smoldering look that speaks volumes. As we've seen in many of Hitchcock's earlier films, it's obvious he loved train travel, setting many scenes aboard trains. And it is true: there's nothing more romantic than train travel. 3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. FOR MOST OF THE CLIP, the music we hear underneath is the music piped in to the dining car--unobtrusive, easy listening dinner music underpinning the intimate conversation of two people who have just met and are getting to know each other. The other sound, of course, is the train's clickety-clacking on the tracks. This sound coupled with the dinner music creates a cozy atmosphere just right for intimate conversation. Once the sexual proposition has been made--and accepted--when Roger pulls out the matchbook, the piped-in dinner music switches to Bernard Herrmann's wistfully romantic love theme. While their conversation is undoubtedly sexy and revealing, in one way their dialog is not even necessary. One can watch this scene with the sound off and the looks Grant and Saint swap "say" everything, transmitting to the viewer the overwhelming attraction Roger and Eve have for each other. In fact, with or without sound, the viewer can almost get the sensation of having watched two people actually have sex. Pardon the cliché, but they really don't make movies like this any more.
  8. 1.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. THE MARRIAGE OF BERNARD HERRMANN's score and Saul Bass's computer animation in the title sequence tells me this film is going to be a mystery of complicated--spiraling, "twisted"--psychology. The hypnotic, swirling, multi-colored designs tell me I will find myself in a Hitchcockian world where appearance is not always reality. Herrmann's crescendos have the sound of doom. (Although a first-time viewer can't know it at the time, those crescendos foreshadow Scotty's perverse--and doomed--obsession over a woman, a woman who, in fact, doesn't actually exist.) If doomed obsession could be turned into music, it would sound like Herrmann's title sequence score. Despite their hypnotic and bordering-on-nauseating repetition, the music and animation make me sit up and, despite the nervously fluttering butterflies in my stomach, get ready for a journey--as it will turn out, a journey like no other. 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I WOULD HAVE TO SAY the single most powerful image is the woman's full-screen eye enlarging, apparently in shock and disbelief at what she's seeing. Immediately the title--VERTIGO--comes out of her eye. We zoom beneath the title and into a dark and disorienting recess as the slowly spinning images take us ever deeper. The spinning designs married to the music are a mesmerizing magnet drawing the viewer into a web of obsession. You might find yourself wanting to get off the elliptical merry-go-round, but because it's so hypnotic, you can't. You are trapped--but, at the same time, fascinated, intrigued. Before you can even ask yourself, "Am I losing my grip on reality?", you have been sucked down into...an abyss. But in the midst of all this, the woman's eye is the nexus, the exact point where the human connects/intersects with the unknown--which is where we, the viewers, are on the verge of going as the movie is ready to begin. 3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? HOW DO THE IMAGES and the music work together? In two words--hypnotically and beautifully. The music s-o-u-n-d-s like the images look. The images look like the music sounds. For me, they are inseparable. Are they moving toward me, or am I falling into them? Because of the hypnotic nature of Herrmann's score, I have the sensation of slowly going under--being hypnotized, if not anesthetized. The title sequence is an abstract summation/foreshadowing of the movie's key plot points: the mission staircase may not be a spiral staircase, but "Scotty" (Jimmy Stewart) does "spiral" upwards, just jaggedly, with right angles preventing a smooth progression; the same "jagged spiral" is the shape of the route he takes in his car while following "Madeline" through San Francisco's streets; but the most powerful manifestation of the spiraling is the 360-pan around Scotty and Judy embracing after she comes out of the bathroom and finally, to his satisfaction, has transformed herself into "Madeline"--a woman who doesn't really exist. I don't think any composer--then, now...or ever--could write music that would be as effective as Herrmann's is from the beginning to the end of VERTIGO. I've said for many years if I had to take only one movie to that proverbial deserted island for the rest of my life, hands down it would be VERTIGO, just as it is.
  9. 1. 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 CONTINUOUS PAN that opens REAR WINDOW introduces us to the universe of the movie and serves as a microcosm of the world at large. We're briefly given an overview of all types of people seen going about (what they think are) their private lives. But their lives aren't private. We are already peeping as the shot moves around the courtyard. "L.B. Jefferies"/"Jeff" (Jimmy Stewart) is not only facing away from the apartments, he's asleep. Hitchcock is telling us in the very first scene that the point of view is ours: we are "peeping" even before Jeff wakes up. But then, "peeping" is something we do every time we watch any movie, or watch fellow passengers on a plane, or see our drunk neighbor watering her front yard flower beds in her sheer nightgown--in the rain! We don't have to look. But we do. 2. 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? THE CAMERA, CONTINUING its opening pan, tells us Jeff has a broken leg. In addition to his smashed-up leg, he owns a smashed-up camera, apparently smashed while he was gallivanting around the globe as an action news photographer. Photos on his apartment walls show car crashes, explosions, all action photos. The camera passes by a bevy of more camera equipment, further underlining he's a professional photographer. Still panning, the camera comes to the negative of the photo of a woman, a blonde--of course! Finally, we see that negative realized as a cover photo on a magazine that looks suspiciously like a copy of..."Life." That negative is perhaps a hint at the negative relationship Jeff has with a high-fashion model--"Lisa" (Grace Kelly) whom, as the clip ends, we are about to meet. 3. 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, I GUESS it does make me feel like a voyeur since I am looking into the lives of people in their abodes, people who think they have privacy. On the other hand, if they truly wanted privacy, why would they have their windows thrown wide open; sleep on the fire escape in full view of their neighbors; or, like "Miss Torso," dance in hot pants and halter top at the wide open kitchen window while making morning coffee? In other words, sometimes we can inadvertently be "peeping Toms" only because other people are exhibitionistic. I'm wondering whether now, in this age of the Internet where there really is no privacy, if REAR WINDOW doesn't lose some of the punch it had upon its release six decades ago. Don't get me wrong, I love this movie, one of my favorite Hitchcock films. In the Fifties in which REAR WINDOW takes place, people did lead more private lives than today. But I think much that's been written about voyeurism vis-a-vis REAR WINDOW no longer applies, not in the 21st Century, not when millions of people willingly "let it all hang out" on the Internet. (I mean, do I really need--or care--to know that someone's grandbaby has projectile diarrhea? And do I really want to see a photo of the poor little dehydrated thing?) Then again, maybe Hitchcock's film was showing 60 years ago that privacy is an illusion, that people are always watching people--peeping--and always have been, with or without social media. Peeping, looking, watching--whatever you want to call it--is human nature. BONUS QUESTION: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? SOME MIGHT ARGUE that NORTH BY NORTHWEST is more cinematic, with its vertiginous view of the plaza from atop the United Nations building; its wide open vista of flat, Midwestern cornfields and that buzzing crop-duster chasing Cary Grant; or its climactic chase across the faces of Mt. Rushmore. But I think REAR WINDOW beats it in the cinematic sweepstakes. It's cinematic, however, in a totally different way. There are no wide-open, on-location vistas because REAR WINDOW takes place on a constructed set, the largest ever built for Hitchcock, with everything observable from the vantage point of Jeff's apartment. But within that set of myriad apartments--some furnished, supplied with electricity and move-in ready; each with fleshed-out secondary characters--Hitchcock had absolute control over how his camera would tie them all together, creating a believable world in the make-believe world of a Hollywood studio. Furthermore, REAR WINDOW comments on the very act of watching--even the making of--a movie. With Jeff as our on-screen surrogate, we gaze through his camera. He (we) is (are) directing where the camera will go. From apartment to apartment we pan--or jump--lingering on each long enough to glean information before moving on to another. Along with Jeff, we are not only directing the film; we are also editing/cutting as we go. We jump from one apartment to another, essentially cutting the film. In life, this is how we see: with each turn of our head, or blink of our eyes, we are constantly editing reality. Typical of Hitchcock, long stretches of REAR WINDOW are "pure film"; that is, the visual can be all we get, and all we need. Much of what we see in Jeff's neighbors' apartments is seen in mime, or dumbshow--no dialog required. In short, each apartment is a silent movie. As Jeff, and we, will see, it just so happens one of those silent movies is a horror film, replete with knives and saws and a trunk large enough to cart off a corpse. If watched only on its surface, REAR WINDOW is hugely engaging and entertaining. We can't diss Jeff. Having spent his professional adulthood looking at life through cameras, what the hell else is he supposed to do, confined to his wheelchair and to his sweltering, claustrophobic apartment? Finally, we can't overlook the fact that it's Jimmy Stewart up there, the "Everyman" actor. We root for him because, after all, he's us. REAR WINDOW is also a meditation on married vs. single life. Each of those little movies is essentially commenting on Jeff's anti-marriage stance vs. Lisa's pro-marriage views. She thinks Jeff should settle down as a society photographer in New York where she's a model swept up in the social whirl of the big city. Jeff can't imagine anything more boring. He'd rather roam the world in a constant effort to capture that perfect photograph. Lisa, meanwhile, relates to "Miss Torso" having to fight off **** suitors when all she wants is for her short "Stanley" to return home from the military. Elsewhere, the newlywed couple give Jeff reason to want to avoid marriage at all costs: the sexually insatiable bride is constantly calling her new husband--"Haaaarrrrryyyy"--back to the bed. Jeff, at least as long as he's in that cast, is essentially paralyzed from the waist down. Hitchcock seems to stress this with Jeff's telephoto lens--a phallic symbol if ever there was one--as Jeff's only tool for experiencing Life--but at a distance. Lisa moons over the music being worked out on the frustrated composer's piano. (By movie's end, that composition will be finished and, with lyrics, titled--what else?--"Lisa," sung over closing credits. This is Hollywood, after all, and closing songs were typical of the period.) Finally, on a personal note, I know the following may appear a stretch, but it's the truth--at least as I see it: I never watch REAR WINDOW anymore without thinking about Giotto's fresco cycle in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. Both of the interior's side walls that lead from entrance to altar are lined with horizontal rows of individual panels, the panels depicting specific moments in the life of Christ and the life of the Virgin. Giotto was beginning to paint the human figure in three-dimensional space instead of the flat two-dimensions of the preceding Byzantine Era. His work would become, if you will, a hinge that would swing the Byzantine to the Renaissance, when the human figure, in well-rounded three dimensions, was practically jumping right off the canvas (think Caravaggio) or frescoed wall or ceiling (think Michelangelo). Giotto's long rows of panels are like film strips, each panel a frame, like an individual frame of film. Of course, with static Italian fresco panels, you don't have the movement of a camera pan. However, as you walk down the middle aisle looking at the panels in sequence, you become the projector just as a projector running a strip animates the frames. Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW apartments are like those individual fresco panels, letting us look in on the lives of others, seeing the drama, the comedy, the mundane going on in each one. It's as if the artist Giotto anticipated film 600 years before its development. After the development of film, Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW raised the daily, human act of merely observing to the level of art.
  10. 1. 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. RIGHT OFF THE BAT during opening credits, Hitchcock gets right to the idea, the motif, of "criss-cross." In alternating ground-level shots, we see two taxis arriving at a metropolitan train station. The side doors of both taxis fill the frame as the taxis arrive from opposing directions. They don't cross paths, but if they continued, it appears that they would. The significance of the taxis is that they are bringing two passengers who will converge--and cross each other--in what will ultimately be a fight to the finish. One pair of snappy, white dress shoes with black-capped toe and heel, emerges from the first taxi. Then, a pair of black-shod feet emerge from the second taxi. The black and white shoes walk from right- to left-screen. The second pair of feet walk from left to right. They haven't yet crossed, but they seem to be walking to some midpoint where they will. After the back and forth of these arrival shots, the screen dissolves to a low-angle traveling shot down the tracks from the point of view of the train. This shot continues the motif of parallel lines that never meet, but that can, and do, cross other parallel lines; of separate LIVES that can and do cross each other's path and, if only for a moment, meet. This entire sequence is a literally moving metaphor for--and a meditation on--the randomness, the sheer happenstance, of Life. From this near mesmerizing shot of the tracks criss-crossing each other, the screen dissolves to the interior of a train's club car. Again, the separate pairs of feet are still moving in their already established directions--that is, toward each other. And, finally, when the owners of these feet take their seats, the owners cross their legs. In doing so, the tip of one of the solid black shoes taps--and crosses--one of the black-and-white shoes. As if to punctuate this chance meeting, the music score features a slightly sinister bass clef glissando. With that, we see the owners of these feet for the first time--in a two-shot--Guy left-screen, Bruno right-screen. Only now do we get the first line of dialog: Bruno's "Excuse me!" After recognizing Guy as a well-known tennis player, Bruno wastes no time. ("I beg your pardon. Aren't you Guy Haines?"). Instead of staying put, Bruno crosses the narrow width of the club car and, invading Guy's space, seats himself next to Guy at the tiny round top table. Further pushing himself at Guy, Bruno forces a handshake, which, palms facing each other, is the criss-crossing of hands. We briefly see shadows from the club car's horizontal window blinds crossing the chalk stripes of Bruno's suit jacket. In the now-tighter two-shot, we see Guy is wearing a tie featuring a conservative tattersall pattern, the repeated criss-crossing of perfectly perpendicular lines. The shadow lines on Bruno's shoulder, however, are canted across the suit stripes--like a distorted, twisted game of tic-tac-toe. The less talkative Guy, who's brought a book with him, would apparently prefer to be left alone. He only smiles and nods "Yes" when asked if he's the famous tennis player. He gives Bruno no reason whatsoever to cross over to his side of the car. So, has Bruno crossed a line? Well, as it will turn out, yes. As the story unfolds, Bruno will cross many more lines. This, for the entirety of the film, right up until the climax, is going to be Guy's cross to bear. 2. 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. AS DISCUSSED IN ANSWER #1, the camera shows the taxis arriving from opposite directions. When Guy and Bruno emerge from their respective taxis, they walk in opposing directions. As for their attire, the first contrast is their shoes. Whereas Guy's are sober, dark wingtips, Bruno's are the snappier, more flamboyant black-and-white saddle shoes. Guy's slacks are, again, sober black, while Bruno's suit pants are stylishly chalk-striped with the sheen of perhaps sharkskin. (If it isn't sharkskin, it should have been--the operative word being "shark.") Guy is dressed in conservative dark suit, dark shoes, conservative tie. Bruno, on the other hand, has loud clothes that all but scream for attention. In addition to the black-and-white shoes, he wears a shiny, striped suit. His metallic (silver?) tie clasp is his name--"Bruno"-- in cursive script. Beneath the tie clasp is a strange design that might be...what?...a lobster by Salvador Dali? Whatever it is, it looks like something out of a fantastic nightmare by Hieronymus Bosch. I don't know that it's on screen long enough to register with the audience, but I froze it while taking notes on the sequence. It's either a lobster with pincers that have snapped shut, or two Venus Fly Traps that just snared flies. I'm inclined to think it's the latter, based on Hitchcock's attention to detail and the fact that absolutely nothing in a Hitchcock film winds up on screen by accident--and certainly not something that is shown in extreme close-up. Bruno, of course, would be the voracious plant, Guy the fly. Bruno has yet to "snare" Guy in his psychopathic murder plot, but, in time, he will. Is this weird tie design foreshadowing that eventuality? Upon even closer inspection, I noticed underneath the "fly trap" is what looks distinctly like the symbol for Mars, the Roman god of war--a circle with an arrow at the top pointing northeast. (Is this foreshadowing the future life-and-death struggle between Bruno and Guy?). The symbol for Mars has also come to represent the gender symbol for "Male." Upon still closer inspection, I see that the "arrow" at the top of the orb is on the verge of piercing what looks like an inflated heart. (Does this foreshadow Bruno murdering Guy's wife Miriam, someone Guy may no longer love, but surely once did?) I admit I am laughing while I write this speculation about the bizarre tie design. But, seriously, I do wonder if this wasn't intentional on Hitchcock's part. At the normal speed of the movie, it's really not on the screen long enough for it to clearly register as I've speculated, but it ​is there and practically screams to be noticed. Maybe it was Hitchcock's experiment in subliminal suggestion, to see if the audience would "get it"; or perhaps it was simply a sick in-joke over which Hitchcock and his team had a good laugh. We know from Hitchcock's television program and from many televised interviews that he had a rather impish, perverse sense of humor. Okay, enough about Bruno's strange tie. When it comes to speech, Bruno is the first to say anything. ("Excuse me!") When he immediately recognizes Guy, Bruno can't help himself. A chatterbox, he strikes up a conversation, running on like a magpie. Guy, meanwhile, doesn't speak, but merely smiles and nods--perhaps out of shyness, perhaps out of being overwhelmed by Bruno's pushiness. Guy's only lines in this entire clip are, finally, "How do you do?"; and, when Bruno ironically says, "I don't talk much. You go ahead and read," Guy, with relief, says, "Thanks!" and goes back to his book, as if this will politely ring down the curtain on Bruno's verbal diarrhea. As the clip ends, Bruno is sneaking a peek at whatever it is Guy is reading. 3. 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? OVER THE TITLE and opening credits, Dimitri Tiomkin's score is a full-bodied, dramatic, sweeping Hollywood score true to its era--at least at the very beginning. But as the taxis arrive through the barrel-vaulted arch of Washington, D.C.'s Union Station and the feet get out, the composer first punctuates Bruno's snazzy two-tone shoes with a couple of bars of Gershwinesque, metropolitan jazz. He does the same over Guy's black shoes, but toned down a bit. As the two pairs of feet walk purposefully into the station, Tiomkin punctuates each step with staccato notes, the music and every step of the feet in perfect synchronization, as if our two leads are walking in lockstep. This, of course, is ironic because they never will be. Up until the feet enter the train station, the music is upbeat. However, when we dissolve to the train's POV traveling shot on the tracks, the score becomes fuller, more forte, more "muscular" as if to convey the power of the train and its ability to change lives as it delivers people from one place to another--and, as we shall see, how it throws disparate lives together. But when we dissolve to the black-and-white shoes (Bruno's) slowly walking through the club car, the full orchestration reduces to an eerie strain by far fewer instruments--just as Tiomkin did for SHADOW OF A DOUBT when, in the opening sequence, the street scene dissolves to the dark room with a prone Uncle Charlie in deep thought. The pairs of feet finally reach their respective destinations; the men sit. When legs are crossed and Guy's foot taps--and crosses--one of Bruno's feet, Tiomkin's glissando of bass notes puts a sinister button on it, musically confirming that all the crisscrossing of people in the station, the crossing of train tracks, the crossing of hands, the cross-hatching of shadows over a suit's stripes--all of it--have led to this one chance moment, this random encounter that will set a psychopath's "crisscross" murder plot in motion.
  11. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? ​​I would imagine the "hang-over" scene early in NOTORIOUS posed something of a problem for Hitchcock: "How do I make Ingrid Bergman look hung-over?" "How do I make the audience believe ​that this exquisitely beautiful woman could ever look bad?" ​For starters, Hitchcock has her hair mussed, as it would be for anyone who's just waking up after a night of too much booze. To keep the viewer from--once again--being just dazzled by her beauty, Hitchcock obscures a portion of her face with the glass of bicarbonate of soda. This visual information confirms that she is, in fact, hung-over. So far, this is a silent movie, something Hitchcock mastered twenty years earlier--and it's something I most appreciate about his films: his movies are never "talky." He lets the camera, sometimes for long stretches, tell us everything we need to know--with absolutely no dialog. ​No dialog--that is, until "Devlin"/Cary Grant speaks over this shot the off-screen line "You better drink that!" ​Only then does the camera cut from Bergman and we find "Devlin" silhouetted, standing, arms crossed, in the doorway. The shot is tilted diagonally. We're seeing Grant through Bergman's eyes. This canted shot, of course, was something used frequently in German Expressionism, something Hitchcock was exposed to when, in 1924, he worked at Berlin's UFA studios. Directing on a neighboring set was the great German filmmaker F. W. Murnau who was making his masterpiece of silent cinema THE LAST LAUGH. Two years earlier, Murnau had used such expressionistic, slanted shots in his silent vampire classic NOSFERATU. ​As Grant walks across the room, we continue seeing him through Bergman's POV. By the time Hitchcock cuts away from this rotating shot back to Bergman, Grant is almost completely upside down within the frame. But Hitchcock isn't "plagiarizing" Murnau. He himself had used the camera in a similar manner. As professors Edwards and Gehring pointed out in the lecture video, Hitchcock had used a similar shot of Ivor Novello in the silent DOWNHILL (1927). Hitchcock isn't lazily repeating himself, or lazily "cannibalizing" his earlier work. By the time he directed NOTORIOUS in 1946, he had mastered the language of film, the language of the camera; that is, the various ways the camera can be used to convey a mood or a character's perception. In NOTORIOUS, Hitchcock is simply employing such an angled shot in order that we see Grant through Bergman's bleary, morning-after eyes. ​Hitchcock uses one of his signature touches of humor in this sequence. When Bergman finally manages to prop herself on one elbow, she realizes her hairpiece has fallen off. It just sort of lies there on the bed like some dead animal. She stares at it. We almost want to laugh but because of the hang-over agony she's suffering--and who can't identify with that?--we feel for her. She's vulnerable, a human being. ​The lighting of Grant in the doorway is perfect--and true. Because he's facing the interior of Bergman's darkened room, and because the room behind him is well-lit, Grant is cast in almost complete silhouette. This gives the shot an almost ominous feel. But, then, we're seeing Grant through the eyes of someone who is waking up, "coming to," not knowing exactly where she is after too few hours of drunken sleep. 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? ​While "Alicia" (Bergman) was born in America--and loves America--her father as the film opens is already a convicted Nazi spy. Considering the movie was released in the first months after World War II, Hitchcock wants us to empathize with her complicated predicament. To elicit our empathy--and to allow his camera to show Alicia's internal agony--Hitchcock gives us many close-ups of Bergman throughout NOTORIOUS. But it's not just her beauty that he's putting on screen. He's putting her ability to convey complicated emotions up there, too. ​NOTORIOUS is a rollercoaster of a romance. She's not sure Grant isn't feigning love for her just to get her to help the U.S. government nab a nest of Nazis in Rio de Janeiro. But we know they are in love. Hitchcock's tight-shot camera makes this explicit, putting them in beautifully framed 2-shots, embracing, kissing, talking, kissing, talking--and kissing some more. It seems certain that those intimate scenes were extremely "hot" in 1946--because...well...they still are! ​Bergman and Grant could probably both look great wearing burlap sacks. But with the great multiple Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head dressing them, have any two Hollywood stars ever looked better? In Head's clothes, Bergman goes believably from disheveled drunk to gown-draped classy. And when it comes to tailored suits and tuxedos, Grant wrote the book. Hitchcock came to Hollywood, in part, because of his desire to work with Hollywood stars who could bring an even wider audience to his films. He knew what he had in Bergman and Grant and he lavished them with the star treatment that put them--and himself--in the absolute best light. . 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? Bergman and Grant are a perfect pairing for this romantic thriller. Their screen chemistry is absolutely believable. But not being familiar with their filmography prior to NOTORIOUS, I am not sure of what types of roles they were known for before 1946. However, ​now having seen the entire film, I can't imagine any two other stars in the roles of Alicia and Devlin.
  12. 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? The opening sequence, at least the part in the bedroom, is essentially a silent movie. There is sound, of course--sound effects and music. But Hitchcock, proving that his roots in silent film go deep, is allowing the mise-en-scene and the camera work exposing it to do almost all the "talking." The music is bright and cheery. The room is well-lit, sunny, with morning shadows on the walls. What Hitchcock puts on screen is giving the viewer much information: plush bedroom expensively furnished, a floor strewn with china, crystal and silver, the detritus of many meals obviously eaten in the room. As the camera pans this mess, it's transmitted to the viewer that for this couple, this Mr. and Mrs. Smith, money is no object. The two house servants in the kitchen further underline that fact. ​But true to Hitchcock, there is some sort of conflict here. While the light-hearted music and cheery lighting bespeak happiness, we see the husband is seated on the floor quietly playing cards so as not to awaken his wife who remains in bed. If he doesn't want to disturb his wife, why doesn't he get up, get dressed and go to work--or at least leave the room? Why is he staying in the room playing cards on the floor? Hitchcock sets up their "rule" about not leaving the room after a quarrel, not until they've made up. Screwball, indeed. ​I would be remiss not to mention the incredibly lovely Carole Lombard. She may not be of the "icy" variety a la Tippi Hedren or Kim Novak, but she is a blonde. This is, after all, a Hitchcock picture. 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? ​Unlike many other openings to Hitchcock films that open in public places filled with the hubbub of many people, MR. AND MRS. SMITH opens in the private, intimate setting of a married couple's bedroom. This is new territory for Hitchcock. Married life is apparently going to be the topic. 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? ​From what I can tell from this brief clip, Lombard and Montgomery seem well-suited as a comedy team. But I can't help but wonder what the comedic brilliance of Cary Grant opposite Lombard would have brought to the role.
  13. 1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do you learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. WE LEARN THAT Uncle Charlie is living temporarily in an urban building where individual rooms are for rent. We're in an unnamed American city. We know it's American right off the bat because of the architecture and because children are playing ball in the street. We discover Charlie in a dark room, lying on a bed, smoking a cigar, window curtains throwing watery shadows across his face. A pan from Charlie reveals considerable cash on the bedside table. The horizontal pan becomes vertical, continuing down to the floor where it stops on yet more cash, wads of it. The landlady, "Mrs. Martin," comes to his room and informs him two men are looking for him. When she leaves, he sits up, drinks from a glass. Music swells menacingly. In a sudden fit of anger, Charlie throws the glass at the sink. By his outward appearance, he looks like a successful businessman. He wears a dapper suit and speaks to Mrs. Martin in the polite tones of a gentleman. If it's true that "action is character," it's now obvious that underneath the suave appearance he has a hair-trigger temper. He goes to the window. As he looks down to the street, the curtains cast shadows on his face. When he spots two men standing on the corner, we hear his thought: "You've nothing on me!" He leaves the rented room and walks out of the building, brushing by the two men waiting on the corner, as if daring them to follow him. The men do start following him as he heads down the sidewalk. We don't know what he's done. We don't know where he got the cash. But it's clear in this 3:40 opening scene: Uncle Charlie, for some reason, is a man on the run. 2. 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) THE CAMERA DISCOVERS Charlie as a man alone. He's in a dark, seedy room, wavy shadows making his features indistinct. Dressed in a dapper suit, holding a cigar, he's in deep thought. His face is expressionless. Every aspect of this is classic film noir. Up to this point, he has been stock-still--like a corpse in a coffin--prone on the bed. But the landlady's information triggers a violent outburst: he throws a drinking glass, shattering it against the sink. The fact that he lies there corpse-like foreshadows that he's already a dead man. This, too, is classic film noir. When he goes to the window--curtain shadows once again washing across his face--he spots the two men on the street corner. We hear his thoughts: "You've nothing on me!" Shadows will play a telling role in this film, deep shadows being a hallmark of film noir. The movie's very title is a hint. As Uncle Charlie leaves the boarding house, he walks determinedly toward the camera. Without breaking stride, he passes the men and keeps walking. They begin to tail him as he walks away from the camera, down the middle of the shot. He's heading toward the sun--westward. He's obviously on the lam. Again, classic film noir: a man on the run. 3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores take on more importance than 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? AS THE FILM OPENS, Tiomkin's score is, briefly, a full orchestration of "The Merry Widow Waltz" over the street scene. (Only later in the film do we learn the significance of this particular piece of music. Charlie is one of two suspects the FBI is looking for in connection with the "Merry Widow Murders," so called because the killer has murdered several widows for their money.) When the camera dissolves from the street into Charlie's dark room and discovers him on the bed, the full orchestration immediately shifts to a darker tone. As the camera slow-zooms to Charlie, the score reduces to a few instruments in a minor key with high-pitched, eerie notes on a violin. Tiomkin's score is quite pointedly telling us mystery surrounds this man and that, for some not yet revealed reason, he is in deep, dark thought. When Mrs. Martin knocks on Charlie's door, the music stops. For the next :30--while Mrs. Martin and Charlie talk--there is no music at all. Before leaving his room, Mrs. Martin pulls down the window shade. As she does this, the music--ominous bass notes--play on the soundtrack. As the shade lowers, it puts Charlie's face in deep shadow, one of the classic tools of film noir, or "black film." Tiomkin's notes rumble then swell to crescendo, matching Charlie's anger as the glass shatters against the porcelain. From this point on, with the exception of a smattering of "The Merry Widow Waltz", Tiomkin's score builds, at first cluing us to Charlie's purposeful decision to walk out of the apartment, into the street, right toward the two men standing on the corner, obviously waiting for him to exit the building. He strides toward them, brushing by one of them, and begins walking away from the camera. They begin to follow him. As they tail him, Tiomkin's score gives us what sounds like the ominous death march of someone going to the gallows, to a firing squad or to the electric chair. We now know--in a mere 3:40 sequence--that Charlie is a marked man. Hitchcock with his camera and Tiomkin with his score have raised the stakes--and have raised questions: Who is Charlie? What has he done? Where is he going? What will happen next?
  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. ​We learn that Uncle Charlie is living, temporarily, in an urban building where individual rooms are for rent. We're in an unnamed American city. We know it's American right off the bat because children are playing ball in the street. We discover Charlie in a dark room, lying on a bed, smoking a cigar, window curtains throwing watery shadows on his face. A pan from Charlie reveals considerable cash on the bedside table. The pan continues to the floor: more cash. ​The landlady comes to his room and informs him two men are looking for him. ​She leaves. He sits up, drinks from a glass. Music swells menacingly. Charlie angrily throws the glass at the sink, shattering the glass. (He has a temper.) ​He goes to the window. Curtains cast shadows on his face. ​When he spots two men standing on the corner, we hear his thought: "You've nothing on me!" He walks past the two men waiting on the corner. The pair immediately start following him as he heads down the sidewalk. ​We don't know what he's done. We don't know where he got the cash. ​But it's clear in this 3:40 opening scene: Uncle Charlie is a man on the run. 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) ​The camera discovers Charlie as a man alone in a dark, seedy room, dark wavy shadows making his features indistinct. Fully dressed in a dapper suit, holding a cigar, he's in deep thought. His face is expressionless. After the landlady informs him two men came to the door looking for him, she leaves. Up to this point, he has been stock-still--like a corpse in a coffin--prone on the bed. But the landlady's information triggers a violent outburst : he throws a drinking glass at the sink. ​When he goes to the window--curtain shadow once again washing across his face--he spots the two men on the street corner. We hear his thoughts: "You've nothing on me!" ​As he leaves the boarding house, he walks determinedly toward the camera. Without breaking stride, he passes the men and keeps walking. They begin to tail him as he walks away from the camera, down the middle of the shot. He's heading toward the sun--westward. He's on the run. 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? As the film opens, Tiomkin's score is, briefly, a full orchestration variation of "The Merry Widow" over the street scene. ​ But when the camera goes into Charlie's room and picks him up prone on the bed, the full orchestration reduces to a few instruments---high, eerie notes on a violin playing as we zoom to Charlie. ​ ​ At Mrs. Martin's knock on Charlie's door, the music stops. For the next :90--while Mrs. Martin and Charlie talk--there is no music at all. Before leaving his room, Mrs. Martin pulls down the window shade. As she does so, the music--ominous bass notes--play on the soundtrack as Charlie's face goes into deep shadow. Tiomkin's deep notes rumble, then swell to crescendo as Charlie angrily throws the glass at the sink. ​ From this point in the opening sequence, with the exception of a smattering of "The Merry Widow" for a few seconds, Tiomkin's score builds, at first cluing us in on Charlie's purposeful decision to walk out of the apartment, into the street, right toward the two men on the corner. ​ They've obviously been waiting for him. As he strides down the sidewalk away from them--and they begin to follow--Tiomkin gives what sounds like the ominous death march of someone going to the gallows, or to a firing squad. ​ We now know--in a mere 3:40 sequence--that Charlie is a marked man. ​ Hitchcock and Tiomkin have raised questions: Who is Charlie? What has he done? Where is he going? What will happen next?
  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? ​REBECCA opens with a POV tracking shot in a rural setting, far from any public space packed with people. In fact, no people are seen. We are in a dream, narrated by an off-screen voice. The mood is not light. It's dark, like an enchanted forest. A witch could appear at any moment. (This, of course, will happen later with the first appearance of Mrs. Danvers. More on that later.) Because we are in a dream, we don't know if what we're seeing is actual, or just an imagined dreamscape. But the dreamer/narrator tells us Manderley--real or imagined--was once beautiful, a vision, but now reduced to a ghost of its former self. It's all very mysterious. And we want to know what was this Manderley and what happened for it to be dreamed about in this way? ​(Note: The way the film opens with the approach to a mansion made me think about Orson Welles's opening in CITIZEN KANE. But whereas Welles's camera approaches the dark Xanadu in static, ever-closer still shots, Hitchcock uses a traveling POV shot. Hitchcock here is preceding CITIZEN KANE by at least a year. So, I wonder if Welles was influenced by REBECCA's opening sequence.) 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? ​The opening's traveling shot is an extended example of Hitchcock's POV shot. As this subjective view continues, we go through dappled moonlight, the dark shadows of trees playing over the vegetation. This constantly changing dark-to-light-to-dark is reminiscent of the chiaroscuro of Renaissance drawings, specifically those by Da Vinci. Even before we get our first view of Manderley, a mystery seems to be in the offing. The shot, coupled with the off-screen voice narrating the sequence, makes us wonder, "What was Manderley?" "What happened at/to Manderley that it is now a magnificent shell?" 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? ​In addition to what's written above, after the traveling shot leading to Manderley, we cut to the South of France where two characters are introduced: one apparently considering suicide, the other interrupting said suicide. Here, the camera discovers Maxim de Winter on the precipice of a cliff overlooking the ocean. A tight shot of his raised foot tells us all we need to know: the man is distraught and wants "to end it all." This introduces yet another mystery. ​Manderley--a very effective miniature--IS going to be a character. Most of the action will take place in the mansion, its opulence at moments threatening to steal the whole show. (The opulence was provided by Selznick's budget and his insistence on making Manderley as impressive as it was in the novel. As we know from GONE WITH THE WIND, Selznick always got what he wanted. I also wonder if his reason for buying the rights to the novel wasn't, in part, because, like GONE WITH THE WIND, it's about the importance of a house (Manderley/Tara). It also gave him another opportunity for the spectacle of a great fire (the torching of Manderley/the burning of Atlanta). "Manderley," like "Tara," is said throughout the film. But Manderly is a haunted house--haunted by the ghost of the dead Rebecca, but also haunted by the living Mrs. Danvers who doesn't want to see anyone even consider taking Rebecca's place. In short, Manderley is a shrine to a corpse. ​4. None of the following is in the opening sequence, but it is foreshadowed by the mysterious opening. As a foil to the innocent, naïve Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers is this statue-still, hands-clasped, stone-faced presence who, like God, seems to be everywhere--even when she's not onscreen. After she's made her first appearance, we never forget that she is…s-o-m-e-w-h-e-r-e…in the house, quite often appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, having overheard the scene we've just witnessed. Like God, she seems to hear, to KNOW, everything that goes on at Manderley. As the film progresses and we learn that the heretofore perfect Rebecca was not so perfect after all, we realize that Mrs. Danvers has, essentially, been a stand-in for Rebecca throughout the film. She's not beautiful like Rebecca supposedly was, but she's a domineering presence from the outset. She's the keeper of Rebecca's flame, apparently having been more than the living Rebecca's personal maid. She was Rebecca's intimate confidante--and perhaps even more. With this character, Hitchcock seems to be going far deeper into the psychology of a single character than ever before. When Mrs. Danvers discovers "the second Mrs. de Winter" (Joan Fontaine) in the late Rebecca's boudoir, she seems to relish finally getting the opportunity to give the second Mrs. de Winter a tour. But it's not just a tour. It's a kind of sadistic torture she's relishing--torturing the "second Mrs. de Winter" with how beautiful, how perfect Rebecca was, how beautiful her bedroom still is, kept just as it was when Rebecca was alive. Finally, the "tour" gets downright kinky when Mrs. Danvers displays Rebecca's lingerie, fondling it with her fingers. This is as far as Hitchcock goes--can go--with the psychological make-up of Mrs. Danvers but it's powerful enough to put questions in the viewer's mind, questions that linger for the rest of the film. Mrs. Danvers--cool, controlled, contained in her first appearance in the film--would seem unfeeling. And yet in the boudoir scene we see perhaps she was capable of love--love that now has become worship. The actress Judith Anderson holds the same facial expression throughout the film, except maybe once when she opens her eyes wider while encouraging the second Mrs. de Winter to "jump." I can't remember ever seeing any actor hold the same expression throughout an entire film. How she didn't win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1941 is beyond me. Jane Darwell was great in THE GRAPES OF WRATH, but Anderson's performance, in my humble opinion, was far more powerful. With each step of this tour, Mrs. Danvers lashes the second Mrs. de Winter with the facts--or, rather, her perceptions--of Rebecca, knowing that with each statement she's making the second Mrs. de Winter feel increasingly inferior. Mrs. Danvers is essentially telling her: "You will never rise to Rebecca's standard. Even in death, she's your superior." ​With Mrs. Danvers, Hitchcock is moving ever deeper into what can go on in the human mind; that is, what is actually happening underneath, even when the outward appearance gives another impression. While Mrs. Danvers is "spooky" from the outset, that exterior could be seen as merely the demeanor of a servant who takes her job seriously. But when she finally torches Manderley, we realize she has been--if you'll pardon my French--batshit crazy from the get-go. ​

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