Soonya

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  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? We learn that Tippi has been in this shop many times and though she may look sophisticated and mature, she is not above playful tricks (maybe like the trick Hitchcock is playing on us as he leads us to believe this is going to be a screwball comedy type movie). We learn that Mitch is a sweetie who is buying a very thoughtful birthday gift, but his mind can be changed by a beautiful blonde. 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 birds in this opening sequence create a pleasant cacophony if there can be such a thing. The mood / atmosphere is light and rich (in a deep, layered way - not monetarily). 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. The cameo of Hitchcock walking his dogs comes early in the movie so now viewers that were focused on finding him can now relax and fall under the spell of the movie.
  2. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? The lines and words of the title design come together and then break apart which foreshadow the coming together and breaking apart of both the young lovers and mother and son. The intense sounds of the strings create tension in the audience in much the same way the gothic styling of the mansion and stormy night foreshadow something horrible is going to happen. 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? Crimes are cataloged by these types of specifics - place, date, time; this is Hitch’s way of subconsciously letting us know a crime has been or will be committed. By approaching the seedy hotel room via the outside we are getting our own hands dirty in much the same way Jeff did in Rear Window. 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. Not only does the hotel scene show us that this movie is going to be about the relationship between Marion and Sam, but in it, we see Marion seeming to control the action as evidenced by when she told Sam that she indeed may look for someone else, her eyes didn’t say, “I’m joking.” Also, she determined when it was time to leave the room and did not wait for Sam.
  3. The scene is humorous in a sexy way. For example, the line “I look vaguely familiar.” is funny because we know they are both famous stars that are recognized wherever they go. The humor as understatement continues as she compliments his good looks. Then there is the innuendo - you are what type - that type and we all think “fast” while the auditors hear “honest” and when she denies it and he said he is glad because honest women are frightening, the keepers of the moral code should find that statement more objectionable than if she had said the other. I think of me trying to get my parents to let me do something by first asking to do something so out there that my chances of getting my real wish would be greatly improved when I lost the battle for the ridiculous. Wow! That was steamy. The hand holding, the profile of her face blowing out the match. Over the top - I better wait for my hubby to get home to watch the rest of the movie. If there was another point to the scene, I’ll have to wait until my next viewing to ferret it out. The music is unobtrusive, romantic, beautiful - like the rest of the setting. Like the minimal action, it allows us to focus more fully on the faces of the leads and the risque dialogue. If possible, Eva Marie Saint is more beautiful from the side than full face.
  4. Until today, I just saw the opening credits as safe time to be getting popcorn. Last night my husband and I watched a movie at home together; he kept insisting I sit down and watch - because according to him, it mattered. I, in ignorant bliss, asked him not to to pause it because I would be back before it starts. Another way this class has changed my viewing habit is now I want to take notes as I watch. So I had my tablet out and was trying to record (via voice to text) my impressions. Hubbie found both the lit tablet screen and my whispering so annoying, I desisted. I couldn’t wait for this week’s airing, so last week, I checked out Vertigo from the library and watched it with my mom. We both enjoyed it much more than we expected - we typically like movies that provide escape into better, funnier places - not dark, suspenseful, movies where bad things happen. (I wonder if my life were more “idyllic” I would enjoy scary movies with bad people doing bad things) I am delighted to learn that by focusing on analyzing the cues that create suspense, instead of avoiding the feeling, (my typical strategy is to mute the sound and / or pause the action and return when my shoulders go down - I have been known to even go so far as fast forward through sections), I am moving from abhorring that feeling to an almost scientific curiosity regarding my angst. The most powerful image in the opening is the first focus of the eyes - especially the right eye - because of the blackness in them. Eyes should have life and light and color and their absences makes me think of dead eyes. The first few notes of the music strikes me as a little, playfully creepy but then the deep musical note coincides with the growing letter V from VistaVison to give me a ominous, foreboding feeling. The V is the shape of diabolical eyebrows over sinister eyes. These black and white tones reflect my own vision of the colorscape of hell. The lower notes drop off but the lighter ones continue, repetitively, but not complete, leading - leading where? Not a happy place. Recognizing my own limited understanding of scoring, I found this link https://cinephiliabeyond.org/strangers-train-technically-perfect-psychological-carousel-one-hitchcocks-best/ Among other interesting bits, about 2/3rds of the way down iI found an insightful vimeo clip titled THE SOUND OF HITCHCOCKJoin Academy Award-winning sound designers as they reveal how Hitchcock employed sound to make audience members leap from their seats in fright or crawl under them from excruciating suspense.
  5. I find the topic of watching movies at different ages similar to reading novels at different ages. As a high school literature teacher and starting this fall, a high school film studies teacher, I would appreciate more comments on this topic in the hopes that it will help me help my students.
  6. I second your comments regarding being oblivious to the nuances of the opening credits. Last year I became the yearbook advisor for my high school - no one else wanted the job so my lack of any qualifications was not an issue - and one of my first tasks was to work with my editors (this was also their first year) to choose font, colors, theme, folios, cover design, etc. that would have meaning and unite the yearbook. Previously in my life, I had never considered any aspect of how these elements impact readers; therefore, I struggled on how to advise my editors so as to help them make meaningful choices. What I am learning now in this class, I will take to my students next month as we decide on our new yearbook theme.
  7. The opening camera shot is exposition - setting, characters, culture, backstory. The POV may be similar to what in books would be third person limited - we the audience are limited to what Jeff can know. We learn Jeff is disabled photographer. I think of what I’ve heard commented on regarding Hitch’s penchant for leading men who are damaged / incompetent / broken. We are led to infer that it happened while shooting one of his dangerous assignments. I wonder how many days we are into the accident. Why didn’t he throw away the broken camera? Does he plan to repair it or send it out or keep it as a souvenir? Is Jeff sentimental or is it a sort of trophy like the bomb picture - does he display them for himself or so that others will think he is “cool.” Of all the pictures that he must have taken over his career, why these? Why the negative image of the woman. Are women just as dangerous as race cars and explosions? As this course progresses (and with help from another free course I’m also taking at this time - MIT The Film Experience with Professor Thorburg https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/literature/21l-011-the-film-experience-fall-2013/index.htm I am becoming a more sophisticated / mature viewer; however, it’s questions like this that show me how far I’ve yet to go. I am still too passive when it comes to viewing movies. Books are my first language, so I’m trying to use my roots from reading and apply to watching movies. My analogy is I’ve been speaking Spanish since I was a kid (not true), and now in the past month, I’ve decided to learn French. In the past, whenever I heard French, I didn’t even try to figure out what they were saying because I didn’t know French and it sounded like gibberish, but now I’ve learned they both are Romance languages so I’m starting to see connections and starting to try to understand.
  8. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific. The opening scene is in mirror image - one set of legs and feet exiting a taxi and walking with a porter coming from the right and walking left, the other (less dapperly dressed pair of legs, exits the cab from the left and walks with his porter towards the right. The next criss cross scene is the overlay of tracks and forward motion of the arriving? train. As a viewer, I’m not sure which track the train will take and I figure there will be some mystery as well in which direction / action the characters will take. Two minutes into the film and I still have yet to see a face - just legs going this way and that. Fancy ones walking to the left and conservative ones to the right. Finally the fancy ones sit, extend, and cross. Conservative feet enter and sit and bunching together - without taking up much room - cross. They bump. Now we see full body shots, Bruno is more expansive in his slouching manner while Guy, holding reading material has a table close up to him. Bruno is focused outward and says “Excuse me.” Guy in more inward - focused on his book. Bruno more extroverted starts the conversation - Recognizes him, Complements him, jumps over to sit next to him, shakes hands - gives out personal information (mother) and then says, “I don’t talk much. You go ahead and read.” Guy turns back to his book. 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. Guy is dressed conservatively; Bruno is flashy. Guy is quietly reading his book - Bruno is looking around for something to engage with. See Response to Question 1. I’ll have to read others’ discussion board analysis to understand more of how “camera work is helping to create this sense of contrast.” 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 opening score moves forward the action as it pushes the hearer along - not frenetically, but purposefully. Then the music quiets to allow the audience to hear the announcements, but then picks up more forcefully as the train arrives in the station and the departure time gets closer. Then the music slows down and I figure that the passengers have caught the train and their voyage is underway and the walking legs - still no face - reflects that the hurry is over. When the legs settle down, cross and bump - a loud chord is hit letting the audience know that a significant event just occurred. Then I hear low, unobstructive strings that have a slightly ominous - definitely not cheerful feel. The music fades into the background train sounds - I can’t tell if it is playing or not.
  9. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? As I would only know from listening to Professor Edwards, the spinning scene of Grant is similar to an earlier scene from an earlier English movie Hitchcock directed. Other touches could as just as easily in my mind be what typical American audiences want as quote unquote Hitchcock touches - well-dressed older man - beautiful young woman in bed. Man speaking briskly, unsympathetically to her and trying to get her to participate in something she apparently doesn’t wish to be involved in. 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? Initially, they both appear in a bit of soft focus. The Grant character is suave, sophisticated, well-dressed. The Bergman character is disheveled, hung-over, and still wearing yesterday’s garments. He is standing; she is lying down. He is in control - plays the audio results from the bugging of her home; she is initially refusing to get involved. 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? Again, I’m in the dark having never watched much of either star - I have a general understanding that they are popular, attractive, polished, well-liked stars. I understand that at the time, the public did not want to see their stars cast as villains and it seems that this clip establishes both as good, patriotic guys. I guess my own sensibilities are coming out a bit when I think the Ingrid Bergman character is too young for the Cary Grant character. I prefer the more equally yoked Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
  10. 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? I’m still feeling obtuse. As I watched the opening clip, I said to myself that, “I’m starting to see, starting to feel, what it means to view a Hitchcock movie.” But then when I go to articulate what “touches” I’m seeing, I don’t know what to pin point. How do I know these aren’t just black and white period touches - I’ve not seen enough of other directors to make that comparisons. As a novice viewer, I will say - it's the setting and angles that draw me in - it is unusual to see a professional type man wearing a dressing gown, smoking cigarettes, playing solitaire over a mess of several meals, and looking exasperatedly at a woman who doesn’t want to come out from under the covers. The meals are not like the meal from Blackmail or one from Shadow of a Doubt. The characters are “clothed” like well-to-do people but appearances are not being kept up. The man doesn’t object too much to the nosey maid and as the clip unwinds, the audience is aware that this is yet another several day long “lovers quarrel” and according to the “rules” the lovers must stay together until they make up. We also learn that he is a lawyer that can afford to miss several days from the office. 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? See answer to #1. And going back to the list of touches - Mostly nos - not average people, not average settings - upper middle class in fancy digs - no plot development yet. Just characterization. I’m sure the music is doing its thing to draw us in - I’ll have to go back and re-listen and take notes just on it - It’s light hearted, cheerful - pauses for dialogue and draws us in at the end of the clip to reassure the viewers that for all the angst that apparently came before, there is fondness and caring between the couple. 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 like the casting and chemistry; they appear to know and get each other (he looks at her in an exasperated way blowing smoke and puffing out his cheeks as she burrows under the covers, and then he tricks her into coming out from under the covers by pretending he left), and she ignores him and his card playing and bring over breakfast, but then snuggling up to him and saying that all marriages should have their rule. Further it seems that they are evenly matched as a “spat” that can last almost a week without either side giving in must be represented by strong opposition - weaker spouses would cave.
  11. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. The character of Uncle Charlie appears to be a charmer (the landlady fawns over him), rude (he doesn’t connect with her politely), a loafer (lying in bed instead of working industriously at some important task), unappreciative of the value of money (perhaps did not come by it honestly). Doesn’t show his cards - we are left to infer what he is thinking - toying with an unlit cigar, hurling a glass across the the room, siding up to the window to look out at the guys scoping his room… And concluding that he is not someone you want to “take home to Mother.” In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations) I will again state the obvious - what I know about film noir I just learned from reading the Professor’s notes. So the list will be seedy hotel, dubious characters, the hint of a crime, thugs or detectives watching the place, loaner - not a family scene, blase air the protagonist has towards the others in the scene. 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? For my more modern sensibilities, the scoring seems to be over the top - like the Jaws sound track - coaching me on how to respond. I prefer more subtle leading though I do like the reference to the Merry Widow that would be a clue for more astute listeners.
  12. I too wondered about what appeared to be a hole in the jacket.
  13. Thank you for sharing your insights with the scoring. This is an area where not only have I never studied, but I also where I lack basic background knowledge and understanding of terminology.
  14. I gleaned a lot from your analysis. Thank you for taking the time to write so thoughtfully.
  15. 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. Hitchcock’s use of upbeat music and the bustle of people coming and going contrast what would be a typically serious, somber situation of stranded travelers and an avalanche. The polyglot dialogue emanating from Boris, the telephone call which can hardly be heard, the wind which blows the papers, the cuckoo clock chiming all contribute to the light cacophony. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. Fast and slow, loose and tight, the characters of Caldicott and Charters add the pause and calm to the bustling scene; thereby relaxing the tension that viewers would feel with uninterrupted action. 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. Iris (Margaret Lockwood) is on the side closest to the audience which gives her importance. She also leads the conversation and gives the orders which also confirms her central place. The closeup of the group and movement of the four through the room and up the stairs again emphasizes the power the girls, and in particular Iris, have over the other would be customers/patrons in the room.

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