ajprice-1

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  1. My mother is trying to recall the title of a short animated movie from late 80's or early 90's about an elf (though she doesn't think that the word "elf" is in the title.) Details are hazy, but she recalls his being in elf school and being different from the others in some way. At the end, he ends up at the Nativity. Any ideas?
  2. ajprice-1

    Cat in movie Hell Below

    I just watched Hell Below (1933, Walter Houston, Robert Montgomery), a powerful submarine drama set in WW I, where people died tragically, faced impossible situations, and made remarkable personal sacrifices. However, all I can think about is that dead cat! If you've seen the movie, you know what I mean. It appears to be a real animal and it is either drugged or dead. I did a little internet research, but couldn't find any information. The movie is pre-code, so there were no animal rights advocates hanging around the set. Can anyone provide any info?
  3. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison. The long pan shot that opens Frenzy is almost like the intro of a travelogue, with bright, majestic music that would signify a completely different kind of movie. In The Lodger, we get a pan shot of the sign outisde a seedy music hall and an accompanying musical score that doesn’t leave us as shocked when we see a girl actually being murdered. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. Cinematically, we have the long pan that slowly moves from a birds-eye view of London, down the Thames River and through London Bridge, then in to the crowd covering the announcement that this part of the Thames will be going through a clean-up project that will rid the river of waste and pollution. Hitchcock’s brand of humor then produces a woman’s nude corpse floating into view. (I love that Hitch’s cameo has him, Derby and all, as a member of the crowd.) 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. Hitchcock puts more information in his opening scenes than pages of dialogue could convey. He uses images, light and shadow, a moving camera, and background music to give us setting and, usually, an introduction to important characters. In Frenzy, he turns the image of a picturesque London on its ear by capping off the political announcement about the river clean-up with the discovery of a woman’s murdered body floating up to the embankment where the announcement is being made.
  4. 1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? We know that this character is a con artist. There may have been other explanations for why she is using a false identity, but when she dumps that purse full of money into the “keep” suitcase, it erases all doubt. In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. She is completely discarding her present identity. While she carefully and uniformly packs the new suitcase that will take her into her new persona, she carelessly tosses all her clothing and possessions into the “dispose” suitcase. She is done with it (cemented by dropping the key to the locker through the floor grate.) We see her walk away in her tastefully tailored suit. 2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? We first have a measured musical background that slowly gains momentum as the character discards her old life and takes on her new one until the crescendo when she raises her head from the sink where she’s shampooed out the dark hair dye and looks triumphantly (and very blonde) into the mirror. 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? It’s impossible to miss this cameo. It even appears, for a second, that he’s making eye contact with the camera. He is being furtive and apparently has his own secrets to keep.
  5. 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? Melanie and Mitch “meet cute” when she plays along with his misconception that she is a sales person at the pet shop. Her own misconceptions about birds tip him off that something is up, but he plays it with a light flirtation. Melanie is obviously a very poised and confident young woman, used to getting her own way. Consider how she doesn’t want to wait a few minutes to get her mynah bird (which she didn’t realize would not come already talking) and informs the sales lady that she can just deliver it. 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? We hear the sounds of the sea gulls along with sounds of traffic. The birds become louder and Melanie pauses to look at the sky, which is full of them flying around. The scene isn’t especially ominous, but it IS jarring. 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. I don’t read too much into it. Hitch loved his two little dogs, and the pet store scene offered a perfect opportunity to put them in front of the camera. He plays it slightly befuddled as he manages the two leashes.
  6. 1. 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? Staccato string music plays as the linear title sequence presents names and then fractures them. Janet Leigh’s name appears as the last of the credits. That is usually reserved for someone being “introduced” or who may not appear in the entire movie (I never noticed that until now.) 2. 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? Phoenix is flat, hot, and under construction, despite the date being a day in December. The first shot pans across the city where we see mountains in the distance. A quick cut brings us to a shot of the hotel. Another quick cut takes us up to the window of the darkened room. The time of day indicates that the couple inside are meeting illicitly. Our coming in through that semi-closed blind underlines that we are, once again, voyeurs. The pan and "peek" was used in "Rear Window". 3. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. We fall right into the middle of Marion Crane’s story…and her conflict. We know that this isn’t the first time Marion and Sam have spent a lunch hour in a hotel room. The set-up of why a fairly nice girl would later be tempted to take the money and run is covered in less than a minute of dialogue. We are already aligned to be sympathetic to this beautiful young woman and are expecting an entirely different movie than what will be served up.
  7. 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. Just as we see the train tracks criss cross a little later in the into, we see Guy and Bruno in parallel activities that will fatefully lead to their criss crossing lives. They each arrive at the train station in almost identical taxis. They are each accompanied through the same door by porters carrying their luggage. They seat themselves in such a way that there is brief physical contact when their shoes touch. And so it begins….their separate tracks have crossed and they are now headed down the same one. 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. Their shoe styles show each to be very conscious of style. Guy is classic, with understated brown shoes and cuffed pants; Bruno is flashy with white and brown shoes and striped trousers. We have a pointed view of their differences before they speak. When Bruno recognizes Guy, he gushes on in articulated fashion, revealing even more about himself (he will wear a tie clip of his name, downplaying it by sharing that it’s a gift from his mother.) Guy, who probably has been approached many times after being recognized by tennis fans, is pleasant, but more closed. He shares no details and, actually, has little opportunity as Bruno gushes information. Bruno switches to the seat beside Guy, still chatting, and when Guy indicates that he wants to read, Bruno assures that “I don’t talk much.” We already know better than that. 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? Tiomkin again! He was wonderful. Here we begin with a cheery, brisk score than belies the drama that will unfold only minutes into the movie.
  8. 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. Cary Grant was the epitome of handsome elegance. Eva Marie Saint had received lots of adulation for her beauty and talent, but this was her first real role as the “cool blonde” we’d come to know from previous Hitchcock movies. Each of these characters (unlike each of us!) could be totally confident in their meeting. Each is the “alpha” of sex appeal. Thus, their flirtation and innuendo is never uncomfortable or ridiculous 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. The personalized matchbook zeroes in on our hero’s cavalier confidence and it also affords Hitchcock another dig at David O. (the O means nothing) Selznik. 3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. All we hear is a faint and romantic bit of Muzak over, under, and through the sounds of the train moving over the track.
  9. 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. It’s hard to divorce my answer from my multiple viewings of this movie, but I’m trying to recapture my feelings from the first time that I saw it. The music is eerie, but the images are even more unsettling. You know that something ominous is coming. 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. There is a moment in the series of whirling, changing images when one appears that is turning left to right instead of right to left. It is the only one to do so. When I see that, I have to close my eyes to escape the nauseous physical response. If anyone has never experienced vertigo, that image gives you a personal introduction. 3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The cadence of the musical score stays even and almost soothing underneath the stab of discordant notes that accompany the more jarring images. It’s hard to imagine another score, but the images would be lost in a less dream-like auditory experience. It’s important that this score be almost tuneless. You aren’t going to walk away whistling this one

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