spotter52

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  1. I've been enjoying revisiting Hitch's TV shows from the 50's-60's and now that I'm more knowledgeable about his style and traits I'm able to pick up on more things in the TV episodes than in previous viewings. Of general interest is that actor Norman Lloyd was credited as producer on most (if not all) episodes (also directed some) and Joan Harrison was the main producer credited on all episodes. One of the hour long episodes "Change of Address" takes place at a Malibu beach house. In it Phyllis Thaxter (playing the wife who hates the house her husband just moved them into) is looking out the window when a sea gull comes crashing into it shattering the glass and falls dead on the beach below. Shades of "The Birds" which came out 18 mo. before this episode. The episode also had music by Bernard Herrmann and was released only a few months after "Marnie" which as we all know was the last film that Herrmann collaborated on with Hitch. I've seen evidence of many of Hitchcock's traits in these shows but one that recurs frequently is the faltering marriage often accompanied by infidelity. And of course humor. Almost all of these shows liberally mix humor (albeit of a dark nature) with suspense and murder.
  2. I just discovered the channel MeTV which is airing episodes of Hitch's two television series (Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour). The first episode I watched starred Barbara Bel Geddes (Midge in Vertigo) as a woman who murders her cheating husband with a leg of lamb then cooks it and serves it to the police investigating the murder thus destroying the murder weapon. Very Hitchcockian. It was fun to see Ms Bel Geddes in a dark role although these shows are laced with tongue in cheek humor. There are several episodes airing almost every day so I've set my DVR to record them all. Hitch's on-camera intro's and wrap ups are one of the best parts of these shows and I remember them fondly from back in the day watching as a young boy. Post Script: This was one of two episodes directed by Hitch himself that were nominated for Emmy awards. He only directed 17 episodes of the long running series.
  3. I finally saw FAMILY PLOT to complete my course viewing and I really enjoyed it. I thought all the characters were well cast and the performances excellent. And humor was rampant. I especially liked the following bits of food related humor (FRENZY has wonderful food humor as well): 1. The scene where George (Bruce Dern) and Blanche (Barbara Harris) are at the kitchen table eating hamburgers and arguing with their mouths full of food. George even spits some food out while he's talking (reminding me of the inspector in FRENZY who spits out one of his wife's culinary creations when she leaves the room). 2. The scene where Bruce and Barbara are waiting at the mountain cafe waiting for Joe Maloney and George is drinking beers and burps rather loudly. 3. Arthur (William Devane) and Fran (Karen Black) are speaking over the intercom to the Bishop they kidnapped prior to releasing him for the ransom and when asked if he's ready the Bishop says he hasn't finished eating his chicken. I loved the slapstick car chase scene down the mountain road, especially the part where Blanch is panicked and starts choking George with his necktie (FRENZY?) as well as sticking her legs upward (reminding me of the corpse in the potato truck in FRENZY). This film has so many classic Hitch elements. For me I think Hitch was really just having fun with this film (maybe more than any of his other films). One last bit of trivia/humor. There is a street sign prominently featured in one shot near the apartment where Arthur and Fran live and one of the streets is BATES AVE (I don't need to say what this references).
  4. This is an interesting topic. Now that I've seen about 30 of Hitch's films (including several of the silents) in a relatively short period of time, I can more easily reflect on the whole body of his work. At times throughout my life I've loved his movies and sometimes been bored with them. And I'm referring to the same films. I've alternately hated and loved Tippi Hedren's (as well as Kim Novak's) acting. Hitch's films have resonated with me differently at different points in my life. But the most interesting thing to me is that I keep coming back to them. I can't say the same about lots of other director's movies. He tapped into our darker side even though we may be in denial of what he finds. Perhaps this is the allure. I think it's the same thing that attracts many women to "bad boys." Yes there are nice guys/girls in his movies but it's mostly the bad ones that intrigue us. Maybe Hitch is revealing his own dark side in his films but we should all look in the mirror from time to time and reflect (pun intended).
  5. One that I forgot to mention which has since been listed at least once is Woody Allen's Matchpoint. Woody referred to this in a recent live interview as one of his favorite films. I think it very much works in the Hitchcock style. Another that I don't believe has been mentioned yet is the French film Ascenseur pour l'echafaud (Elevator To the Gallows). This is a film worth checking out.
  6. "Body Double, Charade, and the always fun to watch, High Anxiety, and maybe to a lesser extent, but still worthy of mentioning, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, also come to mind." High Anxiety is of course an intentional spoof of Hitchcock films (mostly Vertigo).
  7. I really don't want this course to end (it could easily be a full semester in length). This is my first online course and I look forward to more in the future. Many thanks to Dr. Edwards, Dr. Gehring, Alexandre Phillippe and all at TCM, especially Ben Mankiewicz for his great discussions with Mr. Phillippe. Bravo!
  8. I agree with many that have already been mentioned, including: Witness for the Prosecution Double Indemnity Manchurian Candidate Here are some that haven't been suggested yet: In the Heat of the Night - has an innocent and wrongly accused man (Sidney Poitier) caught up in a situation he doesn't want to be in. There is humor and the murder investigation is the McGuffin. Suddenly - starring Frank Sinatra this small 1954 movie has many elements of Hitchcock. Fargo - I think Hitch would have loved this movie and wished he had made it. Panic Room - I think Davd Fincher must be a Hitch fan. Dr. Strangelove - the apocalypse combined with humor, a perfect Hitch recipe. There are so many elements of this film that suggest Hitch.
  9. I remember seeing an interview with Hitch many years ago where he disdained clever camera shots that were not realistic. The example he gave was a shot looking into a room from inside a fireplace with the flames visible in the foreground. To him there was no reason to have a POV shot like this as it doesn't represent a realistic perspective. Do you think Hitch always adhered to this philosophy in his own films?
  10. I've noticed a recurring shot in many of Hitch's films is a straight down view of a staircase usually with peoples hands visible on the handrails. Other than being an interesting shot angle what is the significance (if any) of these shots for Hitch?
  11. I had the extremely rare pleasure of meeting Eva Marie Saint after a screening of DUNKIRK in Hollywood over the weekend. She is 93 and extremely sharp, witty and charming (she also has a very firm handshake). She told me how hard it was to loop the dialog on the scene in the train dining car. She said it took her many takes to get "discuss love" to match "make love" in that scene. I think she did a great job because I never noticed it until it was brought to my attention in this course.
  12. Some very astute observations and I have nothing to add to what's already been said here. I've seen Marnie before but I'm looking forward to seeing it again in light of what I've learned from this course. Hitchcock was a complex artist but at his core there was a simplicity that shows through. I definitely appreciate him in a way I never did before taking this course.
  13. I watched "Rope" last night (which is the 3rd or 4th time I've seen it) and noticed something new. I don't know if anyone else noticed but there was one conventional cut (edit) in a movie that is famous for shooting long continuous takes in an attempt to make the film look like it was done in a single shot. The edit comes during the discussion about strangling the chicken. When Phillip (Farley Grainger) vehemently denies ever strangling a chicken the camera moves in for a closeup on him which is immediately followed with a reaction shot cut to Jimmy Stewart. It's not clear if this is how the movie was originally released or if it was a cut made years later possibly due to missing footage or other technical reasons. Maybe someone has knowledge about this and can comment. And speaking of the shooting style of this movie, most of the transitions to "hide" the edits to me felt forced and unnatural, The camera often moves in an awkward manner to the back of a character which covers the lens allowing for an "invisible" edit. But the pacing feels off. There's too long of a pause before the action resumes. Usually when this technique is used in films its is smoother and continuous. In the case of 'Rope" it draws attention to itself. Otherwise I found the movie to be very compelling and was like watching a stage play.
  14. After repeatedly watching (I love DVR's) Ingrid Bergman's upside down rotating POV shot of Cary Grant entering the bedroom I'm 99% sure this was achieved in an optical printer and not done in camera. The giveaways are the increased film grain and loss of contrast and sharpness as well as the too-smooth movement of the effect which would have been very difficult to do with the camera rigs of that time period. I imagine the shot was framed slightly wide so that it could be zoomed in and rotated in the optical printer to prevent the corners of the image showing as it rotated. The shot is still very clever and effective no matter how it was done.

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