Firesidetartan

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About Firesidetartan

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  1. Thanks to the contributor who mentioned the spirograph - I remembered seeing images like this as a kid when I saw the opening credit sequence of "Vertigo" & found the images fascinating. Now I remember my own experience of that little machine. Even so, the opening sequence, both visually and musically - and also together - set a tone of something stressful for the action to come. Moving beyond the opening sequence, "Vertigo" is a movie of "high anxiety" - literally. This is where Hitchcock moves beyond the outward experience of the cliffhanger to the inward one. I haven't yet found when he first used the motif of someone hanging from a great height, but it ends with death in "Saboteur" (1942) There's one in "Rear Window" (1954) where the character falls and is injured. Yet another in "To Catch a Thief" (1955) when again, the evil-doer hangs from a roof. How many other of Hitchcock's movies have such a cliffhanger? What was their chronological sequence? Just another fascinating fact to research about H! "Vertigo" of 1958 takes a huge step beyond the external experience of the cliffhanger to the internal experience of it - moving into the effect on the psyche of the individual who was hanging over the "cliff." The movie starts with the cliffhanger instead of ending with it and deals several times with the most likely effect of such a predicament - i.e. death. Interestingly, the protagonist in "Vertigo" is not only experiencing the damaging effect on his psyche of having hung off a "cliff," but also seeing the experience from the outside as well, several times. Also interestingly, in "North By Northwest" (1959) H. returns to the concluding cliffhanger, but makes a very positive transition from the horror to happiness. A delightful resolution - but as in "Vertigo," leaving unanswered the question: how did the character get out of the predicament s/he was in? Of course, it's a film, a story; and in effect it doesn't matter because film moves on fast and the director ensures his focus is the audience's focus, at least for the first viewing. However, in "Vertigo," an interesting unanswered question is how Scottie got himself out of his own predicament at the start of the movie! It leaves a lot for the imagination to come up with after the movie ends. My further reading tells me that an alternative ending was made for this movie - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertigo_(film) - which reflected the concerns of the censors of the time - they didn't want viewers to come away thinking that someone could get away with murder.
  2. "Rebecca" has one of the least Hitchcock-like openings of a movie by Hitchcock - obviously a reflection of the Selznick strictures. What documentation still exists of the rejected first proposed treatment by Hitchcock of the movie which Selznick threw out? I am sure that if Hitchcock had been allowed to be Hitchcock for "Rebecca" the movie would have been entirely different - it would have had suspense instead of mystery and atmosphere and be less pedestrian at the start. This movie is memorable, but I believe it could have been more so had Hitchcock been allowed free rein to produce his own vision. It's interesting to compare "The 39 Steps" (the novel) with Hitchcock's treatment in the movie. They are so different. The germ of the idea for "The 39 Steps" movie and some of the scenes are rooted in the book, but the novel is one independent creation while the movie is another. In some ways - even though it's a memorable film - "Rebecca" is Hitchcock's great failure - yet it's a failure that lies at the feet of Selznick, not Hitchcock. What could have been is so tantalizing to dream of.
  3. "The 39 Steps" - the play - is an adaptation of John Buchan's novel of 1915 and Hitchcock's movie of 1935. It has won many awards and ran on Broadway for a couple of years. It's a unique parody of Hitchcock. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_39_Steps_(play). A melodrama, it is a laugh a minute and well worth seeing on stage. I had the luck to catch during the summer theater program at Lees-McCrae College in Banner Elk, NC during the summer of 2013. I don't know how it comes over as a video, but the Desert Springs Theater Arts has its version on YouTube at

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