mavfan4life

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About mavfan4life

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  • Birthday 01/22/1956

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  1. 1. Definitive Hitchcock. First, look at the camera work - close-ups, odd angles establishing the power structure between the actors, Bergman looking into and through the glass of bicarbonate, hair down in her face. Again, all you need to know about where this is headed. The dialogue fills in the details, but it's the camera work that establishes all context of the main idea of this film. Time and again, through the focus of these Daily Doses, I can't help but reflect on comments in earlier classes about Hitchcock never straying far from his silent film roots. There is, to me, nothing more Hitchcockian than this. By the way, here's that damn figure of a person laid out across a bed. Again. 2. In this scene, the initial shot of Bergman in bed, hand hanging from the bed, is brightly lit. All is dependent on her wonderful acting skills within the set design. Her eyes reflect her doubt and concern, hazily through the fog of her hangover (and the restorative bicarbonate) as they slowly focus on the shadowy figure of Cary Grant, backlit in the doorway. She's framed tightly, so it is required that her face express her underlying doubt and confusion. Grant, framed in the doorway, cloaked in shadow, walks toward the bed and his image is turned upside down as he speaks to her with a seemingly dispassionate voice. The set is de-emphasized through shallow depth-of-focus, with the exception of the bed. She's dressed in yesterday's clothes, he's dapper (as usual). One's life in shambles, one's life in seemingly total control. His voice controlling. Her voice rebellious. Is there any aspect to this scene that doesn't hit it on every single level? 3. First, Cary Grant, because his casting is so much easier to discuss for me. There is the basic structure of his persona - suave and cool. Yet, rather than the charm we've come to expect from him, he's cynical, manipulative, hard, dispassionate. Ms. Bergman, on the other hand, plays very much to her traits. Vulnerable. Confused. Seeking to understand her situation and how best to work through it, but with little confidence. She does what many of us would do in a similarly unbalanced relationship - become rebellious. Defiant. Dismissive. All to protect herself from her own vulnerability. This is my favorite scene of all the Daily Doses seen to date.
  2. 1. The primary example of the Hitchcock touch in this scene is the camera work. Starting with the initial sweep across the floor filled with days of dirty dishes, it moves to the tableaux of cards, stops, then moves up to Robert Montgomery's unshaven, concerned face as he watches Carole Lombard. Thus, the entire premise of the scene is laid out for us in just a few seconds. This type of camera work continues as the dolly effectively zooms in on Carole Lombard's head buried in covers. Beyond that, the glamorous bedroom setting filled with satin and glittering objects tells us this couple is wealthy and able to indulge in pointless activities the average working couple would not be able to. Interestingly, Lombard acknowledges this after being fooled by Montgomery that he's left the room, which is revealed to be a potential break of their traditional argument-and-reconciliation pattern. The idle rich. Oh, and did I mention that Carole Lombard is blonde? 2. I don't agree that it is in any way a typical Hitchcock opening beyond the use of the camera and sets to tell a backstory. Now, that's substantive. Too many movies, in my opinion, use expository dialogue to present the context and it seems contrived. Whereas, Master that he is, you're given all you need to know visually and with the small bit of the office boy arriving with an important contract. But, no one is sitting there describing the Smiths' odd ritual of not leaving the bedroom until a fight has been settled. (Okay, Ms. Lombard, the beautiful Ms. Lombard, does explain it, but only briefly). 3. I absolutely love both Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. They are wonderful actors, their chemistry is real, and they are perfect in this comedic film.
  3. 1. Uncle Charlie is a man with no optimism for the future. He's bitter and angry and cynical. He's brazen, telling the landlady that they don't know what he looks like, then intentionally walking into the street, brushing against one of the policemen on his way to somewhere. On the run, hiding in plain sight. 2. Knowing what we've just learned, that Wilder suggested the opening sequence to Hitchcock based on The Killers, it's great comparison viewing. Beyond both characters lying in bed, awaiting their fates, the similarities break down. Where the Swede is resigned to his fate, ready to accept his own death, Uncle Charlie is quite the opposite. He's continuing to push forward, ready to take his show on the road. Both film opening sequences are noir, and although Uncle Charlie has a more optimistic view of his immediate future, the music and the chasing of the two detectives tells us his path is not so bright. 3. Tiomkin's score is ominous throughout, though the pace picks up as he rises, walks out of the building, and brushes past his pursuers. In fact, the score brings home the gravity of the situation for Uncle Charlie.
  4. 1. For the first time the Daily Doses feature a scene that doesn't open with crowds. The differences go beyond that though. This opening is haunting. The second Mrs. DeWinter opens it recounting her dream of her return to Manderley. And, the sequence plays to that dream as we float along the abandoned driveway to the ominous view of the house. There is little that is haunting about any of the other openings. Even "The Lodger" isn't about mystery. It's about suspense and the feeling we're about to be catapulted into a frenzied danger. 2. Hitchcock always seems to set up a film by creating an imbalance that must be tamed. This film is no different. He segues away from the haunting opening by sweeping up the cliffs of the French coast (in reality, Big Sur), to the precarious positioning of DeWinter. The unique angles are Hitchcock devices we've learned he became acquainted with while working in Germany at UFA with the Expressionists. Also, Ms. Fontaine makes her appearance as a woman perplexed by the situation she's stumbled into. This seems to be a recurring Hitchcock device, too. One that will need resolution. 3. Hitchcock makes Manderley a character by elevating it's presence as though it was a player in the action that brought us to this point of recall. Ms. Fontaine speaks of it in the voice over as though it had a life beyond stone and boards and glass. We float through the woods surrounding the house above the overgrown driveway until the house creeps into the frame with the words "Manderley, secretive and silent." But, of course, houses cannot be secretive and silent - those are the characteristics of animals, not structures.
  5. 1. I felt like Hitchcock is going for an almost slapstick opening. The upbeat German music, the entry of the two old skiers, equipment going in all directions, the put-upon desk clerk throwing his hands up in exasperation at the noise, in fact, all of his hand gestures and description of the avalanche. All very light and gay. 2. He starts off with Caldicott and Charters as part of the comedy - the desk clerk looking past them at the entrance of the young American ladies, their befuddled look, their British sensibilities being abused by the seeming ignorance of anyone not British. He then uses them to introduce international politics and intrigue into the film, foreshadowing the suspense to come. 3. The camera initially has all of the women in a plane with Iris facing left and the other two ladies facing right. Boris walks up to them and shakes Iris' hand. As they turn, Iris is now walking with Boris in front of the other two as the camera tracks them across the room. Iris leads the banter with Boris and the other women fill in the conversation. But, it is Iris with the best quips (i.e. her response to Boris' comment that nothings changed since they left "Including the sheets.")
  6. 1. Once again, Hitchcock opens with a crowd scene. In this case, there doesn't appear to be anything ominous afoot. The only thing that puts us on edge is the opening sequence of Donat purchasing a ticket and entering the theater with all the shots being down. Beyond that, the smile on Donat's face and his willingness to have fun asking a meaningless question, breaks that initial tension. Even "Pleasure Garden" had a more threatening opening with the pickpocket. 2. I would disagree that Donat is intentionally portrayed as an innocent because Hitchcock goes to such lengths to track him mysteriously into the music hall, then casts him a room of children, bawdy women, and old working stiffs with a cruder taste in humor. Donat seems to not fit into the crowd, standing above them almost humoring them in a condescending way. That certainly sets up an imbalance. 3. Phillips' point #3 describes the use of seemingly normal locations (i.e. music hall) & #4 amplifies that it is also not a place you would associate with evil. Yet, we do sense evil lurking because of Donat's entrance.
  7. 1. I would lean to characters over plot. Although the plot is moved along in terms of putting certain people together interacting, with a sudden look of awareness between two of the characters, each character seems to have something mysterious going on. The skier, the parent, Peter Lorre. Only the girl seems transparent and without worry. 2. Happy, laughing, carefree - until there is that brief reaction to something he thought he heard from the skier, or did hear. He has to struggle a little with English, which could be the explanation for what he thought he heard. Or, did the skier actually say something jarring. In other words, he's not the jolly fellow he pretends to be. 3. Each of the scenes is a genesis for further developments of interest - The Pleasure Garden's rich guy trying to establish a relationship with the dancer; The Lodger's murder; and, finally, the intrigue set up between various characters, all with something going on in their lives. Each scene takes place in crowds. The audience and dancers, the bystanders on the street around the crime scene, and the ski jump enthusiasts at the ski area. Each introduces sinister elements - the pickpocket in the alley, the serial killer in the streets of London, and Peter Lorre and the skier in this scene. As to differences, the first two are set at night, this one during the daylight. The Pleasure Garden is primarily a comedic set-up, the Lodger a crime scenario, and this film mixes comedy and suspense.
  8. 1. The most obvious technique he uses is juxtaposing the young woman, staring off into space, deeply troubled, with the babbling of the woman, the succession of customers coming through the door, the commands of the father. He sets the specific sequence up by having her enter the very quiet phone booth, revealing her internal obsession with the crime and setting it apart from the noise of her everyday world. Upon leaving the booth, the noise grows louder, the woman's babble intensifies to the point of gibberish, and finally closes in on her, breaking through with the repeated use of the word "knife". 2.The sound is chaos, the world spinning around the girl. She enters the phone booth, which focuses us on her internal "conversation" - call the police? No, don't do that. As she leaves the phone booth, she remains substantially removed from her surroundings. She barely moves. Doesn't interact with those surroundings. The noise and activity level increases, but she becomes more and more immobilized. It's not until she grabs the knife to cut the bread and the woman in the doorway becomes incomprehensible with the exception of the word "knife" repeated over and over that the visuals and the sound come together and her inner turmoil is physically expressed. 3. Why is it that some people like Hitchcock are so successful, so groundbreaking and others not? It's about a vision and a commitment to make that vision a reality. I think that Hollywood (i.e. the film industry) is like most fields. There are those that stand out, but for the most part, most people are looking for the easiest path to some objective. They lack creativity, and it shows.
  9. 1. The effect of both the POV and the POV dolly shots is to intensify the gravity of the situation for the boys. While the static POV shots drive home the point the intensity of emotions of both the headmaster and the girl, the POV dolly shot gives me the feeling that the girl, as she approaches is stalking the boys, like a lioness homing in on her prey. Without these techniques, the viewer watches the scene as nothing more than an observer. With the techniques, we are very much more personally affected, feeling the anger in both girl and headmaster. 2. See #1. To intensify the anxiety of the scene. 3. All three films use creative camera work and editing to amplify the emotions of the scenes. The use of montage, though, in this scene might show us what's going on in the girl's mind as she falsely accuses Roddy, but not in any way similarly. In this scene, the girl is re-telling her story, but the male character is headless, unidentifiable. In The Ring, the montage sequence is clearly designed to emphasize ol' One Round's losing his grip in a fit of jealousy. Similarities: Intensifies situations. Difference: one reveals emotional distress the other reveals a thinking mind recounting just enough of the truth to mask her lie. Until, of course, she mentions the wealth of Roddy's father.
  10. 1. Hitchcock increases the rapidity of cuts and the distortion to propel us from a point of relative stability (husband and wife in separate rooms, connected only by a mirror) to a frenzy and seeming lack of control. 2. He starts by establishing the boxer in a separate room, mildly bored by the discussion with manager and trainer. Slowly, as he begins to connect the boxer to his adulterous wife through the use of the mirror, the boxer becomes more and more isolated, seeming to be the only one not in on the action. How? Well, he uses the frivolity of the party and the enamored lovers to establish one world. He then connects that world with the manipulative manager by superimposing the lovers' image beside the manager's. This gives us the understanding that, although the boxer is trying to cooperate, he is also aware that deceit is part of the motivation. The sense of isolation grows. Increasing the rapidity of the cuts, distorting the dancers then the piano keys and spinning record, he increases the torrent of emotion we feel coming from the boxer. He caps it with the boxer's leap to the door and screaming. Everything comes to a jolting halt, and again the boxer is isolated, more so now. 3. At this point, my answer is tending towards redundancy. First, he separates the couple, connected only by the mirror. He sets two complete different tones in each room. The increasingly rapid cuts and intensified action of the distorted party scene and scenesters spins the action out of control. We're left with one boxer feeling more isolated and foolish and the other increasing his hold on the situation. Thus, this imbalance will need to resolved, and only the two boxers will be able to get that done.
  11. 1. As far as similarities go, Hitchcock uses editing to lead you through the narrative, as do many silents. The older woman who sees the killer looks at the victim, the victims clothes are pulled back to reveal the pinned note - The Avenger. Very similar technique to his use of it to direct you from ogling man to dancer to ogling man to dancer. In both scenes, he propels you through the scene without the written word. Now, I recognize one might argue that the text of the note is written, but the point is not the words, it is the M.O. of the killer, staking a claim to his guilt. The text of the note is actually used to propel the story forward as it relates to the sensationalism surrounding the serial killer's actions. It's a different device than the editing used to connect the victim to the witness. Also, I think the use of the darkness in both serves as a metaphor for the dangers of the world out there in both sequences. Young actress alone in the dark alley or street is victimized by shady characters stealing her letter. Sinister, deadly events occurring in the streets of London related to an innocent woman being victimized. When she walks into the theater, the image brightens and our focus changes to a different kind of danger as a helpful guy sees the lady in distress and plans to manipulate the situation to his advantage. Similarly, in The Lodger scene, the warm tones of the newspaper office as the reporter phones in his story remove us from the immediate threat, but introduce us to a new threat - a sensationalistic media looking to exploit the tragedy for their own advantage. Differences exist in the tone of each film - comedy vs suspense. There is absolutely nothing funny about a serial killer. 2. I'd have to say it's his reliance on editing. My understanding of montage is connecting various scenes to create a new story. Certainly cutting rapidly between scenes of the mob at the crime scene, the reporter in the phone booth, the editor in the newsroom, the printers running off copies of the special edition, the cars speeding through the streets to deliver the news...excellent use of editing to propel the action forward without dialogue and create a sense of managed hysteria. Also, his use of odd angles at the crime scene, the distinctions between light and dark all help create a sense of imbalance, something he relied on throughout his career. 3. The scream is held for a long time, her head is tilted upwards and at an angle and reminds me exactly of the scream of Janet Lee in the shower as Norman murders her. I don't know if I would have noticed this if Rich hadn't used it in one of his lecture videos.
  12. 1. I've seen just about every Hitchcock film but never looked at them with the eye of a student of film. For me, his films have a feel about them. Over the top, racked with suspense, his unique sense of humor (and the macabre), brilliant set design, normal folks put into situations beyond their control, and, of course, the brilliant scores. But, this question looks at how he employs specific techniques in his effort to manipulate me, the viewer. And, though I've heard countless times how he set up the shower scene in Psycho or how he took our feathered friends and turned them into monsters of a quaint seaside village, I've just gone along for the wonderful ride. So, I've got nothing to offer beyond many of the comments I've read here from others much more astute at recognizing those things. But, I will try to employ their suggestions in my viewing of the Master's films. On that basis, no, I don't see much beyond the tightening of the frame on the spiral staircase. I did find several things of humor, but within the context of the clip, they don't have the effect they would have in later films as a tension break. The scene of the young woman being victimized and left unbalanced by the theft of her letter of introduction certainly is a theme he often employed in later films, too. 2. Strauss' comments would probably be more evident in a watching of the entire film. Juxtaposition of images? I'm not sure I saw anything in this clip that exemplifies this. I'm not sure I buy into the proposition that cutting between observer and observed was a Hitchcockian creation. Part of the film work in silents was to employ techniques like this to drive home a point...he's watching her...she sees him...he watches her...she makes a face at him... Yacowar's comments draw more attention to some specifics than they are worthy of, with the exception of the spiral staircase. I don't know I glean anything meaningful about the guy's reaction to his foot being stepped on beyond slight (slapstick?) humor. And, the shot of the dozing woman was a nanosecond too short, literally. He cuts so quickly away from her that the impact created by the juxtaposition of her boredom and the row of ogling men is diminished. Extend that shot for one second longer and it would have hit home more. But, I do agree that Hitchcock's focus on the desire of the men, using opera glasses and monocles to emphasize their narrow view (and, remember, they're sitting in the first row), is an apt comment. Maybe I'm not giving enough credit to his use of these techniques as a part of the palette he employs, focusing too much on their innovation? Spoto's comments are probably the most on target, but, as I stated above, I'm going to have to re-watch all of those later films to see if, and how, he carried those tools forward. 3. Limitations? In hindsight, yes there were limitations. But, limitations spur innovation, don't they? He was pushing up against the limitations of silent film. But, it is also true that he was developing filming, set, and editing skills he would use to great benefit as technology advanced. So, I'm not sure how much of a limitation that proved to be.
  13. Think of the two clips as an introduction to snakes in movie plots. In one scene, the hero is thrown into a pit of snakes and has to react quickly or die. In the other, the snake slyly encourages you into its' embrace and before you know it, you're trapped as the snake has wrapped its length around you and is squeezing the life from you. Both scenarios end up, more or less, at the same conclusion. While we're not talking about an individual's death here, we are talking about the death of authority. Both the Marx Brothers and Abbott & Costello end up in the same place - the destruction of our perception of this world and its rules of order. The Marx Brothers do this by creating a sense of equals - Groucho and Chico - negotiating over employment details in an anarchic patter, quickly ending in the destruction of order (the contract) and leaving us with nothing worth anything. Structurally, Abbott & Costello set this up by creating, as others here have pointed out, a dominant-submissive relationship. Bud Abbott, the father-figure, impatient over the child-like Costello's fears. Someone mentioned these men are put into situations they are unaware of and they struggle to cope as reality sets in. As Lou (the child) begins to understand their situation more fully, his efforts to bring Bud into that reality meet with resistance and the ignorance of arrogance. Slowly, the child begins to teach the man. In the end, Lou's line "Does Dracula know?" announces the reversal of their roles - the upsetting of the natural order. Voila! They have reached the same state of anarchy as the Marx Brothers, just at a slower pace. In the end, everything you know is wrong. As to Wes Gehring's comments, I have little patience for the position I see staked out here too often. Things evolve and what was funny in 1940 is considered stale in 2017. We who love these old films love them for a variety of reasons - the artistry, the dialogue, the cinematography, music, etc. That doesn't make them better. It makes them what they are and something we appreciate/love. I have much more of an issue with films of later decades that failed to evolve in their use of slapstick techniques and come across to me as simply lazy attempts at producing humor. The pie in the face is just not funny anymore. Everything changes for a reason. Finally, Abbott & Costello's contribution to slapstick is the firm establishment of the true straight man/ clown relationship in film. Laurel and Hardy, who these two are so often compared two, were two clowns of different temperaments. Not so here. I know it's been months since this class ended. I didn't have time to really participate during the time the class was open, but I'm in a slower work season now. I have a hard time reading these message boards, but I thought I should since I was having a hard time answering the questions in my own mind and needed a little prodding through others' comments. Well worth the time from my perspective. Brings so much more to the experience.
  14. 1. I don't necessarily agree that the silent era represented comedy's golden age. Certainly, it was foundational, impacting comedic styles in films for decades. There is a tendency to view the films in aggregate, skipping over films that didn't measure up to the standards of the icons of early film comedy. But, comedy has evolved to encompass many different styles and forms, and this diversification has made it more difficult in many ways to successfully pull off a comedic film. I've sat through far too many good comedies that seem to get about 2/3 of the way through and then devolve into a slapstick routine which I always felt was taking the easy way out - closing off, rather than expanding the limits of comedic films. Expansion of those limits opens up comedy to a larger audience. 2. I would agree that the early era was all about the visuals - it was silent film, right? But, to say it's a form that has disappeared is a real stretch. It still provides a foundation for comedy today, but with sound, the necessity to make the entire point through action has ebbed. 3. Documentaries, compilations, et. al. serve different roles in appreciating this period in comedy. Documentaries provide a context and should be really targeted to the student of film, whether formal or casual. Not to say others won't enjoy them, but someone who's interested in Chaplin's work wants the context - what point was he at in his career? What was driving him? What was involved in his development of this or that gag or film? On the other hand, compilations serve a role of preservation and exposure of many films or the body of work of a particular performer. The problem with "The Golden Age of Comedy", the first film TCM presents in this series, is that the announcer's play-by-play of the obvious visuals is intrusive. At the beginning of the film, it falls into the exposition category. As it goes on, it tends to be compelled by the producer's desire to fill up all dead air.
  15. Just went back and re-read and re-watched this clip within the context of the video lecture (and without distractions), so my initial thoughts need some revision. I feel like the initial sweeping views of the agricultural lands, filmed on the diagonal, serves as a segue into the change of tone from realism to formalism. As the fields fade and the barbed-wire chain link fence comes into view, the same diagonals are presented to us. As the visual tone changes, so does the change in the tone of the voice-over, moving from the set-up from background on the regions economy to an ominous telling of the crimes against these migrant farm workers - particularly those who have crossed illegally, and as such, are more at-risk than those with legitimate work permits. It seems as though this realism serves to shift the viewers from a common understanding of the scenes presented to place far more dangerous and far less known to them. As such, I can see it's shift as a viable tool for directors to use in heightening our situational awareness, affording them another method to bring viewers to the place they want them to go.

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