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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).
My DVR malfunctioned the other night, and I missed the beginning of TCM's broadcast of Psycho, which means I missed the interview with the director of the documentary about Psycho! So now I am wondering if there is any way I can watch the interview. I am so disappointed as I have watched every Hitchcock movie which has aired this month (with the exception of The Birds and Jamaica Inn), but my DVR just picked the best film of all to malfunction during! Please does someone have a link to the interview somewhere? (And please don't suggest I join TCM Backlot. I do not care to spend $87 to hear one interview.)
Good Day: I'm James Spencer, a musicologist from Long Beach, California. I wanted to create a panel discussion on the key points to Bernard Herrmann's score for Hitchcock's Psycho. Psycho is the most iconic horror score of all time and set the bar to inspire other horror film composers to compose in a similar style. Here are some key points about Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score: 1. Scored for only String Orchestra using the whole voicing range of instruments: violins I and II, violas, cellos and double bass. Each line of music often was divided into two parts to create 8 to 10 voice harmony. 2. THE HITCHCOCK CHORD: The iconic jolting opening chords of Psycho became known as the Hitchcock Chord. It is technically a minor triad [b-flat, D flat, F] with the added dissonance of a Major 7th interval [A] =Bb, Db,F A over an F bass. The chord is dissonant, jolting and also ambiguous. Major and minor together. The chord can represent the duality of the main character Norman Bates.. Passive/Aggressive, Masculine/Feminine, Gentle/Dangerous. The strings create the effect with sforzandi (forceful) down bow. 3. The Use of Minor 2nd intervals for tension and unsettled feeling. The use of minor 2nds or half steps is used throughout Herrmann's score. It creates tension, dissonance and an unsettled feeling. This device would inspire John Williams when he created his iconic minor 2nd theme for the movie Jaws. 4. The use of Augmented 4th Intervals: Diabolus in Musica. Known as the Devil in Music as early as the Medieval period, The augmented fourth interval for example C to F# creates dissonant tension. In the City scene of Psycho (the voyeur scene of looking at Janet Leigh/Robert Walker in the Hotel room. We get in the high register of the strings ambiguous Perfect and Augmented descending fourths. The effect is not romantic, but eerie, unsettling, icy and cold. Like the decision of Janet's character to steal the money. It psychologically sets up the feeling that something is wrong. 5. Shower Scene: Hermann makes use of a device known as glissando. That is when the string players slide their fingers up the strings. Down with knife like sharp down bows, the string players would slide up to strings to specified notes. Often a Major 7th apart (from the Hitchcock Chord) to create the terrifying effect. 6. Use of harmonics, the wood of the bow for bowing and pizzicato for effects. Bernard Herrmann uses all kinds of effects for tension and drama. Harmonics is created by barely touching the strings to create very high pure overtones. The wood of the bow instead of the horse hair can create metallic and airy effects, Pizzicato is plucking the strings which also creates additional depth of texture. 7. Repeated ostinato: The famous 16th not triplet followed by an 8th note motif throughout the movie creates the psychotic feeling. It is one of the most recognized motifs in all of move musical scores. Here is a link where TCM students may watch the actual musical score for Psycho with the music. Enjoy! Thanks for joining me and feel free to comment or add any points. This is obviously just the basic overview of some important points of the score. I included links (Sorry the files were to large to download. Psycho discussed by James Spencer: Psycho Score with Music: James Spencer jamesrspencer.com
Here are a couple experimental films that make use of both Hitchcock's and Gus Van Sant's versions of Psycho. I thought some might find them interesting. First up is Christoph Draeger's film Schizo (Redux), in which he overlays the same scenes (prelude, shower murder, and aftermath) from both versions, Since the two versions don't sync up perfectly, a strange echo effect is created (both aurally and visually) which after a while I found strangely fascinating. I suspect if extended too long, this effect would wear off, but I managed to stay engaged for all twenty-or-so minutes of the clip. Steven Soderbergh does something similar in his mash-up of the two shower scenes, although he plays with the footage more, changing the color film to black-and-white for a spell, and selecting when to overlay footage, rather than simply duplicating throughout. This is just a three minute clip, but supposedly he's done this to the entire film(s). (The complete version doesn't seem to be available online anymore. Fancy that.) You can find a link to the clip below. http://www.openculture.com/2014/03/steven-soderberghs-psycho-mashup.html