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Found 7 results

  1. ...are all better movies than Vertigo. James Stewart is fantastic as always, but the movie just drags in a way the other three don't. I don't really know why people call it Hitchcock's masterpiece. I didn't feel compelled, just bored.
  2. For those of us living in the New England area, WGBX (PBS) out of New Hampshire will be showing the 1997 miniseries Rebecca on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at 9 p.m. I won't be able to tear myself away from the Kens Burns documentary The Vietnam War, but maybe the station will re-broadcast it. Just for me!!!
  3. What were the artistic influences on what some critics have called Hitchcock's most personal film: Vertigo? "The real reason was that I wanted to convey the dreams with great visual sharpness and clarity, sharper than the film itself. I wanted Dali because of the architectural sharpness of his work. Chirico has the same quality, you know, the long shadows, the infinity of distance and the converging lines of perspective." --Alfred Hitchcock, from his 1962 interview with François Truffaut Hitchcock was a collector of modern art and his private collection included several paintings by the German Expressionist Paul Klee, as well as a drawing by the Surrealist painter Salvador Dali. It was Dali, of course, whom Hitchcock commissioned in 1945 to create the dream sequence for his psychological thriller Spellbound. So Hitchcock was no stranger to Surrealism and Expression, and the influence of both artistic movements can be seen in what is arguably his most visually stunning psychological thriller. Two of de Chirico's works, "The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street" (1914) and "Big Tower or Nostalgia for the Infinite" (1913-14), bare a remarkable resemblance to scenes in Hitchcock's Vertigo. The Greco-Roman arcades and towers that de Chirico depicts in these paintings look like stylized storyboards for the San Juan Bautista Spanish mission building and bell tower. In fact, Hitchcock had a bell tower painted into the set of the San Juan Bautista mission (the original had burned down long ago) when he decided to change a key scene location from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse to the church bell tower. Yet the one painting in particular that provided the greatest impetus for the visual mood of Vertigo was Salvador Dali's painting by the same name, "Vertigo" (or "The Tower of Pleasure", 1930), that shows a couple in a struggle on top of a decaying high-rise. The two sexually engaged figures are dwarfed by the towering structure, and appear almost indistinguishable. Freud had observed in his essay on "Mourning and Melancholia" that the loss of a beloved object can cause its "shadow" to fall across the suffering mourner's ego, engendering a pathological love/hate relationship to subsequent objects of desire. This seems to define Scottie's relationship to Judy Barton. From the Surrealists, Hitchcock borrows dehumanizing urban architecture and haunting, desolate streets. These elements, as Freud suggested in Civilization and Its Discontents, contribute to the feeling of alienation in modern man. Expressionist painter Vasily Kandinsky's manifesto, On the Spiritual in Art, a book Hitchcock most likely read prior to 1946, credited the new expressiveness of color in art as the next step in an evolving global consciousness that tended toward the abstract and spiritual, over the concrete and material, as the ultimate good. Another Expressionist painter, Franz Marc, emphasized gender associations with certain colors. To Marc, yellow represented the extroverted female and blue the introverted male. Yellow he saw as earthy while blue had spiritual connotations. Kandinsky, however, thought a mixture of yellow and blue suggests madness, and he associated dark blue with grief. This explains the yellow motif of Midge Wood's (Barbara Bel Geddes') apartment. The walls and her hair and sweater are all varying shades of yellow. Even her step stool, which Scottie uses in an attempt to overcome his vertigo, is chrome yellow. Midge's unrequited love for Scottie turns her into a maternal figure that represents another aspect of the feminine yellow. Early the film, Scottie calls Midge "motherly" and later, Midge whispers in his ear: "Mother is here." It is in that scene that Midge (while comforting Scottie) is wearing a light blue sweater, and Scottie, a navy blue cardigan. On the curtains behind them are yellow and blue flowers which, on an Expressionist's palette, intimate both male and female and, when mixed together, madness. Some critics have also noted that Hitchcock was heavily influenced by the early Technicolor productions of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies and Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz. Not only is Scottie's dream sequence animated but it begins with a dancing swirl of flowers (a la Fantasia) and, as critics have rarely noted, is a nightmare saturated by flashing neon. The enormous green neon sign of the Empire Hotel is clearly linked to the ghostly shade of green that appears throughout the picture, but here it represents the shift from natural to mechanical. In the same way that the Emerald City rises out of the poppy fields of Oz, the green neon is symbolic of the mechanized big city. If comparisons between The Wizard of Oz and Vertigo seem far-fetched, then consider that "Judy" is also from Kansas, and is now in a big city undergoing a major transformation. When she appears for the first time, fully transformed into the girl of Scottie's dreams, she is bathed in the glow of green neon. Additionally, the spiral dreamscape that dominates Vertigo also appears in the "dream" that is Oz: Starting with Judy Garland's (Dorothy Gale's) first steps on the yellow brick road, which begins in an outwardly expanding spiral. “Spiral: The path of a point (generally plane) which moves round an axis while continually approaching it or receding from it; also often used for a helix, which is generated by compounding a circular motion with one in a straight line. The spiral form is an apt illustration of the course of evolution, which brings motion round towards the same point, yet without repetition.” -The Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (The definition would likely have been known to the author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, as he was a practicing Theosophist.) Also, the mention of the helix puts one in mind of the artwork used in the opening title sequence of Vertigo. In a final comparison to Oz: When Jimmy Stewart follows Kim Novak down a dark alley, she disappears into a doorway. When Scottie opens the door, we see from his perspective the intense colors of the Podesta Baldocchi flower shop. Similarly, in Oz, Judy Garland opens the door to her Kansas home to reveal the flower-filled Technicolor spectacle of Munchkinland. Even without the parallels to The Wizard of Oz, it is difficult to regard the image of Kim Novak, portrayed as a tiny, melancholy figure in the shadow of the towering, sun-lit Golden gate bridge, a structure which seemingly tapers off into infinity, as anything other than a true work of Expressionism.
  4. 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
  5. Although it's only the beginning of a very long course, filled with over 40 of Hitchcock's films, just as notable should be the films that are not being shown over the course of the next month. Whether for lack of time, lack of rights, lack of materials, or lack of interest, there are 13 films directed by Alfred Hitchcock that will not be shown. (This is assuming that the list of films that TCM provided is comprehensive.) They are as follows: The Pleasure Garden (1925) The Mountain Eagle (1927) [this film is lost, which explains its absence] Easy Virtue (1928) Champagne (1928) Juno and the Paycock (1930) Elstree Calling (1930) Mary (1931) Waltzes from Vienna (1934) Secret Agent (1936) Sabotage (1936) Young and Innocent (1937) Under Capricorn (1949) To Catch a Thief (1955) Personally, I'm most sorry about Under Capricorn, especially after learning that New Yorker critic Richard Brody holds it in such high esteem (and, of course, Ingrid Bergman). And, most baffling is the exclusion of To Catch a Thief. I've also included a link to a particularly good print on YouTube of Young and Innocent and a link to dailymotion for Under Capricorn. Thankfully, a number of these films are available through the openculture link that the course provides. What do the rest of you think? Any thoughts on any of these films? Any especially worth seeking out for non-completionist reasons?
  6. Just saw the version of The Pleasure Garden that Open Culture links to. It's the one that the Daily Dose was clipped from, the one with Japanese subtitles overlaid. It runs only about an hour.* According to the IMDb, there are other versions that range from 75 to 92 minutes. Does anyone know anything about the availability of these (apparently) more complete versions? *This version starts with the credit, "A Rohauer Film Collection Release." Raymond Rohauer was notorious for claiming the rights to films that he didn't have clear title to and would even re-edit public domain films in order to create a new copyright for himself. Granted, some of these films might have been lost completely without his profiteering efforts.
  7. Dr. Edwards has mentioned Truffaut's interview book with Hitchcock quite a few times, so I thought there might be some people interested in these recordings. This is a collection of about 12 hours worth of the original recordings that went into the making of the fabled tome. In many ways, I think these recordings are much richer. The book, as most English readers know it, has basically been through two translations, from the original French/English hybrid to pure French, and from there to pure English. This sort of translation upon translation can homogenize or bland out any work. Also, the book misses out on the tone of voice, the way Truffaut laughs (or doesn't) at Hitch's jokes, and the times when Hitch sounds clearly bored or irritated. Highly recommended.

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