Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #1: Spiralling into View: The Pleasure Garden (1925)

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2. I as stated in my answer to number 1 agree we see his touch and will come to see more of it as time goes by and in many unconnected films such as Rear Window vs The Birds.

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3. I think the limitation in no sound might exist but as a fan of silent I find the young woman's quip to the man written, the themes we discussed in the shot and the directors touch still very effective signs of things to come. The camera and dialogue still scream Hitchcock.

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Yes I see Hitchcock use of light, facial expressions and camera angles in the opening sequence of The Pleasure Garden.

 

I agree with Strauss. The use of light, shadows and angular pieces of the set .

 

His use of light, shadows and facial expressions convey exactly where he was headed in this story. No need for dialogue.

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My answer to question number one is seeing the women coming down the stairs, the reactions of the men to the dance, and the cool blond who shuts down her admirer. I loved the shot of the sleeping woman, and of Hamilton smoking the cigar under the sign that prohibited smoking. I felt he thought he was above following the rules. Hitchcock has characters like that, for example, in Stage Fright, Jane Wyman's character helps Richard Todd's character escape the police, Jimmy Stewart breaks societal convention by spying on his neighbors, and so on.

 

Then we see the young woman coming to apply for a job. She is in strong contrast to the other girl. Judging by her purse and clothes, she may be from a more upper class background. She didn't seem to have much street smarts, nor the ability to think on her feet about how to handle the situation of the lost letter. This is just me, but I wanted to know why the men took her letter. Did they think there was money in the envelope, or had someone sent them to steal the letter? Of course the movie may go in a completely different direction than what I am thinking now. Maybe they are just mean. 

 

One of Hitchcock's themes is an ordinary person thrown into extraordinary circumstances. I'd have to see the rest of the movie to know, but perhaps the woman who lost her letter is the main character who will have to find strength she didn't know she possesses. It seemed to me that she desperately needed the job she was hoping to get. And what about the men at the door who stop her from leaving, and the woman who sees her? Will they end up helping or hurting her?

 

I'm not a huge fan of silent film, because for me, watching a film is the entire package, the visuals, the sound, the spoken dialogue, the setting in addition to the body language of the characters. I want to hear ALL the lines of what the characters are saying not just the ones the director thinks are important. Sometimes you can get clues from characters that don't seem very important.

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1. Yes, I see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock Touch" in regards to the lighting, camera positioning, and how the actors in the film emote in this picture. These would somewhat become his trademarks in Hitchcock's future films, even during the transition from the silent era to sound.

 

2. Oh, most definitely.

 

3. One of the great things about the silent era is that a scene can be just as powerful, funny, or emotional with just a few or no words spoken as a scene in a picture with sound where there is more room for exposition. So yes, there were limitations, but filmmakers used that to their advantage whenever possible.

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I found the elements of the staircase and the reaction shots to appear very Hitchcockian! The non verbal communication came on very strongly with both the pickpockets and the the man as he trips walking out of the seats. Hitchcock overcame the limitations of verbal communication and used quite emphatic facial expressions to indicate what was going on. There is a definite sense that this is a master using ideas to experiment in his craft and succeeding.

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1. We get an early point-of-view shot from the man whose view of the dancing girls is fuzzy until he brings up his opera glasses and monocle. We get a bevy of beautiful blonde women; interestingly a blonde wig will feature in his final film, Family Plot (1976). We also see what is probably the earliest example of an overhead shot angling down at the action, making the figures seem vulnerable, as with Roger Thornhill in the Chicago hotel room in North by Northwest (1959) and in the opening motel room in Psycho (1960).

 

2. We see a couple examples of what Yacowar describes as the “mask(ing) off the sides of the screen, as if the whole world were shrunk to that….” We see his example of the staircase and also the circle of light when the thief looks at the woman’s purse. As Spoto says, we’ll see theatre as setting throughout his career. The shots here remind me especially of The 39 Steps (1935). His idea of the “players becoming protagonists,” alternating with audiences observing them, will prove true in “Murder!” (1930), Stage Fright (1950), Torn Curtain (1966), etc.

 

3. There didn’t seem to be important information in this opening sequence that couldn’t be communicated through visuals and minimal title cards. With sound, we could have heard the song the women were singing.

 

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1- I haven’t thought about a Hitchcock touch until now. But I can see that the film almost has a blonde leading lady, Patsy – if I’m not mistaken, she is wearing a wig while dancing.

Also, the “observer being observed” moment, something mentioned in the Masters of cinema book by Bill Krohn. This moment happens again, with scaring consequences, in “Rear Window”.

 

2- Yes. Everything Spoto mentioned is visible in this opening sequence. I can see a brief humorous moment when the theater manager is seen smoking right next to a sign that says “smoking prohibited”. The same happens when Patsy gives the old man her curl. Also, the close-up to the staircase and, later, Jill’s purse.

 

3- NOT AT ALL.

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Hey Guys, Ny name's Berlin.

 

         1. I would need to have seen more of Hitchcock's films to be able to discern whether or not I identify the begenings of the "Hitchcock touch" so as of now o'm saying that I don't see it at all but I do see signs of someone that knows how to manipulate visual so that it is pleasing and enjoyable.

 

 

         2. I wanted to argue "No" but seing that I lack enouh experience with Alfred's films I have no reson to yet. However, based on what I know and remember their are a few techniques that contribute **** the elements that shape his carrer for example; the tracking shot showing the guys enchantment of the women, he's establishing a direct Cause & Effect between the subject matters in the scne.

 

 

        3. The lack of spoken Dialogue didn't place any limitations on the opening scene at all Alfred still seamlessly moved the entire premise of the scene without the need for dialogue instead he made sure that each shot communicated what needed to be said followed by the character intertitle cards for further clarification.

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As a student of Hitchcock films in my University years I have never thought of the "Hitchcock Touch!" I am familiar with the "Hitchcock Maguffin." If the focus on the character who would like to meet the chorus girl is an example of "The Hitchcock Touch,yes I can see it. For questions number #2 and3 no at least to me not in this film.

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1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples.

 
Striking visuals controlling what the audience sees, including: 
the chorus girls descending a spiral staircase,
sides of frame masked off to isolate the staircase,
out of focus visual brought into focus,
extensive use of vignette.
 
2. Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50-year career?
 
Kind of hard not to agree. Elements include:
the theatre,
voyeurism,
male violence against women,
male interest in women as sexual objects, 
competition between women,
sly, almost school boy humor.
 
3. Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue?
 
As far as the opening scenes I felt they worked without any need for spoken dialog. However I’ve become so used to dialog that I find myself always wanting more title/dialog cards.
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1. The part of this scene that instantly made me think of other Hitchcock films was when one of the men in the audience used binoculars to view the chorus girls. Of course, it made me think of "Rear Window", but also reminded me of an early scene in "The Birds" when Tippi Hedren's character looked across the bay at the Brenner family. She was spying on them, much like the man with the binoculars in this short clip from "The Pleasure Garden".

 

3. I don't feel that a lack of spoken dialogue detracted at all from this scene. The movement and pace and character reactions helped immensely.

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Hello, My name's Walt.

 

1. 1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples.

 

The setting of the scene by use of sequence, it's a show don't tell.  We see elements of the theatre rather than just an exterior shot which would tell use the same thing.  The use of focus and unfocused shots, the pushing the plot along via an unexpected method, in this case, a simple theft from the purse.  So yes, I see the "Touch".

 

 Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50-year career? 

 

Yes, especially there was one sequence that to me is unexplained by the clip.  During the performance, we are focused on the girl who is the object of the old man's fancies.  She seems to notice something wrong in the audience, but that is not explained in the clip.   My curiosity is piqued about this.  Themes are misdirection, sex and sexual attitudes, and also people in disguise (I half expected the chorus girl to give the old man the whole wig!).

 

3.  Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue? 

 

Only during the chorus girl sequence.  It almost felt like the song being sung was wrong for the choreography being performed or vice-versa.  Otherwise, no.  

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I definitely see the beginning of the Hitchcock Touch in The Pleasure Garden. When the Gentleman removed his monocle the ladies dancing weren't in focus, then he brought his opera glasses up and the ladies' legs came into focus. We are being directed what to see by Mr. Hitchcock. This automarically reminded me of the scene in Psycho where Norman removes the picture hanging on the wall to reveal the peephole where he watches Marion.

In the very beginning of The Pleasure Garden, Mr. Hitchcock has the frame taped off, so all you see is the ladies coming down thw staircase. Again, this reminded me of the peephole scene in Psycho. You see Marion through the peephole; it's not a cut scene to her, but her through the peephole wall and all.

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Hello Hitchcockians,

 

1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. 

Many examples are provided that remind me of "true Hitchcock" in this clip:  the ladies legs to pull you into the scene right away being quite risque at that time, the leering men, the multiple bad characters taking advance of the weak, the power of the lovely main female character over the elderly monocled man, the "pimping" of the owner of the show to allow a strange elderly man to be allowed to meet one of the dancers without her permission, the dark of night and, the knowledge a story has begun to make you want to watch until the end.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50-year career? 

​Yes, there elements, themes and approaches are there, but do become more elaborate and define as his talent matures.  This is my first time seeing this and it is amazing how good he was to attract attention for the audience right away, no matter if you were male or female or young or old.

3. Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue?

Yes, of course because we learn of film with 'talkies' only, but with the unspoken word you actually create your own story and assessments before the screen language is written.  This allows you to utilize your mind, your analytical analysis abilities and your creativity more.  I frequently watch a film in English (am an American) with French or Spanish subtitles just to make the viewing a little more complex and creative.  One thing is true, he has an ability to lure us in and experience emotions right away, even as a 23 year old Director.  

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Hitchcock touch?

 

Yes, definitely. The theatrical setting, the dynamic spiral staircase, the blonde chorus girls, the blending of raciness, humor, and an edge of unsettling "ownership" from the impresario all lend Hitchcockian energy to this introductory scene.

 

Themes, motifs, etc.

 

This question in some ways repeats the first. I would add the tracking shot across the audience (very reminiscent of The 39 Steps), the frizzy blonde wigs on the chorus girls (The Lodger), the frankness about the artificiality of the theater in the removable curl (also The Lodger, and even an audacious 1920s riff on Pope's The Rape of the Lock). The fascination (and sexual symbolism) of women's purses (Notorious, Marnie). Monocles, POV shots.

 

Miss the sound?

No. In a good silent movie, I am in the world of the story, especially in a movie by someone as skilled in "pure cinema" as AH.

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Yes I can see the Hitchcock touch!  Starting with the view of the theater from backstage or the man smoking in front of a sign that says smoking is prohibited.  Mysterious creates the possibility of danger.

 

I agree on one level, but clearly, Hitch needed to hone his skills.  I feel he used a bit of German Expressionism with a touch of Soviet Montage.

 

I must admit that my silent film viewing has been limited but, YES is my answer!  I had many questions that may have been answered if there was sound.  In a comedic silent film, usually the actor is able to use facial expressions (exaggerated) to add to the scene.

 

 

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As an addendum to my previous post about The Pleasure Garden and Hitchcock's sometimes paltry concern for credibility:

 

Almost everything in Vertigo is far-fetched. I'll probably mention this opinion again when we get to that film. It's only after I heard someone suggest that it works better as a dream than as reality that I could manage to watch it a seond time, many decades after I first saw it.

 

Then there's Strangers on a Train. It's hard to watch Bruno (Robert Walker) blackmailing Guy (Farley Granger) without shouting at Guy, "Turn him in, you fool!" But we manage to keep watching, because the premise IS entertaining. And the ending, on and under the merry-go-round, is a brilliant piece of absurdity, unlikely to the point of hilarity. Hitchcock, the consummate entertainer, virtually taunts us: "Feel free to knit your eyebrows and shake your head. But you won't be able to stop watching."

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I don't know if anyone else has seen fit to criticize this film, but if not, let me be the first, even at the risk of stating the obvious.

 

The Pleasure Garden has this much in common with many of Hitch's later (and greater) works: The plot is ridiculous. Things that happen, especially in the second half, are either random or extremely unlikely, or both. A glaring example is the magical pairing of Patsy and Hugh, as soon as they and we are clear that their former partners are despicable. Does this ever happen in real life, that abandoned or betrayed men and women find love with one another, on the rebound? Of course. But, apparently to serve the needs of dramatic concision, Patsy and Hugh discover their love for each other in a matter of seconds.  With two minutes remaining in the film, Hugh declares, "You're the only woman for me now, Patsy--I was blind not to see it before!" We're left with a cartoonish "happily ever after" resolution that suggests the director was overly eager to keep the running time under an hour. He almost made it.

 

Some of my very favorite Hitchcock films also feature unlikely plot developments. Think of the intelligence agency chief (Leo G. Carroll) in North by Northwest, asking untrained "civilian" Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) to risk his life on behalf of agent Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). It would never happen. Earlier in the same film, the crop duster pilot is so determined to kill Thornhill that he flies his plane into a fuel truck, though there is plenty of time to veer off. Again, it would never happen. But Sir Alfred is not concerned with likelihoods, nor does he pretend to be. His interest is in entertainment, not credibiity. And we as audience are glad to suspend disbelief for the sake of a thrill.

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I felt that the "Hitchcock touch" included the use of blonde women and younger women with older men.  The audience of men looking at the women - leering.  The stair case or ladder used in movies including Vertigo, and Psycho.  The fast pace and I always feel drawn in to Hitchcock movies even when there is some evil going on.

 

I agree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto that this clip contains elements later found in other Hitchcock films.  The ones mentioned above and the humor.  The excited older man getting out of his theater seat to go and see if he can get a "date" with the dancer and he steps on another patron's foot.  I can't explain the technical aspects of camera angles so I will only comment that I always feel that Hitchcock quickly pulls me into the action. 

 

I did not feel the need for words.  I felt that the point of the action was amply described and there was no need for words.  

I am sorry I don't have the technical background to better describe what I am trying to describe.  I hope to learn a lot and quickly.  Thank you!

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Hitchcock Touch?

 

Absolutely. He loved strong female characters who approach male characters as equals. Ex) the chorus girl, openly dislikes the focused ogling, and has no problem making jokes at the gentleman's expense. Shades of Melanie Daniels (the birds), Lila Crane ((psycho) and Jesse and Frances Stevens (to catch a theif).

 

His ability to control your focus onto just the right thing to develop the story is strong. Tight shots of legs, controlled focus on only the girls descending the staircase, panning the mens excited faces sets the tone easily without dialogue. There are innumerable examples in his work but many shots in Rope come to mind.

 

Limitations: The only one I see is the forced break to reality each time you read the dialogue cards. This pulls you away from being immersed in the film. It seems he tries to recapture you with a tight shot immediately after each card.

 

Andrea

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What a great opening clip and introduction to Hitchcock and the Daily dose. I've seen perhaps a half dozen or more of Mr. Hitchcock's  movies and I know less of Mr. Hitchcock than I did of film noir prior to participating in the Summer of Darkness course.

 

1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. 

 

I dunno.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50-year career? 

 

I dunno.

3. Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue?

 

No. This is going to be a fascinating course!

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I have never thought of putting two and two together with Hitchcock films. I have only seen a handful and it's been the mainstream titles. The responses have enlightened my perspective. I do know the feeling of a Hitchcock film, now I have this class to provide more insight of why this is. So excited.

 

3. No limitations without dialogue. In fact, I believe it would have taken away from the clip. The non verbal communication and direction is exquisite. Nothing was left unsaid. It was focused and intimate. I see the personalities of the characters and the story line perfectly. Love love love the hint of slapstick....exaggerated...

 

This is going to be great!!!

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Yes I see the "Hitchcock touch" in this film. We see a Blonde woman in the lead. The use of stairs as in Psycho and Vertigo. The ability to pull the audience into the action. The viewer watching someone viewing others. Such as the man standing offstage watching the show and the man with the binoculars watching the dancers.

 

I do agree with Strauss, Yacowar and Spoto that elements in this sequence are used throughout Hitchcock's career. We have the Hitchcock Blonde as a lead(Grace Kelly,Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Janet Leigh). The use of a staircase (Vertigo). The use of binoculars (Rear Window). Voyeurism as a theme with the man offstage and the men in the audience (Rear Widow and Psycho). The women's purse being robbed by a thief (To Catch A Thief, and Marnie and Family Plot).

 

No. The body language used by the actors and the action taking place was easy to follow. I was able to follow the plot as the sequence was played. Facial expressions really set the tone for silent films,

and both the dancers and men in the audience were able to convey their feelings. So even without words you can understand what is happening on screen.

 

Huge fan of Hitchcock. Glad to be on board.

 

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Hitchcock obviously had an eye for detail even in his first film.  A couple of small touches I noticed:   Behind the cigar smoking chorus manager is a large "NO Smoking" sign. The camera pans down the row of older men who are obviously very appreciative of the lightly clad, dancing chorines, but at the end of the row the camera quickly passes over a, not so appreciative, sleeping woman. 

 

Silent film technique was fully capable of expressing the thoughts and emotions of the characters in a film.

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