Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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I've been a fan of Hitchcock for years, but I've never seen The Pleasure Garden. It's interesting to look back at the first scene of his first film to see how his voice has evolved over his 50 years in the director's chair. This opening sequence does contain some elements that we'll come to know across many of Hitch's later works--the leggy blonde, the shady characters up to no good, the opening shot of the stairs that may symbolize a life that spirals out of control. There's a certain element of moodiness that's undercut by a dry joke (about the woman's curl) and relatively upbeat music. I didn't miss spoken dialogue, as the scene plays fine without the need for it, but I'd be curious to watch the entire film to see whether I'd feel the same by the end.


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Trying this again. I do see beginnings of the Hitchcock touch. An affinity for blonds and also the gentlemen looking through the monocle and opera glasses reminds me of Rear Window. Very few limitations due to the lack of dialogue. A picture is worth a thousand words. Actions and facial expressions conveyed the story and emotion of the story.

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I noticed in this clip how AH has to have a "damsel in distress". The woman going into the theater has ?money stolen out of her purse just as she walks in door. She then is looking for the stolen item (I thought it was money, not sure) and realizes it is gone. In Hitchcock movies there is frequently a women found to be in trouble. In Marnie, Tippee Hedron is having some emotional problems that are progressingly getting worse. Then Sean Connery has to help her find out why she's cracking up. In Psycho, Janet Leigh has stolen quite a lot of money, runs off from her job, and has second thoughts but it's a little too late. In Vertigo we see Jimmy Stewart is the troubled soul but Kim Novak gets pulled into his troubles and starts having problems herself. 

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Hitchcock is so wonderful at going right to the heart of human nature. It's a basic truth that took talent and guts to put out there. He continued to do this his entire career and there is no other like him. I love seeing that he started with the same "touch" that weaved through his entire body of work.

I agree that this sequence shows many of the aspects of Hitchcock's vision for his movies, such as the sinister side, the camera angle, the wonderful closeups that show the emotion of the scene.

There is nothing missing from this sequence due to lack of audible dialog. In fact I think it adds so much. I would love to see the whole movie.

I love classic movies and I am so excited to be apart of this class!

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

In the sequence, I see little touches that would be come things Hitchcock is known for. The scene show is attention to details, like the man on the street eyeing and stealing the letter from the women which  to me looks like it could be a MacGuffin.

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 agree will Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto, Hitchcock started with ideas and touches, while over time he refined things that worked and became known for those things. 

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?

Because this is a silent film there are limitations but is how Hitchcock worked with them and around with camera shots and angles and though the acting.

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The opening of The Pleasure Garden immediately brought to mind the audience in the Yoshiwara nightclub scene from Metropolis.

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

Yes, I see it in the opening shot  - a still frame that acts as an anchor as the characters are milling about in it. It was reminiscent of opening scenes in his later works such as The Birds and Torn Curtain (probably others as well, but those are two that I have seen that sprung to mind). I could also see it in his making the showgirl a blonde (which would become his signature protagonist), the man smoking in front of a sign that prohibited it, and the dry humor that was already present. Also, I was very aware of the music, which I feel is something that becomes more and more striking throughout Hitchcock's filmography.

 

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

I agree. A lot of what I mentioned (how he kept the camera still, humor, music) stayed present in his later films and in some cases became more prominent and refined.

 

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. I think that Hitchcock was comfortable enough with the technology and filming process that he was able to convey everything he needed to without the audience hearing the actors speak. The emotions, gait of the characters, and music did its job to create intrigue and leave the audience questioning what was going to happen next. I think in some ways it was more difficult for silent film actors because they only had a small amount of time to convey so much without words. They really had to embody their characters which is impressive, especially for a suspenseful film.

 

Watching this clip made me really want to know what happens in the rest of the movie!! 

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


Yes, I do see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in the clip.  He really used his settings to help create a very artistic visual - with the spiral staircase you become entranced already with that dizzying shot as the girls seem to spill continuously down the stairs.  The men leering with their binoculars, very Rear Window, and even more voyeuristic, which is somewhat funny since they're already in the theater to see the dancing ladies.


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, I do agree with all of the writers that you can see the beginnings of Hitchcock's signature elements.  Hitchcock's use of the overly dramatic eye rolling and wide-eye scenes that you can see throughout his career; his very clean, yet detailed, settings.


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, I feel that there is a lot that you can gain from the body language of the actors.  They convey so much in their movements.  It allows the movie-goer to really be an active participant in the movie - because they need to really pay attention and see every detail that the director is filming.


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Maybe it's because he shot this in Germany and it's the same period, but the some of the shots were reminiscent of Lang or Pabst. Especially the pan of the faces in the audience. Ending the shot on the sleeping woman is a perfect punchline - a harbinger of Hitchcock's use of humor throughout his career.

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1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? 

The way which Hitchcock used the shadows and the use of perspective were indicators of what we were going to see with his films in the future.

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 agree simply because many of those elements are present.  These could be elements of the cinematography or the storytelling...l of those things are there in some way.

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, there are times in all films that the lack of dialogue helps with the "feel" of the film.  What is shown here does not need dialogue.  The feelings or at least the motivations of the characters are represented in a way where there should be little to no doubt about their motivations. 

-CK

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1. Voyeurism.  This word describes an element of a number of Hitchcock's movies.  Among these are "Psycho" and "Rear Window" to name two. In the clip of "The Pleasure Garden" compares to these from that point of view. The older man using the binoculars presents that creepy feeling of a man watching a woman lustfully.  Along these same lines, Hitchcock, in his own manner, presents beautiful women with their sexy legs.  This is a common element in his works.

 

2. I agree. There are many elements in this opening scene that are introductory to what Hitchcock will bring to the screen in future productions.  I refer back to my answer in question number one as a great example of this.

 

3. No. I feel the dialogue is fine the way it is.  Of all the books I have read on screenwriting, a common element they share is the writer is meant to show, not tell, what is going on in a movie.  Dialogue is very important, but it has its place.  I find Hitchcock has done an excellent job conveying the story with the minimal dialogue able to be provided.  From the time our young dancer sees him watching specifically her, she shuns the old man through her facial expressions.  No dialogue is needed to understand what she is saying through her expressions.  We also know, just through the actions of the older man, what his desires at this time and at the time he is introduced to the dancer.  Further, she reaffirms her distaste for him by the brush off she gives him when she hands him the little curl of hair.  The dialogue, being three lines between the two of them.

 

Then with the young lady who is mugged of her letter, her expressions it was evident she was very naive to the dangers of the city.  There was no need for dialogue between the two thugs to explain they were after something she possessed.  This was accomplished with the shot of her purse.  Here Hitchcock focused on it to emphasize their objective.  He followed it up by having the guy closest to the door snatch the letter from her.

 

In both of these scenes, the need for extensive dialogue was eliminated through camera shots and the actions of the characters including their facial expressions. The best motion picture storytellers are able to tell the story with little or no dialogue. Hitchcock did an excellent job of this.

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1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? 


Often, Hitchcock uses scenes with crowded or fast-moving people, such as the opening scene in this clip.


 


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, the ironic humor such as the man smoking next to the 'Smoking Prohibited" sign, and the woman sleeping in the audience of a show directed towards leering men are signature Hitch.


 


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.  The technology at the time was state of the art, so he could only work with what was available.  The movements (body language) of the actors and the shots of the faces in the audience were enough to get his point across. 


 


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1 - “Do you see the beginnings of the ‘Hitchcock touch’ in this sequence?  Please provide specific examples.”

 

Yes, I do see it.  One is the stage/theatrical setting, which recurred throughout Hitchcock’s career:  Murder!, The 39 Steps, Stage Fright, and Torn Curtain are prime examples.  Also, a number of Hitchcock movies were based on plays and he used a lot of stage actors in his work.

 

The “Hitchcock touch” also is present in the panning of the audience members before it settles on one specific man.  Going from the general to the specific is not, of course, unique to Hitchcock but it does suit his visual style very well (consider the crane shot at the end of Young and Innocent that identifies the killer from among a group of people).

 

This is probably the first appearance of a “Hitchcock blonde” in a film that he directed.

 

It is typical of Hitchcock to show one character gazing at another character, and then to show the other character’s reaction (Patty’s reaction upon realizing that the man is ogling her).  The sleeping (bored?) woman among all the men who are enjoying themselves watching the chorines is an element of humor (Hitchcock’s films typically include a lot of humor).  Also humorous is the shot of the man smoking a cigar right next to a large sign that reads “Smoking Prohibited.”  The fairly sexualized atmosphere (for 1925) of the scene is Hitchcockian because sex plays such a major part in so many of his films (To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest, Psycho, Marnie, and Frenzy to name only five).

 

The shot of the chorines descending the spiral staircase is Hitchcockian:  I remember Hitchcock commenting to François Truffaut that staircases are very photogenic (consider Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, and Frenzy among others, as well as the staircase in the bell tower in Vertigo).

 

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?”

 

Considering the number of examples that I cited in the previous question, it should be obvious that my answer is yes, I do agree.’

 

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?”

 

Definitely not.  At the time that The Pleasure Garden was produced, silent film was the standard; sound did not come until a few years later.  This is the way that directors were used to working, and the way that audiences were accustomed to viewing a movie.  When sound did come along in the late 1920s, a number of people assumed that it was a “fad” that would eventually pass (much like other fads such as 3-D and Cinerama).

 

Hitchcock’s films are at their most “Hitchcockian” during their silent times.  One must always keep in mind that Hitchcock was very much a VISUAL director, which I think is a product of his professional formation as well as of the time when he began his involvement in the movie industry.  Many of his films, including his sound films, have lengthy scenes that contain no or almost no dialogue:  think of the scene of the attempted assassination at the Royal Albert Hall in The Man Who Knew Too Much, or of the scenes where Scotty pursues Madeleine in Vertigo (especially in the museum), or the scene in which Norman Bates cleans up the motel room after Marion Crane’s murder in the shower in Psycho

 

I remember Hitchcock saying during the Truffaut interview that his complaint about so many films of that time was that they were not cinematic but rather just “pictures of people talking.”  He was definitely a montage director (the shower murder sequence in Psycho being the example par excellence), although he did experiment with the mise-en-scène approach in films like Rope and, to a lesser extent, Under Capricorn.

 

Silent films demand more from a viewer, in a sense, because they cannot be as explicit about specific things as a film with sound can:  the viewer has to make certain assumptions about what is going on or what characters are saying in silent films.  This, I suppose, requires better skills of observation and also more imagination on the part of the viewer.

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I see lots of the Hitchcock touch in this clip. The atmosphere of German Expressionism continues throughout his career, if not always in setting, at least in mood, hidden emotional currents, and subject matter, but here: the night scenes; the shadows; the play of dark and light, mostly dark; shiny glittering things like glass and eyes; the street; urban life and high fashion, dressed to the nines for the show; the rich, the poor, the innocent, the jaded; the expressive settings; the cabaret; the sexuality. I like the lens, the out of focus binocular, on the legs coming into focus, then gliding up to the face and range of expressions on the face, n one smooth motion; the monocle and how we get to see what is on the other side of it, a drama that provokes curiosity, because you don't really understand the entire story, you can only speculate at first, and then it becomes clearer. And throughout, the mind behind the camera, looks at humanity from a detached, alienated, dispassionate viewpoint, and human foibles and the in-jokes of the outsider are shared with the audience, making us part of the conspiracy

I find it remarkable that this clip contains so many very specific images that will reappear in later more mature works, the obvious being Rear Window and Vertigo, but also the ability to immediately plunge you from a startling and bizarre intro that leads you seamlessly into a story, so that without realizing it, you become involved in the movie's dream and external stimuli slip away. The innocent woman is so early victimized by the crook, playing directly into his hands, setting up a chain of events. There is no dialogue needed here to create that sensation, which I think shows that Hitchcock is first and foremost a manipulator and juxtaposer of powerful visual images.

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The opening scene definitely has the “Hitchcock touch” with the shots of the stage (especially from above) and, of course, the staircase. I agree with the assessments of this movie, especially the third. The focus on the chorus girls and the men in the audience sets the theme and mood for the movie, as well as his career (and possibly, his personal life as well). As others have discussed, this clip had moments of humor amidst a somewhat hidden darkness. I also noticed that it looks like the chorus girl has blonde hair, which—as we know—is a reoccurring theme in many of Hitchcock’s films. I don’t feel like there are any limitations to the opening scenes. The message being portrayed doesn’t need any spoken dialogue.

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I believe there are many Hitchcock touches here, from the never ending descent of beautiful girls descending the spiral staircase, the framing of the following shot as the onlooker watches the girls on the stage through the curtains and the introduction of a blonde girl, which Hitch did seem to favour in many of his later films.

 

The assessments given by Strauss et al were correct. There was the juxtaposition of the 'smoking prohibited' sign with the man smoking underneath it; the fuzzy camera shot that then focuses on the girls' legs with the use of binoculars - this implies that you too, as the audience, are very much the voyeur in the film, which was a common theme in Rear Window; the touch of comedy of the woman asleep at the end of the seated leering men; the highlighted camera shots of the blonde woman's face in the chorus line-up and later the woman's purse highlighted before the thieves pinch it. 

 

The use of dialogue was in-keeping for the period. Hitch created a lot of tension in his films through music and the actions of his actors and so the lack of dialogue was not hampered in any way, as you felt that sense of disbelief and disappointment with the woman who could not find her letter in her purse, from the actions she was doing. 

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

-The use of duplicity is evident here, even in simple imagery, such as the false curl of hair. Mostly notably, the character of Jill arrives as a seemingly vulnerable individual, but later (in the film) emerges with an ability to manipulate situations to her advantage. 

-Hitchcock's use of shadow also plays a role throughout this opening scene.

-As previously mentioned, the action relating to the monocled man sets the tone of voyeurism and this opening sequence shows Hitchcock's understanding of the movies as scopophilic.

 

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 would agree that there is an approach in this sequence that I have found in later Hitchcock films, particularly the use of humour and its relationship to themes of explicit resistance against authority (such as Mr Hamilton's smoking against the backdrop of the 'Smoking Prohibited' sign; Patsy's offering of the fake curl to her 'admirer').

 

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?

The facial expressions serve well to explore the inner dialogue and the plot lines. There are limitations in terms of the building of tension, which can be more insidious with spoken dialogue (particularly as pauses or disruptions in the spoken dialogue, for example, can act as more subtle frames of reference)

 

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1. Beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch"?

Hitch is a genius at giving the audience a "point of view." Apparently, after watching 4:21 of Pleasure Garden, he's always had this gift, this special touch. Notice how the lecherous man first uses his binoculars to scan the dancers legs foot to top. You clearly see the Point of View of the man leering at the woman through BOTH eyes. Conversely, as the man switches to his monocle we see what he sees through one eye, fogged by sexual desire. Hitch shows us what he wants us to see, puts us in the movie. His use of shadow also forces the viewer to see nothing more than what Hitchcock wants: the purse. 

2. Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments? Humor. Point of View. Lighting/Set design.

3.Any limitations without spoken dialogue? In retrospect, we see narrative and dialogue cards as choppy and clunky. But without an alternative at the time, the audience quickly adapts and is eager for the information. Hitch's narrative cards are not "see dog, say dog" he advances the story. His dialogue cards are tightly written, to the point, demonstrating personality, emotion and humor. 

 

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Hi. I'm all late in the game, but better late than never showing up.

 

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

 

Absolutely. Mostly his humor. "The noooo smoking sign on your cigarette break" lol. Couldn't help myself. Sometime I express myself in popular song. Anyway, I was referring to the The man smoking under the no smoking sign if you didn't get it. The girl pulling out the hair clip! Ha! Classic. U know, I didn't even know they had hair clips in the 1920s.

 

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?

 

Totally agree 100%. Most silent films to me focus on one story plot. In this film, and just in that scene we see a light hearted plot and a semi serious one. One is for ha-ha-ha's and other one pulls you in. I've seen this in a lot of Hitchcock's films. Not all his plots are for laughs, but he does manage to sneak a few clever chuckle scenes in most his movies.

 

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?

 

Surprisingly and not surprisingly (cuz come on, it's Hitchcock) I say surprisingly no limitations because I'm so in awe that this silent film, just in that one clip made me so interested, intrigued, wanting to see more. I'm usually not really into silent film because most of them do have limitations to me. Re The Pleasure Garden, I say not surprisingly no limitations because again, hey it's Hitchcock we're talking about. He was a film genius.

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


Yes, I can. As one person already mentioned, Hitchcock's use of tongue-in-cheek humor is already refined and on display in the clip. The best example was the gentleman smoking beneath the "Smoking Prohibited" sign. Another "touch" that I feel is prevalent in his films are the use of the camera to set the background of the story. Immediately we have the girls coming down the staircase at rapid speed, expressing the face pace of daily life as an entertainer, and the end of the clip shows a new girl, seemingly an ingenue, being robbed.


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 think Spoto is spot-on with his assessment. I believe Strauss might be viewing the film from the perspective of what Hitchcock will become, not his then talents. While we can see elements of Hitchcock's technique, there is still a lot of refinement left before we see his films of the 1940's and beyond. Finally, I can't say that I agree with Yacowar that the shot of the girls dancing is reminiscent of his "leg-shot." There didn't seem to be much glamour in it, just a shot of a girls' legs (which I realize would have been risqué at the time).


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 an avid lover of silent films as well, I don't generally have much trouble dealing with the lack of dialogue in a picture, nor did I feel like there were any limitations in the clip. For me, silent films are like learning a foreign language. If you just take the time to understand it, body language and the way a director shoots the film can tell the story just as well as dialogue.


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1)      I do see beginnings of the “Hitchcock Touch” that are blended in with D.W. Griffith-like techniques of the era. One example would be when the girl is outside and the two men are looking at her purse. The way that Hitchcock shows the spotting of the purse I feel is something that is present in some manner through his career, while how it is shown visually is representative of the techniques of the time.

 

2)      I would agree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto’s assessments because there elements and focuses that Hitchcock always seems to include in his films, like women and man’s fascination, borderline obsession in some cases, with them.

 

3)      This film being a silent one had no adverse effects on this opening scene. The intertitles, acting, both facial and physical, and techniques used conveyed the story beautifully. 

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

 

Definitely. In the interview with Hitchcock, he talked about using particular angles to film a scene. We see that in the opening scene with the narrow staircase, showing the stage from up above, from the wings and then from the different views of each of the men, including through a monocle and opera glasses.

 

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 agree. In the first scene, “Monocle Man” is obsessed with the blonde and even uses her hair (the little girl) as the excuse for picking her out of the line.

 

 

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?

 

Of course there were limitations, but Hitchcock made the best of what he had.  The audience still feels the full effect, despite limitations of the medium.

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

 

Definitely. In the interview with Hitchcock, he talked about using particular angles to film a scene. We see that in the opening scene with the narrow staircase, showing the stage from up above, from the wings and then from the different views of each of the men, including through a monocle and opera glasses.

 

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 agree. In the first scene, “Monocle Man” is obsessed with the blonde and even uses her hair (the little girl) as the excuse for picking her out of the line.

 

 

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?

 

Of course there were limitations, but Hitchcock made the best of what he had.  The audience still feels the full effect, despite limitations of the medium.

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1. Absolutely, you can see a clear line from the step sequence in The Pleasure Garden to the Bell Tower in Vertigo. 

 

2. Again yes, as we move towards The Lodger the Hitchcock style slowly in emerging the blonde, the love of curls,  steps...no birds or oversized icons yet however.

 

3.Hitchcock use of sound was amazing but he did not need it. Watch Rear Window, Rope, Vertigo or Psycho without the sound. No sound no title cards and you can follow exactly what is going on what Hitch called "Pure Cinema"    

 

 

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1. Seeing the stage, I was immediately reminded of a later Hitchcock film, Stage Fright.  The camera shot from stage right as if the viewer is spying on the performers on stage, along with the men in the audience ogling the women using binoculars, are both examples of voyeurism which is a prevalent theme in many Hitchcock films.  Then the main object of desire being a blonde woman – Hitchcock loved blondes!  The smoker next to the no smoking sign, or the woman asleep at the end of the row of men display Hitchcock’s wry sense of humor.

 

 

2. Definitely agree.

 

 

3. The movements of the camera, use of lighting, and actions and expressions of the actors give the film plenty of life without hearing spoken words.

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