Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #6: Knocking 'Em Cold (Opening Scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much)

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Happy Fourth of July!

 

Today's Daily Dose is the opening scene of Hitchcock's 1934 thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much

 

Go to the Canvas course to watch the clip, and then reflect here on the scene.

 

Here are some reflection questions to get you started (or feel free to come up with your own):

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)
 
I have to be trully honest I've never seen this movie before so to me both character and plot seem important. But the characters seem to stand out the most
 
2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? My guess about Abbott is his kinda sneaky like he has something up his sleves.
 
3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.
 

Similarities between all 3 movie is that Hitchcock is trying to engage the audience.  

Differences are that all the opening scene are in different location.  

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1. I have never watched the movie before, but I believe that the characters will be more important than the plot. In the opening scene, the focus is on the character of a girl, and some few other characters were involved and introduced (The girl's father, The skater, and Abbott). I feel like the character's action will results in the plot having more continuity, and more suspense will be created. The character's action determines how the plot is gonna be.

 

2. In the opening scene, Abbott was introduce in such a mysterious manner. He acts kind of peculiar, like something weird is going on in his mind. From the attributes displayed, he seems sly, sneaky, and crafty. He was introduce shortly and the focus was on him for a while in the scene. It indicates what role and how important he might be towards the film later on.

 

3. The similarity between all these films is that it centers around the character of a young, blonde girl. They are the main character in the opening scene, and it seems like all of them could be victims to the corrupt nature of men. (In the Pleasure Garden and the Lodger, both girls are victim. In the Man Who Knew too Much, the girl seems like a victim. She looks naive, vulnerable, and unexposed to the world)

 

The differences is the tone. In the Pleasure Garden and the Man Who Knew Too Much, both of the opening scene seems to have a warm and joyful tone. In the Pleasure Garden, it is joyful because of the delightful music that goes along with the women dancing. In the Man Who Knew Too Much, it starts of with people watching and cheering for the person skiing, and it's also the girl's vacation. It's a sense ,maybe the last sense of happiness and joyfulness before disaster happens.

 

In the Lodger, it starts off with a girl screaming in fear. The movie starts off immediately with a tone of uncertain fear. It's dark and scary. The cuts in that were fast to show the dire nature of human, as well as showing how this case of murder is a matter of urgency, a thing no one wants to witness.

 

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

Although I have only seen the first half of The Man Who Knew Too Much, it is fairly evident from these early scenes that the story will be more about inner conflicts for the characters more than the overall plot. An example of this is the hesitation between Louis Bernard and Peter Lorre's character as they acknowledge each other in the crowd of people. This early interaction hints at a prior connection with urgent and grand implications for both of them.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

Although Abbott is shown as someone who may be out of the loop as far as the language and cultural norms of the people around him, he exhibits an eagerness to not feel handicapped. His persona suggests that he is already quite formidable and does not require the pity of other people. The way he stands out in the crowd of people due to his clothing and stature suggests he will be essential to later elements of the film.

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

I've noticed that a recurring theme in Hitchcock's opening scene's is the element of chaos. Whether it was the people coming down the stairs in rapid succession in The Pleasure Garden or the woman being strangled in The Lodger, Hitchcock seems to be aiming to disorient viewers out of the idea of an objective reality and instead trying to attach viewers to the reactions and point of views of characters which he can used to greater effect later in a film. This opening scene is slightly different than early works in that it shows a dialogue between characters rather than a single reaction. Louis Bernard is visibly startled when he sees Betty and her dog dart out before him. Surprisingly here viewers also step into the point of view of Betty as Bernard tumbles down the slope and avoids catastrophe. Hitchcock could have easily shown this event all from Bernard's point of view, somewhat like Cary Grant is shown while being hit by a truck in North By Northwest, but it is telling that he chooses to expand the parameters and show the effect Louis already has on this girl and her family.

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In The Man Who Knew Too Much it appears that characters, rather than plot will be more important. Especially when one thinks of the scenery, St. Moritz, as a character as well. Hitchcock had been there for his honeymoon and he makes it another character. The people will definitely be what he concentrates on, especially given the discussion after the skier hits the crowd. The discussion with Lorre's character, the interchange between the skier and Lorrie (the faded smile and the look in the eyes), continuing with the discussion with the skier, the father and the girl.

 

Though there is the look between Lorre and the skier, implies something that the audience will, or does know, but his character will be happy and easy throughout the movie.

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet) -- The plot. This is one of my least favorite of Hitchcock's films, probably because the characters don't seem as real to me as in the other films... their positions and actions are more obviously plot driven. Incidentally, is that the same little dog that was used in Secret Agent? I think it was and much preferred its performance in Secret Agent. (grin)


2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? -- I figured he was the bad guy; unlike Secret Agent where the bad guy has an entirely different set-up and indicates a lot has happened off screen, in this film, the history between the characters isn't as easy or casual - there is a plot.


3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.  -- The main characters are introduced right away in this film, Hitchcock isn't setting the stage as he did in the Lodger or Pleasure Garden. It is similar in that there is a crowd of people who witness an event,  but again, we really don't see the response of the crowd, only the main characters.


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1.    Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet).

 

It is difficult to separate the characters from the plot.  I think Lorre’s character is so strong and critical to the plot that it is difficult to separate them both.  However, if I had to choose, I would have to say the character is the most important in this film.  Based on what we’ve learned so far in this module and Lorre’s performance in his early films, it appears that Lorre will be the focal point in this film.

 

2.    What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

 

In that one brief interaction between Lorre and the man in the jersey, it appears that Lorre has something to hide.  Perhaps, he’s not the jovial person he appears to be while brushing the snow from his coat.  Perhaps the man in the jersey will be the target of Lorre later in the film.  Something is going on behind Lorre’s smile.

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

 

Each scene involves large crowds before finally isolating on a few main characters.  Additionally, there is an event that occurs in each scene that proves to be consequential later in the film.

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1.  I think the characters will be more important.  I haven't seen this version but I recognize the basic plot from the remake. In most Hitchcock movies I've seen and as mentioned in our lectures, the McGuffin is secondary to the characters. This opening scene emphasizes the characters and we don't really know anything about the plot except that the skier and Lorre seem to know each other.

 

2.  What we learn about Lorre is that he seems to be an affable, friendly sort of person until he looks up and realizes that the skier is standing there.  Then he looks startled but tries to cover his reaction, making him seem dishonest or covering up something.

 

3.  The similarities: The first shot is directed to the middle of the screen.  We are brought in from the general crowd to close ups of specific characters.  The differences:  the music in the first shots of "The Pleasure Garden"' sets a rather frantic pace that the nearly silent scene of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" doesn't have.  From what Rich Edwards says, it will soon "kick into high gear and not slow down until its fantastic and thrilling final sequences".

 

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Happy 4th of July folks!

 

1. Based on the opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

 

I sense the characters will be interesting but if the plot is focused around the characters then by design it should be more important. I'm going to leave the great answers for those who know the film because I've only seen the remake and do not remember The Man Who Knew Too Much. I'd have nailed this question if I did. My interest is in the characters but my expectation is the plot including Lorre's character will take significance.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film?

 

He's charming and polite. He's giggly and not at all unpleasant in appearance or attitude. He's the complete opposite of the creepy M character he became famous from.

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

 

Seems similar in his skillful character development even within short amounts of time in the silent films where he was making a name with smaller budgets (visual ability comparable). Seemed different in that he had smaller amounts of performers from what I recall. Obviously dialogue is present and becomes more like an episodic type showing. Where as the early examples used title cards and visual tricks to convey certain details. My memory is not what it used to be. Message for 4th of July: don't drink to excess or kill too many brain cells knowingly. Be careful out there :)

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The differences is the tone. In the Pleasure Garden and the Man Who Knew Too Much, both of the opening scene seems to have a warm and joyful tone. In the Pleasure Garden, it is joyful because of the delightful music that goes along with the women dancing. In the Man Who Knew Too Much, it starts of with people watching and cheering for the person skiing, and it's also the girl's vacation. It's a sense ,maybe the last sense of happiness and joyfulness before disaster happens.

 

In the Lodger, it starts off with a girl screaming in fear. The movie starts off immediately with a tone of uncertain fear. It's dark and scary. The cuts in that were fast to show the dire nature of human, as well as showing how this case of murder is a matter of urgency, a thing no one wants to witness.

Good answers. Particularly the different moods you point out. I'd copy off you in a test.

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I was pleasantly surprised the first time I watched this film (as I had seen the remake first years earlier), and agree it's the better film of the two. It certainly seems character-driven in its presentation. Lorre seems jovial and almost care-free upon his introduction, smiling, laughing, and brushing off not only the snow but the whole incident of the errant skier Luis.

 

But when his smile fades as he seems to recognize Luis - and this is a sinister, almost vengeful look - the audience has the information they need to move the story forward. When Lorre turns to smile and wave as he exits, the audience knows they will see him again, even though the action turns to polite banter between Luis, Bob, and Betty.

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)


I feel both are equally important but I feel that what makes Hitchcock great is his use of character development.  One can see right from the beginning the underlining sexual themes that would become a Hitch trademark.  The girl for example is awfully familiar calling the skier "uncle".  This young adolescent adoration contrasts the father who knows the mother is on an outing with another man and the slightly embittered tone we see.  We know their relationship is not perfect.  


Peter Lorre's character is overly cheerful and jolly and I think HItch serves this up so we develop ambivalent feelings about the plot later... the kidnapping esp.


Hitch use of travelogue and setting fast pace plot in interesting locals starts with this movie.  Introducing the main characters on the ski slop is obviously an unusual and interesting opening. 


2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 


We get this odd sense with Peter Lorre's character that nothing bothers him. His jolly I don't care attitude will add dimension to his character later as the plot unfolds and we get into the kidnapping and assasination attempt. 


3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 


There are def. similarities.  We see the congestion feeling again with the accident with the skier, aka a lot of bodies in a small frame.  Similar to the staircase and all the dancers in Pleasure Garden.  We see extreme close up of the skier before the crash. Also with the 3 films we see yet again opening scenes with blonde wavy/curly hair girls as main character all in some form of innocence in danger from forces.  In Pleasure Garden the blonde girl has a leech on her heels. In Lodger the girl screams she is a victim of murder.  In Man Who Knew .. the girl will  later be kidnapped.   We get the underlying sense in Man Who Knew.. .that something bad is going to happen ..afterall it starts with an accident on a ski slop. 

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Posted (edited)

1. Based on this opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen this film yet)

 

​I believe that the characters are going to be more important to this film, since this is more of a character-driven film than a plot-driven film as we will experience the characters later on in the film and what their motives or goals are in this film. The characters might have some flaws in their human characteristics that make them imperfect instead of the clean-cut and crisp upper-class English family that is having a smooth marriage along with their bratty daughter. The villains are not all that bad, they are more gentle and comedic.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film?

 

That he looks like a nice man at first in the brief chat with Luis and Bob. The nurse who is accompanying him at the ski resort makes me believe that there is more than meets the eye between these two. Since I believe they are hiding something that might be revelatory later in the film that is shocking. 

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

 

The similarities between this opening scene and the other two films' opening scenes is the location and the crowd of spectators. In The Pleasure Garden, the opening scene takes place at the music hall in England with a group of dancing chorus girls and a wide spectating crowd of sexually-driven older man that are observing their body features. In The Lodger, the opening scene takes place in the streets of London where a crowd of spectators witness the body of a dead blonde-haired woman that has been murdered and gossip spreads like wildfire all throughout the city to the papers. In this film the crowd of spectators are watching a skier stumble down the hill after Betty is chasing after her dog interrupted his landing. The difference is the pace and exposition of the story that is all witnessed here in The Man Who Knew Too Much that is set in a foreign country, instead of England.  

Edited by BLACHEFAN
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What I like about Hitchcock's late British films compared to the famous American ones (although I generally prefer the latter) is their simplicity and the levity of the scripts. The two versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much pose the perfect example. In this version, I think that this opening scene makes us anticipate that characters will be more important than the plot, as it shows us nothing really interesting in terms of events, but introduces us to colorful characters.

 

Peter Lorre's character looks really cool in this opening scene. A humorous, seemingly well-natured foreigner who has no trouble to strike up a casual conversation after a near-accident. When I watched the film I was suspicious of him only because I have often seem similar characters portrayed by Lorre and turning out purely sinister, otherwise he doesn't reveal anything that would make you anticipate he's a villain. Lorre was the perfect guy to play such characters and I wish he had worked more with Hitchcock in his career.

 

This opening scene is similar to that of The Pleasure Garden because they're both light-hearted but make you suspicious something more serious is gonna happen. I can't find many similarities with The Lodger, when a crime has already happened.

 

Hitch's style by 1934 was much different than the one of his silent days, although he never forgot his roots, and The Man Who Knew Too Much is perhaps the most important film in his career, as it paved the way for most of his later famous films in both sides of the Atlantic.

 

 

 

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)


The characters will be more important...there interactions will help the plot development....when Peter Lorre meets the skier....they literally run into each other....there is a moment of recognition...an ominous recognition between the two...there is some kind of history between them.....what is it?


2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 


 Peter Lorre at first seems an affable character....he is knocked over by the skier....but laughs it off....first impression he is a likable character but for the brief moment of recognizing the skier....makes you think what is the connection why his change of demeanor what does that mean?


3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 


 Differences is the locale first two appear to be in London ....The Man Who Knew Too Much opening scene takes place in St Moritz in a different country a much more open locale.....Similar: many people are used in all 3 pictures in the opening scenes it is not one on one


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1.      Based on just this scene, the characters are more important than the plot. We learn that Jill (who we don’t meet  yet) and Bob are not fully part of each other’s lives – Bob and Betty came to the skiing event rather than her sharp shooting event; Jill “adores” Louis Bernard, as Betty makes Bob confirm. We meet Louis Bernard, the handsome skier who we can presume might make up the rest of the love triangle that could be at the center of the plot. And we meet Betty, a spunky, clever girl who doesn’t seem like a victim, though she will soon become one.

2.      We learn that Abbott is jovial and personable, except for the awkward moment where he realizes he’s speaking with Louis Bernard: “Don’t worry, it was a very awk-“ (sees Louis, loses expression, quickly laughs it off) “…awkward moment.” The viewer doesn’t yet know this break in Abbott’s lighthearted speech was because Louis is the man he plans to kill. We also learn that he is not of the same background as Bob; Abbott asks him, “Knocking them cold? What does it mean?” The camera shows Abbott giving one last wave, with a smile to the girl he will soon kidnap. When we meet him later as the villain, it is with the memory that he had this shared humor at the beginning. As with many Hitchcock villains, he is complex and not wholly evil.

3.      All three openings set tone. The opening of The Pleasure Garden lets us know this will be a story of physical attraction and deception. The opening of The Lodger lets us know that this will be a chilling murder story. The opening of The Man Who Knew Too Much gives us action, laughs, a possible love triangle, and a moment of unease, all of which we’ll see more of in the film.

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I think in this opening scene Hitchcock is asking us to note the characters and their relationships to each other while setting a tone for what's ahead and what we as the audience are expected to find important. This point of detail is different from our other opening shots in this way.

 

Peter Lorre makes such a great first impression as fun-loving sociopath....nothing is serious, all is a lark, until he sees the face of the skier and reveals, for just an instant, a dark side. In that instant he looks as if he could kill, and then calmly go about his business. His companion shows us that here is a man who doesn't have to worry about the trifles of life (she'll attend to that), but instead the evil mcGuffin-ish details that villains busy themselves with. I think in this moment we decide that we'll like Lorre's character no matter what despicable things he might do.

 

Similarities between this and The Lodger include the way we are knocked off balance--in this case by the skiier, his POV of the impeding disaster and the swirling camera angles showing the crowd. It makes us feel as though we are the ones falling and we don't really know what the outcome will be.

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

 

The characters, most definitely. The people shown in this scene all know each other.The Lawrences know Louis well enough that Betty calls him "Uncle Louis." Louis knows Abbott. Abbott doesn't know the Lawrences, but he does know that Louis does.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

 

He's polite, but appears to not understand English idioms. He reveals very little of himself in his words, but his reaction to Louis speaks loudly. He is up to something that involves Louis.

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

 

The opening scene of The Man Who Knew Too Much works on laying the groundwork for the plot. Louis is leaving St. Moritz tomorrow for unexplained reasons. Abbott knows Louis. Jill shoots skeet and is good enough to be in the final round. Betty is a bit annoying. Bob indulges his daughter a bit. The Lodger does not lay the groundwork as completely, but it does give you the key information - there is a murderer of blonds known as "The Avenger," who has killed again. London is frightened. The Pleasure Garden does not lay as much groundwork. We meet one of the chorus girls, the theater manager, and a hopeful. We don't learn much else.

 

The shots continue to be claustrophobic. All we see of St. Moritz is one ski jump. We see parts of a crowd. The only shot larger than a 3-shot is necessary to show the impact and reaction to Louis's crash. Sound is restrained until we get to the exposition.

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Similarities between this and The Lodger include the way we are knocked off balance--in this case by the skiier, his POV of the impeding disaster and the swirling camera angles showing the crowd. It makes us feel as though we are the ones falling and we don't really know what the outcome will be.

"Awkward" indeed. Same with how the performers topple in order to safely avoid real injury awkwardly act like they were actually knocked by his skiing wipeout.

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1. Based on the opening scene I think the plot will become more important. The characters all seem to be focused on the games of the idle well to do and seem somewhat shallow.

2. Abbott does a double take and recognizes the fallen skier. His jolly disposition changes for just a minute before reverting back to his happy self as he waves goodbye. Something sinister appears in his look for that brief moment.

3. Similar in that crowds are involved in both and different in that nothing is given away as far as the plot line is concerned. Different in that the main characters have dialog in this film which does not seem to relate to the story which is about to unfold. 

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

Right from the beginning, you want to know more about these characters - their family lives, what makes them happy, what their troubles are, what makes them tick.  And isn't that what we learned in Week One?  That Hitchcock wanted us to care about the character?  I have not seen this version yet (but plan to this week).  While I watch the film, I will try to pay attention to how the action scenes and editing figures into the film.

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

We learn that he's a gentleman.  He doesn't want to appear to be a bother to anyone; an imposition.  The perfect European man of manners.  So, who would suspect a humorous bon-vivant of committing a serious crime?  For me, it brings to mind how many Bond villains were introduced in a similar manner.  Mannered, cultivated, well-educated gentlemen who turn out to be monsters and megalomaniacs.

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

The difference to me is that Hitchcock is now breaking out of the studio.   He is finding exciting locales to enhance the plot and the action.

​The similarity to me is his now-familiar bag of camera shots that become more apparent in each and every subsequent film.   First, his treatment of crowd reactions with a camera that pans across many faces, blurred, and heightens the effect.   We saw this at a much slower pace in The Pleasure Garden.  We will see it again, but what I remember is the vertical/scrolling pan shot in Saboteur when the battleship is bombed.

Also, the rolling dolly shot when we're following the father, daughter, and skier.   We're no longer just the audience; we're the fourth person, strolling along with them, involved in their conversation.  And again with the dolly shot where you swear that girl is going to get run over by the skier.

As eluded to in the lecture, I think, is the absence of the more heavy-handed German Expressionist and Soviet Montage techniques.   He hasn't abandoned them, but with the advent of sound, there's no longer the need to inform the audience with visual technique.

Now we're getting into familiar Hitchcock territory - and I love it.   But I'm happy to have a better understanding of how it evolved.

 

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1.     In terms of importance, we know that Hitchcock most likely chose Peter Lorre for The Man Who Knew Too Much for a few reasons. Lorre was coming off “M” and the acclaim so audiences knew him, second Lorre has an exotic look about him with the haircut and gray patch. Moreover, he has a thick German accent and an overall eccentricity portrayed in Abbott. So I believe the audience will buy into a sympathetic feel for Abbott interestingly. As mentioned in the lecture video, Hitch keeps a slapstick element and Abbott/Lorre was described as perhaps the “nicest villain ever”.  Character wise in this opening sequence, Hitch develops this adopted “uncle roll” for Louis and the daughter. However, it is mentioned that the plot really gets going after this scene in a fast paced manner, and I would imagine that the speed would keep audiences in suspense as they have to keep up with the pace while trying to figure out the layers of the plot. Here is the MacGuffin; we don’t really know what the purpose of the villainy is but for some reason the audience is totally hooked and this can only be due to the character relationships.


2.     As mentioned in #1, Peter Lorre’s portrayal is of a seemingly eccentric character. His reaction at first getting a good look at Louis and the subsequent non-verbal exchange with the woman accompanying him is that he somehow knows this man, or thinks he does. In my opinion, the opening sequence automatically makes us suspicious of Abbott so that later we are less likely to give him any credibility.


3.     The opening sequences between Hitchcock’s first two films, The Pleasure Garden, and The Lodger are different in intensity. Pleasure Garden opens with music, dance, and swirling action, leering stabbing eyes of elderly men in a quickly cut series of images. So too does The Lodger as it opens with as literal scream and the dark low key lighting in a night sequence. Hitchcock is really quick to introduce his characters as well, and so he does in The Man Who Knew Too Much. However, while there is a sense of tension and suspense, the pacing is slower. Sure the dog jumps out onto the slope sabotaging the Louis run, and we have the visual tension of Abbott’s reaction to Louis, but it’s not dark or sinister feeling and visually slower. 


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I feel that Hitchcock’s choice to cast Peter Lorre in this film, just off his success in M shows an intention to favor the character development over the plot. Abbott is a world traveler, a bit flamboyant, has a thick accent, wearing a fur coat, and just is an overall eccentric. He appears very jovial in all but a few seconds in this opening scene, quickly forgiving the skier for crashing into him and smiling often. It is only when he catches the eye of Louis and while saying the word “awkward” that he gets very serious. This glimpse of true character gives the viewer the idea this person, while pleasant on the surface, might be trouble later. 

The idea of the character having importance over the plot is precursor to THE BIG SLEEP (1945) where the plot is completely lost in the chase if a myriad of suspects.

 

The opening of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is similar to the openings of the two silent films from last week in that all three films have a crowd of spectators focused on a single person or event. All three films also contain a blonde character with curly hair and like THE PLEASURE GARDEN, the lock of the hair is touched by an older man. Different in this movie, however, is the fact that the older man is her father. This is also the first time that the person the crowd is watching is male, not female, it is the first time it is day and not nighttime, and it is the first time we see a pet. A reflection perhaps of Hitchcock ’s personal life- now a father to a daughter who has a wife and dog.

 
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1.  In the opening scene we are introduced to several characters who will play important roles in the film at this point defintely more invested in the characters who are for the most part very relatable. We meet  the dad, child, family friend and two strangers who will undoubtedly be important to the rest of the film.  We have a very non threatening situation with  pleasant individuals enjoying a sporting event while on vacation.  The child is a bit annoying/perceptive but no more so than any child at that age as she attempts to fit in with the "grown ups.  At this point the only hint of trouble to come is Lorre's character's brief reaction when he sees Louis for the first time.  The audience is invested in the characters and want to know what happens next.

 

2. In this scene we are introduced to Abott who after being run down by the fallen ski jumper responds in a very good natured way, not understanding some of the "British expressions"  the father uses to ask how he's doing; he defers to his female companion to assist.  At this point he is a sympathetic jovial character and perhaps some of these characteristics will project some empathy as the story moves ahead making for more interesting character development.

 

3.  Regarding similarities and differences to The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger in the opening sequence, I would have to say the general feeling at the opening of the film is more comparable to The Pleasure Garden. There are spectators and performers.  Nothing threatening has happened yet in both The Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much.  More light-hearted.  In The Lodger...bam.. horror right away, darkness and shadows, silent scream, frantic pace, more invested in the plot at this point as the audience wonders what is going on and haven't yet met the key players in the film.

 

Someone else mentioned the reference to the golden curls and now that I think about it you see this in all of the three films.  The dad touching his daughters tousled hair, the patron who does the same to the performer in The Pleasure Garden and of course the Tonight Golden Curls reference in the Lodger.  Small details but interesting.

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1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

​        ​I am of the opinion that the characters are going to be more important in this film. When we think of the use of MacGuffins in Hitchcock's film the plot seems to take back seat to the development of the characters. We are intrigued by the characters that we have met in these first few minutes of the film.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

       ​We learn that Abbott is a foreigner whose English (particularly idioms) is sketchy. We learn that he may be financially in good shape based on the expensive fur collared overcoat he is wearing. We learn that he and Luis Bernard (the skier) know each other based on the glances of recognition. They choose not to share this with any of the others. Based on this introduction how would the English audiences be affected. Would they think him this small charming little foreign man or would they suspect him as being a tricky cunning little foreign man ?  Do we look at him and think like a xenophobe or like a xenophile ?

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

         As we saw in both the opening of The Pleasure Garden and ​The Lodger, the opening of The Man Who Knew Too Much​ is fast paced with action right off. We worry about the dog and the girl and of course the skier. However, as has been mentioned in the lecture the opening of  The Man Who Knew Too Much finds something different from the other two films and that is that we discover Hitchcock's enjoyment of using famous places as the settings for some of his films. In this case the ski slopes of St. Moritz.

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