Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #7: Mr. Memory (Opening Scene from The 39 Steps)

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Today's Daily Dose is the opening sequence of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps


Watch the clip in the Canvas course, and then come back here to write your reflections.


Here are some reflection questions to get you started:


1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 


2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent lead character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 


3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 


Bonus Reflection #4: For those of you who are more familiar with Hitchcock's films, do you agree or disagree with Rothman's contention that The 39 Steps can be seen as a bridge--perhaps the critical bridge--between the early experimentation of the silent films and the mature Hitchcock touch on display in his masterworks from the 1940s - 1970s? 


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A signature occurrence in most of Hitchcock's films. About 6 minutes and 33 seconds toward the beginning of the film, both Hitchcock and the screenwriter Charles Bennett can be seen walking past a bus that Robert Donat and Lucie Mannheim board outside the music hall. The bus is on London Transport's number 25 route, which runs from Oxford through the East End and on to Leytonstone. As Glancy points out, this was familiar ground to Hitchcock, who lived in Leytonstone and then in Stepney (in the East End) as a youth. The director's appearance can thus be seen as an assertion of his connection with the area, but he was by no means romanticising it. As the bus pulls up he litters by throwing a cigarette packet on the ground. Hitchcock is also seen briefly as a member of the audience scrambling to leave the music hall after the shot is fired in the opening scene. As far as Rothman's contention about "the 39 steps", I do agree with it

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? A pattern I've seen is that there is an audience in many of the openings. This particular film also seems pretty lighthearted, as compared to some with a more serious opening.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? He certainly seems amiable enough. An outsider, attending a performance at a music hall, and not seeming at all bothered by his "otherness".

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? The space seems happy enough, we have no idea that evil might happen here. The audience heckling the act also seems normal enough. The other elements making up the Hitchcock touch don't seem apparent to me at this time in the film.

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This has always been one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, the 39 Steps has everything you expect from Hitchcock. In the opening Hannay buying the ticket, going into the Music Hall (like Vaudeville in America). It was a place where people went for fun and to make fun of the acts, an early view of the “Gong Show” idea.

 

When Hannay is finally shown to us, his face is neutral to enjoying the joking and ribbing being given to Mr. Memory. It is a place that middle and lower classes go to, not for the upper class. They enjoy the joking, laughing and rubbing elbows. Precisely the type of place Hitchcock chooses for introducing our people reluctant hero/or villain. Hannay is just a regular guy, who enjoys Music Halls and the variety acts they give. He is there to relax and kill time, not kill some woman in his room. In fact he is surprised when the woman comes to him asking for a favor. That happens to “heroes” not regular guys.

 

This is completely different from Ivor Navarro's character in The Lodger, introduced in darkness, face hidden like the killers. When we finally see him he is anxious, nervous in a way that makes him look guilty of something. That will lead everyone to eventually think of him as the killer.

 

1, 2 and 4 of Phillips checklist is in this opening scene. All six will be a part of the movie.

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1. Hitchcock uses graphics to set up his opening (as he did in his silent films) by advertising that we are in a music hall. Thus, we are ready for some relaxing entertainment, and the film does not disappoint. The audience is properly ribald, making lots of amusing comments in response to the MC and Mr Memory, as well as other audience members. Hitchcock's sense of humor sets him apart from other filmmakers.

 

Another construct is to create interest in the main character by introducing him feet first and then his entire back. (Think Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window"). Donat's handsome face is first seen in the crowd before we get a closer shot. The closer shot shows him amused by the lad whose question for Mr Memory tramples on Donat's question. Our hero's good nature is obvious because he reacts with amusement to the impudent youngster who shouted over him. Hitchcock commonly cues the audience that the hero is a good guy with a laid back personality (think the introduction of Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window," Cary Grant in "North By Northwest," and Michael Redgrave in "The Lady Vanishes"). So, the use of graphics as a kind of shorthand for the audience, showing any part of the hero except his face first to create a little intrigue about our leading man, and cuing the audience quickly that he is a good guy are all part of the opening orthodoxy of a Hitchcock film.

 

2. I think Hitchcock is cuing the audience that the hero is a regular, likeable guy it can relate to.

 

3. The nature of the music hall would have been a non-threatening place of enjoyment and entertainment for British audiences. Any suggestion that intrigue, suspense and danger could lurk there would not occur to the audience. Consequently, when it does happen, the audience is jarred from a false sense of security into a state of wariness for the rest of the film.

 

4. Although "The Lodger" was a wrong man film, "39 Steps" is a kind of bridge from the less smooth transitions of the early Hitchcock silent and sound period to the smoother presentation of the wrong man plus double chase themes of many subsequent Hitchcock films ("North By Northwest," "Saboteur," "Strangers on a Train," "The Wrong Man," "I Confess," and "Frenzy" to name a few). A wrong man being chased by the authorities, who in turn must chase the real culprit in order to exculpate himself is a common (but thoroughly entertaining) Hitchcock construct.

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? -- People, people, people... Mystery can start in a crowd. You're not safe anywhere. The film deviates from the others in that it has sound. There is also a sense of calm, for being in the midst of a crowd - who watches a performance and not of dancing girls, but of Mr. Memory - an unattractive man. Swiss.  Am I right?


2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? -- I Disagree. The only character I've seen that was suspect was the Lodger... and that he was supposed to be Jack the Ripper but for the fame of the star, I think that is the reason. I enjoy the films because ANYONE can be sucked into an adventure - but only if you're aware enough and loyal enough to be so.


3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? -- They work to build the scene. This is the first time we've followed the main character into the scene; before the scene was done to set the tone and this is no exception, but this time we have a mystery to start us right out. Who is this man? And when the gun fires, was he the shooter or the target? And by the time we figure out what's going on, we are sucked into the story.


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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes?

 

Having read the lecture and daily notes for the British sound years in the course I agree that The Lodger and 39 Steps are both a bridge and a break when dissected. The mystery first in the Lodger without a reveal and the play on the mystery by revealing the protagonist in 39 Steps. He was a Canadian eh?! Winnipeg to Montreal? Cool!

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?

 

Absolutely agree and see where the break from previous films could be applied. I've seen 39 Steps but to be honest watching these early films will be like watching with fresh eyes. Setting PVR...

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

 

Familiarity with Hitchcock's characterization? Seems 'a touch' to first allow us to not be intimidated but rather climatizing us to the people and surroundings only to hit us with another of his touches which from what I recall is the double chase structure known from Hitchcock. I'd say based on this scene alone we can see the juxtaposition of both theatre space and crowd along with the first images of electronic signage. He's setup the elements in a short space of time giving all important info immediately. Seems a touch of his to show most his hand but to hold on revealing say the mcguffin to keep us on the ride til the end (was it lions business?) With the 40's through to the 70's of his masterworks in mind I'd say hugely the juxtaposing of both his settings and the characters co-existing within those spaces seems a standout 'touch'

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3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

Having went back in and read the Gene Phillips list I'd say 3, 5, and 6 can be applied to the elements of The 39 Steps opening. Particularly not an extraordinary setting nor extraordinary protagonist. Hitchcock is sort of lulling us into the story is my observation and opinion...

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

 

This film has another opening that fits the previous pattern of showing spectators at a performance in a public place and introducing the protagonist. It deviates from the other openings in that there is no hint of villainy in any of the characters (except for the revelation that the protagonist is Canadian - actually, I am just kidding here, I love Canada and Canadians), and in gradually revealing the protagonist by first showing only his shoes and legs, and then his back, before finally revealing his face. Hitchcock used a similar device in Strangers on a Train, when he opened by showing just the shoes and legs of the two protagonists as they walk into Union Station in Washington, D. C. The fact that one of them was wearing distinctive spectator shoes tips us off that we had seen him enter the station when we later see his shoes and his face on the train.

 

I shared Dr. Edward's interest in the opening shot of the light bulbs slowly spelling out "Music Hall." For an otherwise fast-paced film, this slow opening is a curious deviation. I am wondering if such signage was common for British Music Halls or if such signs held some sort of personal significance to Hitchcock, who seemed to be fascinated by unusual lights/lighting. When Edward Hopper painted "Nighthawks" in January of 1942, I suspect part of his interest was in painting the diner patrons as they looked under fluorescent lighting, which had been introduced in 1938, when Hopper was 60 years old. Think how the introduction of a new type of lighting would impact a man who once said of himself "Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.”
  

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent lead character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

 

​Given that the lead character is not a serial killer or some other type of person with obvious issues, it seems fair to say that this lead character is more innocent than the previous ones.  

 

 

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

 

3) “…The settings of Hitchcock films are quite ordinary on the surface, thereby suggesting that evil can lurk in places that at first glance seem normal and unthreatening.” Check.

4) “[Hitchcock’s] villains commit their mayhem in amusement parks and respectable restaurants, places where the viewer might often find themselves—not in locations that we tend to avoid in order to escape potential harm, such as dark alleys and dives…” Check.

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It deviates from the other openings in that there is no hint of villainy in any of the characters (except for the revelation that the protagonist is Canadian - actually, I am just kidding here, I love Canada and Canadians)

 

Music Halls or if such signs held some sort of personal significance to Hitchcock, who seemed to be fascinated by unusual lights/lighting. When Edward Hopper painted "Nighthawks" in January of 1942, I suspect part of his interest was in painting the diner patrons as they looked under fluorescent lighting, which had been introduced in 1938, when Hopper was 60 years old. Think how the introduction of a new type of lighting would impact a man who once said of himself "Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.”

Nice! We're as much British as we are Americanized honestly. You can always blame Canadians... actually it's a big old melting pot just like the states now. Times have certainly changed.

 

Loved the Hopper reference. Any 2D art discussion mixed in with Hitchcock discussion is good discussion ????????

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 


 The music hall like the dance hall scene as in the Pleasure Garden....the gaiety of the scene ....I like the quick wit of the Brits....The very first couple of seconds the shadow as the actor approaches the ticket booth...and the shot of him walking to the seat more showing the floor then who it is ...his back as he enters the seat


2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent lead character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 


Yes a little mystery who is this person walking into the theatre....seems like an everyday person...just enjoying Mr Memory...who is he ....and who is he to this film ...in the Lodger someone is murdered you have a sense of what that film is about....what it the plot of this film I am curious


3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 


Hitchock use of many people in opening scenes...a gathering ...the Brits being cheeky...do they really believe Mr Memory knows so much....a couple elements of the check list are included in this first scene

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes?

 

Pleasure Garden & 39 Steps both open at a hall with folks assembled to partake in some entertainment. I love that we first see Robert Donat from the waist down then when we finally see him above the waist and it's from behind. Instantly we wonder who this man is and antcipate what may happen.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?

 

I agree. Hitchcock wants us to like this character so we sympathize with him later on when he falls under a frequent Hitchcock mold- being the wrong man.

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

 

Perhaps using a public setting makes it feel more real to the viewer, like any of us could be vulnerable to being involved in a giant mix up at any time. Plenty of comedic wit in this scene with Mr. Memory & the audience.

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

​      To me the biggest deviation is the boisterous participation of the crowd in Mr. Memory's act. In ​The Pleasure Garden the audience (especially the old men) are passive voyeurs in watching the act, in ​The Man Who Knew Too Much the crowd cheered the skiers but stood back and away. In ​The 39 Steps the audience takes an active part in having fun, teasing Mr.Memory and yet reacting very impressed when he answers their individual questions. Even Richard Hannay, our Canadian, appears impressed.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

      I agree with this assessment. Richard Hannay initially enters the Music Hall as a shadowy figure but we soon see him and decide that he is not at all threatening. We see that he is calm and patient. When his first attempt at asking his question about Canada is lost in the crowd he does not get angry or holler "Hey it's my turn" or something like that. Rather he calmly and quietly waits for his chance to ask his question of Mr. Memory. We then discover that he is a Canadian. The audience applauds him and bids him welcome. We get the impression that all of the people in Britain like Canadians. Hitchcock presents us with this innocent man.

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How do these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

      Unlike the theatre in The Pleasure Garden the music hall public space setting in The 39 Steps​ has an act on stage that encourages audience participation. Mr. Memory challenges the audience to ask him anything. We see that his act is perhaps a little too intellectual or high brow for a classic British Music Hall. We see a cross section of folks in the crowd. Many of the questions are about sports which you would expect for the rough and tumble people we find in this public space. The setting is "quite ordinary" as listed by Phillips in his "Checklist" on the  Hitchcock Touch. We also take away the impression that Richard Hannay is an ordinary man (another item on Phillips' list).

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1. The opening in The 39 steps is consistent with other films we have previously analyzed.  We have a public gathering that involves both spectators and performers,  The Ring (Fair, Boxing match), Downhill (soccer game),  The Pleasure Garden (female revue/dancing performance), The Man Who Knew Too Much (the opening ski jump).  In each of these films we see different degrees of interaction between the performers being observed and the those who are viewing the event.  In the silent pictures the audience's response is seen primarily through visual techniqies, close ups and isolation of spectator's expressions, we see this most vividly in The Pleasure Garden.  In the sound pictures the addition of sound of course allows us to see and hear the reactions of the crowd.  In The 39 Steps, due to the type of act we see the audience participate more actively; they heckle, ask questions, provide some comedy, and we can determine they are every day people from the lower to middle class much like the protagonist and most of the people who would be viewing the film back in the 1930s.

 

The use of the electic sign was also seen in the Lodger but the atmosphere in the two films is much different.  The intriguing opening shots of the man buying his ticket to the music hall in The 39 Steps suggests mystery rather than the horror generated in the Lodger's opening scene.

 

2.  I agree that Hitchcock's intent was to introduce a more ordinary, relatable character in this film.  The music hall setting is one that many people would enjoy and does not suggest anythin nefarious.  When Hannay asks the question regarding Winnipeg, it establsihes he may be or is Canadian, I mean what could be more non-threatening and likable than that, speaking as a Canadian of course?!

 

3.  Relating to Phillip's  point on elements of Hitchcock's touch,  It has already been established that the protagonist is meant to be an ordinary, attractive man to whom we can relate, even early in the film, unlikely he will run to a phone booth and turn into superman, though he does look a bit like Clark Kent.  The setting of the music hall is very ordinary common place to which the public attends for entertainment, enjoyment, the people watching this act are obviously enjoying themselves, sometimes at the expense of the performer.  They joke, heckle, laugh, the men at the bar having an ale sending up a cheer all having a good time. The close up shots of audience members as they ask Mr. Memory questions are effective in establishing the audience as ordinary people out for a night of entertainment.   Nothing threatening here!  This is hardly a dark alley.  Setting up the audience for the danger that is sure to come.

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 1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

 

Hitchcock often sets opening scenes in large spaces where people congregate.  In Pleasure Garden our opening is in a Music Hall/Vaudeville House,  which is similar to the opening of 39th Steps. In Lodger we 're on the Streets of London, and in Man Who Knew.. on a ski slop with a lot of spectators.  We see Hitch's use of black humor against a performer on stage. In Pleasure Garden the girl with the blonde curls, in 30th Step... Mr. Memory and the hecklers.  Hitch makes use of extreme close up shots..  In Pleasure Garden, the girls on the stair case,  in Lodger the girl's scream,  In Man Who Knew, the skier's face before the accident.... In 39th Step.... the close up of the Music Hall sign, and the guy buying the ticket.  We see by 39th Step... Hitch has an established style of doing things. 

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?  

 

Yes, we do not get the same sense of danger from the beginning.... we don't get the same sense of anticipation of what's to come. 

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

 

We see all the Hitchcock touches.  (1) The use of open area where people congregate  (2) People responding to performer  (3) close up shots,  (4) anticipation of main character by only showing his hands and feet in opening shot  (3) pan shots of words like Music Hall  (4) Innocent characters thrown into a world of cynical and darker people  (in this case the hecklers) (5)confined spaces  (6) lighting and angle changes and pan shots.  

 

 

.....Honestly I need to watch 39th Steps again with an open mind..  It is actually one of my LEAST favorite Hitchcock's.  I prefer his more dramatic style of edginess from the beginning.  It takes longer for the plot to unfold in 39th Steps.  I  prefer Psycho, Birds, Rear Window, which pull you in from the beginning..  From the Brit period I prefer Sabotage, The Lodger or the bizarre surrealist feel of the opening scene of the The Ring...  They seem more interesting to watch for me.  The opening to 39th Steps..  seem trivial to me.   
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Hitchcock had developed a habit of starting his films in public places, with pleasurable atmosphere and much of levity by his very early days. Once more, we see a bunch of ordinary people, including the one who's gonna be the reluctant hero of our story, entertaining themselves. This time, however, nothing seems to be disturbing or precursing a crime or a manhunt, and by this scene alone you couldn't guess this film's gonna be a spy thriller with crime, suspense and manhunt.

 

Another deviation was the fact that this time Hitch wants us to identify with one character by the very opening scene. Although Robert Donat's character doesn't do much to distinguish himself from the rest of the audience, the way the camera moves to him gives us a hint that he's more important than the others; not as a man, but to the plot that's gonna unfold. That's exactly Hitchcock's touch, an ordinary man, who could easily be you or me, who is practically randomly picked to become first a target and finally a hero. I believe suspense is higher in this kind of films because the viewer realize it could be them in the hero's place and identify with them.

 

In this light, it's only natural that Hitchcock preferred public places packed with crowd as his scenery for much of the action. My favorite scene of this kind is the auction from North by Northwest, his trademark innocent-man-on-the-run film. In the opening scene from The 39 Steps, Hitchcock's touch is there: the ordinary hero in an ordinary setting, before everything turns to chaos and, of course, the Memory Man, one of his greatest Macguffins of all time.

 

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In "The 39 Steps", Hitchcock once again places you right in the action with the entrance of the protagonist into the Music Hall. Mr. Memory proceeds to give a demonstration of his remarkable skill, and has to endure some teasing from the audience. It is a very lighthearted introduction to the characters in a situation that anyone could relate to. It is much different in tone than the opening of
"The Lodger" and closer to "The Man who Knew Too Much".

 

Hitchcock certainly puts his lead, Robert Donat, into a more favorable light with his positive reception by Mr. Memory and the jovial nature of the crowd. This is indeed in stark contrast to how Ivor Novello in "The Lodger" is introduced, all covered up in a scarf coming in from the dark and fog outside, resembling closely the description of the Avenger.

 

The Music Hall space and performance play into Gene Phillips description of the Hitchcock touch in that it is a very commonplace public space that many were familiar with and the audience on screen is relaxed and having a good time. It puts us as the viewers of the film in the same frame of mind.

 

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1. This scene is similar to The Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much in that we start out being introduced to an audience and then by seeing things from their point of view, we become part of that audience.  This way he draws us into the story.

 

2. I agree that Robert Donat is a more innocent character.  He's definitely not a "lurking type"

 

3.  There is humor in the music hall scene with the audience making jokes to each other.  On Mr. Phillips check list, I would say that this represents both #3 and #4.  Evil lurking in a place "that at first glance seem normal and unthreatening" and "places where the viewer might often find themselves—not in locations that we tend to avoid in order to escape potential harm, such as dark alleys and dives…”

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Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes?

 

It fits the Hitchcock pattern of having a large crowd of gathered, common people in a busy, loud setting.

It is different in that it does not introduce a female character in the opening scene, other than the audience members, who are not considered major characters. I did not recall seeing a prevalent point of view shot or a shot between objects, as he so often does, unless you count the opening letters that scroll by.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?

 

I don't think I have enough information to base an opinion on this statement. He does seem ordinary and asks a rather boring question of Mr. Memory. He is not seen doing anything wrong, nor does anything bad happen to him, so perhaps he is introducing an innocent character.

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

 

They touch on the elements beautifully.

We are emotionally involved, as the audience reacts like we would see in a performance- some are polite and some are rowdy and skeptical. We can relate to having our question skipped over and having to ask it again. We see average men and women as characters in thus beginning. Nothing extraordinary or extravagant is seen in this character. All the questions could serve as MacGuffins, especially the one about Mae West's age. We do see a famous setting, as well. The clip is short, so we don't see all the information given up front or the evil that is lurking. That is the only element missing.

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Posted (edited)

1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

 

The opening for this film reflects on Hitchcock's peculiarity with the spectators of the crowd and the event that they are witnessing. In The Pleasure Garden, the opening also took place at the Music Hall with a group of upper-class gentlemen watching the chorus girls dancing on the stage. In The Lodger, the opening used a sign to display what was going on in London, and a crowd of spectators witness a murder. In The Man Who Knew Too Much, the opening takes place at a skiing event in Switzerland only to be disrupted by a dog running in the way.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films?

 

Yes. The other characters that Hitchcock introduced were more untrustworthy, flawed, and imperfect characters that had no sense of innocence in their facial expressions.

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

 

Mr. Memory is put onto display by showing his talent for memory, whether it is historical, social, geographical, biological or anything that is a serious subject matter. The music hall is the one place where audience members get into conversations and interact with the performer on the stage. It is also another trademark from the director to involve large crowds in a public place or location. As well as shouting responses, questions about affairs, useless facts, or questions about their personal life. Hitch also brings into the foray the brilliant camera shots of close-ups, wide angles, medium shots, and low-angle shots to give us a different perspective of Mr. Memory and the crowd in the scene.

Edited by BLACHEFAN
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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

The opening scene fits the pattern of an audience much like the ones watching 39 Steps is watching a show on a stage. It's very different in there is no female victim and there is far more interaction even more than The Man Who Knew Too Much.  The interaction though is more like the early films with less intimate conversations between characters since it's done with a crowd.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

I agree it comes off as a more innocent character but it made me wonder if Hitchcock was thinking the audiences are expecting a killer or victim so they will hang longer on the suspense of wondering it this new character is just that. 

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

You have the comedy relief common already in Hitchcock's works with the comments of the audience. The music hall is at the time a common place people would find themselves so they relate better to the film's opening. The main character already comes off as a common person and this will later allow the audience to feel more his plight in the film. 

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The opening scene from The 39 Steps fits a pattern that we have seen before in Hitchcock's films. Like The Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much, again we are thrust into a public space and caught up in a performance, with the spectators of great importance to the scene. Even when those on stage are speaking, we see them from an angle within the audience, and are aware of audience members in front of us. Therefore, Hitchcock deliberately makes us pay attention to the watchers, in a way that we have seen in previous films. This element of "the Hitchcock touch" is emphasized as once again we see cuts from the observed to the observers.

Similar to The Lodger, the first scene of The 39 Steps hides the identity of the character in the first few shots. However, as Rothman observed, a distinction is soon made between our view of Ivor Novello's character in The Lodger and the protagonist in The 39 Steps. We are made to feel that the gentleman who buys a ticket and takes his seat in the music hall audience is trustworthy, and we can identify with him because of his seemingly innocent participation in the questioning of "Mr. Memory." When he has to repeat his question several times, we feel he is relatable, and we can identify with him as a normal, non-threatening member of the audience.

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1)   Personally, I think that this opening scene actually incorporates was has been seen in the others. It has the first impression of something mysterious, like the Lodger, with the shadow of what turns out to be Hannay, at the ticket booth. It than becomes something jovial and light with people laughing and having a good time, like the Man Who Knew Too Much and the Pleasure Garden

 

2)   I don’t agree that Hitchcock is trying to introduce a more innocent character. What I think he is doing is trying to make Hannay appear relatable and trustworthy to the audience, because he will play a big and possibly not so innocent role in the film. Hitch is trying to hook in the audience by making a good-looking guy appear to be one thing, while he may be hiding something else.

 

3)   First, having the setting be a music hall goes to the point of Hitch using normal places and being suggestive as to evil that may be right under our noses. The last thing is the interaction between the audience members and Mr. Memory. This element seems to go with ordinary people being brought into extraordinary scenarios because I perceive Mr. Memory as trying to captivate the audience, which could lead to something bad. 

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1, The pattern I see is that it involves a setting with an open space, an open space where the people/ audiences can be engage to. In the Pleasure Garden and The 39 Steps, the opening scene starts off at a musical hall. In the Man Who Knew Too Much, it starts off at a skiing place where people is focusing their attention on the skater. Hitchcock also use extreme close up shots in such an overpowering way. In the 39 steps, they use extreme close up shots on some audiences, maybe  for indication that this audience might play a role in the film. Extreme close up shots were also used in The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger. In the Pleasure Garden, the close up shot was use for the girl's blonde curl hair (fake of course) just for some slapstick comedy. In the Lodger, Hitchcock's use an extreme close up shot on the girl's face screaming in fear, pain and agony which emphasizes and sets a mysterious, fearful, and scary tone in the film.

 

2. Agree! In the beginning of the opening scene, a shadow of the man was seen. We don't know who it is yet, but people assume something disastrous is gonna happen due to the appearance of a creepy dark shadow. Instead, we are introduced to a more innocent character. When the camera moves, we now see the body and face of the man. His face looks like a kind person as he slightly smiles. Another indication that the the character was introduce innocently is the location he was in. It was a delightful and bustling environment with joyful music to start before Mr. Memory comes to the stage. The environment was full of people laughing and having a good time. Hitchcock's use of this opening scene was amazing. It introduces a scene of happiness and joyfulness, causing the audiences to be confused how the film is gonna be and how it's going to turn our. Will it be a suspense thriller like Hitchcock usually do, or will it have a different tone this time. In the end, we still don't know how it's gonna be, but judging from the opening scene it doesn't seem like a tragic, suspenseful, thrilling film.

 

3. The "pan shot" in the word "Musical Hall", Extreme Close Ups on some audiences, the setting is set in an open place full of people (a public open space), Audiences/People are engaged to the environment and what's happening in front of them, Starts off by focusing and introducing on a single, main character in such a mysterious way (intrigues the audiences attention profoundly). A mix of people mocking Mr. Memory and the ones who ask him "real questions which represent and contrast the good and evil of society and people.

 

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1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

 

The opening fits the pattern of quick cuts and focus on small items of detail.  There are no wide angle establishing shots used; I think Hitchcock wants his opening to draw the audience into the story and to start them identifying with one (or more) of the characters.  The opening differs -- from the Lodger, at least -- in that the opening sequence is light and comedic instead of dark and dreadful.  Hitchcock reveals important information to the audience, but he packages it along with funny dialog and comedic characters.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

 

I disagree.  When you compare this lead character to the couple in the original Man Who Knew Too Much, both are, I think, equally innocent.  This is a pattern repeated in many Hitchcock films.  An innocent person, who was more or less minding his own business, is nonetheless involved in a desperate and dangerous situation.  He has to use his ingenuity and his courage to foil the criminals’ plans and prove his innocence.

 

3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

 

The Music Hall and the performer are both characteristic of the Hitchcock touch.  The setting is public and non-threatening.  It is just the kind of place that the film’s audience can see themselves as having visited many times.  The performer is an example of a character that is normal on the surface but who is hiding a vital secret. Both will return later in the film and will help resolve the film’s main conflict. 

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