Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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DAILY DOSE # 7

           

1.     The opening sequence of The 39 Steps is similar to the other Hitchcock films in that we have a very public space in which a performance of some sort has drawn the crowds and we know exactly where we are. Typically, this is where Hitchcock would have started off with character faces and introduction right at the first frame, but not here. Intrigue is created by only being introduced to a character’s hand buying a ticket and their feet as he walks in.  Even then we still only see the back of his head as he takes his seat in the theater. So again, as in The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitch is taking his time comparatively.

2.     If the man in the overcoat (presumably from Canada) is our main character, I would agree that Hitchcock is trying to introduce a very likable and innocent one. He has a peaceful face, and he is engaged in the interactive audience with the performer. He flashes a peaceful grin as the young boy interrupts his question.

3.     Location plays a part; it is a character of sorts. I can’t help but read into the setting and the characters based on previous films by Hitch to be that the location is a tool used by the villain of the film to conduct their business. Knowing what I do from Hitchcock, I would imagine that the man in the trench coat from Canada is most likely working with Mr. Memory to gain audience buy-in. But we don’t really know this for sure. Clearly there is a focus on the performer. A lot is at stake and it is also clear that many audience members don’t take him seriously. The man who asks about disease in poultry is cut to twice. He may be instrumental later in revealing the fraudulent performance. So at best we know that something is afoot, but nothing more. In other words, there is a reason we are here in the music hall with these two prominent characters. To me what it boils down to is a second film in which Hitch is learning his pacing and really refining his craft. There isn’t much from Phillip’s checklist in the notes that we can actually affirm from the clip. 

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1. Across all films, we don’t immediately see the protagonist. There is some teaser element that first grabs the viewer’s attention, whether it’s the beautiful dancers in Pleasure Garden, the screaming woman in The Lodger, the big ski slope in The Man Who Knew Too Much, or the interesting tracking shot of “Music Hall” in this particular film. How then 39 Steps deviates from the others is that the camera takes an even more subdued, objective role. We don’t see faces nor any subjective POV’s for quite a long time. We're not in anyone's head, nor do we see a replication of emotions through Hitchcock's shooting style. The camera merely captures the rendering of actions, with the most creative element being the concealment of faces in the first couple shots. 

 

2. I have to see the entire film to understand what Rothman is talking about—after all, we don’t even see the face of our protagonist until he asks the “Canada” question. It’s difficult to know for sure what "looking innocent" entails.

 

3. There is a very big emphasis on the “ordinary” people aspect. The audience members aren’t a bunch of aristocrats, and the performer, while impressive, is a “typical” sideshow act one would see in any bourgeois stand-up joint. The blue-collar nature of the people is revealed through the way they ask their questions. 

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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?

​As in THE PLEASURE GARDEN and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, THE 39 STEPS opens in a public place; specifically, as in THE PLEASURE GARDEN, in a theater. But unlike the all-lecher audience of THE PLEASURE GARDEN, THE 39 STEPS unfolds in a music hall where men can bring their wives. 
​Opening as it does with the ticket buyer's back to the camera, then a shot of his feet walking down the aisle, at first it has what could be construed as an ominous tone. "Is this person," the viewer might find himself wondering, "going to be the villain?" But once the camera shows Robert Donat's affable face, it's almost immediately understood this is going to be our hero. 
​Here off-camera, or ambient, sounds are on the soundtrack; eg., a baby crying. Hitchcock never shows us the baby, but it isn't necessary. I think he's just trying to add verisimilitude to the opening sequence. 


 

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 that Hitchcock is intent on introducing an Everyman character in an everyday setting, a setting in which the film's initial audiences likely frequently found themselves. The pleasant face of Robert Donat instantly transmits to the audience innocence, clean living, respectability. I'm not aware whether Donat ever played a villain, but what casting director in his right mind would have ever cast that face as evil?


 

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 filled with people gives Hitchcock a chance to use sound from throughout the space. As audience members pepper Mr. Memory with questions--some serious, others silly--we get the brisk back-and-forth between stage and audience. The dialogue and occasional laughter is realistic, the way different sounds almost overlap. This contrasts with the "stagier" dialogue in the opening of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH in which one person has a line, then the other person has a line, then another person has a line.

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 Daily Dose #7  The 39 Steps

 

For Your Information -

 

DiedNovember 23, 1910, HM Prison Pentonville, London, United Kingdom

 

That's the date and place where the American Dr. Crippen was hanged for his crimes.

 

Going to answer Question #3 first, if you would be so kind.

 

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? 

 

Besides introducing the main character, one thing that struck my funny bone was that Hitchcock has Robert Donnat entering the theatre to the sound of applause, and that the man who asked "When was Crippen hanged?" was a Crippen look-a-like.  This is a "realistic" music hall audience, both cheering and jeering the acts, with Mr. Memory giving as good as he got.  Am I right, sir?

 

 

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? 

    Disagree.  While The Lodger may be acting most sinister, the woman in the opening shot, the one who found the murdered girl was an innocent, I also felt the showgirl in The Pleasure Garden to be so as well.  What it does do is to give the innocent qualities to the leading MAN, which started in a small way with the Husband/Father in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

 

 

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? 

          Public places with crowds in many of the openings, the quick introduction of characters, and the use of wide shots during the opening giving way to medium and close shots as the viewer gets drawn into the story.  The deviation is the way he introduces the hero, a way many others would introduce the antagonist.

 

I'll have a Double Chaser, no ice, please!

 

Walt3rd

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The opening scene in THE 39 STEPS  is like previous Hitchcock films in that we see fragments or parts of things that give us clues to the character or plot. For example, we see the flashing show lights in THE LODGER that say “To-night Golden Curls” and here we see a pan of very similar show lights that say “Musical”. It is also like THE PLEASURE GARDEN in that the setting is a music -type performance-based hall, complete with a crowd of people focusing on an entertainer of sorts.  What is absent here is a blonde female character, and an obvious threat. There is chaos in sound however; people talking over each other, interrupting and heckling Mr. Memory and vice versa, and even each other. It is clear there is not a great deal of respect for Mr. Memory as he seems to have failed in building a rapport with his audience.


 


Compared with other Hitchcock films, I agree with Rothman’s assessment that Hannay is confident, happy, normal and in control of himself reflecting a more innocent character from the start. He remains calm and smiling even through the repeated interruption of his comment/participation. It is only in the first few seconds before we see his face that he is a bit mysterious, with varying points of view (low/high angle shots) and partial views of him from behind. Hitchcock is taking his time a bit more in introducing the character which builds intrigue, enticing us to want to take a closer look at him.


 


Elements described by Phillips as the Hitchcock touch that are seen here are the ordinary characters in a public setting, and this normalcy element makes the film relatable. 

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The opening scene of the 39 Steps is light and happy as in The Pleasure Garden; and altogether different from the woman screaming in the Lodger.

 

I agree with Rothman's view as he introduces Hannay. He seems very ordinary and relatable, the (everyman) giving us a feeling that this scenario could very well happen to any one of us.

But on the other hand, I feel that all is not what it seems, reminding me of all the spies in North By Northwest.

This  could very well invite Hannay and the viewing audience into a very dangerous adventure.

 

The Music Hall is deemed a fun loving place and it seems very comforting for the audience as Mr. Memory tries to draw the crowd in, which may possibly lead to something more sinister as well.

 

I love the way Hitchcock leads you in one direction and then brings you back in a totally different way.

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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 pattern with this film and Hitchcock other films is that they are all in open spaces, they all have an audience.

 

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?

I agree with Rothman's assessment of the lead character his more easy going not so intense, and a bit of a comedian.

 

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?

It open up as a normal setting but don't be deceive evil lurk in the happiest moments. 

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1.  The most obvious pattern is the shot of theater lights -- "Music Hall" in 39 Steps and "To Night Golden Curls" in The Lodger.  Also, a theatrical setting occurs in The Pleasure Garden as well as 39 Steps.   But other than the very brief purchase of a ticket (at a canted ticket booth) and the lack of seeing a face, there's no real sense of doom here.  It's certainly not the scream of The Lodger or even the foreboding of Downhill.  This LOOKS like an ordinary scene during a night out at the theater.

 

2.  Not yet having watched the film, I can't tell if Hannay is an innocent character or not.  He certainly looks charming and friendly, and he seems to go along with the the laughter happening around him, but he's also persistent in asking his question about distances between Canadian cities.  There is no sense of villainy here at all.

 

3.  The use of public space continues to show that unusual things can occur in "usual" places.  In 39 Steps, it's a much more plebeian place -- an English music hall comprised of many working class people.  The Pleasure Garden may be open to everyone, but Hitchcock focuses on the elegantly-clad men in the first row who look rich.  In The Man Who Knew Too Much, we're at an expensive European location -- not a place that most ordinary folks would be able to visit.  

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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 39 Steps opens with a very typical setting: Everyone can buy a ticket and go to the theater or music hall for entertainment, as does the main character. Many of the Daily Dose opening sequences have started with people attending a group event. In The 39 Steps, viewers get to hear some cheeky humor from the music hall spectators, who are more than passive audience members. They challenge the host of the event and the performer, Mr. Memory. In fact, they are more humorous than the host or Mr. Memory. Robert Donat is a member of the crowd and asks Mr. Memory a question (is Donat’s character really from Canada, as Mr. Memory assumes?). Unlike the other Daily Doses, there is nothing to suggest anything sinister might be in store for Donat’s character.

 

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 think Rothman’s assertion is correct for the most part. Donat seems likable and easy to relate to, but he also reminds me a bit of Abbot (Peter Lorre) in The Man Who Knew Too Much: easygoing, affable, self-possessed. Donat had more polish than the rest of the crowd, which removes him just a bit from everyone else. The spectators in the music hall don’t notice this; the film’s viewers do, but there is still nothing to suggest anything sinister ahead, not in the Daily Dose anyway.

 

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?

Robert Donat is introduced as an ordinary person, as a member of the crowd at the music hall, an ordinary venue. So viewers can check off 1 (ordinary person) and 3 (ordinary setting) on Phillips’s list. The clip doesn’t allow enough to time to compare to the other four items on the list (and I haven’t yet seen the film). I described the crowd at the music hall and Mr. Memory in number 1 above. Donat is a bit distinguished from the crowd because of his film entrance: The camera follows him without showing his face. The opening sequence establishes Donat as going about his business, with that cinematic element of being pushed already into something beyond his control: At the film’s opening, he’s “pushed” into a frame that cuts him off at the shoulders!

 

Just a few examples of the humor that got me chuckling in such a short clip: A baby in the audience starts crying as soon as the emcee and Mr. Memory take the stage. The emcee and Mr. Memory keep a stone face no matter what the audience members say to them or about them. The bar patrons cheer loudly when the emcee announces that Mr. Memory has left his brain to the British Museum.

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Daily Dose #7

Daily Dose #7:  Mr. Memory

Opening Scene from The 39 Steps (1935)

 

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 39 steps' opening scene begins by hiding the identity of a character (in this case, the main one) and that is quite similar to The Lodger, where the shadow is the only thing we can see of the murderer, but in the first one, there is no pressence of any visible threat which opposes to the latter that starts with the crime. The context of a show or a performance in apublic place is also common in Hitchcock's movies such as The Pleasure Garden, The Ring and Champagne. Because of the usual enviroment, all these opening scenes share the pressence of a crowd, noise, social interactions and a certain playful tone. It is possible to identify an intention of Hitchcock of setting a seeming tranquil atmosphere and even a funny one.

 

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 that in this scene the protagonist is presented as ordinary and innocent, because he kind of blends in the situation of watching the show and asking questions to Mr. Memory. However, I think that in The Pleasure Garden, Patsy is also introduced a an innocent character even though she is working as a dancer and seems to be used to the sometimes excessive attentions of some male members of the audience. That contradiction of the bad fame of her job, but the way she behaves is a strong point in favor of her innocence and a clearer one if it is compared to The 39 steps. Moreover, I would say that the opening scene of The Manxman introduces other of the most innocent characters of Hitchcock's films that I have seen: Pete Quilliam (Carl Brisson) who since the first close up exhibits the goodness and innocence that at the end leads him to misfortune.

 

Nevertheless, if we only consider the movies related with a crime, in that case, Harray shows himself as more innocent.  

 

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? 

 

As it is stated by Phillips, The 39 steps focuses on ordinary people and that is how Harray is presented in this opening scene. At the same time, the place where the scene is set has the same characteristic of normality at first sight which matches with the points mentioned by this author. Also, the Maccguffin of Mr. Memory is planted here and finally, as we discover later, this ordinary and public place is where two dangerous men (villains) are watching Annabella Smith who will be killed by them. These two qualities are also part of Phillips thesis.

 

Particularly, I would like to point out that even when it's true that the character of Harray blends with the audience as it is tried to be presented as ordinary, there are certain aspects like his height in comparison with those sat in their same line, the subtly more intense lighting over him and his more polite behavior which makes him highlight. In this way, Hithcock show him ordinary and likable.  

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Again, the slow reveal:  a close-up view of marquee, a stranger entering the room of seated on-lookers.  The scene is shadowy and mysterious.  These techniques are similar to Hitch's earlier works.  The change comes as we are shown the stranger from the front and he engages with the speaker and the crowd;  we want to listen to him, understand him.  The music hall crowd jokes and banters, and like our hero, is unsuspecting of any evil goings-on.  The scene is now well-lit and friendly.

 

The scene has the Hitchcock Touch in the possibility of danger lurking in unlikely places, and that unsuspecting people can be thrust into a dangerous situation.   The speaker is laying the groundwork for the MacGuffin.

 

 

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Hitchcock clearly loves to open his films in the middle of a crowd, a public place with a lot of people, and consequently a lot of reactions to be registered to help create the desired mood (in this case the mood appers to be very relaxed). I think the difference lies exactly on the focus given to the main character, he doesn't seem suspicious and besides he doesn't recieve the majority of the focus in the scene, he appears more to be a coadjuvant since the main focus seems to be the audience and the performer on stage.

And I just have to say, I love this movie and I love that the question "How old is Mae West?" keeps coming over and over again later in this scene, that's top humor for me right there.

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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 from The 39 Steps begins with a place, Hitchcock focuses first where the sequence opens instead of first focusing on the main character.  Also, the audience does not immediately see the face of the character just the character walking into he hall.

 

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 Rothman while the other characters in the hall are disrespecting Mr. Memory by the questions that they are asking, the innocent character portrayed by Robert Donat ask a simple question: "How far is Winnipeg from Montreal"?

 
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 elements focuses on the reactions of the audience towards Mr. Memory and also, where the action of the scene takes place

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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?

 

Like the other films we see the pattern of opening into a Music Hall where there is an audience and those on the stage; however, in this film we see the interaction from both levels.

 

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 know. We don't know anything about the character other than he's gone for an evening of fun at the Music Hall.

 

 

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?

 

I think this plays into Hitchcock leading us one way when in a moment everything's going to change and what we thought we knew isn't what we thought.

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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?

 

It is similar to 'The Pleasure Garden', 'The Lodger', and 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' in that it has humor in it. It differs in that there is much more humor than the other films, and it's funny:

    "Who was the last heavyweight champion of the world?"

           "Henry the eighth"

           "My old lady"

'

There is the slow pan across the letters 'Music Hall'. Hitch uses the same camera movement in The Pleasure Garden' (the audience) and 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (the spectators). Hitch uses the camera in interesting ways in his films. He uses a canted angle or 'Dutch' angle as Hannay buys the ticket, just as the scream opening 'The Lodger' is canted. There are invisible directors, whose style is that you don't see a style, and there are directors who embrace techniques visible to the audience - camera moves, editing choices, framing and camera angles, and so on. Hitch is the latter.

 

'The 39 Steps' starts with an audience watching a show. 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' starts with an spectators watching Skiers. 'The Lodger' starts with a group watching a murder scene. 'Pleasure Garden' also starts with an audience. The idea of 'watchers' or 'observers' is a kind of joke, because of course WE are an audience watching his films. We are observers as well.

 

It is similar to 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' in how it uses dialogue and visuals to quickly establish key elements of a character's personality. The way Peter Lorre laughs and shrugs off being hit and knocked over quickly shows he is a cool customer, not easily flustered. Hannay shown asking his question a couple times before being noticed, and smiling as a boy behind him IS noticed when he is not shows Hanny is easy going, likeable, and most importantly an ordinary man.

 

It is different in the way it introduces Hannay. which is the subject of question #2.

 

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. Hannay is introduced in a different way than the other films we've seen. He is shown from the back, from the waist down, without a face - Hannay is ordinary, and invisible member of the crowd. He is a nobody, in essence. He asks Mr. Memory a question and isn't heard at first. He doesn't stand out. We see him smile even though he's ignored as a boy behind him is addressed. He is good natured, genial, pleasant. All these things make him appear insignificant, and therefore innocent. He is someone you would pass by and not notice. Innocent - not one to be involved in something important. We find out he is from Canada, and is therefor an outsider - someone who may not belong.

 

It is only when Mr Memory addresses Hannay, that he is seen in a way that stands out from the crowd. Two shots of the crowd from the front are shown, and he can't really be seen. He may not even be IN those shots. But when Mr Memory addresses him, the shot of the audience shows Hannay clearly, standing out from the group. He appears taller than the rest, and in the center, and is CLEARLY seen. Hannay doesn't exist UNTIL Mr Memory talks to him, and their connection begins. A quick pan from 'What causes pip in poultry' to Hannay emphasizes his 'birth' into the plot of the film.

 

This connection is established visually and audibly:

Mr. Memory is shown in profile. When Hannay first speaks he is also shown in profile, facing the other way. They are facing each other. These two characters will become linked together in the plot.

 

Hannay, when adressed, asks his question twice to Mr Memory at that moment. Mr Memory acknowledges him as a man from Montreal, and welcomes him. This is the audible connection.

 

How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

 

“Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.” As I established above, Hannay is ordinary, almost invisible. The Music Hall sequence helps establish that quality.

 

“…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.”  This is a music hall performance probably for the general to lower class people. It seems ordinary on the surface. We find out later it is the method through which the secrets are smuggled. This dark secret lurks under the surface.

 

“[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…” This music hall is such a place. The Irony is that moments later a shot is fired and the crowd flees in a panic.

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As in the other films we have seen so far, The 39 Steps​ throws us immediately into the action (showing us what Mr. Memory can do) and introduces us to the characters (Mr. Memory and the man who is shown walking into the show). One difference that I noticed was that the scene feels neutral. There's no tension, suspense, terror, or anything dark that I could see. To me, it's simply an introductory scene that leans on the light-hearted side. I have a feeling, though, that this story will take a regular man and throw him into an extraordinary situation, which I will discuss in a minute about the "Hitchcock touch."

 

I agree completely with Rothman. It's actually a refreshing change in analyzing Hitchcock movies to see an innocent beginning--not that a more intense one isn't fantastic either. But introducing us to the characters in an innocent setting allows us to be able to relate to them and sympathize with them when they confront danger.

 

In regards to the "Hitchcock touch," I see a few instances of it in this clip: the ordinary people witnessing an unusual situation (Mr. Memory's performance), the public setting that is involved in the plot, and the music hall seeming like a cheerful place (even though, considering this is a Hitchcock film, is likely hiding a dark secret).

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Hitchcock draws us into the music hall with shots he might previously have used to indicate that something sinister was afoot, Then he disarms us with an obviously pleasant Robert Donnat watching a light-hearted show. Hitchcock clearly enjoys parodying evergreen stereotypes of the British people, i.e. garrulous and irreverent working class hecklers, huffy and stuffy "experts", indignant old women, etc. I would go farther to say Donnat's character, Hannay, is introduced as a parody of the stereotypical decent Canadian.

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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? 

The opening of this film is in a public place, same as Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much. The mysterious introduction of Donat's character turns out to be quite innocuous, unlike the introduction of other characters like The Man Who Knew Too Much or the introduction to the murder of the girl in the Lodger. The panning of the Music Hall sign reminds me of the panning of "Golden Girls Tonight" of the Lodger as well.

 

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. This time there is no momentary interaction with another character - just someone watching and participating at a show. No agenda is lurking behind that man's eyes!

 

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? 

Takes place in a public place. The reaction of the crowd to Mr. Memory is rather disrespectful but at ease - but we know that evil lurks at this fun place too. Donat's character is a regular joe - not as base as most of the audience so he does stand out a bit as he seems cultured. When I see the film I'm sure I'll agree with Mr. Phillips entirely!

 

 

 

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This opening of The 39 Steps reminds me of The Pleasure Garden in its setting, a music hall environment. Also The Lodger in its slightly chaotic setting, camera movements. There is more humor in it than other films we have discussed. Hannay seems more cultured or sophisticated than the other audience members. He stands out for sure.

 

Certainly Hannay looks more innocent, maybe out of place in this movie. I cannot comment more, honestly.

 

A public space like this music hall, a seemingly ordinary person thrown into a chaotic or hectic situation, wisecracking character actors/extras, the audience drawn in to the story early on.  These seem to pop up often in Hitchcock films. Gene Phillips described the Hitchcock touch well. 

 

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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? Many of Hitchcock's film openings have occurred in a public place. However, this opening seemed different to me. Rather than focusing on the action as in previous clips, this opening scene seemed to be more dialogue-focused. 

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? Agree.

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? I think it adds to the idea of the Hitchcock touch because Hitchcock liked to not only explore the emotions of the protagonists, but he also liked to use the background characters as a way by which to do that. 

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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? 

Again, Hitchcock utilizes crowds of people before isolating one or two characters in the film.  I think this is especially significant for the 39 Steps because the main character appears to be an ordinary person without any connections to sinister activities.

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? 

It seems like the other characters in the clips we've watched up to this point had a secret, or was involved in a nefarious activity. Donat seems like a regular guy who just stopped into a music hall for a night of harmless entertainment, unsuspecting of the misdeeds that are about to take place.

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? 

This scene is reminiscent of the Pleasure Garden clip.  In both cases, the audience and performers are engaged with each other.  The enjoyable interaction between entertainers and audiences seems to serve as a contrast between action that occurs later in the film that is more sinister.

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The opening here appears much different than other previous Hitchcock films. It is much more light-hearted and humorous while still having a good energy about it brought on by the continuous heckling coming from the audience. The music also adds a much more pleasing touch to the proceedings making you feel comfortable and at home which is also felt from the setting of the music hall. Our main protagonist also looks more like a regular, run of the mill gentleman with a pleasant face and agreeable demeanor. Someone that can be trusted. 

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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? 

It is similar to The Pleasure Garden and The Ring and Downhill in that they are all at an entertainment venue and there is a lot of action at the beginning. The Man Who Knew Too Much is also similar because we are at a sporting event with a lot of action.   It is different than The Farmer's Wife which opens at a farm house and different than The Lodger which opens with a screaming woman and a crowd outside in the street.  

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 am not sure.  Richard Hannay is similar to some of the other characters in the other movies in the sense that they are about to get involved in something that they did not expect:  the student in Downhill, the family in The Man Who Knew Too Much.  I might be missing something here.  

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? 

Richard Hannay is an innocent audience member enjoying himself for a night out.  However, he could have said no to the woman who asked to come home with him.  Anyway, he is an innocent person who gets drawn into an incredible situation!  Hannah has to get himself out of one situation after the other.  The fact that this movie started with a theater setting and there was  a spy there and one of the entertainers on stage is involved with the secret!  Evil can be anywhere in the Hitchcock world.  Again, the villains commit their acts in public view instead of the dark places we would prefer.  I am having a hard time figuring out the information that Hitchcock shares early that other directors might have held out on.  Sorry.  The MacGuffin is going to be the secret that one of the entertainer's knows about!  

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He doesn't stand out. We see him smile even though he's ignored as a boy behind him is addressed. He is good natured, genial, pleasant.

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I noticed that too. He gladly yields to the boy's question, sure, you go first.

 

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We find out he is from Canada, and is therefor an outsider - someone who may not belong.

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I have a feeling that being from Canada (being a former colony and still part of the Commonwealth of Nations) is much less of an outsider than an American or a Frenchman would be. Just checked, in the novel, Hannay was a Scot.

 

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It is only when Mr Memory addresses Hannay, that he is seen in a way that stands out from the crowd. 

 

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Partly, he stands out because he is good-looking. Would stand out in any crowd because of this, but he's also an everyman, and you can easily identify with him.

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1. In 39 Steps and Pleasure Garden it focuses on a theatrical theme. They also both show someone purchasing a ticket but not his face. With the Lodger it opens with a woman screaming. In The Man Who Knew Too Much one gets the feeling there is something amiss and trouble is coming. In 39 Steps it's lighthearted. '

 

2. I agree with Rothman because Hannity is the man on the street and fits in with the rest of the audience. The scene could have been in almost any comedy of the era.

 

3. The scene is gives the audience and a viewer a sense of normalcy. But the viewer knows that something is going to happen. Also Mr. Memory is giving a piece of the MacGuffin that becomes clearer later in the movie.

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