Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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1.  Both The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much open in very public settings and seemingly pleasant and jovial circumstances - except for the look Peter Lorre exchanges with the skier in The Man Who Knew Too Much.  In that instance, you immediately get a sense of that something somewhat sinister is lurking beneath the surface.  The 39 Steps is anything but that. The Ring starts out innocent enough but early on you see that the main female character is Jack's girl but is flirting with the rival boxes - trouble ahead is sense from that.

 

2.  Yes, for the most part.  In both The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much as well as in The Lady Vanishes, the main characters are innocent and upstanding people getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances.  In The Lodger, although the lodger himself was innocent, you didn't realize it for most of the film and it was very misleading until the end - quite different from the British sound films for week 2 of this class. 

 

3.  Primarily that the setting of the film is a public place - people having fun, seemingly a fun and safe environment - nothing to fear.  All of this lulls a viewer into a false sense of security - then all the evil starts unfolding and you're at the edge of your seat enjoying every minute of it.

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British Sound Years, Pt. 3: Hitch and Writers in the British Sound Period

 

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? 

 

Openings in public places:

 

The Ring

The 39 Steps

The Lady Vanishes

The Pleasure Garden

Downhill

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Easy Virtue

The Lodger

 

It could be said Blackmail opens in a public place however it quickly focuses on an area the general public wouldn’t have access to: the inside of a special police truck. 

 

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? 

 

Not necessarily. In The Lodger the opening character is a victim screaming. On the other hand, if that victim isn’t considered a character due to her short time on the screen The Man Who Knew Too Much focusing on several innocent characters: the hero, his wife and their daughter who interact with the villains.  In The Lady Vanishes opens with Margaret Henderson’s character, Iris Henderson being featured in the opening. The first character shown is Miss From, however that character would really be more in the line of a “good” spy instead of innocent. The Pleasure Garden’s features Virginia Vally’s character Patsy in the opening sequence. Also The Skin Game opens with featuring Helen Haye’s 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.

 

The Music Hall scene is an elaborate MacGuffin, while personally it almost seemed like a documentary. I suppose the only thing we have close to that now might be a Comedy Club. I found myself thinking this is what entertainment  was like in the early 1900’s for the “everyman” (and “everywoman”). It left me feeling that Hitchcock both enjoyed crowds and yet was aware of how quickly they could become a dangerous situation. The version I watched on www.openculture.com may have had an element missing. Mr. Memory, who is focused on long enough to provide the “aha” moment at the end of the movie, is performing his act when a theater attendant enters the hall, proceeds to grab a customer with the resulting struggle becoming a fight that spreads to others in the audience. Why was the guard attempting to remove that customer? Was he the one who kept shouting what was May West’s age was and that was considered rude or annoying? Suddenly Hanney and Mrs. Smith are together, he speaks to her, she immediately asks to go to his place. The fight with it’s comic moments didn’t really matter except as a vehicle to get Hanney and Mrs. Smith together. In other words a MacGuffin.

 

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

Specifically only #3 of the 6 applies:

 

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.” 

 

Although Mr. Memory might be considered a MacGuffin, (#6) at this point there’s no indication that he is important to the plot. #1) at this point isn’t obvious, although being a Hitchcock movie the audience could assume that the lead character will somehow be drawn into an extraordinary situation.

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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? 

Pattern: Angled shots, long tracking shots, large crowds/spectators, entertainment/sports venue

Deviations: In all previous openings, a crime and/or victimization occurs. (I believe Luis is a victim of the young girl's disrupting his ski jump).

 

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. Donat's character is likable and his introduced to us in a light-hearted manner. There is no element of tension or anxiety.

 

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 audience is in a location where there is an expectation of safety and security. The location is crowded and the lighting bright. A theatre isn't generally a place where crimes happen. Thus, anyone who keep their guard down. Crime is supposed to happen at night, in secluded areas away from public view. At least that is the expectation. Hitchcock reminds us, though, that threats to security can happen anywhere at anytime in full view of the public. This is repeated in other films like Foreign Correspondent, Sabotage, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, among others.

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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 we discussed in the previous DD, Hitchcock likes to open his films in crowded places. Be it a crime scene (The Lodger, Murder!) or an entertainment event. The only exceptions from these two periods that I can think of (out of the ones I've seen) are The Farmer's Wife and Young and Innocent.

 

Another thing that Hitchcock likes to do is put bookends to his films (start and end with the same motif, setting, or something). He does it on The Lodger, The Ring, Downhill, Easy Virtue, Young and Innocent, and does it here. The film starts with Mr. Memory and ends with Mr. Memory.

 

 

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 to a certain extent. Although the introduction of Hannay walking into the theater, face unseen, overcoat on, back to the camera, might lead one to think he's into some kind of mischief, the way Donat portrays him, as the camera focuses on his face, is more light. He has a smile, and a certain look that might alleviate those thoughts. Still, there is some intrigue in the insistence and the way in which he asks his question to Mr. Memory, but not enough to put him as a "bad guy" yet.

 

When you contrast this to Peter Lorre's introduction on The Man Who Knew Too Much, even if we didn't know Lorre or if it wasn't widely known that he is the bad guy, we would get the sense that he's up to no good. That, despite the fact that he behaves in a polite way.

 

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?

 

Not all of the elements of Phillips assessment are present in this opening, but many of them are.

 

For starters, we have an "ordinary man" in Hannay, arriving at a theater, and "meeting" someone that will have an impact in him later in the film (Mr. Memory).

 

The setting is a theater, an "ordinary... normal and unthreatening" place.

 

Finally, although there is no crime committed yet, we find out later that Mr. Memory, who performs at this crowded, popular place, is involved in this conspiracy.

 

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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? 

 

There is a strong focus from the audience to the people on stage. We spend a lot of time on them before see the observers. The changes between moments with observer and observed are not as quick. 

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. You are able to identify with him and as we get further into the story you will be able to sympathize with him a lot more. 

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? 

A public place is typically a symbol of safety but it a thriller it is often an indication that something is going to happen. Mr. Memory is given complexities that sets him up to mean something to the main character but he has very little impact in the sense that we don't see any action with his character so we have yet to fully form that opinion. The reaction of the audience set us up to identify with the main protagonist. We are supposed to be in his shoes so their reactions must be different. Hitchcock loves to single out his characters. 

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This opening also starts off very fast paced.  It seems to have more of a comical beginning instead of a suspenseful one though.

I agree with Rothman's assessment that is starts off with a more innocent character.  The main character seems very light hearted and not scary like in the other films.

The scene in the music hall is a pattern Hitchcock has by placing a main character in a crowded public place from the beginning.  It isn't as exotic as on the snowy mountains with the beautiful scenery but rather ordinary.  The people in the audience are all very funny and crack jokes when Mr. Memory wants them to be more serious. The MacGuffin element may be in play by having everyone's attention on the performer Mr. Memory.   

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The opening of this film has a more down to earth feel. Allowing for the every day people to speak out to Mr. memory. The main character does stand out because he's very handsome, but also very down to earth. I find the opening to be typical of Hitchcock. We almost go along with every day life and then of course the "something" happens. And of course a lot of times Hitchcock opens his films with the scare and the shock right away. For example: The lodger.

The 39 steps has a very engaging opening. Every day people enjoying perhaps an unusual form of entertainment: Mr. memory. But again, just has a very common feel. You get to know the common people in there every day life. Awaiting the once again "something". PS what the hell my talking about?

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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? From seeing a few openings, this scene includes the angled shot, the camera movement on the marquee sign, the lack of seeing the character's face and the fast paced movement of the camera when the audience ask their questions.

 

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, Donat seem obliging and sweet as seen when he is intrupted in the Q and A scene.

 

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.

 

1) “Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.” Check. Yes. From the beginning, Donat's expressive nature shows his innocence by just participating in a musical hall show. Someone with something to hide, would not draw attention to themselves.

 

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. A musical hall. Even though, I'm not sure if this is the location of the plot, as I have not seen it yet, a public place where many gather shows that you don't have to be in a back alley for a crime to be committed.

 

The other Phillips ideas have yet to occur as we only are examining the 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? 

Hitchcock takes us into a rather ordinary and unassuming place to begin the movie, thus allowing us to see an ordinary man become the eventual focus of the series of events about to happen.  The flashing lights announcing "Music Hall" reminds me of the flashing lights of The Lodger, reminding us constantly of "To-night Golden Curls".  As a deviation, I believe that the camera angles differ slightly.  I find it interesting that the main character is photographed in a tilted angle as he is buying the ticket.  Is Hitch asking us to think the character is crooked?  Is he subliminally suggesting something about the character?  I don't remember this use of camera angles in his openings, but I don't remember if he did.  I think the girl screaming in The Lodger may have been tilted, but this shows her duress, her victimization as the murder victim.

 

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 agree completely.  We see this normal guy walk into a public space, but we don't see his face until after he is seated (in the center, suggesting his importance to the plot).  Then he looks affable and friendly.  His good looks contrast the air of mystery that Hitchcock has suggested by keeping him hidden for almost two minutes into the film.  His reaction to the boy when his question is interrupted further allows us to believe he is a good guy.  He allows the boy's question to take precedence over his own.  If I could remember my first viewing of this film, I think I would have believed the character is not innocent, but will be the antagonist in actuality.  I feel conflicted on agreeing that he is 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? 

A music hall, a public exhibition at a ski jumping, an amusement part... all are public spaces where we can see how our characters react and interact with those around him or her.  By seeing those interactions, we begin to understand the normalcy of the character.  These people in this opening are not the gentility of society.  They are the ones who buy tickets to movies because they cant afford the theater, or the opera hall.  They are the common folk, and the ones who, in reality, make up the majority of the world.  By establishing this, we are able to believe that Robert Donat may be one of them.  That the amazing events about to be thrust upon him could happen to you and I.  Perhaps because he kindly yields to the question of the boy who interrupted him, we begin to like this guy despite his ominous, faceless introduction.

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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?

 

I feel that the opening of this film fits the pattern of some openings we've seen in the Daily Doses. It's very jovial and fun and it's got music and laughter. That fits the same pattern as the opening of "The Pleasure Garden" and "The Ring". One way it deviates from those 2 films is that "The 39 Steps" doesn't have a sense of foreboding-that something bad will happen. It's also got the flashing lights that "The Lodger" had in the opening.

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1. Similar public setting, emphasis on text (signage) and on watching and being watched, lively music, and playful POV shots. In The 39 Steps, however, the identification with one main character (Donat) is more streamlined. We literally follow in his footsteps and establish a relationship with him that will carry throughout the picture.

2. I agree to a certain extent. It's as if Hitchcock is having fun with us in this opening clip and asking us to figure out if Donat is good or evil. He begins with more sinister elements (the first we see of Donat is his ominous shadow being cast across the ticket booth) which suggest we should be wary of this man (his collar is up, we only see his broad shoulders, feet, and not his face) and he is almost late for the beginning of the show in a crowded theatre. In the wider shots of the theatre audience, however, Donat does not stand out. Hitchcock makes us wait to see him; there are no shots of Donat reacting to anything said in the theatre. When we do see Donat, he seems at ease with the young boy shouting over him and leaning on his shoulder; he offers a bemused smile as the lady next to him brushes off her collar in mild disgust. He is polite and respectful, asks a seemingly benign question, and applauds Mr. Memory with a "quite right" that fits him in with the crowd around him. Donat would have been a star in Britain by 1935, I believe, and he looks every bit the movie star which the public would want to embrace. His close-up reminded me of a publicity shot: Donat is handsome, well dressed and shown slightly turned from the camera, his face not hidden but framed by the upturned collar. Immediately following the close-up, Mr. Memory identifies him as Canadian and literally welcomes him into the picture. In short, Hitchcock films him as increasingly part of--and accepted by--the crowd and the performers.

 

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 present are the use of a seemingly ordinary public setting that sets the viewer at ease (and mirrors the audience of the movie theatre) but has the potential to be sinister (do you really know what the person sitting in front of you is capable of?). Emphasis is on characterizing ordinary people in extraordinary situations (though this first clip doesn't address the extraordinary yet; it spends time characterizing people as ordinary and establishing Donat one of them.).

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The opening scene in The 39 Steps is similar to opening scenes in previous Hitchcock films (e.g., The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) in that the setting is a public place populated with people who are unaware of the protagonist (or antagonist).  

Richard Hanney seems to be a more innocent character, asking Mr. Memory a legitimate and sincere question, not setting Mr. Memory up for a laugh.

'The Hitchcock Touch' is revealed in this opening scene through the deft deployment of humor and interesting camera work (including shots from the audience's perspective  and shots from Mr. Memory's perspective.)  

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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? 

     

Public places. 

 

Entertainment places

 

Common people, not high tone or cultured kinds of things (not an art museum but a vaudeville act)

 

Energy

 

  1. 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 see that.  We can’t know if he is innocent, but he looks wholesome enough, and he asks an innocent, innocuous question of Mr. Memory and is pegged as a Canadian (I assume he is).  He seems to be at the music hall for a fun time, not to meet a confederate.

 

  1. 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? 

     

Hitchcock does not hate people. He likes them and their everyday lives. He is amused by the normal person but generally I think is laughing with them rather than at them or getting us to do a wink, wink, nod about how corny they are. He is not amused by them in an elitist way, or if he is, he knows better than to show it if he is going to be commercially successful, which he has to be to keep making movies.  I see this in the enjoyment people are having. They are calling out funny questions but generally going on with his act and showing their amazement at his trivia trap brain.  Phillips notes that Hitchcock uses public normal places as the setting for “mayhem from the villains.”  The main character (anybody can figure out he’s the protagonist by the camera shots, by returning to his question, and by his good looks) is just a normal Joe going to a show although he’s dressed somewhat better. 

 

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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 fits the pattern of watching observers and watching some sort of spectacle. But what's different here is the interaction that the protagonist participates in it.

 

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?

 

Perhaps, though I can't really tell from the opening. In reading the opening, then watching the protagonist enter, it very much resonates the opening of the Lodger and that he may be the villain. I'm not sure we see enough here for me to agree with Rothman.

 

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 find the touch formula very interesting, and particularly the elements here we see of more relatable, ordinary people seems to ring true. I suppose that's why so many openings have been in more common, public venues thus far as well.

 

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?

 

I am a big fan of North by Northwest, and I can see how this film can draw comparisons. What's interesting to me in this opening is that the protagonist is an active participant in it as one of the observers. It draws us into the action, much like how I think of Thornhill in NbNW getting wrapped up in the paranoid web.

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The opening of The 39 Steps bares both similarities and differences to the openings of others of Hitchcock's British films. For example, it's similar to The Pleasure Garden in its setting of a theatre with on-stage talent, and it's similar to The Lodger in that both films feature a lit-up sign early on to establish the location ("To-Night Golden Curls" in The Lodger, and "Music Hall" in The 39 Steps). And while the tone is light (similar to the tone of The Man Who Knew Too Much), it is in contrast to the grim tone in The Lodger and does not begin with a crime (The Lodger, The Pleasure Garden) or with a character in harm's way (The Man Who Knew Too Much).

 

I don't know that I totally agree with Rothman's assessment that Hitch is focused on introducing a more innocent character in The 39 Steps. Though we later know Hannay to be innocent, we are first introduced to his back and feet, and don't see his face for a few minutes. The fact that his face is deliberately out of view for so long feels brooding.

 

In regards to the Hitchcock touch, as described by Phillips, the opening scene of The 39 Steps fits the bill in that it depicts an ordinary, seemingly innocent locale. Other than that, we'd have to watch the full film to understand the circumstances of the characters and to know how elements from the opening scene come to matter (or not).

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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 a true Hitchcock newbie - even a newbie to watching movies as a study, I am struggling to remember and keep a record of what may be considered important. My note taking style is to take a screenshot whenever I notice something worth noticing, but like a beginner reader, I am focused more on the narrative than artistic choices and common themes. I don’t even notice canted angle shots until other discussion board members point it out to me. So basic common elements I notice include groups of people, single character focused on, and innocuous settings.  Differing elements include focus is on single male vs female characters with males, no overt foreshadowing, and lack of initiating event.

 

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 watch as a wait and see, so it is hard to train my brain to make predictions. I am treating film clips as I would on a close reading of an excerpt from a novel and going back over it again and again to see if I can see what others are discussing. Hopefully, I am typical of the type of viewer Hitchcock was hoping to entertain. When the character’s face is not shown, my bad guy detector button starts to vibrate - I don’t care if it is broad daylight, and I am in a public 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 do these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

1) “Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.” The music hall experience seems to counter today’s Improv venues. Average folks go to them to laugh and to escape for a few hours their mundane, hard-working lives. We feel comfortable here and like part of the audience.

2) “[The hero] is thrown back on his own resources, and we sympathize with his plight in the way that we cannot with the superhuman heroes bottled in the James Bond image.” In this opening scene, I am only starting to connect with the central character. There is yet no trust; however, my red flag that started to wave when I couldn’t see his face is lowering.

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.” Yes, I’ll buy that; but, because I’ve raised children in this modern world, I already believe that danger potential lurks everywhere in a way that Hitchcock’s original viewers may not have. Many of them would have associated danger more with wars.

Points 4, 5, and 6 are not discussed as the clip did not extend far enough to permit comment.

 

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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 reminds me a lot of The Pleasure Garden, because of the setting: a theater. It has also a nod to The Lodger, because we see the main character “in small doses”: first his hand, then his feet, then his back, and finally his face – this also happens in Number 17. It is, as all others openings we’ve seen, set in a crowded place.

 

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?

What makes the lead in The Lodger more sinister since the beginning is the fact that it was told that the Avenger uses a scarf covering his mouth and nose – and this is how Ivor Novello appears on the front door of the boarding house. Maybe Hannay is seen as a more innocent character because he is willing to play the game with Mr Memory, but we must not forget that Peter Lorre’s character in The Man who Knew Too Much was seen as a playful and nice one in the opening. 

 

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? 

These elements have a lot to do with points 1, 3 and 4 in Gene Phillips’s theory. They show that the leading man is a common person, and any of us, in the audience, could be him.

Also, I like how there is a subtle voyeurism in the opening sequence: first we see Hannay coming in the music hall, then we see Mr Memory, from the audience POV, then we see the audience from Mr Memory’s POV – when Mr Memory answers Hannay’s question, we – as, the camera – are literally on the stage.

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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 has a very theatrical opening ... very interesting because it shows the "performance" aspect of the story, in that all isn't what it seems. This is a prevalent theme in many of Hitchcock films. The elements of montage have also been present in most of his films.

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I've been out of town, so please excuse the lateness of my reply:

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? 

I agree with both Rothman and Phillips in their assessment. The opening shows a mysterious man, who draws the audience in because they are curious who he is. It also shows the audience that the strange events can happen anywhere, such as (once again) taking place in a music hall. There is also the introduction of humor into the opening, with the crowd making fun of Mr. Memory, which seems to be a deviation from his openings, perhaps with the exception of The Man Who Knew Too Much (depending how you react to Peter Lorre's character's reaction).

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 that Hitchcock was more focused on showing that just because someone looks shady to begin with, that doesn't always mean they're the villain. And therefore, because he seems to be the one suspicious character we notice, evil can also hide in plain sight.

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? 

One way that these elements play into the "Hitchcock touch" is that that performance could be happening in any number of theaters around the world. A music hall, watching some kind of performance, is just an ordinary type of activity, and Hitchcock is showing that wrong-doing can happen anywhere.

Another touch is the inclusion of many working-class and ordinary citizens at the hall. In other films, like The Pleasure Garden, the music hall seemed primarily comprised of upper class citizens. By including predominantly ordinary citizens, it emphasizes that ordinary people can get pulled into situations due to circumstances outside their control.

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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? 

 

All of his films start in crowds...also your getting some key information in this opening scene.

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 do agree that this character is more innocent then in the past films.. but he just looks kind of suspicious on how he looks and how the angles of the camera set him up as..

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 looks like in this music hall a mix of people have gathered to have a fun time, some poor, some middle class and some rich people. The poor people in the back by the bar and the other classes sitting in chairs by the stage. it was almost like the camera was doing a "duck, duck, goose" thru the audiance while asking 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? 

 

The music sets the tone. In this film, The 39 Steps, it;s light and festive as compared to The Lodger where it was eerie and unsettling. Hitchcock also seems to like opening his films with crowds of people. However, in The 39 Steps the crowd scene feels more personal and interactive than the other films we've discussed.

 

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

 

. 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 movie opens in an ordinary setting. Instead of all the montages, he seems to use Mr Memory as a focal point for us and the audience in the movie.

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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? Similarities: a stage of sorts is involved, and significant characters are involved either as performers or voyeurs (or both!).  Differences: I sense more of the influence of German Expressionism in the earlier films shifting into a quicker tempo of editing, as evidenced in Soviet Montage in Man Who Knew Too Much and 39 Steps

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. The Donat character in 39 Steps is well-dressed and well-groomed, certainly not what most audiences of the time would interpret as sinister.  He seems uncertain and uneasy, glancing around the audience, and at one point is rudely interrupted by another patron shouting a question.  He seems quiet and reserved.  In the shot where Hitch shifts to show the audience from a stage point of view, Donat is a face in the crowd, but his face seems oddly larger and more brightly lit than the others.

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? Definitely the infusion of humor.  Not only are some of the audience reactions humorous, but the English accents seem exaggerated and the tone harsh and irritating.  The action is once again set in a public place amid a context of entertainment.  With Mr. Memory, as with most performers, the scene seems to set the stage to get the audience thinking that people are seldom who, or what, they seem and there's more than meets the eye.

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​1. Some similarities between this and other opening scenes are that it is set in a public place, with the immediate introduction of the main character. There is also a degree of humor in meeting this character, with his and the audience's interactions with Mr. Memory, that is not unlike the opening humor of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The differences are in what Hitchcock wants us to think of this character - in The Lodger, for example, he is a menacing in dangerous murderer. In this scene, we at first are lead to believe he is a bad person from the camera angles and the inability to see his face, but then we are presented with an ordinary man just looking to have a good time.

 

​2. I agree. Even from that brief clip, there are things that stand out to me as showing him to be a lighthearted and easygoing person. Definitely not a bad guy. Once we see his face, he is relaxed, and asks a reasonable question to Mr. Memory. He is polite, and does not get angry when the rude man behind him yells his question over him. He simply waits his turn and asks again. All the other main characters we have seen either are predatorial towards a woman character, a murderer, or a man with something to hide.

 

​3. All of these elements appear in The Pleasure Garden and are obvious Hitchcock touches. Both center around a performance hall of some sort, and the shots contain not only the performers, but the audience from the performer's perspective. The public space being used as an opening is also used in The Lodger, The Man Who Knew Too Much (both versions), Strangers On A Train, North by Northwest, and so on.

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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 opening fits the sequence of hidden details of other British films montage while it differs when it comes to showing what the characters are about.

 

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 to a certain point as the opening sequence is more focused on the plot as to on the characters.

 

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 plays by simply showing that extraordinary things can happen in ordinary places while no one is paying attention.

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1.  The similarities are that it takes place in a music hall and the people are lower to middle class. It has humor with the Mr. Memory character.

 The main character is very different and non-threatening. There doesn't seem to be a set up yet and doesn't offer much in the way of plot with this scene which makes me think it will be character driven.

 

2. The lead actor is very different is this clip. I think the audience will want to protect him and relate to him because he is just like us.

 

3.  There are several Hitchcock touches in this clip. It is an ordinary place full of regular people including Robert Donat. It is a happy place that could hide things and therefore bring chaos in unexpected instances.

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