Dr. Rich Edwards

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

209 posts in this topic

1. I think this opening scene, ironically about a question-and-answer session, raises a ton of questions. We know who the male lead is because we entered the theater with him. Aside from that, we don't know who may play an important role. The feel is lighthearted like The Pleasure Garden, with touches of humor. It's also similar to The Man Who Knew Too Much in that it's a gathering of people for purposes of entertainment. The crowd as a mob (heckling, not violent) reminded me of The Lodger a bit. 


2. I'm not sure I agree with Rothman that Hitchcock is introducing a more innocent character. I haven't watched the film yet. If he is truly innocent, I don't understand why he was shot so mysteriously from behind, at off-kilter angles, obscuring his face. The collar of his coat being upturned adds to the intrigue. Yes, when we see his face it is handsome and pleasant, seemingly at ease. He engages with Mr. Memory so we know he isn't timid. He doesn't mind the boy yelling a question over his shoulder so we know he isn't quick to anger. Beyond that, we don't know anything about him other than he is interested in Canadian geography. Mr. Memory makes the assumption that he is from Canada but I don't know that to be true.


3. The use of this public space speaks to the idea of Hitchcock's protagonists being ordinary men. The music hall is filled with working class people looking for entertainment and fun. Initially it seems like Mr. Memory's act may be a bust but he wins over the crowd when he can answer their questions and speak to their interests -- mainly about sports.


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1) This opening scene is similar to others we've studied like (The Lodger) with the flashing lights and the public place with jovial music, spectators (The Pleasure Garden). In this movie, some of the audience members are hecklers and are drunken ("Where's my old man?") Hitchcock smartly balances it all with humor and  with the fact that Mr. Memory has an answer for their comments and interruptions.

 

2) I partially agree with Rothman in that Hitchcock presents Hannay as an ordinary audience member, a friendly fellow without any suspicious characteristics. Yet there is something mysterious about him perhaps how he is introduced in the film,or the turned up coat collar. I agree that Donat is VERY handsome. So smart of Hitch to keep us guessing.

 

3) Phillip's theory of the Hitchcock touch holds true to some degree in this opening by including ordinary people in the audience, a sympathetic hero, setting that is fun filled, you don't expect trouble or harm 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? 

By keeping his face hidden, we are more curious and drawn into what is taking place.  We pay more attention to the audience and the humor of their questions.  They are 'lower class' people that are out for some entertainment.  This is similar to The Pleasure Garden except for the class of people.

 

 

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 appears more unassuming and non-threatening.

 

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 out to have a good time and are enjoying their good natured ribbing of Mr. Memory.  The humor just makes you feel a part of the crowd.

 

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1. This opening both fits the pattern we have seen previously and deviates from it. Fits in that we again have a crowd scene and, similar to The Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much, there's a show or event taking place with an audience present. One way this one seems to deviate, at least from what we observe here is that there is nothing blatantly sinister going on here, such as there was in The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, and The Man Who Knew Too Much.

2. Agree or Disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock here is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences? I agree. We were left to question the innocence of some earlier characters, at least in the beginning, but we are given nothing that makes us feel hesitant or bothered by the protagonist here.

3. Another public space opening a Hitchcock film, the prominence of a performer, and the reactions of the audience to Mr. Memory's act, how do these play into theHichcock touch? The protagonist is presented like one of the ordinary people, as he sits watching the show, even asking Mr. Memory a question. But, being in such an ordinary locale in a Hitchcock film, we wonder if something more dark is lurking beneath the surface. We might also speculate if Mr. Memory will be a part of the MacGuffin.

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The opening scene has an audience and a crowd present. There is nothing bad or sinister going on, compared to ​The Lodger, The Pleasure Garden​ and ​The Man Who Knew Too Much​. I agree with Rothman. The character Donat appears non-violent and also non-threatening. The audience is non-threatening, just having the time of their lives.

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1. The narrow focus on the sign, showing us what he wants us to see, this is similar to the staircase in The Pleasure Garden. There's also an upbeat nature to the crowd, we know Robert Donat is going to be important, but we're also treated to a typical night in a British dance hall of the period.

2. I would agree that he is more innocent than some of his other characters.

3. He uses places we the audience might go, it's recognizable and sets us at ease, perhaps part of the plan to make us comfortable with our surroundings, and to feel that could be me there, then he take us along for the ride. This makes it all the more believable that we could get mixed up in this just as easily, thus emphasizing the realism of the possibility of the situation.

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Hitchcock really likes the open spaces of the ordinary public life. He has a mixture of other films present in the scene. Hanney is an exact replication of the print of the lodger before the scream. Like a private eye which lead to my thinking, ok he's not the villain in this film. The POV shots are very similar, I find awkward angles really add to the suspense and grab the viewers attention. This is a softer entrance and introduction of characters and humor which I enjoy. There is no threat from the lead character as the camera rolls further into the scene. The public is no longer background to the main characters which adds more life to the film. Definitely more interesting. Mr Memory is an added bonus as he is the the cornucopia of incidental data. It shows the audience asking questions he would not know of course. It seems Hitchcock is allowing the audience in the scene to behave much like an audience watching the film---viewers begin to ask questions immediately when watching Hitchcock. The Hitchcock touch...

 

1) “Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.” Check. ✅

 

2) “[The hero] is thrown back on his own resources, and we sympathize with his plight in way that we cannot with the superhuman heroes bottled in the James Bond image.” Check.✅

 

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.✅

 

5) “Hitchcock customarily takes the audience into his confidence early in the story by sharing with them information that other directors might withhold for the sake of a surprise ending.” Check.✅

 

6) The use of a MacGuffin: “simply the thing that preoccupies the hero and heroine and because of which they are thrown into danger, such as a vital secret formula. Check.✅

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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 main characters are in a crowd, they are in public places.


In this opening scene I don't feel any threat yet.  I don't knowingly have any info that something is wrong, or of what is going to unfold.


 


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 would agree.  He is handsome, likable, and non-threatening.


 


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.  There seems to be nothing out of the ordinary in the main character.


3 & 4.  A music hall is a place ones goes to enjoy oneself.  A safe environment.


5.  There could be important details in here that we're not aware of just yet, like the main character's connection to Canada.  


He's also a little more serious in nature than the other audience members.  Was he testing Mr. Memory for fun?  Or is he trying to find out information?  Does he need to know the distance from Winnipeg to Montreal as part of his storyline?


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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 one is similar to the others due to the bright sign lights (The Lodger) and the entertainment going on (The Ring). 

 

It deviates from the others in that it is more lighthearted; nothing to stir up emotions in the viewer. 

 

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 seems like an ordinary everyday 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? 

 

The opening scene allows us to see an ordinary man attending a show with average town people. They are amused at the entertainer and freely talk back to him. The main character even gets in on it. This gives the viewer an inside look in to the character of Hanney and although fun and laughter is going on, we know something sinister is about to happen.

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It does fit a pattern of opening in a public place and slowly introducing characters, but it deviates because there isn't yet a feeling of dread. We can't really tell something bad is going to happen. I do agree that Hanney seems a likable character. He does seem a little serious with his question, which makes me wonder if it matters.

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1. It does fit a pattern. All opening in public areas, introductions to the characters and you get an overall sense of the type of film you will be watching.

 

2. Yes this guy seems to be just some nice innocent more. His appearance, his demeanor and even the question he keeps asking, so innocent and unassuming. Someone the audience can feel sorry for when he gets into trouble.

 

3. The music hall is quite ordinary someplace we all might have gone. We get the impression that Donat is just an ordinary guy. The fact the the audience keep asking silly and humorous types of questions while Donat keeps asking the same innocent question. Will that be important later?

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1. From the different Hitchcock pictures I've seen thus far, I definitely see a pattern with the openings. We're given a specific place where something is about to happen (in Hitchcock's case, somewhere public with a lot of people), and we are introduced to the characters that we will be stuck with for the remainder of the picture. What deviates the intro to The 39 Steps from prior pictures is that it's more lighthearted and lively.

 

2. I agree with Rothman's assessment. The main character that we're introduced to in this picture is just an ordinary, everyday joe who unfortunately ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets caught in the spider web that is espionage.

 

3. With this film and the films before it, Hitchcock would pick a perfect place where nothing could possibly go wrong in reality, whether it be a music hall or an old fashioned movie house. It is here that he works his magic where a supposed "safe haven" is anything but.

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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? 

Hitchcock begins with a return to using signage or print for exposition (The Lodger. The Ring).  We also begin as part of the audience viewing a show or being entertained (The Pleasure Garden, The Ring)  What has changed from other openings, Hitchcock is in no hurry to introduce information.  By the end of the clip, we have some information, he is visiting from Canada, he is a average common man, but we don't even know his name, nothing on a definite plot.  There is a more subtle and deliberate dissemination of the story arc.

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 character introduced while sparse to this point seems to indicate that he is somewhat a common person, perhaps a little more sophisticated than the other members of the audience still a common man visiting from Canada.

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 common, most of the accents are common and questions are many times humorous.  Hitchcock establishes the tone of character of everyone in the audience.  The setting of the music hall public space.

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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 electric lights, like the ones used in The Lodger, are shown at the beginning of the film.  The music is happy and lighthearted.  The scene seems to be innocuous to what is going to happen in the film.

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?  Definitely, the character of Hannay is treated like he is almost invisible since his question is passed over when another character shouts out his question over Hannay’s shoulder. When his question is finally addressed, Mr. Memory greets him and the audience applauds him.

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 gives the audience the appearance of a routine, everyday happening like a theatrical act that is there just to entertain and have little or no impact on more important things happening outside of the theater.  In addition, Hannay is looks to be a typical person out for the evening in a typical establishment. 

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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 believe that Hitchcock has focused on introducing a more innocent (seemingly of course) character at the beginning.  There is no murder or action sequence as it starts.  Just what seems like a regular scene out on a Saturday night for someone of that time period.  You may feel like the character isn't innocent at first because of the way that the face is not visible as he comes into the music hall but with a more handsome face in this case and the innocent event, you assume that he is innocent.  

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After seeing so many introductions to Hitchcock films (I have DVRd EVERYTHING and have been watching all of the films), the opening of The 39 Steps includes that sense of mystery at the very beginning....there are the lights, the man with his back to the camera.  I love how Hitchcock grabs your attention right from the start with both hands.  There is no sweet, gentle opening, EVER.  You are wondering what comes next from the very first few seconds of his films.  A little different this time, I don't get the impression that a whole lot of information about the story itself is given in the first part of this film.  I mean, there's the introduction of the Mr. Memory....but I'm left wondering what this has to do with the mystery man from Canada.  Very intriguing, Hitch!  I totally agree with Rothman....nothing seems to be frightening or deceptive about this character at all.  His face isn't covered with a scarf, he isn't giving anyone suspicious looks of recognition.  He seems very "normal".  In order to add to the Hitchcock touch, this opening scene shows what appears to be a very public, very common occurrence in Britain at the time.  The audience is just a crowd of ordinary people doing what they would commonly do...something that certainly fulfills the Hitchcock touch checklist!

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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 believe that Hitchcock has focused on introducing a more innocent (seemingly of course) character at the beginning.  There is no murder or action sequence as it starts.  Just what seems like a regular scene out on a Saturday night for someone of that time period.  You may feel like the character isn't innocent at first because of the way that the face is not visible as he comes into the music hall but with a more handsome face in this case and the innocent event, you assume that he is innocent.  

Agreed!!  You start to think that there's going to be some big mystery here....I almost did a double-take when the man was finally revealed, thinking that this wasn't the suspicious character I thought he was going to be.  Hitch totally got me on this one!

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1. It does fit a pattern. All opening in public areas, introductions to the characters and you get an overall sense of the type of film you will be watching.

 

2. Yes this guy seems to be just some nice innocent more. His appearance, his demeanor and even the question he keeps asking, so innocent and unassuming. Someone the audience can feel sorry for when he gets into trouble.

 

3. The music hall is quite ordinary someplace we all might have gone. We get the impression that Donat is just an ordinary guy. The fact the the audience keep asking silly and humorous types of questions while Donat keeps asking the same innocent question. Will that be important later?

Definitely someone you can feel sorry for when he gets into trouble....Hitchcock has drawn in our emotions from the very start of this film, and we've become emotionally connected to Hannay right from the start!

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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?

Unlike The Lodger, The 39 Steps opens at a public stage in a big crowd of middle and lower class audience. the Lodger opened with the scream (albeit silent) of a murderer's victim. The 39 Steps does not reveal it's nature until several scenes later with the death of Lucie Mannheim. Likewise the Man Who Knew Too Much opens in a public sporting event introducing you to characters without many hints about what may be important about them.

 

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 this film definitely introduces an innocent character, although knowing it's a Hitchcock film, we're a bit cautious about Mr. Donat at first, haha. He doesn't have the drawl of innocence that James Stewart had in the remake, so we're just not sure. Many unsavory characters take refuge in a theatre, although when Mr. Donat asked questions of Mr. Memory, I was pretty sure he was an innocent since he didn't mind being notice.

 

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?

First of all Robert Donat introduced as an ordinary person placed in an extraordinary situation. The double chase where the authorities are chasing him but Donat is chasing the guy in the know who could clear him; but wait, instead of clearing him, he shoots him. And poor Donat is also mistrusted by the farmer because he has convinced the farmer's wife to help him out. The music and shadows make the film that much more suspenseful and quicken the pace of the film. Then comes full circle when our hero is back in the theatre where Mr. Memory reveals the MacGuffin of the film and dies trying.

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The opening fits a pattern with opening with a crowd as in the Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much. In this and the Lodger, Hitchcock uses a sign. In both The Man Who Knew Too Much and the 39 Steps something in the opening is crucial to the ending. It deviates from the others as there is no woman or blonde character is in the scene. Also, we do not have an indication of something sinister or going wrong for the main character.

 

Yes, I agree with Rothman's assessment that this film is focused more on introducing a more innocent lead character. The scene is lighthearted and Hannay takes part in the opening with questions.

 

These on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch with his use of ordinary characters in a setting that ordinary people would go, and his use of comedy and lightheartedness. But it differs from Rothman's touch in the opening scene because we are not aware of anything sinister and there is no hint of a MacGuffin.

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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? 

 

In The 39 Steps, as in The Pleasure Garden, the opening scene takes place in a music hall/entertainment venue; as in The Ring, a handsome character is observing some sort of show (carnival boxing match), and, subsequently, participates by taking part in asking questions.  There is a neon sign blinking letters in the beginning of The 39 steps and in The Lodger.  Unlike most of the earlier films we've seen, there is no ominous undertone, nor is there any tension.  There is the merest hint of something when we don't see Hannay's face right away, we only see his legs and back. I would venture the idea, that those initial shots let you know you're about to see a Hitchcock movie.

 

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 would agree with Rothman's assessment.  In The 39 Steps, no crime has occurred, nor does one happen in these opening minutes of the film.  I think it is closer to the opening of The Man Who Knew Too Much, where we don't see a crime occur or anything ominous.  Again, we have a hint at something not quite right when we glimpse Peter Lorre's face.  Other than that, it does break away from some of the earlier film openings.

 

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 feel safe, until you're not.  The audience is lulled into a happy place by the music and gay entertainment.  As in some of Hitchcock's other movies, the group of people comprising the audience is mostly working class people enjoying themselves - throwing out jokes, laughing, etc.  The audience, in my mind, is similar to the crowds of people in The Lodger, who are trying to find out about the murder.  Or, as in The Ring, it's a local carnival with working class people aiming to have a good time that doesn't cost much.  We know we're not at an opera, or classical music program with high class people in dinner jackets.  I find the class distinctions quite significant in these British films.

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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 rolling sign - the mysterious approach to the story and the presentation of the angles of each shot all

fit a pattern we have seen previously which deviated 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 character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

 

Yes, I do agree 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. A mysterious figure walks into the theater and there is no view of his face until he sits down. Nothing like his other 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? 

 

The music hall was at first quiet until the performer, Mr Memory was introduced. It seemed that he was suppose to be the smartest man on earth until he asked the crowd for questions. The audience started shouting questions at him and even answered their own. They became boisterous and at times scary.

 

Gene Phillips gives a checklist to describe the on-screen elements that play into Hitchcock's touch. For example:

- Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.

- The hero is thrown back on his own resources, and the audience sympathizes with his plight

- Evil can lurk in places that at first glance seem normal and unthreatening

- Villains (Hitchcock's) commit their mayhem in amusement parks and respectable restaurants - not in locations that we tend to avoid in order to escape potential harm, such as a dark alley

- He takes the audience into his confidence early in the story by sharing with them information that other directors might withhold for the sake of a surprise ending.

- Using MacGuffin: “simply the thing that preoccupies the hero and heroine and because of which they are thrown into danger, such as a vital secret formula. “

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1. Hitch uses multiple camera angles such as to reveal the marquee letters (one at a time), the titled angle to hide (not revealed initially) the protagonist, and the use of a common public place with a large crowd.


 


2. I believe he is more innocent than other protagonists. The every man/reluctant hero.


 


3. Hitch uses places viewers feel are common and safe. The large crowd scenes provide a plethora of potential antagonists, and the viewer must pay close attention to try and identify clues and other items of importance. The crowd treats Mr. Memory with derisive mocking, almost contemptuous. They are not necessarily impressed with his knowledge.


 


 


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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 matches the films we've previously touched, in terms of introducing a setting via multiple shots, but differs since there is no sparkling energy. No murder, no music hall dancing, rather the slow upstart of a low-end vaudeville routine.


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'd agree. Although we've seen other innocent characters (Please Garden comes to mind), often times it's always tipped toward the dangers presented by other characters. In this film's opening, there is no identifiable villain or sense of danger.


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 Hitchcock touch is notable mostly in setting and our lead character. We note that he's quite ordinary (he buys a ticket to a low-rent bar/Music Hall), and a traveler from Canada (which separates him from any rooted sympathy, presumably). A lot of attention is also given to the music hall, and how roomy and jolly it's patrons are. Almost as if Hitchcock is letting us settle in for the fun, while somewhere else something horrible is going on behind the scenes.


 


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!. Fitting a pattern: 

a) the setting. the theatre audience in The Pleasure Garden and an outdoor audience in The Man Who Knew Too Much. In the Lodger the audience are not technically an audience but a crowd listening to the lady describing the murderer.

 

B) entrance of Hannay: a mysterious figure entering, no face shown similar to the description of the murderer in The Lodger

 

c) the Music Hall lit sign as in the lit signs in the Lodger

 

d) the music: lively as in The Pleasure Garden

 

e) atmosphere of the setting: lively theatre as in The Pleasure Garden or open air in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

 

Deviation from this pattern:

The setting:  a different type of audience in Downhill, the 4 characters are the audience and stage performers eg initially the lady watching the headmaster and the 2 boys. In Blackmail, the audience is a little group of people around the lady describing the murderer.

 

Unlike in The Lodger and in Blackmail where the murder has been committed, in The 39 Steps, there is no mention of murder except for the mention of a murderer, Dr Crippen in the question put to Mr Memory.

 

The subject matters differ in the films: Downhill is not about murder but about an accusation and The 39 Steps has a more light-hearted opening scene with no obvious hint of the danger to come.

 

2. Unlike in The Lodger and Blackmail, where the murderer or possible murderer is introduced to the cinema audience in the opening sequences, there is no murderer except for a hint (or red herring) that Hannay, the dark shadowy figure may be one in the first few seconds.

 

3. The setting of the music hall is a place where everyone can go and is unthreatening.

 

The performer Mr Memory is prominent and Hitch hints to the audience that he may become important later to the plot. Hannay is also thrown into the spotlight by his question.

 

Some of the audience don't take Mr Memory seriously and ask him silly questions. Mr Memory is a MacGuffin. He does not seem to be important to the plot but he and his knowledge is what will drive the plot forward. Same goes for Hannay.

 

 

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