Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #8: Cooling Our Heels (Opening Scene from The Lady Vanishes)

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Today's Daily Dose is on The Lady Vanishes (1938).


We are again analyzing an opening scene from the British Sound Years. I am sure by this time you are starting to see patterns and repeated motifs. 


Watch the clip in our Canvas course, then come back here for the reflections.


Here are three questions to get the reflections started: 


1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 


2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 


3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 


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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.

 

The tone is a fun and lighthearted. The hotel clerk is quirky and Caldicott and Charters are hilarious. The music aids this opening theme as it is carefree.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.

 

These two characters are great in this film. They are quite comical and add to this scene in which we like every character.

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.

 

The hotel clerk appears to be very busy with a lot of customers but drops everything to assist Iris and her friends. The camera is concerned less with the rest of the patrons and focuses on the women.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. -- Music runs as background, but also a clue that reveals itself once the 'agent' Mrs. Froy is known to be an agent and hums the tune for our duo.  

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. -- They add a great deal of humor and a bit of suspicion that they could be more than mere travelers. I love this pair, and in fact, the entire cast of this film. Subtle details in gestures and glances carry as much power as the dialogue... and these two have taken the award for backstory!

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. -- A busy and active scene, with a mix of people and music; Iris seems aware of others around her, yet moves through the scene ensconced in her own world. 

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1. The music not only set the mood, but also establishes the location of the scene.  The music stops abruptly when the news of avalanche approaches.

2. Caldicott and Charters serve as a Greek chorus passing onto the audience useful information.  They also establish their role as comic relief insuring the audience will pay attention when they are onscreen.

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In The Lady Vanishes Hitchcock once again opens the scene with a large crowd of people. Though the people gathered within the hotel lobby seem somber in mood, the music soundtrack is more lighthearted.  Once the cuckoo clock strikes and the train delay is announced, the mood turns chaotic. 

 

The introduction of Caldicott and Charters gives the audience a bit of comic relief at the expense of upper crust British society. Their somewhat stuffy demeanor allows for an easy way to criticize a third world country and culture not up to British standards.

 

Margaret Lockwood is the first of the female trio to be greeted by the hotel manager and shares with him the dominant staging within the camera’s frame.  She seems to be the spokesperson for the group and leads them towards the stairs and the camera follows.  Since she has the bulk of the dialog, she must be the star of this scene or a character Hitchcock wants us to pay close attention to. 

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Hitchcock's favorite opening scenes were arguably these international public places. In The Lady Vanishes, the setting, the folklore Central European music, the smiling hotel manager who speaks in all languages, the characters coming from every corner of the world, are contributing to a playful, light-hearted tone. Once again, nothing is there that can make us believe this film is a crime thriller.

 

Charters and Caldicott are somewhat the typical Englishmen of the 30's, obsessed with cricket, with a characteristic accent and way of talking, and friendly towards other nations. They add even more levity to the whole scene, as well as some "British-ness" with which the British audience of the time could identify.

 

I always like to compare their appearance here with their next one, in Night Train to Munich, another thriller also starring Margaret Lockwood, made just after UK declared war to the Nazis. Thus, Charters and Caldicott, initially minding only their own business, suddenly become staunch, active patriots, and this shift perfectly reflect the UK's shift of international policy from appeasement to open war.

 

As he did in The 39 Steps, Hitchcock has the way of introducing his star even in this international set full of different characters. Lockwood bosses the scene the same way she bosses both her companions and the hotel manager. The polished way she talks and walks, the way the camera moves towards her and gives her most of the frame, everything expresses her dominance. Her performance as a bratty socialite turned into an amateur sleuth is just amazing, and I think it's the best ever in a Hithcock film by a brunette.

 

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 


 


As I watched the opening scene of people waiting to board a train, I thought of the other Hitchcock film I have seen which begins with people preparing to board a train. In "Strangers on a Train" (SOAT), we see criss-crossing shots of the lower torsos of two men entering Union Station to board a train. The purpose of that shot seems to be to hint at the subsequent criss-crossing pattern of their lives and the double-crossing that will ensue. We are given little information about the characters in the opening scene of SOAT other than one of them is a tennis player (we see his tennis racquet in the shot), and the other is a bit of a snappy dresser (we see his spectator shoes). In "The Lady Vanishes" (TLV), Hitchcock takes a very different approach. He gives us much more insight into the personalities of the various people waiting to board the train and hints at their relative importance (star vs. supporting actor). Also, he includes humorous bits and a sample of the folk music that we will hear later in the film.


 


Regarding the use of humor, it appears that this was very important to Hitchcock. For example, to set up the punchline that "not even the sheets" had been changed, the hotel manager had to say first that nothing had changed since the women had been there last week. This was not a quick visual humor shot, such as the men closing a door that the wind had blown ajar just as a woman was trying to go out. It required a short conversational exchange to set it up, and so we know this humor was not a throw-away line, it was designed on purpose to help set the mood.


 


The folk music (and the cuckoo clock) help set the light-hearted mood also. We do not yet know that the protagonist studies folk music, but this early use of it in the film is a harbinger. As a side note, I know little about the various genres of music, but I am interested in the folk music that I hear on my travels. I try to seek it out, with occasional embarrassing results. Once, on a trip to Turkey, I heard what I assumed was Turkish folk music emanating from a sidewalk café. I told my daughter that I had not expected Turkish folk music to be so repetitive. She rolled her eyes and said, "Dad, that is TECHNO!"   


 


2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.


 


These actors provide interesting examples of British humor, which I love. I enjoyed hearing their banter about who had been most responsible for delaying their trip, and their snarky comments about third-world countries and the special treatment provided to the American. I am hoping that we see these characters throughout the movie, and not just in the opening scene.


 


3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 


 


​The dialogue establishes that Iris is funny, well-traveled, and used to a lifestyle that includes deferential treatment and ordering magnums of champagne (and make it snappy!). She is given the star treatment by the hotel manager, who leaves the other customers cooling their heels as the camera follows him as he rushes over to fawn on Iris and her two companions. We are shown the faces of the people in the crowd as they react to Iris being given preferential treatment. The camera follows Iris and her friends up the stairs as they exit, leaving no doubt as to their importance versus the steerage-class people waiting to register in the lobby.


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1. In the opening scene, we are introduce with a calm and light heart atmosphere accompanied with a very bright tone of music. Then, we heard the cuckoo sound from the cuckoo clock. After the cuckoo sound was heard, things were change. The atmosphere became loud and chaotic. The music isn't hear anymore and know all we hear is the voices of people shouting in dissatisfaction. The opening scene from the Lady Vanishes is also located in an open public space full of people. In other's film, the location starts off with place full of people (and their attention) such as a theater/ musical stage or a crime scene in the Lodger that people gathered around to see the girl's body. Almost all of the opening scenes were located in open public spaces that draws the attention of the people, similar to how Hitchcock will draw us into his film.

 

2. The performance was such a great addition and definitely a scene-stealer! In the midst of chaos, the addition of the duo apply a decent amount of comedy and laugh to it. The duo definitely steal the scene, even though the focus was more emphasize on the character of Iris.The comedy applied during the scene of chaos related to Hitchcock's messages in almost all his films. "Sometimes you don't have to take life or things seriously, you have to be calm and let go of certain things." "Life is a joke."

 

 

3. An opening public space full of people that turns chaotic. The warm, bright music. When Iris comes in, the hotel butler/clerk drops all the chaos and focus on taking care of Iris, a single individual. Like all other Hitch's film, the focus is on the blonde girl yet again.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 


The opening of this film is definitely lighthearted, natural, and even a bit comical. The music absolutely makes the film seem lighthearted, as it sounds like a score you might even hear in a part of a Disney animated film or other movie for children. 


2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 


These two, Caldicott and Charters, are such a comical dynamic duo. They add humor, and they play off each other. 


3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.


You can tell that Iris is the star of this scene because of several things. First, she is physically in the front of her group. Second, she speaks the most, ordering the dinner, and making the decisions for herself and her friends. Also, she has dark hair while her friends are both blondes, so physically she stands out from her group as well. 


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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.

 

The tone and mood is set on a lighter note by example of the folklike music. There are cutaways including a cuckoo clock and the audible voices grabbing our attention. There is also upon second viewing a comedic handling of the weather outside once the door is opened for the woman. Reminds me of a much much lighter way of handling stormy winter weather than in I.e. 'The Hateful 8'. The music makes us feel like we are in a space with a mix of people. Very eclectic instrumentation in my opinion. I feel warm and comfortable with that particular music despite the avalanche conditions that we only hear about.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.

 

They add humour. Are they gay? Interesting how in society today we handle the subject of homosexuality as opposed to how the subject was never truly engaged as early as the 30's. Please by all means mention titles expressing the plight of the gay man or woman as early as the 30's. If they're not gay my bad. Definitely a couple that banters and obviously know eachother intimately and comfortably.

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.

 

If it hasn't been mentioned this is just an excellent opening from the music to the shots, to the cutaways to the acting and delivery of lines and staging and choreography considering all the many components. Love it. I feel it's demonstrated expertly and Hitch owns it all the way...

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You can tell that Iris is the star of this scene because of several things. First, she is physically in the front of her group. Second, she speaks the most, ordering the dinner, and making the decisions for herself and her friends. Also, she has dark hair while her friends are both blondes, so physically she stands out from her group as well.

If I could re-do or tack-on words to my response to #3 I'd choose your words. Nailed it for the star attributes to the scene.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.

The opening is comedic with light, whimsical music and humorous interactions between the travelers and each other, the travelers and the wind, the hotelier and the noisy environment, etc. Touches like the unusually loud cuckoo clock and the correction of the pronunciation of “ava-lawnsh” lend to the humorous texture.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.

They are our stand-ins, and provide (our) audience commentary to the scene before us.

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.

The camera, i.e. OUR eyes, follow her, as do the eyes of all the travelers, as do the feet and attentions of the hotelier. She and her companions move left to right – as eyes on a page would move – and leave us wanting to flip the page to go upstairs to follow them.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 


Of the British thriller sextet,  The Lady Vanishes is my favorite.  As a musicologist and professor myself, I feel this is the first Hitchcock music where see music helping to set up the tone of the movie.  There are a lot of inside jokes in this movie and many that the general public might not catch they are and underlining commentary to Hitchcock's view of the world and filmmaking between European and American studies.


After WWI, and definitely in the 30s before WWII but after Hitler's rise to power in the Weimar Republic there was definitely a dislike of the Germans by the English.  Hitchcock set up amusing slapstick farse and poking fun at race.  We are in a "made up" country in a little inn that of course has all the similarities to a German town.  The inn keeper and most travelers are seen as "commoners"  their pace is quick.  Hitchcock understood this..  Aristocrats move slower they have leisure time,  poorer classes bumble around.  The music tells us that... we get a sort German/Austrian happy go lucky landler (folk dance) music.  The music set ups the tone.  We get the amusement of broken German made up dialogue from travelers.  Could Hitchcock be poking fun at the German race in general? That they don't really have a national history.. as England was a country for 100s of years before Germany was established as a unified country?  


The innkeeper's attention on the American girls is also a commentary, saying that Americans in general are more sophisticated, more glamorous...  This might even foreshadow Hitchcock's desire to relocate to Hollywood.   


As a musicologist, it is great to see Hitchcock playing with music and mood..  I think this is the first time we really see Hitch using music to set up the mood of the scene.  Of course in Lady Vanishes the music can hardly compare to masterpiece scores of Hitch's later composers like Bernard Herrmann or Franz Waxman but I do like the whole tone of this movie.  It has all the makings of a screwball comedy with the intrigue and interesting side characters.


I love how the Americans are also putting on an aristocratic farse with fussing over the pronunciation of "avalanche" saying it with such an "effected" French accent.  Very amusing.  Esp since the Americans are obviously not French themselves.  It is a commentary saying Germans tend to be "common" "folk" "unsophisticated"  "banal"..  While Americans and French have taste and style and are obviously more intelligent...  Hitch sets this up to play to the General English audience's feelings at the the time before WWII.  The dislike of the Germans.  Yet he does it such a subtle way it is not necessarily obvious. 


2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.


These characters indeed are funny and add commentary as to differences in how various classes and nationalities are treated.  They state they are "just average" and are slightly irritated by the pampering of the 3 glamorous Americans who can order champagne in their own salons.  It is a commentary on how many people felt during the Depression era of the 30s, "unimportant", "Ignored".  I think Hitch does a splendid job showing this.  


3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 


Hitchcock uses sophisticated use of dialogue and camera movement to establish the differences in nationality and class of the characters.  I find it symbolic that the end sequence is Iris and girl friends on the staircase going up to their bedrooms .. They are therefore above literally all the other characters waiting in the lobby with no room and no food.  Iris however will be enjoy a bottle of champagne.  Very symbolic... again that Americans are more sophisticated, elegant, glamorous, and important.  Hitch sets this up splendidly.  The congestion in the beginning scene and chaos of the innkeeper and the "commoners" highly contrasts the American trio.  


Notice in dialogue how the Americans esp Iris looks down on the innkeeper, correcting his English  with effected French pronunciation of avalanche (notice too the music score stops earlier with the mention of the word avalanche).  There is this I'm better than you attitude.  and Caldicott and Charters comment on this near the end of the scene. It is very clear that all the attention towards the end of the scene is on Iris... again the star of the picture but the underlining commentary that American stars are more sophisticated and glamorous then their English/Euro counterparts.  


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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 

 

So… this is going to be a fun train ride… in one way or another, eventually.

 

Of course, we have the “everyday” crowd full of all types of people waiting with their luggage at the inn, an “everyday” location. Everyone is in a good mood, or at least… there is nothing dark, mysterious and fearful about this scene. It’s just that sense of life going on as usual, regardless of what characters and/or actions are taking place. (Noisy men dropping their belongings at the desk… followed by the innkeeper dropping everything to focus on the famous woman and her companions as they walk in.)

 

The music is light and airy, like the sound of birds chirping. In fact, there is a bird in a cage in the room. You get the sense you’re in Europe from the folksy music tune and it’s not hard to imagine dancers in their traditional dresses doing a folk dance.

 

When the older woman leaves, the wind blows in and the door opens and closes on her before she exits. Sets up the fact (along with the people wearing coats) that this is a cold setting and season.

 

Cuckoo Hornblower pops out of the clock at an inconvenient time (that’s his job after all) to add to the chaos of the noisy men who blow in with all their gear.

 

English is the last language used by the innkeeper (Boris) to inform everyone that the train is delayed and they need to get a room ASAP. This tells us that the travelers are from a variety of countries… and is also kind of funny because the Englishmen are left out of the conversation and will likely get the dregs of which rooms may be available. “Why didn’t he say so in the first place?” Charters asks, though the innkeeper did announce it 4x in different tongues. Boris smiles when they stand and they seem to think they’ll get some sort of preferential treatment now, but… nope. The ladies have arrived.

 

The ladies and the innkeeper know each other well enough to tease and taunt each other. They have a room ready and waiting for them, unlike the others.

 

“It’s a bad wind that blows nowhere no good,” the innkeeper says… and we may recall the wind blowing the door shut on the older woman.

 

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 

 

Caldicott and Charters will help keep the mood light with their lighthearted banter. They will also keep us on our toes as they notice and comment on certain aspects providing alternate interpretations of events taking place. That gives us something to think about and pay attention to. Their commentary and observances are just a little askew, though they both seem to think they are quite right about everything. They also appear to be a moral compass. Standing for (what you think is) the national anthem is the right thing to do, even if you’re the only ones doing it, etc.

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

 

The entrance of the ladies standing in the doorway appears to be the bright moment of the Boris’ day. He has been dealing with the hassle of the avalanche (phone/desk work) and crowd of people… and then he sees the ladies (seemingly old friends/buddies) and is instantly relieved and relaxed.

 

Iris does most of the talking and shakes Boris’ hand first, showing that she is the “leader” of her girl group. She also walks beside him while the other two ladies fall back, looking around, not participating in the conversation (but we are). The camera walks with them, sweeping through the room until they stop at the stairs, where Iris is on a step higher than the other gals. There is also more light on her face that draws your eye to her… and then she leads everyone up the stairs.

 

Everyone else in the room stands back, confused and dismayed not to be taken care of just as well as Iris, after having been waiting in the lobby for so long.

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3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. [/b][/font][/size]

 

The entrance of the ladies standing in the doorway appears to be the bright moment of the Boris’ day. He has been dealing with the hassle of the avalanche (phone/desk work) and crowd of people… and then he sees the ladies (seemingly old friends/buddies) and is instantly relieved and relaxed.

 

Iris does most of the talking and shakes Boris’ hand first, showing that she is the “leader” of her girl group. She also walks beside him while the other two ladies fall back, looking around, not participating in the conversation (but we are). The camera walks with them, sweeping through the room until they stop at the stairs, where Iris is on a step higher than the other gals. There is also more light on her face that draws your eye to her… and then she leads everyone up the stairs.

 

Everyone else in the room stands back, confused and dismayed not to be taken care of just as well as Iris, after having been waiting in the lobby for so long.

Great answer!

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The Lady Vanishes, Alfred Hitchcock's comedy-thriller, came at the end of his British period; this film's success brought Hitchcock to the attention of Hollywood. He would complete only one other British production, Jamaica Inn, before crossing the Atlantic to working for David O. Selznick on Rebecca. The film concerns the young Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood), heading home on a train after spending the holidays in the Balkans. Iris becomes friends with a kindly old lady, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) after Iris gets hit in the head with a flowerpot meant for Miss Froy. On the train, recovering from the blow, Iris falls asleep. When she awakens, Miss Froy has vanished, replaced by someone else in Miss Froy's clothing. Iris talks to the other passengers, a bizarre collection of eccentrics who think that Iris is crazy for insisting on there even being a Miss Froy -- everyone denies having ever seen the old woman. Finally, Iris finds a young musician, Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), who believes her and the two proceed to search the train for clues to Miss Froy's disappearance.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.

 

The music that opens the sequence is light and amusing: a waltz, which subtly suggests a European flavor (Vienna, Bohemia, Austria), and has a slight similarity to a cuckoo call. There are several ideas shown. There is a bit of chaos, as everyone scrambles to register and the harried hotel manager deals with the train being delayed. The cuckoo clock 'announces' the situation with it's tiny fanfare. There is the idea of many characters from many places - the hotel manager has to shout out instructions in several languages. Many different people brought together in one small space, which will later be the train.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.

 

First they add humor, as their banter is quite funny. They are Anglo-centric - with them everything revolves around England: When the manager finally speaks in English, they respond 'Why the deuce didn't he say that in the first place" showing either their ignorance (not realizing the manager WAS saying that all along in different languages) or their prejudice (English should have been firs) or a little of both. The way they comment about other countries - "3rd rate country", "America and the almighty dollar", "Hungarian Rhapsody not their national anthem" - shows how they feel.

 

The way they move together, for instance when passed over for the three women they look at each other and back in perfect synchronization, makes them seem as a single unit. They belong together.

 

Being Anglo-centric in a film made in England primarily for English audiences, their commentary is a gentle way at poking fun at themselves (the English people), similar to the way the American tourists appear in the film 'If it's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium'. One also thinks of the character Basil Fawlty in 'Fawlty Towers', who's attitudes and side comments are made fun of.

 

They also help establish a humorous tone to lighten the film.

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.

 

Their importance is established by the hotel manager ignoring the other guests to personally greet them at the door. Hitch has a scene at the door with the four of them. He then switches to another area, and has a second scene, but this time the sound of the crowd is much lower so it's as if they were all alone. Only faint mumbling in ambient sound is heard in the background of the scene. Finally Hitch has the manager escort them up the stairs to their rooms. From the moment they enter, the manager follows them til the moment they leave the scene. This establishes their importance. Iris also gets a two-shot dialogue with the manager.

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http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/user/75407-jamesrspencer/

The Lady Vanishes is my favorite. As a musicologist and professor myself, I feel this is the first Hitchcock music where see music helping to set up the tone of the movie. There are a lot of inside jokes in this movie and many that the general public might not catch they are and underlining commentary to Hitchcock's view of the world and filmmaking between European and American studies.

 

Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 

 

From the start the hotel is loud, busy and crowded.  It sets the mood and tone that this film with be full of characters and quick.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 

 

They add a bit of normal in the busy scene.  

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

 

When she arrives there is a lot of focus on her and shown in every scene. 

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Of the British thriller sextet,  The Lady Vanishes is my favorite.  As a musicologist and professor myself, I feel this is the first Hitchcock music where see music helping to set up the tone of the movie.  There are a lot of inside jokes in this movie and many that the general public might not catch they are and underlining commentary to Hitchcock's view of the world and filmmaking between European and American studies.

  

 

This book might appeal:

 

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Sound and performance are integral to establishing a light-hearted tone for this scene. The folksy music that underscores the scene is light and bouncy, which adds to the comic effect of the little vignettes that play out before the manager's announcement of the avalanche. Little old ladies who seemingly bumble their way through life are inherently amusing, as are large men carrying large props in fictional ethnic dress loudly arguing in a fictional ethnic language. Similarly, the manager's overacting of his exasperation when he receives the phone call adds to the comic tone. Finally, Caldicott and Charters's ridiculous banter that is only tangentially related to the scene at hand adds the finishing touch.

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1. Hitchcock opens the film The Lady Vanishes on a light-hearted note. There are comedic touches everywhere: the desk clerk's polyglot of languages ( I'm not even certain all of them were true languages), the overly loud and long cuckoo clock, the witty banter of the young women, and the wonderful dialogue of Caldicott and Charters. The music is flutes gaily playing a dance like tune. The music is reminiscent of Austrian/German style music to perhaps help establish that Banderieka is a country located in that part of Europe. The mood is definitely fun and light. 

On a side note, I wonder if Hitchcock was making a statement about the self-centeredness of some British (and American) travelers? After the desk clerk gives out information about the train and registering for rooms in several different languages and then, lastly, in English, Caldicott and Charters wonder why he just didn't say that in the first place. They also assume he is coming to speak to them before the others already at the desk (he is actually going to greet the young women). Finally, their utter amazement that the gentleman they ask about the train to England doesn't speak English. The young women also contribute to this feeling of entitlement by having no qualms about taking the desk clerk's entire attention while so many others are waiting.

2. Caldicott and Charters are wonderful! They are my favorite part of this scene by far! I especially like the exchange about the national anthem. "It's always been my contention that the Hungarian Rhapsody is not their national anthem. In any case we were the only ones standing." I had to watch that part twice, and I giggled both times.

3. Hitchcock establishes Iris as the main character beginning with the desk clerk's total focus on her from the moment the young women walk into the lobby, even ignoring the many other people already at the front desk. The camera follows Iris from the moment she enters the lobby until she walks up the stairs. She is first framed in the doorway, then in the arch of the stairs. Iris does most of the talking for the young women. Iris also has the most witty dialogue with the desk clerk. She is the one who orders the food and champagne. It is Iris who is obviously the leader of the little group of young woman. 

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The three girls were pretty hot. Why am I not being wowed by these Hitchcock openings? Part of the problem is I can't hear what characters are saying. I'm not getting the jokes, either. "We were the only ones standing." Okay, that's kind of funny, but is it a groundbreaking line in a movie? Not too sure about that. Some of the other openings of the films have left me scratching my head, too. I'm straining to hear and understand what the characters are saying. Maybe I should just look at the photography. 

 

The compositions are always nice, and the black and white photography is appealing. Again, the filming of the hotel scene is very tight. You feel as if you are one of the stranded passengers. I can almost smell the cigarette smoke on Stan Oliver's jacket. Why doesn't anyone object when the hot chicks go right upstairs to their room? There'd be a riot nowadays.

 

The oddest thing I've seen in these openings is the big smile from Peter Lorre in, 'TMWKTM.' That was scary.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.  The tone set by the music is lighthearted punctuated by the cuckoo clock.  The music sounds a bit like the intro music to Laurel and Hardy movies.  I call this type of music "hijinks about to occur."  But on a second view of this scene the cuckoo clock ends with what sounds lke a bugle 

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.  They are very proper englishmen who cannot abide "bad form."  They have a short dialog about the looming threat of war. They discuss the national anthem of Hungary and that none of the Hungarians stood. 

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.  Iris is well known by the innkeeper and she is accompanied by an entourage. The blocking takes her to the top of the stairs. She is literally above the other characters. 

 

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Having never actually seen The Lady Vanishes, I was very surprised by the way the Hitchcock opens this film. Rather than the traditional way a Hitchcock film might look, this film resembles an MGM comedy from the same time period for me. The music, as stated in the outline, is very folksy and lures the audience into what I assume will be a false sense of security. The movements in the first couple of moments of the scene are reminiscent of a silent film; the acting is slightly exaggerated and there is hardly any diagetic (or in scene) sound until the two men come in from outside. 

 

In keeping with this idea that this resembles an MGM film of the period, as soon as the three girls came into the shot, Iris reminded me of Norma Sherer for some reason. Whereas her companions are both platinum blonde, Iris is brunette (an interesting choice), and we are automatically drawn to the contrast. Additionally, she is always ahead of the blondes, or being surrounded by them in a frame. 

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