Dr. Rich Edwards

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

198 posts in this topic

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 is light hearted and not very serious though the matter at hand could be as delays can be bothersome. Hitchcock avoids being drowned in the tension of the train delay by using the music, the wit of the other characters and the lack of dialogue given to the extras in the scene. 

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

They help to set the tone that Iris is far more important than they are to the movie.  They give the crowd's reaction to the clerk and the reaction to the delay of the train.  Lastly, they give us the first English speakers before the women walk in to the inn which connects them to the women even before anything has happened. 

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. 

At first you think the clerk is headed to Caldecott and Charters but the camera follows the clerk to the three women with Iris in the lead. She gets the main dialogue and all the snappy come backs. The camera also shows her face full on while the other two girls are side profiles. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 conveys a seemingly light mood.  Despite the delay with the train and its inherent inconveniences, most of the passengers--excepting Caldicott, Charters, and Iris--seem to take it in stride.  The music does not suggest a sense of urgency or impending dread or doom caused by the delay.  I have commented in previous posts about music and effect in films, most notably Bernard Rose's thoughts on horror directors "telling" the viewers to be scared with strident music.  And I certainly don't mean to contradict myself, considering Hitchcock's use of Bernard Hermann's scores--most famously in the shower scene in Psycho--but I would theorize perhaps that Hitchcock is using the light folk music in this opening scene as a counterpoint to the suspense later in the film.  This is, after all, one of the films in the "sextet."  Also, it seems that the points that Phillips considers to be the components of Hitchcock's "touch" are present in this film already.  These people are travelers stranded at an inn, everymen, people we can identify with.  Perhaps these average people will be thrust into a dangerous situation when and where they least expect it, being forced to rely upon their only wiles.  Not having seen the entire film yet, this is speculation, but which of these characters, if any, will ultimately be thrown into the suspense of the film? My guess is at least Caldicott and Charters, because of the close-ups and extended discussion of needing to get to London (a McGuffin?)  And it also seems that Iris will play a larger role later as well.

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

The performances of Caldicott and Charters--as well as their reactions prior to their dialogue--suggest that they are important players, or at least seem to think they are important.  We see this when the inn keeper walks towards the door to greet the women and the men seem to think he recognizes them and is coming to greet them.  They look insulted once he walks past them.  Again, even though they are discussing the necessity to leave as soon as possible, their conversation is light, almost comical, with their speculating on the women's nationality and reasons why, and their argument about the Hungarian "National Anthem."  Is this light, jovial scene setting us up for their involvement in the actions on the train, another counterpoint on Hitchcock's part?

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. 

As soon as the three ladies enter, all attention is focused on them, prompted primarily by Boris, the inn keeper, now ignoring everyone else.  In fact Charters even comments on that.  We see that they know each other and have visited before, and that Boris will do anything to accommodate them.  Iris has a sense of self-importance, as seen in her comments to Boris--noting that he probably has not changed the sheets and correcting his pronunciation of the word avalanche.  Also, Iris is usually in the center of the camera shot when she is seen with her companions and Boris.  Furthermore, we see Boris from more of a profile/back view, whereas we can see Iris' face more clearly.  Also as the women walk up the stairs, she is telling Boris what they want in their room, not asking.  This suggests that she has the upper hand and some sense of importance in the film.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 lighthearted folk music certainly ushers in a certain lilt to the scene, as does the bugler in the cuckoo clock, and the exaggerated accent of the hotel owner.  Along with the light-hearted chatter of the travelers, the scene depicted is one of comradery and adventure on a Bavarian mountaintop.  Again, Hitchcock opens the scene without ominous sound, and viewers do not see that anything is yet at stake . . . a real departure from the earlier films we viewed last week.

 

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

 

The bantering between Caldicott and Charters is quick and witty, which reminds me of Nick and Nora kibitzing in The Thin Man films.  If you don’t pay close attention, you will miss the dry humor: the men surmise that the women are not just Americans but “almighty dollar Americans.”  And Caldicott asserts that it has “always been [his] belief that the Hungarian Rhapsody is not their national anthem.”  This is funny stuff.

 

Hitchcock firmly establishes himself in the comedic realm here, heavily influenced by the snappy (and at times sappy) dialogue of Hollywood films of the time.

 

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. 

 

Dialogue: the pacing—again, quick and easy banter (the sheets comment was great) and Iris directing the girls to get on toward their room demonstrates her central role within the triumvirate of dancers.  Additionally, her alarm at the avalanche affecting her travel and the hotelier’s immediate concern as she corrects his pronunciation all differentiate her, as does her hair color.  Amazingly, she’s brunette!

 

Camera movement: The POV of C & C as the hotelier approaches and then moves away is brilliant and furthers the comedic aspect of the film.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daily Dose #8

Daily Dose #8: Cooling Our Heels

Opening Scene from The Lady Vanishes (1938)

 

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. 

 

When I watched this scene for the first time, it quite reminded me to the mood of the opening scenes from The Pleasure Garden and Champagne, they all feell really playful and high-spirited and I think that it is gotten specially by the music (It sounded like a theatrical comedy to me in this case). The vanish lady introduction scene gives the inn reception a peculiar air which is maximized by the particular behavior of the old woman who appears and the hotel manager, even the rest of the people who is seated with a serious expression are imprinted with that atmosphere seeming funny to the spectator (I think that the contradiction works here really well). At the moment the two workers entered inmediately after the old lady exits pushing Caldicott a little bit, the tone reaches one of his highest points in the scene with the sound disturb caused by the loud voices of the two german speakers (I think that is the language, but I am not sure), the Cuckoo clock and the hotel manager trying to speak and listen to the phone is marvellous. The announcement of the train accident in different languages, the confussion of the people when the women get in and are attended before and the final conversation between Caldicott and Charters rounds amazingly the spirit of this scene.

 

In terms of the thechnical aspects, I would say that the camera movements (travelings and pans used sometimes one after the other) as well as the pace of the edition join very well with the music and situations presented creating dynamism. The wide shots of the reception also shows how at some moments (like when the men enter or the hotel manager speaks)  different reactions and situations are happening at the same time.

 

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

 

Since the first time I saw both characters, they seemed quirky to me and clumsy, especially when they opened the door to the old lad. The way how they are ignored by the hotel manager is very funny. In my opinion, they sort of represent the audience who like them does not understand what is going on (what the hotel manager is saying when he speaks other languages, why the women are attended first or what Bandrieka is about in general), so in some way, their confussion is ours too. However, after the women go upstairs, their conversation which includes a curious anecdote with an anthem, their thoughts on the political future of England and (of course) the criquet obscures us. I would say that in the middle of all the situations that are happening together (the people is desperate to get a room, some of them do not understand the Bandrieka language or English) and the way how the narrative of the scene jumps from one little situation to the next, their performance is a kind of punch line of the comedic moment and clarifies the fact that we need to get used to the peculiarities of the characters as well as the constant wondering and just enjoy the weird details.  

 

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. 

 

As it is presented, I consider that even the black hair of Iris with his two light coloured hair friends makes her highlight from the very beginning. Besides, she leads the dialogue organizing, questioning or correcting the pronunciation of the hotel manager. The camera moves with her and specially when she is near to the staris, she is positioned near to a golden mean, so it catches our attention and she is the only one that in that moment remains in three quarters. In that way, we can see her better than to the others and confirm that she is important in the story as it is proposed by Hitchcock. Finally, the shot where we can see just her and the hotel manager talking restates this point. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the beginning of this excellent film, joyful music accompanies as background music scene in the lobby of the hotel, as in a silent film we see the Concierge, the emergence and Miss Froy output, two Englishmen, and the set of guests waiting.  This calm and idyllic scene is upsets with the arrival of skiers, here sound mark the beginning of the chaos, and the announcement of the delay of the train. Again we see how, without dialogues, pictures and sound give us account of the situation. The arrival of Iris is shocking, especially because the camera records the change in attitude of the Concierge. It is without doubt the star of the film, and she "makes" star. This can be seen when she climbs ladder, Iris forward and her two blonde friends as Entourage. Also note its range when it corrected the pronunciation of the man in the hotel ("Avalanche"). Regarding Caldicot and Charters, they provide the dose of humor, and intimate, in this scene, also his later prominence.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After watching this clip several times, I am struck by these things.

 

The scene is like watching a stage play.  The music, the character interaction, blocking, movement, etc. reminded of a stage play instead of a movie set.

 

Additionally, the movement of everyone at the beginning of the scene looked more like choreography and moving in rhythm to the music.  It was almost like watching a ballet or synchronized swimming.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Though a somewhat grave situation for the travelers, being stranded and all, the tone the mood, becomes rather uplifting and lighthearted by the music and these select characters, and that clock.

2.  The characters of Caldicott and Charters are the comedic relief here.  They're like dipping heavy cream into black coffee, it immediately lightens the load.  And this is how these two add to this scene; they're like that "teaspoon of sugar that makes the medicine go down", to this situation, this scene.

3.  I think in this scene Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement and the placement of the characters in the frame by (a) the innkeeper brushing the two men off and running to them, establishing the girls have been there before through the star's dialogue, the star leading the way, all throughout the moving along while in conversation with the innkeeper, and always in front of the other two women and as they exit the staircase.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. It opens with lighthearted music and a room full of travelers waiting for the train. They're preoccupied with reading, small talk or what can perceived as boredom from a few. Dame May Witty comes bursting into the room up to the desk. There is a brief conversation while she purchases her ticket. Up until now there has been no sound other than the music. As she starts to leave a gust of wind blows open the door and in rushes in 2 porters with luggage speaking Italian and German. The clock sounds and the desk clerk speaks Italian, Frenchm German and finally English telling the travelers the train is delayed and to get rooms. The 3 American women come in and from that point on the desk clerk only has time for them and not the others in the group.

 

2. Caldicott and Charters are the comic relief of the scene. At first they have know clue to what the desk clerk is saying until it's in English. Then they were a bit put out of the 3 Americans for getting all the attention instead of them. There is a slight air of snugness but in a funny way.

 

3. The camera focuses on the women and not the rest of the crowd like with Dame Witty entered. Iris is a step or two in front of the others while they talk to the desk clerk. And she is also leading the conversation. Once they reach the stairs Iris is then ahead of all 3 ordering dinner and champagne to the room. The camera then pans back to the rest of the crowd to record their reaction.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 underscoring the opening scene is practically a character itself. As the camera pans the lobby of the inn, the music dominates. The music immediately brought to mind the light-hearted scoring of Disney cartoons of the period, where you might expect to see flowers and trees dancing, birds whistling--specifically, the music at 2:22 in this "Silly Symphony" cartoon:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=disney+flowers+and+trees&view=detail&mid=CB841AC44E6D29DAD9F0CB841AC44E6D29DAD9F0&FORM=VIRE

The scoring seems to transmit that the characters are going to be---what?--cartoonish? That the plot, or something about this movie, is going to get kind of "nutsy," "cuckoo"? And it almost immediately does: the inn manager trying to keep the peace by speaking in various languages to different groups of stranded train passengers.

Perhaps to put a cherry on the cake, Hitchcock throws in a tight shot of an actual cuckoo clock, the sudden appearance of which made me laugh out loud. Instead of a bird announcing the quarter-hour, it's a bugler, playing something that sounds suspiciously like the beginning of a race.
This is appropriate because the cacophony of sights and sounds in this first scene seems to be saying, "We're off to the races!" Of course, the seated, stranded travelers belie that impression: stranded due to an avalanche, they're not going anywhere. This is a great example of Hitchcock allowing the mise-en-scene of that opening pan to say one thing while the musical scoring says something else altogether. On the other hand, the almost embalmed look to the seated travelers in the background makes the chaos in the foreground even funnier.

Why is this film not considered a "screwball comedy"? The scenes we saw in the professors'  lecture video sure made it LOOK like one. And, at least in the opening sequence, the music makes it SOUND like one.


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

I gather these two guys are going to provide running commentary throughout the film. Right in this first scene, they get framed in two-shots, sort of a male/male version of Burns and Allen. From their "No, thank you. We're British!" perspective, they speculate on who Margaret Lockwood and her two female friends are; whether Lockwood is American; how they were the only ones who stood at a cricket match for what one of them erroneously thought was Hungary's national anthem. They seem to be a sort of snooty British "Greek chorus" that will comment not only on the action in the movie, but about any damn thing they want to--especially cricket. I got the sense that Hitchcock planted them early on to make the audience hope for, and anticipate, their subsequent appearances.
 

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.

​Star entrance, indeed. Upon the breezy entrance of Margaret Lockwood/"Iris" and her friends, the inn manager immediately drops everything and rushes to them, even before they can shut the door. Dialogue reveals the women are returning and already have a rapport with the manager. Lockwood is already on a first-name basis with "Boris." She's framed in a two-shot with him on the stairs. In a brief chat, we learn she wants to leave tomorrow. Then as she climbs the stairs, followed by the camera all the way, she tells Boris to serve them a meal in their room and to bring a "magnum of champagne." Already, she's the only character we're given any information about. She's going to be at the center of the movie.  

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the moment Iris enters she is the center of attention. The camera is on her and her friends, follows them and the manager. All discussion is about them, their needs, their room, and Iris needing to return home. The medium shot of the three Americans and the manager, follows them from the door to the part way up the stairs. Iris is doing most of the talking and you know she is the main lead.

 

Caldicott and Charters are the comedic commentators, like a chorus in a Greek Tragedy. The provide commentary on the women, Americans, all might dollar, and the politics of the times, Britain on the edge, problems with train connections because of that. And do you stand for another countries anthem. Finally, the British/American problem that foreigners do not speak English.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Caldicott and Charters are established early on as what I would consider the comic relief for the picture in a very obvious way. The fact that they are commenting on everything is a way to get us involved and interested in the picture. I would compare them to the comedy teams of the 1950s more or less. 

 

Iris is shown as the star of the picture immediately by the way that the hotel manager first drops everything to go and greet her and her American friends. Also by the way that Iris is shot; the focus is completely on her every step of the way. Then we see a close up of her and the manager on the stairs before the camera continues to follow her up the stairs with the manager. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He uses folk music to establish a cottage homely atmosphere, a cuckoo clock sounds a horn that maybe not all is cozy(maybe for a laugh, but I didn't see it that way). The scene is busy to bring interest, as one watches any commotion that occurs.

 

They bring a fun and British take to the scene. They are comic but also serve as the british point of view, their banter is our window into a typical tourist on a vacation

 

You see the innkeeper run to Iris, giving you the impression of VIP entrance, he does a closeup as a personal touch as well, indicating more attention to her vs the girls.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The opening scene appears cheerful with passengers waiting at a hotel. The amusing folk music adds to the atmosphere as we see a lady approach a desk where the clerk is talking a phone. Despite his chatter he smiles and acknowledges her at the desk before she leaves.

 

The attitude changes when the burly boisterous men with luggage enter as the cuckoo clock sounds, symbolizing chaos breaking out.

 

Caldicott and Chambers are annoyed at the foreign languages spoken by the clerk, especially when he speaks in English last. (could be the British empire effect) They are also annoyed when the clerk avoids them and heads over to the glamorous Iris and her companions (he clearly has a soft spot for beautiful women, especially Americans). Their dialogue shows us that they are going to be the comedy relief of the film.

 

The camera pans over the entire lobby to show a large group of people, waiting for something, but what? We only find out when the clerk makes his announcement in multiple languages.

The clerk leads Iris and her companions past everybody to show they have priority over everyone else in the film and that Iris will be one of the principal characters in the story.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

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

 

The tone of the film is light-hearted and comic, reminiscent of a screwball comedy of the era. The atmosphere is bright and cheery, since the employees of the hotel are frantically trying to get all the tourists signed up for the hotel, since the train is blocked off by the avalanche. The music is also very light and cheery, giving us that cultural aspect of the country.

 

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

 

The characters of ​Caldicott and Charters provide the caricature of the upper-level British society that do not favor in accepting the customs of foreign language ceremonies or understanding their culture at all. But they often provide the humorous moments of droll British humor that is both dry and witty. They are often the type of people that have an undercurrent of knowing what upperclassmen of their stature had to endure during this time period.

 

3. From the doorway entrance to the stairway 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 sets up the sequence by letting the camera move in on the characters sitting on the bench and chairs and the conversation between the characters in this sequence. There's the antics, the employees dropping the luggage, causing a huge frenzy that surround the guests of the hotel. As all the characters are huddled together to register for their rooms in the hotel. Iris and two other girls are placed in the middle of the doorframe and are then escorted to their rooms upstairs with their lively chatter of how long will it take to get all the snow cleared for the next train to go home.  

Edited by BLACHEFAN
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Lady Vanishes is one of my favourite films of Hitchcock, literally everything works here, the rhythm is perfect, the way he conducts the suspense throughout the movie is maestral, you really sympathize with its characters and the whole plot, and above all, it is really fun to watch, every single scene is amazing.

From the beggining we can already easily feel the light-hearted atmosphere of the film, due to the soundtrack and the fun charaters and lines, and the situation itself is amusing. The secondary characters that gain most attention, not just in this scene but during the whole movie, is definetely Caldicott and Charles. They are funny and the homosexual undertones in this picture is very strong, which is so interesting since this is a movie from the 30s. Interesting also is the way Hitchcock gives the focus to the lead female character, the way the camera along with Boris follows her, leaving the other characters completely behind to the point they feel unimportant, until she's positioned on the top of the stairs, while the others remain below her. Also while her requests are promptly attended, the other can't even get a room or someting to eat, as seen later.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The music in the opening scene makes the viewer feel as if it's a typical, sunny day at the inn, until the two men enter and the mood starts to change.  The clock sounds its horn, as if to announce that important news was forthcoming, as we see the desk clerk frantically taking a call.  We hear that a train has been delayed, which starts the commotion.

 

Caldicott and Charters were there to add their observations for the viewers, and they had a comedic flair about them.  In noting the importance of music in this clip, we learn that the reason they (C & C) have missed their train was that one of them insisted on staying longer at their last venue while the national anthem was played (although it was actually not the national anthem!).  So, it was a rather ironic reason that they landed in that lobby in the first place.

 

The desk clerk's immediate attention to the three woman gave them star value.  When the focus cuts to Iris, we get the idea she is the main attraction.  Caldicott and Charters clearly thought the desk clerk was on his way to greet them, and then realized they were chopped liver in the presence of these women (as were the others).  The entire lobby was watching the exchange going up the stairs, as they asked for food and Champagne, making it seem even more of a "performance" by Iris and the girls.  

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

 

.

Though not considered one of Hitchcock’s best, it has always been one of my favorites, along with the rest of his sextet.

 

 

Hitchcock opens with an establishing tracking shot across what looks like a “train set,” beside the snowed-in train. He continues to track across the outdoor village, while the camera slowly zooms in on our lodge.

 

 

As everyone notices, the opening scene is another on of people crowded in the lobby of a lodge in some Nordic country. Once again, we open with a crowd. The festive folk music begins playing as we enter the lodge. We see Miss Froy pay her bill, as certain people in the lobby watch her keenly, which adds a slightly darker tone to the scene. She leaves the Lodge, into the blizzard. We wonder why? The music abruptly stops as chaos strikes a higher note as the skier disrupts the Lobby with his oversized skis, luggage and loud chatter in a Northern European language.

 

As what would normally be a coo-coo, a soldier jumps out of the clock an plays a military call to announce the hour. At that moment Boris, the hotel manager, informs the people they are stuck there for the night. I noticed he informs the English speaking people last so it appears all the decent rooms are taken. This is when we get a good glimpse of our stuffy British gay-ish couple who begin their escalating hoofing and puffing.

 

Then from behind his counter Boris excitedly sees someone off camera, and rushes to greet them. The two men believe for an instant he is coming to them but instead greets the three American women. They exchange brisk one-liners as we track them across the room to the staircase, order dinner and champagne. Iris is established as the lead by the camera angles and she is the leader of the pack and most probably our female lead.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Oh these two stuffy English blokes are delightful, clichés unto themselves. They are pretty much interchangeable. They are this film’s comic relief. All they are concerned with is getting to see the Manchester cricket match. Even when Coldicott (I believe) brings up the possibility of the war, the other brushes it off as “sensationalism.” They exude British upper-class superiority. They argue about whether Hungarian Rhapsody is the country’s National Anthem, which played for 20 minutes, while they stood alone to show respect. Amid the turmoil they remain concerned if they will get to the match on time. It's hilarious.

 

 

 

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 women enter as they are movie stars; as if they own the place. Then exchange brisk one-liners with Boris with whom they are on a first name basis. He would bend over backwards to please these women and we assume it's because their wallets are full. This nonchalance continues as we track them across the room to the staircase. Iris is established as the star by the camera angles. Our eyes are also fixed on her because the other two women seem drab beside her dark hair. She is the leader of the pack as she walks alone with Boris and then at the staircase she shares a two shot with him and corrects his pronunciation with the French avalanche Even though her dialect is not quite right it establishes her condescending attitude. Even though just off camera, Iris is the one to order chicken and champagne for dinner for the group.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

 

Though not considered one of Hitchcock’s best, it has always been one of my favorites, along with the rest of his sextet.

 

 

Hitchcock opens with an establishing tracking shot across what looks like a “train set,” beside the snowed-in train. He continues to track across the outdoor village, while the camera slowly zooms in on our lodge.

 

 

As everyone notices, the opening scene is another on of people crowded in the lobby of a lodge in some Nordic country. Once again, we open with a crowd. The festive folk music begins playing as we enter the lodge. We see Miss Froy pay her bill, as certain people in the lobby watch her keenly. She leaves the Lodge, into the blizzard. We wonder why? The music abruptly stops as chaos strikes a higher note when the skier disrupts the Lobby with his oversized skis, luggage and loud chatter in a Northern European language.

 

As what would normally be a coo-coo, a soldier jumps out of the clock an plays a military call to announce the hour. At that moment Boris, the hotel manager, informs the people they are stuck there for the night. I noticed he informs the English speaking people last so it appears all the decent rooms are taken. This is when we get a good glimpse of our stuffy British gay-ish couple who begin their escalating hoofing and puffing.

 

Then from behind his counter Boris excitedly sees someone off camera, and rushes to greet them. The two men believe for an instant he is coming to them but instead greets the three American women. They exchange brisk one-liners as we track them across the room to the staircase, order dinner and champagne. Iris is established as the lead by the camera angles and she is the leader of the pack and most probably our female lead.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Oh these two stuffy English blokes are delightful, clichés unto themselves. They are pretty much interchangeable. They are this film’s comic relief. All they are concerned with is getting to see the Manchester cricket match. Even when Coldicott (I believe) brings up the possibility of the war, the other brushes it off as “sensationalism.” They exude British upper-class superiority. They argue about whether Hungarian Rhapsody is the country’s National Anthem, which played for 20 minutes, while they stood alone to show respect. Amid the turmoil they remain concerned if they will get to the match on time. It's hilarious.

 

 

 

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 women enter as if they are movie stars; as if they own the place. Then exchange brisk one-liners with Boris with whom they are on a first name basis. He would bend over backwards to please these women and we assume it's because their wallets are full. This nonchalance continues as we track them across the room to the staircase. Iris is established as the star by the camera angles. Our eyes are also fixed on her because the other two women seem drab beside her dark hair. She is the leader of the pack as she walks alone with Boris and then at the staircase she shares a two shot with him and corrects his pronunciation with the French avalanche Even though her dialect is not quite right it establishes her condescending attitude. Even though just off camera, Iris is the one to order chicken and champagne for dinner for the group.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  The chaotic and light-hearted opening in this scene reminds me of a manic "Marx Brothers" film along with the fictitious country reference. The chaos is soon smoothed over by the cuckoo clock announcement of the entrance of the three American women amongst the patiently resigned and silent group of travelers waiting for the train. The brunette is the dominant character as opposed to the blondes in her wake, she does the talking and ordering and is positioned away from the other two. She is the first up the stairs and shows us a take charge type of personality. Her name is Iris or what can be thought of as the eye of the camera or conduit to Hitchcock's sharp visual attention, the focused eye. The deference reeled to this group and to Iris in particular by the innkeeper is contrasted by the whimsical outrage shown by the two observant English gentlemen who may reflect a growing change of priorities in England to world events at the time. They are aware and conscious of the actions of the attention grabbing Americans and the general plight of the travel. They are aware of mistakes they made with the "anthem." This quaint, chalet scene and the recitation of the many languages by the innkeeper hints at Mr. Hitchcock including European folk culture into his film for possible importance to the story. Interesting to note that the old woman comes into the scene abruptly and quickly leaves and disappears into a literal whirlwind or windy vortex, a MacGuffin figure?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 


Without question, the tone is lighthearted, fun - and funny, especially due to the hotel desk clerk's reaction to the croweded lobby and the comments by Caldicott and Charters who can only seem to focus on cricket! The delightful folk tune is the element that grabs the filmgoer's attention initially - very unlike previous Hitchcock films in which a mood of foreboding is the element that pulls the audience into the story.


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


As mentioned previously in question 1, the delivery of their lines and their complete self-absorption (in themselves and, of course, cricket!) adds to the lighthearted chaos of the crowded lobby and establishes the fact that a variety of individuals with different attitudes and personalities are all trying to catch the train.


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 the remarks and movement of the desk clerk across the lobby to greet Iris and her friends upon their arrival. You know that these are people of some import (off screen and on) that, at least in the clerk's opinion, render them worthy of "special treatment" -- since they aren't the only guests who will need rooms that night!


 


  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) The music in the opening scene from The Lady Vanishes paints the inn in a warm and friendly light. The music is cheery, laid back, and somewhat soothing. Until the clock starts making a sound like a horn which seems to showcase events upcoming--important events. In my opinion it sounded almost like a call for battle, or intensity to come in which our heroes may be fired upon. The desk clerk then becomes engrossed in business over the phone, and leading a group of women upstairs. News of the train being delayed is delivered and the commotion from most parties arrives in the wake of the late train. 

 

2) Caldicott and Charters are the comic relief from the very beginning of the film. Through their mannerisms, unique perspectives (sharing a bed, and their sly dialogue), etc. Their views are simple minded and they can't move past the impending cricket match, and the danger that they become affiliated with later on is a close second concern speaking (what remains important though however is if they can still make the match on time. They believe they can while realistically speaking that is a different story. 

 

3) The women are hugely important. Their entrance is extravagant and demanding attention. They know the clerk by his name and start talking with Boris openly, and the other guests are just staring at the women, and Boris who seems like he would do anything possible for the women to make their stay enjoyable. Iris is focused upon through Hitchcock's camera angles. Iris has dark hair which makes her stand out amongst the other less attractive people. She then separates herself from the others as she exchanges private words with Boris in which we learn about the train, and the avalanche. Iris then proceeds to correct Boris's pronunciation of the word avalanche. After Boris accepts the corrections she proceeds to take charge and order the meal for herself and her other woman companions. 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The opening scene of the film is bright and cheerful, and the music underscores the lighthearted atmosphere. Sometimes it adds to the comedic tone, such as when the cuckoo clock with the soldier instead of a cuckoo starts playing its kind of boisterous tune, causing the clerk to hold his head as he is trying to talk on the phone. The folk melody also lets the audience know that the scene is not taking place in Great Britain.

 

Caldicott and Charters come across as a parody of upper class travelers who view the British way as the best way, and look down on the cultures and customs of other countries as being lacking in some way. (Unfortunately, this kind of thing is very much in existence today. When I've traveled to other countries on vacation, the attitudes and observations of some of my fellow travelers have made me squirm!) Caldicott and Chambers also provide running commentary and comic relief in the scene.

 

When Iris and her friends enter, the clerk immediately walks past all of the others to greet her, letting everyone know this is a VIP! The bantering seems lighthearted, but some of the comments made to him are rude (like his not even having the sheets changed), but he ignores those comments in a sort of subservient way and focuses only on what Iris is saying. The camera focuses on Iris as he accompanies the ladies up the steps, continuing to take in all of the instructions Iris is giving.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. Tone, mood and atmosphere are set by the music at the beginning of the scene.  When the music stops, the mood and atmosphere changes with the entrance of the men, the phone call and the talk with the patrons in the inn.


2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. Their performance appears to be minimal, but likely to have a greater impact and/or influence as the film progresses.


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. Generalized dialogue is shown as if the ladies had never left the inn.  Camera movement seems to mimic what would be the view of the patrons waiting to register for a room.  Iris is definitely established as the star by keeping her center screen, face forward and with a majority of the lines for the group.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. The opening scene shows a group of stranded travelers. While their situation might be inconvenient the music is light an airy. The look on their faces is more grim and disappointing which plays an opposite mood to the music. When issues with accommodations arise when the next train is further delayed, there is a bustle of activity. The constant strong wind blowing when the door opens makes it seem as if this is going to be a difficult journey.

 

2. Caldecott and Charters - These 2 characters are distinctly British with a slight air of incredulity about the situation. The refences to why they missed the other train. (Long national anthem) set them up as a comedic pair. It seems obvious that they are a homosexual couple and banter with each other like a married couple. They see the situation before them but drift in and out of their own little world. They stand there as observers with a certain sense of detachment.

 

3. Iris and her friends take over the entire scene as they enter. Even the innkeeper gravitates towards them, ignoring those people at the desk who are seeking accommodations. These young ladies seem totally oblivious to the entire standed party. They are absorbed with their own activities. Iris is the one with the dark hair...not blond like the 2 others. She dictates what she wants and the innkeeper seems to want to please her. Iris is the leader when the ladies go upstairs. She's the one asking for champagne, etc. As they ascend, the standed party are watching them like an audience at a show.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll just add another to the comments I've made previously about there being an unsettling feeling in this opening scene. There is much activity and banter, but underneath it all - holy crap! An avalanche?! People may have died, and everyone just dismisses it as bothersome and inconvenient!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us