Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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The tone and mood in The Lady Vanishes is almost jolly-like; the music seems to be coming from flutes or piccolos playing in a bouncy waltz-like tune making the viewer expect to see one of the characters to start dancing; in fact the older woman coming down the stairs is practically dancing.  This opening sets the viewer in a light happy mood prepared to laugh at the characters and the silly noisy antics that soon arise.

 

Caldicott and Charters add a bit of pure British snobby-ish character to the scene.  I think Hitchcock wanted to remind the viewer, that even though the opening had silly activities going on and that American women were coming into the scene, that we should not forget how particular the British can be with tradition.

 

Hitchcock lets us see the women as guests who are treated with priority and makes us feel they are very special; as we hear later that’s maybe because they are Americans.  Margaret appears to be star of the scene because of her early remark of visiting the inn last year and being the first one to show warmth and familiarity to the inn proprietor.  It’s very clever how Hitchcock keeps Margaret physically before the other two women and keeps her on a higher step as they stop to converse and then has her do the final food and champagne ordering having us feel that Margaret is also in charge of the visit.

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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. 


It is rather cheery and jolly, with the happy music.  The scene becomes a bit blustery as we learn that there has been an avalanche that has covered the train so that now all the waiting people in the hotel are stranded and must stay for the night.  So it doesn't seem ominous or suspensful at this point.


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 the silly and bumbling comedic relief.  


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. 


Well, for one thing, the concierge leaves the train-waiting people for Iris and the other two women.  He obviously is placing them higher on the guest list than the others.  You can tell that they are the stars.


 


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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 of the opening is light, and the music does most of the work in establishing the lightness. The bouncy tune makes us feel at ease and prepares us for comedy.

 

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

---They're almost like a Greek chorus, commenting on all they see around them and letting us in on the joke. I also really enjoyed their faces when the desk clerk brushed past them to open the door for the ladies. The reaction was priceless.

 

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.

---From her first appearance onscreen, Iris is the center of attention. She is in the center of the frame for most of the time she's in the room and even when Hitchcock cuts away to the assembled crowd, they are all looking at her, letting us know that we should be paying attention to who she is. The camera follows her in a tracking shot across the room and up the stairs with only two cuts once she enters. The dialogue about her food order gives me the sense that she is carefree--who cares about the avalanche? Let's have some champagne!

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Caldicott and Charters are so funny, but in that droll English way.  And Hitchcock has the joke unfold rather slowly.  We start out believing they really did stand up for the Hungarian national anthem.  But then we get to the punchline:  "I've always maintained that the Hungarian Rhapsody is not the Hungarian national anthem."  It's funny because in the context of the film it show how clueless some of the folks are -- and how understated the humor is.  The guy wanted to show his respect to another country, but he didn't even know their national anthem.  But even funnier, he didn't recognize the very famous Hungarian Rhapsody.  So he's not nearly as worldly as he tries to appear.  It just struck me as so dang funny -- and very Hitchcockian.  :rolleyes: 

 

Hearing the folk-like music in the intro lightens the mood significantly and creates a kind of stereotypical Bavarian type vibe.  And THAT too is musically not at all like the Hungarian Rhapsody.  Interesting to have two types of music referenced (in different ways) in that opening.  

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1)the music kind of reminds you of a short film like the little rascals.you can almost feel the frustration in the people seated.then the lady comes in smiling lifting the mood in the room a bit then the mood drops again and Hitchcock reenforces that frustrated mood with the two men talking loudly as the skis clatter and the clock chimes all at the same time.

 

2)The two men Caldicott and Charters are also frustrated but for their own reasons. One for missing the train then at each other because the one insisted on standing for the nation anthem then finding out it was 20 min long

 

3)When the 3 women come in we notice they all stay together and the camera focuses in on them from doorway to staircase and when the clerk come to greet them Margaret !ockwood is placed to the forefront and does most of talking dominating the conversation from doorway to staircase.

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Though the lobby is crowded, the people are comfortably waiting for their train.  The folk music playing has the rhythm of a second hand on a clock, and serves to keep the atmosphere cheery and calm.  But once the lady checks out and exits the lobby, the wind rushes in and thus begins the change of pace.  The ladies' baggage is hastily brought in as the bugler in the clock sounds a 'call to the races'. The film quickly turns into a mini-Marx brothers' scene as the clerk announces in various languages the delay of the train and an invitation to register at the hotel.  As the passengers crowd the desk, Caldicott and Charters are the last to understand the announcement, which is finally in English, and wonder why they didn't "say so in the first place".  As the star and her retinue enter with the wind the music ends, and the clerk heads towards them. Caldicott and Charters seemed rebuffed by the clerk for having walked right past them to the ladies.  They're in a foreign country, but are bewildered that others don't see their importance, nor have the good sense to speak English.  The ladies are given the royal treatment, which the pair of men attribute to the 'mighty American dollar'.  The clerk leads the ladies upstairs, explaining the avalanche has delayed their train, and makes a comment that will come to fruition during the film -"no good wind blows no where no good'.

 

Caldicott and Charters have a relationship like an old married couple, and I find Caldicott's offhand remark about having never thought that the Hungarian Rhapsody was the national anthem hilarious. Their standing to it, out of respect per Charters, led to them missing their train, landing them in this predicament.  Caldicott makes disparaging statements about this being a 3rd world country and newspaper sensationalism, and both men feel they've been treated as beneath their station. But their banter is wry and witty, and perhaps an excellent tension reliever as the film progresses.  They seem detached from everyone and everything, but this serves to lull the viewer into a sense that all is well.

 

Margaret Lockwood stands out as the star from her entrance into the hotel.  Her vividly checked coat slung over her shoulder draws your eyes to her.  Her ‘Hedy Lamarr’ good lucks, with her dark hair that stands out in B/W film, showcases her prominence.  The clerk only shakes her hand as he greets the ladies, and as they ascend the stairs, Margaret is the uppermost figure in the scene and is bathed in additional lighting.  She is the one making requests to the clerk on behalf of her party, and is the hostess for the group.  She is also catered to by the clerk, who is familiar with her and her friends as they have stayed at this hotel in the past.

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1.  The music is uplifting and has a lighthearted feel to it - almost peaceful.  Then the wind carries the door back and the two men come in carrying luggage of various sorts and the clerk on the phone in a sort frenzied conversation gives the scene a sort of zany comedic feel.

 

2.  Caldicott and Charters also add a comedic feel to the scene and throughout the movie as sort of a stand-up routine banter between them - and also, not unlike an old married couple.  At times they seem to be in their own little world - wrapped up in the cricket game they are fearful of missing - sort of oblivious to some of the things going on around them. 

 

3.  As Miss Froy enters the room from the staircase, the other characters in the room are all on the other side of the room - all eyes on Miss Froy who comes striding into the room, smile on her face, briskly walking up to the counter to speak to the hotel clerk.  The passengers on the other side of the room sit quietly - and quite unhappily as it seems.  Not much movement from the characters, aside from Miss Froy.   The passengers seem to be sitting in one big mass - Miss Froy occupies the other side of the room alone - except for the hotel clerk behind the counter.  The camera angle points directly to Miss Froy as she comes down the staircase - whereas the other characters of the scene are slightly to the left of the camera.  All of this emphasize on Miss Froy coming into the room establishes her as the main character of the scene.

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WELL WELL WELL… Now we're talking. I love the lady vanishes so much I will do many caps… I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie. I love the way Dr. Richards and Dr. Gehring discuss this movie. The most perfect word for this movie is DELIGHTFUL. I would say it's an unusual Hitchcock movie except for the opening. It starts with sweet whimsical music as we see the lady who will vanish. And as she walks out the door indeed she does vanish. But that's not what we are concentrating on. And then the scene turns into chaos as these people are unable to grab the next train. I have proven my Point that I can't put into words how special I find this movie. . Anyway, as we see the star enter the door she is a stand out in her beauty her dark hair the way she has her coat hanging off one shoulder. And the movement of the ladies if they go up the stairs and of course back-and-forth to the other characters it's just a frantic fun feel. And you're pretty much there the whole time. You will love this movie. Again PS what the hell my talking about.? Oh and the two men the two C characters are so much fun to Focus on. their banter and when I first saw this movie I thought they were the main characters but it was strange. Strange fun chaotic comedic brilliant… I love this movie.

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Hey folks you know how I said I love the lady vanishes? On my quiz against Dr. Richard Edwards I got the question wrong. ACCIDENTALLY I pushed the wrong answer. Also, I took the quiz and one of the questions was about the lady vanishes… You guessed it… I got it wrong. I need to take these quizzes during the day. Good night. But I am loving this course!

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Hitch sets up this film with a playful and lighthearted mood, with music, camera, and characters. Humor is used with the door opening and closing, the characters displaying idiosyncratic behaviors and discussions. The three women who enter allow us to focus on our lead heroine, as she is in front, is brunette, and has the most dialogue. We also get the exposition about the avalanche, as she corrects pronunciation. All of this playfulness, once again in a public setting, draws us in for what will become a suspenseful journey, with the Hitchcockian wit, misdirections, and slow introductions to the plot.

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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 light and breezy, but not cosmopolitan - folksy as mentioned in the lecture.   We don't know exactly where we are right now, but we know it's not in a city. Unlike other films, Hitch is allowing us to 'let down our guard' at the very beginning. The cuckoo clock is not the ordinary kind by any means.   With all the chaos going on in the room the clock seems to be 'calling in the troops!', or a courtroom judge calling for order!  It's all very comedic; no suspense.  I'd swear (as already mentioned by a classmate), one more minute and I'd swear the Marx Brothers would have popped out of the crowd.

Additionally, this scene doesn't even feel like a film at all!   It feels more like the filming of a British stage-comedy.   All the staging and blocking seem more closely related to live theater, than cinema.

The openings of many other films we've looked at are much darker and ominous.  This opening is actually quite fun!

 

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

They are there for light comedy, which I am sure will prove even more helpful later on in the film (I haven't seen Lady Vanished for many, many years).  When the camera closes in on their conversation, we are taken away from the chaos momentarily, providing a welcome break to the momentum.

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.

Right from the start, the girls enter from the opposite side of the scene.  The front desk manager nearly bowls over Caldicott and Charters (looking shocked and indignant) in an effort to serve the American ladies.   The camera follows the four of them closely across the scene towards the scene towards the staircase.  Yes!   Another staircase.  I believe in this case the staircase provides a vehicle by which Margaret Lockwood and her companions cab whisked above and beyond and away from the masses, while requesting room service and champagne.  It's also interesting to note that she's a brunette, in counterpoint to two blondes.  We know now that she is going to be an integral part of the plot, but we don't necessarily know whether she's a good girl or bad girl.  Perhaps, if we (the class) knew how the public felt about Lockwood at the time, we'd know the answer.  The casting should align with their public persona.

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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 of the film is much lighter, thanks to the folksy music we hear.  We are introduced to a great deal of characters quickly, and even see Miss From, albeit briefly.  It seems as if we are looking in on a mythical, far away place that is exempt from anything but lighthearted interactions.  The music does really help establish this tone.

 

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 are definitely here to reinforce the lighthearted tone of the established scene.  They are comedic, and seem very much to be self absorbed, speaking of cricket and the importance of getting home.  It is apparent they will continue to add this element throughout the movie.

 

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 Lock wood) as the star of this scene.

 

We quickly see these three as important to the plot.  The characters are already known by the hotel innkeeper, and he detaches himself from the others to establish that they are important and should be recognized.  Margaret Lockwood is the apparent leader of the group, with the most lines.  The camera follows them all the way across the lobby, while the other guests watch.  These are important people for us, the audience of the movie.

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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 is light and comedic. It reminds me of The 39 Steps tune of Mr. Memory.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. Comedy of the English aristocracy. Kipling's white man's burden.

 

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 framed in the shot and all eyes on on her.

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The tone in the opening to a The Lady Vanishes is established through the light-hearted (almost vaudevillian) music early entrance of the complaining bellmen loaded with bags (with shot of the cuckoo clock), and through the chaos punctuated with the running commentary of Caldicott and Charters.  The Caldicott and Charters characters are like an older married couple, each with opinions of their own, and each with a keen sense of the other's shortcomings.

The entrance of Iris interrupts all other action in the sequence.  Here attendants follow her as the clerk fawns all over her.  The reaction shot of the other assembled passengers appears almost to be a group of observers behind a red velvet rope.

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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 mood is funny and off kilter.  The cuckoo clock is not a cuckoo, it plays a funny song.  The little lady goes out almost blown away.  The German porters come in with a bunch of stuff and dump it in front of the reception.  Why? The clerk speaks four different languages without knowing if they fall anywhere.  He wants to impress the American girls.  The music sounds like “oompah” music.  I get the feeling Hitchcock was an Anglophile and a little xenophobic; he liked foreign locations but not foreign people; for this reason I think he is more plot driven than character driven.  He does have some character driven elements but only in the stars.  There is not depth here.  We will feel sorry for Margaret Lockwood being “gaslighted” but it’s more because there’s a mystery to be solved than we believe there is really a problem.

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. They give some exposition about the political background. Later they will work against Margaret (Iris) in solving the mystery.  They are only a help toward the end. They might serve as a contrast to her predicament; she is concerned and they are only concerned about sports.  They are dumb, kind of clueless, as the story about the Hungarian national anthem shows. 

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.  She is dark and the other two are blondes that are kind of indistinguishable.  Her body posture, the fact that she does almost all the talking, the attention the clerk pays her, her ordering him around, her closeness to the clerk, makes it pretty clear she is going to stick around and the other two are expendable. 

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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 atmosphere is busy, active I would say. There's a great deal of overlapping dialogue and sound, such as the entrance of the two man with the cuckoo clock.

 

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

 

Similar to what others have said, they seem to be a sort of stuffy British type common of the time, and their performances provide a sort of Muppet-like (Waldorf) comic commentary on Iris bossing around the hotel manager and how they're passed over by manager upon her entrance.

 

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 keeps Iris on top. She also disrupts the scene the from the chaos to essentially direct the hotel manager. The camera follows her as she bosses him, and we don't really get much of a view of the other two companions.

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Hitchcock introduces the audience to a variety of characters in The Lady Vanishes. He allows the camera to explore the lobby of the inn, as it transitions smoothly to and from different characters. Hitchcock doesn't situate his camera too long on any one or one set of characters (until the arrival of Iris), giving viewers a rather swift feel of who may be encountered again throughout the film.

 

Hitchcock sets up this film with a light hearted tone via music. The music contrasts the title of The Lady Vanishes, as the title in and of itself signifies a mystery chock full of suspense. But, employing a musical track of such nature conveys a sense of a fun-filled mysterious story with no implicit imminent danger.

 

Caldicott and Charters anchor the atmosphere of the film. Their witty banter infuses humor into the narrative, especially with a majority of their dialogue focused on standing for a National Anthem of the Hungarian Rhapsody (of which was an apparent mistake.) This type of verbal exchange amongst characters creates the notion of although a mystery, The Lady Vanishes is also a film of dry (unintentional) comedy. Unintentional meaning while written for comedic relief, the characters themselves do not have forethought of creating any sort of wit.

 

Hitchcock is always very clever with his infusion of humor. He understands the importance of the comedic relief, as too much suspense can bog down an audience. An intelligent intertwining of even dry humor provides a necessary deviation from the topical seriousness of suspense. Personally, I like to reference comedy and tragedy as fraternal twins. Different but similar, can be identified individually but share a deep connection often needing and requiring one another within artistic works. One aids the other, but doesn't change the purposed aim of the narrative.

 

Upon her entrance, Iris is the direct focus of the hotel manager, as he gives his undivided attention to her and her friends. The camera also nearly lends its entire focus to the three women implementing a “walk and talk” type of take. Hitchcock then cuts to a shot of Iris speaking to the hotel manager with the dialogue “I'm going home.” I feel this specific shot and dialogue convey a character of importance, as Iris is being tended to in a very personal manner.

 

The patrons (standing in a huddled clump) direct all attention to the three women (Iris and her two friends) as we hear indistinct whispers and murmurs while they look on. Caldicott and Charters are speculative as to the identity of Iris (this is an interesting bit of dialogue with a claim of “possibly Americans.”) The idea tossed about of Iris being an American star seems to exhibit an importance of American fame and the power it possesses. The way Hitchcock lends focus to Iris and the verbal exchange amongst Caldicott and Charters is suggestive of the star power of the American actor, which is a somewhat evident precursor to Hitchcock’s move from England to America (Hollywood) and his utilization of Hollywood stars in his films.

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The Lady Vanishes 1938 ...opening scene: Things I noticed first would be the deep snow & RR yard then the Inn with a lot of people & a lighthearted little ditty playing.   I read this movie is based on the Ethel Lena White story:  The Wheel Spins. It's a bit hectic in this Inn; the doors opens on a wind storm & almost blows away Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) & the characters of Charters & Caldicott  appear played by (Basil Radford & Naunton Wayne) ...I read these are based on the comedy double-act by the same name...why not use the real players?   I don't know. They appear always together, including upstairs in the same bed later that night. On the train they are always together & talk only of cricket...they are obsessed by cricket & only want to get to the cricket match in Manchester & that is why they foil the character of Iris (Margaret Lockwood)  a dark haired girl on her way to meet her intended who she shows little emotion about.

  

Most of the characters introduced in the Inn will board the train the next morning. 

 

There is the usual Hitchcock humor in the Inn:  Characters fighting over noise being made; for example, this is how Iris meets Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) they banter about in lighthearted  male female situation humor that Hitchcock is so fond of.

 

Also. Miss Froy listens to the singer beneath her window until she is interrupted by the noise upstairs being made by Gilbert. The singer beneath her window is strangled...so the canary is silenced & will sing no more.

 

I read on (Wiki) that a continuity issue came up with the character of Iris wearing a sweater then night clothes in the same scene early on the stairs. I don't recall seeing this but I have the DVD & may look for it later.

 

Iris just before boarding the train next morning is coshed on her noggin. Over the cam lens filters are used (I think) to make Iris see blurs & a multi 5 filter may be used to create the multi image of spinning around. This is what I have used in my still photography. Not sure how it was done with video.  Hitchcock loves to use this devise & I love it too.This sets up the situation for Iris not to be believed when miss Froy goes missing. We are introduced to the main & secondary characters in the inn the night before & now meet new ones on the train. This movie has a lot of characters in it.

 

They all have self-centered selfish reasons to keep the train from not being stopped, so they refuse to believe Iris. They only want to be on their way. Cricket matches, an illicit affair, fake surgery to commit the murder of Miss Froy ..all this & more.

 

I have noticed that Hitchcock often has war looming in the background of his movies, especially the spy thrillers. WW 1 & pre WW 2 loom heavy in the 39 Steps, The Man Who Knew Too Much & this movie too. It is the darkness beneath the surface of his early movies & we know what is to come.

 

More humor abounds on the train in the baggage compartment when Iris & Gilbert search for Miss Froy. Animals, rabbits, chickens or pigeons, a calf in basket, the disappearing cabinet. All movement in these scenes...it is very fast paces & never a dull moment. When the fight breaks out & the nose pulling begins with the Italian guy  & Gilbert tells Iris to 'pull his ears back' it is very funny language.

 

I like the clue Gilbert sees that convinces him Iris is not crazy over her cosh on the head. This clue is the Tea label blown onto the train window glass.

 

I'm glad Miss Froy makes it out alive. The scenes with the bad guys is scary; I can feel their fright surrounded by thugs with guns. Most likely they will all die. I believe they will all be killed, but they find a way out. That is a scary part of the movie. That is the darkness in the background of Hitchcocks films with the war looming ever closer.

 

The film ends happily though & the humor is great when Iris hides from her 'check chaser' boyfriend she was to marry. She has money it appears when she bribes the Inn keeper to keep Gilbert out of his room earlier in the movie & she describes her boyfriend as the 'check chaser' whom she really does not want to be attached to. I'm sure she will have more fun with Gilbert.

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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 opening shots of The Lady Vanishes I get the feeling of both a light-hearted adventure will ensue (the tone accented by the musical accompaniment), married with a feeling of organized chaos or a madcap tone for the future of the film. This is demonstrated with the calm of the waiting crowd in the lobby, who look anxious as they await their fate. Then the multi-lingo announcements that an avalanche  has caused their travels to be suspended for the evening, inviting a rush to register as guest at the hotel or find themselves without accommodations. This is further amplified by the rush to the front desk, while the clock on the wall chimes out the hour.  I believe Hitchcock loves this motif abundantly, using chaos effectively to amuse (and perhaps befuddle the audience a bit) to keep them focused on what's to come. I personally feel this is the most entertaining of all the early Hitchcock films, especial those with sound. 

 

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

 

This pair remind me of the modern-day equivalent of C3PO & R2-D2; the sort-of narrators of The Lady Vanishes  discussing and bickering amongst themselves (mostly about the British Cricket scores), but also giving some quick assessment of background details to move the plot or scene along.  They are the Laurel & Hardy comedy relief that moves the story along and keep us watching to see what will they do next. They are a highlight in an already bright and varied cast of characters who must shine a bit brighter to keep the focus on them for continuity  sake. But they have their own moments of charm, first being boarded in the Maid's quarters. But being told the maid, who doesn't understand English, must be allowed access to her room to change her clothes or use her things. This causes embarrassment  to the pair, who find her intrusions inappropriate and delight the viewer with the hijinks of the three interacting.

Then again at dinner, they muscle themselves into seats, only to find that there is no more food to be served this evening, which is all the more confusing as they do not speak the native language.

They also have a pivotal scene in the dinning car of the train; while trying to flesh out a complex cricket match using sugar cubes, they are forced to give up their visual aids to Ms. Froy, who is entertaining Iris with a pot of tea. This simple exchange becomes a plot point later on when Iris and (Redgraves' character) Gilbert try to logically assess the whereabouts of Ms. Froy, who's existence seems to be denied by everyone else, including the comic Englishmen, who choose to not get involved.

 

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. 

 

With the mass confusion of the last-minute guests of the hotel scrambling for rooms, the scene now focuses on the Desk Clerk, after mopping his brow with his handkerchief,  essentially dropping everything to concentrate on the three woman entering the front door of the hotel. This slows the momentum to draw the camera to the ladies with a tighter shot of the four discussing the ladies events of the day, while they inquire about their rooms, with Iris in the center of the four-person group. The dialog remains quick and sharp, with little quips (eg. "...and nothing has changed. Including the sheets."), but the camera is now squarely focused on the small group crossing the room and ascending the staircase.

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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 mood is brilliantly juxtaposed. The music is light and festive, while the travelers anxiously wait for information. While anxious, it is calm. The group of German travelers enters and the chaos begins. They are loud, the cuckoo clock is loud, and the hotel manager has to struggle to complete his phone call. Order shall be disrupted. 

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 are the first English speaking characters we encounter. They become the avatar for the audience, allowing us to learn what is going on. They are 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. 

Everything follows Boris and the women from the women's entrance to the exit. Similar to The Man Who Knew Too Much, their dialog is mostly throw away, except we learn more details about the avalanche and Iris's travel plans. Boris and Iris bookend the framing, making the context for the dialog. Iris is at the right of the frame, leading the way. Boris defers to her.

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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. 

 

By this time the audience has an idea of a Hitchocock picture. The music sets of the dry comedic tone that Hitchcock himself wanted to be known for. The light hearted music sets up the characters and goes against the over all plot. 

 

 

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 the casual observers. They are the participatory audience. The set up shows us that they will be the comedic relief through out the story. 

 

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.

 

​Everything  leads to her. As one exits, the other enters and it goes so quickly as each character and set of characters are introduced. The only true focus is on Margaret Lockwood. The scene slows a little when she enters. 

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Hi everyone.  Just finished watching The Lady Vanishes.  What a MacGuffin!  I can't imagine how a whole clause of a document could be encoded in that very simple melody that has the same melodic material appear three times.  But I guess that's the nature of a MacGuffin.   :P  Odd that the musicologist didn't write the tune down after they escaped.  And he was playing his clarinet backwards, with the reed against his upper lip in the bedroom/folk dancing scene....  I'm surprised that Hitchcock didn't have someone catch that glitch.  But no complaints here -- it's a terrific film!

 

QUESTION 1: There were several risque scenes for the time.  Did England have a "Hayes-type code" like the US?  This definitely struck me this time as a "pre-code" type of film.  The girls in their underwear, the two guys in bed together (without their PJ bottoms!).  Very fun!

 

QUESTION 2: Does anyone know if Peter Bogdanovich was riffing on this film in What’s Up, Doc? when he chose to make his main character (played by Ryan O’Neal) a musicologist?  He also got mixed up in a mess with a girl.

 

A bit of cool trivia for folks who watched the HBO series: Six Feet Under.  I remember watching Season 3, Episode 11: "Death Works Overtime" when it aired.  SPOILER: When Nate's wife Lisa disappeared from home -- missing with no word -- Nate checks into a motel near the spot she was last seen.  As he's talking to his brother and sister, in the background a TV is playing silently.  YES -- it is a clip from The Lady Vanishes.  I thought that was so cool when I saw it 10 or more years ago!  Even cooler to think about now!

 

Looking forward to next week's films!

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1) The Master of Suspense throws us a curve ball and opens "The Lady Vanishes" as a light comedy. From the music, the over exaggerated frustration of the hotel manager, the corresponding shot of the cuckoo clock, and the snappy, fast paced dialogue all point to a Paramount Studios comedy or one of the better Three Stooges shorts...minus the slapstick.

2) At first glance I thought Caldicott and Charters were the British Wheeler and Woolsey; while not in the latter's word play league they do add droll humour and act as a Greek Chorus to fill in the gaps the audience is doubtless asking itself.

3) Iris leads the way the entire scene, she is a knockout and she takes dead center when talking to Boris. The other two young ladies are almost deliberately doing their best to stay in profile and out of Iris' light.

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The opening scene of The Lady Vanishes is unlike most of the opening scenes we've seen. Although it similarly starts in a public location, it establishes the film as a comedy with quirky characters. This is clear in the light, upbeat music; cuckoo clock (perhaps symbolizing the "cuckoo" nature of some of the characters and situations we're in for); and the funny "straight-man" characters of Caldicott and Charters, who add a fun, humorous commentary on the wealthy American women and their experiences in Hungary (the bit about the Hungarian Rhapsody as the country's national anthem is pretty funny).

 

Amidst an onslaught of minor characters, Iris is established as the scene's star. She commands the camera as it follows Iris and her friends across the room. The hotel proprietor is familiar with them and waits on them with eagerness, conveying that they are guests of importance, likely with deep pockets (which is clear in their food and drink order [a magnum of champagne] and manner of speech [avalanche]). Meanwhile, the other characters are huddled together in a large mass watching on in bewilderment while the glamorous ladies take the stage.

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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.

Hitchcock created a relaxed, unsuspecting atmosphere (again) to introduce his characters in a public place.  Folk music is playing in the background as Ms. Froy comes down the stairs and stops to get a stamp for her letter from the front desk.  Caldicott and Charters handle the hotel door for Ms Froy, closing it against the gusty wind, before sitting down with the other characters waiting for the train.  Iris Henderson and her girlfriends enter the scene with fanfare and disruption of the peaceful scene; all eyes are on them as they receive special attention of the hotel manager as returning guests.  At this point the atmosphere is lighthearted, humorous chaos as the various characters deal with the announced delay in the train’s arrival and work to situate themselves with a room at the hotel.

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 add humor and a stabilizing effect to the scene, behaving very British and preoccupied by their own sphere of interest (cricket).  Although they too are impacted by the situation of the train’s delay, they expect to receive special treatment by the hotel manager (who finally outlined in English how to obtain a room), only to discover the warm greeting was for the three women entering the hotel lobby behind them.  This of course allowed them to make catty observations about the women and give us an opportunity as the audience to size-up the women for ourselves.

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.

Up until the entrance of Iris and her friends, the scenes of the hotel lobby were in long views, treating all of the characters in the scene as equal.  The background music was a lively folk tune and the guests were placidly waiting in the hotel lobby.  Then the arguing of two porters carrying the baggage and skis of the Iris Henderson party enter the scene, drowning out the folk music and introducing an element of disruption and chaos.  The attention is then focused on the hotel doorway where three women are entering and get a close-up treatment by the camera.  The dialogue of the three women with the hotel manager (who was delighted to see them) established that these are witty, wealthy and worldly women with a penchant for the finer things in life (e.g. champagne).  These are not average travelers, demonstrated by the fact that the hotel manager abandons his desk of other guests and personally escorts the three newcomers to their rooms.

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