Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #10: Nothing on Me (Opening Scene of Shadow of a Doubt)

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

 

When we first meet Charlie, we know nothing about him. We see he has money, and find out men are looking for him. Is he a victim or a bad guy? We really don't know. We don't know how he acquired the money, but can assume it was in a shady manner - gambling, robbery, yet we don't know.  --  And then Mrs. Martin, the landlady, lowers the blind.  --  Now we KNOW charlie is bad. he is in darkness. it is then that he comes to life, now that we know he is bad.

 

We learn there are two sides to Charlie (the lecture video mentions doubles, and the two sides may be an example):

  --  We see a calm, cool, collected man - the man who shows little reaction when the landlady tells him men are looking for him. The man who walks calmly past the two detectives he knows are tailing him.

  --  And we see the violent side - the man who in a fury smashes the glass in anger/frustration at the situation he is in.

The whole movie will be about this duality in Charley: The smiling, friendly, loving uncle, and the cold, violent murderer.

 

Finally we learn factual things about Charlie, namely that he is on the run, pursued by detectives, for some crime involving illicit money. We learn that he is alone in the city - without a family there.

 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

 

Comparisons to The Killers:

Differences -

  --  The Swede (Burt Lancaster) is hiding out in a small town, where big city killers come to kill him.

  --  Charlie is in the city, and has not yet fled to the country to hide. He is pursued by the law, not criminals.

Similarities -

  -- Both men are criminals being pursued for their activities.

  -- Both films start with the person already being pursued, with no background explaining it yet.

 

Film Noir:

  --  The establishing shots of the building and window are slightly askew - a dutch angle, common in many Noirs (The Third Man,  Touch of Evil, and Kiss Me Deadly).

  -- The apartment is filled with shadows.

           Shadows in Noir are used to illustrate character, such as when the landlady lowers the blind, covering Charlie in darkness                     wherein we learn he is evil.

           Shadow in Noir can also illustrate the situation. The shadows of the window frame appear as prison bars on Charlie,                      suggesting that he is trapped.

          Shadows in Noir often foreshadow.The prison bar-like shadows on Charlie foreshadow a dark end for him.

  -- Film Noir often features a character alone, fleeing from circumstances, which is how we find Charlie.

  -- Film Noir is centered around crime, and we learn that Charlie is a criminal.

 

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

 

The music starts lighthearted, almost waltz-like, but quickly turns eerie as we enter Charlies room. It then goes away as the landlady and Charlie talk. At the moment we learn Charlie is evil (the lowering of the blinds, casting him in shadow) the music reappears, dark with dissonant horns.

 

When Charlie says to himself 'You've got nothing on me' there is a brief return of waltz-like music, this time ethereal, as if a memory (Celeste [?] and flutes). This is subtle, but I think clearly puts in the viewer's mind the idea that Charlie is thinking about just what 'Nothing' they have on him - in other words what he really DID, that he is wanted for.

 

There is a brief 'Mickey mousing' when he shatters the glass, which adds an exclamation mark on his violent side.

 

The music then builds to a crescendo, anticipating the confrontation with the detectives. it drops down as he leaves the building, and slowly crescendos again as he approaches the detectives, creating suspense. Is he going to gun them down? Then it ebbs as he walks by, and we see how cool Charlie is.

 

Finally, dissonant piano chords represent the plodding detectives as they follow.

 

We can see in this short 5 minute clip just how many beats the music touches upon, and how it enhances the film.

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1 . As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

 

This is a lower class neighborhood, summertime, children laughing, playing without store bought toys. We are led across a lower middle class, urban street into a boarding house room, where money is carelessly tossed about like candy wrappers. The music becomes tense as we see a man, in a three piece suit, in his shoes, lying on an unmade bed. He is motionless as though lost in thought. But we feel Charlie is keeping his anger in check. A raging anger. We know by his body language, he is not a nice man. We get a look at our antagonist.

 

He plays with an unlit cigar when his landlady enters and the music halts almost to not give away what’s going on in his mind. She tells him, she thinks he doesn’t look well. Charlie does not respond. Even when she tells him two friends came looking for him, he says nothing. She goes on until he breaks his silence by revealing they’ve never seen him, so how could they be friends. She says she thinks they’ll be back and he says, “Maybe I’ll go out and meet them.” But there is something bitter beneath his words that is beginning to leak out. The music reaches crescendo after crescendo. He gets up and suddenly smashes his glass across the room, raises the blind, that was just rolled down by the landlady. We hear his thoughts, “They’ve got nothing on me.” But does he really believe that?

 

Charlie gathers his things, including the money, and leaves the room. Checks out where the two are standing and teases them by waking right past as the music peaks again. They quietly follow one on each side of him, surrounding him, while he pretends nonchalance. But this is a man on the lam. His mind is figuring out his next step. Not a nice guy at all.

 

 

2 In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

 

There are many set decorations used in film noir that we see here: in a cheap a rooming house setting, rumpled bedding, cheap pull down blinds. Lots of dough. We have the nosy but well meaning landlady, the kids playing in the street, the glass of booze. The focus is on the man in the foreground who is completely silent, fully dressed, planning his next move. There is a tension caused by his silence, like a spring getting ready to let go (sprung, sprang?).

 

The opening scene in The Killers is fast moving. Two men driving dangerously down a nighttime road. Since no siren is blasting, it’s assumed the are the bad guys. Then they pull over in any town, anywhere, and walk into a diner (the perfect film noir “establishment” besides a fancy night club).

 

But although these openings are totally different they have elements necessary for film noir. The both have the noir iconography, including the boardinghouse and diner; the same look; acting techniques; the pace and the years in which they take place. It’s really hard to describe…it’s something I just feel.

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

 

Oh. I remember those Hitchcock violins in Psycho! As Martin Balsam falls down those stairs, and the swinging light in the basement as his “mother” turns around in her wheelchair. Oy vay.

 

Try watching this scene without the score. I often do that to see how a scene plays without music. Here too there is a tremendous difference. It adds feeling, mood, pacing. Some movies would be static and emotionless without music. Sometimes the actors need it, it’s an acting crutch.

 

In this case, it helped me focus on what I was seeing without being “distracted” by Tiomkin’s powerful emphasis. I noticed Hitchcock’s use of lighting on Cotton’s face. And the various camera shots. I wondered why anyone would be fully clothed while in his bed, in the summer? Was he planning a get-a-way? Without the score, I felt no tension, no reason to project into who this fellow might be. Just a crook, a gambler - a rude, not nice guy with a lot of cash in a boarding house. Waiting

 

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

 

Uncle Charlie appears cold and calculating. He is very calm as he learns he is being followed and he walks with confidence towards the policemen. He appears to be very manipulating.

 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir?

 

It's classic noir!! There is a sense of mystery- why does he have that much money? How did he get it? Why are the men after him? Who are they? The blind closes to represent hidden things, then he opens it to reveal or shed light on the situation as he leaves. Lots of unanswered questions to draw you .

 

What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

The score is great. At the beginning it is lively, almost a dancing melody, as we meet Uncle Charlie. Then, in the apartment it becomes suspenseful as we try to gather info to questions. At the end, it becomes angry as he walks by the men, as if to show his indignation towards them.

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I have seen Shadow Of A Doubt a few times,but I had not thought of it as Film Noir.

Now that I understand more of the Film Noir genre, this movie has quite a few of the elements that one

looks for. Black and white, shadows, the intense music, policemen and detectives. These are some

of the clues that I watch for.

 

The scene starts out very happy and care free, with the children playing outside, and then when we

view inside the rooming house, Uncle Charlie seems to be rather confident and calm, lying on the bed in

his quite formal attire. He doesn't even take off his jacket.

 

But as the landlady comes in and alerts him to the two men that paid a visit, you can sense some

tension and worry rise up in him. Although, he does a good job of hiding his feelings until the

landlady walks out the door.

Then when we see him throw a glass at the wall, we know that he is in some kind of trouble,

and obviously on the run.

Also, the money strewn around the room would indicate that he seems quite comfortable living

in shall we say the shady part of town.

 

As I said in the beginning the music is light and breezy but as we get into the story it becomes

more intense. As the Merry Widow Waltz is played we sense that the score will haunt us and

Uncle Charlie throughout the film.

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After first seeing a bit of his surroundings, we see Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) lying on a bed in a rooming house.  He seems to be calmly contemplating what to do, but you can sense the tension just below the surface.  He has left large amounts of cash out on his side table much of which has fallen on to the floor.  Maybe he feels that his fate can't be helped by money any longer.  His landlady enters the room.  She tells him about his "visitors".  He remains seemingly calm, controlled, but with that underlying tension.  He loses control once she leaves the room (throws glass at the wall).  We know that Uncle Charlie has done something wrong, & is now running from either the law or the "un-law".  On the surface, Charlie seems in control & ready to force a confrontation, so he leaves the boarding house.  He walks directly toward the 2 men waiting for him, even bumping into one of them in a show of defiance.  He's forcing their hand, testing them to find out what they do/don't know about him.  Obviously they do know what he looks like because they follow him.  But he still manages to elude them.  The implication is that this isn't the first time he's been in a situation like this.

 

The same kind of tension & foreboding is apparent in the opening of the Killers. Burt Lancaster in the shadows, waiting for someone, something.

 

The music is muted/gloomy/foreboding when we first see Charlie lying in his bed smoking the cigar.  The landlady pulling the shade, & the shadow that it produces coming down on Charlie's face, lets you know that something is about to happen.  At that time the music gets louder & more intense.  It becomes increasingly fast till we see the shot of the door to the boarding house (#13, unlucky?).  As he opens the door & walks out, the intensity of the music continues till he walks past the men at the corner.  The music plays a big part in setting the emotional tone of the opening of the film.

 

As an aside, is it Philly or NJ that this scene is taking place in?  

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

Logical, dispassionate, justifiably paranoid, careless with his money, likes to 'take in' his naive landlady, Charlie is fearful but gutsy. He likes to play the edge by walking right past, brushing even, the men sent for him. He has an almost indifferent attitude toward his situation, as if the gamble itself were the thing, not the potential consequences.

 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)
The darkness of the room

The darkness of the room and the lighting, the voiceover narration, which is itself somewhat distant and cold, the sense of immediate danger, and the obvious corruption of the character. And the music, emotive and eventually thundering.

Also note that even the two men waiting for Charlie do not just walk in unison, as if a force rather than individuals, but both put their LEFT hands into their jacket pockets as they pursue Charlie. There is the simultaneous suggestion of a weapon, the automaton aspect just mentioned, and the emphasis on the LEFT side of things, that all is not 'right'.  Seems like a lot of noir aspect here.

 

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

The music is almost unnoticed, until Charlie starts to leave his apartment and risk death. Then it rises almost to a crescendo as he steps through the threshold of the door, emphasizing the intensity of his decision and the potential consequences. This stands in stark contrast to the almost banal narration of Charlie's thoughts and his toned-down questions and responses to his landlady. A DOUBLE emphasis (yet again).

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 1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do we learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

Uncle Charlie appears arrogant and nonchalant as he lays on the bed with his cigar, money on the floor and starring at the ceiling. He suspects someone will be coming for him and doesn't appear to care because "you've got nothing on me."  However, in throwing the glass - he also shows an anger that what he knew was going to happen - did catch up with him. 

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of watching a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodnak's  "The Killers". (If you haven't seen The Killers it is fine to answer the question in general terms about your own expectations. 

 

I have not seen "The Killers" and am a novice into film noir. However, you can discern several things from the opening scene.  The room is dark and cheap.  Shadows play throughout the scene and opening and closing the shade leads to further changes in the light.  The landlady's appearance is "second hand" is contrast to Uncle Charlie's attire which appears very neat and expensive.  There also is a appearance of fatalism in that Charlie knew what was going to happen and could not escape the men who were following him. 

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did in his British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that he will create for Hitchcock.  What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere and even the pace of this opening scene?   

 

In the beginning of the scene, the music is "just there."  It contributes a pleasantness to the scene - not really adding much but suddenly you become very aware of the music as the pace, tone and loudness grabs the listener. It makes you realize there is much more going on than is apparent by the visual clues.  It contributes to the feeling of anger in Uncle Charlie as it crescendos and leads you to suspect Uncle Charlie's character is dangerous.  

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Indeed this is one of Hitchcock's best. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time when it played at the Redford Theatre in Detroit about a year or two ago. (They always show at least one or two Hitchcock films per year, via requests of the theatre patrons)

 

We know something is up with Uncle Charlie in the beginning, when on what appears to be a beautiful day with kids playing in the street he is holed up in his room, lying on the bed. Large sums of money are strewn everywhere and he is smoking a cigar while laying down (and smoking in bed is very dangerous, btw). His well dressed suit shows us he must be successful, but probably not doing honest work.

 

It is indeed like the opening to The Killers, except the scene is in broad daylight. Burt Lancaster's Swede lies on a bed waiting for the inevitable, and Uncle Charlie does the same. Both also spoke in a monotone voice, like they didn't care about anything. When the landlady pulls down the shade, it truly does feel like a film noir with Uncle Charlie in the darkness, and it is then he goes into a rage smashing a glass. He then gets up, grabs his money, puts out his cigar and casually walks out, ready to confront whomever is watching him.

 

The music is cheerful at first when we see the kids playing, then it quickly shifts to a dark, foreboding mood as we zoom in on Uncle Charlie's boarding house and into his room. It gets more and more intense as he leaves the boarding house and strolls past the two men, who pretend not to notice him at first but then start to follow. We know Uncle Charlie must be an evil person or has done something evil based on the music.

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1.    As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

He appears to be on the “Lam” and laying low. The stash of cash indicates he may have been paid off for a nefarious deal, or perhaps came into stolen money. Clothing, cigar and cool countenance support a city boy. His decision to exit the room calls for a type of nerve that is unusually courageous for such a routine task. Apparently, he is involved in a high stakes and perhaps dangerous set of circumstances.

 

2.    In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations).

 

All indications point to a dangerous and mysterious blend of circumstances that is punctuated by peering out a window, a pile of cash strewn on the floor, an attitude of suspicion and mystery and of course the MUSIC that dials up the vibes associated with dark and dangerous activities. In “The Killers”, I remember that two hit men enter a diner and are very aggressive and abusive to the owner and patrons in their efforts to track down the Swede, who has been known to be a daily customer. This sets the stage for what one would anticipate as a showdown. The evidence is presented up front in The Killers that a man is going to be killed. This scene with Uncle Charlie does not make that clear but points in that direction when he seems to be followed by the men on the street.

 

3.    As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

       It has an effect on all the above. Hitchcock explained in an earlier video that the music is designed to rise        and fall with on screen actions to punctuate the impact of the action. We see the music reach a high point        when he throws the glass against the wall at the same time the orchestra pounds a note to correspond to       the explosion of glass.

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1.  As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

He has a simmering anger....I was more struck by the music...which increased the emotion....He says to himself "You're bluffing, you have nothing on Me"....he walks out of the room with an air of confidence...and walks right by the two men almost touching them...in a way taunting them...On 2nd viewing of this scene...as Joseph Cotten steps outside the number on the front door is 13.....unlucky but for who....for Joseph Cotten or the men following him??

 

  2.  In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)...

 

As I am just learning about film noir I am going to reread the lecture notes and watch the lecture video a couple of times to absorb the meaning before I watch both movies this week

 

3.  As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

It was the score of the opening scene which truthfully impacted me the most ....it set the whole tone of the opening from the light hearted music of the kids playing outside....to the bedroom scene and as the music builds the emotion simmers then erupts in Joseph Cotton throwing the glass....Also I noticed as the men start following Joseph Cotten there steps mimic the music tempo

 

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(1) Charlie has a great deal of cash in his possession, and he’s holed up in a rented room.  He likely acquired the money through dishonest means, which would explain why there are two men in pursuit of him.  According to his discussion with the landlady, Charlie has never met his pursuers before.  Later, while talking to himself, Charlie asserts that the two men are bluffing and have nothing on him.  We learn that Charlie is rather brash and willing to take risks as he exits the boarding house and marches right past the men on the street corner, who play it cool, as if they are not tracking him.

 

(2) In regards to film noir in general, I noticed the following about Shadow of a Doubt: a man on the run, a probable crime, and an unglamorous setting. 

 

(3) The score illustrates the tension of the main character and conveys a sense of urgency.  For example, the volume and tempo of the score increases as Charlie becomes more tense and resolves to go out into the street.  There is a chaotic nature to some of the orchestration, which goes hand in hand with the chaos of being a man on the run and/or on the wrong side of the law.

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  1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific

​                We learn that the name Uncle Charlie is using is " Mr. Spencer" (real or fake name?). Early middle age.  He is a passionate smoker of cigars (he savors them), He has plenty of money and he doesn't really care about it (way it lays around the room). He is a dapper dresser, maybe even a dandy but there is something shabby about his dress too (note the hole in the back of his suitcoat). Uncle Charlie has a temper as evidenced by the glass throwing incident. If he is a criminal he is bold about his crime in terms of no fear..."Nothing on me!" Being set in WW2 America we don't know if he is a criminal, a wronged man or a spy.

 

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

       ​As discussed in the notes, the first thing that hits me about the opening of this 1943 film and the 1946 "The Killers" is the completely different treatise on  basically the same scene a'la Hemingway. In Hitchcock / Wilder version, we see the "man in the bed" as a fighter, he is not going to give in / up, in fact he is bold in presenting himself to the two "friends on the corner". "Nothing on me!"

​     In Siodmak's treatment in "The Killers", Swede (Burt Lancaster) is fatalistic, he knows he is a dead man, he doesn't even want to attempt any resistance even when warned. Swede just waits for the door to open and the shots to finish him off. 

       Hitchcock's opening is set in the daytime. Siodmak's in the dark of night. We don't see any interaction with the two guys in Hitchcock's version. We only learn everything from the landlady. The menace if there is not as great as the real menace in Siodmak's version. The killers threaten and boldly hunt down Swede whereas in "Shadow of  Doubt" the two guys just wait around across the street on the corner and then eventually follow Uncle Charlie. 

       The differences in the music are evident also...Hitchcock uses a reoccurring lite motif in the "Merry Widows", Siodmak uses an intense drum beat mood to ratchet up the tension. 

 

 

​3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

​         Tiomkin's score ​controls the mood, atmosphere and even the pace of this scene. We start out with a light motif followed by the "Merry Window" theme which will reoccur throughout. We also have spots of no music at all... and this silence effects the mood also. We hear deeper themes with drums and challenging notes that let us know that Uncle Charlie is angry and is headed to a showdown. His throwing of the glass has an appropriate musical signature.The music adds tension to the later parts of the scene. To be honest I could hear the kind of Tiomkin musical themes that he would later excel at in "High Noon". It sounds like Uncle Charlie is heading to a showdown in this unnamed town a'la Will  Kain in Hadleyville.

​"Do Not forsake me cause Ya got nothin on me!"

 

Note to viewers:​ Don't forget to look for Hitchcock's cameo. Hint: train to Santa Rosa

 

 

I noticed the hole in his suit jacket as well and as the rest of his suit looked pretty good, was this a bullet hole? Many people have commented that he may be in hiding and from the nonchalant attitude with the money, perhaps it is not his focus. There are also a number of comments about the landlady looking out for him as a sign he charms older women. I offer a slightly different view; Let's assume we don't know anything about the rest of the film as if we are seeing it in the theater in it's first release. He is in a low rent boarding house yet he has money, he is lying on the bed but fully dressed like he may be resting momentarily but he is planning to be on the move soon, he is completely at ease with the landlady looking out for him almost as if he expects to be treated that way, and he is interested that the men are looking for him but is not intimidated as he tells the landlady to invite them up and then decides to go to them. I offer that all of these are signs that although he may be lying low while he plots his next move, he is such a narcissist that he feels he does not need to care about the dangers. He feels he has the ability to handle anything that comes as he is the smartest, smoothest, and slickest guy around. He may steal others money but he does not worry about his own. The landlady fawns over him but why shouldn't she, everyone should because he is just that amazing. The guys outside may be after him but why worry, they can't have figured anything out because I am too smart for them. He is so confident, he walks right by them, taunting them to do something and knows he can get away any time he feels like it. The score sets this tone as well.

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  1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

     

    ​We learn that Uncle Charlie is living, temporarily, in an urban building where individual rooms are for rent. We're in an unnamed American city.  We know it's American right off the bat because children are playing ball in the street.

    We discover Charlie in a dark room, lying on a bed, smoking a cigar, window curtains throwing watery shadows on his face.

    A pan from Charlie reveals considerable cash on the bedside table. The pan continues to the floor: more cash. 

    ​The landlady comes to his room and informs him two men are looking for him. 

    ​She leaves. He sits up, drinks from a glass. Music swells menacingly. Charlie angrily throws the glass at the sink, shattering the glass. (He has a temper.)

    ​He goes to the window. Curtains cast shadows on his face.

     

    ​When he spots two men standing on the corner, we hear his thought: "You've nothing on me!"

     

    He walks past the two men waiting on the corner. The pair immediately start following him as he heads down the sidewalk. 

     

    ​We don't know what he's done. We don't know where he got the cash.

     

    ​But it's clear in this 3:40 opening scene: Uncle Charlie is a man on the run. 

     

     

  2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

     

    ​The camera discovers Charlie as a man alone in a dark, seedy room, dark wavy shadows making his features indistinct. Fully dressed in a dapper suit, holding a cigar, he's in deep thought. His face is expressionless. After the landlady informs him two men came to the door looking for him, she leaves.

     

    Up to this point, he has been stock-still--like a corpse in a coffin--prone on the bed. But the landlady's information triggers a violent outburst : he throws a drinking glass at the sink.

     

    ​When he goes to the window--curtain shadow once again washing across his face--he spots the two men on the street corner. 

    We hear his thoughts: "You've nothing on me!" 

    ​As he leaves the boarding house, he walks determinedly toward the camera. Without breaking stride, he passes the men and keeps walking. They begin to tail him as he walks away from the camera, down the middle of the shot. He's heading toward the sun--westward.

     

    He's on the run. 

     

  3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

          As the film opens, Tiomkin's score is, briefly, a full orchestration variation of "The Merry Widow" over the

          street scene.

​          But when the camera goes into Charlie's room and picks him up prone on the bed, the full orchestration

          reduces to a few  instruments---high, eerie notes on a violin playing as we zoom to Charlie. 

​         

​         At Mrs. Martin's knock on Charlie's door, the music stops. For the next :90--while Mrs. Martin and Charlie

         talk--there is no music at all.

         Before leaving his room, Mrs. Martin pulls down the window shade. As she does so, the music--ominous

         bass notes--play on the soundtrack as Charlie's face goes into deep shadow. Tiomkin's deep notes rumble,

         then swell to crescendo as Charlie angrily throws the glass at the sink.

 

​        From this point in the opening sequence, with the exception of a smattering of "The Merry Widow" for a few

        seconds, Tiomkin's score builds, at first cluing us in on Charlie's purposeful decision to walk out of the

        apartment, into the street, right toward the two men on the corner. 

​        They've obviously been waiting for him. As he strides down the sidewalk away from them--and they begin to

        follow--Tiomkin gives what sounds like the ominous death march of someone going to the gallows, or to a

        firing squad. 

​        We now know--in a mere 3:40 sequence--that Charlie is a marked man.

 

​        Hitchcock and Tiomkin have raised questions: Who is Charlie? What has he done? Where is he going?

 

       What will happen next?

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  1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.           Uncle Charlie while dressing well seems depressed or totally worn out.  His voice is barely audible.  He has a lot of money and is careless with it - but he is in a cheap boarding house in a not so nice part of town.  Is he hiding?  Two men are looking for him and his friend, the landlady, possibly a mother-figure, is watching out for him.  She wasn't sure if she should tell the men he was there but did as she was told.  As he gets up he says, "You're bluffing.  You have nothing on me."  Hmm?!  It seems more likely that they do having something on you.  The music is dark, if not in a minor key- almost, but it continues to increase in pace on and off. I feel a sense of urgency and danger.  The way he walks past the men gives me the impression he isn't afraid of them.  

 

2.  In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

          The lighting - the bars of light across the darkened room - seems very noir.  The setting - not  a nice part of town and the rooming house is cheap looking.  The music is in a minor key or almost and sounds foreboding.  I hear danger!    The money just lying around - a lot of money!  Uncle Charlie goes from sounding without hope to defiant - "You're bluffing.  You have nothing on me."  The two men waiting for him outside his boarding house.    The Killers opened with a killing.  The hit men are violent with the diners and employees and tie them up and tell them they will kill the Swede.  The Swede is tired of running and waits for his death with resignation.  We don't know about the murders in Shadow of a Doubt until later and Uncle Charlie is killed later.  

 

  1. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?    Wow - I think the music is amazing.  In the beginning is fluctuates up and down.  Foreboding to a sense of urgency.  I assume it is in a minor key or part of it.  I sense danger.  I watched Waltzes from Vienna last night and wondered how making this musical impacted future movies. We have the waltz in Shadow of a Doubt.  
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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

He has been staying at this location for long enough for the land lady to feel okay walking in his room, telling strangers he isn't in, touch his money and pull his blind down.  The land lady seems to feel for him but doesn't call him by his first name so they are not a close relationship.  When Charlie talks about the two men, he seems not sure how he wants to approach them and his eyeing them from the window gives us a sense, they may cause him danger and not be in Charlie's best interest.

 

 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

It has the feel of a film noir but almost with a gangster genre to boot.  The money, the two men and Charlie leering at the window reminds me of a gangster style over a detective film. I can't say later on if told from a detective or if Charlie ends up investigating something that it might not end up a Film Noir.

 

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

It gives it drama while there is little in the action of the land lady or Charlie.  The music climbs as Charlie leaves with his anxiety about approaching the two men but stops as he gains his strength and composure. The music for me almost becomes overbearing but stops before it does so which allowed me to focus in on the characters and the action in the scene. 

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1) Uncle Charlie is an exhausted snazzy dressing man. He is quite wealthy at the moment but not secretive about it considering the money just laying out in the open on the floor. He's not very expressive, focused, and quiet. He doesn't make any effort to stand when his land lady comes with a message. He doesn't know who is asking for him, and that's the funny thing he comments on. He doesn't know them but they know him. After she picks up the money and puts it back neater he proceeds to get up and eventually exit the building and walks by two curious men who look at him as he leaves.

 

2) A few things jump out at me signifying that this is a noir story. The location of such a man is not the best, the darkness of the room especially with the closing of the blind in which Charlie's face intermingles with the shadow, the factor that Charlie is being looked for by two "gentlemen", and his carelessness with a good sum of money, and the end of the scene seemed almost like a hasty get away of sorts like Charlie knew situations would escalate if he didn't try and leave when he still had the chance.

 

3) The music had an almost urgent quality to it, and the tenseness of the situation being depicted on screen with Charlie's exit, the music rose in intensity. The music in the beginning was just as important and or pivotal to the characters themselves. I have a feeling the music only becomes more important as the movie continues, etc. 

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We can see from the beginning that Uncle Charlie is a troubled figure, here we have two men going after him and he seems to already expect that somehow. We also can feel the peculiar freshness of film noir, the (lack of) lighting and the sense of imminent doom and the pessimistic air, it's all there. And the soundtrack here really helps to build the mood of suspense, especially when the two guys start following uncle Charlie, how beautifuly the music seems to recreate their steps towards the target, that's really efficient, a marvellous work. 

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Uncle Charlie seems like a man that is somehow resigned to his fate. The way he speaks when the landlady enters his room is very listless and his tone is flat. Also the way that he never moves from the bed and barely seems to lift a finger the entire time she is there shows his indifference. Once she leaves, he does rise and go to the window. There is a flash of anger when he throws the glass but it disappears as quickly as it arrived. Then he goes down the stairs and across the street to meet his fate.

 

The score does a tremendous job of building suspense. First with the anger that builds within Uncle Charlie till he hurls the glass. Then the slow build of the music as he walks down out of the building to meet his fate and the ominous piano keys as the men go to follow him down the street. It gives the whole mood of the clip a tense and frightening build-up. 

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

 

He is wanted by the police. They don't know what he looks like. He has money.

 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

The shadows, someone being hunted by the police, and the voice over.

 

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

 

It is vital to the the mood/atmosphere of a film. It helps to inform the audience something is about to happen or if the feel/mood is shifting. It helps to build tension and whatever mood is needed at the time.

 

 

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1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do you learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.
 

WE LEARN THAT Uncle Charlie is living temporarily in an urban building where individual rooms are for rent. We're in an unnamed American city. We know it's American right off the bat because of the architecture and because children are playing ball in the street.
We discover Charlie in a dark room, lying on a bed, smoking a cigar, window curtains throwing watery shadows across his face.
A pan from Charlie reveals considerable cash on the bedside table. The horizontal pan becomes vertical, continuing down to the floor where it stops on yet more cash, wads of it.
The landlady, "Mrs. Martin," comes to his room and informs him two men are looking for him.
When she leaves, he sits up, drinks from a glass. Music swells menacingly. In a sudden fit of anger, Charlie throws the glass at the sink.
By his outward appearance, he looks like a successful businessman. He wears a dapper suit and speaks to Mrs. Martin in the polite tones of a gentleman. If it's true that "action is character," it's now obvious that underneath the suave appearance he has a hair-trigger temper.
He goes to the window. As he looks down to the street, the curtains cast shadows on his face.

When he spots two men standing on the corner, we hear his thought: "You've nothing on me!"

He leaves the rented room and walks out of the building, brushing by the two men waiting on the corner, as if daring them to follow him. The men do start following him as he heads down the sidewalk.

We don't know what he's done. We don't know where he got the cash.

But it's clear in this 3:40 opening scene: Uncle Charlie, for some reason, is a man on the run.

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

THE CAMERA DISCOVERS Charlie as a man alone. He's in a dark, seedy room, wavy shadows making his features indistinct. Dressed in a dapper suit, holding a cigar, he's in deep thought. His face is expressionless. Every aspect of this is classic film noir.

Up to this point, he has been stock-still--like a corpse in a coffin--prone on the bed. But the landlady's information triggers a violent outburst: he throws a drinking glass, shattering it against the sink. The fact that he lies there corpse-like foreshadows that he's already a dead man. This, too, is classic film noir.

When he goes to the window--curtain shadows once again washing across his face--he spots the two men on the street corner.
We hear his thoughts: "You've nothing on me!"

Shadows will play a telling role in this film, deep shadows being a hallmark of film noir. The movie's very title is a hint.

As Uncle Charlie leaves the boarding house, he walks determinedly toward the camera. Without breaking stride, he passes the men and keeps walking. They begin to tail him as he walks away from the camera, down the middle of the shot. He's heading toward the sun--westward.

He's obviously on the lam. Again, classic film noir: a man on the run.

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores take on more importance than the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?
 

AS THE FILM OPENS, Tiomkin's score is, briefly, a full orchestration of "The Merry Widow Waltz" over the street scene. (Only later in the film do we learn the significance of this particular piece of music. Charlie is one of two suspects the FBI is looking for in connection with the "Merry Widow Murders," so called because the killer has murdered several widows for their money.)

When the camera dissolves from the street into Charlie's dark room and discovers him on the bed, the full orchestration immediately shifts to a darker tone. As the camera slow-zooms to Charlie, the score reduces to a few instruments in a minor key with high-pitched, eerie notes on a violin. Tiomkin's score is quite pointedly telling us mystery surrounds this man and that, for some not yet revealed reason, he is in deep, dark thought.

When Mrs. Martin knocks on Charlie's door, the music stops. For the next :30--while Mrs. Martin and Charlie talk--there is no music at all.
Before leaving his room, Mrs. Martin pulls down the window shade. As she does this, the music--ominous bass notes--play on the soundtrack. As the shade lowers, it puts Charlie's face in deep shadow, one of the classic tools of film noir, or "black film."
Tiomkin's notes rumble then swell to crescendo, matching Charlie's anger as the glass shatters against the porcelain.
From this point on, with the exception of a smattering of "The Merry Widow Waltz", Tiomkin's score builds, at first cluing us to Charlie's purposeful decision to walk out of the apartment, into the street, right toward the two men standing on the corner, obviously waiting for him to exit the building.

He strides toward them, brushing by one of them, and begins walking away from the camera. They begin to follow him. As they tail him, Tiomkin's score gives us what sounds like the ominous death march of someone going to the gallows, to a firing squad or to the electric chair.

We now know--in a mere 3:40 sequence--that Charlie is a marked man.

Hitchcock with his camera and Tiomkin with his score have raised the stakes--and have raised questions:

Who is Charlie? What has he done? Where is he going?

What will happen next?








 

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1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

 

Specifically we learn that Uncle Charlie wants to be taken care of. He allows his landlady to intercede for him with the visitors, he allows her in to close the blinds, he even allows her to pick the money up off of the floor. He's also careless he doesn't seem to worry about where he puts his money. Also, he may be violent the way he threw the cup was violent at heart.

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

This opening scene does remind me of film noir in that I always think of the male characters in film noir as being men who brood & though he may be taking a nap it seems more like he is deep in thought.

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

 

The Tiomkin score adds greatly to the mood of this scene there are striking differences at play one minute we're hearing the downward moving chords which increase the sense of dread, then we hear the rising in the strings and as the tempo gets faster and pitch goes higher the tension increases until Charlie throws the cup. After Charlie emerges from his home, I find it interesting that when the police begin to follow him a lone piano in a very deliberate pace focuses all attention on the fact that the chase is on.

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The course seems to be pairing Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious. The latter is a film that I truly love. I watch it whenever I get the chance unlike Shadow of a Doubt which I deeply admire and usually avoid watching. I am looking forward to figuring out my reaction as this week progresses.

 

The "noir" in film noir translates most literally as "black" though it also can signify darkness in the literal and the emotional sense. The opening scene is all about the darkness that is Uncle Charlie's soul. He pulls down the shade and makes a dark room darker. He is emotionally closed, barely relating to his landlady and showing very little emotion

or curiosity about the fact that he is being shadowed. It's important to think about why we don't see him as a potential victim or as someone unjustly hunted as is often the case with a major star in a Hitchcock film. He is so closed and the carelessly crumpled money in these lowdown surroundings doesn't suggest healthy or honest sources of income. It's interesting that the landlady seems so concerned about him in view of his distant treatment of her-he doesn't even look at her.

 

As the movie progresses, it will become clear that this scene gives us important information that the other Charlie, Teresa Wright, a creature of light if ever there was one, only gradually and painfully discovers. We audience members are in the dark about why those men are chasing him--in fact, we are going on a journey into the heart of darkness.

 

The part of the scene that takes place outside is really a silent film. Tiompkin's score provides all the drama in its relentless march. The music provides the tension and sense of danger that takes the place of dialogue and even facial expression from the actors.

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1.  Uncle Charlie (or "Mr. Spencer") is a slew of contradictions in the opening.  He's in a seedy rooming house, but he's dressed up in a suit and tie, smoking what one assumes is a quality cigar.  He's enormously peaceful and lowkey, but when he gets up, he smashes the water glass,so there's an underlying rage at something or someone.  He seems unconcerned when the landlady tells him about the two men looking for him, but we find out he IS concerned when he looks through the window and says "You've got nothing on me."  And he's careless about the money on the bedside table and on the floor.  So it seems that Uncle Charlie on the outside (serene, well-dressed) is NOT the Uncle Charlie on the inside (someone with a secret and a temper).

 

2.  While it's not the hardboiled nightime, rainsoaked cityscape of most film noir, the film opens in an urban environment, in a rundown location.  Shadows abound, and there are definitely the crossed "bars" invoking someone who is trapped or about to be trapped.  And it gets even darker when the landlady pulls down the blind.  But something isn't "right" about this -- it's as though it has only a few elements of film noir, at least in the opening.  But it does lead one to believe that Uncle Charlie has come afoul of the law...or of some criminal element.

 

3.  Tiomkin's score totally sets the tone of the opening.  It's a quick-paced but dark moody segment that immediately raises the tension level before we move off the street and into the rooming house itself.  When the landlady pulls down the shade, the music is even more ominous, so we KNOW Uncle Charlie is hiding something or wants to be in hiding.  And when he gets up to go out, the music literally screeches, as though he's going to go out to something terrible, but all he does is pass the men on the street, and then they follow him.  We'll have to wait to see what happens next.  And that's what the score does -- sets you up so you are eager to see what comes next.

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Posted (edited)

1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the ​main story. What do you learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

 

Uncle Charlie lives alone in a 19th Century style Boarding House in a small neighborhood in New Jersey. He is resting in his bed as he is smoking on his cigar. A pile of cash is on the small table and some have dropped on the floor. The landlady comes to his room to inform Uncle Charlie about two men that have talked to her and said they were his friends. Even though they are not his friends, he makes a run for it and the two men follow his trail.

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

The low camera angles that are then tilted to give the viewer an uneasy feeling of what is going to happen next in the scene. The camera moving in toward the main subject of the sequence, followed by a quick pan of the objective camera shots that are focused on the objects in the room that are central to the story. The shadows of the curtain blinds in the foreground as well as the background. The deep focus cinematography of the main characters in the foreground and background. The blind closing to reveal a darkness in both atmosphere and mood. The main character being followed by the law enforcement for a crime that the person committed that is later being tailed.

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace for this opening scene?

 

It surprisingly starts out as light and fluttery in the opening sequence as we move from the kids playing on the street to Uncle Charlie's room in the Boarding House in New Jersey. Then the music takes a break from the important conversational sequence between the landlady and Uncle Charlie about the two men waiting outside. Then once the landlady pulls down the curtain, the music takes a dark turn and further conveys an ominous atmosphere that is foreboding. Once Uncle Charlie is looking out the window and finds that the two men that are looking for him are not his friends. It starts to switch back and forth from light to dark as part of the duality of the doubles.

Edited by BLACHEFAN
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We learn that charlie doesn't care amount money, thrown around, and/or where he stays. We know that he's tired of running and is almost ready to give up. Then decides not too.

 

This scene is out of film noir, the urban setting, the lighting, the chase, the raw emotions of Charlie. The killers opening and this film very similar.

Two detectives after the main character, who wouldn't mind suicide by others.

 

The score, is contrast as background is to film. Simple score of a complex plot.

The best and often overlooked contrast, is a real killer in the house of pretend/play acting

Killers. Hitch, pointing fun at innocence or highlighting it?

 

Love this film, best of his work, as it uses more than imagery as suspense building.

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