Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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I don't know if this Daily Dose is the appropriate place for this, but I had a question about Shadow of a Doubt. Am I correct in thinking that this is the only Hitchcock film that features a teenager as the protagonist?

 

It seems entirely appropriate that young Charlie is, well, young, as opposed to other Hitchcock leading actresses. The theme that runs through the movie about the journey from innocence to experience is especially well-suited for a teen. She is not just learning about the existence of evil in people and places she previously thought were bright and good; there is also a creepy undercurrent of awakening sexual awareness between her and her uncle. He gives her a ring and tells her they share the same blood.

 

The signature scene for me in this film (which is probably my favorite of all Hitchcock's films) is when Uncle Charlie forces her into the bar. As they descend the stairs she says "I've never been to a place like this before." She has a ginger ale and Uncle Charlie has a double brandy; she looks like she's going to be sick while Uncle Charlie expounds at length about his disgust with the world she thinks she is part of. Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie are doubles, but there is also Young Charlie's double in the part of the bar maid she knows from school. The bar maid's performance seems jaded and disillusioned with life, as if maybe she had an Uncle Charlie of her own.

 

Joseph Cotten's speech in the bar and his earlier speech at the dinner table as so completely bleak, and it is that dark, dark world view that I think makes this the most noirish of Hitchcock's films.

Actually, Young and Innocent (1937) also features a teenage protagonist (Nova Pilbeam) and is very much also a coming-of-age, going from innocent to experience story.  It is not as dark as Shadow of a Doubt, and is quite delightful.  I highly recommend it.  It is very much in the vein of 39 Steps.  A wrongfully-accused man on the run, and the daughter of the chief constable falling into helping him.  It features a very famous crane shot cited in all the texts about Hitchcock, but is much more than that. 

 

You could also say Stage Fright (1950) has similar themes, too.

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I DVR'd this film and watched it last night.


 


Someone else on here pointed this out, and I agree, that Uncle Charlie was not the widow murderer. Were there tons of circumstantial evidence? Yes, loads of it, but we never see Uncle Charlie do anything until the end, and then, I think he's finally at rope's end. Reluctantly, he must dispose of "Girl Charlie". He could never have a moment's peace if he allows her to live. He knows that only too well. 


 


Remember, Uncle Charlie is kind of insane anyway (although, no murderer). There was the scene at the bank where he shows his a$$, and then the other times when he goes on one of his tirades.


 


Hitchcock goes to great lengths to NOT show Uncle Charlie doing anything wrong. We never see him lock the garage door or turn the car on. We never see him put the key back in the ignition. We never see the entire inscription on the ring. We never see him booby-trap the back stairs. (Yes, we see a figure from the back that may be Uncle Charlie, but we're not sure.) The only bad thing we see Uncle Charlie do is throw a glass against the wall. Big deal. Why was the other suspect back east "running from the police". Maybe he was the murderer.


 


I believe Uncle Charlie got a raw deal getting crushed by the oncoming locomotive. Let him get missed by the train and then sneak away unnoticed. Then, we never know whether he kills again or if he was innocent. The ambiguous ending is always better. I wish I could have consulted Hitch on some of these things.


 


Remember at the beginning on the film how cynical Girl Charlie was? Before her uncle even showed up? Maybe Girl Charlie is on her way to becoming just like Uncle Charlie? Especially now that she's become so embittered from that ordeal.


 


One thing I'd like to add is, I don't like the romance angle with the detective. Unnecessary, underdeveloped, and completely unrealistic. Not a good move by Hitch and the writers. This fault keeps 'Shadow' from getting into my Top 5 Hitchcock pictures. Which is:


 


5) The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)


4) Rear Window


3) Vertigo


2) Psycho


1) North By Northwest


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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. 

 

​We learn in the opening that there must be something that these men know are suspect and that Uncle Charlie has done something.  Clues the money, the fact that when he sees them he says to himself "you've got nothing on me". 
 

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 does have a film noir feel that is slowly shows us that something bad or sinister must have happened.
 

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 created a relaxing mood that slowly built up to the quick walk away from the two men.

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Daily Dose #10: Nothing on Me

Opening Scene from Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

 

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 appears to be waiting for something to happen or thinking about what to do. His landlord seems to be aggravating him with the information she has about his visitors. He appears angry when she leaves when he smashes his glass against the wall. But then he seems to be confident that the men cannot recognize him. The suspense begins as the men follow 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.

 

This opening reminds me of watching a genre and style film noir because of the darkest of the room, the mysterious character of Uncle Charlie and the sound of the music leading up to the suspense. This movie was similar to The Killers with its dark lightning, sound affects and mysterious beginning. 


 

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 effect that Tiomkin's score had on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene was varying. First the music was playful as the children played in the street but changed when the camera went to the window creating a subtle attitude as if something was about to happen. Then the music changed for a few seconds to a pleasant sound as Uncle Charley lay in the bed and then back to the subtle sound when the camera focused on the money. When Uncle Charley smashed his glass the music became mysterious and eerie adding a dark and scary atmosphere. As Uncle Charley left the room the score got louder, more dangerous, fast, exciting and mysterious, even as the men followed him down the street my heart skipped a beat - the music frightened me.

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Daily Dose #10

1) The opening scene enters one of the main characters, Uncle Charlie Oakley. Boys playing ball outside--a normal day, possibly a Saturday. Uncle Charlie lying on a bed...the audience learns he is in trouble, serious trouble. In a frantic, half planned idea, he clears out of his rented room and lures the two men away...in a desperate attempt to lose him. Key question- "He has money slipped out onto the floor." And why "Break the glass."? What does this all mean?

2) An innocent setting: children playing, a tentative landlady, all in a quiet neighborhood. Yet, not all things are innocent and good...there's bad, evil things that could be happening behind closed doors...no one knows really. I have yet to watch Siodneck's "The Killers". I hope TCM will air it. Comparing "Shadow of a Doubt" to "Rebecca"...their opening scene...one being wholesome, bright, happy, joyous and there's a chase and the other, is dark, dreary, empty, eerie, and both movies--the music that is attached to each of these scenes gives the audience a sense of "fight or flight", "stay or go". We have questions and we need answers...so, we stay tune, sitting on the edge of our seats...

3)

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We learn that Charlie really is a bad character. At first you kind of wonder if he got into some trouble, but the breaking of the glass indicated an anger instead of a desperation.

 

I paid much closer attention to the music while watching this clip than I did watching the movie when it aired, and it added so much to the scene. First it was playful with showing the kids in the street, then it got much more sinister showing the money on Charlie's table. The last thing I noticed was it played in time with the walking of the two detectives. I thought that really helped emphasize how they were closing in on Charlie.

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1. Uncle Charlie is in a not-too-seedy boarding house. He's well dressed, surrounded by cash which he ignores, smoking a cigar. When the landlady tells him about the two friends who visited, he is calm in front of her (almost charming)...but shows his anger (defiance) when he is alone.  


 


2. I agree it had noir qualities--location, grit, dark persona, hint of a crime (money, men following the MC). The opening includes the long shot, then pushes in to reveal the bank roll.  Darkness is created when the blinds are lowered. 


 


3. The initial sounds are sinister and foreshadow trouble. The score then races...increasing the tension. Finally, the music crescendoes when Uncle Charlie is seemingly going to confront the two men after him...but he passes them by and the music sounds like footsteps.


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In the opening scene, we learn that Uncle Charlie is living in a rented room in a city. By the way, he reacts to the landlady telling him about the two strangers looking for him, we know it angers him. Whatever they are looking for him about, he is defiant as he boldly walks past them as he leaves.

 

The opening reminds me of film noir because the use of light and shadow as the camera moves in closer to Joseph Cotten on the bed and then pans to money on the bedside table and strewn on the floor. The noir atmosphere lets the audience know there is something already sinister going on.

 

Tiomkin's score goes from light with the children playing in the street to a subdued darker music as he lays on the bed. It ends with again quicker, faster-paced music when Uncle Charlie leaves and defiantly walks past the men who were looking for him.  It is as if the music was leading us to a climatic scene when he walks towards them.    

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1. 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 almost in a meditative state, considering his next move. Thinking about all he's done, his victims, and although he kills for the money, it means nothing to him.  You can sense the inner turmoil and the increased anger boiling up in him.  Restrained, but boiling.

 

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

The brooding character and building of tension in the scene. Finding out that he's been found and realizing he needs to take action to avoid capture.  His arrogance of knowing they have "nothing on me". 

 

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

Tiomkin's music underscores everything...the tension within the building, the crescendo up to the door.  The Merry Widow theme running throughout.  The music portrays enough of the story that dialogue is not needed.

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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's living in a boarding house.

Two men are following him. 

He is preoccupied with what is going on in his life,.  So much so that he lets lots money lay all over and doesn't care that the landlady sees it.  And just lays on the bed, lost in thought.

He's done something he shouldn't have/ feels guilty about something - he says "You have nothing on me."

 

 

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)

 

Strong contrast of black and white.

Use of shadows.

Someone is on the run/being followed.  

Someone is tailing a main character.

There is a somber tone to the scene.

 

 

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 shifts from gay and playful when we are outside in the streets with the children, to slow and soft when we move inside the room of Charlie.  When Charlie rises from his bed, the music rises with him.  It continues to do so, creating a feeling of anticipation until he walks out the front door of the building.  As he walks past the men following him, then as they start to follow him again, the music mirrors the anxiety and anticipation of all three men and the situation.  As the men follow him, the music also mimics the rhythm of their footsteps.

 

 

 

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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's being followed by a couple men. 
 
 

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)

unknown

 

  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? 

At first the music feels a little joyful then moves to a littler paranoid and then to straight up panic,

  1. 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)

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1. In the film's New Jersey prelude, we learn that Uncle Charlie has a stash of cash by the bedside and he's lying in bed in a dark suit, rolling a cigar between his fingers. We learn from the lady running the boarding house that two men have been asking for him and are waiting just outside for him. In a manner so calm that it is sinister, Charlie informs her the men are not his friends and replies "that he may go out and meet them." After the woman leaves, he smashed his glass and leaves, but makes sure to walk right by the waiting men, instead of avoiding them, perhaps tempting fate or daring the men to make a move. 

 

2. Obviously, the shadows of the room and the mystery behind the cash gives us an idea that the film is a noir, as well as the seedy nature of Charlie. I also noticed that, in contrast to Charlie's black suit (representing his dark nature), the lady from the boarding house is dressed in a white dress with gray stripes, perhaps representing the fact that she is caught between her normal life and the criminal activity of her boarder.

 

3. The movie's score starts off as peaceful while panning over the boys playing in the street as it moves to the window where we meet Uncle Charlie. It is after we learn that Charlie is being followed and we see him react that the music loudly jolts us out of this peace and then ramps up as Charlie decided to take his money and walk by the two men waiting outside for him. The music's jarring nature is what pulls us out of any sense of calm into a feeling of suspense.

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Shadow of a Doubt...I love this one!  In the prelude, we quickly learn that Charlie is in some sort of trouble.  With money lying all over the place, there is definitely something going on!  He's lying on the bed, clearly upset about something, and with that, Hitch has us drawn into the story, right from the very beginning, with a knot in our stomachs because something is wrong.  This has the noir feel because of the shadows, the shady men with suits and hats that are hanging out on the corner, and the dramatic music.  Those are elements that always give me the film noir feel.  That musical score gives the dark, thick, heavy feel that signifies both noir and the mysterious feel that is classic Hitchcock.  Even though there are children playing in the street, a man calmly lying on a bed...the score tells us not to trust what we are seeing.  There is more to the story!

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1. In the film's New Jersey prelude, we learn that Uncle Charlie has a stash of cash by the bedside and he's lying in bed in a dark suit, rolling a cigar between his fingers. We learn from the lady running the boarding house that two men have been asking for him and are waiting just outside for him. In a manner so calm that it is sinister, Charlie informs her the men are not his friends and replies "that he may go out and meet them." After the woman leaves, he smashed his glass and leaves, but makes sure to walk right by the waiting men, instead of avoiding them, perhaps tempting fate or daring the men to make a move. 

 

2. Obviously, the shadows of the room and the mystery behind the cash gives us an idea that the film is a noir, as well as the seedy nature of Charlie. I also noticed that, in contrast to Charlie's black suit (representing his dark nature), the lady from the boarding house is dressed in a white dress with gray stripes, perhaps representing the fact that she is caught between her normal life and the criminal activity of her boarder.

 

3. The movie's score starts off as peaceful while panning over the boys playing in the street as it moves to the window where we meet Uncle Charlie. It is after we learn that Charlie is being followed and we see him react that the music loudly jolts us out of this peace and then ramps up as Charlie decided to take his money and walk by the two men waiting outside for him. The music's jarring nature is what pulls us out of any sense of calm into a feeling of suspense.

Great interpretation of the boarding house woman dressed in stripes!!  She does seem concerned about Charlie, but there's SO MUCH MONEY lying around... how can she NOT know there is something criminal going on?  

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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 waiting or thinking, he probably has done some illegal things, the amount of money on the nightstand some carelessly on the floor.  Cold calculating.  Although not openly disrespectful, he is dismissive of Mrs. Martin.  As we saw in the lecture, Uncle Charlie has a strong streak of misogyny.  He can be quick to violent behavior.  But when calm rational and confident.  So confident he can make it a point walk past the men looking for him.  Or so confident that that he can be brazen and careless.

 

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)
 

Shadow of a Doubt already has some thematic elements of film noir.  A dark violent character.  A level of misogyny.  Visually black and white, use of shadow, particularly as Mrs. Martin pulls down the shades and shadow comes across Charlie's face, with a bit of foreshadowing, is he in a casket?  

 

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?

 

​At first the score is almost light, before we entered Charlie's realm.  But as soon as we enter Charlie's room it transition to something although slower and peaceful but perhaps ominous.  As soon as the shadow passes over Charlie when Mrs. Martin pulls down the shades the score returns and is very ominous, as he throws the glass it turns violent, his inner monologue, and the score builds, and tension is building, will he act against the men waiting for him, and no he passes by, but the piano follows him in cadence with the stride of the two men.

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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 coming across Charlie in the bed and as his land lady enters the room. The men in fadoras eyeing him up as he passes by. The impending doom of it all just screams noir. 

 

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In the opening scene of "Shadow of a Doubt" we learn that the character of Charlie is a shady one. We know simply from his demeanor in the bed...fully clothed lying on a bed does not indicate that a person is relaxed. The money all over the nightstand and on the floor indicates that he has done something wrong to get all that cash. His way of speaking to the landlady is sinister. We learn that this is a man who has most likely done something wrong to earn that cash, that two men are after him and that it makes him nervous but that he is reckless enough to confront them. 

 

The noir signals come from the shadows in the scene, from the seediness of the boarding house on a gritty urban street, the criminal being watched by the detectives....the innocence of the children playing on the street while danger lurks reminds me of "M". 

 

The score plays an important role in this and subsequent Hitchcock movies....the initial music to make us feel playful with the kids turns quickly somber as we enter Charlie's bedroom. There the music stays quiet and ominous until it crashes and thunders as he throws the glass, it again turns frenetic as he leaves the rooming house.....causing the audience to feel nervous and off balance. 

 

 

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I have seen this entire movie, at least a few times, and I'll see it again for this class.  Shadow of a Doubt is a great film.  It's really cool how it's set in Santa Rosa, it's such a great location.  I've been to all of Hitchcock's northern California locations.  If you can ever get to San Francisco, there is a walking tour of the Hitchcock locations in San Francisco.  Some of the locales have changed very little in 60 years.

 

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 Joseph Cotton/Uncle Charlie has done something nefarious, by virtue of money strewn about carelessly, and the landlady coming up to tell him that two men were asking to talk to him.  Since he's just lying on the bed, smoking a cigar, I'm guessing - if this were my first viewing of this movie - he has committed some sort of crime and is going over it in his head.  He does not seem remorseful, but he is pensive, maybe he's thinking the police have something on him.  After he opens the blind and sees the men on the corner, he becomes confident, and, in the voiceover, he's convinced himself they have nothing on him.  From that thought, until he walks past them and out of the scene, you think he may have a new scheme brewing.

 

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 two things that jump out at me as "Film Noir" in this opening scene are:  the protagonist - Joseph Cotton/Uncle Charlie - is a criminal; and, there is an inner, psychological, conversation going on in his head.  This opening scene also has echoes of German Expressionism in the window shots and shadows.  The scene opens with a street scene that seems low-rent, and kind of gritty.  While I have seen The Killers, it's been a very long time, but it seems to me that in The Killers, the main guy is innocent, but he couldn't escape the killers sent after him.  There is crime and punishment and measures of guilt in both of the main characters in these movies.  

 

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? 

 

I'm so happy this question is a topic.  The brilliant music of Dimitri Tiomkin makes this scene work so beautifully.  I just knew Cotton was going to throw that drink glass at the wall, from the way the music built up to that point.  We also get a hint of the motif - just a very short riff from The Merry Widow waltz music that seems to drift through Cotton's head.  I also love the harsh piano chords as the cops turn to follow Uncle Charlie down the street at the end of the scene.  The chords are perfectly matched to the cops' footsteps.  Tiomkin is a genius, and, together with Hitchcock, we get all the ominous music motifs rendered in a sophisticated score that is not as heavy-handed as we heard in Rebecca.  It is a wonderful musical arrangement, and I can see why Tiomkin was admired by Hitchcock.  It's a good collaboration.

 

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At first glance, Uncle Charley appears meticulous in his clothing and manner, but this is contrasted as the camera scans the seedy room and the money strewn across the table and floor.  He seems perfectly calm and relaxed as he lays on the bed, but who really relaxes in a full suit and tie and shoes?  He seems calm and generally pleasant when the landlady enters and tells him about two men coming to see him.  He appears almost disinterested, but the second she closes the door, we see that he is actually tense, angry, and violent as he takes a drink and then throws the glass furiously into the bathroom sink!  We can actually feel his tension and nervousness as he crosses the room to look out the window.  You definitely feel that he has done something wrong as he sees the two men on the corner and says "you have nothing on me."  Then, you feel that many strong emotions are battling within him as he nervously gathers up his money, other pocket contents, and hat.  As he leaves his room, you feel that he is nervous, but also arrogant, angry, and confident that he can handle the two men waiting outside.

 

This opening seems like Film Noir from the dark, shadowy, high contrast black and white in the seedy boardinghouse room.  You know he is in a city when he looks out the window and you see skyscrapers in the background, but a mix of fairly nice brick buildings and very run-down wooden buildings across the street.  It also seems like Film Noir from the mood or feeling of dread and unease.

 

While I have seen "The Killers," it was too long ago to remember details.  However, this opening feels different from Film Noir at the very beginning when we see a bright, sunny street scene with boys cheerfully playing ball.  Then, the camera starts to scan the buildings and you start to feel some unease as the camera zooms in on one particular window and you know something is wrong in this room in contrast to the cheerful scene outside (the music is key here in changing the mood).  This also highlights a "Hitchcock Touch" that a perfectly innocent and ordinary exterior may actually be hiding an evil interior (both building and person).

 

Tiomkin's score seems to start out very simply and almost playful as we see the street scene with boys playing ball.  It seems darker and more foreboding as the camera scans the buildings and as it zooms in on one particular window, the music gives the feeling of danger lurking and dread.  Then, as we "go through" the window, the music calms down and becomes soft again as we see Uncle Charley lying on his bed, apparently calm and relaxed.  However, the music still makes you feel a little uneasy and uncertain as the camera scans the room.  When the landlady knocks and enters, the music stops altogether as they have their conversation.  As she closes the shade and then exits, the music resumes, but it now seems very nervous and frenetic.  The tension builds as the music rises and quickens as Uncle Charley jumps up, takes a drink, and then the score reaches a crescendo as he smashes the glass into the sink.  The music seems to be perfectly synchronized to Uncle Charley's actions and even his thoughts.  The music is nervous and frantic as he looks out the window and then stops to think.  As he thinks, we hear a little of the Merry Widow Waltz interspersed with the uneasy, frantic background score.  Then, the music builds in tempo and volume as he gathers his things and leaves the room.  We see his shadow in the hallway as he is leaving and the music continues to build until it climaxes as he goes through the door to the outside.  As he stops on the stoop, the music starts again low and slow, but increases in nervousness and volume as he approaches the two men.  As he passes them, it slows down again (like he is letting out his breath after passing them without an incident).  As they start to follow him, the music is again perfectly synchronized, but this time, with the two men's footsteps.  Obviously, Hitchcock and Tiomkin collaborated very well together to get the music, action, mood, and pace in this scene so perfectly coordinated (plus, they worked together on three more movies after this one).

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1. When we are introduced to Uncle Charlie we are uncertain as to what to make of the well dressed man lying on the bed next to roles of money. Its only after witnessing his interaction with the maid do we get a sense of the truly terrible person that he is.

 

3. Tominkin's music is used to highlight the internal thought of Uncle Charlie. It starts out almost nostalgic as we enter Charlies room as he lies full clothed on his bed thinking about nothing in particular as he caresses some of his ill gotten money. As he beings to interact with the maid the music starts to get quicker and more and more ominous as Charles mental state becomes more and more scattered until he throws the glass against the wall and decides to leave when the music reaches its highest point as he is spots the two officers that have come looking for him. Tominkin's music is used to great effect giving the view insight into Charles increasingly unhinged mental state.

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1. Uncle Charlie is a man with no optimism for the future. He's bitter and angry and cynical. He's brazen, telling the landlady that they don't know what he looks like, then intentionally walking into the street, brushing against one of the policemen on his way to somewhere. On the run, hiding in plain sight. 

 

2. Knowing what we've just learned, that Wilder suggested the opening sequence to Hitchcock based on The Killers, it's great comparison viewing. Beyond both characters lying in bed, awaiting their fates, the similarities break down. 

 

Where the Swede is resigned to his fate, ready to accept his own death, Uncle Charlie is quite the opposite. He's continuing to push forward, ready to take his show on the road. Both film opening sequences are noir, and although Uncle Charlie has a more optimistic view of his immediate future, the music and the chasing of the two detectives tells us his path is not so bright.

 

3. Tiomkin's score is ominous throughout, though the pace picks up as he rises, walks out of the building, and brushes past his pursuers. In fact, the score brings home the gravity of the situation for Uncle Charlie. 

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1. We learn that 2 men want to see Uncle Charlie from what the boarding house lady says to him. The cash thrown so carelessly on the bedside table and fallen on the floor next to his bed make the audience think that there is something odd about the man's attitude to cash. Joseph Cotten is a boarder in this house and seems to be tired. He tells the lady that he is not sure whether he should ask the men to come in or whether he should go out and meet them. When he speaks to the lady, it's almost as if he doesn't care. However as soon as the lady leaves, he gets up and smashes a glass and says" What do you know? You have nothing on me!" looking at  the 2 men who are waiting for him across the street and later defiantly walks up to the men almost brushing against one of them. His indifference seems to vanish as soon as the lady leaves the room and he becomes bolder and more confident. We see 2 sides to Uncle Charlie in this one scene - the laid-back indifference which transforms itself into a the defiant boldness most probably sparked by fear and anger.

 

2. The opening sequence is definitely "film noir" with its dramatic music, seedy boarding house and city setting and the presence of detectives after him. The sarcasm when he tells the lady "It's very funny, they aren't actually friends of mine, it's odd isn't it?" is also what we see in film noir. Similarly to The Killers, we see the main character lying on a bed but unlike that film, Joseph Cotten is shown in a bright room and we can see his face clearly. Both men are being hunted even though in The Killers, Burt Lancaster is supposedly already dead but Cotten as we can see, is very much alive.

 

We see Joseph Cotten much earlier than we see Lancaster lying on his bed. Hitch manages to condense a lot of information into a short scene but the beginning of The Killers seems to drag on if you compare the 2 films. The mood in both films is dark and threatening. Both films have a very realist perspective. There is no glamour here. The music (more in 3 below) is mostly dark and slow until he stands up from the bed after which the music becomes more dramatic as he walks faster and runs away from the detectives.

 

3. The music. The scene opens with kids playing in the street to the light-hearted Merry Widow waltz lulling the audience into a false sense of security until the camera approaches Joseph Cotten and the music quietens down and we hear the sound of bells ringing (could these be warning bells?). Thus in the first few seconds, the cinema audience expect a light-hearted scene to match the music.

 

The music then stops and Hitch surprises us by showing us the cash on the floor and the bedside table and with the information that there are 2 men on Uncle Charlie's trail through the conversation between him and the landlady.

 

After the lady leaves the room,the music becomes more dramatic as Cotten stands up from the bed, you hear screeching violin music which reaches a crescendo when he smashes the glass. The music lets the audience know that Uncle Charlie is not as laid back as he seemed in the first few seconds. As Cotten collects his money and leaves the boarding house, the music becomes louder and even louder when he stands up defiantly outside the door.Then the music quietens down as he approaches the 2 detectives. It then picks up with the sound of heavy piano playing to accompany the detectives' deliberate footsteps as they follow Uncle Charlie.

 

The music definitely helps the cinema audience's understanding of the scene.

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Oh, I loved it! It is definitely a film noir! This guy is a loner he's surely in trouble the money on the floor might be form the last night's job and the two detectives are looking for him!

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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 is a loner and in some kind of trouble. With the police perhaps? The scene doesn't really say but Uncle Charlie is accepting his fate. He tells the lady to let the two men in next time. Later, he boldly walks right by them. 

 

 

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)

 

I'm not familiar with film noir other than the hard-boiled detective stories, so this didn't remind me of watching film noir at all. I'll have to watch the whole movie in order to expand my definition of 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? 

 

The music served to heighten the emotions that Uncle Charlie was feeling, especially when he threw the glass.

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1.) In this scene, We comes to know that Uncle Charlie had committed some awful crime. He also know that the two men who were mentioned by the old lady were literally his angels of death. In the end, He is ready to face the music.

 

2.) Since, I didn't saw the film "The Killers", I don't know if the scene has any resemblance to that of the film mentioned above. Yes, this film has has the unique elements of film noir as even this scene begins in the daylight, one could see the shadow setting in the room of Uncle Charlie along with mystic background music and two mysterious men along the pavement.

 

3.)The music score is perfect and it brings the emotive mood of Uncle Charlie in this scene.

 

https://68.media.tumblr.com/8bdf990f25934d7d1eaa59cb9908716c/tumblr_ml9v03HOy51qiz3j8o1_500.gif

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