Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #11: Thought I'd Left (Opening Scene of Mr. and Mrs. Smith)

190 posts in this topic

The first time I viewed this opening, I didn't notice any "Hitchcock Touches."  It didn't seem like Hitchcock at all!  But after watching the clip, I ran it again and paid more attention to the details.  This time through I noticed the camera shots:  the slow pan of the room, the POV shots, and the extreme close-up of Lombard's eye.  Also, Lombard exhibits the voyeur behavior by trying to watch Montgomery without his notice.  I also noticed the use of light and shadow in the room.  Even though the room is light and bright, Hitchcock used light and shadow brilliantly to let us know it is morning and they have large windows letting in the sun.  Finally, Hitchcock has music which sets the mood (different than the typical Hitchcock mood) and is perfectly matched to the action.

 

From the visual design, we know immediately that the people in this room are wealthy and messy!  The large amount of china, crystal, and silver scattered on the tables and floor, combined with the large size of the room, the large ornate doors, the furniture design and ornate fabrics all speak of wealth before we see the two servants, huge kitchen, or law office.  We see that he is playful (cards, climbing over the sofa, etc.).  We also see that they are probably fighting since the sheet and quilt on the sofa indicate that he slept there.  From the dishes and uneaten food to the large bouquet of dead flowers, we can see that they have probably been holed up in this room for a considerable amount of time (actually looks like more than 3 days to me).

 

I do not believe this is a typical Hitchcock opening based on the openings we have seen in previous movies.  Previously, we saw crowds or large groups, usually in a public place.  While this clip is fairly fast-paced, it does not have the frenetic pace of other openings.  There is no crime or fear or sense of dread in this opening.  Even when the previous openings were lighter, there were subtle hints of unease and dread.  However, in "Rebecca"  the opening did not seem like a typical Hitchcock opening based on the previous British films.  Since Hitchcock did like to experiment, I'd say that he is experimenting with his typical opening in these two movies.  Also, when I consider the other Hitchcock movies I've seen, I'd say that Hitchcock does not stick to the "typical" opening from his British movies.  

 

I believe the casting and chemistry been Lombard and Montgomery is excellent.  In a very short period at the end of this opening, they conveyed excellent chemistry together.  Of course, Lombard is one of the all-time greats at screwball comedy, so she is perfectly cast.  While I've never been a big fan of Montgomery, I do think he seems very well-suited for this role.  I'm sorry I've missed this picture in the past and when it was shown earlier this month.  I'm going to seek it out!

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1.What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 

 

Hitchcock wants us to be emotionally invested in these people and, even though there's no sense of foreboding, there is a sense of suspense. Everything in the room is rumpled and used, so they've been there a while and aren't particularly concerned with the state of everything. We barely see the leading lady until halfway through the opening scene. The rule... no leaving the room until the quarrel is over is a precursor to the modern don't go to bed angry

2..Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

Disagree. What I've seen so far, he often uses the POV shot which we don't see at all here.There's also very little interaction between the two lead actors. Almost all of the dialogue is between the secondary actors until the end of this scene.

 

 

3.What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

 

They seem very easy and effortless together.There's definitely a lightheartedness to their energy instead of the kind of intense energy like we see in a film like Rebecca.

 

 

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1.This is much more intimate opening scene than we have seen from Hitchcock so far. It takes place in the couples bedroom for the most part with the sole focus being the relationship between the Husband and Wife The couple seem to be in the mist of some sort of argument from the dishevel state of the room and the fact that he is sleeping on the couch while she is sleeping on the bed. 

 

2. I disagree that this is a typical Hitchcock opening. The opening scenes we have viewed so far have for the most part been noisy chaotic ones taking place in public with a sense of tension to them. The opening of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is much less tense and chaotic and much more intimate with the scenes taking place in the characters bedroom with just the two of them with the exception of the maid and Sammy.

 

3. I like the casting of Lombard and Montgomery. I think they have a very easy chemistry and seem as though they would be married to each other and yet fight at the same time. 

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I would just like to contradict the general consensus on point #2. I do find this to be a typical opening Hitchcock scene. While the number of people represented is much less, the chaos and disorder that crowds usually generate is still present in the remnants of their 3 day sequester. the sound effects of his solitaire game and the forced path of access, due to dishes, are both reminiscent of crowd behavior and the accommodations one must make to maneuver through such a situation.

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1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 

 

One of the Hitchcock touches is the POV shot.  This is a very popular type of shot for Hitch and he tends to use it especially in the opening sequences so that we maybe connect to the characters more from the beginning.  We learn from the visual design that the couple Mr. Smith probably has a high paying job or they have money from family due to the luxurious feel of the bedroom.  The room is messy but large and bright.  Also because of the staff they have (at least 2 that we can see in teh scene) this also says that the couple is richer then most. 

 

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

I tend to disagree with that statement.  The opening scene here is not full of action like others have been.  It is very low key for Hitch.  We don't learn much about what is going on until the very end of the scene and why they are in the bedroom and not coming out even for meals. 
 

3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

I do believe that there is a good chemistry between the actors and the characters both.  Without the chemistry between the actors the characters would not make sense in a marriage.

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1.  What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc?

 

The opening sequence of Mr. & Mrs. Smith has a few Hitchcock "touches".  First of all, the music is key to our appraisal of what is happening, or, going to happen in the film.  The tempo is lively and the melody is quirky, setting a lighthearted, humorous, feel to the coming film.  Of course, we have a telephone sequence - somehow that always gets worked into a Hitchcock movie.  Also, we have a pretty blonde seen lying down in bed, but is not dead.  We also see her eyes peering over the bedcovers - a typical Hitchcock shot.  What really got me, and is a perfect Hitchcock "touch" is the little scene of Robert Montgomery/Mr. Smith putting the boiled egg into the pocket of his robe.  A small but very funny little bit.

 

 2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not?

 

I beg pardon, as I am both agreeing and disagreeing.  As another student mentioned in their comments, on first viewing, there seems little to connect this opening sequence to the previous openings we've seen in the Daily Doses thus far; there is no large public assemblage, or setting, no ominous music, nor any exotic locale or screaming bystanders. Yet, on a second viewing, you can see how Hitchcock uses a panning shot to go from the "body" on the bed across the bedroom to the sitting area that is awash in strewn dishes, uneaten food, lots of glasses, and, finally the camera rests on a guy playing solitaire, with a three-day beard, dressed in his pajamas, and, smoking a cigarette.  It's Hitchcock's standard POV shot and a voyeuristic view into this married couple's bedroom.  Then, you subsequently have the 'servants' giving their descriptions of the situation in the bedroom.  They may as well be hawking newspapers on the streets of London shouting about the latest developments in a public "murder".  Also, when I saw that antic with the boiled egg (mentioned in the above paragraph), I couldn't help thinking this is the little "hook" that lets you in on what this character is like. It's kind of like the comical routine between Caldicott and Charters in The Lady Vanishes opening sequence.

 

3.  What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not?

 

I love the casting in this movie.  While they aren't William Powell and Myrna Loy, I believe Lombard and Montgomery were well cast.  I love the 'play against type' that seems to work between them. Lombard's character refuses to be a pushover wife, and argues her position very well.  I love when Hitchcock shows a strong female lead that actually has brains.  As in a French farce, or, any bedroom comedy, there has to be a logical sounding reason for Mrs. Smith's behavior.  I think Lombard carries the part with gusto.  Montgomery is also good, he can sound supercilious and loving at the same time.  Comedy is never as easy as it looks.

 

Oh - and FYI - as I didn't answer this part in Topic #1, I knew this was a real American movie, directed by Hitchcock, from the opening credits!  The font and style of the titles, along with the music, clearly show Hitchcock's touch.

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I. Hitchcock touches

 

I could see a few Hitchcock touches: actress on the bed (as the actor on the bed in Shadow of a Doubt); the 2 ladies filling us in on what has been going on (as the 2 Englishmen did in The Lady Vanishes). The touch of humour in the scene when Robert Montgomery shuts the door to make Lombard think he has left the room (as in The Pleasure Garden when the actress plays a trick on her admirer backstage).

 

The attention to detail in the camera shot of the entire room focussing on the dirty dishes scattered all over the room, the shots of the two lead actors' and other visual clues to convey to the audience what has been going on between the couple. With these bits of visual design and with hardly any dialogue, we realise that the couple have quarrelled especially with the shot of Montgomery playing solitaire and looking fearfully at his wife sleeping and Lombard peeping through the blanket and hiding her feelings from her husband. As in Shadow of A Doubt (the shot of the cash carelessly left on the bedside table), the visual shots are more powerful than the dialogue between the actors.

 

Hitch uses the bright lighting to give us the impression that the couple are in a bright sunlit room and to dispel the idea that this will be a film noir (the contrast with the room in Shadow of a Doubt which was pretty dark and shady).

 

2. This film does seem to be a typical Hitchcock opening scene because of its light music, humour and the 2 characters informing us about what has taken place as mentioned above. The first shot is also shot indoors as in Shadow of A Doubt; Downhill; the Ring and The Lady Vanishes. The light-hearted atmosphere is reminiscent of that in The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps but without the warning signs of possible danger (the mention of the avalanche in the former and the dark shadowy figure in the latter). The touches of humour are what makes this film similar to all his other films.

 

3. Casting of the 2 leads, Both Montgomery and Lombard sizzle together. Both are extremely good-looking and even though they seem to have had a quarrel, when they look at each other, they both seem to melt and their true feelings for each other are obvious to the audience. They seem to be comfortable with each other and actually look like a married couple very much in love by the end of this opening sequence. They seem to have great chemistry.

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1. The primary example of the Hitchcock touch in this scene is the camera work. Starting with the initial sweep across the floor filled with days of dirty dishes, it moves to the tableaux of cards, stops, then moves up to Robert Montgomery's unshaven, concerned face as he watches Carole Lombard. Thus, the entire premise of the scene is laid out for us in just a few seconds. This type of camera work continues as the dolly effectively zooms in on Carole Lombard's head buried in covers. 

 

Beyond that, the glamorous bedroom setting filled with satin and glittering objects tells us this couple is wealthy and able to indulge in pointless activities the average working couple would not be able to. Interestingly, Lombard acknowledges this after being fooled by Montgomery that he's left the room, which is revealed to be a potential break of their traditional argument-and-reconciliation pattern. 

 

The idle rich. Oh, and did I mention that Carole Lombard is blonde?

 

2. I don't agree that it is in any way a typical Hitchcock opening beyond the use of the camera and sets to tell a backstory. Now, that's substantive. Too many movies, in my opinion, use expository dialogue to present the context and it seems contrived. Whereas, Master that he is, you're given all you need to know visually and with the small bit of the office boy arriving with an important contract. But, no one is sitting there describing the Smiths' odd ritual of not leaving the bedroom until a fight has been settled. (Okay, Ms. Lombard, the beautiful Ms. Lombard, does explain it, but only briefly).

 

3. I absolutely love both Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. They are wonderful actors, their chemistry is real, and they are perfect in this comedic film.

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It is funny how the camera works and how we witness the whole scene! Ithink it is typical of Hitchcock to focus on everyday objects and things that can lead to extraordnary situations!

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To be honest, I didn't even realize a Hitchcock screwball comedy existed until Mr. and Mrs. Smith came on the TCM watch list.  Wow!  I think the online chemistry between Lombard and Montgomery is phenomenal!  When he slams the door and hides behind the couch...leaving Lombard to think he's left, when their eyes finally meet....man!  These two really do connect!  I think this was an excellent casting choice as both parties seem to flow through the scenes seamlessly... both their "exploring" and "remarriage" phases are completely believable.  What a great find!!

 

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3. I absolutely love both Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. They are wonderful actors, their chemistry is real, and they are perfect in this comedic film.

 

 

I couldn't agree more with this statement!!

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What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 

 

​The humor is the "touch" that stood out to me. The dirty dishes everywhere show that the couple have been in that room for a while now. And the maid trying to get a look at what is going on and the other maid's comments about running out of dishes reveal that this is not the first time this couple has holed up in this room.
 

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

 

​I disagree. Most, but not all, of Hitchcock's openings have been in crowded public places.

 

What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

 

So far I like the casting. I'm not familiar with their other movies, so I have nothing to compare to this scene.

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1.) I felt that that main Hitchcock touches were the POV camera shots and most of all, The angry couple. When they reconcile their relationship in bed, it reminded me of the first scene from the iconic film Psycho with the iniimate actions of Janet Leigh and John Gavin.

https://68.media.tumblr.com/f0cf1a42787c198bdcd6a69db7ffd1ae/tumblr_n6g8jzXgI11qbjy8co1_500.gif

http://68.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lt9b0a3sAx1qhphz2o1_500.gif

 

2.) I don't think that the opening scene from this film have resemblance to any scenes from Hitchcock. It must be that this film is a screwball comedy with its main theme in marriage and relationships. Thus, it didn't require any dark settings or places with crowd.

 

3.) The film had an amazing cast along with the main star attractions Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. They were over-the-top and their onscreen performances were done with perfection.

A great comedy to watch out for.

 

http://68.media.tumblr.com/3ede54a4bfec89fe8274a340791eb415/tumblr_mslcpnZtx51r89qoso1_500.gif

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Daily Dose #11: Thought I’d Left? Opening Scene from Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1943)

 

I don’t like this one as well as some of the others. I admire Hitchcock’s attempts to move into other genres to expand his repertoire, but some don’t fit him the way others do. There is an ambivalence here that gives the story an uneasy undertone. When Robert Montgomery admits that he would not get married again if he had the chance, because he misses his freedom, it makes sense on one hand as someone being absolutely honest about his feelings, without thinking about the consequences, under the strange tyranny of the rules they have set up for their marriage, but we have already had this long intro, which is almost a cat and mouse game, of Lombard pretending she’s asleep, like a kid does, Montgomery pretending to leave, to test her feelings about him and other signs of their affection for each other.

 

It reminds me of Uncle Charley suddenly speaking his inner thoughts at the dinner table in Shadow of a Doubt, or Norman Bates going too far in telling Marion Crane about his feelings in Psycho, and other male characters in Hitchcock’s pantheon and their quirky ambivalence about women. I was comparing this in my thoughts to The Thin Man, and Dick Powell and Myrna Loy’s easy rapport, and hilarious shotgun dialogue, yet another marriage constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and this film pales greatly in comparison.

 

I did enjoy the anecdote I read about Hitchcock having Carole Lombard direct his cameo and how she made him do multiple retakes of it.

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  1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 

    As with many Hitchcock openings, we see fluid camera movement documenting the setting without a word of dialogue.  We see different "pieces" of the "puzzle" and from there, we are able to formulate the situation.  For example, Mr. and Mrs. Smith's bedroom is a mess due to a heated argument.  Mr. Smith is seen as apprehensive and attentive of Mrs. Smith's actions, like her fussing around under the covers and her worried look when she thinks he had left.   

  2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

    With the main exception of the genre of film that Mr. and Mrs. Smith exhibits, we see classic tendencies that evoke the Hitchcockian touch in this opening sequence.  Like many openings we have seen, the camera pans around a room, noting critical objects and figures.  Without a word of dialogue, we understand what has happened.  Facial expressions, gestures, and body language are most paramount in openings, and with these, we can infer to fill in the blanks.

  3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

       Known widely for comedy, Lombard and Montgomery seem to have a fitting chemistry            that bonds both to this farce.

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