Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #16: It's a Nice Face (Scene from North by Northwest)

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1 Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. 

 

 

 

At first, I wasn’t clear about the meaning of this question. It’s still a bit foggy to me. Hitchcock could use Grant’s reputation as a “lady’s man” to flirt but I’m not sure how he used Saint. She was a homebody outside of her work.

 

 

 

Of course, she has seen his face before (even with his celebrity sunglasses!) and knows who he is as she says. Besides who doesn’t know who Cary Grant is. But when Grant says at the opening, “Here we are again,” it’s honest. They have been working together prior to this scene so they are both in front of the camera again. There does appear to be a natural chemistry between them. Therefore off camera feelings should play into a scene. Saint has learned to allow off camera feelings to be used in a scene as often as possible according to Lee Strasberg’s teaching. In this case it’s easy because it’s written right into their lines. I’m sure Saint could feel Grant attraction (as he was to all pretty women) and they had to do little preparation for this scene. They just did it.

 

 

 

Hitchcock knew Cary Grant was always seen as a “flirtatious fellow.” His history with women proves that. A history that Hitchcock probably did not share.

 

 

 

I mean, really? Did many women turn down Grant’s invitations. He has said, “To succeed with the opposite sex, tell her you’re impotent. She can’t wait to disprove it,” and “I think that making love is the best form of exercise.” Grant was in good physical shape until his death in 1986 and married to a woman 47 years younger. He was 82.

 

 

 

 

Eva Marie Saint, was just the opposite. She married in 1951 and was totally devoted her family. She married once unlike Grant’s five marriages (many not surviving much longer than a year, if that). She has been quoted as saying about the kiss on the train she hoped “I didn’t step on his feet.” I bet that’s not what Grant was thinking about.

 

 

 

When I read this quote, I felt Hitch enjoyed pairing these two opposites: on one hand the star who may have looked forward to his onscreen kisses, with the woman who experienced them as something the character had to do.

 

 

 

 

 

2 There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. 

 

 

 

 

The matchbook is used to continue their flirtatious banter and then to solidify consummation of their sexual tension during the long night ahead. The sunglasses that he almost took off, and when he finally did, showed he began to trust and fall for her.

 

 

 

 

 

3 How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. 

 

 

We hear two background sounds throughout. The sound of the train tracks and the music. The background music is very gentle and romantic. It plays against the foreplay of the action of the scene. While we hear the external sounds of the train, what is missing is the sounds of the dining car. We hear not a sound of plates or other people. This achieves the otherworldliness they feel in each other’s presence. To me this lack of sound suggests nothing exists for them outside of each other.

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I feel they are being themselves in this scene. Especially Cary Grant. There is a cool and crisp element between them. You can feel the sexual tension they have. She draws him in with the match lighting her cigarette. He pulls back and she pulls him back and blows out the match.

 

I love the sound of the train though the scene. Its almost like their banter is in rhythm with the train.

 

 

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Cary Grant is at the top of his form in this film, he has long since moved from romantic comedies to dramatic roles, but he is Cary Grant. Like John Wayne and others from the Golden Age of Hollywood, we go to see him, they are not actors, they were personalities. As the lecture stated, Cary Grant did not have to go shopping with Hitchcock for wardrobe. Archie Leach just put on his Cary Grant persona, and we had what we expected, well groomed, custom made clothes, expensive, always fitted out perfectly. He was not a method actor and knew what Hitchcock wanted and like Jimmy Stewart, “Just do it”. The camera loves Grant, and the audience does also.

 

Eva Marie Saint, is a method actor. She learned acting at the home of “method acting, and from Lee Strassberg, considered by many the “father” of method acting. Hitchcock did not like method actors overall, found them hard to work with, like Montgomery Clift, they clashed over I Confess. Saint, though, listened to Hitchcock, and Grant, and did it the Hitchcock way. The movies she has done, have made her a star and yet she is able to follow Hitchcock and disregard some of her method training.

 

If his actors will trust him and follow what he wants, the wardrobe, makeup, all the other external parts and listen to his story and the story boards, then they have the movie and all they have to do is deliver their lines. That's what they do here and for the time period, it sizzles with innuendo. When she puts her hand on his, holding the “rot” book of matches and then blows out the match used to light her cigarette, we know what that means, it is a cliche that goes back to silent films, yet is still fresh here.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/08/movies/film-history-is-written-in-smoke.html?pagewanted=all

 

Garbo and Gilbert smoke and kiss

 

 

 

Exactly right. The famous saying that Hitch went by with Method actors was to tell them, "Don't just do something, stand there". He went crazy with Paul Newman on 'Torn Curtain' because Newman wouldn't stop making facial expressions. :) 

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Hitch uses star quality to insure we relate to his characters. If he uses people we feel are our 'friends' our relateability increases. We now are deeply concerned about their outcomes.

R.O.T matchbook is used to light their fires and increase the eroticism of their 'chance' meeting.

The click-clack of the train meshes with the dinner music & the diners' dishes clacking all says, your fate is to 'click!'

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Another Hitchcock scene that presents a character in a certain way, only to have your first impressions proven wrong later in the film.

You think the Eve Kendall character is a shameless flirt, but later find out she's been made to do it in order to entrap Roger Thornhill. It's kind of a nice parallel to the bad guys' (and Eve's) mistaken idea that Roger is someone he's not.

Come to think of it, most all the main characters aren't who they seem to be at first!

 

As others have said, the matchbook business is a way for the two characters to have actual physical contact with each other for the first time. The shot of Eve pulling Roger's hand back to her lips to blow out the match foreshadows the intimacy that is to come.

 

As I said earlier in the course, this is kind of the third time Hitchcock made the same movie, i.e., one that features the "double chase."

It could be a useful exercise to watch The 39 StepsSaboteur and North By Northwest in sequence, not only to find the similarities in the stories, but to see the increasing sophistication of Hitch's filmmaking.

 

Tangentially, a similar movie to this, almost an homage, is Arthur Hiller's 1976 Silver Streak. It features the first (and best) pairing of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, as well as Jill Clayburgh and Patrick McGoohan. Best part? Many scenes shot in and around Toronto's Union Station!

It's not Hitchcock, but it is fun.

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  1. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. 
  • Even Cary Grant wanted to be Cary Grant. Roger Thornhill definitely did not want to be George Chaplin. I always think its fun when Grant plays with his persona in films. I even love it when others play with it. There is a real sense of who "Cary Grant" is in this scene and a lot of that plays out in the interaction between these characters. 
  1. There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. 
  • Thornhill has the matchbook. Eva has a cigarette. Her eyes will go to the matchbook as he lights his cigarette. Eva's focus becomes our focus. 
  1. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. 
  • The music is such a contrast to the scene. I hardly even noticed it. The music is old fashioned and more conservative than the conversation that is being had. There is the tiny hint of a train moving but the sound is not too prominent as if it is there to remind us that they are on a train. 
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Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene?

 

Cary Grant is just the consummate debonair, slick gentleman. He tends to play characters that (in my opinion) make you swoon and then before you know it, you're hooked. He is almost too attractive to be trustworthy, and so the comment about honest women and how he's not exactly honest with them strikes a cord.

 

Eva Marie Saint is very interesting. From the lecture notes, we know that she was an extremely well-trained actress, an award-winning one in fact. When applying that to her character, the question becomes, how much of this is genuine and how much of it is acting?

 

What is interesting is how honest (at least) they seem to be with one another. Their chemistry is evident in the complete frankness they have with one another, and that frankness is pleasantly surprising the other person.

 

There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. 

 

It's such an ordinary item, yet it conveys so such more. It is a conversation piece, and it allows us the first moment of intimacy between Eve and Thornhill. A great actor can make anything an important part of the story, and Saint does just that.

 

How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. 

 

One way that Hitchcock is using sound design is through the use of train itself. While sometimes it seems as if time stops during a kind of tête-à-tête like in this scene, the sound of the train continuing to rush by reminds the audience that the action goes on. In a way, it almost makes the scene more intimate. Even though life is running by at a crazy speed, time has slowed down for the couple as they speak.

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1. Well Cary Grant is handsome and has always played a man who ladies are attracted to. It would not be that much of a stretch to think Eva Marie Saint would be attracted to him. It is also believable to find him attracted to her. She is attractive, witty and just a little bit mysterious. 

2. Well the R.O.T. is used to confirm his identity. He also uses the matchbook to initiate contact with Miss. Kendall..

3. The music in this scene is definitely romantic. It is quite different to the music heard when we are watching the opening or other scenes where Cary Grant is in trouble.  

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1.  Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene?

 

Hitchcock is not only the master of suspense but a master of casting.  One of the most interesting things to learn about Hitchcock is the importance of finding the right stars for the success of his films.  In this case, Cary Grant had been a big international star for two decades.  Eve Marie Saint, who had won a supporting academy award for On the Waterfront, was not as big a star as Ingrid Bergman but certainly had a fresh sexy quality that movie-goers recognized.  Hitchcock was certainly able to mold Saint into the icy blonde type that he liked to use.  However, Bergman was roughly the same age as Grant when they worked on Notorious.  The casting that worked for Notorious would not have worked well for North by Northwest.  The main casting for North by Northwest seems to revolve around the older attractive man/young attractive woman mold.  Grant was in his late 50s while Saint was in her 20s at the time of filming.  There were other films coming out at the time that explored this slightly forbidden idea of the romantic pairing of older man/younger woman such as Love in the Afternoon with Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper and Middle of the Night with Kim Novak and Fredrick March.   Grant could be considered a surrogate for Hitchcock’s fantasy of older man/younger woman relationships.           

 

 

2.  There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene.

 

The presentation of the matchbook with his initials, R.O.T., is a shift to an implied sexual intimacy with the lingering shot as Eve pulls Roger’s hand back to blow out the match.  Before this moment, Hitchcock has framed the stars in a standard shot-reverse shot order that goes from medium shots to close-ups as the pair become more acquainted.

 

The R.O.T. matchbook is a bit of business that is used in the third act of the film that allows Eve to know of Roger’s presence in a moment of impending danger.  However, in the dining car scene, the matchbook acts as a comic expression of Roger’s somewhat frivolous personality as a seemingly shallow advertising man with two ex-wives and doting but critical mother.     

 

 

3.  How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer.

 

The sound design establishes a backdrop of tranquility to the scene.  Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) has a seemingly temporary reprieve from capture after he is seated in the dining car with Eve Kendal (Eva Marie Saint.)  The clattering of the train tracks along with the train whistles create a peaceful almost white noise restful tempo to the scene.  Visually, there is even a slight rocking motion in the camera shots.  The audience can concentrate on the flirtatious dialogue without fear of interruption by the police or the bad guys.    

 

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Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene.

 

We know that she is a spy and that Cary Grant usually plays a romantic lead. Eva Marie Saint is acting like most women would. Trying to seduce Cary Grant. As a spy, she is telling him exactly what he wants to hear. It is luring him in to whatever game she is playing.

 

There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene.

 

I think it is important because he gives a fake name but still has something that could potentially identify him. It is also important because her seduction of him is also rotten because it's a game.

 

How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer

 

The music is romantic. You can also hear the tinkling of glassware like bells. It leads us to believe that everything is ok.

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Daily Dose #16

Daily Dose #16: It's a Nice Face

Scene from North by Northwest (1959)

 

1. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene

 

Based on the movies I have seen of these two stars, I think that they have an specific persona related to their characters and performances. In the case of Cary Grant, it is not a surprise that the conversation includes many references to his good looking face, his seductive attitude with women and his fame of womanizer. Despite the fact that this is not the real personality of the actor, the audience reads it that way and I think that is why it feels unexpected that Eva Marie Saint is pretty direct in her intention of seducing Grant. I read that in her previous roles, as she also expressed in the interview part of the today's lecture notes, she has never been the sexy spy, so that change makes this scene more compelling in a certain way. This woman (who wasn't supposed to do it) is boldly flirting with Cary Grant and that is creating an extra meaning to the interaction between a femme fatale and a main character. 

 

2. There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene.

 

In my opinion, the matchbox suggests many things in this scene. In the first place, it appears in a moment of pause or romantic tension release adding a different interaction between Roger and Eve. At the same time, it provides an opportunity of subtle physical approach after having flirting for quite some time. I think that this a very elegant way to create a situation in which Eve can continue seducing Roger. It is an interesting tool for the actors to play with. Also, I think it highlights the element of the matchbox itself that is going to be important later in the story (it is going to be used as a signal of Roger's presence).     

 

3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer.

 

I believe that the sound of the train moving is quite constant (there are some variations on the volume) and the music along with the sound of some elements in the scene have an interesting dynamic. Even though this is mostly a dialogue sequence, it has some pauses, changes and turning points  emphasized by the sound design. For instance, the moment after the parliament about the empty stomach when the conversation stops, the waiter brings Roger's meal and we can hear the plate creating anticipation over the result of that phrase. Other example is the sound of Roger's fork right after Eve reveals that she knows he is a wanted man which combined with the "oops" remark that sort of punch conveyed by that statement. Finally, another important moment of the sound desing is the noise of the train's horn right after Roger says he knows what Eve means with her intentions. This is kind of a notice of of what just happened between them. The music sets the romantic mood as well accompaining this intants. 

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I had initially intended to answer the second prompt (about the matchbook), but I honestly was so entranced by Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint that I really have nothing to say about the matchbook, as I barely registered it. My experience speaks more to the first prompt, as the captivation in this scene has a lot to do with the chemistry of these two stars. Cary Grant's reputation is as a handsome, debonair, sophisticated guy whom we expect to be popular with the ladies. The man fulfills on all accounts.

 

Our pre-existing knowledge of Eva Marie Saint's star persona likely informs us much differently now than it did audiences when North by Northwest first came out. With the clarity of hindsight and the ability to look over her whole career, audiences today know Eva Marie Saint as a glamorous sophisticate, but audiences in 1959 would have known her primarily from On the Waterfront and other serious dramas as saintly, almost childlike women. Audiences likely would have been stunned to see Eva Marie Saint with short, modern hair looking like a sophisticated lady, holding her own in a flirting match with Cary Grant.

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1. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene.

 

Speaking purely as a woman who loves Cary Grant movies, who wouldn't want to flirt with him on the 20th Century Limited? Eva Marie Saint is gorgeous, he's gorgeous and neither one of their characters seem to have the usual sexual hangups. They are both free to enjoy each other's company in any way the choose.

 

In a way it's sad that we don't have dialogue like this any more because we don't have censorship any more. Okay, if a film maker wants to get a certain rating, they have to tailor the dialogue and the way the love scenes are shot to get that PG 13 rating, but we're so much more open with saying exactly what we think now days. I think that's good, but I miss the fun, flirty dialogue dripping with innuendo like that Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint use in this movie.

 

2. There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene.

 

I have always thought that when Roger says that the O stands for nothing, he's sharing a little secret self-deprecation. Later in the movie he tells Eve that his wives divorced him because he was boring. There is a part of himself he doesn't like. His ordeal trying to save himself, get the microfilm, and save Eve all at the same time changes him ever so slightly. Also, the R.O.T., rot indicates this for me. He's a highly successful businessman, but maybe at the heart of that success he thinks there is a rotten core. I always like to think about what happens after the movie ends. Does he become a spy himself? Or does he change careers in some other way, or maybe he changes his character. Then, of course, perhaps he goes back to the hollow life he had before and this new relationship dies as well because he really is boring.

 

 

3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. 

 

We have the sound of the train running along the tracks. There is very subtle music in the background, and the sound of clinking dinnerware. I don't think we can leave out the tone of voice each of the actors uses. They aren't whispering, but they want to keep their conversation confidential, so their voices are rather low in pitch and volume. The emphasis on certain words also indicates the exact meaning of what they are talking about.

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1. The dining car scene in North by Northwest is one of the sexiest scenes in a movie. The way Eva Marie Saint keeps looking frankly at Cary Grant throughout the entire scene and his rakish charm help build the appeal of this scene. I was especially struck by this when Cary Grant lights Eva Marie Saint's cigarette and she gently touches his hand and then blows the match out. That scene is hot! 

I don't have a lot of background knowledge of Eva Marie Saint, but she comes across as cool, sexy and in control. Now, Cary Grant, I have heard some stories about. I have heard that he loved women, especially beautiful ones, and that he regularly fell in love with the leading ladies in many of his films. This definitely comes across in this scene, we get the feeling that he has had quite a bit of practice flirting with beautiful women.

2. Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook to break the sexual tension that is building between Roger O. Thornhill and Eve Kendall. It is also a bit of foreshadowing as this matchbook plays an important part in an upcoming scene.

3. Hitchcock is using sound design in this scene to make us truly believe we are on a train with these two. The sound of the train click-clacking along the tracks is a constant in the background. We also hear the muted sounds of a dining car, muted conversations, dinnerware clinking, etc. There is music in the background and it is extremely soft at the beginning of the scene, like background music in a dining car might be. As the scene progresses and the sexual tension between Roger and Eve builds, the music begins crescendoing and we hear it more clearly, just as we see the chemistry between the two actors building on screen.

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I'll say up front that this is my all-time favorite Hitchcock film. It has everything that became part of the Hitchcock 'touch': the handsome leading man, the cool, cool female lead, mistaken identity, a chase that takes us to famous or exotic places, humor, a British actor or two (Grant, Mason, Carroll), fear of heights and falling (Mt. Rushmore), moments of sheer terror (crop dusting scene), sexiness, etc., etc. This movie just has everything and in perfect proportions.

 

This scene on the train is certainly one of the great seduction scenes in the history of film (maybe the greatest) and it is different because it is the woman who is very much in charge and doing the seducing. This is where I think Hitchcock plays with the audience expectations of the actors. People in 1959 would have been more likely to see Grant as the seducer and Saint (who had mainly played nice girls on the screen previously) as the seduced. But the roles are flip-flopped. It is clearly Saint who is doubling up on Grant's flirtatious talk and pulling him in. We realize quickly that Grant doesn't stand a chance. When I saw this film and was old enough to understand what was going on, I marveled at what Hitchcock was able to get away with in 1959 under the Production Code.

 

Both of them are elegantly dressed and both their attire and conversation indicates that Saint's Kendall character is every bit the equal (and maybe the superior) of Grant's Thornhill. This again will turn out to be significant later since we will understand what Kendall gives Thornhill that his ex-wives never could: a woman who is his equal and provides a level of mystery and adventure.

 

The whole sound design contributes to the seductive atmosphere. Saint barely speaks above a whisper with a smoky voice on top of that. Grant is not much louder. The background music and the sounds of the train's wheels on the track are at a low level. It is like we the audience are eavesdropping on the most intimate of conversations (and that is what the conversation is: intimate). Grant and Saint are clearly already in bed (at least in spirit) by the time this scene ends. The quietness of the scene makes us concentrate on every word that is exchanged.

 

As to the matchbook, it seems to mainly be a bit of business that allows the actors to physically touch and continue the seduction. But it will also play an important role later in the film. Hitchcock always had the ability to slip in something that would turn out to be important later without the audience immediately seeing any significance.

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I love this movie - one of Hitchcock's best, of course - and this is one of my favorite scenes from it. This is a consummate spy thriller, without question, but the sexual tension between the two lead characters is palpable with both being and doing what we expect (despite Eva Marie Saint's method acting background) and, quite frankly, I'm able to identify the flirtation that ensues before either of them says a word. It advances the plot: Cary Grant is suave, smooth and handsome and later on proves himself quite capable, like James Bond - which he always is; and Eva Marie Saint effortlessly and professionally snaps into the sexy spy character persona as the perfect foil and prospective mate. You expect them to be attracted to each other, and they certaily are. The result: the scene WORKS, and does so beautifully.

 

As the two characters look into each other's eyes, the sexual tension builds through the "I never make/discuss love on an empty stomach" dialogue (Eve Kendall has taken on the role of pursuer, which instantly arouses Roger Thornhill's interest and curiosity) and the lighting of the cigarette, neither of which requires a change in focus - but the R.O.T. matchbook allows the interjection of bit of self deprecating humor on the part of Thornhill. They are still playing the mating game, but for a purpose --  at least on Eve Kendall's part.

 

In am intrigued by the sounds of the train, as well as the musical score, but they add to the realism of the exchange between the two characters; the sounds are part of the backdrop, definitely necessary (especially the train), but never distract the viewer from the action/dialogue.

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This is quite a scene as far as scenes go in the Hitchcock world. It's very simple but it lays groundwork for what's to come later as that matchbook shows. Cary Grant is the suave, debonair, handsome guy while Eva Marie Saint plays it cool but also manages to be wonderfully sexy at the same time. The music is very low and romantic staying that way until the sexual tension begins to ramp up hence raising the music as well. And the sound of the train interspersed with noises in the dining car keep us grounded in the reality of the location. 

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I really enjoyed this scene.

It was very sly.

I'm off to go find the full feature now for sure.

The preexisting knowledge factor I believe being referred to is the idea Hitchcock has that when an actor is famous in their roles, the audience tend to 'expect' certain roles from them, and this particular role for these two actors who already have filmed together before fit that persona precisely.

Do I seem familiar?

We just made a movie a while back.

Sort of thing.

The matchbook seemed almost as a shield to hide to regroup even if for a brief moment.

The music was very light and soft...it suited the sway of the flirtatious hints in the dialogue one strike at a time from delivery, contemplation, to reply.

 

 

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I agree with others that the matchbook gives Cary Grant (Roger Thornhill) a chance for some Debonair yet self-deprecating humor. Perhaps I'm overanalyzing it but I also think I see a tinge of sadness when he says his initias are ROT and the O stands for nothing. Perhaps at this time when his life is in danger he's also going through some self evaluation. The matchbook in the scene bring some together on many levels especially a sensual one .

*Spoiler Alert* The way the matchbook draws them together in this scene is possibly foreshadowing for how it's used to warn her in a scene towards the end of the movie. It is a reoccurring connection between the two of them. Possibly an indication that ROT no longer stands for just rot. Or like I said maybe I'm just overthinking it and it was Hitchcock's way of making us understand why she would immediately recognize the matchbook

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  1. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene.                 Cary Grant the older, handsome, sexy, suave star and Eva Marie Saint the younger blonde with the smokey voice and sexy eyes.  Train travel can be dangerous and it can also be sexy.  People in a situation away from societal norms.  Grant's character is already in a lot of danger....what is going to happen?!   

There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene.    Pretty sexy lighting the cigarettes - hands touching.  The R.O.T. made me think of rot.  How odd.  Such an elegant man.  Why would I think of rot?!  "O" standing for nothing.  What is that about.  A successful businessman and a reference to nothing.    Well matches catch on fire so watch out!   And if you have seen the movie then you know how important this will be later in the movie.  It won't be about rotting and it won't be about nothing

How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer.   Trains are usually noisy but both characters are speaking in lowered voices.  We hear the sound of the train on the tracks.  There are some background noises and both characters clink and move their silverware.  The match sound.  Grant's character seems to become more relaxed even though he is in a stressful situation.  The intensity of sounds and music seem to increase as they get to know each other and start flirting.                                             This is one of my favorites.  Wow!  

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1. Cary Grant seems to be making fun of his suave character. Eva Marie Saint cool facade adds sexy sophistication and ratchets up the tension in the scene.

2. The focus on the matchbook makes us aware of the initials on it. Is it his name or some other meaning?

3. The soft music makes the scene cozy and romantic yet you can still hear the sound of the train tracks.

The sound of the the dishes, menu being placed on the table, the sound of the match lighting adds the highlights to the scene.

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1. Even at the level of dialogue the idea of two delicious Hollywood stars flirting creates instant meaning. The chemistry, the familiarity is immediately revealed . They speak the same verbal and nonverbal language. We automatically believe that combination is not only possible but believable.

2. The matchbook identifies him as Roger Thornhill ROT the 0 = nothing. He uses the matchbook and the lighting of her cigarette to introduce further flirting and to TURN UP THE HEAT.

3. The train sounds provide a continuum of the plot the soft music in the background enhances the romance and provides appropriate backdrop of elegance. Also the sound of the match being lit is clear.

Just an addendum. The self control of Rodger (Cary Grant) after he has been called on his purported crime should be ledgendary ! He just relaxes muscles and demeanor. Wooooo hoooo

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1.Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. 

 

It creates meaning because Cary Grant was in a prior Hitchcock film:"Suspicion" and Eva Marie Saint was in the film "On The Waterfront."

 


2.There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. 

 

Not only is the matchbook used as a prop for the scene, but also the matchbook is used in a humorous manner when Roger makes a reference to his initials as what his life is like.

 

3.How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. 

 

Hitchcock uses sound design as a soothing effect even though the character of Thornhill is in an conflicting compromise

 

 

 


 

 

 

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1. This is probably the best sex scene of the era. It's all said with facial expressions and their voices. Saint flirts coyly from the start. Grant being Grant flirts with style and humor. Through the dialogue they get the point across and past the censors. It's more the nonverbal queues that speaks louder than the spoken word. They were two of the biggest stars that could have actually pulled it off. Once again Hitchcock with his fine ability knew exactly what to look for within their personalities to pull the roles off.

 

2. By using the matchbook with R.O.T it focuses away from their faces for the first time in the scene. The initials do have a significance but it also signinifies their sexual relationship catching on fire. It also adds to the tension and curiosity between them. Especially when she,draws his had near not once but twice. And finally blowing the match out.

 

3. The music provides a seductive background. It's soft and doesn't over power the scene. The movement of the train provides a sense of calm with it rocking. While visually you can see the scenery whizzing by. This gives the perception that neither their relationship nor the movie will remain at a slower pace.

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