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Posts posted by helensgirl

  1. I suggest as musical scorers/ composers: John Williams, Thomas Newman, Angelo Badalamenti, Hans Zimmer. These men have won many awards and seem to be very creative and sensitive to a director's view.  I think Hitchcock would have approved.   Laurence Bennett (The Artist) and Jack Fisk (The Revenant)  for art/production design, examples of memorable work. They stand out for me.   Sandy Powell (Carol) and Madeline Fontaine (Jackie) for costume design.  All these folks, seems to my untrained eyes/ears, anyway, would have worked well with Hitchcock. And John Williams did in Family Plot.  As for writers, I think he would have liked Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), and not just because of the train theme (!!). Sue Grafton, maybe. P.D. James, perhaps. And of course Steve Fuller and Mark Gardner, who designed the Mad Men title sequence reminiscent of Saul Bass' work in so many Hitchcock films. 

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  2. In The Lodger we see the mysterious form of a man, a woman screaming, a body lying in the street,  a witness screaming, a crowd gathering.   All under cover of darkness. As it progresses, we see the law getting involved and a reporter phoning in the story to his editor and the news of this frightening event ending up in print and being distributed in the city of London.  In Frenzy, some hot air politician is praising the clean-up efforts on the river Thames ( A pretty modern issue, water pollution. Maybe a little social commentary there.)  in London before a crowd. Perfectly timed, a nude female body washes up into view in the river, and an apparent murder is revealed. A modern setting for a murder, somehow less chaotic.  And in broad daylight. Both very chilling in their unique ways.


    In Frenzy, we see Hitchcock in his cameo in the crowd scene on the river.  One thought comes to mind: Hitchcock's way of shaking up a commonplace scene, in this case, a politician speaking to a crowd, the major interruption, a body, forever changes everyone who is there. And the tone is set for the film, or at least hinted at.  We've seen this a lot in Hitchcock's movies. 


    Hitchcock seems to want to shake us up in his opening scenes. Setting up a crime or mystery or character profile to pique our interest. I feel as if he always wants to take us somewhere we may not have anticipated. He was an entertainer who constantly tried to improve on his last efforts. One of my favorite qualities in Hitchcock. 


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  3. Marnie is an escape artist, a chameleon. She seems very adept at getting out of jams and slipping into a new life pretty easily. She likes nice things, luxury clothing and accessories. The identity cards enable her to switch personas easily enough. Hair dye comes in handy. Bus station lockers are convenient when you can so easily get rid of unwanted stuff. 


    The Hermann score is so dramatic and passionate. To me it hints at Marnie's mysterious personality, waiting to be revealed and loved. 


    We don't have to look so hard for Hitchcock's cameos in these later films.  There he is, his lovable, impish self, enjoying every second.

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  4. The male/female banter back and forth is a dead giveaway for a romantic comedy of this era.  Who would suspect a horrible bird attack here?    Melanie is on a mission to purchase birds (for herself? a gift for someone?), has placed an order for them previously, it seems. She is someone who gets what she wants, from the looks of it. Sophisticated, wealthy, dressed beautifully.  She also seems kind and good.  Mitch is there to buy a gift for his much younger sister. Likes Melanie's appearance and warmth.  The flirting goes on for awhile. They might both be putting up a front, making it up as they go along.


    The cacaphony of the birds in this shop seems cheerful to me, not scary or foreboding. If you do not know what's coming, however, you might not know why the birds' chattering to each other is so loud, and why Hitchcock hasn't lowered the volume, so to speak.


    Mr. Hitchcock is seen walking out of the pet store with his two leashed dogs as Melanie is walking in.  I guess I don't read too much into it. Just some fun because he can!  The whistling at Melanie from some guy is a nice touch, however. A birdcall, no less.

  5. The title sequence with its hectic, even anxious score is perfect.  I so enjoy it. In black and white with some grey, it does have a TV feel to it, what TV audiences in 1960 might expect of a cop/ crime show. One cannot escape the driving pace of this opener. Sitting in a theater, you might really feel something dire is coming.


    I think the director wants the audience to really pay close attention to the fast passage of time here.  Things will happen quickly. Going through the hotel room blinds, knowing that it is mid-afternoon,  we might expect something illicit is going on.  The theme of guilt, illicit sex are evident in Strangers on a Train, Downhill, North by Northwest, Blackmail, if not in the Daily Doses exactly.


    Marion Crane is a bad lady. And deserves every bad thing coming to her.  Isn't that the popular sentiment here?  Everyone knows that sex in a hotel room in the mid afternoon will get you slaughtered in the shower later.  Really though, she is established as someone who willingly takes risks to get what she desires. Pretty self-motivated. Hitchcock challenges our morals and values here. 

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  6. Cary Grant seems to be playing his debonair-Cary-Grantness to the hilt here. Very smooth, well-dressed, genteel. Miss Saint is elegant, demure, soft spoken, beautifully coiffed and dressed. When she says she is 26, it is a little hard to believe. She seems older in demeanor. Mr. Grant, older than her in appearance.  There is no mistaking their conversation and intent. The privacy of the train compartment beckons.


    R.O.T.    Thornhill even says "rot" in a self-deprecating , off-handed way. Maybe he's a little uncomfortable being so scrutinized.  But the initials do confirm his identity, but he knows Miss Kendall knows this already. A man lighting a woman's cigarette in a film is usually seductive or romantic or just genteel. And she holds on to his hand just a little longer that is needed.  It is an introduction of sorts. Let's get closer.


    The clicking of the train on its tracks is calming. The music just hints at the romanticism in the air.  We don't hear anyone else's conversation at all, just the two main characters. Towards the scene's end, we hear a few bars of the theme music . It all works so well.



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  7. Getting your juices flowing for a psychological thriller is what I get. The music ebbs and crescendoes, if I may butcher the terms a little. The swirling graphics, the eye images, real and created, really pop. Eye close-ups and the use of eyes to convey various emotions truly have a strong impact in film. Once again, we crave more of Hitchcock's storytelling in this title sequence. The score is so iconic. Whenever I hear it, I think Vertigo every time. And I get chills.


    The woman's eye widening is the most powerful for me.  It conveys fear, alarm, surprise and more.   It actually makes me think of Psycho and other Hitchcock movies, too. It stays with me.


    I feel that Herrmann's score is just perfect for the movie, and enhances Bass' images. Without the score, I don't think the images would work as well. Full orchestral music, well, it just fills out the film start to finish.  It hooks us.





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  8. This opening camera shot sets it all up, of course. The sights, the sounds, the smells (if there were smell-o-vision!) like coffee, shaving cream, sweat, birdcage, car fumes. Jeff can hear and smell these activities, even if his back is to the window, as he has been laid up for awhile with that broken leg. We see Jeff as we have seen the other characters, but we see him up close. We're spying on him, too.


    We learn that there is no air conditioning, and Jeff might be sweating more than the other apartment-dwellers who are able to move around. He is pretty vulnerable here. We see examples of his work: photographs, magazine cover shots, even a slightly scary negative of a woman. We see that maybe he has been in dangerous situations with his work. There is a smashed camera. He has had a more interesting life than most, maybe. 


    I think we at first identify with all the people going about their morning routines in their apartments.  Then, after the camera shows us Jeff and the interior of his place, we might think that he misses his life of thrills and danger, and is craving all that from his position of immobility. I do sort of feel like a voyeur in this film opening. But I want more.







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  9. So, we have the two unseen men crisscrossing paths at Union Station DC, my hometown. The crisscrossing railroad tracks leaving the station. We know that this theme figures into the plot later as the two men trade stories and criminal exercises. Guy's tie has a crisscross pattern.  That's what I noticed so far.


    Guy's shoes are plain, Bruno's are spectator shoes, kinda flashy. Bruno's clothing, tie, demeanor are attention-seeking, maybe. Guy wants to read his book while Bruno wants to gab. When the two men are getting out of their cabs, the music for Bruno is jazzier than Guy's music


    Tiomkin's score is busy as we see the train station activity.  Bruno exits his taxi with those spectator shoes, and we hear big band jazz music. Guy's exit from the taxi is accompanied by purposeful music, gotta get to that train.  Tiomkin's score is very important to our experience, as in all his films with Hitchcock. Sets the tone.

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  10. Of course one Hitchcock touch is the topsy turvy Cary Grant camera trick (as in Downhill in the 1920s, per the lecture video). Another one could be Devlin's playing the LP recording of Alicia's bugged conversation, how she feigns disinterest, then walks back into the room as she realizes her predicament. This is done deliberately by Hitchcock, as Alicia gradually realized her situation.  A seemingly ordinary life turned upside down makes me recall other Hitchcock plots.


    Cary Grant is nattily dressed but darkly lit. There is a possibly a sinister quality to his Devlin.  Bergman is in disarray with her hair, clothing but more light is on her. She seems pretty innocent. Then we learn of her past.  The art direction is playing an important role here. Interesting stuff!


    Some of both in these stars, conforming to and challenging their star personas. I have always seen these two as multi-dimensional in the films I've seen. I can see why they were so big in this time period. Such screen presence.

  11. Uncle Charlie seems resigned to his fate, whatever that may be. But maybe a little on his own terms.  Perhaps he feels his past has caught up with him. This has such an American feel to it, contrasting a lot with Hitchcock's British-themed movies. Joseph Cotten is pretty American.


    Monotone dialogue from Uncle Charlie brings to mind film noir for me. Unlike his landlady's lively chatter. Use of light and dark lighting seems very noir. I am new to examining film noir, but have always enjoyed it.  


    The Tiomkin score here is lively at first, belying the dark mood of Uncle Charlie in his room. The waltz music tells us he is reminiscing about his past, maybe.  Then as Charlie leaves his room, there is  purpose and intent in the music, then drama and suspense as he walks down the steps, past the two men and brushes up against one of them. The music builds and builds and we want more. Great scene.

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  12. First of all, the use of the miniature Manderley mansion is very different from other openers we have discussed. Draws us in.  A woman narrator, too, is new. It feels like the start of a romantic story. Then Olivier on a cliff, then Joan Fontaine -  so dramatic!   Going for the American female moviegoer set?  Probably.  


    The gothic mansion feels very Hitchcock. Use of light and dark as the camera move up the drive to Manderley.  Dramatic music seems to build and sounds richer in tone here, Another Hitchcock signature, seems to me. 


    Manderley is a seemingly huge, intimidating structure, full of secrets. Use of light and dark here is really effective.  The narration enhances the scene, making the viewer want to dive into the story. Miss Fontaine's narration is soothing, feminine and even comforting to me. 

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  13. Opening scene features lilting Germanesque folk music,  a cuckoo clock, lively chatter amongst the travelers. It conveys to me a carefree atmosphere with no indication of danger or trouble, really. 


    Caldicott and Charters have something to say about everyone and everything. They are self-anointed experts.  They hint of impending war in Europe in their discussion. They are definitely amusing, even if they are discussing doom and gloom. 


    Iris stands at the desk speaking with the hotel desk man while the others are seated or standing at a distance.  But all eyes seem to be on Iris. We don't hear the conversation between Iris and the hotelier, even if we see them speaking. Silence dominates here. Then chaos ensues, and we don't see Iris at all.  Attention-grabbing scene.

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  14. This opening of The 39 Steps reminds me of The Pleasure Garden in its setting, a music hall environment. Also The Lodger in its slightly chaotic setting, camera movements. There is more humor in it than other films we have discussed. Hannay seems more cultured or sophisticated than the other audience members. He stands out for sure.


    Certainly Hannay looks more innocent, maybe out of place in this movie. I cannot comment more, honestly.


    A public space like this music hall, a seemingly ordinary person thrown into a chaotic or hectic situation, wisecracking character actors/extras, the audience drawn in to the story early on.  These seem to pop up often in Hitchcock films. Gene Phillips described the Hitchcock touch well. 


  15. Use of sound: It seems Alice is in a very distracted place, and every sound out of the ordinary leaps out at her, makes her jump. By contrast, the droning voices of the store personnel and the female customer barely register with her. The use of the word knife repeatedly is so unusual, but so effective. It's all she can hear. Then the bell at the end when a customer enters really makes her jump again.  This is all so creative in terms of use of sound. Sets Hitchcock apart from other directors and producers, my guess. 


    When the knife jumps out of Alice's hand, she is still in her dazed state, listening halfheartedly to the chatty customer, thinking of what she has been through (dunno, haven't seen it yet), and the shininess of the blade startles her, the audience.  Have to see more to understand this topic better, I think.


    Subjective sound seems complex here. Maybe not everyone (i.e., directors at the time) could master this.   Need to see more.  That's my excuse.

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  16. First of all, let no one say Ed Grimley invented the up-to-the-chinpants. These guys and their pals did. Also, I cannot help but notice the lovely bad teeth in the silent films. Maybe it's because I work in the dental field. And the thick eyeliner for the women to make the eyes jump out. Of course, the men did this, too.   OK, as far as the POV tracking shot(s),  it made the huge distance between the naughty boys and the stern headmaster appear that much greater. The fear and trepidation is palpable there. The big, serious wood-paneled room seemed churchy, emphasizing the gravity of the situation. Looking forward to putting this all in context when I watch this movie.

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  17. I was just watching the new Twin Peaks on tv this week, and there was a lot of iconic David Lynch-esque surrealism in the episode. I loved it. In this bit of The Ring, I felt Hitchcock was using the montage or expressive editing to enhance the viewer's understanding of what the boxer was going through. Maybe booze was going to his head. Maybe his lady love's flirting with another man was causing him confusion and even pain, affecting his mental state.  It was a very effective technique, I think. Hitchcock wasn't afraid to try new things here and throughout his career. 

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  18. In this silent film opening, I was fascinated by the spotlight on the technology of the day, i.e., the typewriter typing out the story of the murder, the Times Square-ish crawler relating the story on the outside of a building, the reporter calling in the story on a payphone. I am not using the correct terminology, I am sure. Words sometimes fail me. But the pace is rapid, makes you breathe fast. I look forward to seeing The Lodger next week in its entirety.  I caught a glimpse of the partially masked suspect, but not of Mr. Hitchcock himself in his first cameo. Enjoying this immensely.

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