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LingeringScholar

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  1. In Hitchcock's earlier films especially, he liked to open on public places with people spectating. in Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, 39 Steps, and more, the audience or crowd witnessing a show or spectacle was a kind of forced recognition of culture's tendency toward corporate voyeurism. He lays this foundation before examining a theater goer or motel keepers' penchant for peeping. In Frenzy, Hitchcock takes the public voyeurism to his grandest level yet. Before we even get to the politician speaking to the crowd, we open on a helicopter shot of London with a London seal on the screen, like one
  2. Like many who suffer trauma during childhood, Marnie is psychologically and emotionally stunted in many ways, stuck within the unresolved trauma. Marnie is still in many ways a little girl. Long before we find out she goes by the girlish nickname "Marnie," Hitchcock shows her approaching her escape like a little girl playing dressup. She is playing pretend, deciding which name/social security card should she be today She is playing dress up, neatly packing some clothes in a pink case, while the clothes she's finished (bored?) with are piled carelessly in the other. She wears white cotton glove
  3. The film begins with juxtapositions long before the two leads juxtapose each other in a romantic comedy sense. We first see cars and people cooperating at a stoplight. There is a sense of order as the mass of people moves together at an assigned time and an assigned direction. Then as Miss Daniels looks up to the birds in the sky, amassing in a chaotic swarm. Even the soundtrack features the sounds of the birds mixed with the order inducing bells and horns of the crosswalk. Part of the bird call soundtrack features a whistling sound, particularly just before a young boy whistles at Miss Da
  4. The lines Saul Bass uses in the title design evoke the image of the strings from Bernard Herman's score. As the score plays on with its high notes and quick tempo, the lines themselves move on the screen at a similar pace. They change direction and are even bisected at times to resemble sound waves. Along with the score, they are quick and unpredictable, building tension in the viewer. The lines also evoke the image of blinds on a window, which establishes the voyeur theme before the first shot of the film. Then in the first scene, the camera moves beneath the blinds of the window into the
  5. I like the way Hitchcock uses the level of closeups to build intimacy between the two characters in this scene. To begin, we switch back and forth from shots of Thornhill to shots of Kendall at a comfortable distance, taking in the table top before them. Once she reveals that she has tipped the waiter to seat him with her, the camera moves into medium closeups of the actors, from the shoulders up. The position changes once more after the closeup of the matchbook reading "R.O.T.," Thornhill's initials, he says. At this point, we no longer see Eve Kendall from the front. We see her from the side
  6. Bass' title design and Herman's score are choreographed better here than in most modern programs for screen savers and such that sync sound and images automatically. When a new, more complicated spiral design appears, another layer of circular melody sounds. Some may argue that the focus on pieces of the woman's face is objectification, but the overall effect of the sound/visual syncopation, the extreme closeups of the woman's face, and the steady zoom on the camera is more complicated than objectification. It is desire for intimacy, ever thwarted so that it becomes an obsession, which is the
  7. The opening shots present Jeff's perspective to us in that we see Jeff's world. We see the players in his world in their respective apartments. Then we see Jeff himself, allowing us not only to peer through his point of view, but to peer at him as he peers at others. The fact that we learn so much about his situation with no dialogue affirms our place as spectators into his life, as he gazes at the inhabitants of the other apartments. We learn of the summer heat. We learn his accident was due to his action photography. We even learn how he sees the feminine life, long before Grace Kelly appear
  8. I'd like to go even more basic than the criss crossing of paths and look at the basic theme of motion in this film. We start with both men's shoes walking, eventually crossing paths on the train. The train itself is on fixed paths throughout the film. It drives from Metcalf, to Arlington, to Washington. A direct line of destination becomes the back and forth of the tennis matches, with the audience's heads emphasizing the motion. And then finally to the spinning carousel at the climax of the film. The fate of Guy and Bruno has gone from crossing paths on a one way train, to a back and forth th
  9. In Notorious, I'm beginning to see a complimentary nature across all of the production design to the script and the portrayals in a Hitchcock film. For example, Hitchcock's German Expressionism influence is still present in this film, though it's been tightened up to speak to predetermined fate. Instead of the large and skewed archways of Rebecca, we see a predominance of larger than life doorways with straight, immovable columns on either side. Hitchcock even begins and ends the movie in with such shots: the reporter looking through the open door at the judge's bench and Alex walking back int
  10. The opening shot of this film tells us a great deal about the couple, and juxtaposed with the final shot, it speaks to their character progression. The camera opens while panning over the breakfast and dinner dishes of the last three days encircling David, hunched on the floor playing solitaire. The dishes are delicate and noisy. He steps carefully around them while answering the door. The dishes represent his wife's affections, rules, and "screwball" nature. She is delicate, and he must step around her cautiously. or pay the consequences. A number of times throughout the film she picks up and
  11. As far as film noir tropes go, Hitchcock opens this scene with a canted angle of the children playing, and then a canted, closeup establishing shot of the boarding house. He cuts to Charlie on the bed, and the visuals tell us he is a man in despair, trapped in a corner. The shadows of the curtains appear as bars across his face and the bed he is lying on, as though he is already in prison. The room itself is small and cell like, with a sink visible just beyond the bed. The two detectives are closing in on Charlie, just as Hitchcock did with the camera, from the street, to the building, to his
  12. In the opening to Rebecca, Hitchcock not only establishes the estate house Manderley as a character, but in accordance with another Gothic trope, he establishes nature as a character too. There are overwhelming and inescapable natural forces tied to the house. In Mrs. de Winter's dream nature has overgrown and reclaimed portions of the estate, and the fade to the powerful waves below the cliffs transitions us to the beginning of the fateful story in France. Nature, fate, and perhaps Manderley itself is always upon Maxim's heels, even while vacationing on the continent. As Mrs. de Winter says,
  13. Accompanying the humor of Caldicott and Charters reaction to their situation, and to Iris Henderson's preferential treatment, is, I think, a slight commentary on Western elitism in Britain and America. I don't believe Hitchcock was trying to make a political or social statement, but rather to call out an obliviousness and a "surely, not me!" attitude these characters have regarding inconvenience, trouble, and danger. His British audience was likely to identify with Caldicott and Charters and perhaps even with Iris. And we know Hitchcock liked to set his stories of murder and suspense on people
  14. I'm trying to dig into this common theme of a stage of sorts and spectators at the opening of so many Hitchcock films. I think it has to do with more than his entrenched theme of voyeurism. I believe it's about misdirection. In The 39 Steps, for example, we follow Hannay into the theater but are not really introduced to him. The first person we are introduced to is Mr. Memory. The announcer literally introduces us to him, and we are even made to feel sorry for the poor man on stage as the people mock him. Then we root for him when he begins to show his talent and win them over. While we ar
  15. The plot takes off here with little to no exposition. Abbot is the only character that portrays some depth, drawing the audience in with good natured patience and humor, then turning suddenly cold while gazing at the skier before slipping back into good humor. He exhibits layers and charisma. The audience wants to spend time with his character, for good or for bad. On the other end if the spectrum is the protagonist, Bob, who is the epitome of two dimensional, societal manners. Luis and Betty fall somewhere in between, though closer to Bob than Abbot. The plot, then will have to take center st
  16. Hitchcock uses both the visuals and sound to filter the scene through Alice's perspective. We're more used to this type of filtering in literature than in film. For example, a novel might be written in the third person (He, She, It) but with the narrative perspective and awareness attached and limited to one person. We call this type of narration third person attached, as the unnamed narrator is not the main character (which would be first person) but is limited to that character's experience. Sometimes we explain this type of narration as though the "camera" of the narrator was placed on one
  17. The dolly sequence from the boys' point of view might seem like a realist pov, positioning the camera where their eyes would be, but it's really expressionism. The camera is focused in a way that human eyes cannot not, with no peripheral vision. Our anxious brain, however, can make us think we are seeing in such tunnel vision. The dolly sequence captured that phenomenon nicely. The one later from the girl's point of view felt more like trying to maintain the mystery of who she would choose for the viewer rather than an attempt to get inside her head with camera work. The montage scene in w
  18. As such a visual storyteller (silent film director to the end) and one who is willing to break the bounds of realism for experimentation and expressionism, Hitchcock transcends not only the need for sound and dialogue, but for the narrated interiority of his characters. In this opening scene of The Ring, the fighter about to begin training is conflicted. He can't keep his mind off of his wife and the other man, and his thoughts are a whirl, unable to focus. A lesser director would have simply had him confess this to the other men in the room through a title card, or dialogue if made as a "talk
  19. Some common Hitchcockian elements are here already: the young blond Victims, the montages and quick cuts for suspense. Comparing it to Pleasure Garden specifically, it's interesting to see Hitchcock's fascination with people's reactions to a created persona or phenomenon. It's an aspect of his common theme of voyeurism. In the Pleasure Garden intro, we watch the men watching the chorus girls projecting their persona of dancing legs and curls of hair. In The Lodger intro, we watch the city watching the spectacle of the murder scene investigation. They watch ans react with as much frenzy in thei
  20. 1. We immediately see the Hitchcockian touch of voyeurism and of women playing a part/putting up a facade. Hitchcock's use of the camera shows us the aspects of the women the men look at, substituting for their whole, the chorus girls' legs, the new girl's purse, and so on. 2. One theme present here which will continue throughout Hitchcock's films is the latent Freudian symbolism. For example, the men in the front row are focused on the women, in a kind of ecstasy, completely unaware of each other. Each one is locked into a masterbatorial fantasy, as though the ladies exist and dance only
  21. I have very little in the many if intelligent things to say about this clip as I spent the whole time ogling Yvonne DeCarlo, so I'll answer the second question. The Daily Doses have been invaluable in keeping my head in the game with this course throughout the week. They've provided me with a spring board into active viewing not only for the films covered.
  22. The clausterphobia of the scene is striking. The darkened room, the crowded table outside the room, the closeups. And what looks like progress is shown to be a cycle. The beating itself is shown to be routine and the after the record is turned up, the reflection of it spinning is revealed to show that even the great progressions of Wagner are encapsulated in their own rotation. Truly there is No Exit here!
  23. The swinging light allows for stage punching and the mystery of what effect the beating is having on the man's face. As we close in on Burr's reaction to the beating, the light allows for a lengthy shot before the cut,as it swings in and out and keeps the focus on the beating and not on a prolonged look at Burr's face.
  24. Noir is filled with animalistic behavior, and with the urban setting, the idea of an asphalt jungle is a fitting one. The large, tree like columns of architecture and the crisscrossed, vine like power lines of the set play into this theme. Likewise the diner the man of the run enters resembles a village hut.
  25. Jazz, especially improvised "bop" jazz by a quintet, is a far more intimate experience than typical orchestrated film scores. It enhances the intimacy of the extreme closeups in the film's opening with the two characters expressing love for each other. Yet for all of that intimacy, they are separated and speaking on the phone. It's a great noir irony that the music enhances.
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