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Everything posted by dan_quiterio

  1. Some have mentioned the Coen Brothers, and I agree that they would be an excellent match, as writers and editors. Along the same lines as the Coens, what about Noah Hawley, who brilliantly adapted their Fargo to the small screen? The series has the right amount of intrigue, well-drawn characters, atmosphere, and, well, murder, as any Hitchcock film. In the previous thread in which we were asked to name modern-day films that have the Hitchcock touch, I mentioned Polanski's The Ghost Writer (2010). One of the elements of that film that stood out to me as particularly Hitchcockian was Alexand
  2. Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (2010) very much reminds me of a Hitchcock film. It's been a long time since I've seen it. I honestly don't remember the finer points, just that I walked out of the theatre and thought to myself, "Hitch would have made this film if he were alive today." Another is Chris Nolan's debut feature, Following (1998), which has all the moodiness and suspense of a Hitchcock thriller.
  3. There are certainly similarities between the opening of Frenzy and The Lodger--the establishing of place, the public crowds, and the finding of a female corpse. However, there are also differences. Whereas The Lodger took a more serious tone in its opening scene, there's a hint of cheekiness in Frenzy's, which is clear in the juxtaposition of the man pontificating about how London's waters will be cleaned and the body floating in the very same waters. Also, whereas The Lodger leveraged quick cuts, there are few in Frenzy. The camerawork in the latter is more slowly paced and less frenetic. In
  4. The opening sequence of Marnie is certainly a compelling one. I'm drawn to films that can convey information effectively with limited or no dialogue, and this sequence does that well. Marnie appears to be somewhat meticulous and calculated. She knows what objects she needs, and she calmly and precisely chooses and places them. She's all about preparation. Anything that doesn't factor into her plans, she tosses aside. Her actions are nicely complemented by Bernard Herrmann's sweeping and evocative score, giving me a sense of mystery, crescendoing to a big reveal when we first see Marnie's face.
  5. I agree with Prof. Edwards's assessment that the opening scene of The Birds feels more like a rom-com than a horror film. The chance meeting of a man and a woman under false pretenses, the casual flirting between the two, the on-the-nose symbolism of love birds, the lightness to the interaction between Melanie and the pet shop employee--they all lend themselves to a light, fun film. In this scene, we learn that Melanie has a sense of humor. She decides to play along when Mitch mistakes her for an employee. She's quite smitten with him and is curious to see how far she can go. Mitch doesn't see
  6. Psycho is the first Hitchcock film I saw, and it's my favorite. One large reason for that is Bernard Herrmann's frantic and stress-inducing score. The use of strings performed almost violently convey a stabbing sensation. It immediately thrusts the audience into a state of anxiety, setting up the right tone for what's to come. Saul Bass's opening title design works in concert with the score in influencing this sensation. The lines swiping in and out--from side to side and up and down--are analogous to violent swipes of a knife. I can't speak to Hitchcock's use of a specific date and time f
  7. Despite minimal action, this scene is quite revealing. It requires the dialogue to do the talking, so to speak, and we learn about both characters--Eve, in particular. She's aware of Roger's true identify, but rather than report him or fear him, she's intrigued by danger and literally flirts with it. She plays off Roger, played by Cary Grant, who we generally know to be suave, charming, and debonair. Knowing Cary, we expect him to welcome her advances, and he does. The soundscape sets the mood and atmosphere with a soft, romantic score, and the pattering of the train running over the tracks. T
  8. Watching and listening to the title sequence of Vertigo, I'm left with a moody, haunting feeling. Something certainly goes awry in this film. There's danger and discomfort. This is perhaps most apparent to me in the visual of the extreme close-up of the eye as the frame tints red, the film's title emerges from the eye, and Herrmann's fright-inducing score hits a climax. There's something uncomfortable about an eye; pair that with the color of danger and you have me prepared to watch a film that I'll be thinking about for a long time--for better or worse.
  9. Rear Window's opening sequence is one that introduces the audience to the physical world of L.B. Jefferies--his neighborhood and neighbors, his career, and the scorching heat, all of which play crucial parts throughout the film. We learn so much in just the first few minutes without any dialogue. I believe the POV of the opening shot to be ours, the audience's. As viewers of a film, we're naturally acting as voyeurs. In this instance, Hitchcock exploits that notion and takes us a step further by enabling us to take a peek into the world of the film while the main character is sleeping. We'
  10. I remember watching this opening scene as part of the 2015 film noir course. Such a fascinating study! There are several ways Hitch demonstrates the metaphor of criss-crossing, including the positioning of the camera when we see each man exiting his car (on the right side for Bruno, and on the left for Guy), the alternating direction of each man's steps, the criss-crossed rails, and in Bruno crossing his legs on the train. (If it weren't so common in the day, I'd even suggest the cross dissolves during the opening credits would be a contribution to the metaphor.) Guy and Bruno's difference
  11. There's something about watching Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman on screen that makes me feel warm inside. This scene in Notorious is no exception. The two characters portrayed by these acting heavyweights are depicted in contrasting ways--Alicia's hangover and sequined blouse convey a party girl, while Devlin's tailored suit indicates a man of business and class. Alicia is washed in light; what we see is what we get. Devlin, however, first appears in shadow--a classic Hitchcock "touch" that signifies a mysterious figure, perhaps with a secret. (The POV shot of Devlin spinning is another Hitchco
  12. The Hitchcock touch that stood out to me most was the pushing in of the camera on Lombard in bed, which is often done to increase tension and suspense--though it was not used to the same effect in this scene. Aside from that, nothing about this scene feels very "Hitchcock" to me. It features wealthy individuals--as is depicted by their servants, lavish furniture, ornate dish-ware, and Lombard's silk nightgown--as well as a soft, airy score and plenty of light with minimal shadow. There isn't a hint of nefarious activity. In regards to the casting, it's difficult making a judgment on Lombard an
  13. The first thing that stands out to me in this opening scene of Shadow of a Doubt is the juxtaposition of the playing children in broad daylight (set to an upbeat score) with the dark, brooding atmosphere of the boarding house room in which Charlie is lying on his bed, clothed in shadow (there never was a noir element more prominent than shadow). Similar to the opening of The Killers, Charlie is resting and appears defeated, just waiting to be caught by his predators. He's a man with a past. Upon realizing the two men have "nothing on me," he musters the audacity to march out of the building--a
  14. With the ethereal voiceover and images of a winding road through an iron gate, the opening of Rebecca is in contrast to the opening scenes of several of Hitchcock's British films. Whereas many of the previous films feature a frenetic pace and tone, Rebecca is soft and calm. Still, the opening features classic elements of the Hitchcock touch: an anxious feeling of distress and danger with the crashing waves and de Winter straddling the edge of the cliff; the innocent ingenue in the second Mrs. de Winter; and a brooding atmosphere in the dark, moody appearance of Manderley, which is itself a cha
  15. The opening scene of The Lady Vanishes is unlike most of the opening scenes we've seen. Although it similarly starts in a public location, it establishes the film as a comedy with quirky characters. This is clear in the light, upbeat music; cuckoo clock (perhaps symbolizing the "cuckoo" nature of some of the characters and situations we're in for); and the funny "straight-man" characters of Caldicott and Charters, who add a fun, humorous commentary on the wealthy American women and their experiences in Hungary (the bit about the Hungarian Rhapsody as the country's national anthem is pretty fun
  16. The opening of The 39 Steps bares both similarities and differences to the openings of others of Hitchcock's British films. For example, it's similar to The Pleasure Garden in its setting of a theatre with on-stage talent, and it's similar to The Lodger in that both films feature a lit-up sign early on to establish the location ("To-Night Golden Curls" in The Lodger, and "Music Hall" in The 39 Steps). And while the tone is light (similar to the tone of The Man Who Knew Too Much), it is in contrast to the grim tone in The Lodger and does not begin with a crime (The Lodger, The Pleasure Garden)
  17. I've seen this film years ago, and unfortunately don't remember much. Based on this opening scene--and what I know about Hitchcock's preferences--I'll assume that the film will be more character based than plot based. In these short two minutes, we're already introduced to some key characters, yet plot details are scarce. One of the more interesting characters is Abbott, who is easy-going and fun-loving, as depicted in his brief appearance in this scene. Based on his few lines, we know that he's new to the English language, but don't know much more. Upon seeing the skier, he takes a quick beat
  18. The use of sound is brilliantly used as a device to gain aural insights into Alice's mindset. It's clear in Ondra's performance that the character is filled with trepidation. She's skittish and paranoid. The use of sound helps to give her worried state greater depth. Examples of this include her isolated hearing of the word "knife" repeatedly from another character, and the pronounced bell at the very end of the scene, which signifies that something is amiss. In the shot in which the knife flies out of Alice's hand, the knife is initially relatively still as Alice appears to examine it with ca
  19. I enjoy watching the POV dolly shots in this scene. They heighten the tension between characters, which I'm sure was, at least in part, Hitchcock's intention. Watching a person moving slowly toward you--her eyes locked on yours--conveys a feeling of a predator stalking her prey. It allows the viewer to be placed squarely in the action, helping him to become more deeply engaged with the characters' emotions. Commonalities between this scene and scenes in other Hitchcock films, like The Ring, include the use of montage and superimposed images, in particular the record player and dancing feet
  20. Hitch's German Expressionist influence is felt strongly in this scene. The moment that sticks out in my head (no pun intended) as the most prominent is the superimposition of the spinning record player over the protagonist's forehead, indicating the flurry of rage whirling around in his head as he witnesses his wife's supposed infatuation with his opponent. Also, the distorted/elongated images of the dancers and piano keys demonstrate a dream-like state in which the protagonist envisions his wife cheating on him--something he can't stop thinking about, even while the manager is speaking to him
  21. Hitch certainly had a penchant for victimizing pretty, blonde women. They're prominent in both The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger. I can understand why Hitchcock considers this his first film that employs his signature style. The dark, moody cinematography; dramatic and frightening score (fun fact: I saw this film in a theatre performed with a live band); and frenetic performances evoke feelings of trauma and suspense, as if something's lurking around the corner and no one's safe. The opening shot of the victim screaming is set at a diagonal, perhaps meant to convey a sense of disorder. It's r
  22. I've been a fan of Hitchcock for years, but I've never seen The Pleasure Garden. It's interesting to look back at the first scene of his first film to see how his voice has evolved over his 50 years in the director's chair. This opening sequence does contain some elements that we'll come to know across many of Hitch's later works--the leggy blonde, the shady characters up to no good, the opening shot of the stairs that may symbolize a life that spirals out of control. There's a certain element of moodiness that's undercut by a dry joke (about the woman's curl) and relatively upbeat music. I di
  23. In just the first four minutes of Criss Cross, the audience is given several clues that it is about to embark on a great noir ride, among them are an urban setting (LA, one of the three big "noir cities") at night, hard-boiled dialogue, a tough dame, and clear indication through Steve and Anna's dialogue that something is off kilter, among others. There's trouble brewing, and the men are embroiled in it just as much as the women. It's hard to believe this is the end of the Daily Doses. They've been a regular part of my routine for weeks, offering a daily tidbit about some aspect of film no
  24. It's interesting to see how the scene's intensity sort of deconstructs at the end: the music is turned off and the shades are lifted, spilling light into the room. In a sort of film noir meta way, you can clearly see how Munsey uses light and music to affect mood, just as the noir filmmakers of the time did. Certainly, the music, particularly as the volume of the record player is raised, helps to add a sense of urgency and dread to what is already a gloomy situation. By assaulting Louis's senses in multiple ways (his ears hearing the music, his eyes adjusting to the dimly lit room, his sense o
  25. The note below about what the scene might be like without the swinging lamp is worth exploring. Even without the curator's note, it's obvious that the light is being used to create an effect of anxiety and terror in this scene. So what might the scene look like without it? Would it be as terrifying? I don't think it would be. Mind you, I still wouldn't want to be in Steve's position--especially with a fist and a broken bottle in my face--but the light certainly amplifies the threat against him. There's plenty scary about the unknown, and when large, brutish figures (they're standing over Steve
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