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About MrNews

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    Classic film & TV, digital imaging & imagining, photography, cooking, ice hockey, cat cuddling, creative loafing.

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  1. This opening scene really defines Melanie as somewhat stuck up, a bit predatory, and apparently deceptive. After watching it a few times, I find myself almost wishing something evil upon her. She realizes that Mitch has mistaken her for a salesgirl, and immediately decides that he is hunk-y, and she will pretend to be what he think she is. She obviously knows nothing about birds (telegraphed by the fact that she did not know that mynah birds need to be taught to "talk"). While not quite despicable, it is easy to see Melanie as a less-than-honest, and perhaps under-handed person, worthy of cont
  2. Couple of things you can say about the title sequence, reading between the lines, as it were. First of all, the straight lines connote order and regularity, and the behavior of the characters in this film is anything but! Also, the fracturing of the cast and crew names, both into and out of their appearance, could suggest the fracturing of the norms and rules that will take place. Herrmann's score? Igor Stravinsky on steroids! Just take a 33.3 rpm recording of "The Rite of Spring" and play it at 48rpm, and there you have it. https://youtu.be/FFPjFjUonX8?t=3m26s Just seeing the name Jos
  3. It's difficult to see this sequence with fresh eyes, having viewed the film numerous times. But feigning amnesia, I would have to say that, from the title art and opening music, I expect to be dizzied and confused; and I am not disappointed. Most relevant comment in this course so far: the fact that Vertigo is perceived quite differently as one ages. As a college and graduate film student in my 20's, I saw this film as "artsy-fartsy" and didn't really "get" the themes. Forty years later, Scotty's psychological foibles are not so foreign to me. But it's still frustrating at hell, now as the
  4. Why is this story titled "Rear Window?" This is obviously the front window (there are no others) in Jeff's apartment, so is it that he is watching the rear windows of other apartments? Not likely, as these portals all seem like front windows. Is it the rear window, as in seeing what is behind you, rather than in front of you? Looking into the backyard of life? A mystery. Some say Hitchcock was most engaged during story development, script treatments, storyboarding and writing of a film, and became somewhat bored and impatient once filming began. Possibly apocryphal, but then why do both Stewa
  5. Sad to see the news of the death of Martin Landau. A great character actor, who brought an odd touch to "North By Northwest," when he chose to play the henchman to James Mason as ever-so-slightly gay, somewhat jealous of his boss's affair with Eve Marie Saint, and citing his "woman's intuition." It was his own choice to play it that way, and Hitchcock reportedly loved it. Obviously, his run in "Mission Impossible," the X-Files movie, many other films and TV, and his late-career Oscar-winning portrayal of elderly Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood," are iconic and will be remembered. Say a quiet pray
  6. Three Hitchcock-style films that were not Alfred Hitchcock productions come to mind: 1944's "Gaslight" directed by George Cukor and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotten. The overall texture of the film, the plot, the characters, and the dialogue are very "Hitchcock," and the entire "look" is his. 1965's "Mirage" directed by Edward Dmytryk and featuring Greg Peck, Diane Baker, and Walter Matthau. It's a later-style Hitchcock story, with amnesia, vanishing basements, mysterious characters, an odd love story and a great MacGuffin. And one of Matthau's great lines: " I can't
  7. Ya gotta love the little sparklies in Bergman's blouse, which takes it from a plain striped shirt to a subtly glamorous costume. Maybe the deeper meaning is that she is actually a gem who needs some cleansing and polishing. The upside down shot of Devlin is, of course, a way of signifying Alicia's confusion and conflict. At first she does what he tells her: "drink that," and then she only drinks a little. Then she refuses to take whatever job he is offering, but then appears to re-consider based on the recording he plays her. Does she do what he tells her, or not? Does she even want to? Th
  8. This is one of Hitchcock's masterworks, but also another showcase for the talents of Mercury Theater alumnus Joseph Cotten. In the opening sequence we learn that he has lots of cash, but seems rather careless with it. We learn he is a dapper dresser, but seems holed up in a rather drab boardinghouse (#13!), we learn that he seems rather indifferent to what happens to him ("Show them in, or I may go out and meet them"), and we learn that he is being pursued, or at least shadowed by the two men who "have nothing on me." (Apparently they don't, since they don't stop him or even speak to him as he
  9. Clearly, this is a big shift from the fast-paced, fast-talking, chase-y films of the British period. We have a languorous, slow, misty opening, with a slow and thoughtful narration, a slow walk along an overgrown driveway, and a cloud slowly obscuring the reflective windows of Manderlay. This is more classic American, or perhaps just Hollywood, story-telling, and certainly novelistic in its approach to the entire story as one big flashback. I believe Hitchcock would have told this story much differently without the insistent pressure from Selznick to follow the novel as closely as possible. Th
  10. This scene reminds me in some ways of the dinner scene in Hitch's 1943 film, "Shadow of a Doubt." Young Charlie is overwhelmed by doubts about her Uncle Charlie's possibly criminal doings, and during dinner, the next door neighbor (a young Hume Cronyn) and Charlie's father engage in macabre badinage about the best way to murder someone. Charlie finally get very upset and yells at them both.... Not that Hitchcock thought all audience members were dogs (or cattle!), but the audio trick with "(blah blah blah) knife, (mumble mumble mumble) KNIFE!" reminds me of a cartoon about the way dogs he
  11. Definitely, Robert Donat offering to "assist" Madeleine Carroll in removing her wet stocking while they are handcuffed together and eating sandwiches...
  12. It's tough to keep it to just five! The 39 Steps (1935) Foreign Correspondent (1940) Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) Rear Window (1954) North By Northwest (1959) Runners-up: The Lady Vanishes (1938) Saboteur (1942) Notorious (1946) Strangers On A Train (1951) Psycho (1960)
  13. I immediately noticed the music: frantic, dramatic, almost atonal in spots, slightly reminiscent of Stravinsky. The shocked crowds, their faces all fixated on a single point, event, or person. Hitchcock reached a pinnacle of this in "Strangers on a Train" during the tennis scene (when hundreds of faces were following the ball from one side to the other, but ONE MAN was not...). A pure Hitchcockian element was the man at the bar, as the woman witness is telling the policeman that the killer's face was all covered, he covers his face with his coat, almost mocking her melodramatic story. In tha
  14. No question this first directorial effort contains the basic Hitchcock "touch." The prurient leg shot, which you see later in "The Lady Vanishes" (with even a brief glimpse of Margaret Lockwood's bum), and certainly shots of Grace Kelly's arms in "Rear Window." Hitchcock certainly had a lascivious nature, and probably delighted in such shots, and knew he could get away with them in the context of telling the story. The leering "gentlemen" is also a Hitchcock touch, but one that seems quite Russian in its execution. I'm reminded of Eisenstein's shots of greedy capitalists and privileged cla
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