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About mfederman

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  • Birthday 11/12/1970

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    That fine line between clever and stupid
  1. 1. The opening scene of Frenzy, is vastly different than that of The Lodger. Where the Lodger opens up with flashing lights, and a silent scream followed by a montage of cuts that introduce the setting, Frenzy does not open with a “frenzy” as it were. Instead there is this long, extremely long air-born dolly shot above the Thames. Accompanying it is music that is a bit dated for the date of the films creation. I could tell right away that the film wouldn’t deal with the reality of the 60’s in England. Especially London. However, there was something uneasy about the sound track. As we move in on the Thames and follow its path, I was reminded of Joseph Conrad’s, Heart of Darkness, and subsequently Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of it in Apocalypse Now. When we finally track down to hear the politician’s speech about cleaning up the river; “It will once again be clear and clean” … words to that affect, the river becomes a symbol for the pollution within humanity. So the contrast of this beautiful city seen from above at a distance is quickly a large part of how we feel in the set-up, then only to be amplified by the crowd member who spots the naked dead person floating in the river. People are not just the cause of the pollution, but are actually the pollution. 2. Hitchcock “touches” might be the river as as sort of character. We also have the public setting for at least the witnessing of the aftermath of a crime. Aerial P.O.V. shot of the city and river would be another. 3. The scenes serve his own principle of not withholding information but delivering information in important parts. As per one of the video’s seen here in the class, Hitchcock attests to the difference between mystery and suspense. Opening scenes are critical in getting the ball rolling from the very first opening frame; from title block with soundtrack, all the way through, Hitchcock doesn’t waste a frame. As stated in numerous ways throughout, Hitchcock thinks about everything except telling the actors what to do. Visual cues, framing, point of view, color, musical motifs- all of it, and all while maintaining the importance of silent film story telling.
  2. 1. In this opening scene from Hitchcock’s, Marnie, we gather almost everything we need to get the ball rolling. Marnie is basically changing identities. Why? Because she’s a thief. Not much more to say except to state the obvious of what give us these clues. New clothes in a new suit case, old clothes in another. Switch out the old Social Security card and pick from one of the other ones. She’s done this before. Dump your stolen money in the new suit case, wash out the dye in your hair and dispose of the old suitcase in a way that will take people a long time to discover. It all echoes back to Hitchcock’s silent film years and experience as a designer/illustrator. You don’t need dialogue to say so much about the film. 2. Bernard Hermann’s score is so critical in this film. There is a motif that, like in Vertigo is haunting, but also beautiful in a way that we’re not afraid but feel like there is some sort of nostalgia or longing for something that is missing. I am reminded of Albinoni’s Adagio in G, which is used in so many films, such as Orson Welles’ The Trial and interestingly recently used in Manchester by the Sea. Both scores serve to give you a psychological underpinning of the main character. It becomes an integral part of the main character throughout the film. In this opening scene, Hermann’s score has a dramatic climax, which like Albinoni’s score changes the mood in a story-like fashion. Hermann’s score reaches a change in tone from being nostalgic and haunting to one of rebirth and joy as Marnie washes the dye our and raises her head to be introduced to the audience. 3. While I am sure there is another film in which Hitchcock looks directly at the camera, I just can’t remember which, Hitchcock does it very differently in this one. He is in close proximity to the viewer, looks at us a bit longer and raises the eyebrow. I believe Hitchcock is consciously acknowledging a relationship in time and space to the audience. He is telling them to “check this out” or “see what I’ve done here this time”. I believe he wants us to look for all the themes that he has utilized throughout his films. All motifs. The purse as an object or vehicle for a plot to start on, the use of color symbolically, the way the black dye does look like a reference to the blood going down the drain in Psycho. This one in particular is the overlap between Marnie and Marion Crane in which Marion almost gets a second life here as Marnie reboots her identity. I must say that I disagree with the video lecture in that I believe Psycho was one of the first films in which we see Hitchcock address the childhood of a character and Marnie seems to take this a step further. I could go out on a limb and say that even in Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock uses the relationship between the childhood memory of the Charlie the niece, to Charlie the uncle. Many would say that in Psycho it’s the Oedipus complex relationship suggestion. That’s not really it at all, but more one of the abuse and damage done to Norman as a child and how stifling it has become to him. Long term damage. Marnie furthers this narrative of the affect of long term psychological damage. Marnie’s damage isn’t only due to her own personal abuse, but also watching her mother subject herself to it regularly. Hitchcock looking at the camera is him becoming more than an artist but a teacher of human behavior.
  3. 1. In this opening scene from The Birds we see a playful flirtation between Melanie and Mitch being created. First off, we know that Melanie doesn’t work there, Mitch doesn’t. With her verbal exchange with the employee we get the idea that Melanie is upper class, seemingly busy, on some strict schedule, and a little worried that the bird she ordered isn’t what she will get. But this shifts-obviously Melanie isn’t too busy to have a little fun with the attractive Rod Taylor’s character. The minute she can’t name the strawberry finch’s correctly, Mitch decides to have bit of fun with her as he asks about ornithological reasons for keeping the birds in cages. He furthers his fun by trying to find out if she knows what molting is. Tippi Hedren’s character plays it off as best she can, but Mitch is on to her. In this scene, these two establish the obvious attraction to each other, but also display that they are college educated, possibly single, and most likely rather independent and confident people. This is critical in terms of character buy-in and respect amongst the audience. This scene alone doesn’t go much further in adding to the romantic comedy aspect but there are other scenes-such as the shot of the love birds leaning to and fro on the floor of Melanie’s car as she is speeding to Bodega Bay. 2. From the beginning, the birds are a constant cacophony of ear piercing sound. It almost gets worse at the point where Melanie reaches the top of the stairs in the pet shop. Here there is a higher pitched piercing sound that I noticed. The feeling is uneasy and chaotic. Usually there is a calming affect as we listen to gulls juxtaposed against crashing ocean waves at the beach, but not here. The mood is frantic and in fact amplified by the plot set up. For example, Mitch is in a hurry it seems, and needs to find the perfect gift before he sets off for home. Melanie is too. A certain stress level that the birds add to the characters is voiced as Melanie asks the shop keeper about all the gulls outside. 3. ‘Hitchcock is walking his own terriers Geoffrey and Stanley--and that there are two dogs does bring to mind the Hitchcockian theme of doubles’- from the notes and I would agree. There is no doubt that the “doubles” theme persists. From the fact that Mitch and Melanie both start with “M” to the pair of love birds, Hitchcock is telling us that this pair will be going through an experience together in the films vignette of the next couple of days. I wonder if perhaps this in some way illustrates the tight relationship that Hitch and Alma have relied upon as a double or couple throughout their careers. After all the terriers are the family dogs.
  4. 1. In this opening title sequence and scene, Saul Bass and Bernard Hermann basically tell us we’re going to get chopped up, physically, emotionally and psychologically. The broken wording brings to mind the way in which the human mind can seem illogical or completely separated from reality. The pure string orchestration when combined with Bass’ imagery, brings to mind slicing knives. The sound is harsh and unforgiving. 2. The actual first shots of the film not only give us a visual on a city which is not gigantic and at the same time not terribly small. So we have a small town vibe in which you don’t have to go too far in finding someone you know or who knows you. Furthermore, the date, day and time stamp on the film lets the viewer identify with that time of year. In other words, what were we as viewers actually doing on Friday, December 11th, at 2:43 PM? Entering through a window is part of the classic “Hitchcock Touch” of voyeurism, and reminds us of Rear Window, and The Lady Vanishes, in which we literally push through a window, but also Rope and Shadow of a Doubt, in which we are introduced to the dwellings of main characters with a shot of the window. The blinds are closed, whomever is inside is deliberately keeping the window closed. Perhaps the town is too small, or is one of these two married? But all of it serves to create as sense of realism. These are two seemingly very normal people that the audience can identify with. Privacy and discretion is of high importance. 3. Question 3 is tied to the second in that through the dialogue it is Marion who dictates what will happen with the relationship. She is the one who lives here and Sam is the out-of-towner. Marion has more to lose in reputation if someone finds out. They need to get married and if he’s not willing to, then they have to stop seeing each other. This is, in particular, Marion Crane on Friday, December 11, at 2:43 PM. Not necessarily Sam. Furthermore, it dictates that other events will unfold with Marion and not Sam that are date or time sensitive.
  5. 1. In this sequence of North by Northwest, the train lunch scene is so important in truly setting the viewer up for a very confusing ride when trying to figure out the legitimacy of everything coming out of everyone’s mouth except Roger’s. The exchange of, “I know, I look vaguely familiar…” is on the first level plot oriented in that he is probing as to whether Eve, knows who he is. On the second level, it is perhaps a tool that deals in the actual psychology of Hitchcock towards his audience. Hitch knows the audience knows these two stars well and they will sympathize and feel for the both of them individually, but most importantly the audience will want a romance to ensue between them, whatever the outcome. Some film scholars, in trying to seem witty or clever, may analyze this line as almost breaking the 4th wall in that if the audience were to answer this question, then yes, “both of these people look familiar”. However, I don’t think there is too much to this; because as a viewer, you stay with the characters and simply take the line to mean as I stated above. The “meaning” however, is critical. We as audience want them to have a romance, we want there to be substance for the both of them to this relationship a sort of truth underlying a web of confusion and lies, true identities rather than aliases. 2. The use of R.O.T on the matchbook is also a tool of true identity vs. an alias. He is vain enough to have the matchbook covers made, but not truthful enough to have a meaning to the middle initial. Symbolically, the “O” stands for the confusion and misdirection of how each character may or may not put faith in the other. It means, “nothing” just as this whole exchange between the Eve and Roger may mean nothing. Later we see that the matchbook becomes a tool of faith and truth in the film as Roger uses it to signal to Eve that he is legitimate, his feelings are too, and that he is in the house of the criminals to save her. 3. In terms of sound, there isn’t much music. All the sounds are natural sounds that would cue any passenger as to what is happening in and around the train. We hear just as Eve does that the train is stopping and there is some drama going on outside-they are looking for Roger, but this all comes later than this clip. So the music is low in volume, calming and romantic. It is sweet and makes the suggestion that there are real feelings being created between Roger and Eve.
  6. 1. Well since I’ve seen Vertigo a couple of times, it is hard to answer this in a guessing manner, either way I’ll echo back to when I first saw it. As an artist and art teacher I am naturally very responsive to abstract visual cues, but a I am also a huge Saul Bass fan. By title alone, Vertigo automatically suggests that there is an imbalance of some sort and that something in this plot won’t add up. However, the deeply psychological mood or atmosphere created wouldn’t be the same without the wonderful counterpoint of Bernard Hermann’s score to Bass’ graphics. Both question 1 and 3 go hand in hand. On one side we have a hypnotic repetition of 6 note articulation layered against the contrast of what starts as a building but calm, sustained-note instrumentation or instrumental chords. There isn’t a repetition or a predictability in the back drop to Hermann’s 6 note pattern. The backdrop continues to build in and gain force as we continue deeper into the visual representation. Bass counterpoints this and accentuates our psychological exploration with the Lissajous figures. These figures serve to visually represent the pattern we hear in Hermann’s soundtrack but the symbolism is in the suggestion that we are diving into an abstract world of the human mind. A place where the subconscious and the conscious meet but don’t always agree. So there is an order and structure to the world within our mind like the Lissajous figure precision, but that structure doesn’t behave according to the same logic of our waking world. Therefore, the figures we see are changing and morphing; what we see at first is no longer what it was, but still somehow the same. Again, that same sort of familiar but different aspect is what Hermann gives us in the score. We are diving into the mind of someone and know that perceptions of reality and balance will be questionable at best. 2. The most powerful image is when, after we have zoomed in on the woman’s eye, everything turns red, a symbol of some sort of death or damage being done whether physically or psychologically. However, alone, this image isn’t quite finished as we see toward the end of the the title there is a Lissajou figure that is in the shape of the upper and lower lid of her eye and soon, behind it comes a spinning iris. This juxtaposition suggests that there will be an attempt to put some mathematical certainty into the abstract nature of the human mind.
  7. 1. The opening shot of Hitchcock’s Rear Window is an exercise in his masterwork as a silent film maker. He is an illustrator by nature and a designer. Hitchcock knows how to give us a great deal of information in a quick amount of time. The camera starts with a slow push out the window to a courtyard as the viewer takes in information about most of the neighbors. Early morning, we are seeing the intimate behavioral patterns of our neighbors. I say “our” because that is Hitchcock’s intent; to make us an instrument in some way. As stated in the lecture notes, Hitch is also intent on making Jefferies and the viewer his surrogate. I believe he combines the viewer and Jefferies as a surrogate by the way the camera circles over Jefferies, where he wasn’t with us at first and then back out to the neighborhood and then to introducing Jefferies. At this stage of the film there isn’t any subversive feeling in perhaps what is the most voyeuristic film of all. This aspect will be something we struggle with along with Jefferies after he wakes up. Being that Hitch loves the idea of mystery and crime played out in public places, this is a wonderful twist in the sense that it is public but also private at the same time. 2. The set design and track of the the camera illustrates that Jefferies has a broken leg, we see his broken camera; perhaps a testament to his voiced frustration over being laid up. We see he is an action photographer as well. The interesting pan of visual character building shifts when we see the photonegative of a young lady that appears to be Grace Kelly’s character. He has framed this photonegative and it seems to be a comment on the relationship Jefferies might be involved with, as we see later Jefferies and Lisa are a couple that don’t have much in common. Justification for this is a stack of fashion magazines with the same woman’s face on it, and while it isn’t Grace Kelly’s, it nevertheless seems out of place in an action photographer’s apartment. So we can only be led to believe that the magazines belong to a woman in the house. 3. I think I answered #3 in #1 4. I agree that it is perhaps his most cinematic. Hitchcock loved to apply challenging constraints on himself in his films. While he explored this limited set before, and while this is a large set, the largeness of the set is only due to the story itself. It is large but also a limitation. A limitation that allows Hitchcock to truly explore what might be his best visual story telling film. Themes of public gathering places like trains, hotels, carnivals, and theaters have been explored as a means to reflect the complex ways in which our lives intermingle with others for better or worse, but Hitchcock has shown his true mastery through Rear Window.
  8. 1. In the opening sequence to Strangers on a Train, the symbolic visual representation is seen in almost every new shot, from cut to cut. The music cues us to the visual representation as well. First is Bruno’s feet. The camera sits to the right of Bruno’s character, focused on his feet. This contrasts with the shot of Guy getting out of the car in which the camera sits to the left. This suggestion of two opposing characters and entities crossing paths randomly continues in the shots of both characters as they walk; Bruno shot walking toward the left and Guy shot walking toward the right. Again the music is telling us about their character and temperament with shifts in tempo, instrumentation and expression. After they enter the turnstile, we see a shot of the train approaching the station from the POV of the train, the train being immediately injected as a type of character in true Hitchcock form. The tracks criss-cross each other so that the viewer thinks they are going one way and we here a clicking sound suggesting the tracks are switching, and they do as we and the train shift to the right. Continuing on to the train, we see Bruno walking toward the left like before, down the aisle still only focused on his feet as he takes a seat. In contrast, we follow Guy’s feet walking toward the right down the aisle until he sits. The two worlds collide as Guy’s shoe brushes Bruno’s. 2. To continue the concept of “contrast” and opposite worlds or directions colliding would then be in the character’s themselves. The first glimpse of Bruno is of his tidy and expensive fashion sensibility. From the black and white saddle design, to the well-pressed pin stripe suit. Again in contrast is Guy, normal shoes, normal suit and no hint of an interest in fashion or superficial elements. With the opening lines, the contrast is so humorous and poignant as Bruno recognizes Guy as a tennis star, clearly following trendy events while Guy is keeping to himself. Bruno slowly unfolds his psychopathic behavior when he compliments Guy and says, “oh how I do admire people who do things”. Clearly, Bruno is not only not employed but through this line and the subsequent line referring to his tie clip, “…my mother gave it to me, I have to wear it to please her”, unloads his baggage and psychosis. This disturbance is furthered by the forceful way he moves close to Guy almost lurching over his shoulder invading his space, telling him to ‘go on reading because he doesn’t talk much’. This we find is a totally untrue statement. Furthermore, Bruno’s attire and his actions suggest that he may be homosexual as he appears to be coming on to Guy. 3. Tiomkin’s score is another way in which the two characters are contrast and the concept of two worlds coming together is suggested. As stated above, the tempo, instrumentation, and expression within the music is different as we cut between character shots on their feet. The musical daintiness and “light in the loafers” quality of Bruno on the first shot of his shoes is bouncy, flowery and delicate as opposed to the shots of Guy where the music switches to a more masculine, machine like tone. In terms of the overall atmosphere, Tiomkin seems to be creating back and forth motion, crescendo and decrescendo from the opening shot and within the shot of the train tracks.
  9. 1. The Hitchcock “touch” as stated in the video lecture, is the unique revisiting of the POV twirl shot as Grant’s character, Devlin approaches Alicia, Ingrid Bergman. The close up shots on her face are a lot like many other films, such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith when Lombard is in bed in the opening sequence. Though it’s not the opening sequence, it is classic Hitchcock in the set up of the characters, plot and suspense or mystery in a quick amount of time. If you haven’t seen the film you would have to look up a plot summary to figure out what’s happening though. 2. Love that Bergman is wearing what appears to be black and white stripes, alluding to her possible guilt. The light on her face sets up a wonderful frame with the negative space of the chair in the foreground (also possibly framing her behind bars?). In terms of character, we get the sense that even before we hear the recoding of her and her father, that Alicia is embittered and cynical about events in her life. Grant (Devlin) is pretty forcefully ordering her to drink from the glass and finish it. The introduction to Devlin is one of power even though he is upside down; low angle and totemic. The whole interaction between them is the tension of begging for a truth from Alicia, and though Devlin is verbally forceful, there is a calm in his demeanor. He cares. 3. I think the film requires, as Hitchcock knew, the star quality. You have to buy into sympathizing with the characters. Grant was very good at playing serious roles like North by Northwest-convincing. Bergman seemed to stretch her on-screen dynamics with roles that broke out of the stereotype for her. I can see Edith Head’s commentary on the costuming for Bergman is very true in that Alicia has to come across like a spy- not too glamorous and not to dumpy or commonplace.
  10. DAILY DOSE #11 “Thought I’d Left”, Mr. and Mrs. Smith 1. AND 2. In my opinion, Hitchcock is keeping his “touch” but it’s not in the same way as with the silent pictures in Britain or in the sound films from Britain. Hitchcock is choosing to create his mystery and tension in less obvious ways and allows us a bit of a slower introduction to the cast. However, Hitch is still able to introduce the plot dynamics through character (which has always been his choice), within a rather short beginning to the film. I think this change or departure into more sophisticated method of his “touch” began with Rebecca and can also be seen here in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Genre doesn’t matter. We still have a wonderful conflict and a mystery at hand and most importantly a commentary on human psychology. The dynamism of a marriage, the great mystery of what actually brings two people together and how they manage to keep it going. There is a codependency here, but more of that later. Hitch symbolizes the chaos we are about to witness with an array of used dishes, disheveled sheets, furniture in disarray, Montgomery’s character still in his robe, and Lombard, clearly awake but tossing and turning. We know there is an issue, and they’ve been holed up here for days. If it’s due to a honeymoon, well.. things don’t seem to be going too well, and if it’s other, the same is true. Hitch gives us a POV shot as we push in to a close up on Lombard’s eye peeking out from the sheets. This suggest, as in all Hitch films that we are voyeurs. So Hitchcock’s visual motif’s are not montages or quick series cuts to get us into the story in a hurried way. He relies less on actual movement of objects or symbolic items and more on objects that show results of something we missed and have to fill in the blanks. So back to what it tells us: There is a codependency, we learn that they have been through this crazy process several times before and this time it has been 8 days. Their marriage rule is, ‘no one leaves until the argument is ironed out’. And there it is, the crux of the film and the conflict to hopefully be resolved; will they last or won’t they. We get the sense that they need each other. Montgomery tricks her into believing he has left to see what her reaction is. As for him, well he would have left a long time ago if it weren’t for some deep seated need for what she gives him as a person. Hitchcock has presented us with what sells the audience and that’s the sheer fascination at looking at ourselves. To make a movie out of it, you have to be more extreme. I recently read a Larry David quote that went something like, ‘when you bare your soul or tell all your truths, it’s all of a sudden very funny. Perhaps this is the borderline darkness. These two are just as fickle and vulnerable as any other. 3. Lombard and Montgomery are cast well here. They play off of each other well. As players on the screen they are attractive people and they are convincing in alluding to the dark aspect of their codependence as well as the beautiful love they fight for. However, I think this question is better answered after I see the film later today.
  11. 1. This opening scene in Rebecca is almost entirely not typical Hitchcock. Aside from the use of miniatures and the foggy landscape, there isn’t a series of quick cuts and immediate character introductions. You don’t have a public place as a setting, but a rural one isolated from the rest of the world. The pace is slow. The gradual push shot that gives us the first person psychological perspective and flashback at the same time is a convention that Hitchcock would use. But it is slow and Hitch, prior to this film didn’t open a film with a flashback narrative. I find it hard to believe that more of Hitchcock’s contributions to noir are not and were not really discussed without digging for it. Moreover, there isn’t the implication of a crazy psychosis through imagery like we would see with swirling dancers or spinning machinery. However, there is a more pensive calm sort of madness implied by the crashing waves against the rocks serving as the prelude to the introduction of Olivier’s character. 2. As stated in number 1, I don’t believe this film would have appeared to anyone as a signature Hitchcock film, at least not until the plot got going more. The only sign that may have set that idea in motion would be the quick verbal exchange between Olivier and Fontaine, and perhaps the reference to the house coming alive as addressed in question 3. 3. Yes, the house is a character, Fontaine narrates and speaks as if the house is beckoning her to come and revitalize the spirit of the structure. As the camera (suggestively the viewer acting as Fontaine’s character) journey’s to the house, a spiritual quality allows her to pass through the gates, discover her way through the overgrowth and confront the house. The lights come on as if they were eyes and welcome her to the madness of what entitlement, wealth, and extreme isolation can do to human nature.
  12. DAILY DOSE #10 1. The scene is extremely like the opening to The Killers, though set in the daytime as opposed to the dark night time. Laying on his bed, eyes closed, but awake, money on the floor suggesting that it is not of any real concern of his. This scene tells us that Charlie has for some reason become embittered and there is a dark spirit overwhelming him. A sense of futility, and isolation from humanity. Specifically it is Charlie’s reactions to his boarding house host; a woman whose most likely the same sort of character he will criticize at dinner later in the film. Charlie later criticizes the wealthy widow who behaves more as a busy body and good for nothing leach proud of her jewelry. Charlie’s host even makes a comment about how money makes her nervous, kind of like Cobby in Asphalt Jungle, but she goes on to say that she’s never really had money issues. Furthermore, Charlie isn’t phased by the gentlemen waiting outside. He is set on confronting them, and mentions that, “isn’t it interesting that they have never seen me”. 2. Completely identical to The Killers as stated above, although in the Killers we see the henchmen first go searching for Swede, then we see Swede lying on the bed knowing what is coming. The flashback for Killers comes later here. Hitchcock makes continual flashbacks throughout Shadow, constantly referencing Charlie’s psychological state. The signature connection between both openings is the two henchmen/ detectives walking side by side in an even pace toward their prey. We see this at the end of The Killing, the beginning of The Killers, and here in Shadow. 3. The score is so eloquently tied to the psychological twists that occur very quickly even within the first sequence. Starting off as playful and innocent like the kids playing in the street, then shifting and building through the sequence to the climax of when Charlie boldly approaches the henchmen and passes them.
  13. 1. The opening of, The Lady Vanishes offers an immediate contrast in tone and atmosphere. The soundtrack offering a peaceful happy tone with a no-stress attitude as the elderly lady checks in with the hotel manager. After the intro push shot we have two quick cuts to a depth of field shot in which we see our male duo of Caldecott and Charters trying to close the door to keep the cold out, while the old lady disrupts this by needing to exit. In this shot we have a wonderful foreground placement of the manager and the action in the background. All seemingly peaceful, but the struggle of Caldecott and Charters represents the stresses to come. Before they can sit, the tone is changed by the porters barging through the door with luggage, the cuckoo clock chimes, and … there’s been an avalanche. We are now within the typical Hitchcock cacophony and chaos. 2. Charters and Caldecott serve quite a meaningful purpose here. In this opening scene we get the low down on the political and social climate at the time and how wonderful the comments come during an avalanche. These two are busy bodies who immediately assume the young female trio to be Americans based on all the pomp and fuss given to them by the hotel manager. Within an instant the hotel manager has gone from informing the waiting passengers, urging them to register in his hotel, to then completely ignoring them. Caldecott and Charters are important in that they offer the character breakdown, not just the comic relief, but they become the vehicle by which Hitchcock is displaying a bit of the spirit of the times- people of various nationalities that are speculative of each others motives and dispositions. 3. I first have to mention how I love the slow push shot that again, in true Hitchcock form, places the audience as a voyeur. As mentioned, we again have a public space in which the randomness and probability of any given circumstance. The shot in question wouldn’t be as strong if it weren’t for the two previous shots in which we see the viewer is behind the crowd at the reception desk, darkly framing the hotel manager as he signals to the incoming trio. Next, is a cut to the manager blowing by Caldecott and Charters. To showcase Iris, Boris shakes her hand first and she enters screen right, Boris directly opposite. Iris overlaps her friends behind her. Next a tracking shot in which Iris leads the pack and then a medium-two-shot track as Iris and Boris talk. Her importance is finally capped off by a pause on the steps with Iris higher than her friends, and a subsequent two-shot of just Boris and Iris as she says she must leave tomorrow. Iris also calls the shots when ordering dinner in their rooms. To create tension and animosity, we see the shot of the lined up crowed watching the whole event just like the audience, in total disbelief.
  14. DAILY DOSE # 7 1. The opening sequence of The 39 Steps is similar to the other Hitchcock films in that we have a very public space in which a performance of some sort has drawn the crowds and we know exactly where we are. Typically, this is where Hitchcock would have started off with character faces and introduction right at the first frame, but not here. Intrigue is created by only being introduced to a character’s hand buying a ticket and their feet as he walks in. Even then we still only see the back of his head as he takes his seat in the theater. So again, as in The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitch is taking his time comparatively. 2. If the man in the overcoat (presumably from Canada) is our main character, I would agree that Hitchcock is trying to introduce a very likable and innocent one. He has a peaceful face, and he is engaged in the interactive audience with the performer. He flashes a peaceful grin as the young boy interrupts his question. 3. Location plays a part; it is a character of sorts. I can’t help but read into the setting and the characters based on previous films by Hitch to be that the location is a tool used by the villain of the film to conduct their business. Knowing what I do from Hitchcock, I would imagine that the man in the trench coat from Canada is most likely working with Mr. Memory to gain audience buy-in. But we don’t really know this for sure. Clearly there is a focus on the performer. A lot is at stake and it is also clear that many audience members don’t take him seriously. The man who asks about disease in poultry is cut to twice. He may be instrumental later in revealing the fraudulent performance. So at best we know that something is afoot, but nothing more. In other words, there is a reason we are here in the music hall with these two prominent characters. To me what it boils down to is a second film in which Hitch is learning his pacing and really refining his craft. There isn’t much from Phillip’s checklist in the notes that we can actually affirm from the clip.
  15. 1. In terms of importance, we know that Hitchcock most likely chose Peter Lorre for The Man Who Knew Too Much for a few reasons. Lorre was coming off “M” and the acclaim so audiences knew him, second Lorre has an exotic look about him with the haircut and gray patch. Moreover, he has a thick German accent and an overall eccentricity portrayed in Abbott. So I believe the audience will buy into a sympathetic feel for Abbott interestingly. As mentioned in the lecture video, Hitch keeps a slapstick element and Abbott/Lorre was described as perhaps the “nicest villain ever”. Character wise in this opening sequence, Hitch develops this adopted “uncle roll” for Louis and the daughter. However, it is mentioned that the plot really gets going after this scene in a fast paced manner, and I would imagine that the speed would keep audiences in suspense as they have to keep up with the pace while trying to figure out the layers of the plot. Here is the MacGuffin; we don’t really know what the purpose of the villainy is but for some reason the audience is totally hooked and this can only be due to the character relationships. 2. As mentioned in #1, Peter Lorre’s portrayal is of a seemingly eccentric character. His reaction at first getting a good look at Louis and the subsequent non-verbal exchange with the woman accompanying him is that he somehow knows this man, or thinks he does. In my opinion, the opening sequence automatically makes us suspicious of Abbott so that later we are less likely to give him any credibility. 3. The opening sequences between Hitchcock’s first two films, The Pleasure Garden, and The Lodger are different in intensity. Pleasure Garden opens with music, dance, and swirling action, leering stabbing eyes of elderly men in a quickly cut series of images. So too does The Lodger as it opens with as literal scream and the dark low key lighting in a night sequence. Hitchcock is really quick to introduce his characters as well, and so he does in The Man Who Knew Too Much. However, while there is a sense of tension and suspense, the pacing is slower. Sure the dog jumps out onto the slope sabotaging the Louis run, and we have the visual tension of Abbott’s reaction to Louis, but it’s not dark or sinister feeling and visually slower.
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