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About LThorwald

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  1. 1. Well the opening of both films deal with the discovery of a dead woman. The differences between the two films, separated by 45 years, reflect advanced film technology and Hitchcock's evolution as a director. The latter film has a rather majestic soundtrack, which accompanies an impressive aerial shot of London, flying over the Thames, under the Tower Bridge, etc. We are meant to be impressed with the the size and scale of London. In The Lodger, London feels close, seedy, fogged in. 2. Many Hitchcock openings introduce us to leading characters, and that is one thing that this film does not do. What it does, is start on a very grand impersonal scale, and slowly bring us down to the level of the personal. A crowd scene in an open area is a typical opening, particularly of early Hitch. 3. Overall, I would say that Hitchcock was the undisputed master of setting up movies in his opening sequences. In general, he liked to bring the audience in to the story, and introduce characters, while employing little dialogue. The openings were often his chance to make a mini silent film that sets up the rest of the film. The opening of Rear Window is a story all its own, told with no dialogue. The same could be said for Dial M For Murder, To Catch A Thief, Strangers on A Train to name just a few. This movie is a little different. The story he is telling here is that we have come back to London. It's a much bigger, imposing city than it was. But guess what? Dead women still float on the Thames. What is past is prologue.
  2. 1. I've seen this movie twice before, but I never noticed how well this first scene works. What we know about Marnie is that she is a secretive woman, and not only comfortable but adept at changing her look and identity. The many close-ups of objects, handled with such precision and care, show us that this is clearly not the first time she has changed things up. It is interesting how many of these objects do evoke earlier Hitchcock films, something that must be deliberate. 2. Herrmann's musical cue begins with a repeated motif that evokes a feeling of intrigue or suspense. It builds to a climax at the moment when Marnie is completing her transformation, and there is actually a brief moment where I think Herrmann is almost quoting from his Vertigo score, when Judy is becoming Madeline. It is not exact, but reminiscent, and appropriate since we are watching another transformation here. 3. Hitchcock's cameo is a bit different here. I have always thought that this was both his most self-aware cameo, and perhaps his most inappropriate. Self-aware because he almost looks at the camera. Inappropriate because the audience attention is forced on him; he is the only person on screen, unlike many of his previous cameras. He has a look of guilt on his face, as if he committed a crime in the room he is leaving. Audiences loved (and still love) looking for Hitchcock, and I would imagine he intended this to be humorous, but it seems a bit at odds with the emotional tone being established in setting up the Marnie character.
  3. 1. The opening is a "meet cute", which is pretty standard form in a romantic comedy. There is maybe just a slight hint of foreboding in the circling birds outside, but otherwise the tone is very light overall. Melanie and Mitch are clearly attracted to one another, and there is a slightly flirtatious tone to the dialogue. We learn that Melanie is willing to play assume the role of an employee of the store, just to have a little fun. And Mitch is charming and intelligent. 2. The bird sound is used almost in the way that musical cues could be used to aid in the overall mood. When the movie opens outside, the seagull sounds are quite audible, but not intrusive; we are focused on Melanie crossing the street. Then, when she looks at the circling birds in the sky, the noise becomes more raucous, and louder too. Then, when she enters the shop, the sound quiets a bit, and is just a charming melange of mellifluous bird noise, which fits the "romantic comedy" tone established by the two characters. 3. Hitchcock exits the pet store just before Tippi Hedren enters, turning to the right and walking down the sidewalk, with his own two dogs in tow. Hitchcock could have been filmed exiting the store with a bird cage, since birds are the title animal, but Hitchcock was a dog lover his whole life, and I'm sure he enjoyed allowing his own dogs to "guest star" in the film. I don't think any deeper thought went into this or any of his cameos.
  4. 1. The titles of Saul Bass and the music of Bernard Herrmann work perfectly together, just as they had twice before. The here is off-putting; the viewer is a little unnerved from the very first sound and image. White titles on a black screen, and the way the lines of print are jagged, and move back and forth, is very like the slashes of a knife. The strings of the violin act as a counterpoint, with sudden strong sounds that are very knife-like in their own way. If I had never seen this movie before, I would be expecting a movie with violence, and a movie that would keep me on the edge of my seat. 2. It's a wonderful contrast between the jarring images of the title sequence and the shots that establish the time and place of the film. All of a sudden we have a chance to catch our breath. The establishment of a specific time and place is a touch that is common in film noir. Oftentimes movies establish a very specific time and place when referring to a crime being committed. In this case, this is the moment that Marion Crane has made up her mind that things need to change in her relationship; essentially, her course to the Bates Motel has been established. The push in through the blinds is reminiscent of Rear Window, of course, although now our voyeurism feels more seedy. The Lady Vanishes also begins with a push in through the window. 3. The scene establishes her as the main character through her dress, (or state of undress) and through the way she addresses her lover. She is in love with this man, and is being proactive in her attempt to bring them together. Interestingly, Marion's brief journey on screen is a series of interactions with men. Starting with her boyfriend, then her boss, then the sleazy guy who throws the cash on her desk, then the highway patrolman, then California Charlie the car salesman, and finally Norman Bates. And all of them objectify her in some way. Except for Norman, of course. He is the most sympathetic of all. And you could say it is her interaction with a "woman" that brings about her demise. Janet Leigh is a vastly underrated actress who has little dialogue in this movie and has to convey her emotions through her facial expressions without over emoting and she does so brilliantly.
  5. 1. Our pre-existing knowledge of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint as stars adds a layer of depth to the scene. One could imagine that Cary Grant would attempt to travel incognito on a train, much as his character is doing. Eva Marie Saint was already an Oscar winner by this time but was not nearly the star that Grant was. She is seducing him, and her attraction is clear, but her motives are not. One could imagine a beautiful young actress being attracted to the older male star, something that has happened many times in fact. Particularly watching it now, so many years later, one can appreciate more how intertwined Thornhill and Grant are. 2. Well beyond the obvious symbolism of a fire being lit, much as their attraction is beginning to burn on screen, there is the way the matchbook is filmed. The precise way she grips his hand, pulling it closer, the way his hand is posed, with thumb protruding, as she coyly blows out the match. This may be the must sexually suggestive image in any Hitchcock film. At the same time that Hitchcock is using the matches to advance their feelings, he is also planting a seed in our minds, for that matchbook will become an even more important prop in the concluding scenes. Brilliant payoff by Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman. 3. The two predominant sounds are the rhythmic noise of the train and Bernard Herrmann's score. There is no conversational lull from other tables, we hear only our two leads talking. Although there are a few other sounds, like the clink of silverware on plate, that add a little reality.
  6. 1. This is an interesting exercise, having seen the film several times. So I focused on the sounds and images, and the feeling I get is that a woman is going to be in trouble or threatened in some way, perhaps by viewing a crime or something of that nature. I also sense a psychological element. 2. The single most powerful image is the close up of the woman's right eye. Imagine seeing that in a movie theater, encompassing most of the screen. It is while the camera is focused on the eye that the image suddenly shifts to red, which is a bit startling at first. The color red is not only associated with love and desire, but also danger and power, all things which will come into play in this movie. The title of the movie, as well as the initial spiral design, also originate from the eye. If the eye is truly a window to the soul, then this is a soul in turmoil. 3. The images and music work together perfectly. The rising and descending notes of the strings mirror the swirling images of the spirals. The images and music are both mysterious and mesmerizing. Later the rising and descending notes will be played at a more rapid pace as an undertone, before the strings come on strong again at the end. This is my favorite film score of all time, it is Wagnerian in scope and shows how truly talented Bernard Herrmann was. What this opening illustrates is two artists at the absolute peak of their craft, understanding the story and striving to create something of original depth and complexity that would match that story.
  7. 1. The opening camera shot is introducing us to the entire world of the film. Although we don't know that the first time we see it, we are seeing the entire "world" that the movie will inhabit. (Interestingly, just before this clips begin, the blinds are raised on these windows, almost like the curtains being opened at the beginning of a play. I think the pov being expressed is ours, the viewers. Hitchcock is introducing the idea of audience as voyeur. We are going to spy on the lives of the people who inhabit this small world, and L. B. Jeffries will be our surrogate. 2. One of Hitchcock's greatest gifts is in creating these opening scenes that establish the setting without dialogue. He did it many times, but never better than here. Keep in mind that the character establishment takes place all in the final 40 seconds of the shot! We learn that he is wheelchair bound; we learn that he is a professional photographer, who got his injuries while attempting to take photos of an auto race; and we learn that he has also photographed a very attractive woman whose image is on the cover of a popular magazine. Brilliantly done in well under a minute. 3. This scene absolutely makes me feel like a voyeur, and I'm quite sure that was Hitchcock's intention. It's rather like watching a performance, where the performers are not aware of the spectators. There is an odd sense of power in spying in the windows of all these people. But of course, we can only look where Hitchcock points the camera. 4. This is my favorite Hitchcock movie, and I have seen it at least 15 times. I would call it his most perfect film, but I don't know that I would call it his most cinematic. One could also make a strong case for Vertigo, primarily because of the strong visual style and use of color. Regardless, Rear Window is as well made a film as you will ever see.
  8. 1. The idea of "criss cross" is first set up visually with the contrasting way the two characters are presented. Bruno's taxi is shot from the front, looking back. Guy's taxi is shot from the back, looking forward. Bruno's feet are shot moving right to left, while Guy's feet are shot moving left to right. The music and more rapid cutting in this section imply two characters whose paths are bound to "cross." Then of course the cut to the crossing train tracks. This does seem to be the perfect metaphor for two characters, whose paths may run parallel for awhile, then diverge. Finally, we get the crossing feet. As a matter of fact, it is this seemingly simple act, Guy crossing his feet, that sets the entire movie into motion. (It is also perhaps worth noting, although probably not deliberate, the two characters get out of "Diamond Cabs". In railroad parlance, a diamond junction is a junction of two crossing tracks.) 2. The contrasting styles are established from the moment we see the feet exiting the taxis. Bruno is a much more flashy dresser, whereas Guy is dressed in a more straightforward manner. (Guy's clothes would allow him to blend in a crowd, while Bruno's clothes cause him to stand out.) Nothing is more gaudy than Bruno's tie clasp and lobster tie, which was made especially for the movie. There are slightly contrasting musical cues for the two characters when they exit their taxis. Guy is established as a more reticent character, which matches his dress. While Bruno clearly wants to engage. He comes and sits almost inappropriately close to Guy, and when he says he won't talk, we know he probably do nothing but. 3. I enjoy Tiomkin's score very much. He isn't as well remembered as several other composers from the golden age of Hollywood, I think in part because of his scores tended to be very grandiose by today's standards. But his scores always have charm, something many of today's scores could use more of. The music is perfectly married to the images, and narrates the opening of the movie in its own way.
  9. 1. The very first shot, establishing the hungover Ingrid Bergman, cutting to the pov shot of Cary Grant, is a nice Hitchcock touch. As Grant approaches the bed and they begin to talk, there is a bit more cutting than one normally sees in a Hitchcock film, and the two actors are not seen in the frame together. This is a deliberate choice. At this point, they are at odds with each other. Then Hitchcock uses the brilliant shot at the end to bring them together. Whether than cutting to them in a two shot, the camera focuses on the spot, and the actors walk into it. Suddenly, they are bound together. 2. Hitchcock photographs his two stars with a lot of medium close ups in the back and forth. The framing starts out a bit disjointed as Ingrid Bergman is coming out of her drunken sleep, but when they are talking the camera forces all the viewer's attention on the two actors. Cary Grant is dressed smartly in a well-tailored but unostentatious suit, which suits his characters straightforward manner. Ingrid Bergman's top has just a few sequins that catch the light as she moves. Her clothes are not fancy, but typical of a younger woman. She even (shockingly) shows a bare midriff when she gets out of bed. This scene, as is the case with the rest of the film, features a strong group of technicians who all worked together to craft a near-perfect film. 3. The casting is, in a word...perfect! This is fairly early in both of their careers, although they were both certainly stars by this point. I would say that Ingrid Bergman was Ingrid Bergman in every role; she had an essential quality that shone through no matter what role she was playing. I can't think of another actress who could be both tough and vulnerable in the same role, or even in the same scene, as well as she could. I do like the cute way she is using typical gangster lingo in the scene, almost a send up of gangster films, calling Grant a copper, and saying she's not a stool pigeon. Grant is playing against type a little bit here, in that he is playing the part very straighforward, all business. There is none of the detached amusement that is almost a Cary Grant trademark. Of course, Grant's character will undergo a transformation later in the film as they grow closer together. They have arguably the best on-screen chemistry of any Hitchcock couple.
  10. 1. The only real Hitchcock touch I see in this scene is the opening shot, which gives us a slow pan of the room, setting the scene with no dialogue. After this, the camera set-ups are pretty standard for an American comedy of the day. What this scene tells us about the couple is that they are very well off, and they have an unconventional marriage in some regards. 2. Honestly I don't see it as a true Hitchcock opening. He adjusted his usual opening structure to meet the needs of the genre, so it doesn't have the Hitchcock feel throughout, as the openings of so many of his other films do. 3. Both are well cast in their roles. Robert Montgomery has the right amount of playfulness in this scene. Lombard's reveal, as she sits up in bed, reacting to the slamming door, is a great opening shot, highlighting her beauty. They do seem to have a good chemistry.
  11. 1. We learn that Charlie seems to be bored and distracted. The room is not tidy, and the way the loose money is thrown about displays a carelessness or distractedness. He seems to be thoroughly bored with life, almost as if he doesn't care what happens. He has a fatalistic attitude; almost as if it doesn't matter if the two policemen confront him or not. Seeing the two men out the window seems to raise his ire, and provoke him into action. So this is a man who can be provoked, who is hiding something, and who may be a criminal. 2. There are certainly elements of noir in the way the opening is shot. A character of questionable morality languishing on a bed, smoke in the air. The fatalistic attitude, the cat and mouse with the police, even the dismissive dialogue he uses with his landlady, all remind one of various films noir. I tend to think of noir stylistically, more so than as genre. And I definitely don't think of any of Hitchcock's films as noir; he transcends genre. But there are noirish touches here for sure. 3. Tiomkin was one of the greatest composers of the 40's and 50's, and his scores tended to be grand and sweeping. His score here matches the tone of the visuals perfectly. The pacing begins slowly; we are unsure what Charlie's motivations are, but he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to do anything about it. Then the score intensifies as he begins to take action. This is one of a few Hitchcock scores where a particular musical theme is part of the plot. Much as Ms. Froy's hummed music in The Lady Vanishes was the MacGuffin, the Merry Widow Waltz is used as a recurrent theme in this movie. This is my favorite of Tiomkin's four scores for Hitchcock, with Strangers on a Train a close second.
  12. 1. Hitchcock opens many of his British films by bringing us quickly into the story through the actions of the characters. We often get a group of people, setting the scene, then a closer look at our leading characters. Hitchcock likes to establish the setting quickly, economically and visually through characterization and action. This opening brings the viewer to the story through mood established with cinematography, voice-over and music. It opens at a much more languorous pace; rather than cuing us in to what is going on, it raises questions that we can only hope the movie will answer. 2. The opening shot, which moves through the gate, down the overgrown path to the house is shot in a dreamy POV, and the model of the house is longingly lingered on. While the camerawork is expert here, this strikes me as a Selznick opening, not a Hitchcock opening. When we cut to Olivier on the cliff, there we get our first Hitchcock touch. First of all the jarring juxtaposition of visuals, cutting from the dark, Gothic house to the waves crashing on the rocks. Then to understand that the view of the waves is POV, as a man contemplates suicide. The movie first seems to show us Olivier's perspective, but will later shift, as most of the movie is from Joan Fontaine's perspective. This is also a Hitchcock touch. 3. We understand that Manderley is important because it is referenced at the very beginning of the voice over. The way the house is first seen strikes the viewer with wonder and perhaps a little fear. Manderlay is a metaphor for the past, perhaps the parts of the past that we don't wish to visit. The narrative ends with the reflection that "we can't go back to Manderley." The flashback structure is very American to me, rather than a straightforward beginning of the story, which implies action, an embedded narrative structure implies reflection; the pacing is different. The flashback and voice over are techniques that would be used frequently in film noir.
  13. 1. The tone is not only very lighthearted, it is also comic. This is probably the most broadly comedic opening of any Hitchcock movie. The music has a quaint, prosaic folksy quality, which also matches the lighthearted tone of the opening scene. 2. Charters and Caldicott represent the quintessential Englishmen abroad. They react to the chaos in the early scene, and the perceived slight by the hotel manager, with a typical British stiff upper lip. This attitude provides a counterpoint to the comedic scene they are reacting to. Having seen this movie a dozen times, I love the Charters and Caldicott characters; although they can behave almost like children when their cricket conversation is interrupted, they will rise to occasion when the necessity arises. 3. So Margaret Lockwood's entrance begins with a comic touch, as Charters and Caldicott believe the hotel owner is coming to greet them, and he passes them by to greet the girls. This tells the audience that these girls are important. They walk to the base of the stairs. At this point, Margaret Lockwood's face is seen in a three-quarter profile shot as she speaks with the hotel manager. The other two young women (one of whom is Googie Withers, an actress who had a very long film career) are seen in quarter-profile, their faces almost not visible. Then Hitchcock cuts to a two-shot of Lockwood and the hotel manager. Hitchcock then cuts to a reaction shot of the other hotel guests, standing grouped together at the bottom of the stairs, watching as Iris gives out her dinner order while walking up the stairs. These camera set-ups subtly tell the viewer that Margaret Lockwood is the star.
  14. 1. Hitchcock loves to feature crowds in opening scenes. He also likes to go from the grand scale to the small scale, by showing a group of people, then focusing on an individual in the group. This allows the viewer to be taken in by the overall spectacle, then slowly drawn in to the story of the central characters. One way this scene differs from earlier ones is that the tone is very lighthearted. There is not even a hint of something sinister happening. The great Robert Donat has an attitude of utter insouciance that makes him very appealing. He is not channeling any particular "type" of character, as Ivor Novello is at the beginning of The Lodger. Hitchcock makes us like Donat from his opening scene, then he makes sure we know he is important. When he asks the question about the distance from Winnipeg to Montreal the final time, and Mr. Memory hears him, there is a crowd shot taken from the stage. Donat's character is dead center in the crowd; Hitchcock is making sure our eyes are drawn to him. 2. Absolutely, I agree with Rothman's statement. I basically answered this in the previous question; Donat's demeanor is open, casual, charismatic. In essence, Donat is a star. Donat is a reluctant hero, and paves the way for similar future roles by Cary Grant in North by Northwest and Joel McCrea in Foreign Correspondent to name a couple. 3. This rather harmless scene sets up the central character, and his actions, or more appropriately his reactions to the situations he is forced into, will display all the elements of the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips. In this scene, we see only the beginnings. Certainly this scene sets up clearly who the protagonist is. The Mr. Memory phenomenon is unique; perhaps the viewer is already wondering if he can have anything to do with the plot. Of course, the movie is book-ended by music hall scenes, and it is interesting how much the tone shifts between the opening and closing. The last scene, which is essentially the same thing as the first; Mr. Memory answering questions on a stage, is fraught with tension.
  15. 1. I have seen this version a couple of times, but just based on this opening scene one would have to assume that characters that will be more important than plot. The only "plot" that we get in this scene, the dog getting loose and causing Louis to crash, is really just a contrivance to introduce the characters, and bring them together. It could have happened in a dozen other ways. 2. The obvious way to introduce a villain in a circumstance like this, where he is knocked down, would be to portray him as haughty, maybe even angry. But Hitchcock here introduces the sympathetic antagonist, something he would do throughout his career. Lorre is genuinely good-natured in this scene. One wants to like him. The only hint that there may be more to him than meets the eye is the slight double-take when he first recognized Louis. ( I did not notice this on my first viewing). 3. This opening is similar in the sense that the scene is set up visually. When Louis is skiing down the hill the sound is minimal. It was shot much the way he would have shot it in the silent era. After the crash, all of a sudden we hear ambient crowd noise and later music in the background. The difference is that this is a film where dialogue is important. There is much wit in this screenplay, and in all of the thriller sextet. I had to watch them all multiple times to pick up on all the intricacies of the screenplays. These movies, while still visual in nature, would not have been as effective as silent films. It is in the marriage of the visual and the sound that Hitchcock was so brilliant, even this early in his career.
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