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About vhclark

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  1. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison. In The Lodger, the victim leads us to the crowd and then to the press. In Frenzy, it is reversed. We see the speaker, then the press, then the crowd, then the victim. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. We are going, again, from wide to tight. The broad expanse of London, like the broad expanse of St. Moritz, are squeezed down to as small an image as possible. While we are doing this, we are also going from high to low. The dialog is not necessarily related to the plot, although I enjoyed the irony of the politician's speech of removing pollution from the Thames is met with the ultimate act of dumping. This is similar to the dialog in the beginning of The Man Who Knew Too Much or Notorious. it is mundane, only to be contrasted with the revelation of the plot. 3. Using Frenzy as an example, what thoughts do you have about the various purposes Hitchcock had in mind when he created his opening scenes? In the Daily Doses, we have focused on opening scenes, so there should be patterns or strategies you have noticed over the course of opening scenes spanning Hitchcock's 50 year career. More often than not, Hitchcock is trying to create a sense of the ordinary. The opening of Frenzy is very similar to Psycho and somewhat similar to Shadow of a Doubt. We see ordinary scenes before we get to the grimy underside. Normalcy is juxtaposed with crime
  2. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. She uses things, consumes them. New clothes in, old clothes out. Money in. The old purse is merely a container. She tosses aside an identity and chooses a new one. Her hair color is rinsed away. The vestiges of her old life are abandoned in a train station locker. She only keeps things for as long as they are useful. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The phrasing in the melody repeats itself and becomes faster and more insistent as Marnie casts off her old self. It follows a pattern of orchestral voices and takes on a dark tone when the money is dumped into the suitcase. It gets darker still when the new identity cards are revealed. It becomes triumphant when the original hair color is revealed and the pattern changes here and maintains when the suitcase is locked away. It is a little sad and nefarious. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? He glances at the camera, almost acknowledging the audience. He also could be looking out for Marnie from the rear. This could acknowledge the artificiality of Marnie's life - it's a long con and the audience is in on it.
  3. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? Other than the birds circling over the square, this is a rather light scene. Mitch mistakes Melanie for a sales clerk and she decides to toy with him. His request for love birds is filled with innuendo. She tries to snow him, which Mitch and the audience see through quickly. Melanie knows very little about birds. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? The birds are in a mood. Their sound covers the city sound. In the pet store, the birds are just below the conversations, but it is loud. It creates a physical presence. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. We see Hitchcock leaving the store with two well groomed Scott Terriers. With his appearance, and Melanie's, we can assume that the store is popular with the upper classes. This allows us to make assumptions about Mitch as well, Beyond that, the cameo does not say anything else to me.
  4. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? Between the score and the graphics, I feel like things are being torn apart, cut. Some things are hidden and become revealed. The words "Psycho" and "Alfred Hitchcock" become distorted after they are revealed. Everyone has a secret which gets revealed. Some are more shocking than others. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? This grounds the film in reality. It happened a few months ago. A year ago. The entry through the window is voyeuristic, like Rear Window. It is also reminiscent of Shadow of a Doubt. Uncle Charlie was lying on a bed. Marion is lying on a bed. The approach to the window is kind of like a mirror to Shadow of a Doubt, coming in high instead of street level. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. There is something illicit, illegal in what Marion and Sam are doing. She regrets it and wants to escape it. She wants to be proper, even though she is very much in love. Sam says they are acting like a married couple, but Marion reminds him they are not, An aside - I watched Psycho a couple of years ago with my son, who is a Criminal Justice major. He sat there and said, "Oh, I got this figured out." Yeah, right...
  5. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. Cary Grant is pure style and class. I don't have a good feel for Eva Marie Saint. The give and take between the two is remarkable. Grant's character is on the run, but Saint's character here is on the hunt. Perhaps the scene is putting their public personas in sharp contrast to their characters. There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. The matches and matchbook become the source of the character's physical contact in the scene. Grant says ROT is his trademark, a piece of self-deprecating humor. Saint pulls the match close to light her cigarette and pulls his hands back to blow the match out sensuously. It builds the romantic tension in a static scene. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. The sound is subdued. The music is romantic and the sound of the train makes a relaxing sound bed. It is nondescript and I think that it causes the dialog to be emphasized.
  6. Describe what you think this film will be about simply from the sounds and images in these opening credits. Even if you have seen the film, try to focus on these sounds and images themselves and "the story" (or if not "the story," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. This is a journey into the mind. We see Kim Novak's cheek, then mouth, then both eyes. They show concern and anxiety. Then, we focus on one eye. We see color. We get the spirals, that spin and move in and out. The music is in arpegios, punctuated by stronger notes. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I think it is the single eye with the color. Everything before that is in black and white, including the Paramount logo. How we see things will be key to this film. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? They work together brilliantly, with movement in the images and the music. It is possible that it would work with a different composer, like Jerry Goldsmith. Visually, it looks almost like a Bond intro, but Bass's visuals wouldn't really work with upbeat music.
  7. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window? He is trying to establish Jeff's world. We go to the window sill and see the world waking up. Jeff is one of those who doesn't need to get up early. We see him sweat and then see how hot it is already. We got back out side and see the composer getting ready for the day. We see the couple sleeping on the fire escape waking up. We see (a lot of) Miss Torso. When we come back to Jeff, we see his cast and his photos. We learn he is a very active photographer and we feel a bit of sympathy for him in his wheelchair. I believe we are seeing this from Lisa's point of view. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? We see his cast, we see his photos. His work shows he is a man of action and daring, used to danger. I believe the magazine cover is Lisa and it is odd that he uses the negative as a portrait. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? It does a bit. Hitchcock definitely tries to provoke that feeling with Miss Torso removing and replacing her top while we watch. The other vignettes create a sense of curiosity as we see slices of ordinary life. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I have never considered this before. I think this is probably the broadest vista he provides in a film. Even though we have seen St Moritz and will see Mt Rushore, they are restricted views. Here we see the whole courtyard. It's broad and vast.
  8. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of "criss cross" or "criss-crossing" in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of "criss cross" is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific. Guy and Bruno are coming in from opposite sides of the frame, towards each other. The tracks are the paths we choose, leading us to chance encounters. The cabs even come in from opposite directions. Bruno and Guy even occupy opposite sides of the frame until Bruno comes over. Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example. Bruno is loud, even though he says he doesn't like to talk. His shoes draw attention. His tie draws attention. His tie bar draws attention. Guy is quiet and conservative. The only way he draws attention to himself is by accidentally brushing his foot against Bruno's. While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence? The score makes me feel like I'm travelling, that there is motion. While we are watching the feet, the music has the cadence of a march. When Bruno enters the club car and sits, there is a motif of mystery, of danger in the music. Guy's entrance has music that more matches the rest of the music. These imply Guy is normal, while Bruno isn't.
  9. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? The shots are tight. The characters are first shown concealed, Alicia by sheets, Devlin by shadow. Devlin is showed in unusual camera angles, a dutch tilt at first which rotates completely around. This also reveals Alicia's frame of mind. Devlin, then later both characters are framed in a doorway. The dialog starts economical, but then goes on to more exposition. How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography? Bergman is a mess. Her hair is mussed, she is sleeping in her clothes. Grant is Grant. He is perfect in appearance, but he is a mystery. He is concealed in shadow. He is all business. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? I think Grant is cast against type here, but it works. He is not very likable here and that would have challenged audiences at the time. I also think Bergman is cast to type, at least in comparison to Casablanca. She is in a situation that she needs to escape from. In this scene, she is escaping through alcohol.
  10. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? The shots are fairly tight. Again, Hitchcock prefers to show instead of tell. There's humor: when David signs the paperwork in pencil and Sammy objects, and when David closes the door with a cane. The camera angles are more conventional than the other opening scenes we have watched. But, this is the most conventional film so far. There are shadows in the lighting scheme, but far less pronounced than we have previously seen. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? I agree. Again, we are shown instead of told. Our view is restricted, behind doors and covers. Even the conversation between the housekeepers is framed in a doorway. Dialog is economical and doesn't reveal too much of the plot. We are shown a very ordinary situation. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? I think this is a good pairing. Montgomery shows affection for Lombard and vice versa. It shows that Ann loves David, and he her. But, David is at the point where he has decided that he can no longer live with her. Montgomery shows this.
  11. 1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. Uncle Charlie is tired, weary. He waxes on his situation and his options. He is careless when he feels secure. He is angry and frustrated, working himself to the point where he has the power to act. When he does act, he dares his pursuers to follow him and catch him. 2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations) The scene moves from well lit and open on the street with a conventional framing, to Uncle Charlie's window. The shot becomes tighter with the dutch tilt becoming more pronounced with each cut. When we reach Uncle Charlie's room, the scene is dark, punctuated with light. The dialog is almost staccato in its cadence. The threat from the strangers is outside the window. Charlie is on the run. In the noir films I have seen (I haven't seen The Killers), the situation is more explained. Here's the hero, here's the (apparent) problem, and here's the beginning of the action. Shadow of a Doubt doesn't have that on the surface. We don't know what kind of person Uncle Charlie is yet, although he could be pursued because of the money he has. 3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? The music is festive until we get into the room, then it becomes almost funereal. When the blind is drawn, it is foreboding, speeding up in pace in volume until the glass shatters. It goes back to almost festive when Charlie decides what he is going to do. The pace and volume grow as he leaves. It builds again as he approaches the men. As the men walk away from the camera, it is almost a march. I think the music is a direct reflection of Charlie's mood and mental state.
  12. 1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? How this opening is different from the others we have seen so far is the narration. Hitchcock offers far more meaningful exposition here than in the scenes we have seen so far. Yes, it is metaphorical, but it is exposition. Once we get to the South of France, it becomes more like what we are used to. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? The framing is still claustrophobic. When Manderley is revealed, we get a full image, but that is quickly cropped. We don't see everything. The ocean side in France should provide us this massive vista, but the rocks and the cliff dominate the frame. 3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? The shots and the narration describe how Manderley has decayed over time and fallen into disrepair. As a character, Manderley's decay may be linked with the revealing of de Winter's plot.
  13. 1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. The mood is brilliantly juxtaposed. The music is light and festive, while the travelers anxiously wait for information. While anxious, it is calm. The group of German travelers enters and the chaos begins. They are loud, the cuckoo clock is loud, and the hotel manager has to struggle to complete his phone call. Order shall be disrupted. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. Caldicott and Charters are the first English speaking characters we encounter. They become the avatar for the audience, allowing us to learn what is going on. They are us. 3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. Everything follows Boris and the women from the women's entrance to the exit. Similar to The Man Who Knew Too Much, their dialog is mostly throw away, except we learn more details about the avalanche and Iris's travel plans. Boris and Iris bookend the framing, making the context for the dialog. Iris is at the right of the frame, leading the way. Boris defers to her.
  14. 1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? I found the shots in The 39 Steps to be tighter that the others. We don't get a proper two-shot until we see the performers. I was going to say the orchestra, but the only figures clearly seen in that shot are the conductor and the bassist. Hannay is shrouded in secrecy. The hecklers are hard to understand. If deliberate, it would go to reinforce their unimportance. Thematically,the opening of The 39 Steps has more in common with The Pleasure Garden. The only implication of danger are the close and mysterious shots. There is nothing like Abbott recognizing Louis, nor the Avenger murdering again. 2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? I agree. Hannay is comfortable and relaxed. Again, no mystery or danger. 3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? I found the scene to be the reflection of the ordinary. Some of the audience asks him questions that directly relate to his act, while most heckle. They are drinking and having fun. The only danger I would suspect here would be the victim of a pickpocket or a barroom brawl. We have all been in these situations.
  15. 1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet) The characters, most definitely. The people shown in this scene all know each other.The Lawrences know Louis well enough that Betty calls him "Uncle Louis." Louis knows Abbott. Abbott doesn't know the Lawrences, but he does know that Louis does. 2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? He's polite, but appears to not understand English idioms. He reveals very little of himself in his words, but his reaction to Louis speaks loudly. He is up to something that involves Louis. 3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. The opening scene of The Man Who Knew Too Much works on laying the groundwork for the plot. Louis is leaving St. Moritz tomorrow for unexplained reasons. Abbott knows Louis. Jill shoots skeet and is good enough to be in the final round. Betty is a bit annoying. Bob indulges his daughter a bit. The Lodger does not lay the groundwork as completely, but it does give you the key information - there is a murderer of blonds known as "The Avenger," who has killed again. London is frightened. The Pleasure Garden does not lay as much groundwork. We meet one of the chorus girls, the theater manager, and a hopeful. We don't learn much else. The shots continue to be claustrophobic. All we see of St. Moritz is one ski jump. We see parts of a crowd. The only shot larger than a 3-shot is necessary to show the impact and reaction to Louis's crash. Sound is restrained until we get to the exposition.
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