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Posts posted by aoohara

  1. Given his penchant for writers with commercial successes, I could see him adapting a work by John Grisham and perhaps even Stephen King. King's work especially has a certain irony and humor, particularly his short stories which are not necessarily seen as horror.


    I could even see Tarentino as a collaborator.


    Actors like George Clooney, Jude Law, Harrison Ford, Robert Redford would have made perfect everyman archetypes while fitting the commercial star desirability quotient. I could see Meryl Streep and Charlize Theron as perfect muses as well.



  2. I think the opening sequence is meant to evoke the subconscious and the sometimes unreliable workings of the mind. The woman's face is disturbingly close, it's raw and exposed. The eyes seem to express fear or concern...and then the fade to red....it's frightening...what is she seeing?! The music moves along a similar arc....beginning with a dreamy or fantasy like tone, to fear then horror. 


    This hasn't always been my favorite H movie, but it's one that compels me to watch again and again and I think that is the magic of it. Powerful and influential art doesn't always make us feel good, we can be repelled and confused, horrified and angered....This film does that for me.


    I love the moment at the end of the opening sequence when Hitchcock's name rises from the woman's eye...it leaves no doubt for us who's vision and mind we are seeing. It is perfectly punctuated by the music as well and reminds us that he is in charge. 



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  3. As others note, we are being introduced to our surroundings, our neighbors, our environment and our routines. It's our own personal vantage point that we are seeing. All of the bits and pieces that we take in, as the camera pans, are subliminal, yet overt. We take in just enough to settle us into our proper place while leaving room to want to know and see more. I love the music coming from somewhere within the courtyard....it sounds distant and we hear it's echo.


    I believe that the opening sequence is meant to cast us in the role of useful and even helpful neighbor. The tone and music are light and energetic..we rise to greet the day together. As we get to know our neighbors we will want to help them....we are invested in their well being. We become voyeurs but we are benevolent. Hitchcock is giving us permission to look by making us one of them.


    I first saw this movie when it was rereleased in the 1980's and I've seen it many times over, it absolutely is Hitchcock at his very best and most cinematic. The very best movies have a timeless feel....like a perfectly choreographed dance. Each character movement, uttered sentence or camera shot is exactly as it should be and this movie has that.  For me this film reads both like a play and a silent film. Hitchcock fires on all cylinders here and he provides his viewers with multiple points of entry to the story...with sight, sound, feel and even taste......(oh, that snifter of brandy is so delicious!)

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  4. There are so many ways that the notion of criss crossing is presented to us. Obviously the rail lines, but also the car pulling into the station, moving in front of us from left to right. I love the bustling passengers moving in front of us, through and around Bruno and Guy...I think it keeps us grounded in the banal and normal when what is about to happen is far from normal. Later, after Bruno has presented his idea he even quips "criss cross!", with childlike excitement and logic. 


    Bruno is so disturbing but I can understand how Guy might feel that moment they meet. Haven't we all sat down somewhere with a book only to be interrupted with polite chatter that we feel helpless to escape? If only I'd chosen another seat! The urge to remain polite when a stranger interrupts our routine and even behaves oddly is so utterly understandable. It's also what makes this movie so sinister and Bruno so scary.


    Incidentally Patricia Hitchcock is really perfect in this movie and in this clip she shares a little about her role.

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  5. I think the biggest difference between this and other Hitchcock openers is the fact that we hear the voice of our narrator played by Fontaine. Her voice has such a dream like tone and coupled with the POV shot of the drive, the fog and the burned shell of a manor home we begin to feel that familiar sense of dread and suspense. I think this opening also serves to introduce us to the house as a main character....we see it before other humans. There is love in the second Mrs. de Winter's voice, but also sadness, regret and perhaps a resolution that things are as they should be even though something sinister has happened....maybe that is relief. It's an incredibly powerful opening.

  6. I agree with Gehring in that this is a hard one to watch because of the angst and turmoil we feel for the relationships. I think that Hitch is at his best, creating real tension for us as a viewer because we have the information each of the principles are missing. I also appreciated the lecture info about the repeat POV shot...I think good artists, do not simply try a technique and then abandoned it....he is practicing, perfecting, revising. All marks of an artist dedicated to craft.


    This film does push buttons with regards to the stars and their personas...but only so far. We are led believe Alicia is a party girl...but really down deep she's loyal...Dev is hard and even cruel, but down deep he's devoted. I love the pairing and for me this film is timeless. 


    By the way....Claude Rains has one of THE best movie voices ever....right next to Paul Henreid. 

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  7. I really think the whole scene opens as like one of Hitchcock's early silent films. We have lot's of clues to take in and read. We understand the couple has been there for days, they do this often, they are wealthy and they adore each other. 


    Lombard is perfect....and I love the way her expression changes when she realized Montgomery has not actually left. She's completely adorable. The whole notion that days are spent like this is frivolity and silliness at it's finest. For this married couple nothing else in the world matters but these two.


    It's such a conventional marriage (I mean really...what does she do all day?) but I can't help but love the dynamic between these two. 

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  8. I think Uncle Charlie is a new kind of leading character...a pathologically, evil person. There are no hobbies for this person, no activities beyond whatever evil doings he's engaged in.  He's a criminal who wants or steals money, yet doesn't value it. He's running from something yet doesn't seem to be hiding. He's waiting. Waiting for the next opportunity. For Uncle Charlie, neither legal, nor moral laws exist. For this reason it's film noir at it's scariest. For the innocent there is no honesty or integrity that will prevent Uncle Charlie from changing course.... there is no moral high ground to run to.


    I think the room itself also sets this squarely in the film noir camp....it's a hot, stuffy, smoky rooming house....used by many. The pace, Charlie's voice, his thought process...it's all slow, like smoke or haze personified. The he picks up his things...maybe even everything he needs to disappear for good and heads out the door. The bullet hole in his jacket confirm all of our fears.....he's bad...but what exactly has he done?


    For me this music does to us what some of Hitchcock's earlier film work does....throws us off kilter, and tell us something is not right. It's the lilting, slightly off key, waltzy tune...like a pendulum swinging wildly from one side to another....dragging us between good and evil.

  9. The music, the cuckoo clock, the quick dialogue and the exasperated manager bring a level of ridiculousness the the scene.....it's light and humorous. I love they way the camera brings us into the lobby...through a small window, giving us that closed in feeling we've seen in so many other shots. It helps us understand that we are all in this together. The way the people are seated in the lobby is also such a treat...it's a little like a painting and perhaps a metaphor for humanity in general. We like to think we are formal and stately, but underneath we are all a little cuckoo.

    I also love the crazy wind that blows in as Ms. Froy leaves and the bellmen enter.....another clue that we are all going to hunker down together to weather this storm.


    I can't help but compare Hitchcock's way of framing his opening shots from tight to wide, to the work Frank Lloyd Wright was doing as an architect. He too would funnel people through a small opening or doorway, leading to wider spaces as a way of setting a tone and making an entrance...a little like a treat for the eyes.


    I think Caldicott and Charters are the foils for the drama, reminding us again not to take anything at face value or too seriously. There banter is smart, funny and quick. That moment where they get snubbed by the manger is priceless. 


    It's clear Lockwood is to be the star, she has the lines, the forward position, she steps up a onto the stair putting her in a little niche above...the correction of the pronunciation of avalanche and the ordering of food, all establish her as someone to watch. What flirts!


    Something else which just occurred to me...the concept of time is to be an important player in this film. We notice the clock right away, as we also notice the passengers waiting...captive really. Forced to spend time together. Soon we will be rushed to hurry and find Ms. Froy, but the speed by which we will be forced to travel together is foretold by the oompa tempo of the music. 

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  10. I think Hitchcock is toying with us a bit and reminding us that we can't always trust our instincts...there are sinister elements to what we see, the neon lights, the faceless man buying a ticket, the shadow of a man and off kilter angles...and yet....


    I was intrigued to hear Dr. Edwards discuss elements of screwball comedy present in this film, because I've always thought that The Man Who Knew Too Much has those same elements....especially with the witty and quick banter between the parents and their wealthy, flirtatious, life of the party lifestyle. They remind me of Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man films.

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  11. I think in this opening scene Hitchcock is asking us to note the characters and their relationships to each other while setting a tone for what's ahead and what we as the audience are expected to find important. This point of detail is different from our other opening shots in this way.


    Peter Lorre makes such a great first impression as fun-loving sociopath....nothing is serious, all is a lark, until he sees the face of the skier and reveals, for just an instant, a dark side. In that instant he looks as if he could kill, and then calmly go about his business. His companion shows us that here is a man who doesn't have to worry about the trifles of life (she'll attend to that), but instead the evil mcGuffin-ish details that villains busy themselves with. I think in this moment we decide that we'll like Lorre's character no matter what despicable things he might do.


    Similarities between this and The Lodger include the way we are knocked off balance--in this case by the skiier, his POV of the impeding disaster and the swirling camera angles showing the crowd. It makes us feel as though we are the ones falling and we don't really know what the outcome will be.

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  12. Hi everyone!  I've been thinking more about "subjective sound" as the day has gone on and I've read more and more comments.  I think that it's a technique that may be used more than we think.  It doesn't have to be like what Hitchcock did here (with distortion and one word coming through).  There are lots of other possibilities, at least if I understand correctly what it really means.  I’m assuming "subjective sound" means sound that is comparable to a POV shot: sound that the viewer hears “as if” they were the person in the film, from that person’s POV.


    Someone mentioned the last moments of Gone With the Wind and Scarlet hearing all those voices.  That's very cool.  Here are some others that I can come up with that I thought I'd share for folks who are interested (there are some spoilers that I warn about):


    1)  The Varsouviana Polka in A Streetcar Named Desire.  This really functions a lot like the word “knife” in Blackmail since (SPOILER ahead!) it was music that accompanied Blanche’s husband’s death which she believes she caused.  And so Blanche hears this music (and a gunshot) when she is reminded of her late husband.


    2) Many moments in Amadeus where both Mozart and Salieri hear music in their heads.  Salieri often hears the music he sees in scores.  Mozart hears it as he composes.  And there are moments for both when the music suddenly stops when someone comes in the room, or gets their attention, or snatches the score away.


    3) My guess is there are several moments in The Lost Weekend.  (SPOILER again) Certainly Ray Milland hears the bat and the mouse that are only hallucinations, but there are accompanying visuals.  But I bet there are other moments when he hears things in his head that he doesn’t hallucinate.  Come to think of it, that would be a perfect technique to use in The Man With The Golden Arm, though I can’t recall any since I haven’t seen that film in a while.


    4) In The Best Years of Our Lives, we hear Fred’s nightmares the way he experiences them even though we don’t see them.  (SPOILERS)  The first time, when he’s in bed, is vivid for sure, and we hear what he hears.  Then things switch and we also get Peggy’s POV because we hear Fred at first more muffled like she does from the living room.  But the sound is even more incredible in the final scene when he’s in the shell of the airplane.  We simply see him and the plane.  But we know exactly what is going on in his head because of the sound and score.  The sound does 90% of the emotional work.  His face does the rest.  Next time you watch that film, notice how the orchestra provides the sound effects for the plane starting (in his mind) and how the camera angle and movement is an optical illusion that makes it seem like the plane is moving and taking off.  All of this is subjective – we’re in Fred’s mind.  If you haven’t seen it – finish this course and then check it out!  So good!


    5) On the Waterfront.  SPOILER:  the sound design at the moment that Terry tells Edie about Joey’s death is really incredible.  It too distorts sound – the ship noises drown out everything that Terry is saying.  In some way this is very real.  All that noise would, very realistically, drown him out.  But it also doubles as a way to get into Edie’s head and how she’s so upset that she really can’t even hear or take in what Terry is saying.  The distortion and mutedness of his voice is as much in her head as in the real world of the waterfront.


    6) Finally, a very recent film, Carol.  The soundtrack there seems to have a moment of subjective sound.  (SPOILER) Carol and Therese are in the car together for the first time.  We hear the car radio playing music (diegetic), but then a wash of other sound overtakes that as if the two women no longer hear the radio but are caught up in their moment.  It really does feel like we are in their shared head space.


    Well, those are some examples.  I hope these make sense in the context of subjective sound.  Thanks for the chance to think about this topic more. :) 


    I've also been thinking that the whole subjective sound technique is used more than we realize. It's fun learning some of these technical aspects of film making...even though I've spent my whole life watching classic film, I've never really considered some of these things.

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    I saw The Best Years of Our Lives for the first time many years ago, and that scene in the airplane has always stayed with me. I have wanted to see the film again, to see if it still has that impact on me, so I thank you for the reminder (but, yes, I will have to wait until I've seen a lot of the Hitchcock films for this course!).


    But I do think that such subjective sound is hard to pull off. It does put viewers inside the mind of only one character, which I think limits the overall action of the film and tends to pull viewers away from the narrative. To be used to great effect, it has to be used judiciously and sparingly. That's my guess, anyway.

    LOL! Clearly I don't know how to use the multi quote.....

  14. I saw The Best Years of Our Lives for the first time many years ago, and that scene in the airplane has always stayed with me. I have wanted to see the film again, to see if it still has that impact on me, so I thank you for the reminder (but, yes, I will have to wait until I've seen a lot of the Hitchcock films for this course!).


    But I do think that such subjective sound is hard to pull off. It does put viewers inside the mind of only one character, which I think limits the overall action of the film and tends to pull viewers away from the narrative. To be used to great effect, it has to be used judiciously and sparingly. That's my guess, anyway.

  15. I saw The Best Years of Our Lives for the first time many years ago, and that scene in the airplane has always stayed with me. I have wanted to see the film again, to see if it still has that impact on me, so I thank you for the reminder (but, yes, I will have to wait until I've seen a lot of the Hitchcock films for this course!).


    But I do think that such subjective sound is hard to pull off. It does put viewers inside the mind of only one character, which I think limits the overall action of the film and tends to pull viewers away from the narrative. To be used to great effect, it has to be used judiciously and sparingly. That's my guess, anyway.

  16. This doesn't at all look like a film made by someone tinkering with a brand new technology...As others have pointed out, sound is one way we understand Alice's experience.

    I love the cleverness of the gossipy woman droning on and on, driving Alice (us) deeper into paranoia and aggitation while being blithely funny. The scene in the phone booth allows us to hear what Alice hears, but it also serves to punctuate the scene and build tension.

    As to why subjective sound is seldom used....I remember Hitchcock saying he only made one "who dunnit", that he always wanted his audience to know what was happening and to be a part of the action. Subjective helps sound facilitates that notion. Perhaps this is a piece of directorial control other filmmakers can't relinquish and so don't practice.

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  17. The two POV dolly shots in this clip, while subliminally building suspense, almost literally deliver us -as in you are on a conveyor belt being offered up to the headmaster and/or the waitress- to our own feelings of dread, guilt, and perhaps even shame. 


    I think Hitchcock uses this for a couple of reasons. He's an innovator at heart and this is (I'm assuming) new technology.... but it's also efficient, it's calm. Here again is that juxtaposition so present in his work; the calmness and quietness of the shot belies the feelings that the boys and even we have. The pace of the scene is slowed, while our hearts begin to race... we begin to wonder what will happen? I understand why these dolly shots are a game changer in film. Hitchcock's capacity to tell a story visually has exponentially evolved with this tool. As viewers, we are be taken somewhere by Hitch, we are not just passive recipients of a story, we are being inserted into the story. It's a delicious manipulation.


    Nothing is extraneous with Hitchcock and that theme is present here. Things like the opening and closing of the doors at the beginning of the scene which give a sense of being captured; the overall scale of the room and the perceived vast divide between guilt and innocence; the posture and gestures of the two boys.  Also the use of superimposed and montage footage of the salacious events to propel the story and fill in the blanks is present. Although there is still so much room for doubt as to motive.

    Hitchcock likes to dwell on the knife's edge...telling stories in which an innocent -even average person's life hinges on the actions and motives of someone else and we see that so clearly here.  

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  18. I think vitality and rhythm are accentuated through the near constant movement of the party goers. The music sets a tone, but no-one is still....even the seated people in the back of the room are in motion. Moving between montage footage of musical instruments and the people maintains and propels the energy and action.


    We are invited to share Jack's paranoia in the way that Hitchcock superimposes the playing musical instruments over images of his wife and rival Bob, distorts and elongates the images and allows the music and energy levels to climb. While we understand and perhaps are inclined to share Jack's suspicions of infidelity, the fact remains he is becoming unbalanced and is helpless to stop himself...most notably when he bursts into the party room to stop the (imagined?) kiss. We understand, yet we are disturbed.


    Careful editing which bounces between the manager, Jack and the wife escalates the rivalry between Jack and Bob. The manager almost seems to taunt Jack, by suggesting that leaving his wife in the clutches of his rival will give him something greater to fight for that just a win. We, as viewers, begin to hate this rival almost as much as Jack does.

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  19. I think both films set an energetic, almost frenetic tone. That energy sort of winds us up as a viewer. We are being kind of conditioned to expect something. Something I really appreciate about Hitchcock's films, and these early ones are no exception, is the notion that nothing is extraneous. Everything might be relevant to the plot in some way, we just don't know what or why and so we are being asked as viewers to "wake up and take note!"


    As others have noted, the two seem different in overall tone and feel, but there is also a different kind of modernity present in The Lodger clip. The flashing neon lights, the headlines, and the imagery propelling us from the breaking news over the wire to the printing of the presses to the delivery of the newspapers seems very modern to me...even now all these years laters.


    As for elements of Hitchcock's style....Both films give viewers really accessible points of entry in that we can all imagine ourselves as one or more of these people (perhaps not the lecherous cads). For instance the victim in The Lodger could be anyone-it could be me or I might have been a bystander like those on the street. Hitchcock seems, even then, fascinated with the innocent bystander (warts and all) and the everyman. 


    The opening shot is particularly effective in the way the woman's face is so tightly (claustrophobically) framed and slightly askew....as if something is dreadfully wrong. The absence of sound is unimportant.


    Off the top of my head I'm reminded of the scream in the '56 version of The Man Who Knew to Much when Doris Day screams at the climatic point in the assassination plot. The whole scene almost reads like a silent film...all we hear is the symphony playing while Day is helpless to act. As she screams the music stops for just a second and we see her face, also tightly framed and slightly askew. I hold my breath everytime I see it.

  20. Thank you for such a fun introduction to the class with this clip. And I appreciate all of the great observations other course participants have made....It all provides a really broad lens with which to consider the topic.


    I agree that there are so many Hitchcockian elements present. One of the things I was struck with is the overall efficiency or "tightness" of the film clip. Nothing is wasted, nothing is left out. When I watch Hitchcock I always feel as though I'm watching a carefully choreographed dance...the imagery is at once thoughtfully sequenced and planned, while also appearing natural and spontaneous. 


    The familiar elements of juxtaposition and humor are present as well, with the smoking man near the no smoking sign and the gift of the hair piece. Such fun.


    Something else present for me is the building of suspense....I get this impression "something" is going to happen but I'm not sure what. The leering gentlemen, the innocent girl in distress, the nefarious pickpockets, the objectified blond. The sense of impending trouble is palpable. 


    As for limitations with silent film. I see an innovator at work, and the lack of spoken dialogue was a non issue for me, in fact it makes things even more suspenseful. 

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