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Jerry Stinson

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Everything posted by Jerry Stinson

  1. I don't agree that the Hedren character, Melanie Daniels, is a woman in control of the situation during the opening scene. It's Mitch Daniels who is in control: He knows within seconds that she doesn't know the first thing about birds, because her answers are consistently wrong, even absurdly wrong. We can tell by his smirks that he isn't fooled by her pretending to be an employee of the store. (Actually, we learn later that he knows who she actually is, but even in today's clip it's clear that he is onto her game.) Melanie thinks she is in control, that she's fooling him, but since it's the o
  2. My local library will be showing Hitchcock films on three consecutive Thursdays at the end of this month (August). I chose the three titles: The Birds, Rear Window, and Psycho. These three seem like obvious (and safe) choices. If we draw a solid audience, I'd like to show others in the coming months. With a general audience in mind, would you recommend a couple of Hitchcock's less well-known films?
  3. I watched The Trouble with Harry recently, on TCM, for sort of the first time. (I had seen it many years ago but hadn't paid that much attention to it.) It's not among his best, but if you can sit back and accept it for what it is, there are plenty of passages that elicit a smile. And there's the basic premise, of course, that almost no one in town seems the least bit "troubled" by Harry's death, other than by the inconvenience or embarrassment it might entail. It's as if Hitchcock was given a challenge: Make a murder mystery that hasn't even a hint of suspense! He succeeded.
  4. I just watched the buckboard piece yet again. It's very brief, and I'm sure Hitchcock was telling us, "Yes, I know, you're watching a lot of people being terrorized by birds and panicked by a gas station fire--but, come on, this is just a movie, so I thought I'd throw in a bit of absurdity by including a runaway buckboard. A production assistant suggested letting a shark swim down Main Street, but I opted for the buckboard."
  5. 1. Stare at the stairs in this scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much . . . And there's this, at the film's climax . . . 2. Do you remember where the key was hidden in Dial M for Murder? Take a guess. 3. Lots and lots of stairs in Psycho. For starters, imagine the view of the "haunted house" from the parking lot of the Bates Motel.
  6. Identify a scene in a Hitchcock film that made you smile, giggle, or laugh! My nominee is a couple of seconds in the "fire outside the restaurant" scene in The Birds. In the midst of the chaos caused by the attacking birds and the gasoline-fueled fire, a buckboard comes flying around the corner, with no one at the reins! It's straight out of a TV Western. I think Hitchcock was doing what he always did in a film: amusing himself, and welcoming anyone in the audience who noticed the joke to laugh along with him. It's at 2:53 in this clip:
  7. It seems to me that a slight delay between the material we're studying and discussing this week, and the airing of the films on TCM next week, works quite well. We have time to process the information and opinions, and then we can choose for ourselves which films we want to see. When we actually watch this or that particular film, the experience is like a midterm or final exam--"Oh, NOW I see what people were saying earlier about montage [or expressionism, or pace, or camera angle, or the Russian influence, . . .]" For me, at least, this delayed "review" in the form of an entire movie is more
  8. You and I agree on four of the five. But your top pick, Vertigo, I don't get. Sooooo far-fetched. (I'm wondering if this is indeed Hitchcock having Jimmy Stewart act out what Hitch himself actually wanted to do--to create the perfect woman to suit his own tastes.) Anyway, I'll have to give Vertigo another look. You're in good company with that choice.
  9. 1. Psycho 2. Rear Window 3. North by Northwest 4. The Birds 5. Marnie Notes: a. Psycho and Rear Window are both marvels from start to finish. There's no such thing as "watching them too many times." b. Choices 3, 4, and 5 all have remarkable scenes: c. North by Northwest has the drunk Cary Grant somehow not driving off a cliff and then slurring his speech in the police station; the cropduster scene, including Cary's conversation with the local guy who's waiting for a bus; the crazy auction bidding; the matchbook with a must-read note on it. d. The Birds has the leaning love birds d
  10. I don't know if anyone else has seen fit to criticize this film, but if not, let me be the first, even at the risk of stating the obvious. The Pleasure Garden has this much in common with many of Hitch's later (and greater) works: The plot is ridiculous. Things that happen, especially in the second half, are either random or extremely unlikely, or both. A glaring example is the magical pairing of Patsy and Hugh, as soon as they and we are clear that their former partners are despicable. Does this ever happen in real life, that abandoned or betrayed men and women find love with one another,
  11. As an addendum to my previous post about The Pleasure Garden and Hitchcock's sometimes paltry concern for credibility: Almost everything in Vertigo is far-fetched. I'll probably mention this opinion again when we get to that film. It's only after I heard someone suggest that it works better as a dream than as reality that I could manage to watch it a seond time, many decades after I first saw it. Then there's Strangers on a Train. It's hard to watch Bruno (Robert Walker) blackmailing Guy (Farley Granger) without shouting at Guy, "Turn him in, you fool!" But we manage to keep watching,
  12. What strikes me about the opening sequence in The Lodger is the great tension from the very first frame. In quick succession, a woman screams; a dead body is discovered (apparently the body of the woman who screamed); a female witness is questioned; reporters, photographers, police, and onlookers gather and "need to know"; a man in the crowd jokingly mimics the look of the murderer and briefly becomes an early version of "the wrong man"; the newspaper account is rushed out to a rabidly fascinated public--and all this is represented in a clip slightly over four minutes in length, to the accompa
  13. Some other voyeuristic stuff: Watch the opening of Shadow of a Doubt, which allows us to peek in at Uncle Charlie in his hotel room (the camera sneaks in under the shade, as I recall); the opening of Psycho, which zooms in from a wide shot of Phoenix in mid-afternoon to a hotel window, then--again, under the shade--to a shot of Janet Leigh and John Gavin in a stunningly intimate scene. And of course Rear Window is just one extended voyeuristic spree!
  14. One quick piece of the film clip that caught my attention: As the camera pans along the row of men who are in various ways transfixed by the dancers, we get about one second's worth of "a woman's viewpoint"--the last person in the shot is a conked-out woman, who apparently finds the flashing legs boring, even soporific! It's such a sudden contrast to the men's absurd over-interest, and it lasts such a short time, that I find myself chuckling, and just slightly out of sync with what's on the screen. It looks as though HItchcock often uses female characters as laugh-getters. Thelma Ritter's ch
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