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RepublicPics

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  1. The opening of Frenzy is reminiscent of that in The Lodger, though it unfolds quite differently. In the Lodger, the scene begins with a scream by an apparent witness to murder, which, in turn, mobilizes the police and the press. In Frenzy, the opening begins with a bird's-eye view of London and slowly reveals a street scene of a speaker with an audience that includes the press (and Alfred Hitchcock, as well). The scene is interrupted by the floating corpse. This scene includes the Hitchcock touches of a public setting, pov shots and the overarching sense that evil has invaded another ordinary place. As others have pointed out, there is also some droll humor in a speech that focuses on cleaning up the pollution in the river, when the bigger problem will be confronting the evil. As usual, the ordinary is disrupted by the extraordinary, and in the case of Frenzy, in a very graphic (for Hitchcock) and shocking way.
  2. In the opening scene, Marnie is revealed to be a deceitful character, but one who values quality 'things'. Marnie gently folds and places her spoils of finer clothing, including white gloves into the nicer suitcase, while disposing of her other clothes. Does she find identity in objects, or worship them? As noted in the lecture, Marnie does seem to be channeling Marion Crane from Psycho -- the social security card she was using was even issued to a Marion. (As an aside, people in earlier times did carry their social security cards, something people would hardly ever do today out of fear of identity theft.) The Bernard Herrmann score is very reminiscent of his score for Vertigo, and the crescendo as Marnie's face and blonde hair are revealed blairs out "Aha". As Alfred Hitchcock emerges from a hotel room, he glances toward the camera (and the other way as well), almost appearing to have a guilty look on his face. Why?
  3. The opening scene to the birds introduces Melanie to Mitch to one another through a chance encounter, a momentary misunderstanding, a game of pretend and a flirtatious go-along, all ingredients of romantic comedy. We learn that Melanie can be patient (with the ditzy sales clerk) and can take the initiative (with Mitch), suggesting that she is probably not attached. Mitch, who makes a breezy entrance, probably quickly realizes that Melanie doesn't know what she is talking about as far as birds are concerned, but enjoys the encounter, suggesting he might be interested. The sound design, with only the sounds of birds with no music whatsoever, is almost disorienting -- the sounds of birds overwhelming all other sounds almost suggests that birds are everywhere as voyeurs to what is unfolding on screen. The Hitchcock cameo makes me smile --- he emerges with two dogs (reliably man's best friend) from a pet store touting 'birds and tropical fish' in the window, in a movie titled The Birds.
  4. Bernard Herrmann's score, with all strings, no brass, mimics screeching, and Saul Bass's title design also suggests piercing. The score and title design work perfectly together. The establishing “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” titles tell the audience that the events that are about to unfold begin during working hours shortly on a Friday shortly before the weekend begins. The shot is reminiscent (as others have pointed out) of the beginning of Rear Window -- the audience is a collective voyeur into an illicit relationship at a seedy hotel. This opening scene of Psycho establishes Marion as deceitful (with her employer) as well as with the hotel clerk (the dialogue alludes to registering as a married couple). The dialogue also establishes that Marion has second thoughts about her actions (which recurs during the film).
  5. By this film, Cary Grant had already made three other films with Alfred Hitchcock, so was more than vaguely familiar to the audience. Eva Marie Saint was also a huge star, so the audience is drawn to their celebrity as well as to the film itself. The bits in this scene (e.g., Thornhill wearing the sunglasses, looking around nervously and the ROT matchbook) break up what is really a static scene of dialogue. The matchbook also also serves to further open the door to dialogue that is filled with double entendres. Separately, I wonder if the "O" (which Thronhill says stands for nothing) is another in joke: David O. Selznick famously added the O. to his name, even though he later said it stood for nothing. The sound design, including the rhythmic rocking of the rolling stock on the tracks, and soft woodwinds in the score, underscores the dialogue suggesting seduction is on the characters' mind.
  6. Focusing just on the sounds and images of the opening credits, there is an overwhelming sense of dread, and of a haunted soul. It's interesting that that the score includes a blast of horns when specific credits appear, almost to suggest that people are at the root of the pain. . To me, the the single most powerful image in this title sequence is the closeup of the eyes with the red tinting of the frame. With the score, there a suggestion that there is something terrible in the mind behind those eyes. The Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together seemlessly to create this sense of foreboding? The spiral graphics suggest life spiraling out of control. Having seen this film a number of times, it is always a riveting experience to hear this opening portion of the score, and I can't imagine any other.
  7. The (continuous) opening shot of Rear Window is a survey of the entire physical world of this film, with just glimpses of some of the the people who populate this world. While the characters (except for Jeff) are free to come and go, there are stories here, in this confined world. While much of the film will be told from Jeff's pov, this establishing shot (which includes Jeff) is a third-person perspective (the audience). Through this opening sequence, we learn that Jeff is a successful photographer, and we can infer that Jeff takes risks for his craft/art. The smashed camera and enlarged photograph of race car flying toward the camera that captured the photograph are trophies, and the the other photographs of a huge fire and the atomic bomb test suggest that Jeff is drawn to danger. The photograph of the woman on the magazine cover also suggest that Jeff has an eye for beauty. This opening scene does make me feel somewhat like a Peeping Tom as the perspective is clearly that of someone looking into private spaces from outside, without the awareness of the people who live in those spaces. I would agree Rear Window is one Alfred Hitchcock's most cinematic, notwithstanding the confined setting of the film. There is action/reaction in almost every scene, and there's never a sense that the film is talky.
  8. In this opening sequence, Hitchcock cleverly uses the railroad motif to symbolize the the criss-crossing of lives that plays out between Guy and Bruno. The respective arrival shots of Guy and Bruno (from left to right and right to left, in the respective frames) also communicate a collision course, as well. The bumping of their shoes is the physical manifestation of the criss0crossing Hitchcock creates a sense of contrast between Guy and Bruno in their dress (i.e., Guy dresses tastefully and conservatively, whereas Bruno dress is flamboyuently gaudy). It's also interesting that Guy's suitcase likewise appears to be made with quality, whereas Bruno's suitcase appears cheap. Dimitri Tiomkin score sets the mood in this opening sequence with strings for a sense of pathos, horns for a sense of brashness, and the full orchestra for a sense of foreboding.
  9. The Hitchcock "touches" in this early scene include Alicia's (Ingrid Bergman's) pov shots of Devlin (Cary Grant). the tracking shot as Devlin goes into Alicia's bedroom the second time (as the recording plays), and Devlin's manipulation of Alicia. The contrast between these two characters is quite distinct: Devlin is sharply dressed and in control of the situation whereas Alicia is in a hangover haze dressed in frumpy party dress. As others have noted, the segment within this scene where Devlin pushes Alicia to drink from the glass is reminiscent of the scene from Suspicion where Cary Grant ascends a staircase with a glowing glass on a tray which he tries to get Joan Fontaine to drink from. Having seen the movie previously, I cannot imagine a better cast for this story. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman were two of the most glamorous stars of the era and ideally suited for this story of espionage and sophisticated enemy agents in post-war Brazil.
  10. While there some Hitchcock "touches" in this opening sequence, the tone is noticeably different from other opening sequences we have seen. There is something going on here that's unusual, and it is slowly revealed (that something being this couple's rule that they can't leave the bedroom until they've patched up their differences). The set design, along with the supporting characters, tell the audience that this is a well-to-do and sophisticated couple, and that the couple engages in some playfulness without concern about others may think. This is great casting: Robert Montgomery was comfortable in film noir (e.g., Ride the Pink Horse), but also was great in comedic roles as well (e.g., Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Of course, no actress of that era was better at screwball comedy than Carol Lombard.
  11. In this opening scene, we learn that Uncle Charlie is deceitful and calculating. Uncle Charlie has evidently enlisted his landlady's help in lying to the two men who come looking for him. Subsequently, Charlie concludes that 'you have nothing on me', and decides to boldly walk up to, and past the two men, and the men do not confront Charlie. This opening scene, through music and shadow, has a tone of foreboding, which seems to be a consistent element in film noir. Although we don't have comprehensive information about Charlie, we do know that he has money but is staying in a run down tenement, that he is seeking to avoid certain men, and that he calculates and concludes that the men 'have nothing on him'. The Tiomkin score begins lightly as boys play in the street in front the tenement building, but then gets darker later in the scene as clues about Charlie’s character are revealed. When Charlie decides to walk toward the men, the music builds to a crescendo, and then as Charlie passes the men and they begin to tail Charlie, the score (primarily piano) transitions to a march-like accompaniment to their determined pursuit.
  12. The opening in Rebecca fundamentally is different from the multiple opening scenes we have seen in the British silent and/or sound period as the story is being told in flashback, narrated by one of the characters. Even thought Rebeca was produced by the hyper control-oriented David O. Selnick (and despite the clashes between that have been well documented and analyzed by film scholars), there are Hitchcock "touches" apparant in this opening. The establishing shots of Maxim de Winter on a high cliff overlooking the crashing waves (including the pov shot) are Hitchcockian. In addition, the exchange between the unnamed woman (who is to become the second Mrs. de Winter) and Maxim de Winter is really another instance of an innocent (i.e., the woman) stumbling into what appears to be a serious circumstance (a possible impending suicide). 3. The opening sequence use Manderly as a kind of character in the story, along with the flashback structure and the voiceover narration, is quite intriguing; what is the story behind the mansion that lays in ruin, and the longing to return to an earlier time? What will the relationship be between the privileged (but curt and introspective) Englishman and the woman who, with good intentions, intrudes on his solitude?
  13. The tone in the opening to a The Lady Vanishes is established through the light-hearted (almost vaudevillian) music early entrance of the complaining bellmen loaded with bags (with shot of the cuckoo clock), and through the chaos punctuated with the running commentary of Caldicott and Charters. The Caldicott and Charters characters are like an older married couple, each with opinions of their own, and each with a keen sense of the other's shortcomings. The entrance of Iris interrupts all other action in the sequence. Here attendants follow her as the clerk fawns all over her. The reaction shot of the other assembled passengers appears almost to be a group of observers behind a red velvet rope.
  14. The opening scene in The 39 Steps is similar to opening scenes in previous Hitchcock films (e.g., The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) in that the setting is a public place populated with people who are unaware of the protagonist (or antagonist). Richard Hanney seems to be a more innocent character, asking Mr. Memory a legitimate and sincere question, not setting Mr. Memory up for a laugh. 'The Hitchcock Touch' is revealed in this opening scene through the deft deployment of humor and interesting camera work (including shots from the audience's perspective and shots from Mr. Memory's perspective.)
  15. Based on these opening scene, I believe characters will be more important than plot to this film. Abbott (Peter Lorre) noticeably reacts to Luis Bernard, and Luis reacts either to Abbot's reaction or to Abbott's presence. What is their relationship? Abbott's light-hearted reaction to the near miss from the skier's wipeout changes in an instant; is there some deceit here? This opening scene is somewhat similar to the opening scene in The Pleasure Garden, in that both tease the audience with light and dark moments, and point to something more yet to come. The opening scene in The Lodger, a screaming woman reacting to a murder committed in a public space, tells the audience what the film is about: a murder and a murderer.
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