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Earthshine

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? For me, the lines that Bass uses to divide and reconnect the title and names in the opening credits establish Norman's inner struggle, contending with the increasing influence of his mother on his personality, as he BECOMES his mother (a possible spoiler since I should not assume everyone has seen this film yet? Sorry). He is conflicted, and this conflict intensifies through the course of the film, although he has been struggling with his split personality for quite some time, as Simon Oakland's character tells the audience at the end of the film. I think that the strident violin strings help to establish this idea. Not to suggest that the strings represent Norman's inner turmoil directly, however, I think they do establish a sense of imbalance, some sort of disturbance or disequilibrium, not unlike the similar idea at the beginning of Vertigo. The opening strings also establish the recurring music from throughout the film. Not being trained in music, I don't know the correct terminology, per se; however, the opening music seems to establish a recurring motif that reappears whenever the action in the film is more intense than usual: the shower scene, naturally; the attack on Martin Balsam; and when Norman confronts Marion's sister in the cellar. Immediately, Herrmann and Bass establish the idea that something is off center. I have put this into poetry terms before. I'm not sure they work in terms of music, but I will say that the strings are more strident, or "trochaic" than a more soothing, lilting "iambic" tone, similar to the strident music that Tiomkin used at the beginning of Shadow of a Doubt. The trochaic meter tends to be more strident and suggests danger or something ominous (think of the three weird sisters at the beginning of Macbeth). I hope that makes sense and is not too far-fetched. 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 is merely speculation, laughable at that perhaps, but here goes. I believe the day of the week (Friday) establishes the fact that no one will really miss Marion right away (especially since it is already late in the afternoon, as Sam points out when encouraging Marion not to return to work). She would not be due back at work until Monday if she did take the rest of the day. Of course, she raises suspicions when her boss sees her at a stop light later. Hitchcock also establishes the idea that Marion could possible take the rest of the day off by letting us know that it is already 2:43 P.M. However, this specific time also tells us that it is 17 minutes until checkout time at this seedier hotel, where they care more about you when you check OUT. Not sure about the significance of the date (just happens to be two weeks before Christmas ) other than perhaps it helps to establish a timeline as this eventually becomes an investigation into a missing person and some missing money? Knowing when she was last seen, we and the characters can see the investigation unfold, once again with the audience having the luxury of dramatic irony, already knowing what has happened to Marion and why. Dramatic irony, of course, adds to the suspense as we wonder whether they will find answers to Marion's disappearance and the suspense we feel as Sam and Marion's sister search the Bates' home. Finally, I like the similarity between the opening to Shadow of a Doubt and Psycho, as I have also noted in previous posts. Again, Hitchcock invites us to be voyeurs and spy on someone else's "inappropriate" behavior. Are we supposed to judge Marion for having an afternoon tryst with Sam? Should we disapprove of her taking the money and running off? And this motif is repeated later while Norman (and the audience) spy on Marion as she prepares for her shower. How many viewers look away from scenes like this in a Hitchcock film, just as we do not look away from Miss Torso, the sunbathers, and Miss Lonely Hearts in Rear Window. 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. I believe I already began to address this question in response #2. Let me just add that Marion seems to be a strong-willed woman (something not really accepted by society in 1960? I apologize if I am wrong with my feelings on that). Nonetheless, at this point anyway, Marion seems to be someone who is willing to defy norms and do what she wants. Later, of course, she seems more conflicted and shows some remorse in taking the money, only when it is too late to make amends. This again is speculation, because I sense that Hitchcock never really cared too much about following conventions, being conservative, or giving into social pressure. However, I recall from today's discussion with Drs. Edwards and Gehring that Hitchcock was trying to cater to a new group, teenaged movie goers who responded to films such as the classic The Blob. Perhaps he felt the need to push the envelope by including a scandalous opening scene and an equally scandalous bathroom/shower scene to get viewers away from television and back into the theater? And finally, as I have also noted, the recent film rating system went into effect in November of 1968, as I am sure many people already know, much to the delight of George Romero and the cast of Night of the Living Dead, many of whom have said publically that their film would have been given an X rating under the old system. I'm guessing if nothing else Hitchcock wanted to see how far he could go with shock and scandal but not JUST for the sake of shock and scandal, as is the case with too many films today, such as Serbian Film or the remakes of I Spit on Your Grave, ​or even the Vince Vaughn remake of Psycho. Hitchcock didn't need gimmicks to sell films. He was masterful enough to let his works speak for themselves without the sake of cheap thrills. Everything for a justifiable reason in Hitchcock.
  2. Oops! I meant George A. Romero in my post. Been watching too much Game of Thrones!
  3. 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. There is sexual tension in almost every Hitchcock film that I have watched. Sometimes it is subtle; other times, more overt. He introduces this tension almost immediately in The Pleasure Garden. He also uses it in Downhill, The Ring, and even another silent film, The Farmer's Wife, and finally in The Lady Vanishes and Rear Window, to name just a few. However, in this scene in North by Northwest, Hitchcock really ratchets up the tension between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. (Of course, he pushes this tension even further with the scene leading up to the shower scene in Psycho) I like knowing that there were censorship issues with the line about making love on an empty stomach. It is clear that the line was over dubbed, and I might have missed the original words had I not known about it in advance. I can understand the concern with lines like that considering that the current film rating system did not take effect until November 1, 1968 (one month after the release of Night of the Living Dead--R.I.P. George A. Romero). But even by changing the words to "discuss love" there is still sexual tension between the characters, largely because of how Hitchcock always seems to establish the dynamic between men and women in his films. Men seem to be the more dominant gender in Hitchcock's films, as was the case in most of his silent films, Rebecca, and especially in Notorious, where we once again clearly see Cary Grant in control over Ingrid Bergman (even though he does have a vulnerable side). I learned in the Eva Marie Saint interview that she was in love with Cary Grant or at least really adored him and was enamored by him. She was even flattered that he asked to adjust her lighting. And Grant had already established his sexuality in Notorious, so the tension between them on screen seemed genuine, perhaps because it was to some extent? And when Grant says he looks vaguely familiar, is this a line other women have used in the past when making a pass at him or flirting with him? Does the line convey a sense of arrogance on his part because he knows he is attractive to women? Yet, I think Grant likes that he has met his sexual match with Eva Marie Saint with their banter. 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 matchbook intensifies the sexual tension between the characters because it forces (or at least naturally allows for) physical contact. They prolong the hand holding once he has lit her cigarette, and she is SO sexy when she pulls his hand closer and blows out the match. Much sexier than talking openly about sexual activity so common (too common) in some films today? Even the discussion of the letter O in his name and what it means. Does it mean nothing, as he says? Does he include it to add class or mystery to his image? Or is there something he is not telling her yet? How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. I like that Hitchcock seems to keep the sound effects to a minimum and even seems to use the musical score as an "understatement." We know the music is there, and it is perfect for the scene in helping to establish the sexual tension and interchange between the characters. It is even somewhat romantic. You don't need a strident score that opened Vertigo or a score that emphasizes a murder scene in a shower. It is subtle and germane to the scene in the train car. Similarly, Hitchcock only includes sound effects that you would naturally hear in a dining car on a train: an occasional whistle, the clanking tracks, dishes and cups. Minimizing the sound effects and music allows us to focus on the dialogue, which is key to establishing the relationship between the characters and the tension. We see the sexual tension develop, and we also learn that perhaps neither person is being completely honest with the other person. On a personal note, I love Hitchcock's use of dialogue and its role in establishing or advancing plot and character. It is sad that many people today seem not to have the patience to watch a film with so much dialogue.
  4. I will admit that I have not seen all of Vertigo yet. However, I did read through the essay dealing with the significance of colors in the film. So I will base my answers to some extent on that perhaps and what I saw in the opening credits, running the risk of over analyzing and misinterpreting the source materials, as my students accuse me of doing all the time. 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. Suffering from mild epilepsy, as I do, I sense that something or someone will disrupt the equilibrium for another character (I'm assuming this will involve Novak and Stewart?) I sense this because the credits open on various portions of what I am assuming is Kim Novak's face. We are asked to look first at her jaw, then her lips, nose, and both eyes (these last three features being symmetrical/balanced). No disequilibrium yet. However, the camera then focuses on one eye and we are drawn into it, seemingly spiraling downward. This creates a very unsettling feeling for me at least because of my "pre-exisiting" condition. Coupled with the film's title, this opening sequence suggests that some sort of mental imbalance or instability will be the focus of the film. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I was entranced by the single eye that we are drawn into. For me eyes are the most captivating and revealing feature on any person. Eyes can convey so much (especially in Hitchcock's silent films when actors needed to advance plot and establish mood, tone, and character). At the same time, eyes can possess an element of mystery, concealing true motives and feelings. Finally, people can use their eyes to "ensnare" others. Occasionally, I hear of people "falling into" someone's beautiful and captivating eyes. Will this be the case in Vertigo? I think Hitchcock wants us to be entranced by this single eye. Why else would he and Bass draw us into it as they did with the camera focus and the spiraling graphics? How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? Speaking for myself, I was first introduced to Herrmann's scores with the film Psycho, which worked so well to convey the underlying sense of dread and suspense and to ratchet up the intensity of the shower scene and the final reveal in the basement when we meet Norman's mother. Herrmann's scoring of the opening credits for Vertigo is equally effective in conveying this sense of disequilibrium I have alluded to. Some components of the score are somewhat hypnotic for me, using flutes, I believe, interwoven with the more strident string and horn accompaniment? The arrangement works very well in tandem with the spiraling images on the screen, both of which convey a sense of falling farther and farther into some sort of "web" perhaps? The opening would have been less successful with a more buoyant string composition such as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony because there is nothing peaceful about what will happen in the film.
  5. 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? (I think I am addressing a large portion of question #3 in this response, so I'll try not to be redundant.) I believe that with the opening tracking shot that takes the viewers out through the window (unlike the opening shots that take us in through the window in Shadow of a Doubt and Psycho) Hitchcock is still trying to establish the audience as voyeurs who are also complicit in anything that Jeff has seen through the window during the last six weeks because Hitchcock now takes us in through Jeff's neighbors' windows. I know we should often take Hitchcock's comments with a grain of salt; however, I agree with him (and I'm assuming many others will also agree) when he says 9 out of 10 people would stop and watch if they see a woman undressing or even a gentleman puttering around (or in the case of Rear Window, a woman dropping her brassiere while getting dressed and ironing in her underwear). Side notes (as addressed in today's discussion with Drs. Edwards and Gehring): Once again Hitchcock introduces the motif of sexual tension in this film, more overtly this time with so much emphasis on the dancer who is ironing and in the next scene (not included in the daily dose) of the two sunbathers on the roof, with Hitchcock allowing us to use our imaginations by showing us only the towels the women drape over the wall. We do watch, and not only because we are forced to do so because that is the chosen camera shot. How many viewers would look away from this shot even if given a choice? As I have said (and as Hitchcock and Truffaut also say) man by nature tends to be voyeuristic, especially while watching a film, and Hitchcock establishes this immediately with The Pleasure Garden and continues it in every one of his films that I have watched. He also introduces his recurring motif of strained marriages, especially with Jeff's comment about being tied down if he marries. 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 learn that Jeff is a renowned photographer who takes chances in order to get a good shot. He is innovative, always trying to push the envelope (hmmmm...just like Hitchcock?). We should assume that he was injured while taking the photo of the race car that lost its wheel during the race (which I believe is confirmed shortly after this scene?) We also see his broken camera just before the camera pans up to his action shots, but we also see a negative of a woman beside stacks of magazines featuring the same woman? Is he also a fashion photographer or is he versed in many types of photography (an assignment in Kashmir?) 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? Aside from what I have already noted in question #1, I will add that any time we watch a movie, we are volunteering to be immobile observers, unlike Jeff in Rear Window who has been forced to remain immobile because of his cast, which keeps him away from the active lifestyle he prefers. He wants to be at the heart of the action, standing on a racetrack to get the unique shot, going to Kashmir to take photos from a jeep or water buffalo if necessary. And I believe I have already addressed the second part of the question previously. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I have not seen the entire film yet, but I am looking forward to it.
  6. I apologize in advance for any possible spoilers in my responses. I will try to keep them to a minimum; however, I do want to note that Bruno seems to serve as a precursor to Norman Bates, who both "go a little crazy sometimes"? 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. Hitchcock immediately establishes the criss-cross motif with the alternating camera shots of the two taxis approaching the station from different directions and the alternate shots of Bruno's and Guy's shoes. Right away, we know that the owners of these shoes will play a crucial role in this film. Hitchcock continues with the motif with the tracking shot as Bruno walks down the aisle of the train car, keeping the focus on his black and white shoes, and concluding when he sits down and crosses his legs. I theorize that Bruno knows already that Guy will be on the train, and that this is not just a chance encounter? Even though it is Guy who bumps Bruno's foot when he also crosses his legs, it is Bruno who initiates the conversation: Bruno who does not like to be crossed, as he says later in the film; Bruno who "helps" Guy when Guy is also crossed later in the film. Another element that Hitchcock uses to establish the criss-cross motif (as noted in today's discussion with Drs. Edwards and Gehring) is the shot of the train lines crossing each other. 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. Guy is quiet, reserved, even modest. He'd rather sit quietly so he can read during his trip. And he seems humble when Bruno talks about Guy's recent tennis victory. (We learn later that Guy is perhaps too nice, which is the source of some of his trouble later in the film?) By contrast, Bruno is loud and aggressive. He knows Guy is trying to read, yet he won't let him. Bruno says he doesn't talk very much. However, right after the film clip ends, Bruno continues to talk to Guy, inviting Guy to lunch in his car after having just met him, distracting him with a plan that he keeps hinting at, another reason I think Bruno had foreknowledge that Guy would be on that train. And here is why I compare Bruno to Norman Bates to an extent. He comes across as being very friendly and even ingratiating, crossing the aisle to sit next to Guy, even though Guy would rather be left alone. He's just being friendly, right? And he looks completely innocuous, right? He is that boy next door, just as Norman is as well. I may be wrong, but I think the black and white shoes represent Bruno's duality. Outwardly, he can be friendly to others in order to curry favor. Outwardly, he seems innocent. He can be caring and helpful. In a very powerful scene, Hitchcock masterfully establishes this contrast by having Bruno help a blind man right after Bruno has committed a rather heinous act. Technically, I'm not sure this qualifies as sociopathic behavior? But it does show the duality of Bruno's personality. And one other note about Bruno's clothing is his tie clip with his name on it. Nothing happens by accident in a well-crafted film, especially in a Hitchcock film. If Hitchcock shows you a tie clip and has the character talk about it, you know it will be important later. And that is certainly the case with this accessory. 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? I think Tiomkin deliberately begins the film score with a light-hearted, upbeat tempo as an ironic contrast to what will ultimately happen between these two strangers on a train. The music doesn't suggest any impending doom as the two men walk toward the train station. Granted, we see only their feet, so we cannot tell if there is any tension on Bruno's face, for he would be the one to feel negative emotions at this point. However, given his ability to hide his motives and charm others, would he show any negative emotion anyway? There is nothing in the musical score to raise the viewers' suspicions (other than the fact that this is a Hitchcock film, and other than The Farmer's Wife and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we know how his films usually end). However, I did note that occasionally the tempo of the strings did pick up at times while they were walking to hint at some underlying dread? Perhaps I am reading too deeply. Also, as a minor spoiler, I realize this is Tiomkin; however, later in the film, when Bruno places a long-distance call to Guy, the music in the background as he is walking toward the phone reminded me a bit of the music by Bernand Hermann during the shower scene in Psycho. However, overall, I think the music in this clip effectively lulls the viewer into a false sense of security, thinking nothing bad will happen, at least not at this point.
  7. (Hitchcock cameo at about the 1:04 point of the film?) What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? First, as Dr. Edwards noted in the accompanying discussion, Hitchcock uses a shot similar to one he used in Downhill, the inverted shot of Novello and Grant entering the room in their respective films. As a bit of a spoiler, this shot in Notorious serves as a great bit of symmetry for a similar shot towards the end of the film when Grant enters the room while Bergman is lying in bed under drastically different circumstances (not hung over this time). I also notice Hitchcock's use of shadows and light, casting Grant primarily in shadow, just as he did when we first see Grant on screen in shadow and only from behind and partial profile. We still don't know the role of this shadowy character (even though he did bravely? foolishly? ride with her while she was drunk), until he plays the recording and explains why he is there. Bergman, by contrast, is cast in subtle light, accentuating her beauty and even her dilemma with her father and Grant's offer. She doesn't trust him, as we see with Hitchcock's direction, having her turn away and then when they are in the doorway listening to the recording, Grant looks smug while Bergman conveys many expressions: guilt? indecision? mistrust? Hitchcock uses distorted camera shots later in the film to convey Alicia's reaction to the coffee, and he also uses contrasts between light and dark, casting Sebastian and his mother in shadow to add to this idea. One final thought and I know there is no intentional parallel here but while Devlin is arguing with his mother about giving Alicia the keys to the house, I was reminded of Marion overhearing Norman "argue" with his mother in the film Psycho. 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? I may have already begun to address some of these points in response #1. Framing Grant and Bergman in the doorway while they listen to the recording greatly establishes their characters and the tension between them at this point. To an Devlin fits the role of the noir detective or agent, I think. He is not misogynistic, as noted in the lecture from earlier this week. However, Grant does show the male dominance over the female by the way he speaks to her before he plays the recording. He seems smug then, and he shows this same smugness while watching the various emotions play across Bergman's face, which she does beautifully. I did note the numerous close-up shots already, and yes there are many more throughout the film. Hitchcock uses these close-ups to establish characters and to convey the emotions and tension between them. However, as I've also noted, he does not rely too heavily on this type of shot. Rather, he nicely blends the with wider angled shots and some deep focus shots to capture the larger set and to establish the contrasts between light and shadow. I also note the contrast in costuming for both characters. Devlin is always dressed in a dark suit, all business all the time. Whereas, Bergman in shown in various styles to reflect her given function or role at the time. I think each of her outfits shows a "simple elegance" so as not to detract from Bergman's stunning beauty. I'm sure Hitchcock intentionally did this when asking Head to design the costumes. I notice this especially during the big party scene. She is wearing a "simple" black gown adorned with a diamond necklace, but I notice Bergman's beauty instead. 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? Based on the Grant and Bergman films that I have seen (admittedly limited at this point), I think Hitchcock did a masterful job casting them in the lead roles, with a huge nod to Claude Rains as well. Grant does a great job of playing the hardened American agent (who tends to be a bit domineering with women?), but he also has a softer, more vulnerable side, which we see when he does not want Alicia to take the assignment. He wants to tell her no, but he has to pretend he doesn't care because he knows both of their roles in this operation. They both show this romantic and sexual tension throughout the entire film, especially when they meet on the bench and talk either indirectly about what they know--Devlin transferring to Spain, or Devlin telling Alicia it's too late to be unhappy with Sebastian--and every time they kiss or almost kiss, the chemistry is perfect. Bergman does a wonderful job of showing dichotomous emotions such as love and hatred for Devlin and trust and mistrust with Sebastian and the coffee. Finally Grant's and Bergman's true feelings come out in the final scene of the film. Overall, I loved the casting.
  8. 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? As far as typical Hitchcock "touches" in this opening scene, I do note--if this counts--that the audience must try to piece together what has just happened to cause the couple to behave as they are behaving. This is typical to Hitchcock's earlier films, especially his silent films that force the viewers to work harder at discerning plot and even dialogue, given the limited number of title cards that appear on screen. Instead, in those films the actors must tell much of the story through their actions and expressions. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Smith is not a silent film, arguably Hitchcock uses these silent film techniques in this opening scene. Mr. Smith is sitting on the couch playing cards, occasionally glancing at whom we should assume is his wife, lying in bed almost completely hidden by the covers. We sense some tension, playful but tense nonetheless. She will open her eye and close it if she thinks her husband is watching her. Also, she turns away from him when he sets down the tray. Then, instead of offering her breakfast, he takes his own and sits down again. We also see the tension, and the end of of the quarrel, when he pretends to leave the room. Mrs. Smith looks upset until she sees him hiding behind the couch. These actions did not need dialogue and could have told the same story and conveyed the same feelings in a silent film. We also know that the couple is affluent, judging by the quality and number of plates and glasses scattered around the room. We also know they are affluent because we learn that Mr. Smith is a lawyer (and perhaps the sole wage earner, which he discovers not to be true later). Their clothing and furniture also suggest that they have money (the table, the bed and bedding, his robe--and his silk? pajamas and his wife's outfits later in the film). Finally, we know they have money because they have at least two house staff, a cook and a maid. Despite the few shadows, overall the room is very bright and airy, unlike some of the other opening scenes in Hitchcock's films that seem a bit more brooding, ominous, and claustrophobic. The musical score adds to this light feeling, suggesting that the couple will yet again at least try to resolve their latest quarrel. ​ 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? As I already noted, the lighting and music set this film apart from some of the other films we have studied, especially films such as The Lodger, Downhill, The Ring, Blackmail, and TMWKTM. In each of those films, Hitchcock needed to establish a more negative and serious tone. However, with this film, I was reminded of the film The Farmer's Wife. Even though it started on a serious note, with the passing of the first Mrs. Sweetland, that film becomes more and more humorous as Sweetland continually fails to find a new wife. Based on one definition of the word, these are both comedies because "the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion." Sweetland finally does find a wife once he learns how to appreciate women as he should. And based on the dialogue between Drs. Edwards and Gehring today, Mr. and Mrs. Smith tentatively resolve their issues as well. These would not have worked as comedies without a different, more light-hearted set-up by Hitchcock. 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 really do like the on-screen chemistry between Lombard and Montgomery. It seems very playful but not too playful or out of character for the situations. We sense there's is not a flawless marriage, but is it terrible. I don't think so because of how both actors bring some playfulness to their interchanges, their banter and repartee. Even if they are mad at each other currently, you can see that there is some chemistry beneath the surface, chemistry that both of the actors bring to their respective roles.
  9. For some reason, I am having trouble posting my response today. Let's hope that the third time is a charm... 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. First, I like the parallel between this opening scene and the opening to the film Psycho, with Hitchcock taking us up towards and into the window where we first see Charlie lying on the bed just as he takes up towards and through the window so we can spy on Marion and Sam, who are also lying on a bed. In this scene, we sense that Charlie has been involved in some type of criminal activity as suggested by the amounts of money lying on the table and the floor. He doesn't seem concerned about it. Does this suggest he regrets how he has earned the money? Also, we sense indecision on his part regarding staying in the room and awaiting his fate or leaving the room to confront it. We see this in some of his dialogue with Mrs. Martin when he talks about how even though the men are not his friends, he should speak with them anyway. Also, after Mrs. Martin leaves, Charlie paces the room, weighing his options, especially when he espies the men across the street. However, he finally decides to be bold and make the first move by not only walking towards the men, but actually brushing up against one of them as he passes by to show that he knows who they are and why they are there but also to show he is not afraid. 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) (possible spoilers) I have not seen the film version of "The Killers," but I was immediately reminded of the Hemingway story when I watched this scene. In both, the main character is lying on a bed, knowing that his pursuers are closing in. Each must decide whether to fight, flee, or simply surrender. At first, it seems Charlie has decided to surrender, accepting his fate. However, instead he chooses to leave the room and indirectly confront the men who are looking for him. By contrast, The Swede in "The Killers" resigns himself to his fate, it seems, by turning on his side and facing the wall. In both stories we aren't sure why the characters are being pursued. Not having seen all of Shadow of a Doubt yet, I'm assuming we will learn the answer to this question eventually. However, in the story "The Killers," we never learn what Andreson has done. One can speculate that since he is a boxer, perhaps he refused to take a dive in a fight, costing organized crime some money? Another "noir" element is SoaD once again is Hitchcock's use of lighting. This, I realize is not exclusively a noir element, but I think it works as one here, with the contrast between the children playing carelessly in the sunny street and the shadowy room where Charlie contemplates his next move, a room cast in even more shadow when Mrs. Martin draws the shade. Also, even though this scene does not contain the stereotypical "noir-style" dialogue with a voice over of a detective describing a "dame" who has just walked into his smoke-filled agency, we do hear Charlie say that the men outside have nothing on him. Lines like this establish the mystery in this film, raising questions in the viewers' minds. 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? Finally, the music also adds to the noir style of this film. Tiomkin begins with very light-hearted music while the children are playing outside and the music remains light-hearted at first when we enter Charlie's room while he is lying there talking to Mrs. Martin. However, the pace quickens with the use of tympani and strident violin strings when Charlie sees the men standing on the corner and as he walks past them, thinking perhaps they won't try anything with children playing in the street. I might be wrong with this analysis, but in "poetic" terms, the piano chords are "spondaic" or "trochaic," two poetic meters that suggest urgency or danger, unlike the more natural "iambic" pace that Charlie takes as he walks away from the camera and away from the men before they give chase. For me, this shows that Charlie is aware of the potential danger behind him, as noted with the harsh "trochaic" piano chords being contrasted with his calm rhythmic "iambic" walk. This is his way of showing that he is aware of the danger, but he doesn't care.
  10. 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? The opening to the film Rebecca is much more placid than the openings to The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, TMWKTM, The 39 Steps, and The Lady Vanishes. With all of the previous films, Hitchcock emphasizes crowds gathering for different reasons, whether it is to watch showgirls, witness the aftermath of a murder, watch a ski jump and avoid a close catastrophe, watch and heckle Mr. Memory, or frantically try to book rooms and/or passage on a train, respectively. Some of these scenes are more light-hearted than others. However, they all possess Hitchcock's trademark dark humor, even the more suspenseful films such as The Lodger. In Rebecca, Hitchcock uses a much slower pace with the tracking shot that gradually brings the audience into view of Manderley. Despite this slower tracking shot with the voice over, HItchcock is still able to convey a sense of dread or doom, using the setting itself of the ruined remains of the estate. Also, unlike the numerous people present in the opening scenes of the earlier films, we see only two characters and not until about 2:30 into the clip, emphasizing the idea that these two will be key players in this film. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? For me, one of the Hitchcock "touches" is his use of lighting, his contrasts of light and shadows that were so effective in his black and white films, and which help to establish an overall sense of dread. As the camera slowly tracks towards the estate, the predominant images are the mist, the fallen trees, the overgrown path, and finally the ruined building itself, all of these Gothic elements cast in shadow. Additionally, the narrator is recounting a dream sequence, and often there is something more sinister about our dreams than our reality, adding to the overall dread. This scene would not have worked in color or with the narrator on screen sharing her dream with minimal images of the estate. Also, the tracking shot itself is another Hitchcock trademark, I think, giving us the narrator's point of view. We are in the dream. We are the ones returning to Manderley. We are the ones experiencing everything she is feeling, both the positive and the negative. This is similar to the subjective point of view Hitchcock uses in the film Downhill as well with the boys walking towards the schoolmaster and in The Ring as we see the fighter struggle with his jealousy and suspicions about his wife. 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? Quite often inanimate objects and/or characters that never appear on screen or in a text can still have a very powerful effect on the other characters and the audience itself. That is a given. Some examples I can think of are the posters of Big Brother in the novel 1984, the houses in the Bradbury short stories "The Veldt" and "There Will Come Soft Rains," and even the Collins Manor as seen in the opening to the 1960's soap opera Dark Shadows, which interestingly began each episode also with a voice over to compliment the image and establish a sense of dread. Respectively, all of these pieces work well to create disequilibrium in the characters as well as the readers/viewers, which is key for a suspenseful work to be successful. Hitchcock makes Manderley seem to be a living entity in this opening clip by having the narrator say that the moon temporarily relights the rooms in the estate. Manderley seems to be an overpowering force that has some sort of pull on or control over the narrator, as she is continually drawn towards the darkened window until the scene shifts to her memories of the south of France. Furthermore, we know she is continually being pulled to Manderley because she says in the voice over that she was once again outside the gates. The viewers sense this uncontrollable (and uncomfortable?) pull that Manderley has on the narrator because of the use of light, shadows, and even nature: a cloudy night that casts much of the scene in darkness. These elements were staples of Gothic literature at the time: dank, dark isolated estates cast in rain, shadows, and fog, all in remote settings. Of course, later, Hitchcock would create a similar sense of dread with a house in the film Psycho, with Janet Leigh arriving at the Bates Motel on a rainy night and glancing up at the now infamous house "shared" by Norman and his mother, an image that towers over Marion and the hotel itself and that now towers over anyone who has ever heard of Hitchcock or who has seen Psycho or any of the many homages to the trademark house over the years since Hitchcock first shot the film. And what made the house in Psycho more frightening perhaps is that it was not a remote location. The evil now became more immediate, less suspected, and more threatening as it assumed the form of the seemingly innocent boy next door in the form of Norman Bates.
  11. 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 music conveys a seemingly light mood. Despite the delay with the train and its inherent inconveniences, most of the passengers--excepting Caldicott, Charters, and Iris--seem to take it in stride. The music does not suggest a sense of urgency or impending dread or doom caused by the delay. I have commented in previous posts about music and effect in films, most notably Bernard Rose's thoughts on horror directors "telling" the viewers to be scared with strident music. And I certainly don't mean to contradict myself, considering Hitchcock's use of Bernard Hermann's scores--most famously in the shower scene in Psycho--but I would theorize perhaps that Hitchcock is using the light folk music in this opening scene as a counterpoint to the suspense later in the film. This is, after all, one of the films in the "sextet." Also, it seems that the points that Phillips considers to be the components of Hitchcock's "touch" are present in this film already. These people are travelers stranded at an inn, everymen, people we can identify with. Perhaps these average people will be thrust into a dangerous situation when and where they least expect it, being forced to rely upon their only wiles. Not having seen the entire film yet, this is speculation, but which of these characters, if any, will ultimately be thrown into the suspense of the film? My guess is at least Caldicott and Charters, because of the close-ups and extended discussion of needing to get to London (a McGuffin?) And it also seems that Iris will play a larger role later as well. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. The performances of Caldicott and Charters--as well as their reactions prior to their dialogue--suggest that they are important players, or at least seem to think they are important. We see this when the inn keeper walks towards the door to greet the women and the men seem to think he recognizes them and is coming to greet them. They look insulted once he walks past them. Again, even though they are discussing the necessity to leave as soon as possible, their conversation is light, almost comical, with their speculating on the women's nationality and reasons why, and their argument about the Hungarian "National Anthem." Is this light, jovial scene setting us up for their involvement in the actions on the train, another counterpoint on Hitchcock's part? 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. As soon as the three ladies enter, all attention is focused on them, prompted primarily by Boris, the inn keeper, now ignoring everyone else. In fact Charters even comments on that. We see that they know each other and have visited before, and that Boris will do anything to accommodate them. Iris has a sense of self-importance, as seen in her comments to Boris--noting that he probably has not changed the sheets and correcting his pronunciation of the word avalanche. Also, Iris is usually in the center of the camera shot when she is seen with her companions and Boris. Furthermore, we see Boris from more of a profile/back view, whereas we can see Iris' face more clearly. Also as the women walk up the stairs, she is telling Boris what they want in their room, not asking. This suggests that she has the upper hand and some sense of importance in the film.
  12. As was the case with the other scenes, this opening scene is also very vibrant. In each, a large crowd is gathered, for different reasons, some more serious than others. At least in these early films--to establish the carefree vibrancy or even to establish a counterpoint--Hitchcock seems to incorporate small bands or larger orchestras, as we see at the beginning in two of the films: The Pleasure Garden and The 39 Steps. Hitchcock also seems to emphasize the marquees at night and the vibrant nightlife in some of these films (sometimes at the beginning; sometimes later in the film), whether it is Linda seeing the lighted sign become a hand and knife in Blackmail or the lighted signs in Downhill or even TMWKTM. In The Lodger and TMWKTM the crowds are outside, at a murder and a near catastrophe, respectively, the first being more overtly serious than the second although the ski scene sets a serious tone for the relationship between Bob, Abbott, and Louis. One big difference I see in The 39 Steps, is that unlike the scene with the showgirls in The Pleasure Garden, with the front row of the audience predominantly occupied by leering men, the audience for Mr. Memory's show is fairly evenly mixed, with paired couples (some of them showing that signature Hitchcock trademark of a tense relationship). Not having seen the entire film, I will try to make an educated guess at the theory that Hitchcock is introducing a more innocent character. The audience member who asks the distance between the two cities in Canada seems to be innocuous. He has a very easy-going demeanor in seeming to casually ask his question. However, Peter Lorre as Abbott also had a very easy-going demeanor and as was noted in yesterday's discussion, he was a villain. Is the audience member simply testing Mr. Memory's knowledge or does he need this information about the distance between the cities? (I'm sure I'll find out). So, yes, he seems innocent, but is this just a facade? 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 do these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? Again, relying only on the opening clip, it seems that most of the elements that Phillips mentions do or will appear. First, we potentially have “Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.” Will the people in the audience suddenly be thrown into an unexpected situation, such as a dramatic, dangerous action at the music hall? That would certainly bring Philips' third and fourth points into the equation: a seemingly ordinary and safe setting, similar to the dance early in TMWKTM, or even the scene at the Royal Albert Hall later in that same film, places where people, at least in "simpler" times felt safe or free from threats. I did see all of these elements in Blackmail and TMWKTM, and I am sure I will see all of them eventually in The 39 Steps.
  13. I decided to watch the entire film before answering today's questions, so I will try to avoid any spoilers for anyone who hasn't watched it yet. However, based on the accompanying discussion between Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring and today's lecture notes, it seems that the characters will be more important than the plot in this film, although this might be difficult to discern after seeing only the first 2 and a half minutes of the film. Yet, within that short time, Hitchcock already begins to establish Peter Lorre's character, Abbott, and the obvious relationship between him and the ski jumper, Louis, especially with the looks that they exchange when they first encounter each other. The look Lorre gives the jumper clearly suggests that there is some sort of "history" or connection, one that Abbott does not like, one that he seems to need to take care of. This scene also establishes the relationship between Betty and her parents. Are they playful with their name calling or do they not have a close relationship with their daughter? (answered later in the film) It seems Jill is not upset when she misses the pigeon because of her daughter and Abbott's watch, but is she? However, overall at this point it seems they do care for Betty. Hitchcock also uses this opening scene to begin establishing the comic nature of the villain Abbott. Lorre is good-natured about being knocked to the ground, laughing about it with Bob. And even when the dynamic of that relationship changes later, Lorre still plays his role with an undertone of comedy. This light-hearted first impression might catch viewers off guard later when they realize who Abbott really is. To some extent, in these cases, the viewers might also tend to side with the villains? As the author Clive Barker says, there is something noble, even tragic in the classic sense, in the villainous, something likable. Perhaps this is also the case with the character Abbott. How can you not like him and his darkly humorous words and actions throughout the film? This opening scene is similar to The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger in that in all three, the viewers (along with a large group of people on screen) are witness to something that is happening or has just happened. The former scene (voyeurs at a dance hall) is more light-hearted than the latter (onlookers intruding on the death of the latest victim). Even the scene in The Man Who Knew Too Much is more light-hearted. Although the skier falls, almost hitting Betty and her dog, no one is seriously hurt and Hitchcock uses the scene as a way to begin establishing Lorre's use of comedy and establishing the tension/problem between Abbott and Louis. (mild spoiler) This opening scene also serves as a nice contrast to a similar, more serious scene that occurs about 8 minutes into the film, a nice counterpoint. Side note: Even though we did not need to address the concept of dark humor, I just need to add that the scene in the tabernacle with the singing is genius (sorry for the spoiler). Too often today, a director will try to incorporate humor into an otherwise suspenseful film or a horror film, and inadvertently ruins the overall effect. (Poe's notion of the "single effect," perhaps). However the humor that Hitchcock masterfully weaves into this film actually works.
  14. At the beginning of this clip, the viewers can already discern Alice's agitated state, even before Hitchcock emphasizes it with his use of sound (or absence of sound). Not having seen the entire film yet, I don't mean to inadvertently misspeak, however, Alice seems distracted when she enters the shop, possibly hearing but not really listening to the conversation about the murder. Nonetheless, it seems she is very preoccupied with the murder. It seems we also see her distracted state by her not remembering Frank's phone number. Wouldn't she already know that if they are dating? I like Hitchcock's complete absence of sound while Alice in inside the phone booth. Granted, phone booths are supposed to be fairly soundproof, but would it be that quiet in there unless Alice is preoccupied with her thoughts, blocking out any other extraneous noise? Who hasn't been so deep in thought before that they are unaware of other noises or people around them? You can't even hear the pages turning as Alice riffles through the phone book. Also, by 1929, images in silent films seemed to be much more fluid than earlier attempts. However, Alice's hand and eye movements seem to be very jerky in this scene, possibly also suggesting her agitated state of mind. Then when Alice emerges from the phone booth, the viewers immediately hear the gossiping neighbor once again, yet Alice does not really respond to her. By the way, regarding the gossiping neighbor, she is a clear example of Hitchcock's trademark use of dark comedy in his films. To some extent, in this scene anyway, she is reminiscent of the landlady in the Claude Rains film The Invisible Man, screaming melodramatically while Rains undresses and wreaks havoc on the house. I love her ironic comments, especially about how she doesn't have time to stand around gossiping all day, like other people. Hitchcock also establishes Alice's state of mind with the repetition of the word knife. After her humorous mention of the more British way of killing someone with a brick, the gossiping neighbor repeats the word knife at least 5-6 times. Because of the rest of her words being garbled, it is hard to tell if this is the same phrase replaying in Alice's head or if the neighbor herself is repeating it (perhaps both). Either way, Hitchcock draws attention to that word because it is the only clear bit of dialogue, causing the audience to focus on it just as Alice herself is preoccupied with this word after what has happened. And this portion of the clip culminates in the strident sound of the neighbor shouting the word knife, startling Alice and causing her to throw it to the ground. This startles the audience as well because they might not have been expecting this sudden violent action. Even though Blackmail predates it by more than 30 years, I was reminded of Robert Enrico's 1962 film version of the Ambrose Bierce story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," which uses minimal sound as well. More specifically, the knife scene reminds me of when Peyton Farquhar is standing on the bridge awaiting his hanging, and he takes note of the sights and sounds around him: the soldiers standing guard, the sounds of the water beneath him, the sounds of the bugles and the birds. More importantly, he hears his watch ticking as he thinks about his wife. Through his "eyes," in his mind we see him returning home, avoiding the hanging, and slowly walking towards his wife while repeating her name. The viewers are then startled when the commander's voice intrudes on this reverie, as he tells the soldier to take the watch. Both uses of image/sound counterpoint effectively shock the audience who are not expecting these sudden sounds. Hitchcock used this technique in 1929, so perhaps other later film makers borrowed the idea from him? Nonetheless, Hitchcock does a masterful job of manipulating sounds, especially the word knife, to convey Alice's agitated state of mind and her preoccupation with the weapon. I don't mean to be judgmental or erroneous with the following comment, but I don't think film makers use this subjective sound in film, especially today, because many film viewers are now too literal, "lazy," and impatient. They like for a director to tell them more directly what a character is thinking and feeling and what his motivations are. Today, people want immediate feedback and gratification, without having to think or to work for it. I love Hitchcock's lingering camera shots, especially in his silent films that I have watched so far. He does a nice job of conveying emotion and even motivation by focusing on a character's face for more than 1-2 seconds as happens too often in films today. We have to work at piecing together a character's next actions by the look on his face, not only what he will do but also why. I also like Hitchcock's use of deep focus camera shots so we can see everything that is going on in the shot that he has artfully framed. We see everyone's actions and reactions to the situation. One good example of this is in Downhill when Roddy first comes home to tell his parents he has been expelled. We see his father in the foreground and his mother on the stairs, both in clear focus son we can see both of their reactions. The incorporation of sound gives Hitchcock another medium to convey a character's inner turmoil most notably seen with Alice while holding the knife. Today, I wonder if an audience would prefer a voice over of Alice ruminating on why she is reacting as she is to the knife and the gossiping neighbor's comments? For me that would have been less effective.
  15. Any director who creates a silent film must work harder at telling the story. That's a given, of course. However, in the clips I have seen this week (and the film The Lodger, which I watched in its entirety), I think Hitchcock without a doubt does a much more masterful job in telling his stories in the silent film medium. In a silent film, the director must rely more heavily on the actors' actions and reactions (sometimes exaggerated), as well as setting, music, and camera shots to tell the story. By the way, deleting the music from today's clip took nothing at all away from the scene's power. In fact, once again citing the director Bernard Rose (Candyman), sometimes a director will use music as a short cut in creating the desired reaction in a viewer. If the director does his job, he won't need music to tell you when to be scared or be sad or to feel the characters' emotions. And this was the case with Downhill. Even without the music, I could still feel the boys' dread and anxiety. I like Hitchcock's point that with the advent of sound, the dialogue should not simply be a restatement of the characters' expressions. Instead, the words should serve as a counterpoint to those expressions. I'm not sure if that point applies here, but in this clip from Downhill, Mabel's expression says one thing, but her words are all lies to protect the actual father. And I think Hitchcock tells this part of the story masterfully by using the montage while Mabel is speaking. The audience does not hear (read) much of what she says. However, they don't really need to. Instead, they are able to piece together the "story" she tells by the images of the phonograph, the legs of the dancers (not Roddy,s), and even the exchange of money and her necklace, which suggests Roddy's wealth and the fact he should provide for her. I also like how Hitchcock conveys emotions (anger and anxiety) with the cuts between the POV dolly shots and the close-ups of the characters' faces. As the boys enter, the viewers clearly see their looks of dread (who hasn't felt that way when summoned to see the school master, especially in this case where the boys know the gravity of the situation). We feel as if we are they as we see them very slowly walk that "Green Mile" towards the school master's desk; we see the stern look on his face; we see the boys' reactions to his look. And we see their reactions once they realize Mabel is in the room (deliberately announcing her presence by dropping an item on the floor? And does she do this to insure the boys follow the plan, having Roddy take the fall?) Finally, as far as recurring visuals, images, motifs, etc, In all of the clips so far, the viewers are to some extent given a limited perspective or even a skewed perspective of the given story. In some cases (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, The Ring, and arguably even Downhill) we intrude on other people's lives and deaths rather than being invited in. But after all, isn't that true of all films where we willingly assume the role of voyeur (even for the most brutal films, admit it)? And once we intrude upon these people's lives, the director controls what we see and what we make of it. Even though Hitchcock mentions using larger sets in silent films of the time, he limits what we see by narrowing the shot, framing the sides of the screen with black bars, or using the "monocle" or "telescope" effect by putting a circle around one character, limiting our view and forcing us to look at only that image, giving that image more power. Added to that, we "hear" or see only on character's perspective. In cases like that, Hitchcock makes the viewers work harder at discerning fact from reality, truth from lies.
  16. Perhaps the most obvious techniques Hitchcock uses to add vitality to this segment of the film are the music itself and the dancing girls, one of whom collapses because of the frenetic pace. Additionally, Hitchcock establishes the quick tempo by using a series of shots that he stays on for an average of about 7-12 seconds at a time, perhaps a bit longer for the dialogue in the adjoining room. With all due respect to the more contemporary film maker, Baz Luhrmann, the technique woks for Hitchcock while it ruined the remake of The Great Gatsby in 2013, where at times Luhrmann would focus on one shot for no more than 1-2 seconds, often including more than 250 shots in a span of 10 minutes. The pacing was much better in The Ring. It was necessary to establish the levity among the revelers in the one room while also establishing the rising doubts and suspicions of the fighter in the other room. And Hitchcock got it right. For me, another technique that Hitchcock used to establish these doubts and suspicions is subjectively viewing the party through a mirror, which of course does not accurately portray reality. In a mirror, we see the opposite, and sometimes we see what we want to see. And Hitchcock, I think, accomplishes both with these mirror shots. Or does he? We see the woman (the fighter's wife?) sitting with the man, enjoying the dancers. When the man suggests taking her to see their show later, what does her look suggest, that she is thinking of going to the show with this gentleman, in essence cheating on her husband, or is she conflicted, not wanting to cheat? So does the mirror truly reflect how she feels, or does it reflect the fighter's unwarranted suspicions? (unless I really missed the point here ) Hitchcock also uses other effective techniques to develop the fighter's suspicions and frenetic thoughts. First, the repeated shots of the vibrant dancers and the spinning phonograph record might suggest the fighter's irrational thoughts quickly approaching an erroneous conclusion? And just as his thoughts are becoming distorted, so are the keys on the piano, for me a technique reminiscent of the skewed angles and distortions in the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, another film that also establishes a frenetic pace and an air of uncertainty. Finally Hitchcock has the fighter play out his visions to their irrational conclusion by superimposing the image of the man and woman drawing closer together and finally kissing over the image of the promoter (?) agent (?) talking to him about the upcoming bout. In essence, the audience is given a visual of the fighter's thoughts during his conversation.
  17. For me, the biggest similarity between the opening to The Lodger and The Pleasure Garden is the first shot, a close-up, of a blonde female. In the case of The Lodger, however, the woman is clearly in more peril, as a murder victim. Also, in both films, Hitchcock has a crowd observing the action, most of the onlookers observing passively and intrusively into someone else's life (and death). You could argue, knowing Hitchcock's fascination with the macabre, that the onlookers gain pleasure from what they observe: the male patrons enjoying the dancers in The Pleasure Garden, and the crowd satisfying their blood lust--what Stephen King refers to as feeding the gators in the deep recesses of our dark side--by viewing the aftermath of the woman's murder in The Lodger. Nonetheless, in both films (and this may not have been Hitchcock's intent) women, deemed throughout history as the weaker sex, are at the mercy of larger (male) forces, a theme that I also see in Psycho, the watershed film that many might use as a reference point for Hitchcock's other work, with the close-up camera shot of the victim's scream in The Lodger being comparable to Janet Leigh's similar scream in Psycho. The British director Bernard Rose once said when filming Candyman that he found this type of scream to be artificial and annoying. However, this type of scream is a typical reaction in a fight-or-flight situation, especially when the victims are as vulnerable as the woman in The Lodger and Janet Leigh in Psycho. So I think that reaction works and the camera shot is very effective in conveying the sense of helplessness, especially in a silent film where the actors and director need to convey so much of the story and the emotions through actions alone. Finally, as far as effective "Hitchcockian" film techniques or Germanic influences, I do like how the opening close-up of the victim's screaming, the passive group of onlookers, and the overall lighting and camera shots/cuts all help to create a great sense of helplessness and dread.
  18. The first motif I noticed was the use of voyeurism, which Hitchcock also used effectively in the film Psycho, with Anthony Perkins spying on Janet Leigh through the hole in the wall in the very famous shower sequence, and using the camera to simulate monocles and binoculars in The Pleasure Garden. Hitchcock conveys the idea of voyeurism as well in The Pleasure Garden by framing the opening scene with the black bars on the sides of the film. This motif tends to objectify women, showing them as defenseless victims in a world dominated by men. In both Psycho and The Pleasure Garden, it seems that Hitchcock explored the awkward dynamic of the male/female interaction. Norman is clearly very nervous and unsure of himself when talking with Marion, just as the patron at the club is very awkward while talking with the dancer, with both men failing at engaging in any meaningful dialogue--Norman speaking about birds' appetites, and the patron complimenting the dancer's looks and hair, respectively. However, also in both films, Hitchcock seems to include very strong willed women who seemingly break the stereotypical social expectations of women during the respective time period when each film was shot. In Hitchcock's later works, he seems to return to the victim motif (most notably women?), but in almost every case the aggressor meets his reward.
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