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About snickersnee

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  • Birthday 03/14/1976

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  1. There are so many musicals I really love and find myself going back to, but the following is a short list of favorites. The Wizard of Oz My Fair Lady Fiddler on the Roof White Christmas Gentlemen Prefer Blondes The Music Man Yentl The Producers Chicago I'd say the infectiousness of the songs from those films is the number one factor that keeps me coming back. However, I also very much like the themes, the colors, and the overall "feeling" that comes over me when I watch them, and so forth.
  2. 1. Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? Yes, I would say so. The overall tone is incredibly cheerful and optimistic. Anna is singing a happy, playful song and using her compact to interact mischievously but innocently with an enchanted audience. Ziegfeld's tone when bantering with the doorman is light and carefree. Even in the scene where Anna is presented with a serious decision to mull over, the tone of the scene doesn't become more pensive or serious the way it almost certainly would in real life. I can definitely see where a movie like The Great Ziegfeld, especially one filled with singing and dancing, would serve as a welcome distraction from the worries of the day. You get to enter a happy world where even big problems are no big deal and everything works out in the end. For an hour or two, it seems possible that your own dilemmas might reach similar resolutions. I imagine the details that touch on finance would be especially powerful. You get to see a happy, pretty girl receive lush flowers that must have cost a small fortune, a showman gives a doorman what I assume is a pretty substantial tip like it's no big deal, you get a seat at the theater when maybe you can't actually afford to go see a lavish stage show in real life, and so forth. 2. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals? This is the first time I've found myself actively thinking about it, but now that I have, I realize this is something I see a lot in other films from this era, especially musicals (e.g. The Wizard of Oz). Themes like hope, optimism, and potential escape to a life/world that's better and easier come up a lot. I would expect negative emotions and bleak situations to either be eliminated or liberally glossed over, especially any to do with being poor or destitute. In examples where we're watching a story play out that's based on real people and events (like The Great Ziegfeld), I wouldn't expect to see the inevitable ups and downs being presented very realistically. It's almost as if the audience is being shown "real life", but an alternative version of it that's much better, brighter, and more positive. I can see where that aspect of things would make the "escape" aspect of going to the movies even more powerful -- like you're getting a chance to see reality as it should have played out. 3. Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples. I can picture the songs and the banter being a lot cheekier and more risque, especially when you consider the fact that the film all about theater culture and show business. Maybe Anna would have received something less innocent than flowers -- something racier and more disturbingly personal like a negligee. I imagine we'd see more flashes of skin, or scenes with people undressing and bathing, etc -- kind of like we saw in the lecture clips from Broadway Melody. Those sorts of things would have been especially welcome distractions from the depressing realities of real life for sure. I haven't actually seen this movie in its entirety before, so I'm sure I'll be able to think of more once I have.
  3. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison. The intro to Frenzy is more of a slow burn than the opening to The Lodger was. We're taken on a bird's eye journey down the Thames to orient us within our setting before we actually reach the spot where people are standing listening to the speaker. Even then, we're listening to the speech for a few minutes before anyone happens to notice there's a naked corpse floating around in the river. With The Lodger, it's just straight up action right away -- someone's screaming and reacting to the finding of a dead body without any real intro. It goes to show how important title sequences eventually became to Hitch (and the world of film in general) as a way to kind of ease people into your opening scene and help them get their bearings first. This title sequence and the footage of London it's superimposed over is a lot more generic than the really dynamic ones we've been watching that feature Saul Bass's designs and Bernard Herrmann's wonderful score, but it still serves to let me know I'm in London on the Thames, as opposed to wandering around New York or chilling in an apartment somewhere. It makes me feel as if the city of London will be important in this film, almost as if it's a character in and of itself. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. I'm not sure if the opening shot can be considered a POV shot or not, but I definitely feel like I'm maybe in a helicopter being flown into London and later taken to listen to the speech by the Thames with the rest of the crowd. That's a Hitch touch for sure -- making the viewer feel like they're part of the scene. There's also the use of a famous setting pretty much everyone would recognize whether they've actually been there or not -- the city of London. There's the way the rest of the scene takes place in public in the midst of a crowd and focuses on a public speaker/performance as well. That especially reminds of some of his early British work and how it opened, as with when you follow Hannay's feet into the venue where Mr. Memory is performing or see the showgirls coming down the staircase in the beginning of The Pleasure Garden. Also, there are photographers and videographers present. We don't really see the speaker from their point of view, so I don't know if we feel like voyeurs per se, but such people always stand out to me in Hitchcock films and remind of the way he approached the process of observing and/or recording one's surroundings through his characters. I think it's interesting that Hitch is right there standing among them. 3. Using Frenzy as an example, what thoughts do you have about the various purposes Hitchcock had in mind when he created his opening scenes? In the Daily Doses, we have focused on opening scenes, so there should be patterns or strategies you have noticed over the course of opening scenes spanning Hitchcock's 50 year career. I covered a lot of what I would say in my answer to the first and second questions. I think a lot of how Hitch orchestrated this scene had to do with properly orienting us in the world of Frenzy right before either meeting the main characters or witnessing a significant event (the discovery of the floating body in this case), just as he's done in many other films. By the time that event occurs, I feel like I know where I am, I know what time period I'm occupying, and I feel set to react to the events as if I'm part of the crowd alongside everyone else present. That's always been important to Hitch. Also, Hitch doesn't really beat around the bush much, even when he uses a slower intro. You aren't given time to get bored or let your mind wander before that floater is spotted. He understood the importance of engaging your audience and making them feel present in the scene right away. He hasn't forgotten how to do that with Frenzy. I noticed he also got his cameo out of the way right away again, as he's been wont to do in his later films.
  4. 1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. We definitely know she's a career criminal of some kind, probably a thief -- multiple IDs and social security cards, way more cash than any honest person would probably be carrying around with them. This is confirmed by the way she transfers it from her purse to a suitcase -- not what most people would do with that much cash if they'd come by it via honest avenues. She's packing kind of haphazardly, suggesting she's on the run right this minute. Most women that stylish wouldn't dream of crumpling pretty clothing like that and just stuffing it in a suitcase. She also seems to have many hiding places for all her different IDs and whatnot. She locates the one she wants quickly and calmly. She's been doing this a really long time. She's also a good quick change artist and, again, has everything she needs to make herself over completely right there at the ready. She ends the scene in a different style of clothing than what she was wearing before. Totally different style purse. Black hair dye is super hard to get out of your hair, but Marnie switches from black to blonde in no time flat, so it seems like she's done that before too. I almost get the impression that Marnie might be the type of person that feels like she has no real identity. Maybe. Could be why she does what she does. She is smart and pretty enough to probably be well-off by honest means if she wanted, so there's a reason she chooses this life. 2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? It really helps to personalize Marnie and make her feel like more than just some thief or criminal on the run. The tonality of the music is dreamy and maybe a little mysterious, as opposed to dark and forbidding. It helps you see Marnie as a warm-blooded person that probably has feelings, and motivations, and problems just like you or me. It makes you want to know more about why she's choosing to do what she does just like Sean Connery's character does later in the movie. The way the music builds and swells as Marnie washes the black dye out of her hair and eventually reveals her face to the camera afterward reminds me a lot of the score that played in Vertigo right before Judy reveals her complete re-transformation into the deceased Madeleine. Another transformation from a film that dealt with issues of identity and the leading of multiple lives, albeit in a different way. Could be my imagination, but Marnie looks hopeful in the same way Madeleine did -- like she's hoping that maybe this transformation will bring with it whatever it is she's looking for. 3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? Hitch breaks the fourth wall with this one, coming out of his hotel room and staring right at us as if to say: "Here I am. Alright? Now watch the movie." In fact, it seems like Hitch is firing a lot of little in jokes at his most loyal viewers with the beginning of this film and breaking the fourth wall in other ways as well. As touched on in the lecture, there are many nods to other iconic things from other Hitchcock films -- a key hidden in a hand, a woman absconding with a lot of money, and the stunning transformation of a beautiful woman from one version of herself to another.
  5. 1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? If I were unfamiliar with this film and saw this scene out of context, it's not out of the question that I'd assume I'm about to watch a romantic comedy of some sort for sure. To start with the obvious, the opening scene focuses on the meet-cute between the two main characters and it's flirtatious right from the get-go. Their banter is also lighthearted and really quite humorous. You get the impression the movie will largely be about the progression of the relationship between these two characters and in many ways, it is. Also, right before Melanie enters the store, she smiles at a wolf whistle she receives, hinting that we're about to watch something that deals with not only raw attraction, but also with the way different individuals might react to it. The colors, lighting, energy, and general treatment in this entire scene seem more like what I'd expect to see in a romantic comedy as well. Unlike the openings of Psycho and numerous other Hitch films, nothing feels ominous or dark at all. The atmosphere isn't heavy or pensive, but is instead punctuated by tweeting birds -- something I usually associate with happy times and sunny days that are going well. Pet shops are also settings I associate with families and playfulness in general -- another ordinary Hitch setting where you wouldn't expect anything bad to be brewing. As far as what we find out about these characters, we learn that both Melanie and Mitch are witty, smart, and quick -- the type of people that are good at thinking fast and improvising. This is demonstrated by their entertaining banter as Melanie pretends to work in the pet store and Mitch pretends not to know she doesn't. We learn Mitch has a younger sister who's having a birthday soon and the way he speaks about her makes me think he might almost play a sort of surrogate parent role in her life. We also learn that Melanie doesn't embarrass easily, as she recovers quickly when Mitch points out she misinformed him about the different species of birds. Melanie doesn't let her obvious lack of knowledge about birds stop her from feeling totally comfortable pretending to sell them for a living either, so we know she's good in situations that put her way outside of her wheelhouse as well. If I were stuck in the middle of an apocalyptic situation, Melanie is totally the type of person I'd want in my corner helping me think my way through it. I'd gladly take Mitch too. 2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? As I mentioned above, the tweets and calls of birds are sounds I strongly associate with happiness, good times, and peaceful settings in general. The prevalence of those sounds in this scene is part of what lends it the feel of a much more lighthearted type of film. However, I also couldn't help but notice that the volume of the tweeting and bird noises combined with the sheer number of birds in the shop is also a little overwhelming. Not overwhelming enough to irritate me or distract me from what's going on in the scene, but definitely enough that I noticed it and couldn't help but think: "Dang, that's a lot of birds. How many freakin' birds does one pet shop need?" When you put so many different species together like that and have to listen to them all calling and chirping at once, it further makes something that would normally be cheering and comforting sound eerily unnatural. Even Mitch asks Melanie questions about different bird species and why they don't mix as if Hitch wants to make sure you notice, at least subconsciously. The overall effect leaves me feeling mildly unsettled for reasons it's hard to put a finger on. If I were unfamiliar with the film and hadn't been asked to think about it, I wouldn't have the vaguest idea what about that scene made me feel that way, because it wouldn't make sense to think it was something as harmless or seemingly inconsequential as the birds in the shop -- definitely a foreshadowing of the events to come. 3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. The thing that sticks out the most to me as far as the Hitch cameo here is that he's leaving the store with two dogs. We enter the store to see two people flirting and talking as they play with the idea of pairing up. Mitch is in the store in the first place because he's looking for two lovebirds. He specifies wanting a pair that gets along well together, but not too well -- a pair that behaves in a balanced, manageable way (much like the pair of dogs on the leash). There's also the way the conversation veers into the topics of different bird species and whether or not they mix. Yes, some of it seems like just an excuse for innuendo (or possibly a nod toward the concept of romance and "pairing up" in general), but I think it's more than that. The Birds is all about how natural it is for like creatures to come together, as well as how unnatural that same phenomenon becomes when it occurs past a certain threshold. Two lovebirds together, a couple together, or a family with lots in common together are the sweetest, "rightest" things in the world. Overwhelming numbers of birds or even people that would normally never come together doing exactly that adds up to a mindless, dangerous mob (i.e. zombie hordes) -- something very wrong. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but Hitch coming out of the pet store in the beginning with two dogs seems to underscore these themes a little bit. They are not just random dogs either. They are his dogs -- part of Hitch's real household and family. Also, while he has two of them, they are the same type of dog just like Mitch is buying two birds, but the same species. There's something orderly and normal about the way that looks and feels, unlike the chaotic sight and sound of all the different birds inside the shop Hitch is walking away from. That said, I can't help but recall the fact that Mitch's lovebirds for his sister don't ever seem to "catch" the mania all the other birds have. They remain normal and tame throughout the film and are even taken with the family at the end, almost seeming to underscore the way there are both natural and unnatural ways for living things to come together and remain together. Hitch enjoys placing his films neatly between bookends and it's possible he's doing that with The Birds as well. The film both begins and ends with someone leaving a chaotic scene taking only two of the same kind of animal with them -- kind of like Noah and family did.
  6. 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? As with the two other opening title sequences we watched, the score and design go together here like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. While each is masterful and well worthy of appreciation on its own, they create something special and unique when they come together -- almost a mini-introduction to the underlying themes the film Psycho will tackle. The way the opening titles and simple lines sort of fly in from the edges of the screen to come together in the middle and fly apart again make me think of the split personality theme from the movie. You read the titles during the brief period where everything's come together in the middle, which alludes to the way Norman as an individual no longer feels complete without his mother, as well as the way he occasionally changes completely into Mother psychologically. This idea seems to be underscored by the way some of the words, including the title "Psycho", split into moving pieces that look like they're trying to come apart into fragments, but don't quite ever reach that point. Instead, the fragments just grind against one another uncomfortably. (Kind of makes me think of fault lines in an earthquake zone -- definitely indicative of some kind of turmoil, building pressure, or inherent discomfort.) The score helps tell me how I'm supposed to feel about what's going on with the title design. I wish I had a better understanding of musical terms so I could speak in clearer detail about what I'm hearing, but the title theme overall "feels" frantic and anxious. Parts of it, especially the flowing parts with the high-pitched violins, remind me of a woman either pleading, or fleeing, or both. Those violins sound scared, worried, and confused. The sections with the lower-pitched strings sound more menacing, determined, and possibly angry/irritated. They remind me of a male figure or a predator pursuing someone else or engaging in something quite dark. The shorter, louder, more staccato strikes sound exactly like violent stabbing. 2. 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? I think the captions serve a dual purpose. The first has to do with the way Hitch likes to orient us in the world he's created quickly and without the need for a lot of inane, pointless dialogue. Because of that captioning, we know at a glance what time of year this is, as well as what day of the week it is and what time it is. We're skating into late afternoon on a Friday, the last day of most people's working week. If you're going to bounce early from work to go enjoy your weekend, this is when you start thinking about doing it -- going over in your mind what you'd do with a free Friday afternoon if you had it, brainstorming possible excuses to hand your boss, etc. The captioning also instantly tells me that I'm watching a film in which the timeline will be vitally important. In fact, we're quite literally being cautioned to pay attention to time down to the minute right from the very beginning. I most strongly associate that approach with movies, televisions shows, or documentaries that are about a crime that's been committed (or will be soon) and an investigation that will follow. Even if I knew nothing about Psycho, I'd assume that's going to be the case here as well. The captions showing up right at this point also tell me that even though the interaction I'm about to witness might seem mundane, it's actually something important that will factor into whatever happens later. Hitch chooses to enter through the semi-closed blinds to let us know something illicit is going on here -- something that isn't supposed to be happening, but is (Sam and Marion's secret rendezvous). It also not only suggests that voyeurism may carry over into the rest of the story as a theme/storytelling device, but serves to put us once again in the position of being the voyeur. It probably reminds me most strongly of the opening to Rear Window for that reason. Right from the get-go, we're being invited to spy on people that are living out their private lives, don't know we're watching, and probably wouldn't be too terribly thrilled about that if they did know. 3. 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. We learn from listening to the dialogue that Marion has reached a sort of crossroads. She and Sam are having an affair. Marion lives here in Phoenix, but Sam does not. Wherever he does live, it's far enough away to necessitate a plane ride, so Marion is probably not a part of Sam's everyday life in any significant way. Sam is either married or has some other reason he can't openly have a relationship with Marion. From the sounds of it, their affair has been going on for a while and while Sam sounds perfectly fine with the situation, Marion is getting tired of living in the kind of limbo you're stuck in when you're someone's secret lover. She is also making it clear that she wants something very different. A real life with Sam -- one that is whole and normal, not split or on hold with a lot of "maybes" and "one days" in the mix. This moment -- 2:43 PM on Friday, December 11th -- is the one that found her taking a stand and making a definite decision about her relationship and the direction of her life moving forward. ("This is the last time" said with complete conviction.) We know Marion is the main character because she was the one making the choice to stop the bus, so to speak. Also, the entire discussion focuses on her feelings, her thoughts on their relationship, and her hopes for the future. What Sam wants (if he wants anything) is treated as unimportant or irrelevant, because it's barely mentioned or discussed by either character. This notion is reinforced by the way the camera centers on Marion most of the time, especially when we first enter the room. Plus, almost everything in our visual field at first is dark in color. Even Sam is wearing darker colors, so he looks more like part of the scenery than he does a main character. (We don't even see his face at first when we first float in through the window, just Marion's.) Marion, on the other hand, is wearing stark white and appears to be bathed in whatever light is entering the room through the window as she lies on the bed. It makes her really stand out as the focal point of the shot. Although Sam may figure into the story, we're clearly following a sequence of events that's mostly about Marion.
  7. 1. 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. I feel like I'm going off on a tangent with this first part here, because I don't think this was really what this question was asking for, but let me see if I can get this thought to make sense. The idea that rooted itself in my head after I read this discussion question and considered it as I watched the scene has to do with how we everyday folks tend to feel about people that are very famous. For example, take someone like Cary Grant. Because he's famous, I know quite a bit about him as a person. I know where he was born, where he grew up, and lots of other details about his life. In a weird way, I almost feel like I know Cary Grant, even though I've never met or spoken to the guy. If he were still living and wound up in a situation with me where he was kind of a captive audience (i.e. seated next to each other on a plane or a train), I'd have a little bit of an advantage. I know a lot more about him than you normally would about someone you just met, but he would know zero about me. I feel like that's the position Roger is in as we watch this scene, more or less. Eve definitely knows a lot more about him than he does her. She even already knows he's a wanted man. That dynamic adds some interest to the scene for sure. There's also the very well-known personas of these stars to consider. Both are icons in every sense of the word and were back when this was made as well. Allowing their off screen personas to bleed into these characters and vice versa (i.e. with Hitch making sure Eva Marie Saint drank from the right cups off camera) helps me immerse myself in this world. It's also simply interesting to watch two beautiful people that would clearly be objects of desire to anyone that laid eyes on them flirting this way. It makes the interaction and chemistry between these two characters feel incredibly powerful for sure. 2. 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. It serves a kind of dual purpose for me in this scene. First of all, it's a really smooth and interesting way to let us know a little bit about Roger without him having to bore Eve (or us) with a lot of small talk, because we all know that's how things go down in real life. The fact that his initials spell ROT is interesting, as is the way he seems like he's joking about it and laughing it off, but not totally. There's something Roger doesn't really like about himself, or his life, or both. The fact that the "O" is just an initial that stands for nothing is interesting. If the "nothing" weren't part of the equation, he literally wouldn't be ROT anymore. It's also a great prop for allowing the two characters to connect physically without it seeming too forced or cliche. I already thought that whole flirtatious back and forth was pretty hot before he pulled out the matchbook, but then when she touches his hand as he lights her cigarette with a match from it? My jaw literally came open and I thought: "Dang! Go ahead, girl." She totally dropped the mic when she reached for his hand again so she could blow the match out. She's got game for sure. 3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. The music doesn't really stand out that much to me, but I think that's the point. It recedes comfortably into the background so we can just hear the ambient noise around us -- people talking at other tables, tea cups clicking as they're placed in saucers, the sound of the train on the tracks, and so forth. It raises the sense of realism in this scene and makes me feel more present in it than I think I would be otherwise. I might as well be sitting there with them as a third person. I almost feel like an intruder -- like I'm being a Nosy Nellie. I also almost get the impression that the screen presence and chemistry between Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant is so loud and attention-grabbing on its own that it's drowning the background music out a little. It's like everything in that department was simply scaled back so these two could properly shine. It makes the scene and the interaction between them feel really intimate.
  8. 1. 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. You definitely have the impression that this film will focus on something to do with psychology and the way the mind works in general. Also possibly the relationship between what the eyes see and what the mind perceives. (Dreamy, subjective, abstract images and text swirl out from and back into the staring eyes in both the beginning and end of the sequence.) Vertigo is far and away my favorite Hitchcock film, so I've seen it many, many times. Even if I hadn't though, I'd still realize other emotions like fear, apprehension, and anxiety would probably also figure into the plot and subject matter just based on the title sequence. The tonality, melody pattern, and general style of the accompanying score both underline and confirm this, in my opinion. 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I think it's the close-up of the eye from the very beginning. As we zero in on it, everything turns red and the eye widens in fear or apprehension. Just before that, the eyes were looking from side to side as if the mysterious woman they belong to is on the lookout for something (or someone). She's afraid of whatever it is and when her eyes widen and everything turns red, you get the impression it's found her and she's not sure what to do. Then the dreamy spiral shapes start to drift out of her eyes, making the eye image even more powerful. Are these her thoughts we're seeing? Her motivations? Her worries, doubts, and fears? Or are they representative of qualities and motivations someone else has assigned to her? You don't know for sure, but you know they probably have little to nothing to do with reality as they both exit from and enter back through the pupils of the eyes. The spirals represent things of the mind that it's a lot harder to put a finger on or define. They are spinning, making them appear even more unsettling and mysterious -- a lot like real thoughts or fears. Definitely an appropriate way to open a film called Vertigo. 3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The sequence really wouldn't work the same or give as clear an impression of anxiety and apprehension without Herrmann's score. At all. It's the score that really confirms what you think you might be seeing in the images as far as their meaning and significance -- kind of like the captions underneath the photographs in a newspaper or magazine. It both complements the imagery by adding additional depth and confirms what's clearly already there. If you felt like it, you could probably use a wildly different score to make this title sequence feel like it belongs to a completely different kind of movie. Add a silly, upbeat score and you could be looking at the opener to a screwball comedy about a psychologist with a stalker or something. (Maybe. I might be reaching or exaggerating, but hopefully it's clear what I'm getting at.)
  9. 1. 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? If I had to pick just one word to describe this shot, I think I'd have to go with "convincing". Even though I'm quite aware that this is a custom-built contained set on a sound stage, it really doesn't feel like one. All the little touches really convince me that this is a real little neighborhood where people actually live out their real lives. You even see the milkman leaving after his daily deliveries, as well as a group of children playing in the street. Hitch is establishing this little place as a microcosm of the larger world beyond these couple of apartment buildings. Each little apartment is yet another small world encased within that microcosm. It feels like real life, but not quite -- a bit like watching movies within movies, but then that's a big underlying theme for this film. It's morning and everyone is just waking up, so I almost feel like I'm just now arriving at a theater or a movie house, getting ready to sit down and enjoy the show. That said, I suppose the vantage point is mine, since it cannot be Jeff's. I'm getting ready to watch Jeff's day unfold just as he will soon be doing the same in regards to the people that live across the way. Thinking about that almost makes me wonder who might be watching me somewhere as I sit here studying my Hitch lessons for the day! (I also wonder who would care or find that interesting, but then I totally just sat here watching Miss Torso do her morning stretches and get her breakfast like it was the most interesting thing in the world. A lot of movies aren't necessarily about anything much -- just relationships, normal people, and normal things -- yet we eat them up anyway. People are quite simply interested in people.) 2. 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? Studying the set design is one of my favorite things to do when I'm watching a movie because of all the little details you can pick up about the characters, so I love that Hitch elected to treat me to a visual tour of Jeff's apartment before he wakes for the day. Clearly, Jeff is a relatively serious photographer, as his apartment is filled with professional photography equipment. He is also quite varied as far as what he does. A lot of his shots are action-oriented photojournalistic shots, but others look like fashion photos, portraits, or street photography. We can see that he does this for at least part of his living, as some of his photos have been published. The cover shot on the stack of magazines is clearly his, as he has a creative negative-style version of it framed right next to it. He is good at what he does and probably very experienced, as amateur photographers don't often have their material gracing magazine covers. You also get some insight as to how Jeff probably broke his leg in the first place. There's a framed shot of a race car wreck that shows a loose tire flying straight for the photographer. It is juxtaposed with an obliterated camera, so you know for sure the person that took the shot didn't manage to simply jump out of the way at the last second. Jeff also saved the camera instead of throwing it away, as well as displayed it near the racing photo, so he's probably proud of the ballsiness he showed in capturing that shot, as opposed to wishing he hadn't risked his life like that. This is someone with guts and grit that does not shy away from danger or challenges. 3. 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? A little, yeah. I don't feel like I'm looking out the window for some kind of sex kick or anything, but I definitely feel like a curious spectator. Like most people, whether they admit it or not, I enjoy people watching. It's fun to wonder about other people's lives and -- right or wrong -- it's kind of exciting to watch people that don't know they're being watched. That's when people are at their most real, even if they're doing nothing more than sipping a cup of tea at the kitchen table in the morning. Most of us don't actively seek out that experience, but (as was touched on in the lecture notes/video) we probably don't avert our eyes right away either if we happen upon it by chance. It's a very normal, very human thing to be curious about others, I think. As far as feelings elicited? I'd say... well... curiosity really is the strongest one. This looks like a nice neighborhood filled with normal (but interesting) folks -- people I wouldn't mind getting to know if I lived there. I have questions about their lives. What type of show is the gymnast/dancer training for? What is the musician writing? Where does the man in the corner apartment putting on his tie happen to work? What do his wife and kids like to do while he's gone for the day? What will the person who received the milk delivery use the milk for? I can't wait to find out a few of the answers, as well as ask still more questions as I get to know these folks better. Bonus question: If you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I've seen this film quite a few times, so yes. I would definitely agree with Hitch. He broke this film down to the bare bones of what it means to watch, shoot, or contemplate a film in the first place and he's done it in a wonderfully creative way that doesn't feel forced or fall flat at all. At the end of the day, we all really like the feeling of being a fly on the wall that movies deliver. It gives you a way to go someplace and explore something new without going anywhere at all. You're both stationary, but exploring far away all at once -- just like Jeff is doing as a way to get through his recovery without going crazy from boredom!
  10. 1. 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. Quite a few, actually. As far as the ones I noticed, there's the train tracks as touched on in today's lecture, as well as the way the camera is focused on a juncture in the tracks. You can see the train is headed for that juncture, but as a viewer, you are unsure of which direction it will choose at first. Then suddenly the train chooses to go right instead of left -- definitely feels like foreshadowing of other decisions that will probably be made throughout the film. Also, Bruno and Guy appear to be walking from opposite directions to get to the train. Bruno sits across from Guy and crosses his legs as he sits. It's only when Guy crosses his legs as well that the feet touch. Bruno is wearing a striped suit that reminds me of the train tracks. The stripes on Bruno's suit are vertical and contrast with the parallel lines created by the horizontal blinds behind him. There might be more (and probably is). 2. 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. Well, their personal styles couldn't possibly be more different. Bruno is flashy. I'd call him well-dressed and leave it at that, but he almost borders on tacky. The suit and shoes have flare, but are just a little bit too much with the lobster tie and the "Bruno" tie clip. Guy is also pretty well-dressed, but in a much preppier sort of way. Both men are polite and personable, but Guy is quieter. Bruno is extroverted to the point of having a personal space problem. If I were Guy, I'd have wanted to shove him away from me when he just got up, sat next to me without being invited, and started reading over my shoulder. I practically get the feeling he wants to sell poor Guy insurance or something. No one is that "outgoing" without wanting something from the other person. The way he looks at Guy when he first notices him after the foot bump makes me feel like he just zeroed in on a mark. 3. While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence? The score in the beginning strikes me as lighthearted and upbeat. Especially as the train picks up speed and chooses a direction. I feel like I'm going on a journey I'm excited about. Honestly, it reminds me of the score Tiomkin did for the beginning of Shadow of a Doubt. Something about it makes me feel like I'm in a very normal setting feeling normal things -- like nothing bad in the world could happen. Later on, as Bruno and Guy are about to meet and touch feet though, the score becomes a bit more menacing and apprehensive. When the feet actually touch, the score lets you know something monumental and potentially upsetting just happened -- something that will change the direction of this journey for these two men, reminiscent of the way the train went one direction and not the other in the very beginning. Everything was fine and normal before. Now it's not and the score is what makes you sure of that.
  11. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? The point-of-view shot is definitely part of the Hitchcock touch. You see Devlin through the eyes of the hungover Alicia and it helps put you in her shoes. The camera twirls around. You see Devlin at first from a cockeyed angle and then upside down. The shot is hazy at first, later becoming clearer. The whole sequence makes me feel a little woozy and disoriented watching it -- definitely reminiscent of how I'd feel if I really overdid it with the alcohol the night before. Especially if I woke up to find someone else staring at me from the doorway -- someone who had it together to a much greater extent than I did at that exact moment. There's also the extreme close-up of Ingrid Bergman (who somehow still manages to look really elegant even completely hungover). It reminds me of other similar shots I've seen in other Hitchcock films of other female stars in scenes where their character is "out of sorts" to one degree or another -- like Janet Leigh lying on the bathroom floor as a corpse in Psycho or Carole Lombard lying in bed under the blankets in the beginning of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. 2. 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? Well, there's the way Devlin appears dark as he first stands in the doorway. Then he's hazy before showing up loud and clear for Alicia. I feel like that's about more than simply showing us how she sees him in her hungover state. I get the impression I'm supposed to see the character as a little hard to figure out, despite the fact that he also seems to be the one with all the answers and information. All this seems to be underlined by the contrast in their appearances in this scene. He doesn't have a hair out of place and his suit is pressed and tailored. She, although still very beautiful and elegant, looks a little worse for wear. She's disheveled. The cut of her clothing is looser and less tailored. She's wearing stripes while Devlin's suit is solid black. He seems a lot more pulled together than she does... just... overall, so Hitch definitely painted that picture for me very well. Based on this scene, I feel like Devlin will turn out to be more composed and controlled as a character than Alicia will. 3. 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? It actually challenges those personas in a lot of ways. Cary Grant is most definitely a polished, dapper figure in most of his films. However, he also tends to play characters that have this playful sense of humor underneath it all, even when he's playing people that maybe aren't 100% nice or likable (i.e. Johnnie from Suspicion). Devlin seems a lot more strait-laced and serious than I expect Cary Grant's characters to be as a rule. Ingrid Bergman usually plays innocent but poised characters to the best of my understanding -- good girls with really pure hearts. It's unusual and feels odd to see her playing someone that would party to the point of being that severely hungover in the morning. Even so, Grant and Bergman have personas that are so well-established and hard to shake that you don't totally watch this and go: "Wow, they're so out of character here." Enough of those personas are left intact that you almost assume that's who these characters probably are (or at least have the potential to be) deep down. The combination makes it easier to believe in these characters, to care about them, and to picture them falling in love. It makes them feel like complex human beings without Hitchcock having to spell it out for us to an extent that might actually feel tedious.
  12. 1. 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? Hitch likes to introduce his viewers to his stories right in the middle of a situation in progress, as opposed to before that situation develops. This particular scene isn't as action-oriented as some of the ones his earlier British films opened on, but it's definitely... a situation. I don't yet fully understand the pattern of "fight-and-make-up" the Smiths have going on, but it's definitely odd and it's most certainly established. They've clearly done this many times before, which we see from how casually everyone (including the servants and Mr. Smith's business associates) simply goes through the motions and follows the routine. Clearly when the Smiths go through this cycle, they have a tendency to shut out everything going on in the outside world and stop caring about everyday responsibilities. The room is in total disarray with many, many meals' worth of dirty plates strewn around. Some of the dirty dishes are even on the floor, which to me shows a complete lack of craps given about staying on top of anything. The dishes look expensive though, as does everything else in the room. The Smiths seem well-off, so they may be the type of people that can afford to be as self-indulgent as they appear in this scene. They strike me as likable, but also spoiled and a little irresponsible, which could explain the pattern their relationship has fallen into. This is how I'd expect children to behave or run their lives if something throws a wrench in the machine, not two mature adults. 2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? I don't know if I'd use the word "typical", but I definitely see the Hitchcock touch. The camera pans around the room and gives the viewer a good, long look at the situation. Lots of attention was shown to props, set dressing, and other little touches that really help sell a scene to a given viewer. He's showing me who the Smiths are and how they live their lives, not telling me -- something I for sure associate with a Hitchcock opening. He's giving me clues to how these people live and letting me fill in the rest of the blanks for myself. There's also an extreme close-up of Ms. Lombard that is 100% Hitch, as well as the fact that we have another sassy blonde heroine to fall in love with. The most obvious way this is atypical for Hitch is honestly the setting. At this point in his career, I'm not used to him showing me anything that feels truly "everyday" or domestic right in the beginning of a picture. Most of the examples we've studied up to now open on a public setting that's filled with people and energy. If they haven't (as with Shadow of a Doubt), the situation was still extraordinary somehow with someone being on the run or something. This is a married couple occupying a personal space (residence? hotel room?) and going about their lives as usual -- about as everyday as it gets. Granted, their routine isn't one you'd typically think of as "normal", but it's definitely normal for them and the people that know them. 3. 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? From what I saw here, I personally think they have great chemistry. They definitely sold me the idea of the two of them as a married couple that probably has issues, but feel deeply about one another as well. Even though they seemed to be getting along famously in this scene, I can totally also picture them fighting. He seems mild-mannered and happy-go-lucky. She seems like the type that would be sassier and more fiery. Opposites that attract, but also clash badly under the wrong circumstances. For those reasons, I do think they're well cast. I can definitely picture them misunderstanding each other, and flying apart, and then coming back together -- probably more than once, as is usually the case in this type of film. They are both attractive, likable actors, so I feel like I'll be rooting for their characters instead of griping about how annoying they are the entire time. The way I can picture both of them being less grounded in their own unique ways does a good job of setting up the important question of "can they actually grow enough to make it work" as well.
  13. 1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. We learn that Uncle Charlie appears to be an odd mix of cool/collected and anxious/explosive. He seems like the kind of guy that you wouldn't always be able to read, probably to your own detriment. Like... you wouldn't be totally able to tell you really ticked him off and made him angry until he literally explodes in your general direction. (We see this in the way he goes from lying on the bed thinking and staring at the ceiling, to pacing around the room, to suddenly throwing a glass against the wall.) He seems quite smart and calculating, but not the sort that thinks out loud very much of the time. Basically, I wouldn't want to play a high stakes game of poker with Uncle Charlie. I feel like I'd be screwed whether I won or lost, if that makes any sense at all. We also definitely see that Uncle Charlie's probably into something a little unsavory. He's got police and/or detectives following him and clearly putting a lot of effort into trying to trap him. They know who they're dealing with and they understand that they'll need to keep a close watch on Charlie if they're serious about bringing him in because this guy covers his tracks very well. Also, all that cash lying around -- probably stolen or otherwise gained through criminal means. Whatever it is Uncle Charlie does to earn his bread, he's clearly very good at it. Good enough that he doesn't have to worry about leaving cash lying around or care if it's falling all over the floor. 2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations) I'm afraid I'm not very well-versed when it comes to film noir in general and I definitely haven't seen The Killers in particular, so I'll have to give this my best guess. What sticks out the most to me in a "that screams film noir" kind of way is the mood. The room is semi-dark and shadowy, especially after the landlady draws the shade. The scene is also quiet -- focused on one guy alone with his thoughts in a room instead of on a crowd or a public place where there's more of an outward flow of energy. Uncle Charlie also very much strikes me as the kind of guy I'd expect to see in a film noir. To begin with, he definitely looks that part. He even has a cigar, a pinstriped suit, and a fedora. He's also super pensive -- the kind of guy that probably has a lot going on upstairs at any given time. He seems like a semi-cynical, almost depressive type that definitely broods from time to time -- someone who kind of exists on the outskirts of society to one extent or another as I picture film noir-esque characters doing. As far as The Killers goes, I got the impression from the lesson today that the guy in the opening of that film basically decides to wait in a room for the men that are after him to kill him, arrest him, or otherwise seal his fate for him. Uncle Charlie isn't that type. He isn't going to just relax and let it happen. He comes up with a solution and decides to keep moving. He doesn't even care that the guys after him saw him leave, because he walks right past them. You can totally picture the mental middle fingers he just flipped in their general direction. 3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? Uncle Charlie doesn't say very much out loud that's actually straightforward in this scene. You can gather a bit of what's going on in Uncle Charlie's life at the moment from his banter with the landlady, but you have to read between the lines (which is easy to do). This woman's not that quick on the uptake and Charlie probably doesn't think very much of her for that reason, so he strongly hints at what's really going on because he knows she's not really going to put two and two together. You can detect a hint of apprehension or menace in his tone, so you know he's probably not an innocent man by any means, but that's about it. The score helps confirm what you might suspect about Charlie, as well as give you even more information about who he is as a person. The music goes from dark and brooding, to light and airy for a second, to brooding again, to explosive. You can completely follow the back and forth, rather anxious movement of the character's thought process and mood. It's all over the place, or very quick, or perhaps both at once. You get the impression the character may have come up with a solution to his dilemma. Then he makes a ballsy decision to leave and walk right by the guys that are looking for him. You can tell he doesn't really think they're a match for him and the score really backs that up.
  14. 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 biggest, most obvious difference for me is definitely the pacing. The other scenes we've looked at gave me the impression of being out in public somewhere, happening upon some action, and stopping to see what's going on. You're launched right into the film at a fast pace, often witnessing events that will turn out to be key later on in the story right away. With Rebecca, it's more like you float into the setting all by yourself at a slow pace. Instead of being out in public, you're someplace that feels very private. It's not better or worse than the way things were done in Hitch's previous films, but definitely different. You're also told instead of shown when it comes to the information Hitchcock wants to give you as the viewer right out of the gate. You hear a narrative that (I assume) comes straight out of the book and adds context to what you're seeing, instead of simply being shown a scene and left to interpret it for yourself. In fact, this feels more like the opening scene of a book than it does almost anything else for that reason. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Even though it's clear that the narrator is reliving a dream she sometimes has about a place she once lived, we're still seeing what she sees as if from her point of view. We even get to float through the front gate all ghost-style just like the narrator says she does when she's dreaming. That's definitely something Hitch not only likes to do, but does well -- puts the viewer into the shoes of a key character and shows them how things look from their point of view. This is a very subjective scene we're seeing as well -- a dream, which may or may not be 100% true to the actual setting. This scene is as much about how the narrator perceives and remembers Manderley as it is introducing us to the place itself -- a total Hitch thing. There's also plenty of that eerie mood-setting I associate with a lot of Hitch's later work. You can definitely tell this is going to be a suspenseful film that gets you thinking and wondering about various mysteries. I also feel like Hitch is doing his best to give me some information about Manderley's ultimate fate right up front so I'm not spending too much of my viewing energy wondering. You can see that it's an abandoned, burnt-out shell of what it formerly was. 3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? The narrator doesn't speak of the house in a way that I feel people do when they're recollecting a place. She recalls her memories of it as you would memories of a person. What she's saying sounds really personal. Almost wistful and a little regretful. It's how I would talk about someone I used to know, but had some mixed feelings about -- like an old friend I had a falling out with, maybe -- but not necessarily a place I used to live. Something about the way the lights were on in the house when the dream narrator approached the vicinity, but then faded into darkness as the house turned out to be just a shell of its former self also made me think of a person. Maybe someone that was wide awake and then fell asleep... or someone that was alive once and no longer is. Coupled with the fact that the house also has a name the way many houses did back in the day, that effect definitely gives me the impression Manderley also has a personality, a mood, and a history the way a person would.
  15. I don't know how underrated it could really be considered, but Rebecca is one of my absolute favorite Hitchcock films. Easily in my top five, but I feel like I don't see it discussed or mentioned very often. I also really like Marnie, The Paradine Case, and Spellbound. On a related note, I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed watching some of his silent films the other night. Until I signed up for this course, I'd never seen any of them and was only vaguely aware that Hitch got his start in silents. I think I'd maybe only seen one silent movie ever in my life before that. I figured I'd find the silents interesting for educational purposes and general film appreciation "nerding out" reasons, but I didn't expect to be as engrossed as I was. I especially like The Lodger, The Manxman, and Downhill. My fiance/partner is also taking this course and we actually wound up watching The Lodger twice, we liked it so much.
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