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About jfedelchak

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  1. I too, have enjoyed this on-line class immensely. I've been a Hitchcock fan for as long as I can remember, from the early days of watching films with my folks on TV (my mom especially liked Hitch) to the many times I've re-watched his movies to relive those golden days and recapture his brilliance. It is my first class with TCM & Ball State and I hope I can continue with others. I am sorry I missed the earlier classes on Slap-stick and Film Noir, I regret not having participated sooner. Thank you Professors Edwards & Gehrig for such an enjoyable and informative experience, I especially liked your one-on-one lecture discussions, they really brought out some fascinating points of consideration and discussion. I also wish to pass along my thank-yous to Ben Mankowitz and Alexander Phillippe for their informative commentaries before and after each Hitchcock film they hosted. I'm proud to say I viewed all 44 films presented and learned many new things. Well Done Everyone!!
  2. Turning my attention to television shows with a Hitchcock motif, I have four: 1. Thriller , Boris Karloff hosted this weekly anthology horror/suspense/mystery show. Maybe capitalizing on Hitch's own TV show, it had many good episode of suspense. I loved watching it in summer re-runs as a boy. 2. Columbo (1971-2003), Peter Falk in the lead role as Lt. Columbo, had a Hitchcock-ian suspense element to it, since you always knew up front who did it, the suspense was in the chase to see how Columbo would figure it out and bring his party to justice. 3. Twin Peaks (1990-91), David Lynch creator/director. A suspenseful horror/thriller set in the town of Twin Peaks, with F.B.I. agents on the trail of a serial killer, known as Bob. This show had more twists then a bag of pretzels with a great all-star cast, a superb mix of macabre and humor and a story that keep you riveted ;loaded with suspense and mystery. 4. American Gothic (1995-96), stared Gary Cole and a young Lucas Black, a gothic horror/ thriller weekly episodic show of the goings on in a small town in the USA. It was a very suspenseful show, that never seemed to catch on with the network, but I believe, like Twin Peaks, had its loyal fans. ...with respect to movies, so many great films have already been mentioned, but I had one I particularly akin to Hitchcock: Arabesque - Stanley Donen directed, Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. A suspense mystery with many Hitch touches. The story about a Professor in England (Peck) tasked with decrypting a Egyptian code to prevent "some" terrible outcome. It has a MacGuffin, colorful locals, humor, suspense, espionage, the use of a double, a suave and fiendish villain, a deadly bird and a mysterious female (Loren), along with a classic double-chase. My personal all-time favorite Hitch-like film. P.S. I always thought Arabesque would make a great DVD double-release with Donen's companion film Charade. If your listening TCM Shop. Or you could make it a four-pack with Hitch's 39 Steps and North by Northwest. I'd buy that!!
  3. All through his career, Hitchcock and his production teams have always been at the leading edge of creative techniques and performance ability, ... but has there ever been a shot, scene, stunt, (or even a movie) that Hitch just could not accomplish, because it was deemed too technically complicated, risky, dangerous, expensive, or just impractical give the current limits of time, budget, technology, or expertice being unavailable or impractical?
  4. 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 two opening are night and day different, both figuratively and literally, for The Lodger opens at night with a woman screaming before she is killed, then the scene of the witness relaying her account of the crime to the police, followed by the rapid response of the press to get the story out to the public; a tense and disturbing beginning. In Frenzy, it opens in the bright sunny light of a beautiful day with a tranquil high shot overlooking the majestic Themes river, with the accompaniment of a light and almost regal musical score. It looks more like a travel log then the start of a thriller. We finally end our trek to the site of a live speech by a political official, all very mater-of-fact and ordinary, until the tranquil setting is disturbed by members of the crowd as they one by one discover the body of a naked woman floating face down in the river. A murder victim. So both films are about vicious acts, but told very differently in their opening approach. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this a opening scene? Be specific. We see the grand-esk scenes, in this case, London city from high above, a notable big and broad scene, a notable Hitchcock trademark. The pan in shots of the crowd near the river's edge, a Hitchcock POV shot. The close ups of the principles, with the Hitchcock cameo tucked in nicely. And then the confusion sets in as the attentive crowd is now disruptively turning their attentions to a murder victim floating in the water below them. The calm and tranquil scene is thrown into panic by Hitch with a body; a grizzly murder has occurred and so we are now escorted into another Hitchcock thriller. 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 The strategy seems clear, to lead the audience down a seemingly happy path to a rather mundane crowd gathering in jolly old England. To take them by the hand and walk them into a nightmare before they've had time to adjust, the audience is roped in, there is nowhere to go but where Hitch will lead. Once again Hitchcock is saying that no matter how ordinary or typical the day is or how pleasant the surrounds, evil lurks just around the corner, or in this case just below our feet.
  5. I must be one of only a handful of film buffs who just doesn't like Vertigo. Released the year I was born, I have watched this film repeatedly over the decades and as I got older I did so with the intention of truly trying to discern why the film is "the best" of Hitchcock's efforts and why everyone loves it so, and to this day, I just cannot figure out why that is? Sure it has a terrific musical score and opening sequence that blend ever so well together. And sure it has wonderful stars and fantastic locations for filming (San Francisco will always be, in my heart, a star, ...but then I also love Bullitt.) And there are innovative techniques and special effects, which for me seem a tad dated even for 1958, but in truth I just don't understand the story. Now it's not because of the more obvious plot point paradoxes, like how did Stewart get down off the roof at the beginning of the film or how did Judy and the Husband steal themselves out of the tower after the murder with no one seeing them? Or how did Stewart get both his car and Madeline's back to his apartment after her faked suicide attempt in the bay. I just don't see the obsessiveness of Stewart as anything more than catastrophic, and usually Hitch always would redeem his lead characters in the end, no matter what has transpired earlier. Johnny's obsession leads to solving the crime, true, but it does not result in the punishing of the real culprit, the husband, but that of a scared woman who tries repeatedly to dissuade Stewart from their combined destructive ends. Yes she is guilty of assisting in murder and coning Stewart, but I don't know that she deserves her fate? Stewart is an ex-cop, should he not want to pursue justice? And so in the final analysis, I end up feeling more sorry for Novak and very unsympathetic toward Stewart; I only see that most of the characters in the film (with the possible exception of Midge) as just being bat-sh*t crazy, and therefore I don't really care if they all end up in jail or dead or both. Which, in the end, is just about how the movie ends for them. I guess I feel the movie makes no sense, and so stubbornly refuse to accept its possible genius. ... one thing I do know is that after all these year I still do not like this move.
  6. I not certain I agree that this was Hitch suffering from "burn-out", but then again I'm biased, I like Marnie. It may not be the same high standards as his other more collaboratively successful efforts like Rear Window, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, etc., but I believe Hitch was continue to try to reinvent himself or experiment with his art form. And he has chosen a most intriguing theme, the psychosis of the criminal and how one invokes the other, with Sean Connery, fresh from his James Bond role, acts as psychiatrist and narrator for the film to guide us through the murky waters of the subconscious mind of his wife's criminal acts and how she came to be this way. Marnie also does not have many of the funny or thrilling moments of previous films, either. But maybe it is not meant to. It is a more serious look at why a person becomes a "bad" person, an exploration into the id of evil. ...I too may be totally off the mark with my review of this film, and maybe Hitch was becoming tired or slowing down in his formative years, but I think he still had a few tricks up his sleeve and he worked diligently to show them at his own pace.
  7. 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. Marnie is a mystery, she transfers new clothes from store boxes to a suitcase and discards her old clothing to a separate suitcase, one she will eventually abandon in a train station locker, while disposing of the key in a sewer grate. She has multiple Social Security cards in different names hidden behind a compact's mirror and a bag full of cash. She also sheds a disguise, removing hair dye and changing hair style. She appears to be a criminal on the run, or maybe a spy, changing identities to stay one step ahead of her pursuers? A character of mystery. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? Herrmann's score is sweeping and has a romantic lilt to it, to add to the air of mystery; a romantic melody. Does this lend itself to the possibilities of her being a spy? Or just a woman on the run? In any event we have a feeling of caring for this woman, we need to know where she comes from and where she is going. Herrmann's score helps us to set our emotional concerns accordingly. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? Hitchcock appears to be sort of stumbling into the scene, separating us (the camera) from the subject (Marnie) as we watch her walk away. Then when Hitch notices us, he seems to act a little embarrassed or confused, he has broken our concentration as Marnie disappears around the corner. Is this Hitch's way of saying that not everything is as it would seem? That we, like he, have stumbled into something and do we now keep going? And what will we find if we keep going? More mystery .... ...On a personal note: this is one of my favorite Hitchcock films; I listed it as one of my top 5 in another thread. It may not be as tightly formed a film as Hitch has done previously, but the elements of Marnie's psychosies and criminal acts make it a compelling movie to watch again and again. I also like the cast, Tippy, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Louise Lathem, (a young) Bruce Dern and even Alan Napier (Alfred the butler to Bruce Wayne in the 60's TV show Batman), all make it a wonderful film to watch. Plus I like mysteries and this one is expertly done by the master, who gives us the clues and helps us to unravel the mystery in the end.
  8. 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) through their interactions in this scene? The is the comedic Hitchcock making us feel at ease; the calm before the storm, to relax us before he springs his trap. Melanie and Mitch are flirting with one another using double entendre of "bird" chatter (the discussion of birds) as a thinly disguised way to talk about sex. A nice way to work around the sensors and give the audience a laugh. Killing two birds with one stone ...(I know, I'm sorry.) 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? The bird sounds are creepy, foreshadowing things to come. The flapping and cawing indicate the birds are unset or angry or at the very least seem unfriendly and on guard. We want to know why? But in full MacGuffin-mode, we never will. 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. Well, with his two dogs, the use of doubles will most likely be "in force", just as in Shadow of a Doubt there will be a lot of double-meaning and word-play, so we are alerted to pay attention, the (Hitchcock) game is afoot.
  9. 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? The music and title sequence both convey a feeling of frantic and chaotic pacing, a chase is to ensue, but who it the hunter and who is the prey? But as frantic as the opening feels there is also a systematic feel to the graphics, a series of parallel lines, to possibly indicate a pattern to the movie events to follow and that there are many "levels" of this story to be told. 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? All these elements give the film a feel of realism and exactitude. A feeling that something is going to happen at this specific place, date and time and we are going to be witness to it and so we peer in through the blinds. It reminds me of The Wrong Man, which was a true story told by Hitchcock earlier; a story made more suspenseful because it was true, and the movie Rear Window, which (although fiction) seemed real because we were witnessing it through L. B. Jeffery's eyes looking voyeuristically into his many neighbors lives.. Now we can expect the same sort of "truth" with Psycho, exact facts and a lurid sense of the peeping tom looking in on our characters' intimate moments together. 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. Marion and her lover are given our very specific attentions, in their various states of undress and passion. Marion is a most attractive woman in her white brazier and finally quaffed hair and makeup. She is the center of attention. And given this is 1960, it was a most risqué scene looking at their mid-day tryst. We are investing time to learn about their lives and their affair; this must be important to the story, since it requires our full attention. The characters talk of plans for the rest of the day as well as wanting to be together in the future, which presupposes that we will be seeing more of this couple as the film progresses. These two, especially Marion, must be a central character of Psycho.
  10. This, to me, seems to be done for Hitchcock's own amusement or as a challenge to himself. I'm not certain most audience members would make the connection (or even much care) of filming in long takes, and I agree the cuts seemed forced or artificial, but necessary to accomplish their objective. It may be fun to interpret these takes from a film historian, filmmaker or actor's point of view, but as an average movie goer it would seem a lost artifact of the movie. Fortunately it is a good story, well acted, so the experimental elements of the film can be overlooked or ignored completely and it still is an enjoyable movie. Also, I must confess I had a hard time remembering the Hitch Cameo in the film (and I've seen the move more than once). I had to look it up and re-watch the movie a 2nd time to view it myself, a chore I did not really mind doing. ...It is a clever way to do the job. ***EDIT**** I noticed in the opening credits that the story was developed by Hume Cronyn (actor from Lifeboat and Shadow of a Doubt). I'm wondering if he wanted a part in the movie as well? Was he considered by Hitchcock at all or was the writing credit and story development his only concern? ...just curious.
  11. Has Tippi Hedren been mentioned? ... The Birds, Marnie one of my personal favorite Hitch Leading Ladies.
  12. 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 Thornhill/Grant line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. The scene begins with a double entendre, Hitch's joke that the audience can enjoy and participate in as well as the actors, to put everyone at ease and make the audience feel they are in the movie with the couple on screen. Since Grant is such a big star he is easily recognizable and it plays well with his character, Roger Thornhill, who is a man wanted for murder; a marked or recognizable man, since his photo is in the newspapers. 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. Hitch is using this scene to introduce us to a very important prop that connects Grant (Thornhill) to this object, a personalized matchbook (his trademark) with the initial "R.O.T." This will become a unique and powerful tool of covert communication in the climax of the film. It is a gimmick that works brilliantly to help keep the fast-pace moments of the final scenes from bogging down or losing their "pinch", while padding itself on the back for it's simplistic elegance. Most ingenious. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. The musical score is once again effectively echoing the tone of the scene, playful and a bit mysterious, as the two people meet for the first time and use their "inside joke" to set the mood of playfulness as the two characters do a dance of flirtatious introduction and discovery.
  13. I've had the same experience. I usually just give up after so many attempts.
  14. 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," then the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. ​The music is one of dizzying repartition and is critical extension of the title Vertigo. We start with a woman's face in extreme close-up, delving into he facial features, red lips, smooth skin and cheeks, and finally her piercing eyes searching back and forth and then looking straight ahead. Zooming in further we are regaled with spinning and swirling geometric shapes; computer-aided images that mesmerize hand hypnotize the viewer, adding to the vertigo theme. It also conveys an air of mystery or uncertainty of what is to come. Are we to take this story at face value or will it be the workings of a dream or psychosis-based mind? We must be on our toes to discern the story (and thereby) the director's true intent. 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I personally like the intertwined pen-wheel spirals that feed on themselves to form a donut-shaped unending spiral of textures and color (mostly in green hues). They remind me of a drawing toy popular when I was a youngster, the Spirograph. It used a combination of solid wheels within geared wheels to allow you to draw unique intricate spiral shapes using multiple colored pens. It had both symmetry and an evolving pattern that grew and changed as your spun the pens round and round. 3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? For me the single most important element in this opening is the musical score. It evokes the confusion and dizzy dance of the title. Certainly all the beautifully revolving geometric shapes are intensely augmenting the effect of having vertigo and a sense of not knowing truth from the swirling illusions of the mind caught in the trap of a fear of heights. But without the musical score the images would have to work much harder to convey what music can do without pictures. It is a blending that works most spectacularly and rewardingly. SPOILER ALERT ..... ...Now on a more personal note, I do not find the Vertigo is the grand master of the Hitchcock collection of films. It certainly has the many intense elements of a Hitchcock film used effectively, strong visual styling and musical score, sets and locations that become characters themselves. The street of San Francisco convey strongly the dizzy feel of the movie title. The Art museum and the Spanish Missions are wonderfully rich, lavish settings, that draw us in. The use of color and form in clothing and local (eg, the view from Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate bridge and the Redwood Forest are all magnificent). However other elements just don't work for me. For example, I don't think Jimmy Stewart is the right choice for our lens into the story. He seems too old and a mis-fit for someone so obsessed with a woman that he ignores all other factors around him. Stewart has certainly played heightened emotionally charged characters before most effectively, But his obsessions in Vertigo seem out of place (to me). And that is not to say he could not be paired with Kim Novak since their chemistry in a movie like Bell, Book and Candle was exceptional. Another factor in the movie was how the hell did he get down off the roof without falling himself in the opening sequences? His only helper, a fellow police office falls to his death, so how'd he do it? I know we are not suppose to look too logically at the Hitchcock story, but this is a real show-stopper for me -- It ruins the "buying into" the story. But I think my most disrupting factor in the movie is that in the end his obsession gets the young woman killed. She plays along with his ever increasing obsession to replicate her as a makeover of the dead woman, killed by he husband. Stewart changes her hair, the clothes she wears, her demeanor, and all the while it causes Kim Novak's shop-girl character more dread. She is being pushed against her will to change, building up a intense fear and confusion, which eventually gets her killed. Now some may say that she was involved in the wife's murder and so deservers her final end as punishment. But I always have a great anger when watching the climaxing scene that Stewart's character has gone too, too far. He was a police officer and as our story's "hero" it seems he let's the audience down by allowing Kim's character to die. Maybe this was Hitch's intent, to shake up the norm in story telling, but for me it fails. ...I just don't get it.
  15. 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? This opening shot defines the "world" Hitchcock will invite us to observer for the duration of the film; it defines the boundaries of said world, our scope throughout the movie. It is a hot summer day in the city. It also it introduces us to some of the many characters that live in this world, whom we will witness and get to know. The vantage point is one of Jeff's (Stewart's) POV and which will predominate the view for the film. Jeff is resting now as this is also his introduction to the audience, while we are also introduced to his apartment and personal surroundings, the focal point of all the action in this movie; the nerve center of the informational flow. 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? ​ Jeff is in a full leg cast confined to a wheelchair. As we pan around the room we see he is a professional man, a photographer, who's camera has suffered a similar state of "crippling", lying in taters on the table. We also see a series of framed photos on the wall; Jeff's resume. The first picture is one of a close-up of a sports car crash. Both Jeff (and his camera) appear to have been injured by this same crash. A crash that Jeff captured (ostensively with the shattered camera) as part of his job. We continue to see more framed photos of events around the globe, include an mushroom cloud from an A-bomb test, and people in desperate or troubled situations. This defines Stewart's character as a man of action, a Photo Journalist who travels the world capturing it's most newsworthy events on film. The last images we see are of a woman, one a negative and the second a positive image of that same woman on the cover of a fashion magazine. A magazine that Jeff has many copies of. She must be someone of importance. 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? It​ certainly does introduce us to the rank of voyeur or "Peeping Tom", a roll both we, Stewart, Kelly, and Stewart's nurse will all become as the event's playout. We become an active participant in this story, even though we cannot contribute to its outcome, we will be drown into its may aspects. We are along for the ride and we need to buckle up. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I do feel this is one of Hitchcock's most cinematic (and my personal favorite) of all his movies. it is also his most autobiographical in the sense that Jeff is Hitch, who is watching the world from his own vantage point and coming to terms with what he sees. In this case all the windows from Jeff's POV are little movie screens that allow us to peer into the occupant's lives. The screens are of different sizes and aspect ratios that help define the scope of those "performances" we will be able to observe, with the larges screen reserved for the salesman and his wife, who will become the primary focus of all our cast of players.
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