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Craig0904

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About Craig0904

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  • Birthday 09/04/1962

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    Mount Laurel, New Jersey
  1. Having a full time job and a commute made it difficult to do the class and see the films scheduled on TCM. What made me think I could do both? But I made a conscious decision to do the class. TCM will always be showing Hitchcock films. I also have a few in the DVD collection. A free class on The Master of Suspense is a one-time event. I have another 35 years to catch up on Hitchcock films I had never seen before, re-watch my favorites, and add to my home collection. So happy I took this class! Personally fulfilling to say the least and I learned so much! Best, Craig
  2. There is no doubt in my mind. I will always remember this course as one of the most informative and fulfilling experiences of my life. I have learned so much about Hitchcock and film-making in general it makes my head spin! I've already warned all my friends I will be boring them to death with my newfound knowledge. We've covered The Hitchcock Touch in so much depth. I thought I would challenge my memory and compose a list of 'touch points' I can use a reference when watching a Hitchcock film, or others for that matter. Feel free to challenge my list, add to it, or create your own. The Hitchcock Touch > The double chase > The wrongly accused man and mistaken identity > Ordinary people forced into extraordinary circumstances; need to depend on their own wits > Camera work 1. extreme and meaningful close-ups 2. tracking and dolly shots 3. high-angle shots > Unique editing style (nod to Soviet Montage) > The 'MacGuffin' > 'Avoid the cliche at all costs!' > Star Power 1. brings in audiences and money 2. brings in established personas 3. already on people's minds and in the press > Humor (Light and Dark) > Give the audience more information up front than provided the character on screen > Prominent locales > 'Evil may lurk in the most innocent places'. > Romance > Suspense and Horror genres laced with frequent psychological undertones Hitchcock Style Points, Motifs, and things to look out for: > Trains and transportation. > Keys. > Staircases. > Windows. > Mirrors and reflections. > Music that supports suspenseful editing and imparts emotion. > Color palettes that signal emotional and psychological response. > The icy blonde. > Carefully chosen wardrobes. > The cameo.
  3. For me, there are a few that jump out quickly: The film What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Dressed to Kill (as mentioned in the Lecture Notes) How about Night of the Hunter with Robert Mitchum? I think Laughton would have been as good as Hitchcock if he had kept at it. My current obsession on TV: Good Behavior on TNT with Michelle Dockery (shifting identities, thievery, dark humor). Michelle's character is fairly close to Tippi's in Marnie. And as I posted on Padlet very early on, Spielburg had said that when 'Bruce' the shark would not cooperate when making Jaws, he looked to inspiration from Hitchcock. He decided Hitchcock wouldn't have needed to show the shark to produce suspense. And the first American Blockbuster is born! Awesome lists everyone!
  4. 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. In my opinion, the similarities are the Thames River as a locale. Also, Frenzy begins with a crowd scene which is similar to The Lodger. In The Lodger, we are shown the killer’s ‘signature’ – the note that says The Avenger. In Frenzy, if you look closely, we can see the necktie floating around the victim’s neck. The necktie being the killer’s signature in Frenzy. We are not immediately introduced to a main character as part of the crowd (think 39 Steps opening, original Man Who Knew Too Much). The difference is that in The Lodger, it took place on a foggy evening (you’d expect a Ripper-like murder in that setting). In Frenzy, it is broad daylight – the tourist’s London - – a very ordinary event such as this politician’s speech. In the opening scene of The Lodger, the concept of ‘mass-produced news’ is very much in the forefront (teletypes, newsrooms, newspapers, rapid communication). In Frenzy, you get the idea that politics and the societal state of London will play a much greater role. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. The crowd scene – we’ve seen him use crowds so often in his films. I’d argue that his earlier use of crowd scenes were more effective because it served not only as a reference for the time and place and setting, but also to eventually focus on one particular individual in the crowd who will play a major part in the story. The high shots – This particular high-shot is done outside. We get the Travelogue aerial tour of the city. We’ve seen this kind of shot in The Birds and Psycho, more recently. Hitchcock used very effectively both indoor and outdoor high-angle shots in so many films. But we can surely see that Hitch is definitely taking full advantage of the technology now available. An ordinary setting – There’s nothing scary about the setting. It’s perhaps an overcast and cool spring day in London. People are listening to a speech by a politician. What could possibly go wrong? A body floating down the river. Disturbing scenes of violence disrupting a perfectly lovely day and setting. What I also noticed is perhaps the ‘duality’ of the two Towers of London Bridge. The concept of duality has been mentioned several times and it’s interesting that Hitch takes the camera between the Towers, rather than over them which would probably have been much easier. Cameo – Hitch is back to his more humorous cameos here. How? By doing absolutely nothing! By being the only person not applauding the speech, he sticks out like a very disapproving thumb. 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 think the simplest answer works best here as I try to remember as many Daily Doses as I can. Hitchcock uses his opening shots to establish the time period and place of the film. Additionally, I feel he also uses the opening shot to establish who our main characters are and how they fit into the context of the film. We might get an idea of what they do for a living, or perhaps we’ll get information about the socio-economic status of the characters. Vertigo, North by Northwest – we know Jimmy Stewart is a cop/detective. Cary Grant is an urban professional. Middle/Professional class. Strangers on a Train, original Man Who Knew Too Much – we get a feeling that the people are upper-middle, or upper-class. They have money. They can travel. The Lodger – Seedy, uneducated, lower-class London. Frenzy – There isn’t any information provided in this film other than a general sense of time and place.
  5. I’ll be honest. I’ve only seen Marnie once, many years ago. I don’t remember being very impressed. I think it may be time to re-watch it with a fresh perspective. 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. Based on the opening scene, the character of Marnie is completely in control of her actions. There is nothing hesitant in her movement. When we do see her face, which is not often in the opening scene, we do not see fear; we see purpose. We are instantly convinced this woman is guilty of something. The scene is one of transformation. She literally throws away her old life into a suitcase. Everything is tossed haphazardly into a crumpled mess. Her new life, her new identity is treated with care and precision. We know already that she manages different names and social security numbers. What’s interesting is that we see Tippi from behind. We see her from hip to neck. We see her hands. And that’s really all we need to see at this point to make our initial judgements about the character. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The two words that come to mind in the beginning of the scene are: thoughtful and meditative, when referring to the score. But then I notice as we approach of the moments of her physical transformation, the tempo quickens and reaches a crescendo when she becomes the ‘cool blonde’. After that, I notice the score disappears into thin air. Hitchcock no longer wants Hermann to take us on the emotional ride with Marnie through the transformation. He wants to place the character in a more realistic setting of a bus or rail terminal with the appropriate background noises. The score takes us through Marnie’s calm, cool, calculated moves, on through the cathartic metamorphosis, and then back to a more realistic context. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? In the case of Marnie, it doesn’t seem to be an ‘accident on purpose’ anymore. It’s almost like Hitch is just phoning it in now because it’s something that’s expected of him. There’s nothing entertaining or humorous about his cameo here. Before this he’d be walking dogs, showing up in a newspaper on a lifeboat, missing a city bus. Here, he actually turns toward the camera as if to say ‘we good?’
  6. 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? This is scene has so many of the elements of a romantic comedy. There’s an immediate physical attraction on the part of both protagonists. Their first encounter begins with verbal sparring and a match of wits. There's a slight case of mistaken identity. They flirt and get underneath each other’s skin at the same time. To mix things up, an incidental character is added to the scene – eccentric and kooky old ladies are always a good addition to a rom-com. In less than three minutes, we learn that Melanie is a girl who is used to having her way - whether it be birds or men. Mitch is a guy who is intelligent and who will not be taken for a fool; more likely he will turn the tables on you. Both like to take control of situations in their own way. But the movie is not a rom-com in its totality – the scene is off-kilter. First, we have the ominous shot of the seagulls hovering over San Francisco. Second, there’s the sound effects which I will address in the next question. 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 last time we were listening to flirtatious, romantic banter like this was on the train in North by Northwest. Soft, sexy, jazzy music just within earshot, to underscore the dialogue and add to the romance. Here, the tone of the dialogue is similar – male and female throwing blunt love-darts at each other. But instead of music we get the sounds inherent to a bird-shop. Only the chirping is incessant; it’s presented at such a peculiar pitch and frequency to make us want to exit the shop as soon as possible – running with our fingers in our ears. It really does take some of the joy of watching these two go at it. Even now we start to hate these birds; though they are harmless in their cages it feels like they are ganging up on us. 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. Hitchcock walks out of the bird-shop with his two dogs; his stride seems quick and purposeful. He appears for a moment to be a little haughty; perhaps angry?. At first, I thought – ‘this cameo means absolutely nothing!’ But, now that I think about it further – it’s a bird-shop! Why did he go in with a pair of dogs? He’s not leaving the shop with a birdcage or package so we have no reason to believe he is interested in owning a bird. Did he ‘return’ a bird? Now, after all these years, I am wondering about this. Gee, thanks Professor Edwards! ???? I look forward to reading other interpretations of the cameo.
  7. 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, there are a few elements to the opening credits that really set the tone. First – the speed. Everything – the music, the graphics move along at such a rapid pace. And if in reality, the titles are going along at a normal pace, it’s the graphics that seem to increase the acceleration. The music (as mentioned, comprised only of strings) cover an amazingly broad landscape of emotion – frenzy, anxiety, fear, brooding, loathing. The effect of the score is ratcheted up ten notches by these credits that appear ‘broken’, coming together for seconds, only to be broken again. The effect on the audience is jarring, confusing and disconcerting. Naturally, Mr. Hitchcock is alluding to the broken nature of our villain’s state of mind, and setting up an emotional baseline for the audience as the film begins; one that will be revisited aurally, several more times before the final credits roll. The audience knows this will not be an entertaining and adventurous spy-romp like North by Northwest, but a much darker place. 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? The time and date stamp reminds of just that! It seems to me to serve as documentation of Sam and Marion’s whereabouts (like a modern security video). While Psycho is considered by most people to be a horror film, I feel it’s important to note that a great part of this film presents itself like a police procedural. It’s a sort of ‘tail-end film-noir meets Dragnet’ treatment. Remember the MacGuffin and the chase! This is not all about Norman Bates and his Mommy. The story essentially begins as a crime drama with Marion on the run from her boss and the cops. Ah, the windows again! Once again, the audience enters through the window, like a prowler, an eavesdropper and an interloper. It’s like Rear Window and Shadow of a Doubt, if memory serves. Another touch I noticed is, again, Hitchcock is introducing his main character using a roving or tracking camera. We saw him do it very early on with crowds at theaters or sporting events. Now – he’s scanning the city of Phoenix and flying in through one singular window. Once again, Hitchcock is the voyeur. Or can it be argued he is really making his audience the voyeurs – making us feel uncomfortable with the midday tryst we’re witnessing? 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. Hitchcock obviously had a huge amount of clout (or cash) to get this pushed through the censors. The only way I can think of answering the question regarding Marion Crane is that she is the very first face we see, juxtaposed against John Gavin’s groin and torso. But on a deeper level, we sense she is very complicated. She’s in a cheap motel, having an affair, yes – but she’s no hussy. Sure, she’s having a great time, but she makes it clear she’s looking for something honorable. Marion Crane is essentially a good girl who makes a lot of bad choices. What I find rather interesting is that for the introduction to a main character, we see an awful lot of her back and the back of her head. And once again we see this pattern of male dominance, or possibly misogyny. The woman lying down on the bed while the man (even if it’s her father in Shadow) standing above her. Remember Theresa Wright lying on her bed while her father comes into the room? Remember Alicia from Notorious lying down when Cary Grant walks into the room? And here again in Psycho. And just about every time the man and woman form something close to a perfect perpendicular angle. Note: It's interesting to note that Hitchcock had very specific instructions to theaters screening Psycho, to maximize the impact. He had wanted his audience to 'absorb' what they had just seen. This takes me back to the time I saw the film Seven many years ago in Chicago, with friends. After that film, I felt shell-shocked and brutalized for the rest of the night. I wonder if that's what Hitch was looking for in his audiences after seeing Psycho?
  8. 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. In my opinion, the general-public is only now getting to know who Eva Marie Saint is. This is early on in her career so there isn’t much pre-existing knowledge. She gets to play a role; whatever role she needs to play. She is playing a beautiful femme-fatale named Eve. Is it mere coincidence? Eve - the first woman; guilty of the original sin? The character is complex – she obviously wants him (sexually) and it’s as if she’s daring him to breach that icy wall she’s constructed between them. She’ll be had, but on her own terms. Cary Grant is the polar-opposite. Everyone knows Cary Grant. He’s already an icon and his own archetype. In this playful scene, it’s like Cary Grant is playing a man who is doing his best impression of Cary Grant. His ‘nice face’ and his ‘recognition in public’ is Hitchcock’s nod to Grant’s status in the mind of the audience. There’s no doubt he’s going to ‘get the girl’ – he’s Cary Grant for Heaven’s sake! 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. I love this scene. It’s one of those quiet Hitchcock scenes that establish a relationship between the characters. It’s light and romantic and humorous. It also provides playfulness and sexual tension. The matchbook, in my opinion, is just a break from the ‘back and forth’ between the two characters. For me, the cigarette and the match are even more important. These two props take us beyond foreplay. The relationship has gone beyond playful at this point – it’s become lusty and combustible. Even with that little bit of dubbing, I’m surprised it still passed the censors! This scene is scorching hot. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. Really, I feel the music and sound in this scene are gratefully underplayed. In this scene we really should be paying all of our attention to these two characters – their faces, their voices. As far as effects go there’s not the cliché clickety-clack of the train tracks – you can hear just enough of that to know we’re on a train. When you do hear the music, it’s soft, and sexy. It supports the action without upstaging it. I’ll be curious to see how the rest of you handle this question.
  9. 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. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s analysis, the eyes are the windows to the soul. Once again, Hitchcock uses this concept quite well, but even more disturbing in this case. What I get the from the title sequence images is that that the film will be about dizziness and hypnosis. I also get the feeling this movie could be about female objectification, obsession, intrusion, and possibly misogyny. This brings me to my answer for Question 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. The single most powerful image for me is the extreme close-up on Kim Novak’s eye with the spiral coming out of it. My reasoning is that we have violated this woman to some degree and gotten way too close. We are reading into her psyche, pluming into her mind. The spiral starts coming out and it’s almost as if Bass or Hitchcock (or both) are our psychologist, telling us to relax; we’re getting sleepy. This image sets the tone of hypnosis that carries us through the rest of the title sequence. And that’s without even mentioning the music at that moment. Additionally, when Hitchcock uses close-ups of her cheek, her lips, her nose, it all feels rather sexual and objectifying to me. I feel like I have compartmentalized this woman; taken her apart. It’s all rather violent in a very subtle way. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? I think it would be helpful in this case to know which came first to answer this question effectively – the title sequence (art) or the score. Or were Saul and Bernard sitting together in a studio working it out at the same time. What I will say is that the combination is totally in-sync. The crescendos come at the perfect moments – jarring us, making us feel uneasy. The score covers a broad spectrum of feelings – from the soft, hypnotic tempo of the woodwinds to the bombastic horns. While listening to it I felt like I was riding waves in an unsettled ocean. All at the same time, the spirals are placing me into a kind of trance. Because isn’t that what Vertigo, the movie, is all about? It’s a hypnotic trance, anchored by human lust and desire and obsession. Could the images work with a different score? Of course! Saying no would mean that there’s only one potential combination for a successful piece of art. In this case we’re just lucky that Mr. Hitchcock had the foresight to pair Misters Hermann and Bass.
  10. Rear Window is one of Hitchock’s films I never get tired of watching. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I believe that as well, and I think Hitchcock did too. There’s so many moments in his films that focus on eyes. Always in extreme close-up. That’s not used as much in Rear Window. I think another commonly used theme in Hitchcock’s films is windows. Buildings shelter people and their private lives and desires from the outside world. Windows become a building’s vulnerability; an access point, the same way eyes do for people’s souls. Think about how many times you’ve seen a Hitchcock film where the camera intrudes on the characters by passing through a window. So often, we don’t walk in through the front door with Hitchcock, or already in the room with the characters. With Rear Window, so much is discussed about the voyeuristic themes. But I have to say: if it weren’t that the weather was so damned hot, I’d be wondering why all those people have their windows wide open? Just thinking out loud, folks. Thoughts? 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 feel the first few minutes of the minutes of Rear Window are like a survey of the neighborhood. We’re just getting to know the neighbors, without intruding. Rear Window is just crammed with tight POV shots making us feel we are the ones looking through the camera lens. Not here; not yet. Jeff is facing away from the window so it’s really meant to draw the audience into the scene. I almost feel like we’re a friend of Jeff’s who’s popped in; looking out the window. Or maybe I’m considering renting an apartment in the building. Don’t you always look out the window to see who the neighbors might be before deciding to move in? I also get the feeling it’s the beginning of a weekday. Not very busy and perhaps most people have already gone to work. I’m sure Miss. Torso works nights! 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 give us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? I think way before we ever hear a word from Jeff, we get the feeling he is bored and frustrated. As the camera surveys his apartment, we know that he is a world traveler who does not mind getting into some dangerous situations. We also learn that he may perhaps have a reckless nature which results in a bashed-up camera and a cast on his leg. He’s a man of action; a man of the world cooped up in a sweaty summer apartment. His reputation also takes him to fashion photography in (or about) Paris. This is probably his closest connection to Lisa or perhaps how they met. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? I do not feel like a voyeur yet. Perhaps the exception is watching Miss. Torso brush her hair. There is nothing going on here that any average urban dweller doesn’t do every day by simply looking out the window. And even if someone caught you looking, you’re more likely to wave back! Without getting directly to the issue of Thornwald just yet, the voyeuristic aspect doesn’t really come into play until we begin to see our neighbors’ frustration, sadness, loneliness, or maybe even their joy. For the first few minutes, I just feel like one of the neighbors. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I think using the word ‘most’ when it comes to just about anything, gets you into trouble when making any claims. But when you really think of it, aside from the color and the elaborate set, this film really is built on well-defined use of camera technique, and editing. Of course, there’s a great screenplay and capable acting. But the film is so well-done, we are never wanting for changes of scenery, crashing waves against a cliff, or a speeding car. It’s all done within the courtyard of one city block. That said, I think you can make the argument that it is one of Hitchcock’s most cinematic films – or in other words ‘pure cinema’.
  11. My personal thought about the opening railroad tracks shot: While Richard and Wes’ observation about the ‘criss-cross’ totally makes sense, I had another thought before reading the lecture. I felt like I was strapped to the front of that train, with absolutely no control to stop the train or change its direction at it hit the criss-crossed rails. It leaves me feeling very anxious and it reminded me of the German Expressionist concept of fatalism we learned early on. I may be completely off-target here, but that’s feeling I had when I watched the film recently. Strangers on a Train is a personal favorite of mine. And now I will look at it in a whole new light! 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. 1. Their cabs and their respective shots enter from different angles. 2. Obviously, the railroad tracks as mentioned in the lecture video. 3. Several times, the editing shows them walking in opposite directions, but towards each other, leading us to think these two are on a collision course with each other. 4. They are sitting on opposite sides of the train car, facing each other, still facing opposite directions until one breaks the ice. 5. Their shoes/ankles are crossed, until the ‘accidental bump’. Destiny and fate step in now. 6. They appear to stop criss-crossing when they both seem to file through some kind of ticket/toll. 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. Apparently ‘shoes make the man’ according to Hitchcock (kidding). I find this sequence of shots with the shoes fascinating! It’s even more engaging than the version in the opening of The 39 Steps. We take a look at their shoes and we immediately start making snap judgements about who these men are by the shoes they’re wearing. And I think we could argue the as the film moves on, our perception of the characters changes from our initial reaction based on just shoes. Clothing: Bruno: He’s flashier and more formally dressed. Wears a personalized tie-pin. The fancy shoes. He wears a hat, adding to the formality of his dress. He’s dripping with charm and personality like a Cary Grant wannabe – because there’s also a ‘cheapness’ about him. It seems to me when the cab door opened we really couldn’t see any luggage and he just breezes out of the car onto the sidewalk. Guy: More casual. Wears plain oxfords. Despite wearing a jacket and tie, he’s wearing a sweater vest which lends itself to a more casual look. He looks like a college-kid. He doesn’t wear a hat. When the door opens to his cab we see many bags in the back seat, including a tennis racket, which again leads us to believe he is more casual and sporty. I’m left with the feeling Guy is planning an extended trip and Bruno is taking a day trip. Camera: I do not really see as much effect with the actual camera work as there is most with the editing choices for the scene. Dialogue: Guy’s lack of dialogue leads us to believe he is young and inexperienced when it comes to meeting people and making small talk. You can tell he’s quite uncomfortable when Bruno strikes up a conversation. Bruno, on the other hand, is trained. Whether it’s by his rich parents or an upper-class prep school, he’s been taught how to speak, carry conversation, introduce himself. He is one of those people who has been trained to be so self-assured, they break down other people’s walls without a care. He’s the one carrying the conversation and notice how he’s the first to leap across the train car and burst into Guy’s personal space. 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? Certainly, correct about the visuals! I had to watch the clip 3 times before I could focus on the score. I’m only going to focus my answer on the time after Hitch’s name appears as Director. The music is light and filled with humor with lots of fun instruments to listen to. I feel the music here serves to pace the scene. More importantly thought the composer uses different instruments and melodies to introduce different characters. Remember! We’re only seeing their shoes so we may not know who they are. The pompous sounding horns introduce the drivers and their officious role of baggage handler. Then the light, ‘plinkety’ sounds of strings and woodwinds to introduce our travelers, exiting their cabs. The pace quickens as their paths are about to collide. The volume and tempo shifts again as we’re pushed by the train along the tracks to our destiny. Once we’re back on the train, we go back to our light ‘traveler’ music. Then, as soon as we see their faces – the music stops. We no longer need the music to provide the information and cues – we have the actors faces and their words.
  12. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? Of course, for starters, the POV shot of Grant coming towards her while she’s waking with a hangover. The way the camera is rotating is dizzying! I had forgotten about the scene from Downhill. The tracking shots that are becoming more and more apparent. The extreme close-ups even when it means uncovering ‘unattractiveness’ when we see Bergman waking up drunk. You could argue it’s the only way to peel back her layers to see what kind of person she is. More and more I am noticing Hitchcock’s love of creating depth in a scene using hallways (or rooms, or sidewalks, etc.) as a vehicle. In this scene, Grant is walking from one room to the next – the camera is still – it doesn’t follow along with Grant as he’s walking. You get the sense that the space is actually being stretched in a 2-dimensional art form. His films are gaining a more 3-dimensional character than they did with the very flat British talkies. Another case of ‘depth’ was in Shadow of a Doubt in the beginning when the two detectives were following Joseph Cotten down the sidewalk – placing Cotten between the two but further along on the sidewalk. The canted angle of the camera throws he audience off-balance for a moment giving a deeper sense of the character or the situation. 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? First, I noticed Bergman is filmed on her back in a similar way Teresa Wright was filmed on her bed In Shadow of a Doubt. It leads me to believe the character is in the middle of some deep thought in the case of Wright, or in the case of Bergman (hangover aside) she’s sick and tired and doesn’t care. The character appears weak. There’s a male character standing over each of them taking control (MacDonald Carey or Cary Grant). For costuming, Bergman gets the dregs. She’s still slumming in what she wore the night before. Grant is dressed to perfection – crisp suit and tie. She’s the rumpled party girl and he’s the starched and button-down government agent. When watching this scene, it seems to me that Bergman is always just barely out of focus. When the film cuts to Grant, the image is crisp. That makes complete sense to me considering what is going on in the scene. The shots go back and forth between the two, but they do not share the same space until the end of the clip. When they are together, it’s not in an open room or sitting on a sofa. Hitchcock has them squeezed into a doorframe. They are pushed together uncomfortably by the set and the frame. They are forced to deal with each other. Based on this scene (or the entire film if the 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? The casting is perfection if we consider the 4 Functions: 1. Grant and Bergman are huge stars and will attract an audience. 2. Giving Grant or Bergman the glamour treatment with tons of close-ups is a dream job for a cinematographer. 3. The audience’s perception of the actors is tremendously well-aligned to their roles. Grant comes across as debonair and sophisticated, but with a darkness I don’t think his fans knew how to define. Bergman is a beauty but earthy and approachable at the same time. She can be glamourous when called upon but you sense she also has dirt under her fingernails. 4. I’m quite certain both them had their share of publicity at the time. They were probably rarely out of the press (imagine if they had Facebook back then!) It totally conforms to their public personas. Grant is suited-up and flippant, humorous, and dark all at the same time. Grant in real life was a pretty complicated man, and certainly had a darker side to him. Bergman is the reluctant beauty. In the film she is forced to use her looks and sexuality against her will and I think that in real life she probably was uncomfortable in the role of the glamour girl. I am given to think in real life she was a free-spirit as well as an Earth-Mother.
  13. I’m just not that eager to watch a Hitchcock screwball comedy. I have not seen this film but I’m certainly willing to try. My thought about Hitchcock using comedic touches in his suspense films is: you just cannot have a film that has nothing but suspense and fear all the way through! You can only inflate a balloon so much before it pops, and you don’t want it popping too soon. Use comedic moments to give the audience some relief before putting them through the ringer again. That said, I wonder if the opposite is true for a Hitchcock comedy? Does he need to insert some suspense or tension at some point to relieve the comedy? I guess I’ll find out when I watch the film. 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? Personally? I do not see any of Hitch’s ‘touches’. This feels like a film directed by the same men who directed The Awful Truth or My Man Godfrey. If I felt Rebecca was ‘un-Hitchcock’ I take the comment back. At least Rebecca had a Gothic flair to it. From a production standpoint it’s made crystal clear to us these people are swimming in money. They have a team of people to cater to their whims and in true screwball fashion, are driven mad by their loony employers. The couple eats well, dresses well, sleeps well. Their problems are certainly not the same as the typical moviegoer at the time. But that's what the world needed - escapism and romance. 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 do not see this as being a typical Hitchcock opening at all. As we’ve seen in each film his style changes and progresses, but where is the crowd scene? Where’s the theater, or the restaurant? This is light comedy that starts in a rich couple’s bedroom. What do you 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? Both of them are talented actors. They seem to have great chemistry. However, they are no Hepburn/Tracy, or Grant/Dunne. However,in the film's defense, 5 minutes is not quite enough to judge their entire performance.
  14. 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. As we’ve learned already, Hitchcock is interested in handing over as much information as possible, up front. We know Uncle Charlie is a criminal. Innocent men don’t leave crumpled up bills spilling over the table onto the floor. We get the sense that his psychology is changing from the beginning of the scene to the end. He goes from calm and cool and collected to a rage, and willing to walk right past the cops trailing him. At one point in the scene, when Charlie’s back is to the camera (which I am sure has meaning but I can’t just grab it now), the shadow of a pull cord for a window shade is swinging slightly against the far wall Charlie is facing. I had the feeling it was like a hangman’s gallows as he stood there looking at the wall. We no longer have any Shadow of a Doubt! We’re in the know. Our doubt will be transferred to his niece in California he will visit. 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 don’t consider myself an expert on film noir at all. And my first impression is that this scene takes place during the daytime. However, I do love the way expressive shadow plays a role in the very beginning of the scene. They almost seem like prison bars. And that makes sense because we get the feeling, as the scene progresses, that Charlie feels trapped. I can imagine Hitchcock’s direction to Cotton: ‘You are an experienced criminal and you’re tired of the world. This is not your first time outwitting the cops’. I also get the sense of how buildings and walls and windows figure heavily in film noir. Buildings and walls keep us safe or keep something at bay. While windows allow light and observers to peer in. Somehow, it’s very much about secrets, especially when they are big buildings made of brick and mortar. 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? The music creeps up on us. It starts off silent as we enter the apartment and he is speaking to the landlady. When Uncle Charlie is left to his own thoughts, the music builds and builds even as he makes the decision to leave the building and walk past the cops. Not only does the music pace the scene and build suspense, but I feel it also is closely aligned to Charlie’s psychological state of mind. Talking to landlady: quiet Alone and absorbed in thought: music builds Becomes angry, frustrated, trapped: music reaches a crescendo. Appears at the front door: the music softens a bit. He’s calmer now and ready to carry out the first move.
  15. Rebecca is a gorgeous film, but I do not ordinarily think of it as a Hitchcock film. After the many other films we've visited it seems that there are a number of Hitchcock touches that are missing in this film - the chase, and I don't even think there's really a MacGuffin in this film. One could argue that Max is the 'wrongly accused man' but even then I'd say it was a stretch. I do like the idea that we will begin seeing a new pattern of supporting players take a more prominent role in his films. It's a valid point made in the lecture discussion. 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? What we've seen in other opening clips is a public place like a theater. Also missing is a gathering of people or a crowd to set the tone. Hitchcock employs other methods here to establish a mood. He starts off using a POV, tracking shot down the long driveway. What I also noticed is that he uses ‘nature’ in this opening - the fog (which we'd seen in The Lodger), the twisted cypress trees (we'll see more trees in Vertigo), and the angry, crashing surf against a jagged cliff face. Using light and shadow, the gothic mansion seems to approach us (rather than us to it) and it appears to be moving and breathing. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? I can see a more modern and sophisticated take on German Expressionism here. The man standing on the edge of the cliff reminds us of the fatalist aspect. Max is a very guilty man; he suffers. The play of light through the trees and the fog, creating ominous shadows. The tracking and POV shots help us to get into the psychology of the character - the second Mrs. DeWinter through her narration and the drive down the path. And the high shot above and behind Max as he contemplates the surf below – it is dizzying; we feel like we’re about to topple over as Max is about to jump. (Note: if you consider what Hitch had against blondes, let’s also consider what he does to acrophobics like me). 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?I’ve probably already answered this question above. The house itself seems alive, like a witch, inhabiting the woods. The voiceover narration seems to me to be about as far from Hitchcock as you can get. My sense is that: Selznick is forcing Hitchcock to stay truer to the source material. Secondly, I have the feeling that, while the entire scene is rather ‘dreamy’ it moves the story along quicker. It may have ended up being a much longer movie had he not set up the opening like this. In this case, I believe the narration works.
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