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About CathSK

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  • Birthday December 23

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    Fairfax, VA
  1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? The most basic aspect is the guy pursuing the girl, rather than the girl pursuing the guy — which is the traditional way relationships are handled. He does everything he can to impress her; she is annoyed and is “playing” hard to get. He thinks that getting together with her is light and frivolous (at first), but for her it’s a more serious situation. He has to prove himself to her before she’ll consider him a viable suitor. He must be a gentleman for this lady to accept him. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? The sets in this film are much grander in size and very decadent. There are also multiple locations for the scenes of the story, both interior and exterior. And there’s a more comfortable experience of wealth on display. The characters have an ease about them that isn’t boisterous or overly proud. They are “normal” people (girl/guy next door) who happen to be in an extravagant setting. What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s? Women at this time are exhibiting more confident personalities, taking on stronger roles in the workforce and at home, as families are divided by the strife of the day. Life has begun returning to “normal” for American families after the Great Depression… hence the more comfortable feeling about wealth being less of a fantasy and more of a reality again for certain people.
  2. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? Instead of a little black book, Alfred has a little drawer full of his paramours' guns (presumably). Alfred is clearly a ladies’ man and has been through the ropes several times before. He knew the woman hadn’t actually killed herself. He knew her husband couldn’t actually kill him. He just stands there and lets the scene play out. Been there, done that. The props are shown purposefully multiple times, as though they are characters themselves and we are looking to them for a reaction to the action in the scene. We might think, “I wonder what they’ll do next,” and yet they are inanimate objects. The dialogue — much of it in French — may (or may not) be understood by the audience. It doesn’t matter. The scene, the appearance of the husband, Alfred and the woman standing in front of an open door which likely leads to the boudoir… all tell us what is going on: an affair that seems to have gone awry. --- Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. There is silence backing some of the action. It feels like a silent film for those particular moments… and it doesn’t seem to matter. When the woman calls her husband a “grosse bête” as they are walking out of the scene together, you know it’s an insult, but it’s also said lightly without depth of emotion… as though they go through this with each other fairly often and it’s “okay”. The pops of the gun are quick and not shocking or violent. This isn’t a crime scene in a dramatic storyline… it’s just a quirky comedic moment. --- What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? The camera angles that highlight the characters’ emotions/state of mind… the “tricked ya” effect of the woman pretending she’s dead… and then surprise, surprise… she’s not. A sense of being misled, but with a funny outcome. The lovers’ triangle of either mistaken circumstances, or real circumstances being taken lightly… The grandness of the characters, setting and their fashions….
  3. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. In both scenes, the characters are together, yet separated. In the boat, she is in front of him and has to turn completely around in order to interact with him… which she doesn’t totally do. There, they speak to each other without making much eye contact. In the saloon, they are facing each other, but unable to hear each other speak, and making genuine eye contact with each other. In some ways, in the second scene, they are closer to each other than in the first. The eyes are the windows to the soul, after all. Making eye contact is what makes them feel closer together, while the playful banter in the boat makes them feel distant because they’re not making a connection with each other. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. I saw them in “The Merry Widow”, which is an operetta movie musical. I couldn’t stand watching it because they costuming, setting and their voices were so stilted… I’m sorry to say! I couldn’t feel a sense of romance beyond all the satin. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? I actually think the male/female relationship they display in this movie is still the way new couples interact with each other now. Nothing much has changed in the realm of romance. Playing games, teasing each other, ignoring their attraction, yet trying to look good in front of the other. There are always going to be the girls and guys who “will” and the girls and guys who “won’t”… and the distinction between which one of those options is the “right”/“best” one. The norm is that the good girl (who “won’t”) is the right choice. And yet, the girls who “will” are still considered a good option to pass time with until the right one (good girl) comes along. It’s interesting to me that the woman singing and dancing in the saloon does a provocative dance in a skin-tight dress that reveals everything she’s go going on in the middle of the prim and proper budding romance of Jeanette’s and Nelson’s characters. Seems to be a blur there between production code vs. pre-code.
  4. Forgive me if I get any of my historical “facts” wrong… just thinking through it…: Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? The subject matter is very light and “play”ful. Anna Held’s costume is white/light and frilly, the stage set she’s performing in front of is frilly, the song she’s singing is ridiculous, the way she’s singing it is innocuous and coquettish. She doesn’t have a care in the world. Nor do the audience members, as she’s blinding them with her mirror’s reflection of the stage lights – putting them in the act, as it were; the stagelight. The scene also opens with a typical friendly doorman being funny with a gentleman – sharing some inside information. Everyone in the scene – even the doorman – looks rich, well-fed, and happy. When the doorman questions the gentleman about why he gave him 5 pounds – a presumably hefty tip at the time – the gentleman jokes about needing to lose weight. Life must be so carefree for him – or else he was really desperate for the info the doorman gave him. Side note: pound notes are used in England… so this setting isn’t even in America where the Depression hit home so hard. Anna also receives an over-abundance of orchids. Her dressing room maid notes that they must’ve cost thousands of francs. Anna acts ditsy about not being able to read English, even though she sings in it. She also doesn’t seem to care about the price of the flowers; she doesn’t know who they’re from and casts them away as if they are a joke. She changes her mind at the end of the clip since they are so lovely. The attitude of everyone – even the two gentlemen in competition with each other – is light and frivolous. That’s nothing at all like the actual mood of people facing the Great Depression. Granted, it’s a great escape, giving people a sense of hope for the future in a dream world where they can forget their real-life troubles. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals? In other Depression-era musicals, I would anticipate the same type of frivolity and sense of upbeat emotions and storylines; devil-may-care emotions; “que sera sera” attitudes, etc. I imagine Hollywood considers itself to be in a position to lift spirits and entertain the masses at their time of need. One thing to note: in backstage movies… obviously, the characters dress in costumes. They perform. They are knowingly not living in reality when they are on stage, or wearing their ritzy, frivolous costumes. So, there is still a sense of the characters being part of the reality of the times… being covered up by something imaginary. 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 think the men would have made risqué comments to each other – there must be something quirky about “when she blinks, she makes you blink”. And Anna would have been dressed in something a bit more “ooh-la-la” for her routine. I do think her “play with me all day long” song is still rather risqué, daring and provocative.
  5. Well… here are my totally random contributions… - - - - - - - MOVIE: "Identity" - (trailer)motel, rain, psychotic behavior, keys, murder, intrigue, a little bit of humor, and a killer on the loose... - - - - - - - TV SHOW: Murder She Wrote “South by Southwest” episode: (There are many, many other Hitch-influenced TV shows/episodes, of course....) - - - - - - - Speaking of TV… One of the things I’ve realized recently about Columbo is that his movies/TV shows clue us into the murder/crime first, and then we get to watch him put all the clues together. That is what makes him fun to watch; his rumpledness makes killers think he is useless… but in reality he is outsmarting them. Compare this to Jessica Fletcher’s whodunit story style where there is always one little miscellaneous clue at the end of the show that we never get insight into, which makes her seem smarter than all of us for figuring out who did it. I think these shows are a good reminder of Hitch’s desire not to do whodunits. While I enjoy watching Jessica Fletcher work things out that lead to the solution of a crime, it never escapes me that she is given more information than I am, because I am merely an onlooker. I expect her to solve the crime because she knows more than I do about it. But I actually prefer Columbo’s stories because I get to see the murderer conducting the crime at the beginning… so I’m in on it (the story, not the crime) and now all I have to do is see if and how Columbo works it all out. He makes a point of befriending the criminals and then catches them in a trap created by their own egos. ... Oh, one more thing... Just kidding. (Columbo joke. :-) )
  6. Hi, everyone... :-) My question(s)... We've learned that: If Alma didn't like it, Hitch didn't do it. So, I'm wondering: Were any of the movies Hitch decided not to make (based on or in accordance with Alma's advice) later made by other directors?... which ones?... and were they successful? And did Hitch (and/or Alma) have any regrets about not pursuing some of those stories/opportunities after all? Also: Were there any movies made by other directors (stories that had not come Hitch's or Alma's way) that Hitch would have wanted to take a crack at directing himself, if he'd had the chance? Thank you... and thanks for the class! Cath
  7. 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. Music: The opening of The Lodger actually sounds like a frenzy, while the opening for Frenzy sounds refined and reverent to the majestic history of England. In The Lodger, the music makes the death of the woman feel urgent, yet expected, as though the people have been on alert for such an occurrence. In Frenzy, the music suggests that the stateliness of life has been going on. There is peace and calm in the city, and the people seem nonchalant about potential dead bodies being found. Visual: A crowd is gathered by the River Thames in both openings. There is also a police presence in each opening. However… In Frenzy, the people are gathered together for a "good" (harmless) purpose — to hear a speaker talk about strides being made in cleaning up the river. They do not exhibit any fear or anxiety, as they are in support of the man who is giving a speech. Then, a man crowd notices the dead, naked body of a woman floating in the river and calls out, “Look!” Only a few people turn around to look. In The Lodger, the crowd gathers by happenstance, only after attention is drawn to the murder of a fully clothed woman on the street by an older woman. She is seen describing the event to a policeman who is taking notes. A reporter is on scene to take photos and notes for a news story. Everyone is in panic mode and is clamoring to see the body and figure out what is going on. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. Hitchcock likes his long shots… and his focus on the everyday world filled with ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary places. The Tower Bridge, the businesses aligning the river, the boat chugging across the water, the crowd of photographers and journalists, while pedestrians walk casually by, people watching the speech through windows in the background, the mix of social classes, world renown “monuments” in view (Houses of Parliament, Big Ben…)… As the camera flies through the air toward the man giving the speech, we are treated to a view of the river where the dead body will appear, yet it is not in view yet. Once the body appears, we are directed straight to it. 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. In some of Hitchcock’s films. The opening acts as part of the story, essentially putting us in the scene — in Frenzy, we fly in via the camera and find ourselves standing by the podium watching the man speak. This gives us an intimate, personal view of events unfolding. In some of his other films, the opening is not so much a part of the movie, but instead features graphic elements and music that reflect the feeling of the story and its outcome (or the feelings Hitch wants us to have about them), thus securing us as a viewer only, not a participant. Also, at the beginning of his films, we are likely to see a key event happen, or a key object is in close focus — which tells us ahead of time what the story may be about. For example, in Frenzy, we see the dead body of the woman floating in the river. She is actually the only person who really should mean anything to us in this scene, as the people in the crowd are merely incidental; they are not who the actual movie is about, and they will not be seen again. They are simply a means to an end: pointing out that there’s some kind of problem. We haven’t yet met the murderer or the protagonist. It feels like Hitch wants us to feel like we’re on a wild psychological ride for some of his films (Vertigo, Psycho…), and in others, we are falling into emotional entanglements (Notorious, Rear Window, Rebecca…), and others we are on suspense-filled adventures (North by Northwest, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes…). Each individual opening seems to be designed to support the type of movie it is meant to feel like (internal/external to ourselves).
  8. 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. Marnie appears to be: Smart. Careful. Experienced. Posh. Clever. Secretive. Beautiful. Fashionable. Ladylike. Worldly. Sneaky. Self-confident. A risk-taker. Conniving. Calculating. If we didn’t know better, she may be a spy performing a mission, rather than a thief. Oh, and BTW… as it turns out she’s a lustrous blonde, after all! 2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? Keeping on the spy thing (have I mentioned I love Sean Connery?), the first part of the score sounds a bit like the beginning of a James Bond film. Watching Marnie pack up clothes, money, and hidden Social Security cards is kind of like watching 007 prepare for reconnaissance mission with a foreign agent… or something. For me, the music is reminiscent of the haunting, foreboding piece used in Sense and Sensibility (prior to the Main Theme), when Marianne is walking in the rain toward Willoughby’s house, at which point she becomes gravely ill. All the while, we are sympathizing with her broken heart. ( ) The movements in the Marnie piece have a similar sympathetic, foreboding effect here. In both cases, we see a character doing something that isn’t emotionally healthy. 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? At first, Hitch briefly watches the woman walking away as if wondering, “Is that the same woman I saw earlier?” Then, Mr. Hitchcock looks right at me! And I could see in his eyes that he wanted me to keep an eye on that woman with the yellow purse, because something is askew there. - - - As for what it means that Hitch is now suddenly bringing me (us) into the film instead of ignoring me and seeing if I can spot him in a cameo… Well… I think he knows we’re all onto him by now… and he wants to play with us a bit. “Hello, audience. Did you just see that? Let’s see how this story unfolds… together.” It’s also clever because, by acknowledging us, he admits (visually) that he could just stop the movie right there and tell us what’s going on and how it all ends up (or intro it like he did his TV programs), but… no. We must watch and wait to see it for ourselves.
  9. Just some random thoughts today… 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? Melanie and Mitch (M&M) appear to be sparring with each other lightly (pecking?), talking about the activities of lovebirds, as if they themselves may be lovebirds. Birds of a feather flock together. :-) Melanie walks with a bounce in her step, which feels comedic and fear-free. The lady behind the counter is a bit of a ditz, talking on and on (like the chatter of a bird?), which also feels comedic and unconcerned with any serious issues. The lady’s movements are also quirky and bird-like. Yes, Melanie senses some strange bird behavior outside, but the lady at the counter provides a plausible (enough) answer about a storm at sea shifting the birds inland, so any potential fear dissipates quickly. There’s also the sense of comedy when Mitch mistakes Melanie as a shop girl and she goes along with it… and then proceeds to misidentify every bird in the shop. He knows more about them than she does… and yet he hasn’t quite figured out that she was only a customer. 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? We get a good sense of where we are with typical city street noises of people moving through their day’s activities via several modes of transportation (whereas birds have only two options: flight and possibly walking/hopping on their feet). We hear cars traveling on the road, a grunting motorcycle engine passing by, the clang of the trolley bell, horns blowing. You can even hear Melanie’s heels crunching softly against the asphalt as she crosses the street. And, of course, the bird sounds — it feels strange to hear the call of a seabird in the city. The travel signs on the building tops say “Fly” and are airline related. It’s a nice juxtaposition of the natural flyers (birds) as something to fear, while the unnatural flyers (humans in airplanes) being something fun and frivolous (flying to Paris). Also, the travel poster feels like a warning, as if encouraging people to leave here now… get away. Melanie receives a “birdcall” from a little boy passing by who whistles at her. She actually smiles and is flattered, thinking him charming. Then she notices the birds surrounding the city who are all calling out and seem noisy and bothersome. Are they laughing at her… mocking her? Side note: When the birds are circling around the square, we see the “Victory” statue standing high in the middle, fearless and strong, as if it’s telling us: In the end, we shall prevail against the threat of the birds! (Won’t we???) Then we enter the pet shop — Melanie heads up a flight of stairs (note the word “flight”), to the upper level where she is seemingly a few steps closer to the sky, windows give us a view of the outside world. Up there, the birds are tweeting merrily, but they get louder, more intense as Melanie arrives. Melanie is waiting for one that talks to arrive at the shop for her to pick up. The shop lady tells her she’ll have to teach it to talk herself. It’s as if there are some abilities we willingly want birds to have (like talking to us), while there are other abilities we do not want them to have (like flying around and attacking us). I wonder if Melanie’s miner bird will be able to come to her rescue and translate, “Leave me alone, you’re hurting me!” from English to Birdtalk. Side note: The “talking ‘bird’” that arrives for Melanie to “pick up” seems to be Mitch. :-) And vice versa. They remark on how the pet shop birds are contained in cages, suggesting it is to protect their species (as if they don’t naturally mingle amongst other types of birds in forests — and exist just fine amongst each other without human intervention — in real life). Side note: The shadows of birds sitting on a tree branch over Melanie's shoulder doubles the number of birds seen there. 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. Hitch with his two little dogs… Perhaps he’s pointing out that some animals are not considered to be in need of containment (sweet, loveable dogs), while others are kept in cages to keep them from exhibiting their full natural behaviors (birds who are meant to fly, yet can’t fly away because they’re in a cage). However, even the dogs are kept on a leash, to keep them from getting away or out of control. I will guess that the monkeys are there to hint at the presumed origin of mankind and make a statement about evolution — and to pose the questions: Is it really necessary to contain animals and/or make them our “pets”? Are we any different from them? P.S. This pet store creeps me out.
  10. 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? The gray lines mimic a couple of things: rows of knife blades and the high and low volume level of music. They slice their way together through the dark background letting in only a little bit of light (white text). Constantly stabbing at you, chasing you… making you go mad (?). I predict doom and gloom… and panic… especially since Hitch insisted I sit in the theater from the very beginning. The curtain opens and I am immediately stabbed to death, audibly and visually… in black and white, with no room for error. Just a little gray area of psychotic behavior. Thanks, Hitch. 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? The first of the three camera sweeps of Phoenix is from a distance, the second a little closer, the third closer. This hints at a few things: Pan 1: Everyday life going on in Phoenix where, from a distance, things can be overlooked. Pan 2: Getting acquainted with the city on a more personal level, seeing more detail, knowing your surroundings. Pan 3: Getting a little too close and personal with... as it turns out... Marion and Sam. We are getting closer and closer to them, just as the killer will. - - - - - - - The date and time is like the timestamp of an event in a news report. And/or a declaration of a time of death (or birth or...?). Or a countdown. Also, we have a repetition of numbers: 12 11 2:43 So, that’s: 111 22 3 4 Depending on how you break it down numerologically (and there are many ways to do it, but here is one:), the sequence reduces to the number 5: “The number 5 is the most dynamic and energetic of all the single-digit numbers. It is unpredictable, always in motion and constantly in need of change….” What’s her room number at the motel? What’s the highway she drives on? What’s Mr. Psycho’s home address? How old is he? How old is she? How many times does he stab her? Etc. (I don’t know the answers, but I’m guessing there are clues there, too.) - - - - - - - Also… we are only a couple of weeks before Christmas (side note: strange there are no holiday decorations highlighted?) and, being that it’s a Friday, we know that it’s the end of a work week, and the weekend is coming up, and it’s time for relaxation or getting out of town, or holiday shopping, or…? - - - - - - - We go in through the half-closed blinds, just like we entered Uncle Charlie's room in Shadow of a Doubt. Both times, we end up on a bed; in a space where we are invading someone's personal, private space. Both times, the people within the room have something to hide. In both cases, we enter through the window as though we're a fly on the wall... where we can hear and see intimate thoughts/discussions taking place without others detecting us. If we were to enter the room through a door, we'd have to knock, make our presence known, and we'd give the people inside the room time to cover up what they are doing; hide the reality of their situation. Going in through the window means we get to see their reality. 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. Marion seems a bit promiscuous but only because she’s a woman in love, which seems to make it okay. She tells Sam she wishes he wouldn’t come to their rendezvous anymore… because she doesn’t have the will to stay away from him and is hoping that he does; she doesn’t feel right about their brief, romantic get-togethers. [<<At least, that is how I interpreted it!] She’s a lady, but caught up in a romance that she is powerless to avoid; caught up in emotions she can’t control/run away from…. Sounds a bit like Mr. Psycho to me. He can’t run away from/control his emotions either. It’s just a different realm of emotions than Marion’s. Hers are heartfelt yet self-destructive (because she and Sam have to be together in secret); his are heartless and outwardly destructive (and he expresses his emotions/conducts his evil acts in secret). Anyway… we (many of us) can relate to Marion’s predicament, which helps establish her as a main character. Sam’s attention is focused on her and so is ours. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt the men’s eyes in the audience that she is scantily clad. That makes them sensitive to her plight… and when she is hacked away sans clothes later, they’ll be quite disappointed. A thought... Perhaps the constraints between risqué behavior in movies and TV varied a bit and, since this movie was filmed by a TV crew, there was a more relaxed sense of what could be shown and viewed on screen? For instance, soap operas had already been showing dramatic romantic relationships on TV for years at the time. So maybe the public/audience was more ready for it than the movie censors were? P.S. John Gavin = handsome. :-)
  11. 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. Cary Grant is handsome, debonair, manly, smart, witty, sly, and a class act. (And other dreamy adjectives.) Eva Marie Saint is ladylike, gentile, strong, clever, beautiful, sweet, and fashionable. The pair are much like their character counterparts. Roger is a dapper ad man with the ability to think fast on his feet and a creative streak. Grant’s innate qualities readily lend themselves to this persona. It doesn’t have to be invented or created just for the movie. Likewise, Eve’s sophisticated elegance and sense of calm are readily reachable by Saint who just melts herself into the role. The pair are visibly: physically, emotionally, and mentally well-matched. And we know (or can surmise) that both are inherently "good". 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. We are introduced to the R.O.T. matchbook as a prelude to its “use” later in the film that will clue in Eve to his presence. Additionally, it confirms that he *is*, in fact, Roger O. Thornhill, instead of George Kaplan. (George wouldn’t have the initials “R.O.T.” on a matchbook. No one would want the word “rot” on their possessions unless it was their actual initials.) Roger also tells us that the “O” stands for nothing… just like a MacGuffin — the unfortunate adventure he is on. And, when Eve sees the matchbook, she fully accepts and understands Roger as being the man he says (and we know) he is. She knows he’s not the murderer. Or, at least, we think she is aware of that, for some reason. If you go a little father, you can imagine the heat of the flame that lights Eve’s cigarette as the burning desires between her and Roger as they give each other smoldering looks. Etc. :-) Side note: Switching the camera angle from "standing next to Roger, looking at Eve when she speaks" to "standing next to Eve, looking at Roger when he speaks" helps to give us the impression of being on both of their sides. In other words... we feel a sense of balance... and equality between them. We want things to end well for both of them. 3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. We get the monotonous sounds of a train gliding along the track. Plus, soft romantic music setting the tone and pace of their flirtatious conversation. At one point, we hear a train door (that connects the cars) open and close. Eve seems to look around a bit as if looking to see who is entering or leaving the dining car. We hear a clinking of silverware, and dishes being set on the table. Keeping the background sounds low means Roger and Eve can have a quiet, personal, low-volume, private conversation with each other. Are we eavesdropping? Maybe. Can others hear what they’re saying — and is Eve putting Roger in danger by repeating his name out loud? I guess not. No one seems to notice. It goes to show you can be in a crowd and still be alone. (And you can be famous/infamous with your name and face all over the news and still be unknown.)
  12. 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. The music has a sympathetic romantic feeling about it, as well as caution, fear, and yet calm. The Lissajous figures are flower-like, which is also romantic (yet formulaic). The swirling images pull you in as you focus on what’s at the center of them (the eye of the storm?). The loops change from small to large, narrow to full as you enter into them (so to speak). It’s as if you’re moving through a dark tunnel, plodding on and on, moving forward into darkness while obscure colored “lights” (swirls) twist and twirl around you. Where are you going? Who knows… So, I think this film will be about a romance that is on very shaky ground. Things aren’t as they seem. There are challenges at every turn. Struggles to overcome. The fear of confronting the known and the unknown. Deceptions played out. The mystery involved in figuring it all out. 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I’m not sure I understand (yet) why there’s a close-up on Ms. Novak’s cheek, lips and nose. I understand the eye. I understand they are part of her entire face. I understand that we need to know the eye belongs to a woman, and so Hitch clues us in to that. I suppose we are focusing in on the fine details of this woman… rather than seeing her as a full, complete person… because she is going to be mentally picked apart (visually) by the man (Mr. Stewart). And there’s a whole dizzy world in her eye(s). Also… don’t want to overlook the idea that Stewart is attempting to put together his memories and thoughts about whether or not this woman is the woman he remembers by focusing in on her physical traits to summon up commonalities that confirm her identity in his mind. But the single most powerful image… hmm… I guess, for me, it’s the shot of the woman’s two eyes when she looks left and right. It feels like we are all doctors examining her in a physical, compartmentalized, unemotional way. She looks left and right as if the doctor is checking her eyesight; as if looking both ways before crossing the street (looking out for danger); as if concerned and worried about what the doctor (or viewer) is thinking; etc. Also... it alludes to the idea that she may be two different women -- eyes are the windows of the soul... in this case: two different souls/two different women/two different states of mind...? When the swirl is superimposed over her eye, I wonder whether or not she knows what “I” am seeing in there. Is SHE hypnotizing me, or am I just seeing something inside her that isn’t real? OH! And I just realized we've got a closeup on a woman's face again. No screaming. Lips closed. The strangeness is in that eye. Perhaps, because she is seen a different way by the man, she has lost her ability to use her own voice to speak up and be heard as herself? 3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? It feels like the swirls and dancing to/with the music -- as we are lulled into watching with a feeling that we can’t look away. It’s the same way we dance with our emotions toward others when we fall in love and are lulled into the blissful feeling of togetherness, with a (presumed) security and understanding of those people, which may or may not be accurate. Regardless, our love for them causes us to dive into our deeper emotions (throwing caution to the wind?) to take a chance on feeling something for someone. The colors of the swirls change in temperature -- hot, lukewarm, warm, cold -- just like emotions that change as our relationships play out. The constant circling keeps us holding on (watching), while the changing shapes keep us interested (wanting to resolve conflict), while the act of the swirls moving from “at a distance” to “close by” mimic the way we move in and out of relationships, emotions, time spent with those we love, moving thoughts from the back of your head to the front, etc… ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Side note #1: The “V” in “VistaVision” feels like a dagger against the moody music… and is also fortuitously the first letter of “Vertigo”. The way it grows in size as it moves from far away to close up on the screen is reminiscent of the movement of the swirls. Side note #2: I watched this movie a couple of times over the years (years ago by now) and have never liked it. Was I paying full and complete attention to it? Probably not. But I have always remembered this as a movie I didn't like when I saw it. Please note: I ADORE Jimmy Stewart... just not in this movie. Meanwhile (still many years ago) a young man I worked with and I were chatting about Hitchcock movies and he told me that Vertigo is his -- AND EVERY MAN's -- favorite Hitchcock movie. "Why?" I asked, half-interested in his response. According to this man, it's because: "Every man wants to be a woman's knight in shining armor." I completely disagreed with him because I didn't see the movie from his perspective at all. I also thought his perspective on men + relationships was skewed. He himself was not a gentleman and, therefore, not of interest to me romantically no matter how much of a "knight" he may have fancied himself. (Yes, he did ask me out... and I gracefully declined.) And yet, there was another man who told me something very similar about this movie a few years after the first guy. (I also declined to date him. Ha.) Now, having heard Dr. Edwards say in the Lecture Video that, in his 20s, he saw this film in a different light than he does now gives me hope that I may, too, alter my perspective on it. We shall see!
  13. 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? From the beginning (after the opening credits), we move with the camera through Jeff’s window overlooking the courtyard in the early morning. We don’t know him or that this is his home, yet, but… this sets up our own location. The fact that we do not move from this position, tells us that we are on Team Jeff… stuck here in the room with him until further notice. :-) This is our (audience) primary POV, but with the understanding that we are seeing the world through Jeff’s POV. We don’t know who “we” (Jeff) are, yet… but when we get the close-up view of him, we know he’s the guy we’ll be rooting for or concerned about… because of our proximity to him; the fact that he is Jimmy Stewart (who I *LO*V*E*!); the fact that he is hot and sweaty and can’t do anything about it (e.g., sleep out on the fire escape); the fact that he is in a cast and therefore, immobile, etc… these all lead us to sympathize with him from the start. We can relate to at least one (or more) aspects of his current situation. Immediately, we span from right to left and are treated to the full scope of Jeff’s current existence (and ours for the duration of the film). We are clued into the problems (heat and humidity; noise levels of the space the characters occupy (kitty meowing/radio playing/alarm clock going off/dog barking/kids shouting)), as well as the accessibility that other characters have, which Jeff does not have (fire escape, city street, doors, dog basket, walkway, etc.) In fact, we get the full scope from right to left twice. The first sweep seems to be one of juxtaposition — showing us where things are, getting the lay of the land, noticing the peacefulness of the world where a little cat wanders around and a flock of pigeons find a meal on a rooftop. The second sweep introduces us to the people who inhabit this space; their personalities (which may be presumed rather than real); their activities, etc. Both sweeps end in Jeff’s apartment, with a close-up on his face and then a sweep of his apartment so we can now be introduced to him and his world of photography. Because of the heat and sunshine, we also know what time of year it is… so we have a slight sense that life may be a little more relaxed than usual at this time of year in the city… as the season tends to inspire people to go out and seek adventures on vacation, etc. Kids are playing out in the street in swimsuits. (Question: Why are they out so early and on their own when most adults don’t seem to be up/ready for the day yet? But I digress…) We also get a sense of the setting itself being a character, because we are able to see in detail all of the different shapes and sizes and styles and age of the architecture. And we get to know a few of the apartment dwellers: The composer, of course, has a grand window on an upper-level floor, presumably overlooking the city rooftops… which is perfect for one with an artistic soul. He turns off the radio ad for men over 40 because… he’s not ready to feel old yet? Miss Torso appears to be a single gal because she is in a tiny studio apartment and that may be all a showgirl (if that’s what she is) can afford. But she seems perky and is making it all work out. Etc. 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? We first see Jeff close up, in his PJs, with a cast that says, “Here lie the broken bones of L.B. Jeffries,” and then the camera pans left to a broken camera, and then a racecar hurtling toward us is caught in a photograph. We can safely assume Jeff is a photographer (we don’t know if he’s an amateur or professional yet, though) who got a lucky shot of the racecar, which may have been the incident that caused the destruction of both his camera and his leg. He's a risk-taker. He lives life in a thrilling way. Being immobile goes against his grain entirely. We also can't miss that Jeff and the camera are in the same battered condition: Jeff = camera/photography. We continue panning around the walls where we see that he actually is a published photographer who scored the cover shot of a popular magazine. So now we know he is a professional. What we don’t know (yet) is why any of that (his career/his physical condition) matters. His images show that his career assignments have taken him around the globe: war photos, daily life (woman (?) changing tire), bomb exploding, fashion photography. He has seen and done it all — maybe taking certain assignments just to make a buck or two, even if his heart isn’t in it. He has a great eye for detail, is open to pursuing whatever various opportunities life brings him, and has the keen ability to see that something is happening and take advantage of it. We know that his (and currently our) POV (mind and eyes) can be trusted because he is a man of great experience in a great many things. We also see a stash of alcohol nearby, which suggests he either likes to indulge, likes to entertain, or is just a man’s man. 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? I don’t quite feel like a voyeur yet. What the camera angle/POV points out to me is how much all of those other people are willing to show off their private lives. No curtains? No one has anything to hide? No one cares about anyone else? No one values anyone else’s view/vision? No one has any sense of discretion? No one has any modesty? They all think they’re alone and unseen out there? Whatever the case, they shouldn’t be surprised if someone sees them. Right? Perhaps when we are in our own little worlds in the confines of our homes (even our cars when we drive around), we tend to think that everything we do is private (regardless of whether or not we have curtains closed)… or that others aren’t interested in us anyway… so we naturally wouldn’t expect anyone look at us and see anything that would inspire them to actually watch us. I do feel a bit immobile, though, because I am only seeing things from one POV… and I keep coming back to Jeff’s apartment, standing right beside him as he sleeps. It’s kind of like sitting in a stadium watching a ball game… or (of course) sitting in a theater watching a play... and leaning over to the guy next to you to say, "Did you see that?!" or "I don't get it. Can you explain what just happened?" Etc. 4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? Yes, I can see that. There is so much depth to this “immobile” movie, visually and motivationally… characters, scenery, the what-ifs, the chances people take or don’t take, the way they relate to each other... etc. It’s also a film you can internalize as a viewer more than his other works. Hitchcock has put us in a chair sitting in a place where we cannot do anything no matter what we see in front of us. We have no control over what we’re seeing it or how we’re seeing it. But we also don’t want to miss anything. We are held captive in this small view of the world where we wonder, “did that just happen?” and “how could that happen” and “when did that happen?” just like the characters in the movie do. In that regard, Hitchcock makes each of US one of the characters in this movie.
  14. 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. Attempting to capture these in order of appearance: Background imagery behind credits shows cars passing each other on the road, either from left or right. Bruno exits his taxi sort of from the right. The man who carries Bruno’s luggage enters from the left. Bruno turns left, then right, then left to pay the taxi driver and then walks away toward the station, crossing the roadway. Guy exits his taxi from the left. The man who carries Guy’s luggage enters from the right. Guy twirls to the right as he steps out of the car to pay the driver and head into the station. Guy’s tennis rackets (unseen) have criss-crossing strings within the frames. Shoelaces on both mens’ feet are tied in criss-crosses. Walking across shadows on the ground as they walk toward the station. Bruno enters station from the right; Guy enters from the left. Diamond-patterned tile work on station floor mimics the diamond on the cab doors. (I’m not sure yet what diamonds have to do with anything, but….) People passing in front of each other as they walk through the station. As both men (actually all of the people) walk, their legs make a criss-cross scissor pattern. Walking across another floor with a railing and ceiling lights in view -- all with alternating crossing lines as their structure. As they individually walk through the “gate” leading to the train, there is a criss-cross design on the wall (looks a bit like the Union Jack, but in a square). Train rails head in various directions, overlapping each other. You also see the diamond pattern in the shape of the criss-crossing train rails. Bruno enters the train from the right; passes in front of a woman’s crossed legs. Guy enters the train from the left; passes a woman’s straight (not crossed) legs. Bruno’s legs are crossed before Guy knocks his foot as he’s crossing his own legs. The men are sitting across from each other on the train. Guy is wearing a criss-cross tie. Bruno folds his hands across his chest when they talk, interweaving (criss-crossing) his fingers together. Blinds on the train window aren’t criss-crossed, but they do disrupt the scenery outside because their lines cross over the view. Bruno crosses the aisle to introduce himself and shake Guy’s hand; Guy is facing left, while Bruno is facing right. Light coming in from outside the train puts the shadowy lines of the blinds across Bruno’s right shoulder. Those lines make a criss-cross pattern when paired the lines of Bruno’s vertical pinstripe suit. Creepy lobsters on Bruno’s tie are facing opposite directions (fabric pattern). Bruno re-crosses (interlaces) his fingers when he sits beside Guy and tells him to keep reading. Criss-cross = weaving together (of course :-) ) 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. Bruno: His name (to me) sounds like “Brutus” or “brute”. >> Reminiscent of “Et tu, Brute?” and the fall of Caesar. (Also reminds me of Cinderella’s dog in the Disney movie, but….) Flashy shoes and pants. >> Likes to be noticed. Wears his name on his tie. >> Wants to be known. In reality, he’s a “nobody” (compared to Guy). >> Could be anybody. His personality is oppressive. >> You can’t get away from him no matter how hard you try. Shoes are black and white (seemingly). >> Shows outward conflict between right/wrong. Pinstripe pants are two-tone. >> May foretell two-faced personality, just like the shoes. Guy kicks his shoe when he sits down. >> Shows that Bruno is in Guy’s way. Doesn’t seem to care about who’s space he’s infringing on. Fast talker. >> Comes across as a salesman (shady?). On the train, walks in front of lady with crossed legs. >> His state of mind is askew. Guy: Has a generic name. >> It’s as if he’s a “nobody”, but he is actually famous (compared to Bruno). Clothes match, but aren’t flashy. Classic but relaxed. >> Comfortable with himself. His personality is quiet/reserved, so he doesn’t stand out. >> Not looking to be noticed. Shoes are a solid color. >> He is (presumably) a solid guy. (And a solid “Guy”!) Sense of timing. >> He is on time to the train station and boarding, but is much more relaxed than Bruno. Non-talker. >> Prefers to read. Likes to keep to himself. Do his own thing without reference to anyone else (unlike Bruno wearing his name pin because his mom gave it to him). On the train, walks in front of lady with straight (not crossed) legs. >> His state of mind is straight and narrow (i.e., good). 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? During the opening credits, the music is dramatic and classic and serious. The highs and lows in the music hint to the highs and lows and drama we are about to experience in the story. When Bruno arrives in his taxi, the beat peps up and becomes a bit playful (plucky and quick) to hint at his persona and mood and wit. There’s a hint of a jazzy blues feeling in there also. When Guy arrives in his taxi, the music is also playful and light and a bit jazzy, but you don’t get the same sense of pep/frivolity from Guy as you do from Bruno. As the two men walk into the station, the beat walks with them… as though they are marching in time. Then the music shifts to a calmer tone suggesting the classic “everyday” feel of life. Train begins to roll and we get more dramatic music again as something (an adventure?) is lurking ahead… Music quiets down as the two men enter the train car and sit, with a musical emphasis on the moment their feet knock into each other. The next sound is (presumably) the train horn (or something like that) as Bruno recognizes Guy and begins a conversation. Is it a warning to Guy?
  15. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? Using the camera to show the POV of the characters — drunken Alicia awakening to see Devlin, rotating through his entrance until he’s upside-down. Close-up of Alicia’s face as an intro… and just staying there for a while. Lushness of surroundings, even though the scene is quite homey. Use of shadows and light. Devlin is a darkened figure in the doorway against the bright backdrop of the room behind him. He looks menacing, but isn’t; just to Alicia at the moment. Equal weight of time/focus/lines given to male and female characters/actors. Characters are well-dressed and sophisticated, which signifies their place in the world, interests. Use of modern technology (phonograph)… with a close-up on the record player as though it is a character in this scene — speaking on behalf of Alicia and her father. Use of silence as a natural pause in conversation as the record plays. No one feels the need to talk, talk, talk to convey emotion or advance the story. Camera doesn’t dart from person to person constantly. Instead, they stand together and are able to use facial expressions as a means of communication. Reveals a sense of unavoidable closeness between the characters. 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? Alicia has a black-and-white striped top on — references light vs. dark; good vs. evil; sideways view of prison-wear; reminiscent also as an animal (zebra/tiger) print, hinting at a wild nature. Devlin is in classic black and white… a more balance, contained, approved sense of right and wrong. Maybe a bit rigid, too, though. No room for gray area. Blanket looks soft and sumptuous showing a love of texture and comfort. Use of shadows to make some images feel bigger than they actually are (see Devlin as he’s putting the record on the turntable) — sense of foreboding for Alicia. Criss-cross “X” shadows on the wall from the shape of the shelf above the record player. “X” = 10 (?); Also “X” = kisses. Crossing out the past? Crossing out the negative? Etc. Focusing the camera on the turntable needle, watching the record begin to spin, tells us there’s something important captured there (BTW, scary that she was recorded for 3 months without her knowledge). Maybe life spinning out of control. 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? The movie uses Ingrid’s innate beauty and quiet, intense sense of longing to easily wrap you into Alicia's internal struggle… the heart-wrenching and heartbreaking feeling of being in love with someone who you *think* isn’t in love with you. That feeling that you would do anything for them, foregoing your own happiness… and then wind up in the depths of despair because not only do you not have a life with the one you love, but you have subjected yourself to a life with someone you do not love… and who, in fact, ultimately means you harm. Likewise, Cary’s posh, manly sense of playful, witty and devastating authority over his own behavior, and his judgment of others’ behavior, lends itself to the role of a man who is trying to do his job to the best of his ability, while falling in love with what seems to be the “wrong” kind of woman, while punishing himself for falling in love with her (requesting a different assignment), while not being able to contain his passion for Alicia… or his sense of wanting to protect her because, after all, she really is vulnerable. Trying to find a way to believe her. But also throwing caution to the wind. This scene in particular presents Ingrid/Alicia as someone who takes chances but maybe because she’s seen bad things and doesn’t know how to deal with them so she lives life carelessly due to an underlying unhappiness. Meanwhile, Cary/Devlin is the straight-laced morality checkpoint for her with his straight, put-together suit that seems stiff and unyielding. Potentially, like his love for her.
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