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CathSK

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Posts posted by CathSK

  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….

    • Like 1
  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.

     

    • Like 1
  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. :-) )

    • Like 9
  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

    • Like 6
  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).

    • Like 8
  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.

    • Like 8
  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.

    • Like 8
  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. :-)

    • Like 7
  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.)

    • Like 6
  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!

    • Like 6
  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.

    • Like 3
  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?

    • Like 7
  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.

    • Like 3
  16. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this opening sequence? Moreover, what do we learn about or know about the couple through the scene's visual design: the props, the set design or dressing, the decor, the camera angles, the lighting, etc? 

     

    Beautiful girl. We get the close-up on a blonde woman (Mrs. Smith) as our introduction to her. She doesn’t scream, but when the camera is focused closely on her face, there is a knock on the door that causes her alarm (or just concern) and her eye opens to express that feeling.

     

    Familiar setting (for some). There’s the upper-class feeling of life (lush décor; roomy open space; classically styled furniture; items available to wistfully pass the time: playing cards, shelves full of books…)…

     

    Not everything is as it seems. All the trays of old half-eaten food are stand-ins for a crowd of people coming and going. We know they got the food from somewhere, and now it’s crowding around them because they (apparently) refuse to send them back out of the room.

     

    At first, you may think that the trays are left strewn about because of romantic events that have been taking place with a couple that is so in love they can’t take time to clean up. But then you see Mr. Smith playing cards alone and he shivers when he first looks across the room at his Mrs., which tells us (in a playful way) that their relationship is actually strained. And the trays are in left strewn about in defiance.

     

    Quirky sense of comedy. The music helps define the scene. It starts out lightheartedly romantic as the camera pans across the trays, then turns plucky (pipes) and playful where we see Mr. Smith playing cards… until the maid arrives with the breakfast tray. Mr. Smith opens the door and the music turns romantic… as if they are fooling everyone beyond the door that all is well.

     

    When Mr. Smith closes the door, the music turns plucky again (reality of the situation). This also helps the viewer understand the scene as comedy. But even if this were a silent film, you would still know it’s a comedy by the lighting, setting, scenery, and interactions of the people.

     

    Foretelling use of shadows and light. The window blinds criss-cross over the room’s entrance.

     

    People seemingly in a state of fear/trepidation. The office with the man on the telephone has three people standing at the doorway worried about what may be happening… which thrusts a young good man into an extraordinary situation — having to buck up and save the day by confronting Mr. Smith and getting his signature. More shadowy window-blind lines across the outside of the Smiths’ door signifying that all is well, but the way to what you want won’t be easy.

     

    2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the opening sequence of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a typical "Hitchcock opening" based on openings you have seen so far in the other Daily Doses? Why or why not? 

     

    Hmm. Yes and no.

     

    I think it’s dissimilar in…

    - the way the scene feels, with a sense of romance and playfulness.

    - the lack of doom and gloom/moodiness.

    - the warmth the characters show each other. There may be strain, but the characters are approachable with each other.

    … etc.…

     

    I think it’s similar in…

    - the way the people react to/with each other, with a casual sense of knowing and everything based on reality.

    - the feeling of everything not being as it seems.

    - the play between light and dark, and shadows.

    - people being secretive and sneaky, or playing tricks on someone else.

    - a sense of deceitfulness.

    - the way the camera makes sure you’re focused on the right thing so you don’t miss the joke or action.

    … etc.…

     

    3. What do think about the casting of and chemistry between Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Do you think both are well cast for this "comedy of remarriage?" Why or why not? 

     

    Both actors look good together on screen and, by that, I mean they balance each other. One does not outshine the other. She is beautiful with a girl-next-door quality, while he is handsome in a boy-next-door kind of way. She is feminine. He is manly. Both have strong wills. In that regard, they are well-matched.

     

    They both also seem at ease with each other. Their sense of timing, the way they relate to each other (comfortable), the way their actions mirror each other (she smiles, then he smiles) works. Their spirits/energy seem/s playful and natural. So… as far as I can tell (not having viewed the entire film yet), they were well cast for their roles.

     

    Also, neither one of them is annoying to watch or listen to. They aren’t being nasty to each other… they simply aren’t getting along 100% perfectly. But they do know how to deal with each other… and there is an underlying kindness in their relationship. He brings the breakfast tray to her (doesn’t throw it at her out of spite)… and when she thinks he’s left, she shows concern… until he pops up and all is right with the world. His playfulness brought her out of her defiance… and she was glad for that.

    • Like 4
  17. 1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

     

    The scene opens with a street view of innocent kids playing — shot straight on by the camera. The scene fades into a view of a doorstep and then a window — each shot at a crooked angle by the camera. The window leads into Uncle Charlie’s room. Therefore, we instantly know something is askew with him. The camera angles are an instant visual comparison of right vs. wrong, as are the shadows lying across Uncle Charlie’s face when we first see him.

     

    The boarding house lady enters and notices the money he has piled up beside him on the table and floor. She mentions that “Everybody in the world ain’t honest, you know. Though I must say I haven’t had much trouble that way.” She is good and honest, but acknowledges that not everyone is — yet she doesn’t realize she’s talking to one of the people who isn’t.

     

    We know Uncle Charlie isn’t a good guy because of his dark demeanor. He doesn’t smile and greet her. He doesn’t thank her for her concern about him. His lack of desire to speak with her or humor a conversation with a well-meaning woman creates a sense that he is living in his own world playing by his own rules.

     

    The two men (good guys? — lighter colored suits; engaged in casual conversation with each other makes them seem normal) who are waiting to speak with Uncle Charlie don’t acknowledge him when he comes out, but they follow him down the street. We know from this that Charlie is wanted for some sort of wrongdoing… and that he doesn’t even care! He is confrontational enough to approach the two men without fear and walk past them. He thinks he’s above everyone.

     

    2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations.)

     

    Both opening scenes take place in New Jersey. The one in The Killers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtfUrnKpyLg&t=518s <<I think this is the right one) takes place in the dark at night (and yet it’s only 6pm — hmm). In SOADoubt, the scene is daytime, with full light. Both openings have two men tracking down another man. The Killers has snippy, snappy conversation that I expect from film noir, while in SOADoubt, the boarding house lady is the one doing all the talking. She is snappy, but not snippy. :-) The two snippy characters in The Killers are condescending and rude, thinking they’re above everyone else. They seem to be causing trouble just to make trouble. There’s a lot of double-talk and going around in circles in the conversation.

     

    Fast-forward to the scene in the room with the Swede lying in bed and Nick coming to tell him about the two bad men: We get a fast camera pan from L>R from the Swede in bed to the door where Nick enters. We don’t see the face of the Swede; it’s in a shadow. We see Nick’s shadow looming over the bed, fearing for the Swede’s life. The Swede says, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” His voice, like Uncle Charlie’s, is low and monotone, but in this case, it’s a softer voice. We might even feel sympathy for the Swede, even though we haven’t seen him yet. But we already know we don’t like Uncle Charlie… because we have seen his face… his expression… in the light… and we don’t like it.

     

    The Swede admits he’s done something wrong and is willing to receive his punishment. In contrast, Uncle Charlie is agitated by anyone having the nerve to even tell him he’s done something wrong, let alone punish him for it.

     

    Our POV in The Killers is looking at the bed from a point beyond Nick (e.g., the door); whereas in SOADoubt, our POV is from the wall beside the bed, looking over Uncle Charlie toward the boarding house lady and the open door (full scope of the room).

     

    - - -

     

    Other observations…

     

    Again, we were treated to the skewed camera angles upon meeting Charlie. We saw his carelessness by the way he treated the money at his bedside. We see him fully dressed lying down in a supposed inferior position, but his state of mind is very controlled. For the time being.

     

    The boarding house lady pulls down the window shade for Charlie to sleep and the room goes from light (good/safety) to dark (evil/dangerous). Once she leaves the room, Charlie feels comfortable there in the dark and finally gets up out of bed, sips his drink, breaks the glass angrily. From this, we see his physical strength, yet weakness of mind. To him, life seems to be as fragile as a glass that can be picked up and thrown away/broken for no real reason.

     

    He re-opens the window shade and looks straight at the two men saying, “You’ve nothing on me.” This line can be taken two ways: 1) You have no proof of anything I’ve done; and 2) You are not as smart, etc. as me. Of course, neither of these are likely true. The two men wouldn’t be watching him if they didn’t know something he’d done… and they were smart enough to track him down. In other words, they are definitely “on to” him.

     

    Charlie stands in the half-light/half-dark space… and even when he moves, the shadows of the window frame make the light criss-cross upon him. He heads out the door (#13, which some people fear). He walks straight toward and beside the two men trailing him. They hold back but play it casual. They walk in lockstep with each other to the beat of the music, each with their left hand in their jacket pocket -- almost like they're dancing together.

     

    I expect the Sharks and the Jets to appear any minute now... :-)

     

     

    3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

     

    At first the music is grand and cheerful and gala-worthy… but then the tone and pace turns curious/cautious. The music disappears altogether when the boarding house lady appears. The conversation ensues and then, when she pulls down the window shade, it returns with an ominous mood as we now see Uncle Charlie go from light to dark — his fake persona that he shows everyone, compared to his true evil self.

     

    The music heightens when he throws the glass. We then hear the low, thunderous undertones of the bass drum before he re-opens the window shade. Suddenly, the music (and the room) is lighter — like bubbles floating about the air — and Uncle Charlie’s mood turns to one of self-confidence and the ability to con everyone… and then it all gets very dramatic as he walks out the house and we wonder what he’s about to do. It quiets down when he steps outside and casually, but offensively, walks past the two men who then (again) walk in lockstep to the low pounding notes of a piano. Those piano strokes seem to say, “We’ll get you in the end!”

    • Like 5
  18. 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?

     

    We are introduced to Mrs. de Winter II only by voice. There are no people in the scene (no crowd). The location is particular to the character speaking — the house called Manderley — rather than a public location where life and activity are going on.

     

    There is no sense of humor in the narrative voiceover, or when the characters do appear on screen. The scene is instantly depressing and moody, with an overgrown and destroyed home. The story is not happening as we watch it unfold before us. It happened previously and we will learn it as we go, in past tense.

     

    Mr. de Winter is clearly burdened by torrid thoughts that cause him to stand on a precipice between life and death. He tells the woman who screams not to stand around screaming — which is in contrast to Hitchcock’s silent scream. If there is anything humorous about this scene at all, this is it. She is afraid, but it isn't a fear for her own safety. It's a fear for the man's.

     

    There is music, but it is soft and dreamlike to complement the voiceover.

     

    2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

     

    There is an overlay of imagery and variety of camera angles that give Hitchcock away as he attempts to show state of mind and times. The focus on psychological state of a character (Mr. de Winter), and the female scream... which isn't silent at all this time. Instead, she clearly states, "No! Stop!".

     

    The lead woman is blonde. The characters have an elegance about them. The woman is doing an everyday thing — walking — but alone, not as part of a public scene.

     

    We transition from dream state to reality because of the way the camera moves… first seemingly floating through the air along the driveway, through the gate and forest and along the house… and then we clearly stop at the top of the cliff with Mr. de Winter, overlooking the water. We sympathize with him immediately, wondering what events brought him there. And we are equally curious about the woman walking along the cliff -- wondering why she chose that time and place to walk...

     

    3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?

     

    The way Mrs. de Winter II talks about Manderley is with a fondness and carefulness that is similar to the way she might talk about a family member. There is a gentleness there. A love of the place. Or is it a sense of dread? Her description of the house gives it character. Also, the words she is saying to describe it are romanticized.

     

    We first “meet” the house under a full moon, which feels romantic in nature. The clouds blocking out the light foretell the light and dark elements of the story. We wonder who the narrator is actually speaking to. And the fact that she says she dreamt she visited Manderley *again* tells us that this is a common enough occurrence for her that others (whoever she’s talking to -- us? a psychologist?) would (or should) understand is natural.

     

    That Mrs. de Winter II was able to pass like a spirit through the gate and along the drive presents a sense of ghostliness to the scene. Is the house haunted? Is the narrator dead? Is she crazy? All sorts of questions arise…

     

    When we enter the house through the broken window, we expect the room to light up and be completely restored as in days gone by (as in the movie Titanic, when the scene blurs from a view of the ship ruined on the bottom of the ocean to the first day it sets sail, as elder Rose tells the story of meeting Jack, etc.). Instead, we go through Manderley's window and find ourselves standing on the cliff.

    • Like 6
  19. 1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 

     

    So… this is going to be a fun train ride… in one way or another, eventually.

     

    Of course, we have the “everyday” crowd full of all types of people waiting with their luggage at the inn, an “everyday” location. Everyone is in a good mood, or at least… there is nothing dark, mysterious and fearful about this scene. It’s just that sense of life going on as usual, regardless of what characters and/or actions are taking place. (Noisy men dropping their belongings at the desk… followed by the innkeeper dropping everything to focus on the famous woman and her companions as they walk in.)

     

    The music is light and airy, like the sound of birds chirping. In fact, there is a bird in a cage in the room. You get the sense you’re in Europe from the folksy music tune and it’s not hard to imagine dancers in their traditional dresses doing a folk dance.

     

    When the older woman leaves, the wind blows in and the door opens and closes on her before she exits. Sets up the fact (along with the people wearing coats) that this is a cold setting and season.

     

    Cuckoo Hornblower pops out of the clock at an inconvenient time (that’s his job after all) to add to the chaos of the noisy men who blow in with all their gear.

     

    English is the last language used by the innkeeper (Boris) to inform everyone that the train is delayed and they need to get a room ASAP. This tells us that the travelers are from a variety of countries… and is also kind of funny because the Englishmen are left out of the conversation and will likely get the dregs of which rooms may be available. “Why didn’t he say so in the first place?” Charters asks, though the innkeeper did announce it 4x in different tongues. Boris smiles when they stand and they seem to think they’ll get some sort of preferential treatment now, but… nope. The ladies have arrived.

     

    The ladies and the innkeeper know each other well enough to tease and taunt each other. They have a room ready and waiting for them, unlike the others.

     

    “It’s a bad wind that blows nowhere no good,” the innkeeper says… and we may recall the wind blowing the door shut on the older woman.

     

     

    2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 

     

    Caldicott and Charters will help keep the mood light with their lighthearted banter. They will also keep us on our toes as they notice and comment on certain aspects providing alternate interpretations of events taking place. That gives us something to think about and pay attention to. Their commentary and observances are just a little askew, though they both seem to think they are quite right about everything. They also appear to be a moral compass. Standing for (what you think is) the national anthem is the right thing to do, even if you’re the only ones doing it, etc.

     

    3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

     

    The entrance of the ladies standing in the doorway appears to be the bright moment of the Boris’ day. He has been dealing with the hassle of the avalanche (phone/desk work) and crowd of people… and then he sees the ladies (seemingly old friends/buddies) and is instantly relieved and relaxed.

     

    Iris does most of the talking and shakes Boris’ hand first, showing that she is the “leader” of her girl group. She also walks beside him while the other two ladies fall back, looking around, not participating in the conversation (but we are). The camera walks with them, sweeping through the room until they stop at the stairs, where Iris is on a step higher than the other gals. There is also more light on her face that draws your eye to her… and then she leads everyone up the stairs.

     

    Everyone else in the room stands back, confused and dismayed not to be taken care of just as well as Iris, after having been waiting in the lobby for so long.

    • Like 7
  20. 1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? 

     

    Patterns:

    • Location is an “everyday” place with lots of people in it.
    • People from all walks of life are present — young (baby crying) and old.
    • There is an audience watching a show/theater performance (The Pleasure Garden; 2 showgirls at party in The Ring, etc.).
    • Man in trench coat and hat as in The Lodger.
    • “MUSIC HALL” flashing before us similar to “TO-NIGHT GOLDEN CURLS”
    • Protagonist has a pleasant disposition.
    • Lighting on protagonist’s face is bright. (Brighter than the rest of the scene.)

     

    Deviations:

    • The audience is “part of” the show they are watching — interacting with it/the people in it.
    • Strangers interacting with each other in laughter.
    • The announcer on stage is speaking directly to the audience sharing information and asking them to join in.
    • Merry music playing at the beginning that is part of the show, not just incidental music applied to the movie.
    • People are having fun with each other, cracking jokes.
    • Camera pans the crowd — from the POV of the stage (not the announcer or a performer) — as announcer speaks off-screen from the stage.
    • Silly jokes thrown in (“Mr. Memory has left his brain to the British Museum.”)
    • Details about the protagonist: We know where he’s been/where he’s going/what he’s interested in because he asks Mr. Memory the distance between Winnipeg and Montreal (3x). Mr. Memory then notifies us that the scene is not taking place in Canada by nodding and saying “Ahh, a gentleman from Canada. You’re welcome, sir,” to the protagonist.

     

    2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? 

     

    From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think the character seems more “innocent”. He does have a jovial, smart, wistful look about him. Lighthearted. Unencumbered by the ebbs and flows of life. Not worried. Not feisty. Not moody.

     

    3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? 

     

    Ahh. I seem to have commented on this above. :-)

     

    • Like 6
  21. 1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

     

    The characters are going to be “more important” because of their relationships with each other. Technically, being an audible film, characters can be developed more fully/personally now because you can hear the intonation of their voices, get real insight into the expressions on their faces, and they are saying foretelling things, such as “I might have been killed, you know. You realize that my last day here might have been my last day on earth.” (1:21) Actions are not exaggerated to carry the story; movements can be more subtle, which means that the story isn’t just about what happens; it’s about who it’s happening to and who is causing it to happen. The plot can take a slight back seat to character development (not that they aren’t both integral).

     

    2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

     

    Abbott is a foreigner and only an acquaintance. He knows the skier somehow — or thinks he does. He covers up what he’s thinking by putting on a smile. Example: the “awk-awkward” look on Peter Lorre’s face when he appears to recognize the skier. He is stunned for a moment, and then goes back to being jovial. It’s unclear if the skier recognizes Abbott, but he did notice that Abbott looked at him funny and appears to be concerned about it. It’s likely they were both faking it through that conversation once they saw each other. But in the skier’s case, it seems like he’s genuinely concerned, while Abbott seems clearly to be hiding something. I would expect him to be the type of person who hides himself behind a mask of pleasantries.

     

    3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

     

    There is a close-up of the skier’s face when he realizes he’s going to crash. This is similar to the silent scream at the opening of The Lodger.

     

    There is also a crowd of people watching a “show”/performance by the skier coming down the mountain, just as there was an audience watching the show in The Pleasure Garden.

     

    There is someone doing something he shouldn’t do in The Pleasure Garden — smoking beside a “no smoking” sign. While, in The MWKTM, there is a little girl with a dog who is doing something he shouldn’t be doing — getting in the way of the skier.

     

    There is a mix of generations in the characters, both male and female in each of the three stories. In The Lodger, it’s the mom and pop running the boarding house. In The Pleasure Garden, it’s the mom and pop looking out for Patsy. In The MWKTM, it’s the man in the white scarf (girl’s father) and the woman in the hat saying (forebodingly), “Lucky if you didn’t catch your death of cold” to Abbott.

     

    There is a cute little dog who steals the show in both The MWKTM and The Pleasure Garden.

    • Like 3
  22. 1. In this sequence, describe how Hitchcock uses sound design to put you into the subjective "mind of Alice"? Be specific.

     

    When the older woman in the hat (Hat Lady) is speaking, all Alice can hear her say is “knife” over and over again, as Alice has a mental preoccupation with the events that occurred involving a knife. It’s actually interesting to note that both the Hat Lady and Alice have a preoccupation with the subject of a knife – only one of them isn’t internalizing it. Hat Lady is, instead, speaking openly and freely about it from a position of strength. Meanwhile, Alice is silent and thoughtful and overcome by the idea of a knife, not saying a word about it but being just as affected by it.

     

    When the Hat Lady is off-screen saying “knife”, Alice’s eyebrows raise each time, becoming more and more startled by it. It’s as if she’s being stabbed over and over again by the Hat Lady’s speech — even though the Hat Lady is saying, "I could never use a knife on anyone."

     

    At the dining table, when Alice has returned from helping the first customer, the gentleman notices she's a little out of it and asks, “Another row with Frank?” Suddenly a dull metallic chime sounds (door bell) that affects Alice as though it’s reminding her of something (bad) that happened.

     

    2. Describe the different ways that the sound design of this scene operates in counterpoint to the visual track. For example, how does Hitchcock set up the shot where the knife flies out of Alice's hand so that it registers a shock in his audience? Pay attention to both what is happening visually and aurally. Be specific. 

     

    One of the things I like about the sound treatment in this film is that it gets louder (or begins) when a door is opened (we walk into the room with Alice)… which helps show that what is going on around Alice is not necessarily something she is a part of; participating in. The Hat Lady at the counter is prattling on about the murder, and Alice walks in with a head full of thoughts of her own about it.

     

    Alice is now in the noisy scene but the conversation is not really registering with her. She steps into the phone booth and is silent again and we focus solely on her and what’s she’s going through. Then she steps out and sound pops on again… and we are still with silent Alice and her thoughts because we walk into the room (essentially) with her again.

     

    At another point, the camera is focused on the action at the dining table, where we see Alice sitting quietly. In fact, everyone seems to be silent except the Hat Lady who is standing in the doorway chattering on and on about chattering on and on. So, in this moment, the scene is both silent and in sound. If it was a totally silent movie, we wouldn’t even hear the woman at the doorway talking. We would simply presume everyone is silent (until told otherwise by a card). But the Hat Lady’s constant off-camera chatter reminds us that: 1) life is going on around Alice, even if she's not fully participating in it; 2) people are oblivious to what Alice is thinking and feeling; 3) not everyone is as affected by events as Alice is (Hat Lady interprets the events from a strong POV vs. Alice who seems to be victimized by it)… etc.  

     

    When Alice is asked by the gentleman at the table to pick up the knife to cut the bread, we watch through a close-up camera view as Alice awkwardly reaches out for the knife and takes it into her hand as though she is unsure how to hold it, or how she should hold it, to slice bread -- rather than use it as a weapon. The repetition of Hat Lady’s word “knife” (whether real or imagined by Alice) makes Alice freak out and toss the knife to the side. The screech of Hat Lady's voice is all Alice could take of it.

     

    Then a customer arrives and asks Alice, “No news of the murder?” Alice softly says, “No, not yet,” even though that’s all anyone's been talking about the whole time (with or without actual details about it).

     

    3. Why do you think this particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema? 

     

    Hmm. I would say that most movies are created from an external POV. We are watchers only, not participators, of the scenes before us. And/or the subject matter of the film doesn’t rely on sharing someone’s internal thought process. We are not meant to feel what they feel, only to (sometimes) experience them feeling it and possibly relate to them from a less-invasive POV.

    • Like 3
  23. i agree with that, many films have long stretches of silence. North by Northwest with Cary Grant running through the corn field. Suspicion with Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine first meeting on the train is silent, Sabateour- the ending on the statue of liberty is silent. I also liked Hitch's comment in one of the videos where he says. If a person is verbally happy he shouldn't be visually happy or vise versa- it's over doing it- I think that's why his films work and many films overdo it. He used his silent roots often and effectively, much like Charlie Chaplin did when he started doing talkies and through out his career

     

    I really enjoyed hearing Hitchcock's comment about not repeating the visual with the verbal, too.

     

    One of the first things I learned when I entered the wonderful world of advertising (my career)... was how words and images work together to tell the full story. As a copywriter working with art directors, we carefully craft ads that don't say the same thing twice. If the image speaks volumes on its own, I don't repeat it in the copy (and copy is generally kept very short as it is)... and if I happen to write a great headline (?), the artist will select a photo that supports it but doesn't say it all over again.

     

    Here's an example off the top of my head (and likely not a great one, but....): Let's say a client wants to showcase their strength in a certain area of their business.

     

    Preferred ad: The artist chooses an image of a fortress/tower. And the writer creates a headline such as "Always ready." [<<Creates (hopefully) an emotional response that inspires the reader to want to be part of it (whatever the product/service is).]

     

    It would NOT be advisable to do it this way: Image of the product/people performing service with headline that says: "Our xx is powerful.” [<<Copy is nothing but a label on the image here, which leaves the reader thinking, "So what?", and then requires more explanation in body copy to differentiate it from competitors and make the reader want to take any action other than moving on.]

     

    - - -

     

    Anyway… as I said, I liked hearing that Hitch applied the same technique! Maybe we (creative team) even got that idea from him! :-)

    • Like 3
  24. 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? 

     

    Moving along on the dolly with the boys (Roddy & Tim) evokes that feeling of having to go see the school principal or going to your boss’ office for an unexpected talk. You know what that's like and you don't want to do it. It puts you there in the moment with them, and because you are walking with them and looking at the scene from their POV, you automatically sympathize with them. However, if the characters were ones you didn’t want to sympathize with, moving together with them in this way would feel very uncomfortable. You may be thinking, “Umm, I’m not with these guys. Get me outta here.” The tracking shots ensure that you stay with them whether or not you feel comfortable/uncomfortable. The action on the screen cannot escape your view of it.

     

    2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? 

     

    Especially in a silent movie, I think that using a POV tracking shot helps the viewer focus on the story; you know you’re not missing anything happening off to the side of the main view, etc. It keeps you alert to where each actor is; you don’t lose sight of anyone, so if they do something behind someone else’s back, you can be in on it, rather than not realizing it happened at all. Meanwhile, in a movie with sound, you would be able to hear someone doing something out of frame. (Example: In “Dial M for Murder”, you don’t just see the doorknob shake, you hear the key fumbling in the lock beyond the door. Without this particular sound, you may think that someone is just jiggling the handle to see if the door is open. The sound of the key clues you into the idea that whoever is out there in fact has a key and is using it to get inside.)

     

    3. What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples.

     

    1) There are still the close-up shots of women's faces. At one point, in Downhill, the girl looks (to me) like a witch speaking an incantation, cursing the boys. Quite a difference compared with the helpless woman screaming in fear at the beginning of The Lodger. 2) The eye movements of the actors (specifically the men) in Downhill feels a lot more natural than in The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger where people seem to be overacting. In Downhill and The Ring, the art of acting natural seems to have taken hold. Less camera-awareness on the actors’ part. The relationships between characters feels real now, not put-on. 3) Characters are given time to act — taking time to follow them through the room (Downhill) rather than seeing them enter the room and then cutting straight to the desk. There is more real emotion being shown in Downhill -- a precursor to the pent-up emotions displayed in the erratic montage sequence in The Ring. 4) The space the scene takes place in, in Downhill, is a large decadent space, compared with the closed-in, humble housing in The Lodger and The Pleasure Garden. In The Ring, we are treated to a ritzy party in an expansive home setting. 5) Scenes are becoming brighter in each movie... which helps to lighten the mood... which allows for more in-depth characterizations because people/things are less hidden in the shadowy darkness of stage lighting -- but also because when you do see a shadow now in a brighter room, it can be given more meaning than all the other shadows due to darkness in general (if that makes sense). [A technical advancement?] In other words... it *seems* that scenes are not as dependent on light vs. dark to express good vs. bad. Etc.

    • Like 4
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