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SNPF

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Posts posted by SNPF

  1. Prof. Edwards

     

    In reverse order:

    Thank you for an interesting, enjoyable class. Now a day without a Hitchcock film has something missing (in a good way.)

     

    I watched F. W. Murnau's The Last Laugh available on DVD. If you do another Hitch class with TCM I strongly suggest Asking TCM to see if they can broadcast it. Really provides an insight into Hitchcock's inspiration and loyalty to an art form. Doesn't distract from giving The Master his due.

     

    Will you be repeating the course, how do I find out what & when future courses will be? And will Noir course be repeated? I wish I'd known of that and regret missing it. (That's 3 questions.)

     

    Thank you, and TCM, for this course. Wonderful to see cable living up to it's potential.

     

    Peter Lyte

  2. :D  I'm not sure if this is even a good movie but I really enjoyed it thanks to our discussions and class. (I know it doesn't rank up there with movies by Coppolla, DePalma, etc.) I was just amazed and pleased at the number of Hitchcock touches, themes, shots it referenced. Just discovering them throughout the movie was enough. It's currently available on Netflix:

     

    In The Shadow Of Iris (2016)

     

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5598110/

     

     

    Oh, and of course there's always Stanley Donen's Charade, which does rank up there.

     

    Third times the charm, meaning I'll stop re-editing this adding as a film comes to mind:

     

    Silence of the Lambs - Strong female protagonist plus educated, intelligent, sophisticated villain who we secretly appreciate.

    • Like 1
  3. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison. 

     

    Well, the most obvious difference is that Frenzy is filmed in color as opposed to The Lodger being in black and white.

     

    The Lodger’s opening begins in the single location set on a street Frenzy begins with an arial shot, flying down the Thames River allowing a leisurely view of London and the films titles. 

     

    As others have pointed out, The Lodger begins with a woman screaming followed by cards repeating the words To-Night “Golden Curls” four times, then proceeds to immediately show a covered body and the reaction of a bystander. In contrast Frenzy begins with a politician delivering an obvious government promoting speech concerning restoration efforts reclaiming the Thames. This speech goes on for a bit before an uninterested man in the crowd looking in the opposite direction of the crowd spots a body. 

     

    In The Lodger beginning a woman screams, followed by a policeman taking her statement then proceeds to a crowd full of people reacting. In Frenzy a man’s shout only draws the interest of a single woman at first. When she proclaims “what is it?” a third person turns to declare “it’s a woman.”, at which point a fourth person turns and then the crowd collectively turns to see what the fuss is about.

     

    The victims body in The Lodger is shown covered lying with face pointed upwards in the street; in Frenzy the victims body is completely nude, floating in the Thames face down.

     

     

    Generally Hitchcock’s cameos consist of him doing some sort of activity before the camera bare headed (not always, but generally.) In Frenzy he stands motionless, wearing a bowler.

     

    Opening music of The Lodger is emphatic, adding urgency and intensity to a frightening scene almost immediately. Frenzy opens with music that might very well be used as guests are announced at a royal ball. It goes on laconically as the titles are shown, ending in a ordinary and obvious political event, non-threatening to the point of boredom.

     

    The Lodger opens with an illustration in the German Expressionist tradition showing a shadowy figure; while Frenzy opens with the a “real” presentation of a flight over the Thames and a coat of arms.

     

    2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific.

     

    Public place and tourist landmarks

    Lodger - opens on bridge near Thames

    Frenzy - opens with flight over Thames showing Parliament, London Bridge

     

    Crowd as a witness and reaction

    Lodger - crowd witnesses interview of bystander

    Frenzy - crowd attending political event that is interrupted with bystanders reaction

     

    Murderer proclaims his identity without giving his real identity away

    Lodger - murderer leaves note with emblem and words The Avenger

    Frenzy - necktie around neck of victim, hallmark of the necktie strangler

     

    Woman victim:

    Lodger - woman lying in street

    Frenzy - woman floating in river

     

    Media methods of production:

    Lodger - entire process from single reporter to news papers being distributed.

    Frenzy - video news crew filming and possibly broadcasting event

    (If Frenzy was made today it would be the crowd using cell phones and posting footage to YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)

     

    Hitchcock mirror (in reverse) referencing previous beginnings of his movies. See question 1. Hitchcock was coreograhping in reverse the openings of what he considered his first British success to what he may have well known would be his last British movie.

     

    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 Frenzy Hitchcock probably realized the helicopter dolly he wanted for Psycho. Opening with a distant shot of a city, then moving in closer and closer emphasizing to the viewer that he is drawing them in closer and closer to focusing on what will follow. 

  4. 1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

     

    Marnie is in the process of changing from one identity to another. She is thorough in her approach, replacing clothing, changing the color of her hair, discarding and replacing previously worn clothing with new. She may have done something illegal indicated by the large amount of money she has dumped from her hand bag into a suitcase. Also she seems a bit arrogant as she appears to approve of her transformation from dark hair to blonde, as if this touch will completely fool anyone looking for the dark haired version of herself. She feels she has securely interned  her previous appearance in a station locker, and bought herself time to disappear by throwing the key away in a place where it may never be found.

     

    2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

     

    Hitchcock is using Herrmann’s score to maintain interest  in what otherwise be an obvious trope of someone in the process of changing their identity. While Marnie is exchanging clothing and personal items the music seems sad, as if at a funeral reception; then slowly increases its tempo. It swells to a dramatic point only when Marnie washes out her dark hair coloring, heralding her approval of the return to her natural look as a blonde and satisfaction that no one  would recognize her as Marion Holland.

     

    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? 

     

    The variations I noticed was Hitchcock for a split second breaks the fourth wall by staring at the camera, that the cameo seems much shorter than I expected and that it ends abruptly. It may be that Hitchcock, by first staring at Marney walking down the hall, focuses attention on her, then has the cameo be as brief an interruption of the story as possible. One of my classmates stated Hitchcock looked like a house detective. Along those lines I imagined he was someone leaving the hotel room after having an illicit rendezvous, and upon being discovered in the hallway staring at another woman, guiltily turns away. 

     

    Personally Marnie is one of my least favorite Hitchcock films. I’ve never been able to watch it all the way through. I may try watching it without the sound on (unfortunately I’ll miss hearing Herrmann’s beautiful score). Watching Eyes Wide Shut that way allowed me to appreciate what a beautiful film that is. Hopefully that will allow me to enjoy Hitchcock’s story telling.

     

    • Like 6
  5. 1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? 

     

    Emphasizes typical Hollywood “cute” boy meets girl combined with references mirroring romantic meet of Grant and Saint in North By Northwest:

    Roger not aware that Eve knows who he is vs. Melanie not aware Mitch knows her identity

    Roger attempts to hide his identity vs. Melanie pretends to be a sales clerk

    Eve makes clear she desires Roger vs. Melanie being only annoyed by Mitch

    Eve reveals Rogers true identity vs. Mitch revealing who Melanie really is

     

    1b. What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

     

    They are alike in that they enjoy playing a prank of deception. Melanie is willing to enter a situation on a whim, feeling confident she can bluff her way through, especially with someone like Mitch. Mitch is thorough, leading Melanie on in the manner of an attorney, which of course he is.

     

    2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

     

    The sound of the birds outside the pet shop is used to give a brief hint of ominous things to come. They are loud enough to be more prominent than the street traffic, Melanie’s footsteps and almost obscure the admiring whistle of boy passing by. Once the action moves into the pet shop the sounds take the audience in the opposite direction, seeming to be nothing more what one would hear in a pet shop. The initial volume is lower than that of the gulls outside, plus it rises and falls in accordance with the spoken dialog allowing the characters lines to stand out.   

     

    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.

     

    Hitchcock’s placed his cameo in the beginning of his movies to avoid the audience being distracted from the plot by constantly waiting for it’s appearance later in the movie. Also references North By Northwest cameo featuring Hitchcock entering from frame left only to be stopped by doors closing in his face vs. his passing thru doorway to exit frame left in The Birds.

     

    Some classmates have stated he uses the cameo to emphasize a note of anxiety by leaving the pet shop in a hurry. One even mentioned a dog looking upwards as if to point to the birds above. I can’t see either. Hitchcock seems to be walking at a normal pace, for a man that has two dogs tugging at him; and the one dog on the right appears to almost break the fourth wall by glancing at the camera or someone on the set. 

    • Like 1
  6. 1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

     

    The combination of the score and titles have always represented the slashing from the shower scene to me, however that’s after watching the movie. Not going any further into the film than the titles the effect is a constant jarring sensation by making the viewer react to the staccato tempo of the music and trying to keep up with the constant changes reading the titles.

     

    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?

     

    Wish I was this observant,

    “tallguy58: 

    Checking a calendar shows that  December 11 fell on a Friday in 1959, the previous year of the film's release. It was first shown in New York in June of 1960 only 6 months after "the events in question".

     

    For those that like revisiting filming locations, head to Phoenix in 2020 for the next Friday December 11. Make sure to do it in a 1957 Ford Fairlane.”

     

    My 1st response was gives the film the appearance of being rooted in reality. And may have been Hitchcock’s way of commenting on changing mores by preceding the following scene with Janet Leigh and John Gavin.

     

    2b. Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? 

     

    Emphasizes the voyeurism of the audience.

     

    2c. Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

     

    References Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window.

     

    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.

     

    If you’re a “guy” then there’s no way you’re going to not think of Marion as a main character The sexuality and sensuality of the scene with her on display in a bra and slip rivets attention. (For the ladies there was John Gavin’s bare chest.) Dialog in the scene has her as the main character by giving Gavin only reactions to her demands that they stop sneaking around while continuing to physically prolong their love making.

    • Like 3
  7. Television, yes, but was Robert Redford in any of Hitchcock's films? I can't think of any.

     

    "With the very recent passing of Martin Landau, I'm just wondering who's left among actor's appearing in movies from Hitch's "golden age.""

     

    Details, details. 

     

    If I stretch "golden age" through the entire 50's and early 60's (IMNSHO  :rolleyes: Psycho and The Birds should be considered part of H's golden age):

     

    Laurinda Barrett

    Nehemiah Persoff

    Brigette Auber

    John Gavin

  8. 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.") 

     

    Till this question I’d never considered the idea this was an “in” joke playing off Grant’s and Saint’s fame as movie stars. I always thought of this as a way of Grant’s character referring to his notoriety from being pursued and an attempt on his part to determine wether Saint’s character recognizes him from newspapers as the UN killer.

     

    1b. How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. 

     

    For me, it’s Cary Grant being Roger Thornhill. Noted for being suave he’s playing the character perfectly. I didn’t really see him as playing Cary Grant. I wasn’t that familiar with Eva Marie Saint with the result that she seemed the iconic Hitchcock blonde more than a Hollywood movie star.

     

    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. 

     

    I’ve always thought the matchbook was an attempt by Grant’s character at self-depracating  humor. However, as jfedelchak points out in his post on this forum: “This will become a unique and powerful tool of covert communication in the climax of the film.”

     

    3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. 

     

    This is the 1st time, due to question #1, I’ve considered this scene as “playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other”. In the 1st 2/3s of the scene the sound of the train tracks and canned music in the dining car might be Hitchcock’s way of providing a bit of “realism” keeping in the viewers mind that we are also watching a story, not just two Hollywood stars flirting. Then around the 2/3s mark the canned muzak, written by Bernard Herrmann, goes away to  be replaced by Herrmann’s movie score theme used to indicate the love story between Kay and Roger. As if Hitchcock is saying ok, fun joke is over, back to the story. The sound of the train tracks acting as a bridge of continuity.

    • Like 2
  9. 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. 

     

    For me, the opening credits suggested the story would pull me into the psychological and perhaps spiritual processes of a woman’s mind. Saul Bass’s slow moving Lissajous Figures combined with Bernard Herrmanns lush hypnotic score as the Lissajous Figures spiraled into the women’s eye never give any specific indication of what is to come. Only that the story promises the audience they will have no choice but to be hopelessly involved before being returned to the state they were in at the start of the movie, which is indicated when a figure spirals back out of the eye.

     

    2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

     

    The single most powerful image for me would be the Lissajous Figure spiraling out of Kim Novak’s eye. That combined with Herrmann’s score at that moment gave me chills and hopes that this would be a story equal to what I’d come to expect from Hitchcock. At the point the figure centers over and covers the pupil the viewers attention becomes completely focused on the screen.

     

    First place for a sequence would go to the opening at the very start of the titles starting with the Paramount logo in black and white, then preceding to Kim Novak’s face shown in a color pallet so muted it almost seems like we are looking at a grey scale image. This opening creates a pause in the audience making them wonder if this will not be a color movie. That palette continues until the screen goes completely red and the title Vertigo appears from dead center in the eye. It grows larger and larger, pauses for a second, then continues to enlarge as it flies upwards off the screen. Try not paying attention to that.

     

    3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? 

     

    Both attempt to hypnotically draw the viewer in. To me Herrmann’s score is more successful and overwhelms Bass’s Lissajous Figures. I realize the technology was probably state of the art for it’s time but even on my first viewing when Vertigo was first released (yes, I’m that old) I felt as I do each time I watch Vertigo that the figures were too rough and/crude and at times static in their execution. I can’t help but think that if Bass’s computer graphics had been given to a studio like Disney, they could have been enhanced by hand to a point where they’d rival todays animations. 

     

    3b. How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?

     

    I can’t imagine any other score but Herrmann’s for this sequence, the movie or most movies Herrmann wrote for. Herrmann’s scores stand out and enhance where as someone like Dimitri Tiomkin’s music will often go over the top explaining what action is taking place and telling the viewer what emotion is intended.

     

    • Like 1
  10. Daily Dose #14: Here Lie the Broken Bones of L.B. Jefferies 

    Opening Scene of Rear Window (1954)

     

    1. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film?

     

    The raising of curtains in an apartment mirrors the raising of a curtain for play. From there we go to a tour of the tenants having a normal day. Finally we are in Stewarts apartment being shown various objects that informs us of Stewart’s physical condition, occupation and boredom.

     

    1b. What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? 

     

    This establishes Stewarts character and our POV for the rest of the movie. Followed by the excuse for what Hitchcock realized his main character would be accused of, voyeurism. Jeff is stuck in that chair against his will. If he could be anywhere else he would, but not his fault he gets to watch his neighbors, even he lingers on Ms. Torso.

     

     

    1c. Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?

     

    Our vantage point of view is being stated. We will identify with Jeff’s concerns, limitations and situation.

     

    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)?

     

    See answers to 1b and 1c. 

     

    2b. How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?

     

    Showing us the reason for Jeff being laid up and his profession. A broken camera, dramatic photographs, covers of magazines, 

     

    3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? 

     

    Nope. Not at all. I was raised in 5 floor walkups in NY. Sitting in a window, looking across the street, looking down at people walking by on the sidewalk is simply a pastime. I realize that Hitchcock has stated Stewart’s character is a peeping tom, however I disagree with the notion that this is what is going on. To me a peeping tom is someone who spies on others for a sexual fulfillment. With the exception of Ms. Torso, and even there her purpose is to provide an opportunity for Hitchcock to display the school boy humor with regards to sex he features in all his films, not titillation or arousal.

     

    In fact, something that I don’t see in reviews of Rear Window is that what is being shown is a community of people, aware of each other and their lives. That sense of community, even to someone as transient as Stewart’s character, is what begins the search to determine if some wrong has been committed.

     

    3b. What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?

     

    See above, 3a.

     

    4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?

     

    I would agree more with the statement that this is a refinement of Hitchcock’s “pure cinema” adapted to contemporary standards of the time. Maybe Vertigo would be considered more cinematic with Rear Window a close second. Deciding which of Hitchcock’s movies is the most cinematic is difficult. Wouldn’t his silent films be closer to “pure cinema”?

    ----------------------

    Bear with me adding to the above. It occurs to me that part of the relationship shown between Jeff and Francie attempts to deal with criticisms that Stewart was too old for their relationship. Her constant pursuit in spite of his rejection reminds me of what I’ve read about Cary Grant insisting that if he was pursuing Audrey Hepburn in Charade he would appear to be a dirty old man due their age difference. On the other hand if she pursued him that would be ok. I’ve read where Hitchcock blamed part of Vertigo’s poor box office returns on the fact that Stewart was too old for the part. Having someone Stewart’s age being pursued by Kelly dealt with the age difference, a trope that was not available in Vertigo where Scotty falls in love and pursues Judy.

    • Like 2
  11. Daily Dose #13: Criss Cross

    Opening Scene from Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951)

     

    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.

     

    This question reminds me of those illustrations where the viewer is asked how many animals can be found? It also brings to mind the “X” direction for scenes where many extras are featured walking through a scene by crossing each others paths in an “X” pattern. Anyway:

    the paths the two main characters take entering and walking in the train station would form a criss cross (X) pattern if they were to be placed on top of each other: Robert Walker exits his cab walking from middle frame to the left; Farley Granger is shown doing the same actions from middle frame to the right.

     

    As the train is underway we are shown its POV of the tracks ahead. A large “X” is shown being approached, with the train switching to the rails that go off at angle instead of the ones that were straight ahead. Once that happens a pair of “X”s are shown, followed by another single “X” track line.

     

    In the dining car. Robert Walker is walking from frame right to a chair where he sits crossing his legs forming an “X”. Farley Granger is shown walking in the dining car from frame left to an opposite chair where he sits, crossing his legs to form an “X”.

     

    Robert Walker crosses his hands when he begins conversing with Granger. Then crosses the dining car to sit next to Granger crossing his hands over Granger’s in a hand shake.

     

    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.

     

    Camera Work - main characters contrasted by being shown moving in opposite directions within the frame and scenes.

    Clothing and Shoes - Robert Walker, Bruno, is introduced in “flashy” shoes with an obvious white/black pattern. His suit features a pin stripe pattern that stands out. Farley Granger is introduced in solid colored shoes that almost disappear into  matching slacks.In the dining car opposite each other Walker’s clothing is extremely noticeable almost to the point of being gaudy with a tie pin that he apologizes for. Granger wears a conservative dark jacket that blends into a dark vest.

     

    Personal Items - Walker exits his cab with one suitcase, light colored, made of inexpensive weave and worn/frayed around the edges. Granger exits his cab with three items, a suitcase and two tennis racquets. In addition to having more luggage than Walker, Granger’s suitcase is made of what appears to be expensive leather, scuffed in various places.

     

    Dialogue and Speech - Walker’s character initiates and has the majority of dialog in the scene. He obviously flatters in an attempt to ingratiate himself, then crosses the dining car and attempts to appear self deprecating by criticizing his tie pin ignoring his loud patterned tie. Granger’s dialog is limited to reacting to whatever Walker is saying. Although he has initiated, dominated the conversation the scene ends on with humor from Walker directing Granger to continue reading as he, Walker, doesn’t talk very much. 

     

    3. While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

     

    The score opens the movie with the full orchestra announcing we are seeing a film that will feature intense emotions and an experience. After the opening titles, Tiomkin limits the orchestra to a few instruments, the scoring emphasizes the comedy elements of the action, to the point of poking fun at one of the characters shoes by introducing a brief trombone note. As the scene continues the score retreats, blending in with the sound effects of a train over tracks. Both score and sound effect fade out, thereby focusing attention on the dialog that follows.

    • Like 1
  12. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?

     

    Ingrid’s spinning pov shot as Cary walks towards her.

    The glass of liquid glowing similar to the illuminated glass of milk in Suspicion.

    LP vinyl record spinning 

    Attention drawn to Cary by having him framed in doorway lit from behind

    Lead female character expresses dislike of male lead.

     

    2a. How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?

     

    Grant illuminated from behind causing him to be in shadow; slowly lit from front as he enters bedroom

    Bergman constantly shown in almost in soft focus at start emphasizing her senses being affected by hangover.

    Each actor showed independent of each other until 3:43 mark, emphasizing they are of opposing emotions.

     

    2b. What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock  trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?

     

    Devlin dressed sharply emphasizing his control over himself and situation. Suit monochromatic. tie firmly in place, creases in pants could probably cut paper. Body posture rigid.

    Alicia disheveled, hiding under pile of blankets of loose blankets. When she emerges she’s wearing a blouse the equivalent a striped prisoners uniform. Her midriff briefly displayed indicating her vulnerability. 

     

    3a. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

     


     

    3b. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? 

     

    Everybody wants to be Cary Grant, but do you want to be Cary Grant as Devlin? Grant was known for his romantic light comedies. Devlin is definitely against that type (as was his role in Suspicion.) As intense and dramatic a performance as anyone could want, Grant should have been at least nominated for an Academy Award. Not to mention Hitchcock. But then the Academy always seemed to stiff those two.

     

    Ingrid Bergman’s performance on the other hand lived up to her “type” as an excellent actress being able cover a huge range of emotions. That Jenifer Jones received a nomination in 1946 for Duel In The Sun and Bergman didn’t shows Hollywood at it’s most obvious.

  13. 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? 

     

    Hitchcock touches:

     

    POV: of one of the main characters opening the scene. We see Mr. Smith impatiently looking at someone or thing. The camera then switches to show us what he is looking at. Then Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s reactions to a knock at the door.

     

    Camera zoom: to an extreme closeup of a face mostly buried under covers with only the eye showing to fill the frame.

     

    Music: featured is light hearted, setting the mood and establishing we can relax, nothing is going to jump out and scare us.

     

    Set design :in the room, as through out the apartment, is almost totally white, open, airy. No dark shadows or dark vignetting.

     

    Suspense: created by the main characters being as disheveled as their surrounding with plates of half eaten food, dishes and cups strewn about giving us the notion that something out of the normal has been going on. A large enough mess to indicate perhaps a fight and obviously days have gone by without the room being tended to. Robert Montgomery’s hesitant reactions to Carole Lombard waking up indicate he’s not sure what to expect, with the result for a moment neither are we. 

     

    Interestingly we don’t know at first if this is the characters home or a hotel room. Another indication that things are a little off.

     

    Sexuality: emphasized with Carole Lombard sitting up in bed wearing a sheer, loose fitting designer nightgown.

     

    Quintessential Hitchcock “blonde”: Carole Lombard

     

    Viewpoint: At the 1:54 mark the maids are made the focus of the scene by the frame being sectioned on the right and left creating a narrow band in the middle.

     

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

     

    I can’t agree with Mr. and Mrs. Smith having a typical Hitchcock opening. The Hitchcock films we’ve viewed so far have generally opened with frantic activity or attention getting closeups. Mr. and Mrs. Smith opens with a slow pan, in the opposite direction of the one in Rebecca, the only other film we’ve seen so far with a similarly paced beginning.

     

    In addition most of the films we’ve seen so far have opened in a public place and/or included public reactions to the action.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith opens in a private space, a bedroom, with only two people, one of whom is bored by inactivity playing solitaire, the other asleep hidden under bed covers.

     

    Two things I’ve read, (or seen/heard in special features) that Hitchcock stated he did this film as gift to Carole Lombard, an actress he and the rest of Hollywood, greatly admired. Also, if the Hitchcock name hadn’t been shown this would have appeared to have been made by an American director well versed in the screwball comedy genre. I suspect that part of Hitchcock’s plan for this movie was to deliberately forego his usual trademarks and create an “American” comedy, in addition to demonstrating his ability to work in genre other than suspense.

     

    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? 

     

    I think they are well cast together and gave enjoyable performances, however I did not detect any chemistry between them. What I did sense was that all the cast was having a good experience making and being in this film, which helped give the tone of the film an upbeat, comic tone.

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  14. 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. 

     

    Disregard for obvious wealth: money strewn about on nightstand and floor

    Man of taste: a bit elegantly dressed while smoking a cigar

    Evasive: answers landlady’s questions in halting manner, providing answers that don’t quite tell the truth or are patently misleading.

    Sinister: laying on bed in darkened room in contemplation

    Deliberate: voice is always in even monotone, as if deliberately controlling any indication of his real mood or situation.

     

    2a. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? 

     

    Tension created by use of odd angles when the camera moves away from children playing in a street towards a window where the shade and curtains prevent any view inside. Although if you’re from the a city like New York playing stick ball in the street would seem normal, general audiences might find that situation slightly odd adding to the tension. Inside, the lighting of the room, black and white in shadows, featuring a man fully clothed while lying on a bed smoking a cigar with money strewn about on a nightstand and the floor. The character does not seem to be relaxing but is obviously mulling over some options. During the conversations with his landlady he seems deliberately to be hiding his true thoughts by deliberately being slightly evasive in his replies to her questions, obviously hiding something. 

     

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

     

    I see both films in the genre of a noir film so maybe I shouldn’t be answering this part of the question. However both films use similar elements and characters in completely different ways. 

     

    The Killers begins featuring two men, who are possibly gangsters, on the trail of the Swede. They take over a diner after interrogating and threatening the staff, and announce their intentions to kill the Swede. When the Swede is introduced he is lying on a bed, totally passive, in a semi-dark room, in his undershirt. He refuses to take the opportunity to run away or defend himself from an obvious fate. He states he’s guilty of doing something wrong; and dies accepting his punishment.

     

    Shadow of a Doubt begins with one person, Uncle Charlie, lying on a bed in a semi-dark room, dressed in a suit. His landlady comes in to tell him two men are asking about him. She explains they are across the street watching. Uncle Charlie does not admit to anything that would make him guilty deserving punishment. Instead he proceeds to consider his options. After his landlady leaves his room, he proceeds to put on his hat and walks across the street, deliberately walking past the two men who follow him at a distance.

     

    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? 

     

    I’m not very knowledgeable of music so bear with my description of the music. Tiomkin’s opening score resembles the boisterous music of a carnival emphasizing the actions of the children playing a game of stick ball. It continues in this vein while the camera zooms towards the window of a room hidden from view. Once the camera enters the room the carnival theme immediately is replaced by simple orchestration that is very quiet and of the type used to emphasize suspense. The music immediately stops allowing emphasis of the spoken dialog when the landlady begins to speak. The music then begins again immediately after she leaves, quietly at first, then increasing in loudness to emphasize the emotional turmoil of Uncle Charlie. When he leaves the house, it decreases and then increases stridently emphasizing the risk Uncle Charlie is taking and heightening the suspense of what will happen as he approaches the two men who are watching him.

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  15. 1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? 

     

    The opposite of closeups of people screaming, frantic action, a public place filled with people. Rebecca opens in a dreamy, shallow depth of field, almost in slow motion as opposed to the generally sharp images of previous opening sequences. Also, the long narration by a leading character.

     

     

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

     

    POV, although in this case that of the narrator in place of a character. Lighting changes throughout the sequence matching and supporting the narration. Opening frame showing a narrow corridor, along the path, focusing the viewers attention on a specific part of the screen. Sudden introduction of sound with visual of intense motion featuring ocean waves crashing on shore lined with rocks to shock and grab audience attention.

     

    3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? 

     

    The visuals and narration focus everything on the house emphasizing it’s importance. Through both the house is given a character arch in the story from mysterious to rise, fall and finally demise.

     

    What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

     

    Despite major differences, GWTW was in color, Rebecca b/w.; the intro to GWTW uses text for narration, Rebecca voice I couldn’t help being reminded of Tara from Gone With The Wind. Houses and estates feature prominently in each film. The “Selznick Trees” are present at the start. Both films have opening sequences that relay a story arc of a non-human character that rises, falls and ends in being unattainable.

  16. British Sound Years, Pt. 3: Hitch and Writers in the British Sound Period

     

    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? 

     

    Openings in public places:

     

    The Ring

    The 39 Steps

    The Lady Vanishes

    The Pleasure Garden

    Downhill

    The Man Who Knew Too Much

    Easy Virtue

    The Lodger

     

    It could be said Blackmail opens in a public place however it quickly focuses on an area the general public wouldn’t have access to: the inside of a special police truck. 

     

    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? 

     

    Not necessarily. In The Lodger the opening character is a victim screaming. On the other hand, if that victim isn’t considered a character due to her short time on the screen The Man Who Knew Too Much focusing on several innocent characters: the hero, his wife and their daughter who interact with the villains.  In The Lady Vanishes opens with Margaret Henderson’s character, Iris Henderson being featured in the opening. The first character shown is Miss From, however that character would really be more in the line of a “good” spy instead of innocent. The Pleasure Garden’s features Virginia Vally’s character Patsy in the opening sequence. Also The Skin Game opens with featuring Helen Haye’s character.

     

    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.

     

    The Music Hall scene is an elaborate MacGuffin, while personally it almost seemed like a documentary. I suppose the only thing we have close to that now might be a Comedy Club. I found myself thinking this is what entertainment  was like in the early 1900’s for the “everyman” (and “everywoman”). It left me feeling that Hitchcock both enjoyed crowds and yet was aware of how quickly they could become a dangerous situation. The version I watched on www.openculture.com may have had an element missing. Mr. Memory, who is focused on long enough to provide the “aha” moment at the end of the movie, is performing his act when a theater attendant enters the hall, proceeds to grab a customer with the resulting struggle becoming a fight that spreads to others in the audience. Why was the guard attempting to remove that customer? Was he the one who kept shouting what was May West’s age was and that was considered rude or annoying? Suddenly Hanney and Mrs. Smith are together, he speaks to her, she immediately asks to go to his place. The fight with it’s comic moments didn’t really matter except as a vehicle to get Hanney and Mrs. Smith together. In other words a MacGuffin.

     

    How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips?

    Specifically only #3 of the 6 applies:

     

    3) “…The settings of Hitchcock films are quite ordinary on the surface, thereby suggesting that evil can lurk in places that at first glance seem normal and unthreatening.” 

     

    Although Mr. Memory might be considered a MacGuffin, (#6) at this point there’s no indication that he is important to the plot. #1) at this point isn’t obvious, although being a Hitchcock movie the audience could assume that the lead character will somehow be drawn into an extraordinary situation.

    • Like 2
  17. 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)

     

    Characters.

     

    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? 

     

    We learn that he’s not English, overweight, jovial, seemingly good natured. Also, that despite his friendliness, there may be a hint of a darker side from his reaction and perhaps recognition of the skier who knocked him down.

     

    The introduction of Lorre brought to mind the villain played by James Mason in North By Northwest, Herbert Marshal in Foreign Correspondent, Claude Rains in Notorious and Otto Kruger in Saboteur. A seemingly good natured man with an accent who gives the appearance of having “correct” manners. Lorre’s character may have been the mold for those villains that followed in Hitchcock’s movies.

     

    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. 

     

    Pleasure Garden opens with the frame being blocked off on the sides of a wide shot, directing attention to a narrow view of a chorus descending a spiral staircase. The Man Who Knew Too Much also opens with a wide shot, our attention being focused on a narrow view of a ski slope with trees and a line of flags and people framing the slope. In both scenes there the action is descending. The Lodger opens in a completely different way focusing on a close up of a woman screaming.

     

    Pleasure Garden, The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Lodger share crowd reactions in their opening scenes. In Pleasure Garden the camera pans across the first row of the audience and their reactions to the chorus line dancing before them. The Lodger shows the reactions of people to the body of the Slashers victim. The Man Who Knew Too Much shows the reaction of a crowd of spectators to the skier falling during his run down the slope. All three movies feature dramatic action at their start.

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

     

    Muted sound at the beginning of the sequence till Alice opens door to enter the room drew me into the room from her perspective. At the end of the sequence with the bell ringing elongated, Alice looks about as if to see whether she is the only one hearing that sound.

     

    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. 

     

    Blah, blah, blah, blah…

    Knife, knife, knife… 

    Blah, blah, blah, blah…

    Knife, knife, knife, knife, knife…

    Blah…

    KNIFE!!

     

    For the majority of the sequence, maybe 90%, Hitchcock presents Alice’s face reacting to the conversations around her in silence. What dialog there is happens from others. Somewhere, maybe in one of the lecture videos, Hitchcock stated he wanted expressions on the face of the actor to be the opposite of the emotions he wanted expressed. Paraphrasing him, if a character is happy and they look happy, well that’s nice and quickly forgettable. But if they’re “happy” and their expression shows the opposite that will stick in the audiences mind subconsciously leaving a more lasting impression. It seems that H is doing that with the sound design in much of this sequence. By making the spoken dialog so ordinarily boring and off screen while showing how Alice’s reactions are intensely affecting her, the audience’s attention to her emotional state is heightened. Hope that makes sense.

     

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

     

    Three things come to mind:

     

    A: story telling of Hitchcock’s caliber is rare to come by in contemporary cinema. Most viewers have been raised on a diet of television production which rarely allows more than a superficial exploration of what a character is experiencing, if there is any character development at all. In television comedy, laugh tracks are manipulated to indicate how the audience should react to a situation.

    B: modern taste in cinema/movies have evolved to being more visually oriented. Typically, investment is made in “tentpole” special effects movies that have being geared for a younger demographic; explosions and/or immediate special effects that require little thought on the part of the audience are the norm.

     

    C: technology in the way sound is presented diminishes it’s importance, both in theater and at home; although in opposite forms. Viewed in a theater with at a minimum stereo or 5 maybe 7 channel surround sound presents sound as effect even when it’s spoken. The majority of homes view movies with only the speakers provided in the television. Sound produced from thin flat panel tv’s is generally of such poor quality leaving only volume to create sound design. Even when the home has “media” amplified speakers.

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

     

    Slightly different than what’s stated by Raymond Strauss in Daily Dose #4, the 1st thing that comes to my mind when seeing a dolly shot is to trying to determine whether it’s done the classic way, a camera mounted on a platform traveling over tracks; or a steady cam is in use.

     

    As to the 2nd part of the statement “reality seems skewed” depends more on the type of movie being viewed. Personally I can’t stand the “jump out at you” (ex. Alien) suspense type scene, which generally results in pure anxiety for myself. If the film is something like, say Lawerence of Arabia, a long dolly shot will create a mixture of being drawn into the story, and/or a contemplation of the what’s being shown on the screen as more a work of art; along the lines of viewing a painting.

     

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

     

    In the case of Downhill, Hitchcock was emphasizing the seriousness of the moment, while drawing in the curiosity of the audience. We know something is coming, but we have to wait. 

     

    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.

     

    Haven’t rewatched The Lodger yet so memory is failing me there. There is the motif of the “wrong man being accused.” In the Lodger the main character is suspected of being Jack the ripper. In Downhill he’s accused falsely of making a woman pregnant.

     

    With regards to The Pleasure Garden:

    using a spinning phonograph record super imposed in a closeup over the head of face of the one of characters

    super imposing changing actions to indicate a flashback

    title/ narrative cards

    vignetting focusing the audiences attention

    at the end of the montage, the main character accepts his view  of the situation as not being reality, and that it has placed him in an awkward position. In The Pleasure Garden he apologizes for his outburst after imaging his wife kissing another man. In Downhill he contemplates that his rejection of the woman’s accusation is not being accepted by the dean.

  20. 1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? 

     

    In addition to other comments regarding cuts what impressed me was something that is so obvious it doesn’t seem to be mentioned. Every frame has constant motion. Even the section where the dancers sit down from exhaustion, a partier immediately produces a bottle to, at first, help the dancer, then after she drinks continues to pour the champagne down her throat. Immediately after pushing the bottle away, the dancer is up and dancing again, joined by her partner. The partiers, although seated, are constantly applauding, stomping their feet in time to the music, the pianist banging the piano keys, a cigarette flicking up and down in his held in his mouth.

     

    2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. 

     

    Visuals including elongated piano keys, record spinning super imposed over the fighters head, images of the boxer’s wife sitting on the lap of his main competitor eventually resulting in a kiss appear in a ghostly fashion. 

     

    3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?  

     

    The action is staged using two modes, frantic activity at the beginning and end of the film countering still scenes involving the rivalry between the two men. The movie begins with the rivals duking it out in a fight that establishes their competition. The middle of the movie concentrates the rising career of Jack ‘One Rounder’ establishing his upward climb thru the boxing rank; as opposed to the actions of his competitor ‘Bob’ winning Jack’s wife Mabel away from him. Closes with the dramatic action of the fight resolving their conflict, and the return of Jack’s wife to his “corner.” I have to say that set design and costuming were interesting, in a dated sense. Not enough to seriously impact the film, however I am not used to seeing a boxing movie in which the boxers dress in tie and tails when they’re not fighting, attending parties where those around them are dressed the same. ????

    • Like 1
  21. This is something I've wondered about, especially in watching The Ring, Hitchcock's boxing melodrama. In an interview Hitchcock confirmed the audience would break into applause at the end of the "the party " scene due to the frenetic pace of the montage which included a dance sequence (similar in style to the Charleston dancing in The Pleasure Palace.) It seems odd that in controlling almost every aspect of his films H would not also require the score that would accompany his films. Perhaps he was resigned to the idea that local theaters would not be able to provide musicians that would be competent in playing a score beyond whatever music they were familiar with; or the theaters would avoid paying extra royalties to acquire the rights to the score.

    • Like 1
  22. 1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples.

     
    Striking visuals controlling what the audience sees, including: 
    the chorus girls descending a spiral staircase,
    sides of frame masked off to isolate the staircase,
    out of focus visual brought into focus,
    extensive use of vignette.
     
    2. Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50-year career?
     
    Kind of hard not to agree. Elements include:
    the theatre,
    voyeurism,
    male violence against women,
    male interest in women as sexual objects, 
    competition between women,
    sly, almost school boy humor.
     
    3. Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue?
     
    As far as the opening scenes I felt they worked without any need for spoken dialog. However I’ve become so used to dialog that I find myself always wanting more title/dialog cards.
    • Like 3
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