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About johncrann

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  1. Screenwriter - Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Schrader Costume Design - open Director - Sofia Coppola, David Lynch, Lawrence Kasdan, Adrian Lyne Editor - Fred Raskin Cinematographer - Robert Richardson, Emmanuel Lubezki Actors - Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Sharon Stone, Harvey Kietel, Mandy Patinkin, Tom Hanks, Paul Giammatti, Nicole Kidman Music - Ennio Morricone, John Williams, John Barry, Danny Elfman, Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer
  2. 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. There is a lack of focus on a specific character who has witnessed something horrible. This time, a group, who experience a dead corpse seem less shocked and disturbed by the incident. There is no footage of a person who is traumatized by a horrible incident. The crowd is introduced immediately and sets the tone for the locale, demographics and historical context of the story. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. Introduction to the locale with sweeping camera moves across a wide and diverse set of environmental imagery. We are introduced to the culture, demographics, time period and other supporting information with a panoramic view of the place where the story begins. Hitchcock again places himself in the crowd with a cameo. 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. Introduction to the locale with (sometimes) miniatures, sweeping camera moves across a wide and diverse set of environmental imagery. We are introduced to the culture, demographics, time period and other supporting information with a panoramic view of the places, props, costumes, customs, language, fashion and historical context where each story begins.
  3. 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. The social security cards are an indication that she maintains several identities. The make-up and hair dye (removed at the sink) are reinforcing the image of her as a person moving incognito, perhaps in espionage. 2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The music provides a sense of unfolding as the character transforms with the removal of hair dye and her assembly of possessions pulled together for an exit routine. 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? He showed his face to the camera. What this means? Not sure. Perhaps he knows by now that audiences expect to see his cameos and he is indulging them with a picture of his face.
  4. 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? Two strangers are brought together by chance in a pet store. Classic intro to a RomCom especially when the lady attempts to BS the gent by impersonating a sales person at the store. We learn that Melanie is interested in Mitch. We do not know for sure yet what Mitch has in mind. We learn that the location is a major US City (San Francisco). The two appear to be urban, sophisticated, middle class people in the mid to late 30’s range (?). Both are businesslike in their mannerisms and comportment. The scene is overall "playful" in it's approach. Something is looming in the sky's. 2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? The bird sounds are filling the audio track behind the dialogue. This adds a wild, natural and ever present buzz of energy to the mood and circumstances. Prior to entering the shop, we experience a similar buzzing and ever present whirring of energy while street traffic comes and goes on the SF streets. The energy in the environment is high and building, spiraling upward. 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. I knew he was in the scene from reading the curator’s notes …I did’nt even see him while watching the clip. I will have to watch it again. LOL. Oopps there he is exiting the shop while she passes in. On first pass, I do not see any underlying meaning. If he only owned one dog, there would be one dog, if he owned three, there would be three I guess. If he was fond of other types of animals he may have been shot inside the shop observing a snake or a rabbit. I do not take away any underlying meaning to his presence except that the timing was calculated to pass her in the doorway to get them both on screen in the shot.
  5. 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? In all honesty, the title intro is a bit overrated (IMO). The score on the other hand is the bread and butter of the collaboration. I see little to nothing in the title sequence that would indicate anything about the Theme. The only thing that I can see is the slightest possibility of a “slashing” movement in the way some of the Titles are shifted around the screen. Yes it is Saul Bass, it is cool, graphic & contemporary compared to other title sequences of the day, but it is not his greatest work. 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? This looks like a long lunch hour (2:43pm) with two lovers getting some afternoon delight in before the weekend approaches. There is a bagged sandwich on the night table that is shown for a brief two seconds and what might be a 40 oz. bottle of beer. It is warm in the room as indicated by the fan in the room and of course Phoenix in December is probably around 65 degrees. I think Hitchcock chooses to enter through the window because if we entered into the doorway it would disturb the privacy being enjoyed by the couple. 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. I would think that it may establish Marion as a transient of some type. Perhaps she is on the move, not established in this area where she would have a family and a home. The location, a hotel room says she is passing through. I am not sure if we are certain it is her room or if they are renting it for a day together. If you watch it without the sound it may appear that she is a prostitute.
  6. 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. Do not understand the question. 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. It confirms the identity of the male actor as Thornhill 3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. Music is relaxing as the train rambles forward. This is an indication of the chemistry between the two characters who seem to be headed toward a common destination.
  7. 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. My initial impression is that it is in the science fiction genre. The mood is established mostly by the music, which evokes mystery and curiosity. The whirling graphics look like engineering or sound recording and data measurements on a computer screen. Way ahead of it’s time, still unique and compelling today in my opinion. 2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. The two images that are central (IMO) to this series of images are #1 the human eye. This image invites the viewer into a subjective reality, where the images then proceed to take on those of a computer imaging program, which works along with the music to set mood and stimulate curiosity. The #2 image that is equally as powerful (IMO) is the double dose of the text image “Directed by Alfred Hitchcock”. This is the powerful BRAND that people have come to admire when viewing this genre of films. It places a viewer in a high state of expectation as the film begins to unfold. 3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? They work well together. I would say that Saul Bass is trying to accomplish something here that was ahead of its time and he was not able to, due to software technology / film technology constraints, achieve the best result. He was known for illustration, 2d shapes and figures as well as bold colors. This is an intro that could be achieved on a desktop computer (maybe even a smart phone) with today’s digital software technology. The music on the other hand, is timeless. Herrmann’s work is really top drawer. Psycho is primed with his contribution and I saw a video describing how they took some clips of the Psycho score for a Star Wars scene. John Williams was a friend of Herrmann’s.
  8. 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? The motion of the camera takes on the role of a viewer with great attention to detail. Scanning to and fro for colors, textures, movement, sounds, personalities and construction materials that all add up to a great compilation of character, which in effect, is the environment itself. It appears to be Hitchcock’s vantage point and he is substituting himself into the role of the typical viewer in the audience. 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? It is clear that Jeff was injured in a job related incident. His room shows a broken camera and photographs of racing car wrecks and other dangerous circumstances. Additionally, we see a negative of a woman who is portrayed on the cover of a magazine, perhaps a friend or someone of interest to this photographer. 3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? The opening sequence makes me feel like a visitor to Jeff’s apartment. The view is compelling enough that a person who is curious and alert might follow the same path as the camera. Scanning for details and taking in a unique cityscape that captures a lot of information about the environment that Jeff is living in. 4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I have not seen the entire film in many years. If Hitchcock says it is his most cinematic than it must be.
  9. 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. Crossed tennis rackets, railroad tracks, legs, shoes, walking through crowds, etc. 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. Introvert, extrovert, fashion, recreational pursuits (reading vs tennis) 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? There is a change in tempo when the camera follows each individual into the train station. It is an obvious nod to supporting a contrast between the movements of the two characters.
  10. 1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? Calculated placement of props and characters to evoke a mise-en-scene and to support his objectives in character and plot development. Camera movement is un-orthodox, innovative as it attempts to create a unique point of view. 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? Contrast created with female character portrayed as a hot mess, while male character appears to be in control of his wits, emerging into frame from a silo. Female is disheveled and apparently hung over, male is put together with style and polish. Camera rotates to imitate the point of view of female on bed as male enters her personal space. 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? According to the lecture notes, Bergman was “The” star leading lady of the day. Her casting appears to be a no brainer in order to produce a great film product as well as reduce any risk of delivering a film nobody wanted to see. As far as Grant, he is always a respectable leading man. I am not Grant’s biggest fan but do respect his work. IMO, this scene is a prototype of the “branding” that he is known for as far as the films I have seen him in. Bergman shows a side of her that is more reckless, undisciplined in this scene.
  11. 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.? The most obvious touch to me is the way AH likes to guide the observer with camera movement around the set. He fills the lens with props and images that help one make judgements on where, when and who is occupying the space. In this scene, via props and set dressing, we are invited into what appears to be a hotel room that has been occupied by two people on a holiday. Neither party is in a hurry to get up and out of the room. The room is comfortable, spacious and service people are on hand to support the whims of the two guests. Lighting and camera angles are standard I believe, with camera movement being the best indicator of AH in the chair. (NOTE: my Daily Dose clip did not have sound). 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 cannot say it is typical due to the fact that it is a theme not normally associated with AH films from previous lessons. There is a light tone from the get-go…no harsh shadows or foreboding imagery or music. 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 there could have been numerous professional star quality actors cast in this film that could perform at the same level. In this clip it is difficult to gauge the totality of the chemistry & performance. One would have to watch the whole picture to make that evaluation. I could not tell you why these two were chosen as the leads. Apparently, they satisfied all the evaluations and criteria sought by director, producer and anyone else involved in the casting process.
  12. 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. He appears to be on the “Lam” and laying low. The stash of cash indicates he may have been paid off for a nefarious deal, or perhaps came into stolen money. Clothing, cigar and cool countenance support a city boy. His decision to exit the room calls for a type of nerve that is unusually courageous for such a routine task. Apparently, he is involved in a high stakes and perhaps dangerous set of circumstances. 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). All indications point to a dangerous and mysterious blend of circumstances that is punctuated by peering out a window, a pile of cash strewn on the floor, an attitude of suspicion and mystery and of course the MUSIC that dials up the vibes associated with dark and dangerous activities. In “The Killers”, I remember that two hit men enter a diner and are very aggressive and abusive to the owner and patrons in their efforts to track down the Swede, who has been known to be a daily customer. This sets the stage for what one would anticipate as a showdown. The evidence is presented up front in The Killers that a man is going to be killed. This scene with Uncle Charlie does not make that clear but points in that direction when he seems to be followed by the men on the street. 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? It has an effect on all the above. Hitchcock explained in an earlier video that the music is designed to rise and fall with on screen actions to punctuate the impact of the action. We see the music reach a high point when he throws the glass against the wall at the same time the orchestra pounds a note to correspond to the explosion of glass.
  13. 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? Thoughtful, introspective, nostalgic compared to previous efforts that profiled an event that instigates action and introduces characters with the plot taking off. Characters are the focus here with the glimpse into their thoughts and personalities. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Skillful craftsmanship, camera movement, sound design, set design, introduction of characters, mise en scene and environment, time and place. 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? Nostalgia, environment, mood, demographics clearly defined.
  14. 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? Crowd scene in public venue, introducing multiple characters which adds interest and entertains the observer. Observer makes connection to a place they most likely have been introduced to in personal experience. Humor introduced through banter between character actors. Skillful and concise tracking and camera movement. Main characters are identified by movement into and out of scenes. 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? Character may seem innocent (Yes) but he is surrounded in an environment of shady characters. Character comes off as intelligent, strong, stable and grounded. 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? “Ordinary people who are drawn by circumstances into extraordinary situations.” “…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.” “[Hitchcock’s] villains commit their mayhem in amusement parks and respectable restaurants, places where the viewer might often find themselves.
  15. 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 Plot. 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 an alien. He admits he does not speak the local language well and admits to speaking German as a core language. He is anxious to move on after the brief encounter with the group. No way to determine how to view him later in the film at this juncture. 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. Small crowds are gathered together, characters within the crowd are going to be seen again. A memorable event takes place, one horrific, others not so, but causes some trauma and brings people together as a result of chaos.
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