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Posts posted by Kwittenbrink


    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.


      From the beginning we see the "criss cross": the two cabs, the two men/two shoes, the two different directions of their walking into the dining car.  Then further with their "agreement" and how one doesn't want to hold up his end because he becomes frightened by the thought of it.  How then, the criss cross becomes deliberate on the part of Bruno.  It is no longer a coincidence, but a chilling stalking.


    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 is flashy, from the two-toned shoes and the tie with his name "from Mother".  He says that he doesn't talk much, but we know that he will.  He is just waiting to strike up a conversation.  He has no paper or book.  


    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 music, again typical Hitchcock, seems almost jovial as if we are embarking on a wonderful journey.  It doesn't belie the dark events that will take place in the movie.

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


      The lighting, the camera angles, the close-ups.


    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?


      Bergman is well-lit and Grant is in shadows initially - does it apply to their character?  Good vs evil?  It seems as if Grant has the upper hand, Bergman seems fuzzy and hazy in lighting and disheveled in her bed and clothes while Grant is sharp and crisp and seeming to be trying to whittle something out of her.


    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? 


      Yes, as we read in the notes, Bergman is portrayed as nice and the Lady; Grant seems to be trying to take advantage of that.

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    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? 


      Well, like in his other films, we see everything that is happening to make up the backstory and make predictions as to what has been occuring.  As in Rear Window, where we see each tenant in each apartment, the broken leg; in The Lodger, we see every person in town reacting to the murder; in the Lady Vanishes, we see each group of people affected by the avalanche.  Like in the other films too, we have jaunty, happy music playing.

      As far as his other touches: there is no villain, or hero that needs to be resourceful, but we do see ordinary, albeit wealthy, people in a bedroom that is messy like ours may sometimes be.



    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 do feel that it has similarities but it doesn't follow his typical genre of 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 really like the film, they are beautiful and well-played actors.

    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 is very tense and trying to calm himself down - but the small sip of water and then the smashing of the glass show that he is about to blow should anything cause him to lose his cool.


    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)


      Not having seen any film noir to my knowledge - I can only surmise - it has to do with crime and the dark happenings in our society.  In this clip, we see the scads of money "just lying around" and the men watching from the street corner.  All of it is very thug and mafia-like that to me must be film noiresque.


    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? 


      This clip's music harkens back to Hitchcock's music from his British films and the films that I am more familiar with: Rear Window, North by Northwest - there is a happy and lively feeling to it.  It is not as dark and frightening like Rebecca.  It seems to encourage you to keep watching, but it may belie what could really occur in the next scene.


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  4. 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? 

    This scene opens much more quietly than the other opening scenes we've seen.  It has an ethereal, lonely feeling, whereas the other movies have a very loud and boisterous, public beginning.  This seems very spooky and horrific as stated in the lecture video - a gothic horror genre.

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

    Hitchcock uses his lighting techniques and dreamlike aspects as in other movies.  He uses the technique to make it feel as if you are walking forward as the narration guides you.

    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?

    As the narrator describes the house, it is fully fleshed out as a character so that you can place yourself at the home.  You know that they house will play a big role in the movie.  It is the place that something occurred.  

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  5. 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. 

    It is rather cheery and jolly, with the happy music.  The scene becomes a bit blustery as we learn that there has been an avalanche that has covered the train so that now all the waiting people in the hotel are stranded and must stay for the night.  So it doesn't seem ominous or suspensful at this point.

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

    They are the silly and bumbling comedic relief.  

    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. 

    Well, for one thing, the concierge leaves the train-waiting people for Iris and the other two women.  He obviously is placing them higher on the guest list than the others.  You can tell that they are the stars.


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  6. 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? 

    Unlike the other films, 39 Steps doesn't have the frenetic energy of the others, such as The Lodger.  It has a more pleasant and modern feel to it.  Perhaps it is the use of sound, but it seems much more enjoyable to watch.

    It does have the interesting camera shots, such as the ticket being purchased, and the footsteps into the music hall.  Angles that seem very Hitchcockian.

    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? 

    The main character is very nonchalant and is as good looking as the other protagonists as his other films.  In the 39 Steps though, he seems more at ease and intelligent and not as overly expressive as his silent films.

    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? 

    As Phillips states, Hitchcock uses locations that seem very normal and ordinary and a place that we, the audience, can relate to because we can see ourselves in that location.  It is not taking place in a scary place that we would never go to.  This causes it to seem even more sinister - that every day places can house evil.

  7. 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)

    I would say more character driven - there is something brewing with the characters that we see briefly with Peter Lorre's glance at the skier.  Having seen the one with Doris Day, I'm assuming the girl is the kidnapped child.  (She, by the way, doesn't seem too bratty just yet - only wanting to please her father.  Perhaps the bit where she didn't seem to care that her dog caused a huge accident that could have caused many injuries, that could be considered bratty.)

    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? 

    He is rather silly.  I like him already!  I may be swayed to continue to like him and to side with him in later in the film.

    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. 

    Hitchcock does enjoy his very energetic opening scenes and likes the downward movement.  The spiral staircase; the frenetic energy of the townspeople.  It is different too in that there is a bit of lightness and humor.

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

    I like how he has the gossiper mumble, perhaps, and only state the word "knife" so that we see that Alice is only focusing on that word.  The final time that the gossiping shopper states knife, it is so loud that Alice jumps as she is taking the knife to cut the bread and it slips from her fingers.   

    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. 

    As I stated above, it is set up very nicely where we see her become increasingly unsettled at each time the shopper states knife.  The lighting around Alice also becomes darkened so that we focus on her behavior and see that she is becoming nervous and agitated.  You can see that she is not paying attention to the conversation but rather only registering it partially.

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

    The subjective sound is perhaps not used frequently due to the funny dialogue that it creates.  It doesn't appear as if anything is actually being said but rather just mumbles.  It doesn't flow as easily as it should.

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

    It really pulls you into the action - it gives you a sense of being physically drawn in and emotionally becoming attached to the action.  It's a very cool and unsettling feeling.

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

    I think that he uses the POV tracking shot in order to really involve the audience.  I think that Hitchcock really liked to involve the audience and pull their eye in to see exactly what he wanted them to view.

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

    In the Pleasure Garden, you are really drawn in with the staircase shot - you are drawn into the action as it dizzyingly spins down the stairs - it helps to guide you into what he wants you to see.  In the Ring, you are again drawn back and forth from the montages to the frenzied dancing and back to the husband to see his anger build.  It is a very cool and artsy technique that really works for him.

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

    The different clips added in with the record, the piano man, the crazy dancing - they are all combined to create a frenetic feeling to the scene which illustrates the husband's paranoia in a very vivid way.  Then with the piano keys and the dancers that blend into each other, we become visually as mad and paranoid as him - quite a disconcerting scene!

    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. 

    The main character is creating more out of the situation than is really happening:  he furthers the two characters: his wife and the other boxer, as turning their sitting together into a kiss; we become engaged in the situation and see if from his point of view believing that that could really happen!  

    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 two separate rooms where each boxer is sitting creates a physical barrier between them.  In the one room, the "champion boxer" is sitting with the other man's wife in a very suggestive way.  The party and the dancing, the music and the champagne, all create a mood of excessive excitement and frivolity; while in the other room, the two men are telling the young boxer that he cannot bring his wife and that he must fight for her.  It is a quiet and somber mood that Hitchcock creates.  This boxer has no choice.

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  11. 1. Compare the opening of The Lodger to the opening of The Pleasure Garden - what similarities and differences do you see between the two films? 

    Well, the Lodger is definitely darker in style - the music and the woman screaming are two key differences.  The Pleasure Garden is definitely not as openly dark, despite the leering men and the suggestive content.

    They are both very active and hectic, like life in a city tends to be.

    2. Identify elements of the "Hitchcock style" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Even if you are not sure if it is the "Hitchcock style," what images or techniques stand out in your mind as powerful storytelling? Or images that provide an excess of emotion? 

    Elements that are Hitcockian are the fast focusing on the different groups that are affected by the events that take place.  As in Rear Window, where you get a glimpse of each apartment and the tenants that rush to the window to see what is happening, you see the different groups of people in town reporting the news, physically printing the news and those hearing first hand and those buying the papers - all to see the details of the crime that has occurred.  It is human nature at it's finest.

    3. Even though this is a "silent" film, the opening image is one of a woman screaming. What do you notice in how Hitchcock frames that particular shot that makes it work in a silent film even though no audible scream that can be heard. And what other screams like that come to mind from Hitchcock's later work? 

    Well, he lengthens out the scream so that we see/hear the horror.  It is like the scream in the shower scene of Psycho.  One that you cannot remove from your memory!  Her face fills the entire screen.  Or in the Man Who Knew Too Much, her scream when the man is about to shoot - you see Doris's face in the shot as a close up.  

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

    Yes, I do see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in the clip.  He really used his settings to help create a very artistic visual - with the spiral staircase you become entranced already with that dizzying shot as the girls seem to spill continuously down the stairs.  The men leering with their binoculars, very Rear Window, and even more voyeuristic, which is somewhat funny since they're already in the theater to see the dancing ladies.

    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? 

    Yes, I do agree with all of the writers that you can see the beginnings of Hitchcock's signature elements.  Hitchcock's use of the overly dramatic eye rolling and wide-eye scenes that you can see throughout his career; his very clean, yet detailed, settings.

    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?

    No, I feel that there is a lot that you can gain from the body language of the actors.  They convey so much in their movements.  It allows the movie-goer to really be an active participant in the movie - because they need to really pay attention and see every detail that the director is filming.

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