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James Dean

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About James Dean

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  • Birthday July 9

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  1. 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. Hitchcock seems to be aiming for a comedic, tongue in cheek tone. The atmosphere is homey and overly romantic--- like a German cottage one might find at EPCOT Center, with its coo-coo Clocks, Germanic wall writings, and beer bottle window class. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. They both seem to act as a sort of greek choir? their chattering reminds me a bit of commentator in a performance, except they have a role to it, giving us information as to the setting and to the general setting of our Germanic country. 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. Having the desk clerk remove himself from the background and put himself, over several quick shots, into the foreground with Iris (and past the rest of the guests) starts us off. Continuing to drag them upstairs, uses a bit of hierarchy of placement. Not only is Iris important enough to ignore a room full of people, but she's too good to stay on the same floor as them.
  2. 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? It matches the films we've previously touched, in terms of introducing a setting via multiple shots, but differs since there is no sparkling energy. No murder, no music hall dancing, rather the slow upstart of a low-end vaudeville routine. 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? I'd agree. Although we've seen other innocent characters (Please Garden comes to mind), often times it's always tipped toward the dangers presented by other characters. In this film's opening, there is no identifiable villain or sense of danger. 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? The Hitchcock touch is notable mostly in setting and our lead character. We note that he's quite ordinary (he buys a ticket to a low-rent bar/Music Hall), and a traveler from Canada (which separates him from any rooted sympathy, presumably). A lot of attention is also given to the music hall, and how roomy and jolly it's patrons are. Almost as if Hitchcock is letting us settle in for the fun, while somewhere else something horrible is going on behind the scenes.
  3. 1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet) The Characters, their relationship to each other, either implied or stated in dialogue is what's given the most attention so it's going to be most important to the coming 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? He's an outsider who's second-language is English, but seems to have a previous, seemingly not completely pleasant, relationship with the skier. I'm assuming that the nice demeanor will be merely a facade for a more dubious character. 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. All three films set off with a bang, and then cool into Character introductions, but this particular opening seems less intent on meandering with characters than setting up the upcoming plot rather quickly. Unlike the opening to the others, the ski race doesn't seem to have any tie to the main plot,but as I've not seen the complete film I might be wrong on this account.
  4. 1. In this sequence, describe how Hitchcock uses sound design to put you into the subjective "mind of Alice"? Be specific. Hitchcock seems to let Alice wander visually, which reflects audibly with her surroundings. The gossiping customer's prattle goes in and out, and the emphasis on the word "knife" betrays it's importance to Alice's thoughts. 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. In the example of Alice and the Knife, Hitchcock sets up the shot with Alice at the table. Already distracted by her thoughts, her mind starts to audibly tune out most of the prattle with the exception of the word "Knife". She's then asked to cut the bread, which further sets her into a mental culdesac/ Now distracted by the cutting knife, the constant prattling of "knife" become a sort of consistent pattern until Alice and the audience are startled by the loud change in the word's mention. 3. Why do you think this particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema? The extra effort of planning dubbing and the need to have consistency are probable factors. Part of the effect of sound on film is the synchronization between sound and image. Disturb it too greatly, and either it becomes distracting or too old hat to be very useful.
  5. 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? It certainly adds to the tension and the sense of anticipation about the boys mounting dread of accusation. This applies Equally for Mabel, as she decides as to which boy should burden her accusation. 2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? The use of the POV tracking shot adds an intimate, and claustrophobic dimension to what could have been a fairly dry "that's the man who did it, mister" scene. By dragging it out, and relying on POV shots for the young adults, the audience is engaging with their own personal anxiety, thus becoming much more invested. 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. Using double exposure montages to signify speech/ideas is certainly a novel one that Hitchcock seems fond of. We also have this strong tie to German expressionism, the hopeless hero/heroine doomed to what seems their fate. Hitchcock seems rather fond of the "innocent accused" plot, and the interview in this module cements it as one that will continue throughout his career.
  6. 1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? T he party sequence is cut particularly fast, compared to the long shots in the boxing meeting. The Montage of jealous rage is also extremely well put together, pulling the different elements from the neighboring party we've been introduced to, and double exposing them to build up a nightmare of "noises". 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. Double exposing the "what my wife is really doing out there" over the meeting, as in a first person POV, seems very German somehow. Also, individually cataloging the elements of the party (the piano, the ukulele players, the phonograph), which will later appear in the jealous rage build up a sort of pressure between the meeting and the party. 3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen? Separating the boxers via open doors with reflective mirrors certainly is a good place to start. One can't linger around any one fighter without being aware of the other one via reflection. The fact that the fresh-faced boxer's wife is obviously being tempted from the tree of evil by the Champion, in terms of a flapper-filled-no-bars-held party-hard lifestyle seems to completely set an uneven playing field for the new runner-up, who has his chair turned away from the party, and is in a calm, boring room with older men. That room, unlike the quickly cut, busy party in the parlor, is heavy with obligation, responsibilities, and a bit of tenseness. Both about the fight, and about the world that the young buck is getting himself into.
  7. 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? Both share a moody nighttime setting, both play on perceived threats that go nowhere (In Pleasure Garden, the gentlemen courting the chorus girl, and in The Lodger, the "murder's" reflection in the food stand) to give a ghoulish uneasy feeling to the proceedings. Unlike Garden, Lodger doesn't have any focused leading characters. The witness, who presumably will show up later, has the only notable speaking role, but even she's drowning in a sea of faces. Garden instead has a more American introduction set up (" I'm John Doe, how are you ~ played by Bob Smith). The Lodger also has a much more frenzied feel to it, compared to Garden's unsettling creeps. 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? Starting off with a screaming victim certainly seems unusual and I'll peg as being part of the "Hitchcock style" without being familiar enough with it. Interestingly the woman seems to have gold fillings on her teeth, a realistic touch that wouldn't normally fly for a young vicitim. We certainly have the voyeuristic tone to the whole opening: the camera sitting in the crowd, in the backseat of the news van, and most anxiety-producing, the waiting for the telegraph to finish typing what we've already read and move to the next line. 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? It's a tight frame, and (at least in this print) is the first thing we see. Her distress and the short shakes of her head leave us with a confused and claustrophobic image, imparting perhaps a strangling? I certainly think the uncomfortable sudden image, as well as the unglamorous treatment of the victim, lend the shot an urgent quality that makes up for the lack of a soundtrack. I'm curious however if a good organist would also contribute a melody or screech to match? The shot brings vague memories back of Psycho, but the murder victim in Strangers on a Train also had a claustrophobic shooting arrangement.
  8. 1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. I can't readily admit to being well versed enough on Hitchcock to really see much of what we're calling the "Hitchcock touch", but from a few films I've seen there seem to be traces of the "Bomb under the table" rule of suspense. The audience is given an almost voyeuristic view of each scene. First from the establishing shot of the stage from the catwalk (like a phantom) and then in the street. We're made to sympathize with Jill Cheyne in the streets (and earlier the showgirls who we seemingly share the stage with), by pairing them against lustful men who seem up to no good. The fact we are a witness to a crime, yet can't speak out seems somewhat familiar in my favorite Hitchcock film (out of the 3 I've actually seen), Strangers on the Train which also puts the audience in an uncomfortable squeeze of knowing while the lead suffers. 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? I think I see elements of it, as reflected in my last response. The lecture notes suggest I will, but really I haven't seen enough to really comment. 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. Mainly, because film is a visual and can quickly transmit information with either acting, editing, or set-up; quicker than having everyone locked in place to explain the plot away.
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