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)
Although I have only seen the first half of The Man Who Knew Too Much, it is fairly evident from these early scenes that the story will be more about inner conflicts for the characters more than the overall plot. An example of this is the hesitation between Louis Bernard and Peter Lorre's character as they acknowledge each other in the crowd of people. This early interaction hints at a prior connection with urgent and grand implications for both of them.
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?
Although Abbott is shown as someone who may be out of the loop as far as the language and cultural norms of the people around him, he exhibits an eagerness to not feel handicapped. His persona suggests that he is already quite formidable and does not require the pity of other people. The way he stands out in the crowd of people due to his clothing and stature suggests he will be essential to later elements of 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.
I've noticed that a recurring theme in Hitchcock's opening scene's is the element of chaos. Whether it was the people coming down the stairs in rapid succession in The Pleasure Garden or the woman being strangled in The Lodger, Hitchcock seems to be aiming to disorient viewers out of the idea of an objective reality and instead trying to attach viewers to the reactions and point of views of characters which he can used to greater effect later in a film. This opening scene is slightly different than early works in that it shows a dialogue between characters rather than a single reaction. Louis Bernard is visibly startled when he sees Betty and her dog dart out before him. Surprisingly here viewers also step into the point of view of Betty as Bernard tumbles down the slope and avoids catastrophe. Hitchcock could have easily shown this event all from Bernard's point of view, somewhat like Cary Grant is shown while being hit by a truck in North By Northwest, but it is telling that he chooses to expand the parameters and show the effect Louis already has on this girl and her family.