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

The camera angles, the "Hitchcock Blond",

 

 

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? 

As I said it has the camera angles, the start of the hitchcock blond and well i have to watch the movie to really understand this question.

 

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?

The camera shots and the actors set up the scene with their actions. Since this is not the first suspense film from Hitchcock (london fog) from watching this scene its nothing too special. 

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

The beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" are definitely evident in this sequence.  Hitchcock's humor (e.g., the woman audience member who sleeps while the men get hot and bothered, the flimsy come-on-line re: being enthralled by the chorus girl's blonde locks, etc.) is definitely there.  The edits (that were tedious and difficult in the mid 1920's) that switch perspective from first person to third person are there as well, and of course, the attractive/seductive blonde.

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?  

These themes and elements are evident even in this short sequence -- the male voyeur who is drawn to meet and interact with the female whom he watches from a distance, the female who has a different agenda, suspense of the audience knowing something the character doesn't know (i.e., pickpocket lifting items from the woman's purse).

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, because the audience is drawn even more to the visual.  If you accept the technical limitations of the era (and not speculate about what synchronous dialogue, technicolor, cinemascope, etc. would have done to the sequence), this is a striking sequence that draws the audience in.

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I definitely see the beginnings of the “Hitchcock Tough” in this sequence.  He used the view from the top of the stage onto the dancers; a view he spoke about in the interview film clip we watched.  So Hitchcock!  He uses the above view in Psycho as we watch from above the mother murder Martin Balsam, the detective at the top of the stairs; he uses it in Rear Window when Lisa and Stella are digging up the flower garden (not watching from their point of view, but from Jimmy Stewart’s; he uses it in Notorious when Cary is walking Ingrid down the stairs as they approach Claude Rains.

Yes, I agree that this sequence contains elements, themes, and approaches. The ELEMENT of human curiosity is so prevalent in his films and allows us to see the outcome of these curiosities.

1)      Pleasure Garden – The old man curious to meet the young lady and gets rejected.

2)      Strangers on a Train – Farley Granger goes to Robert Walker’s house to know what Walker is up to, which leads to a regretful move. Also, the curiosity of the party attendees on how to commit a murder.

3)      The Birds - Tippi Hedren becomes curious as to the noise in the bedroom; another regretful move.

4)      Rear Window – During his boredom, Jimmy Stewart becomes curious as to the activity of his neighbor.

5)      Psycho – Vera Miles is curious about a strange basement door

The THEMES most common in Hitchcock’s films is the blonde victim who has an unhappy past to overcome motivating her to make wrong and sometimes destructive decisions.
1) Psycho – Marion was obviously not happy with her financial/living situation so she took the money and tried to leave town.
2) Marney – Marney had a horrible past of abuse and having to kill at a young age, then made bad decisions the rest of her life by stealing.
3) Vertigo – Judy’s involvement in a past murder plot and decides to continue her charade.

 

As far as limitations on spoken dialogue, I agree that Hitchcock, himself had limitations, but he directed the visual expressions and actions of the actors so well that dialogue was not needed.

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The Hitchcockian touch is highlighted front and center in The Pleasure Garden. Notably, a great film technique often utilized by directors is the shot reverse shot. We, the audience, attain a clear indication of a what a character is witnessing upon use of this specific technique. Hitchcock famously implements shot reverse shots in the groundbreaking film, Rear Window. Luckily, we are in for a treat with his directorial debut, as this method of storytelling was obviously a profound aspect of Hitchcock as a visual artist.

 

Both The Pleasure Garden and Rear Window involve characters using binoculars. These occurrences lead Hitchcock to employ the shot reverse shot technique. Voyeurism is also explored within Hitchcock films. He creates plots/scenes in which the primary/secondary characters are clearly voyeuristic in nature. Cleverly, Hitchcock reveals our own voyeuristic tendencies, as we watch those characters watch other characters.

 

Hitchcock was Hitchcock even in his early days. The only difference is he was honing his craft in directing The Pleasure Garden, but there are very transparent glints of his artistry this early on. The audience literally obtains a front row seat into his Hitchcock's emergence as a very impactful visionary storyteller.

 

Dialogue misaligned with the scenes is somewhat of a hindrance, yet only to a degree. The audience does not necessarily witness the initial impulsive reaction of each actor and any subsequent interaction(s) explored through dialogue. For example, an inflection of the voice, any type of tone or delivery of the titled card lines (i.e. script dialogue) are left unspoken by the actors. However, with the lack of spoken dialogue, Hitchcock still achieves his quickly, and perfectly timed approach of wit through the actions of the actors, primarily through facial expressions, mannerisms, etc. This shows the effectiveness of Hitchcock as a filmmaker as it reveals he undoubtedly can work with an expansive range of situations.

 

I would even argue here, in beginning with silent cinema, Hitchcock was trained in a way unlike many other filmmakers. He was able to successfully implement movements of the body and then couple them with verbal expressions later on into his illustrious career. Film fans are knowledgeable of the difficult transition for actors of the Silent Era from silent films to talkies. On the other hand, Hitchcock as a director, seemed to easily tackle any obstacles he endured rather easily. His smoothness of transition displayed his expertise with both silent and sound films, which is an evident and undeniable aspect of why he is a Master of his chosen craft.

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I definitely see the beginnings of the “Hitchcock Tough” in this sequence.  He used the view from the top of the stage onto the dancers; a view he spoke about in the interview film clip we watched.  So Hitchcock!  He uses the above view in Psycho as we watch from above the mother murder Martin Balsam, the detective at the top of the stairs; he uses it in Rear Window when Lisa and Stella are digging up the flower garden (not watching from their point of view, but from Jimmy Stewart’s; he uses it in Notorious when Cary is walking Ingrid down the stairs as they approach Claude Rains.

Yes, I agree that this sequence contains elements, themes, and approaches. The ELEMENT of human curiosity is so prevalent in his films and allows us to see the outcome of these curiosities.

1)      Pleasure Garden – The old man curious to meet the young lady and gets rejected.

2)      Strangers on a Train – Farley Granger goes to Robert Walker’s house to know what Walker is up to, which leads to a regretful move. Also, the curiosity of the party attendees on how to commit a murder.

3)      The Birds - Tippi Hedren becomes curious as to the noise in the bedroom; another regretful move.

4)      Rear Window – During his boredom, Jimmy Stewart becomes curious as to the activity of his neighbor.

5)      Psycho – Vera Miles is curious about a strange basement door

The THEMES most common in Hitchcock’s films is the blonde victim who has an unhappy past to overcome motivating her to make wrong and sometimes destructive decisions.

1) Psycho – Marion was obviously not happy with her financial/living situation so she took the money and tried to leave town.

2) Marney – Marney had a horrible past of abuse and having to kill at a young age, then made bad decisions the rest of her life by stealing.

3) Vertigo – Judy’s involvement in a past murder plot and decides to continue her charade.

All excellent points and a great analysis. I picked up on the Martin Balsam/Psycho reference, unfortunately not much else! Now I can see where he uses the same camera angle/technique in Rear Window when Lisa and Stella are digging up the garden... 

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I just watched Psycho last night, but it's been several years since I've seen other Hitchcock films.  I do watch his TV series on another network.  What I see as a signature is his focus on the characters' eyes, which he uses to silently speak volumes.  Also, he zooms in on his characters, making them seem to be in the room with you while the rest of the scene remains on screen.  He, in essence, makes the viewer part of the film.

 

I don't think I could have noticed that was a Hitchcock film from just that clip.

 

I spent an entire day watching Valentino films on TCM, and somehow I found myself "hearing" the dialogue.  I had the same effect from this Hitchcock silent.  As I thought about my response to this query, I replayed the scenes in my mind and again "heard" dialogue and music. The silent films have unlocked another part of my consciousness.

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Wow, that was a fantastic clip. 

 

1. So yes, I can see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch", for me it was the different lens techniques. The lens burring when the older gentleman takes his eye piece of. The focusing in on something like one is looking through a pair of binoculars or a camera. He's directing the viewer to see what he wants them to see.

 

2. Yes. As odd as this might see...its the spine that I can see in his female leads. That was a running thing through out the whole of his film career. His female leads were never weak or helpless or spineless. You can see bits of that in the blonde dancer when she pulls of the curl and hands to the older gentleman that says the curl made him like fancy her.

 

3.Absolutely not. I think that it allows people to make connections that they want to. I think that the silent films allows the viewers to get lost in the films in a way that we don't appreciate today.

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1.  The beginnings that I see are the unique camera angles, like the shot of the dancers from above, and the staircase with the blacked out sides, the odd humor and the panning shots of the characters whether they are main characters or not.  It reminds me of the shot in "The Birds" where the people in the diner all think Melanie brought the birds with her and the camera pans around the room on each person.  I also see this theme in Rear window although, it is presented in a different manner - through the binoculars of Jimmy Stewart's character. 
 
2.  I agree.  The themes that I see are the composed yet funny blonde who obviously isn't wowed by the introduction, the stairs which are a reoccurring theme in many of his movies: Psycho, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief (the ball scene), and the unique camera angles and shots.
 
3.  I think the body language and facial expressions tell us everything we need to know.  Any dialogue is not necessary at this point.

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Typed this up last night but wasn't able to post... :-\ So... here were my first few impressions…

 

1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Yes. There’s that visible sense of quiet longing, sometimes despair, sometimes nefariousness, sometimes confusion and concern... and sometimes evil in people’s actions; thoughtful looks in characters’ eyes that we see in close-ups; a sense of humor in the juxtaposition of what is expected (social rules) and what is actually happening (ignoring a non-smoking sign by smoking a cigar) – which lends a sense that all is not as it seems. Expect the unexpected. Look out for danger. Focus on the details so you don't miss something… etc.

 

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? Sure. For instance, there is a focus on “everyday life” experiences – a sense of life going on whether witnessed/noticed or not. (For example: the dancers on the stage are doing their usual routine, not necessarily caring what the audience thinks (it’s a job; they’re on and off the stage on cue… and then they’re done), while the individual audience members are taking in the performance and the performers themselves in personal ways -- getting out of it what they want, not necessarily reality. This is similar to the way the apartment residents in “Rear Window” are going about their lives doing everyday routine… and it takes just one man (who we get to know personally) to be put in an unusual situation (for him) which allows him to notice/pay attention to what all of those people are actually doing in their own lives. But... is it just his perception of the "show" before him... or is it reality?

 

Then (back to the Garden) there’s the camera's focus honing in on what you need to see as the viewer to make sure you’re in the know – such as the spotlight on the ladies’ purse to clue you into the fact that someone is paying more attention to it than she is and they’re going to take advantage of her lack of attention... which can be compared with the use of binoculars in Rear Window. It gives you the opportunity to know what’s going on and be part of the scene, creating a sense of anticipation for things you don’t want to happen. Example: You want to tell the lady with the purse, “That guy just took your paper!” Your closeness to the action makes you feel like you want to be actually there to rescue somebody.

 

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? Because of the way Hitchcock focuses your attention on scenery and characterizations… I didn't really miss the dialogue. I could still tell when someone was being quirky/tongue in cheek or scared or bothered. I particularly liked the two “bad guys” who took the ladies’ paper from her purse. I could’ve sworn I heard what that one guy said when he stuck the paper in his pocket! And yet... I didn't. However… what I *do* miss in the silence of the film is being able to hear the emotion in an actor’s voice. For instance, sometimes the sound of breathing in an otherwise silent scene can be very scary… especially when a character is hiding from a "bad guy" and the sound of their breath could give their hiding place away. You can’t get that particular feeling of dread from a silent film.

 

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The clip in Pleasure Gardens a good number of Alfred Hitchcock's eventual touches. The first touch is binocular shot. The audience is seeing the point of view of the person through binoculars. This shot has been repeated such as North by Northwest and the hole shot in Psycho. The second touch is pushing the boundaries of sex appeal. In this case, the clip shows the legs of the burlesque dancers which was risky during the 1920s even with no restriction code. The final touch is the even famous leading lady with blonde hair.

 

Speaking sounds were not needed to understand the actions in this clip and other silent era films. The score and other sounds were critical component to explain the actions of the film because they can be altered throughout the film. In addition, the subtle overacting and camera angles were also vital to describe the story, especially for thriller and mystery films.

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1. The Hitchcock Touch: Yes, clear: Hitch's use of the camera, what he focuses on: women running down spiral steps on to stage; men's faces oogling the dancers through foggy monocles & unfocused binoculars against the sleeping woman (cute touch); the older man stepping on toe in his zeal to get to the dancer; the owner smoking by a no smoking sign; CU of faces men then woman reactions; focus on the curl, handbag, thief's hand, & use of the music.

2. Yes, I agree with their assessment.

3. No, spoken words are not always necessary to convey emotion or what is going on in a scene: like I noted above, the CUs of faces, the angle the camera focus on specific items than back to people to see reactions, lighting and music all play great parts in moving the story along.

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1) Yes.  The chorus girls coming down that spiral staircase, & the upper class men ogling them, serves to objectify both.  Hitchcock seemed to be setting up the victim/victimizer theme right from the start.  Yet the one chorus girl who gave the man her curl shows she will not be a victim.  The young girl who had the letter of introduction is right away shown as a victim.  This theme seems to go back & forth.

2) Yes.  I especially like the idea of Spoto's that the camera seems to become the observer of the observers.

3)  No.  It seemed very clear what was going on without being able to hear the words.  Silent film makes you pay attention to what's going on.

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I have seen a few Hitchcock films but have not really studied them enough to be able to comment on Hitchcock's touch.

 

I do agree that we see elements and themes in this sequence that we will see throughout his films such as the humor (smoking in front of the no smoking sign) and of course the blonde.

 

I don't think the lack of conversation takes anything away from the sequence.

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1. Hitchcock touch beginnings:

I can see the beginnings of the director's touch in the sense of humour which is in all his films (the stepping on the man's foot in this one) and in the presence of a cheeky, confident lady, also a common feature of the director's films.

 

2. Elements, Themes, Approaches.

The use of the audience's faces and reactions is similar to the process Hitch uses in The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much (the scene in the Albert Hall,) to convey the mood of the scene - in the Pleasure Garden, humour in The Man Who Knew Too Much and The 39 Steps, tension. 

 

3. Limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue:

It does take a split second longer to fully understand the scene as you lose the immediacy of the speech and reactions of the actors owing to this lack of spoken dialogue.

 

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1. Hitchcock Touch:

I chuckled several times in this opening scene as we're often wont to do in Hitchcock films. The blonde curl being unclipped and the sassy response of its owner were definitely a fortelling of Hitchcock's future in little bits of comedy and strong female characters.

 

2.Approaches/Themes:

I felt when the woman's letter to Hamilton was stolen, it reminded me of Guy's lighter on Strangers on a Train - that something important to our character is lost and could potentially haunt their future. However, as I've never seen Pleasure Garden, I'm not sure how it ended up for our lady fair. 

 

3. Silent movie limitations:

There's always that bit of confusion when people are talking, but you don't get a reference for what they're saying. If there isn't action to accompany it (the two men watching the girl inside the building after her letter was stolen) weren't clear in their intentions...but probably would be once the movie continued on.

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

 The use of the descent from a staircase reminds me of how AH used heights such as in "North by Northwest," "Vertigo," "Rear Window," "Saboteur," and "To Catch a Thief." 

 

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 agree with that assessment. For example, the old lech thinks the chorus girl is probably a woman with lose morals or a prostitute but she rebuffs the advance, i.e. appearances can be deceiving. In addition, the whose scene involves voyeurs which one finds in "Rear Window."  

 

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. The adage (a picture is worth a thousand words) comes to mind. 

 

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I see touches of early hitchcock as the trademark dry humor and wit. The later touches of Hitchcock with the girl with and and charm. I see his camera movement that he often uses as a point of view shot form a person such as he does in rear window. its still raw hitchcock i might add as he has not made the later touches that would be his trademark. 

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  I really can see the beginnings of Hitchcock's humor in the removable curl scene. The strong female blonde character that will continue in all of his movies. For example: North By North West, Eva Marie Saint's character is a strong female that doesn't let Cary Grants' character push her around. Same in Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window and on and on.

Also in the spiral staircase scene that he uses different camera angles to show off the dancers assets.

 

 

I really don't think that there are any limitations. The facial expressions are truly beautiful to watch. 

They are used to convey a certain mood in a scene. I think you can get so lost in silent films in a different way, that no one appreciates in the movies of today.

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The "Hitchcock touch" is clearly evident in this opening scene.  As others have already mentioned, the man smoking under the "smoking prohibited" sign....the removable curl....it's that smart sense of humor mixed in with something darker that makes Hitchcock stand out from others.  

 

As for the silent film genre, I don't feel there are any limitations at all.  Silent films had their own way of getting messages across, perhaps even more than when 'talkies' came into play, simply because we got SO much information from facial expressions, body language, and simply by inferring what was happening in the scene.  This makes for a much richer movie-going experience, in my opinion!

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I agree completely that you can see themes that run through Hitchcock's career in this clip. What struck me most was the idea of voyeurism that gets explored probably most famously in Rear Window, but runs through others of his films. Nearly the entire clip was men watching women - the society men watching the chorus girls and the pickpockets watching Jill. He also demonstrates an early use of his "trick" of showing the audience (via closeups or cutaways) information that the characters in the scene don't have. 

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1) Yes.  The chorus girls coming down that spiral staircase, & the upper class men ogling them, serves to objectify both.  Hitchcock seemed to be setting up the victim/victimizer theme right from the start.  Yet the one chorus girl who gave the man her curl shows she will not be a victim.  The young girl who had the letter of introduction is right away shown as a victim.  This theme seems to go back & forth.

2) Yes.  I especially like the idea of Spoto's that the camera seems to become the observer of the observers.

3)  No.  It seemed very clear what was going on without being able to hear the words.  Silent film makes you pay attention to what's going on.

 

You're right!!  The victim/villain scenario is set up right from the start!  Just when you start to get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is going to go terribly wrong with this first encounter, the blonde chorus girl puts your mind at ease immediately, proving she's not just another pretty face!  LOVE it!

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What I noticed of the "Hitchcock Touch" in Pleasure Garden was in the opening shot, the looking down camera angle of at the girls on stage, (God's judgement?); the men in the audience using binoculars for a better look (Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window), the use of signs in the background, the Smoking Prohibited; while he's in front smoking a cigar (like sign on the door "Dog License in "The Birds"); the character in awe of the girls curly hair (like Vertigo) and the slashing lines in the staircase (Like Psycho)

 

 

I don't think there were any obvious limitations in lack of sound since each frame was tied together so well, you knew what was happening, nothing was happening off-screen to surprise the viewer.

 

 

 

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

 

Yes, definitely. There is the 'male gaze', where a man is obviously attracted to a woman, while using binoculars. In "The Pleasure Garden", there is the older man viewing women's legs with his binocular as he focuses on the main woman. In this case, Hitch expresses the vulnerability of women and the often leering disquality of men who sometimes believe that women are just meer objects. This is also evident in "Rear Window", where Stewart and Wendell Corey spy on Georgine Darcy ('Miss Torso') who is not-so subtly used as eye candy.  

 

However, because of the main chorus girl's reaction to the older man, there is feminism involved. The woman refuses to be a victim and directly sneers at the man to stop looking at her. 

 

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. As the viewers, we observe the observers in the audience as they observe the women in the routine. We spy on them as they most of the men are spying on the dancing women. We disapprove of the behavior of the men because they are not only objectifying women, but they are also smoking in a non-smoking section. There also the element of suspense, because we see a man pickpocketing another without actually getting caught. 

 

One factor that I always think of is the staircase that plays a very important part of a Hitchcock film. We see the women walking down the stairs at the beginning of 'Pleasure Garden'; Martin Balsam's murder in PSYCHO; the tower that is a catalyst for Stewart's phobia in VERTIGO, and Joseph Cotton staring at Teresa Wright in SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and even Cary Grant bringing a supposedly poison glass of milk to Joan Fontaine in SUSPICION, among others. This heightens the tension of not exactly knowing if something is good or bad walking down or coming up a flight of stairs.

 

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, not really in this case. Since there is more visual quality than spoken quality, such as women descending down the stairs, there isn't any need for words. You discover immediately of what's taking place. Sometimes words are inferior to action/behavior. In certain films or situations, body movement/facial expression speaks more volumes than words could ever do. 

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

   Most certainly- I think everyone has identified the saucy blondes (though someone mentioned about the presence of a female writer for that), back and forth shot action between the chorus line and leering audience, general "this is what I'd like you to be looking at" specific touch that al Hitchcock films seem to have.

 

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 agree with these statements. Not having seen this film but having seen many of Hitchcock's silent films, the "touch" is definitely there.. there is more to come/

 

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?

Absolutely not. Silent films are almost more interesting because the director/writers have to be very specific in their choices of what the audience sees dialoguewise (cards). Couple that with very specific directorial choices and you have the makings of a potentially interesting partnership.

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I most definitely see the beginnings of both shots and scenes that will exist in Hitchcock's bag of cinematic tricks to come as well as themes and even objects such as the binoculars that we will encounter over the next 50 years. We observe as observers the observers of the young women coming down the staircase as it fills our and the male clients field of vision and singles out the concentration for the shot while making sure we do not forget we are as much voyeurs as the gentlemen in the crowd. I think it's interesting to see as well the woman asleep while the boorish men make a spectacle of them selves captivated by the beauty before them. We encounter a feminine view of male behavior in his movies to come through that brief glance of her snoozing in boredom such as in the birds from Annie and our heroine laying judgement on the hero's own behavior toward women. We also see and know that voyeuristic admiration of the female form and those legs will come up again throughout Hitchcock's work. We see this later in Psycho and Rear Window of course.

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