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1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence?

 Quite distinctly. Using the audience's viewpoint and the shots of the leering men in the audience (the bored sleeping woman?) using binoculars to ogle their legs while sitting on the front row.  His voyeurism was evident right from the start.  

The icy cool, indifferent blonde woman....signature Hitch.

 

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?  

 

Definitely

 

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? 

 

Maybe some, but not much.

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

 

I can't say that I'm familiar enough with Hitchcock's films to be able to define exactly what the Hitchcock "touch" might be, but I was reminded of several elements from his later films.  For example, the sense of humor expressed visually (in ways that simply couldn't be expressed any other way) seemed very familiar: the use of the camera lens to show the older man having trouble seeing the young woman he's trying to ogle until he uses binoculars, and then the dancing legs coming into focus, reminded me of such visual gags as the two love birds in Melanie Daniels's car swaying back and forth in The Birds as she drives along the winding California coastline, or the sea of red porter's caps that appear in the Chicago train station when the police are searching for Cary Grant disguised as a porter in North By Northwest.  

 

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 would agree.  I thought of the direct contrast between scenes of what seems like lighthearted humor (the chorus girl rebuffing the older man on stage) and darker, more sinister ones (the two pickpockets outside the theater who steal the letter from the young woman's purse).  I'm reminded, for instance, of the humor in the early scenes of North By Northwest, which soon turns into something very different.   There's also the overall element of relationships between men and women.  Here, Hitchcock starts with an older, seemingly harmless and bumbling man eyeing chorus girls, who seems easily deflected, then shifts to pickpockets who are clearly out to prey on the young woman entering the theater, and finally leaves us with the two men inside the theater, who are better dressed, and whose motives are left ambiguous in this first scene: will they aid the young woman, or also take advantage of her?  I thought of the way in which relationships between men and woman take such different turns in so many of his later movies:  Notorious, Psycho, North By Northwest, The Birds, Rear Window, etc.    

 

 

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?

 

Of course the lack of spoken dialogue (and also sound effects) was a limitation in silent films, but I'm sure it forced directors to learn to tell stories differently, having to find ways to use almost nothing but picture.  I would imagine that the skills acquired by being forced to do that must have had a big impact on silent era directors even after synch sound became available.

 

 

 

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

 

Yes, the scene shows ordinary individuals in extraordinary situations. The chorus girl meeting the rich patron, the new girl without her letter of introduction. It also has juxtaposition. There is the juxtaposition of the theater manager smoking a cigar in front of the "No Smoking" sign. The blond chorus girl is part of the Hitchcock touch.

 

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. The way the scene is framed, it is nearly claustrophobic. The spiral staircase, the view through the binoculars. Even the shots in wider spaces are only as wide as they need to be. I think Hitchcock's use of lenses in this scene is seen again in Strangers on a Train.

 

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. Film is a visual medium and we are shown what we need to see. We see the events. We see the the reactions and the emotions. We see the inter titles for context when we need it.

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No question this first directorial effort contains the basic Hitchcock "touch." The prurient leg shot, which you see later in "The Lady Vanishes" (with even a brief glimpse of Margaret Lockwood's bum), and certainly shots of Grace Kelly's arms in "Rear Window." Hitchcock certainly had a lascivious nature, and probably delighted in such shots, and knew he could get away with them in the context of telling the story.

 

The leering "gentlemen" is also a Hitchcock touch, but one that seems quite Russian in its execution. I'm reminded of Eisenstein's shots of greedy capitalists and privileged class members in his pro-Soviet films, and also some of the characters in Murnau's work.

 

Also, the unexpected sight at the end of a shot, such as going down the line of leering gents, and seeing the sleeping lady at the end. Very quick, but a cinematic poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

 

And finally, the peering through binoculars and a monocle, brought to full fruition 29 years later in "Rear Window," where the entire focus of the film is on what is seen (and unseen) through the lenses. It is a revelation to me that some of these themes and techniques were so readily apparent in Hitchcock's very first feature film.

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I see the use of "thirds" in his composition of shots...placing characters in the sweet spot accordridng to that rule.

 

I see his use of medium shots often and his use of "point of view" to isolate the perspective of a character.

 

A few times he sets up a scene with routine activity that is punctuated with the introduction of nefarious characters that instill a sense of something about to take place that will cause minor chaos.

 

I do not know if Hitchcock can be credited here with using what seems to be "classic" film-making techniques. His eye for composition is certainly a hi-lite.

 

Although no dialogue is used...the story is clear and concise thanks to edits which keep one informed and compelled to continue to follow along.

 

JC

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

 

Yes I would agree that hints of what was to come in the way of Hitchcock’s masterpieces can be seen in the opening act of The Pleasure Garden. Specifically, I enjoy watching the secondary members of the cast as they bring a bit of humor into the scene. Also, the use of the spiral staircase; incorporating almost a 3D effect for the viewer as he would later do in Vertigo.

 

 

 

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 their assessments. Hitchcock brought some humor, sex, mystery and mesmerizing camera angles to his directorial debut.

 

 

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? 

 

A well done silent film is coherent even without spoken dialogue. In the opening scenes of The Pleasure Garden, there was nothing I missed by not hearing any of the characters speak their words. I could tell that the stage manager was sheisty by the way he smoothed out his mustache and the dancing girls expression of disgust at the old man oodling at her from his seat spoke volumes.

 

 

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I think the opening has the light comedy that Hitchcock takes into many of his films. The sleeping woman in the long line of very happy, attentive men. Also the strong female character as with the girl who offers the blonde curl to Mr. Brand after he admires it. The facial expressions and camera shots through a monacle, binocular or without are interesting shots that I believe he is known for throughout his 50 years. As for the film being silent limiting it, absolutely not. The faces and actions convey the story without the voices very well.

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

 

​I did notice the interesting way Hitchcock allows us different views of what different characters are seeing.

 

 

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 must admit that I am not familiar with Hitchcock's silent films, so I defiantly would not disagree and look forward to finding out for myself.

 

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?

 

I felt the opening scene was fine with out, I felt only a little bit of limitation at the very end of the clip.

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


Strong blonde woman, sensuality, both seeing characters and their points of view, that hint of comedy... yes, I see it.


 


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've not yet seen every film Hitchcock has done, but I can definitely see his style already.  


 


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?


There is an awful lot being said even without words.


 


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In ​The Pleasure Garden​, the opening sequence is a major Hitchcock touch. The close up of the girls' legs and watching the guys having fun seeing the girls had his humor in that sequence. The part where the purse is shown only on the screen is another great touch of his. I can tell its Hitchcock's style so yes I agree. There are no limitations on understanding what's going on.

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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?

 

I did not find limitations at all. Film is not just an element of the spoken word, it is a compilation of moving pieces to create a scene or an action. Although dialogue does add to films, it does not define a film. When anyone thinks of Alfred Hitchcock in his films, most people do not think of the writing as much as the style of the moving images. I think it is possibly better that it is a silent film, so that we as the viewers have to figure out the meaning through what we see. Alfred Hitchcock is a master of storytelling, and it clearly shows even in his first film. One of the themes I noted early on was how the women were being objectified by the gawking men. Hitchcock told us this not through words, but through his choice of shots. He used the technique of juxtaposition as we switch between the shots of the girls and the shots of the men in the audience. Is there limitations with silent films? Not at all. Silent films are perhaps the films with the greatest storytelling, due to the fact that sound could not be used. Some of the best films could have the sound turned off and we still understand what is happening. I can definitely say that this is something Hitchcock utilizes with all his films, and with his art direction background he used stylized and unique shots to tell a story instead of many conventional styles of the time. 

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

Not sure yet!!!

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 guess I will have to agree...looking forward to learning all these approaches that are being discussed!

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...since movement never lies!!!

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I have started looking past the signature blonde characters, the dark humor and Hitchcock hidden within the first few minutues of a film because of the silent films reviewed during this course.  I have added the angular shadows shots, close shots and off-camera screams, stair case meanings, oversized objects in the foreground, femme fatals accessorized in dark colors, montagues and other effects. I applied this knowledge by visiting an interactive digital art exhibition (in black and white) and using my Smartphone to try to take some Hitchcock inspired photos and video. It was especially fun because I had more background knowledge!  I think that since we have audio know that we can appreciate the art of silent films more.  In the late 20s filmmakers had to be very clever to lead their audience to understanding and to keep their attention. I don't feel silence is limiting, just different than today's status quo, but equally appreciated.

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


Yep... The man in the public sees the woman's legs the camera shot its similar to the camera shots of Rear Window.


The confusion of the woman when she realized she was robbed... That expression its similar to some movies.


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.


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?


I don't think so... The corporal language is enough on this kind scenes.


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I can see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock Touch" in The Pleasure Garden. It had touches of a voyeuristic quality shown in some of his other films (Rear Window, Psycho, Strangers on a Train, etc.).  I also noticed how the many of the women in the chorus line seemed to be blondes, including the female that the audience member focused on with his binoculars. That specific female type seemed to take center stage in Hitchcock's later films.  The short clip was packed full of sinful, or at least questionable behaviors, vices or symbols - lust, gluttony, stealing, policy breaking (smoking in front of a smoking prohibited sign), etc.  The film's title, The Pleasure Garden - I took to be inspired by the Garden of Eden, from the Bible, where it is written that Man and Woman (Adam and Eve) committed the first sin of disobeying God and eating from the tree of knowledge.

 

While there are limitations with the silent film clip (for instance, one can get a lot of meaning from a character's tone), it makes the viewer focus on other qualities - facial expressions and body language of and between characters, and deduct your own meaning from those behaviors.

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I wanted to share some additional thoughts about the film; things that I've had in mind since I first saw it two days ago. 

 

First, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. I thought that being Hitchcock's first film, a flop, and not one that gets mentioned that often (at least not as much as The Lodger), that it would be worse. But I really enjoyed it. I also saw some distinct "Hitchcock touches", maybe even more than I can remember in some of his other silent films, in terms of direction, angles, and edits.

 

Other than the largely discussed opening shot, I really liked the scene near the middle when Patsy is waving goodbye at Levet's boat, only to fade into the native girl waving hello at Levet.

 

post-50116-0-69944800-1498694895_thumb.jpg

 

I thought that was a nice shot. I was also surprised at the fate of the native girl. Pretty dark stuff, considering the times. The way Hitchcock later shot Levet's hallucinations was pretty cool.

 

post-50116-0-71948600-1498695034_thumb.jpg

 

Some of my complaints would be with how easily women fall in and out of love in these films, but I always chalk that up as a sign of the times in most early films. Plus, considering how they pretty much telegraphed that Patsy would end up with Hugh from the beginning, well...

 

Also, I didn't like the fact that Hitchcock ditched Jill towards the end. Considering that the story started as a parallel between both Patsy and Jill, I would've liked to see more of Jill near the end. What happened to her?

 

But all in all, I thought this was a pretty solid film.

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post-50116-0-71948600-1498695034_thumb.jpg

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Daily Dose #1: THE PLEASURE GARDEN

 

1) There is a dichotomy of representations in this film which is a characteristic in all Hitchcock films. On the one hand, there is a show going on inside. The show itself creates a happy, relatively safe place for audience members to enjoy a stage show. The stage scene, viewed rather lasciviously by the elderly gentlemen in the first row, and not at all by the lady in the first row all the way to the right (she is seen sleeping,) conveys an atmosphere of a good time being had. At the same time, outside are dark characters looking for opportunity to do bad things, and in fact one of them does when he steals from the lady who is the focus of the scene. There is a darkness in this film that resonates throughout all Hitchcock films. A good time may be had be had by all, but the undercurrent of something you can't put your finger on, something not quite right is palpable.

 

2) I agree with the assessments made by Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto. As I described in my interpretation above, for me the scene elicited mixed emotions including happiness, gaiety, fear, and dread. I have not seen one Hitchcock film that didn't elicit simultaneous mixed emotions to the degree of making me nauseous on occasion.

 

3) There were no limitations for this scene even though it is a silent movie. Sometimes words get in the way by telling me what I should think or feel during a scene. I suppose a person completely unfamiliar with silent movies might think there were limitations, but if they just paid attention and watched closely, that person would see silent movies in a completely different perspective.

 

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I am a big fan of Hitchcock, and have actually seen many of the silent films mentioned in the opening segments of the course....EXCEPT for "The Pleasure Garden."  Thanks to whoever posted the link to the full film on YouTube!    I notice many people on this forum are either completely unfamiliar with Hitchcock (welcome to a master) or only know his American movies from the late 40s and early 50s.  You'll want to read (or watch the documentary) Francois Truffaut's lengthy interview with him -- it's a classic book and a must have if you're really serious about appreciating Hitchcock on multiple levels.

 

I'm really looking forward to yet another take on the Master of Suspense in this course.  From the opening of "The Pleasure Garden," however, you can see that so many of his signature touches are already there, albeit in a more primitive form.  The humor that just flickers by (e.g., the "No Smoking" sign next to someone puffing away furiously), the quick cuts, the moody lighting and the point of view shots are here in the first few minutes.  I think the "blonde" element is pushing it a bit, as he really didn't get into that obsessively until much later in his career, but perhaps there is something to be said for the fact that his first "heroine" is, indeed, a "bottle blonde."  

 

As for the lack of sound, Hitchcock was a spectacular visual storyteller, and you really see that in play in the rest of the silent films from his British period.  He didn't NEED sound to tell the story, and so many silents from that era (with several major exceptions) didn't get deep into the emotional heart of a story like Hitchcock did.  I love ALL the eras of his work, and am happy to be reviewing them with so many longtime fans like me and brand new ones too.

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The camera angles, lighting, sharp cuts and the unusual characters all have Hitchcock written all over it. Hitchcock was a visionary and had a style of directing that was not duplicated until the Coen brothers in the 1980's. Hitchcock was able to tell a story with the camera alone which adds an element of mystery and suspense that I believe would be lost with the spoken word.

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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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Things I noticed that had the Hitchcock style:

the unique camera angles - the view of the stage from backstage, but not the typical side view of the performers, just slightly behind them with a small piece of the audience visible.

The panning shot of the row of the audience- feels very familiar, but can't quite put my finger on specific scenes from his films

The young lady emptying out her purse-that desperate search is very Hitchcock-ian to me, but again, can't currently name a scene or film example

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I am not as well versed in Hitchcock films as I would like to be although I am familiar with the more mainstream movies.  That being said, I cannot really comment on the questions posed for Daily Dose #1, but I will give my two cents.  Of course, this being a silent film, much of the storytelling relied on body language, facial expression and music.  I can see how he used that in the films I am familiar with; several close ups and using the actors' facial expressions to add to the suspense and/or engage the audience in those same feelings as the characters of the film.  The one thing that did stand out for me in this clip from, 'The Pleasure Garden' was how the character, Patsy Brand, responded to the man's pick up line by pulling out her curl and telling him, "have a nice time".  I don't know if that's a comment by AH on the objectification of women and how superficial it really is.  Clearly, I need to watch more Hitchcock! 

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Although I haven't seen nothing but the mainstream Hitchcock, I think this clip in particular references some of the earliest concepts marked by the Hitchcock-Truffaut book: the use of Kuleshov effect.

Of course it contains some of the elements the man used in his 50-year career, I think we can se a rudimentary use of those techniques, in part limited by the technology in that time.

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1. I do see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock Touch" - it began with a higher camera angle and then brought the audience down to the chorus girls. The camera focused on different characters or "parts" of characters. Everything seemed to be well until the men pick-pocketed the young woman. This clip left me wanting more, what will happen next...

2. Does the scene contain elements , themes or approaches.... I believe it does, based on my opinion to the first question. The chorus girl also had light, I'm guessing, blonde hair.

3. I do not feel there were any limitations with this film being silent. I remember either reading or watching a discussion about Hitchcock's film "Pyscho". Hitchcock made the camera tell the story, based on how and what was being filmed the audience knew what was going on. There wasn't a need for a lot of dialogue in certain scenes.

 

I am not an expert, but do enjoy learning new things about classic film, Actors, Directors, etc. I am a Hitchcock fan and love watching his movies over and over. This is also the first time for me bing on a Forum, sharing my thoughts. Everyone seems to have very interesting points. I am enjoying it very much.

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I would say I definitely see the Hitchcock touch in this scene.  In fact I see several key things that would become very common placed in his later work from the higher shot to the way the backstage area is shot and the view of and from the audience all reminds me of The 39 Steps.  Later the focus on the purse also goes into something Hitch would do with objects with the softer focus around the item he wants you to notice.  Overall I'd say that this is very much the beginning of the Master of Suspense work in more than just his first film, but were we see the finger prints of his style coming to life. 

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