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1. I feel that the "Hitchcock touch" is  visible in ladies rushing down the staircase as in more Hitchcock films there are scenes of people rushing to get somewhere.

 

2. Yes I do agree with them

 

3. No I do not

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1. I think there may be a very basic development of the "Hitchcock touch" in that there is a voyeuristic feel at the beginning. We see the dancers first as someone backstage in the catwalk and then as an audience member, blurry and then then through the binoculars and the monocle. Also, we are immediately focused on a blonde (Hitchcock loved working with blondes) with what seems to be a strong-will/sense of self. I am not familiar with Hitchcock's silent films, so I can't really say more at this time.

 

2. I agree that we see elements of Hitchcock's style in the developmental stage. For example, his "looking down from on high" approach is visible in most of his movies, like he is looking down on those he films. There are the close up views on faces, the voyeuristic views, and other stylistic methods demonstrated here. 

 

3. There are definitely some limitations. I enjoy silent films (though I haven't seen any of Hitchcock's silents), but found this opening scene left me with many questions. Did the men picking the woman's purse just want money and accidentally get the letter? Why did the blonde give that "look" when we saw her through the binoculars? Was that to that man in general or someone else? I felt like I was missing something.

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Since my first two beginnings responses disappeared, I’m redoing them in cut and paste and my answers will be much shorter (lucky you!).

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

Hitchcock always had a penchant for blondes and legs. His touches of humor (the false curl, the man getting stepped on), punctuated  even his most suspenseful films (Frenzy the potato truck), and the handcuff scene in The 39 Steps. I even laughed at where Norman Bates wound up. Ok, so my humor is twisted considering he said Psycho was a comedy. Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan.

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, absolutely. His victims tend to be innocent (blonde women) who are threatened or robbed of necessary items. He advanced the plot that begins certain tensions with these crimes. The camera could or would be placed strategically, which helped focus our attention where Hitchcock wanted. The staircase, while not a source of tension here, is used in Vertigo and the opera glasses, so important 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? 

 

Hitchcock says most dialogue is unnecessary. He proves that over and over. He needed no dialogue during his most suspenseful scenes when sound was available. Facial expressions, though exaggerated in those days, body language, lighting and camera position can accomplish a lot to explain the plot.

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Having never seen any of Hitch's silent films, this week's daily doses were interesting; we get to see Hitchcock's style at the very beginning of his career, even seeing what he was like before he developed his signature Hitchcockian style. The beginning of his film career, The Pleasure Garden is an interesting look at one of the greatest directors in film history at the very beginning of his career. 

 

Having said that, I was somewhat...underwhelmed by this scene. Hitch has a very distinct style that has not yet been developed yet, although I'll mention more of that in a moment. Before getting into that, I think it's important to acknowledge that there are some Hitchcockian elements showing up even in 1925. In particular, the things that stood out to me were the dancers descending the spiral staircase (this look had a very Vertigo feel to it for me) and, in particular, the use of the "Hitchcock blonde", something that we see appear very often in the rest of his films. However, there is something about this that seems very...ordinary; as in, this could have been made by any director. Because this was his first film, it seems like he was just beginning to develop his unique auteur voice as a director. 

 

Although I'd like to say that the lack of sound doesn't detract from the filmmaking in this scene, there does actually appear to be something missing. Again, I want to stress the fact that it doesn't feel suspenseful like other Hitchcock movies would eventually feel. Maybe there is something to be said about the use of sychronized sound in Hitchcock's films, which is interesting because he himself has said that he is primarily a visual filmmaker. It's interesting that this film does not appear to hold the same emotional suspense as even some of his later silent films (like The Lodger); even though his later silent films obviously do not have sound, there is still something more engaging about them than this. 

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Hitchcock has an abundant sense of humor which is noticeable in all of his films and is hinted at here. I don't know that I would have guessed this was a film of his but once you know you see glimpses of that humor in the man smoking next to the "no smoking sign", the 

 

The next element is his choice of actors. His characters are always interesting and this film is no different. Even though it is a silent film the actor's facial expressions and Patsy Brand's "gift" to the creepy admirer still make this film quirky and interesting.

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Even in this early effort, many of the themes that Hitchcock was interested in are in evidence.  Many people have pointed out the staircases, the blondes and the voyeurism.  I agree with all three authors in their assessment. 

 

Finally, I don't see the lack of dialogue as a limitation.

 

When I took filmmaking years ago, my professor Dr. Diane Carson told us that we needed to work in silent film first because if we couldn't tell a story effectively with the visuals, dialogue would probably not help that much.  Film is a visual medium and the addition of sound nad/or dialogue is much like the decision to shoot in black & white vs. color or widescreen vs. Academy ratio.  It should be an artistic choice that serves the story.

 

There is a very good explanation of the Kuleshov Effect on YouTube.  I could not copy and paste the link, but you can search for it.  It's by YouTube user Folding Ideas.

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There is a very good explanation of the Kuleshov Effect on YouTube.  I could not copy and paste the link, but you can search for it.  It's by YouTube user Folding Ideas.

 

I daresay this is relevant:

 

 

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I agree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto that Hitchcock successfully repeated techniques.  One element, first introduced in The Pleasure Garden, is the staircase, and Hitchcock used stairs throughout his 50-year career.

The “Hitchcock touch” is evident in the opening sequence of his 1925 directorial debut.  The movement of the showgirls descending the stairs in The Pleasure Garden is perfected later in Vertigo.  In Notorious, Alicia and Devlin walk down that spectacular staircase to safety.  Sebastian climbs up to his demise. 

In The Pleasure Garden Hamilton blatantly smoking backstage in front of the smoking prohibited sign is another “touch”, Hitchcock’s cheeky nod to rule-breakers.

Hitchcock was not limited by lack of spoken dialogue.  His exacting technique of every shot having purpose drives the action.  He continued to employ silence, another example of his “touch.”  He used only music in the assassination scene at The Albert Hall in The Man Who Knew Too Much.  The audience and Roger Thornhill hear only the sounds of an airplane engine, bullets, and rustling corn stalks in the cornfield chase scene in North by Northwest.

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1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Definitely. He uses a wide variety of shots -- high-angle, point-of-view, close-ups of the legs.

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 do agree. I thought the man's disappointment at the chorus girl's curl not being genuine was interesting. A hint at the theme of not everything being as it seems, perhaps. In the Hitchcock films that I'm already familiar with, I recall the theme of male characters being let down by female characters after initially placing them on a pedestal. (Notorious, North by Northwest)

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?

Not at all in the opening scene with the chorus girls. I think Hitchcock masterfully conveyed his meaning and tone there. The scenes of the woman's letter of introduction being stolen were harder to follow for me. It may have simply been a foundation for the remainder of the story but I didn't understand the motivation of the characters who stole the letter from her purse. I'm sure it becomes clearer as the story progresses but the latter scenes don't stand on their own as well as the initial scenes. Whether that's due to the lack of synchronized dialogue, I'm not sure. 

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DAILY DOSE #1 (Pleasure Garden)

 

39 STEPS:

1.Yes; 2.Yes; 3.Yes.

Hitchcock's first directorial step, opens with chorus steppers descending spiral steps into Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights.  A myopic gentleman focuses on a dancing girl, as the ever moving camera moves in. His literal faux pas foreshadows a figurative false step when he asks her to step out but she shuffles off.  Meanwhile an ingenue steps out of her realm and into trouble but a heroine steps in.

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

 
Here are some "Hitchcock touch" I noticed in this sequence :
 
- He established the situation by using object with certain distinctive shape. It shows at the very beginning when the story opens with the established shot of the spiral stair. This similar approach also appears in Hitchcock's later works.
 
- The Point of View shot. It happens when The Old Man sees The Woman through his binocular.
 
- The humour. It shows when The Old Man tells The Woman that he adores her curly hair. Then The Woman just simply gives The Old Man her curly hair piece.
 
- The theme is always about real life and the approach is realistic with some dramatic moments. Also the thought about life that is full of unpredictability. 
 
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.
 

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 think this opening sequence is doing fine without any dialog. The visual and all the things that appear on screen (the setting/artistic elements, the costume, the talents' expression & the lighting) are already powerful so that it will be easy for audience to digest and understand the story.
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I'm delighted to be taking part in the Alfred HItchcock class.  I'm about a week late starting and catching up but enjoying it immensely.  I'm a music professor who is actually currently teaching a seminar on the film music of Bernard Herrmann.  So this is a great class for me to get even more perspective on Hitchcock's history/evolution in film directing. 

 

1. Do you see the beginning of the Hitchcock Touch in The Spiral Garden (1925): 

 

Yes I see many aspects of Hitchcock's development of his signature style.  The slightly clausterphobic use of congestion of the women on the spiral staircase would be used in upcoming films for Universal. Notice the main dancer is blonde and the voyeur with the binocular's obsession with blondes.  Hitch, had an obsession with blonde women who would play his heroine in upcoming films (Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Tippi Hendren, Julie Andrews etc).  The voyeur with the binoculars reminded me instantly of Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.  Hitch always used a healthy dose of voyeuristic sex.  The men in the audience salivating over the dancers is both amusing and slightly titillating. It reminds me of the opening to Psycho of the voyeur shot into Janet Leigh's hotel room. The close up on important object (the woman's purse) and pick pocket scene would be used by Hitch in upcoming films. His use of humor.  The woman giving the guy her blonde curl.  Hitch used humor to create ebb and flow between dramatic tension and release. The close up of the legs is also another signature style moment. 

 

Did anyone notice the theme of enticement/prohibition?  The sign outside that says smoking prohibited and the blatant use of smoking inside the theatre?  Hitch often uses the theme of temptation/impulsion against what is prohibited.  I just watched The Birds last night. I thought about Tippi's character's compulsion to get the love Birds to Rod Taylor's character's home in Morro Bay.  All the drama that leads us to the unfolding of the Bird attacks.  Hitch often uses the the idea of being enticed into something dangerous or forbidden.  We see small touches of that in The Spiral Garden. 

 

2.  Do you agree with Strauss, Yacowar and Spoto? Yes I absolutely agree that Hitch had already began developing his signature style from his first film debut as director.

 

3. Do you feel their were limitations due to silent film making? Not really,  I feel Hitch's use of camera angles, voyeuristic shots, humor, and sex set up the story/plot nicely. The film is easy to follow and Hitch's choice of camera angles compliments the aesthetic style.  I do believe that advancements in film scoring, and cinematography would of course enhance the drama more but Hitchcock did a great job with his first movie.  I have this movie on dvd and will have to examine it more closely as I'm not as familiar with Hitchcock's early silents. 

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I am also a week late in starting this course. :(

 

I read the lesson and watched the clip from THE PLEASURE GARDEN.  I also read everyone's response here and I agree with them.  There is very little I could add except my thought on the "No Smoking" sign, and the theater owner smoking a cigar in front of the sign.  This tells me he IS the boss, and can ignore the rules that he set down for others!  :P  

 

One item I thought was missing:  Hitchcock should have put a close-up of the man's foot being stepped on in the front row.  As it is, we don't instantly figure out what the big commotion is when it happens.

 

 

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

Yes.  It’s just not about the men and their prurient prowess of utilizing (from the front row) binoculars to zero in on a set of gams, it is the blurred view and bringing it in to focus.

 

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? 

Absolutely agree.  They are spot on.

 

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?

Not at all.  In fact, the scenes could have stood on their own without any dialogue.

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​Yes you can see the Hitchcock touch when the film opens. One thing I liked is when you see the sign no smoking and what do you see the owner doing but smoking a cigar. And I do agree with Strauss that you will see a lot more of this in Hitchcock films.There was no limitation in the opening scene

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


The monocle being out of focus and then the tight shot, clear shot shown through the eyes of the binoculars. Reminiscent of Rear Window and the use of binoculars in that film. 


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. See above comment. Also, Hitchcock seemed to use blondes quite often in his films and who should "give away her curl" - a blonde!


 


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1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Yes, the point of view changes between the back of the dance hall to the top looking down on to the stage and then of the "gentlemen" sitting in the first row. Other  films such as the 39 Steps, or Frenzy have these elements as well as the sex with the leering "gentlemen" or humor with the blonde with the removable curl. The blonde is also another 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? I agree using the same examples as cited in question number 1.

 

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 feel that there where any limitations placed upon the film owing it to be a silent picture. The scenes were well thought out ant the physicality of the actors used make it perfectly understandable.

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Yes, the use of the spiral, staircase equals images from Vertigo.  Hitchcock moves from back and forth from both points of view and from inside to outside spaces.  

 

The look of the lusty men as they watch the ladies dance is funny and then we see the "blond" staring at the old man with the unfocused glasses, then binoculars, with disgusted bemusement.  We need no words to tell what both are thinking.  She then dusts him off when he awkwardly tells her he noticed her hair.  So, pun intended, she pulls her hair and offers it to him and then walks away.

 

Outside, thieves are focused on a ladies pocketbook; she doesn't notice them and as she goes into the backstage, so they pick her pocket.  She loses a letter of introduction; we do not see the men's reaction to finding the letter or if they got any money.

 

Inside, the robbed woman is confused, but another woman seems to know who she is.

 

Again, very few words are needed to pull the viewer into the beginning of the film.  We like the blonde; she's street smart.  We are worried for the brunette because we don't know what will happen to her without the letter.  

 

Themes:  beautiful, street-smart girls able to extricate themselves from sexual come-ons.  Another theme, a helpless girl/man, who has lost something which promised to bring her help, but leaves her /him in a vulnerable position.  Sex can get you what you want or somethings you do not want.  Those who are innocent or ignorant of worldly ways can get into trouble without knowing it.

 

 

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I am sorry to be late getting started but still enjoying it thus far!

I believe others have mentioned this, but I see the beginnings of the Hitchcock touch with his use of the blonde at the center of one part of the storyline, the girl in the chorus line that the man is interested in. Also, some of the questionable characters hanging around the theater, inside and out, such as the pickpockets and maybe many of the leering men, too. I agree with the statements by the authors cited, especially seeing Hitchcock's use of the spiral staircase and such. I think working in the silent medium would be much more challenging to convey all you want to, but Hitchcock does it well. Of course, the actors have to be much more expressive facially and bodily than needed if they could speak.

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Also late getting started, but the major Hitchcockian things that stood out to me in this clip are: 1) The high shot POV fro over the stage and 2) the scenes when action is taking place in "background" while the foreground is taken up by inanimate objects. (Unfortunately I've never seen Dial M in 3D, but even in a flat print, Oh my, all those table lamps.)  Of course great comical and semi-comical CU and Mid reaction shots.Yes, yes, yes, the spiral staircase.  But the shot that I found mesmerizing was the double refection in the glass at the box office as the girl is looking for her letter of introduction, 

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This opening sequence--showgirls spiraling down the staircase--shows Hitchcock at the very outset of his career knew what would instantly grab an audience's attention: skimpily dressed chorines showing lots of creamy skin.  Assuming he signed off on the casting, it's interesting that the very first chorus girl singled out in a medium shot is a blonde--not yet of the "icy" variety a la Eva Marie Saint, Tippy Hedren, Kim Novak or Janet Leigh, but a quite attractive blonde nevertheless.  So sex is already at the forefront in THE PLEASURE GARDEN. Soon after, the scene not only revolves around money, but stolen money, stolen right out of the woman's purse. This made me flash forward to Janet Leigh stealing the $40,000 which sets PSYCHO in motion. Sex and money--two basic human needs which appeal to a wide audience--were right there at the outset of Hitch's career. Also, PSYCHO's opening sequence has Janet Leigh--in bra and slip--having some illicit "afternoon delight" on her lunch break with married John Gavin.

The lecherous men in the audience, seen as a "chorus line" of their own as the camera pans across the front row, appear broadly comic and out of character for Hitchcock--or, rather, what Hitchcock would become. His humor will become more subtle. In THE PLEASURE GARDEN the tone of this particular pan is more like a Harold Lloyd comedy. (Actually, as the camera panned I thought I was seeing live action versions of Disney's Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful and Dopey.)
Also in this sequence, we have the blurred, out of focus shot of the dancing showgirls as binoculars or opera glasses come into sharper focus in the foreground, coming up to the camera--to the viewer's eyes--making voyeurs of us all--just as Jimmy Stewart will do some three decades later with his binoculars and camera lens in REAR WINDOW.

The subjects, motifs, etc., that Hitch will develop as he grows in a disciplined style and professionalism are right there at the outset.

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I am also a week late in starting this course. :(

 

I read the lesson and watched the clip from THE PLEASURE GARDEN.  I also read everyone's response here and I agree with them.  There is very little I could add except my thought on the "No Smoking" sign, and the theater owner smoking a cigar in front of the sign.  This tells me he IS the boss, and can ignore the rules that he set down for others!  :P  

 

One item I thought was missing:  Hitchcock should have put a close-up of the man's foot being stepped on in the front row.  As it is, we don't instantly figure out what the big commotion is when it happens.

 

             Since we don't see the actual foot being stepped on it, our "bubble" or focus was burst, just as the man who was stepped on it lost his train of 

             thought or focus at the young ladies. We are jarred out of our point-of-view to a different, distracting one. We need a moment to refocus, as it                  were, and perhaps that could have been why Hitchcock chose NOT to show the stepping part? Scenes like this I frequently watch a few times to              see if my feelings about them change with repeated viewings. I find this very helpful and recommend it!

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Like others in this forum, I am joining this class late but am so glad I found it! In reference to the first question; I did see some elements of Hitchcock's later films. The thing that stood out to me was the far away shot when the dark-haired girl came through the door - not yet realizing the letter/money she had is gone. The way the shadows were reflected on the floor. It reminded me of reading how Hitchcock would story-board scenes as he imagined them in his mind. I also liked the reflection of the girl's face in the glass pane. For the second question, the use of light and shadows for specific scenes were also seen in later films of Hitchcocks such as Rear Window when Raymond Burr comes through the door into a darkened room and you mostly just saw his shadow. Far away shots - I remember one scene in Vertigo with a long shot of Barbara Bel Geddes walking into a darkened hallway after visiting James Stewart in his hospital room. The camara focused on the long hallway and Bel Geddes standing at the window emphasizing her loneliness and isolation. For the third question, I don't really feel the limitations of the silent films made a tremendous difference. The camera did quite well in telling a story and evoking emotions.

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I too am starting a little late, but definitely excited! I particularly enjoyed the binoculars scene, where the shot was blurry but then became clear. It reminded me of Rear Window, with the POV through the binoculars. I don't think the fact that this is a silent movie took away from the scene at all. The facial expressions conveyed the emotions and actions, so I thought it went well with Hitchcock's style.

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