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

Yes, you can clearly see the beginnings of the Hitchcock Touch throughout the sequence. From the vouyerism to close up shots and info detail.

 

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 with all of them. The sequence showcases a lot of things that is visible throughout Hitchcock's career.

 

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 were no limitations whatsoever. The lack of dialogue causes no effect on theses opening scenes.

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1. Hitchcock Touch:  The high-angle shot as the dancers enter the stage.  We can see the producer watching the dancers.  We can see all the way across the stage into the orchestra pit.  A very stylish shot - most of the silent films I've seen are much more "stagey" and static.

 

2. Certainly, Hitchcock's great sense of humor comes through in this sequence.  When the dancer hands the man her curl of hair and the no smoking sign have a very Hitchcockian sarcastic tone.

 

3. The story was told clearly and effectively without the use of dialog.

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

 

In the interview with Hitchcock, he mentions how even before he began directing he manipulate a director's camera angle on a staircase. In The Pleasure Garden, the opening scene focuses narrowly on dancers descending a spiral staircase. In addition to the spiral staircase, the opening scene characterizes the "Hitchcock touch" in his treatment of voyeurism. He turns the cameras on the watchers.

 

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 especially in the way the dancers become the protagonists in the film.

 

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 scene does feel constrained by the lack of spoken dialogue. However, his control of the camera angles adequately carrying forward the story.

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I think that the way the camera shows the images of the characters is a lot of Hitchcock! We are the secret watchers of the scene which creates a mystery about it. We we hide on the backstage and we see the dancers from top? This is the early Hitchcock on his genesis!

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This scene has many characteristics, plots and characters found in many of Hitchcock's movies. The first juxtaposition feature begins with the upbeat music playing while the showgirls are exhibiting their legs and personalities then we see the a sinister figure standing on the wings smoking under a No Smoking sign. The male spectators look even more sinister gloating and smirking at the performers, a taste of Hitchcock's voyeuristic tendencies.. The slouched older woman is prime example of his twisted humor.We're given another plot clue when a dancer reacts to being solicited. Her casual reaction and tossing of her curl is so telling.The viewer clearly understands the nature of each character, no dialogue needed.Brilliant

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

 

Yes. Even here you see him using reflections in mirrors and glass and you see him focusing on one person amidst a bustling crowd, as if he was picking them out of a particular moment. You also see him having things start off in fairly normal way and then taking a turn. Another thing i seven here you see Hitchcock featuring women who were strong and independent and not necessarily demure.

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 think Hitchcock's art career left him with a tendency to work from a regular palate and template and then build off onto that. he approaches his films in many ways as a painting with a foreground, background and then seemingly insignificant things lurking around that eventually come to the forefront.

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? A few. I think even here you can tell he wanters to tell bigger stories and expand on characters.

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

At the beginning of the scene, he uses visual images similar to those he develops more fully later in his career such as the women rushing down the spiral staircase (precursor to Vertigo), the chorus line (precursor to Stage Fright) and, of course, the leering men, including the one with his monocular (precursor to Rear Window). The blond chorus girl is a warmer predecessor to Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint and company, whom Hitchcock preferred as his female leads later on in his career.

 

Importantly, though, two of the keys in this scene that truly indicate the beginnings of his "touch" are his choice of location (precursor to The Man Who Knew Too Much) and the robbery of the young woman at the front of the theatre. In typical Hitchcock style, he has gotten us interested in what is happening at the theatre and shown us the crime (or possibly the beginnings of it, in this case). Now, we are concerned for the young woman and those at the theatre.

 

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, as above. As a young director in 1925, these elements are not as well-developed as they are in his later films, of course, but the beginnings of them, including things such as his unique-sometimes voyeuristic-camera angles, are apparent.

 

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 dialolgue?

No. The visual story clearly expresses its point.

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I do see examples

The different views of the woman rushing down the theater stairs to the stages slightly reminded me of aspects of views in Vertigo

The way the possibly future villain is highlighted smoking below a No Smoking sign

The way the men are leering in different ways at the women on stage shows their different levels of enjoyment at what they see

Also how the star of the film shoots down her suitor makes you concerned for the ladies in the show and their would be suitors

They may not all go pleasantly

The purse which is about to have the important letter of introduction is specifically lighted to draw your attention to it reminds me of later movies lighting

How in a later film it is used to highlight the lighting on a possibly poisoned glass of milk while being carried up the stairs

Making the glass appear to glow

I do see aspects in this opening that in later films are expounded on more fully

Even though it is a silent film the audience can clearly understand what you are wanted to understand by the director

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Hi Hitchcock50 students!

 

We jump right into our analysis of 50 Years of Hitchcock by looking at the opening scene from Alfred Hitchcock's first feature film, The Pleasure Garden (1925). You can watch the clip over in the Canvas course under the Monday June 26 module: "Beginnings, Part 1: Hitch's Early Life & Career." 

 

If you are not already a student in 50 Years of Hitchcock, please join our free course at hitchcock50.tcm.com

 

This Daily Dose has three reflection questions:

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

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? 

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?

Feel free to respond to those 3 questions, or feel free to add your own reflections. 

Thanks, Rich Edwards (Instructor, 50 Years of Hitchcock)

1. Yes, much of the beginnings of his personal signature is shown in this film with his use of lighting, camera motion and focus on character, setting placement, aspects of dark comedy/sexual comedy without sex.

2.  Hitchcock uses very similar techniques from German Expressionism, film noir, and variety of settings focusing on average people finding themselves in peculiar situations that most people can relate to.  

3.  I felt that Hitchcock captures and connects the viewer visually with the energy of he dancing ladies running down the staircase, and the delightful expressions between the men and women creating a sense of humor, and a preclude to what to expect moving forward. Spoken word isn't needed as the camera focuses directly on the audience and characters, and places one in that particular moment in time.

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1. The immediate Hitchcock touch I noticed was his use of reaction. Like "Rear Window" especially, he shows the action unfolding then cuts to the reaction of the audience in this case.

 

2. I agree that Hitchcock's themes appear here but at the utmost infancy. The theme of voyeurism comes through as well as the object of affection being a blonde woman.

 

3. Hitchcock was never a big fan of sound if I recall correctly. He always preferred that the images drove the story and the themes. Many filmmakers of the era felt that silent films were at their purest without sound.

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Daily dose #1. I write this with full trepidation. I have never written on this type of forum. Here goes :

1. The Pleasure Garden (1925). The Hitchcock Touch. Relevant then and now. Beloved by his fans. Musical setting is obviously part of the plot. It is immediate. The emotional factor is also immediate as I cared about the young woman as she encountered the pickpocket. I felt concern. She appeared to be interviewing for a job at the club. Was that one of her last dollars ? She was an average or mediocre woman attempting to find employment I so enjoy the levels of light and dark which play into around and within while viewing all Hitchcock films. Black and white and color.

2. Yes Hitchcock evoked strong emotion on the many faces of both the participants,staff and the young woman in question.

3. Rich. The beginnining scenes were rich evoking much curiosity and feeling in this viewer. I want to watch again and evaluate each area. Also. Not one sound needs to be uttered when Hitchcock allows us to experience reactions and emotions in his riveting style.

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1.  Yes, I see flashes of his "touch" thru lighting, his use of the camera being in focus and out of focus as well as comedy-especially thru the faces in the crowd (for example the sleeping woman).  Also there was the importance of the BLONDE!  

2.  Yes. I agree that there are themes of his future: comedy, the Blonde, and his use of lighting/focus.

3.  No, I don't think there were any real limitations because it was a silent film.  I could think about what possible music, sound of footsteps and conversation could have been, but he grasps that all in his camera work.

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Yes, I see many concepts and ideas that Hitchcock would expand on in later films. The taking of something ordinary and mondane an adding a element of the sinister and or suspect is used to great effect in the leering men watching the dancers with the focus in the what would become his signature blond. You also get a feel for Hitch's expert used on background characters to flesh out his films which he would use to great effect in follow films. The theme of a man's obsession with a woman is also present which is theme that Hitchcock came back to quite frequently.

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

It’s easy to say we see it because we see often what we want to see.  What I do see if someone having fun with human nature, the dirty old but harmless men getting a look at women’s legs, the sleeping woman who could care less, the flirty chorus girl, the irony of the manager who can smoke in his own theatre if he wants despite the sign, the telegraphic of small things that say a lot.  Sure, there are things we can say are Hitchcockian touches, but it’s probably the spirit more than the actual techniques.  I also see a woman in danger, which is a very common Hitchcock trope. 

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 it’s unrealistic to think that a 23 year old with no background in making movies is going to come out of the box using touches that he will use 50 years later. 

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 really.  We are used to talking and feel like something is missing, but the visuals were strong enough to tell the story. 

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1. Absolutely.  The “Hitchcock touch” is visible in many ways.  I noticed it in some of the lighting, the camera work— specifically when the camera panned over the faces of the men in the audience, the blur of the image until the man held up his binoculars, the man smoking in front of the no smoking sign and last but not least, the sassy/seductive blonde vs the timid/demure brunette.


2. I agree that this sequence shows elements that Hitchcock would use throughout his 50 year career.  Although he might change his technique or approach during his lifetime as a director, many of the touches from this early film pop up later on.


3. I really think that the limitations are minor.  Hitchcock, though he definitely would use the sense of hearing through soundtracks and effects, was all about the visual.  You could take away the sound in quite a few of the opening sequences of Hitch’s films and you’d still walk away with some sort of feeling. Watching this silent clip still made me feel for the characters and get a good sense of the “vibe” this film was to give its audience.


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1. You see the hint at things to come.  For the time period, the angles are fresh as looking at the stage show primarily from the viewpoint of backstage and most of the actors are facing away from the camera.  You a re drawn into what's happening from the long shot as with the stage entrance scene and then each piece is the highlighted like the pickpockets, the purse, the nervous women.  The humors part for me was the focus on the blonde woman.  Hitchcock and his blondes.  Anyway, that character element shows the beginning use of attractive women who can hold their own against men.

 

2. I would agree in most part with the other scholars regarding Hitchcock style is present but just starting.

 

3. I have always enjoyed silent films. I do not see that it took away anything from the storytelling. I think it enhanced it as the viewer has to pull the pieces together.  I also think Hitchcock shows the view the whole scene and then crafts the views to highlight how the whole is important. The words do not drive the story but the images.

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Just starting this course a bit late. Most impressed by the blonde, how willing Hitchcock was in showing her very real personality. There is a lot that shines through in her brief scenes. Right away she is established as a major force in the film...is it about her, or the overwrought innocent? I'm intrigued and want to know more about her.  and yes, agree about him and his blondes! 

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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 staircase as a place of action is repeated throughout many subsequent films, such as Foreign Correspondent where an the protagonist witnesses a shooting.  A staircase is also used in Shadow of a Doubt as the scene of an attempted murder.  In Vertigo, the staircase figures prominently as the embodiment of the main character's phobia, and of course in Psycho, it's the scene of an actual attack.


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, in the Pleasure Garden I think we see the first of the "Hitchcock Blondes" in Virginia Valli's character, as she even offers her signature curl to an over ardent admirer.  This admirer first spies on Virginia's character through binoculars, in a similar voyeuristic manner that we'll see again decades later in Rear Window, and also in Psycho with the peep hole in the wall. 


 


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, as the visual imagery easily conveyed the action for me.


 


 

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In regards to Daily Dose #1, I have my input to the questions!

1) Do you see the beginning of the "Hitchcock touch" in the sequence? (I wished "The Pleasure Garden" was aired on TCM. It would have helped me a lot when it came to these questions.)

 

The two gentlemen (con-artists) outside the theater wanting to rob anyone a woman with her pouch, I guess, were looking for money in the end n discovered then was not money that he had taken out of her purse it was a letter. A woman and her dream - a ticket to become famous, rich... to have that taken away from her is heartbreaking. The woman being at the wrong place at the wrong time? Perhaps she should have been more aware of her surroundings and knowing that she should have kept her purse close so it would not be pickpocketed. Hitchcock's touch is just that...being at the wrong place at the wrong time or being at the right place, just at the wrong time?

 

2) do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacover and Spato assessment that this sequence cautions elements, or approach then we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50 years (of his film) career? (I am reading from my notes of sloppy handwriting, so I apologize for misspelling of names.)

 

* I believe thag directing one's attention, the audience's attention, to draw their focus to the actors'/actresses' facial expressions...their emotions draws the audience in...into the situation, something that we all can relate. I personally cannot agree or disagree because we have our own opinions, our own thoughts and the ability to express and share with others are different.

 

3) since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations or certain opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue?

 

In my opinion I would say no, I cannot say that even a "talkie" could set the stage, so to speak, on how a director envisions the actors' performances - we all understand that a silent film makes you, the viewer, sees what the director needs you to see, a similar director did the same thing with his movies and TV series, the director's name is David Lynch. And yes even David Lynch's directing and Alfred Hitchcock's directing made the audience think, play, discover, become curious, wonder, panic, fear, sadness, happiness, anger-- with what they saw on the screen, how the actors and actresses reflected their performances back to us, the audience. The only real limitations is hearing the voices of the cast in the silent films. We watched how the story was being unfolded or refolded...twisted, jumbled, and yet at the end we see an outcome we hoped for!

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Just enrolled in the Hitchcock course today, so starting to catch up.  Here are some reflections of the scene from 'The Pleasure Garden.'

 

Re beginnings of the 'Hitchcock touch', he films the same sequence from different perspectives.  As you watch the girls dancing, you can see the reactions of different people to the same event.  For instance, you see the reactions of different men and women to the dancers on stage, and the binocular scene shows what stimulates one man's reaction.

Also, he makes the audience aware of things the characters are unaware of.  An example is when the girl has the letter stolen from her purse.  We know it, and sympathize with her, and anticipate what her reaction will be to the discovery later.

 

I agree that these sort of elements or approaches are beginnings of what will be seen throughout Hitchcock's career.

 

Re limitations due to the lack of synchronous dialogue, the director may have to use more creative ways to help the audience understand the characters and their inner thoughts.  An example could be showing a sinister looking man smoking right beside the no smoking sign.   Also, the girl who had her purse picked was unable to explain in detail what her problem was.  The audience knows a certain amount, but still has to make assumptions. 

 

 

 

 

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I’m just getting going on the class and I’m focused on catching up.  If I mention something that others have already said, please excuse me, I haven’t read through all the TCM posts yet.

 

1.  In The Pleasure Garden, the “Hitchcock Touch” is evident in the opening staircase shot and we’ll see it again in Vertigo, Psycho, and Foreign Correspondent.  Also, the general pace of the storytelling is an approach Hitchcock is very adept at.  He knows when to speed the film along and when, to heighten tension, slow the film down.

 

2.  As for themes and approaches, the theater stands out as a recurring theme in Hitchcock’s work.  We’ll see performers and audiences in The Lodger and The 39 Steps.  Also, I’ve always found Hitchcock to be a master of crowd shots.  The action, reaction shots are done very well in the shots of the dancers and then the front row of men but, in fairness, this kind of film grammar is hardly unique to Hitchcock.  Lastly, for now, Hitchcock uses the high camera angle that we see in the establishing shot of the theater stage in many of his films.

 

3.  Sure, there are limitations due to the lack of spoken dialogue.  If the absence of dialogue were a non-issue then we wouldn’t need title cards to explain what is going on.  However, I feel Hitchcock learned how to tell a story without the aid of dialogue in these early silent films.  Despite the, at times, “clunkiness” of silent films, Hitchcock is mastering where to place the camera for maximum story telling effect.

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I'm just getting started on this course and hope to get caught up soon.

 

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

 

I've only seen a handful of Hitchcock films so I'm don't know what Hitchcock's touch is. Hopefully I'll learn more about it as I progress through this course.

 

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 never new that Hitchcock started in silent films, but now I can see how that influenced his later films where he has little to no dialog in long stretches of his later films.

 

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, I understood what was going on.

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1. I've seen just about every Hitchcock film but never looked at them with the eye of a student of film. For me, his films have a feel about them. Over the top, racked with suspense, his unique sense of humor (and the macabre), brilliant set design, normal folks put into situations beyond their control, and, of course, the brilliant scores. 

 

But, this question looks at how he employs specific techniques in his effort to manipulate me, the viewer. And, though I've heard countless times how he set up the shower scene in Psycho or how he took our feathered friends and turned them into monsters of a quaint seaside village, I've just gone along for the wonderful ride.

 

So, I've got nothing to offer beyond many of the comments I've read here from others much more astute at recognizing those things. But, I will try to employ their suggestions in my viewing of the Master's films.

 

On that basis, no, I don't see much beyond the tightening of the frame on the spiral staircase. I did find several things of humor, but within the context of the clip, they don't have the effect they would have in later films as a tension break. The scene of the young woman being victimized and left unbalanced by the theft of her letter of introduction certainly is a theme he often employed in later films, too.

 

2. Strauss' comments would probably be more evident in a watching of the entire film. Juxtaposition of images? I'm not sure I saw anything in this clip that exemplifies this. I'm not sure I buy into the proposition that cutting between observer and observed was a Hitchcockian creation. Part of the film work in silents was to employ techniques like this to drive home a point...he's watching her...she sees him...he watches her...she makes a face at him...

 

Yacowar's comments draw more attention to some specifics than they are worthy of, with the exception of the spiral staircase. I don't know I glean anything meaningful about the guy's reaction to his foot being stepped on beyond slight (slapstick?) humor. And, the shot of the dozing woman was a nanosecond too short, literally. He cuts so quickly away from her that the impact created by the juxtaposition of her boredom and the row of ogling men is diminished. Extend that shot for one second longer and it would have hit home more. But, I do agree that Hitchcock's focus on the desire of the men, using opera glasses and monocles to emphasize their narrow view (and, remember, they're sitting in the first row), is an apt comment.

 

Maybe I'm not giving enough credit to his use of these techniques as a part of the palette he employs, focusing too much on their innovation?

 

Spoto's comments are probably the most on target, but, as I stated above, I'm going to have to re-watch all of those later films to see if, and how, he carried those tools forward.

 

3. Limitations? In hindsight, yes there were limitations. But, limitations spur innovation, don't they? He was pushing up against the limitations of silent film. But, it is also true that he was developing filming, set, and editing skills he would use to great benefit as technology advanced. So, I'm not sure how much of a limitation that proved to be.

 

 

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1.) My answer is Yes! The spiral staircase sequence would become one of the reminiscing factors in later movies of Hitchcock. This scene reminds me of the stair case scene in Vertigo.

 

2.) Mr. Hitchcock was an ardent believer of silent films. Even though not in all of his sound films, but he knows for sure when and where to create iconic scenes which doesn't need sound or dialogues. The facial gestures are more than enough. Example: The scene in Rear Window where Lisa (Grace Kelly) wears the ring of Lars Thorwald's wife and shows the ring to Jeff (James Stewart) and Stella (Thelma Ritter) only to be caught sight by Thorwald (Raymond Burr) who finds out the real snoopers and looks at Jeff and Stella, right in their eyes. For me, this scene bring chills even now.

 

3.) Yes, it's quite difficult to understand the scene at first. But, thanks to the intertitles or title cards, I was able to read and understand it properly

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