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Daily Dose #2: To-night Golden Curls (Opening Scene of The Lodger)

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1.  In both opening sequences, the director shows multiple people reacting to the same situation. The Lodger is very fast-paced as word of the murder spreads. Lots of “average” people in everyday jobs.


2. Examples of Hitch’s signature style include: close-ups, repetition of important items, the importance of setting in creating tension. The image of the men sitting together reading the telegram made me feel part of the scene anticipating the telegram being typed.


3.The scream enjoyed visceral elements without sound as a product of the closeup on the woman’s face and the angle of the camera and lighting on her face made her teeth glisten. Screams will repeat in The Birds and Psycho.

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3. The over head shot of the girl screaming shows without words the terror that the woman is feeling as she is being attacked by the killer. In Pyscho you have a very similar shot of Marion (Janet Leigh) as she is attacked with the knife by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in the shower. It is also used to great effect in The Birds when Tippe Hedrons character is attacked from above by a seagull as she is driving the boat to the island to deliver the birds to the young girl.

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1. I noted the following similarities and differences with respect to the opening of "The Lodger" and the opening of "The Pleasure Garden":


a.) The reference to "Golden Curls" and "golden curl" in both openings is unexpected and, in some way, seems to link the two story lines.


However, the difference with respect to the reference is that one is dark and foreboding, while the other is amusing and comical. In "The Lodger" it refers to Golden Curls killer, while within "The Pleasure Garden" it is part of an amusing exchange between the leachrous patron and young female dancer resulting in her removing her "golden curl" and offering it to the patron.


b. The openings of both movies include gatherings of people in varying states of frenetic activity.


The difference between the groups is that "The Lodger" opens with panic and terror, while the "The Pleasure Garden" opens with energetic dancing and enthusiastic enjoyment of same.


2. Elements of the "Hitchcock style" in this sequence include:


a. a screaming young woman, found in many Hitchcock movies.


b. close-ups of a number of items that are vital to the story and the reactions they illicit from various characters, such as handwritten note stating "The Avenger" pinned within the young dead woman's coat, the paintings the Lodger asked be removed from his room following his unusual reaction to same, and the hand-drawn map regarding the location of murders. Examples of this in other Hitchcock movies include the piece of rope used for the murder of Kenneth in "Rope", Carlotta's necklace in "Vertigo" shown in the painting and then worn by Judy ("Madelaine"), Guy's engraved lighter in "Strangers on a Train", as well as the glasses worn by Miriam as well as Barbara, and the LA Times newspaper wrapped around the $40,000.00 in cash Marion has stolen.


3. Even though this is a "silent" film, Hitchcock's opening frame of the screaming young woman works, even without there being an audible scream, because he makes certain to fill the entire frame with only her screaming face and holds the shot for approximately 4 full seconds. The effect is such that you forget that you are not truly hearing her scream. It is similar to watching an engrossing film with subtitles, such as "Pan's Labyrinth", which so draws you into the story that you no longer realize you are reading subtitles and it is as though you are listening to and fully understanding the dialogue.


Many similar screams come to mind from Hitchcock's later work, such as that in "Psycho", "Marnie", "Dial 'M' for Murder", "Frenzy" and "The Birds".

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1. Compare the opening of The Lodger to the opening of The Pleasure Garden - what similarities and differences do you see between the two films? 


Some striking similarities I found between both films are:

  • There is humour in both openings.
  • A blonde woman is a major source of attention in both openings.
  • In both openings, there are innocent women in peril (even if the woman in question in The Pleasure Garden isn’t necessarily a blonde)

2. Identify elements of the "Hitchcock style" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Even if you are not sure if it is the "Hitchcock style," what images or techniques stand out in your mind as powerful storytelling? Or images that provide an excess of emotion? 


Powerful images:

  • 00:36- 00:39 TO-NIGHT “GOLDEN CURLS” flashes over & over again
  • 3:11: Dramatic graphic of: MURDER… WET FROM THE PRESS

Surprisingly, there manages to be moments of humour amidst such dark subject matter

  • 1:29-1:36: A man kids around by imitating woman’s description of “the Avenger.” (“Tall he was- and his face all wrapped up.”)
  • 1:37-1:44:  The woman becomes startled and the man is chastised by the crowd as a result.
  • 3:54:  The paperboy immediately gets swarmed and quips, “Always happens Tuesdays- that’s my lucky day.”

3. Even though this is a "silent" film, the opening image is one of a woman screaming. What do you notice in how Hitchcock frames that particular shot that makes it work in a silent film even though no audible scream that can be heard. And what other screams like that come to mind from Hitchcock's later work? 

  • The woman’s face is in a close-up in a Cant/Dutch angle.
  • Dramatic music makes up for the lack of “audible” scream.
  • The image is reminiscent of Janet Leigh’s scream during the shower scene in Psycho.
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