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Today's lecture video (British Sound Period, Part 3: The 39 Steps) really has me curious about The 39 Steps. Dr. Gehring talked a little bit about how the film almost seems like a screwball comedy at times!

 

So I'm starting to picture It Happened One Night according to Hitchcock. The Daily Dose reinforces the humor for me. The spectators in the music hall were funny right from the start. I'm really looking forward to seeing the film.

I also was struck by Dr. Gehring's assertion that The 39 Steps owes something to American screwball comedies. I never really thought of that connection before but it makes a lot of sense. The humor derives from the male and female leads thinking they dislike one another even as we see the chemistry between them developing.

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The lecture video for Week 2: British Sound Period, Part 4: The Lady Vanishes, had several great clips from the film, but my favorite was the scene in the room with the magician's props. All the shenanigans reminded me a little bit of the cabin scene from A Night at the Opera.

 

But what I thought was the really brilliant touch was the shot of the three rabbits peeking out of an upturned top hat. One by one, they drop back down into the safety of the hat because the fighting outside the hat is too much for them. I never thought I would use the word charming in relation to a Hitchcock film, but that shot was utterly charming!

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The lecture video for Week 2: British Sound Period, Part 4: The Lady Vanishes, had several great clips from the film, but my favorite was the scene in the room with the magician's props. All the shenanigans reminded me a little bit of the cabin scene from A Night at the Opera.

 

But what I thought was the really brilliant touch was the shot of the three rabbits peeking out of an upturned top hat. One by one, they drop back down into the safety of the hat because the fighting outside the hat is too much for them. I never thought I would use the word charming in relation to a Hitchcock film, but that shot was utterly charming!

I thought the beginning of "The Farmer's Wife" yesterday was similar with the two dogs putting their chins on the top landing, looking like they were grieving.

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In Week 2: British Sound Years - Part 5: Weekly Recap, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring recap the British period and discuss Hitchcock's thriller sextet. One of my favorite Hitchcock films is Sabotage, which doesn't happen to be on TCM's program for the 50 Years of Hitchcock. It's too bad because it's a great film--a noir film, too. I think it's one of Hitchcock's best from this period. But one Hitchcock touch that Sabotage doesn't seem to have is humor, and maybe that's why it isn't included in the course. Other than that, however, it's another Hitchcock film from his British period that is worth seeing.

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In the third video lecture, Prof Edwards mentions a quotation from Gottleib (?) that said something like "Hitchcock remained a silent film maker at heart throughout his career." I hope that paraphrasing is close enough. I was wondering if anyone has thoughts on this subject. I understand the concept of telling a story with images rather than words, but certainly the words are important in his films after the advent of sound. Part of my reason for bringing this up is that I watched Easy Virtue last night, which I thought was well acted and delivered an emotional payoff at the end. It definitely included several creative visual techniques, but if ever a picture cried out for words, this is it. I think even Hitchcock would agree since in additional to intertitles, he films the court reporter's written notes, and also includes close ups of letters and telegrams between various characters. And he holds these shots for long enough that we can read entire letters from beginning to end. Obviously Easy Virtue is a story that Hitchcock thought was worth telling, but I wouldn't say it lends itself to pure visuals.

 

These questions led me to think that a few other films that seem dependent on words. Lifeboat and Rope both come to mind. Given the confined sets of these films is it possible to tell a story without words in these cases? I would describe both of these films as being very "talky." I guess my bigger question is what the Gottleib quotation really means. Just wondering if anyone else has thought about this.

 

Since you wrote this, I have seen Dial M for Murder, and that film depends very much on conversation. It was based on the successful play, and it is confined mostly to a single set, like the play would have been. I didn't enjoy it as much as other Hitchcock films, and maybe that's because of details being revealed through conversation rather than visuals.

 

But sometimes conversation works beautifully: I thought it did in Lifeboat. For example, when the lifeboat passengers talk about what to do with the German captain, they could have been diplomats or heads of state discussing foreign policy.

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These questions led me to think that a few other films that seem dependent on words. Lifeboat and Rope both come to mind. Given the confined sets of these films is it possible to tell a story without words in these cases? I would describe both of these films as being very "talky." I guess my bigger question is what the Gottleib quotation really means. Just wondering if anyone else has thought about this.

 

Hitchcock was a very visually-minded director, and his films are full of creative and inventive visuals.  Not all film directors have this kind of visual flair, and plenty of movies are made with more straightforward (or less stylistic) camerawork, and they work just fine.  Some movies rely more heavily on dialogue than images.  Modern moviemaking is about both sound and image, and there's no one "right" way to go about it.

 

Personally, as an image guy, I love seeing visual flair on-screen, and that's probably one of the things that drew me to the work of Alfred Hitchcock in the first place.

 

I believe Hitchcock's philosophy (regarding being a "silent film director at heart") was that he'd try to tell the story using visuals as best he could (bringing a dimension to storytelling that you couldn't get from a stage play), and would rely on dialogue only if absolutely necessary.  He didn't care for movies that were merely "talking photographs".

 

Since you wrote this, I have seen Dial M for Murder, and that film depends very much on conversation. It was based on the successful play, and it is confined mostly to a single set, like the play would have been. I didn't enjoy it as much as other Hitchcock films, and maybe that's because of details being revealed through conversation rather than visuals.

 

Dial M for Murder might be a case where it was absolutely necessary.  (I haven't seen it in a while.)  Sometimes ideas can't be telegraphed through choice camera angles and facial expressions.  Although part of the visual side of things has to do with camera shots and how they are edited together.  While I'm sure there's plenty of conversation in Dial M, I'd bet Hitchcock uses the camera and the editing bay to add something to the story beyond its theatrical heritage.  (Plus, wasn't that film shot in 3-D?)

 

I don't think the quote meant to suggest that Hitchcock's films don't use dialogue to relay important information to the audience, or that Hitchcock didn't make use of sound once the technology allowed for it.  Hitchcock experimented with sound in some very creative ways right out of the gate in the "talkie" era (the "knife!" scene in Blackmail), and would use sound to great effect in his films afterward.  (The scene in The 39 Steps that combines the image of a woman screaming with the sound of a train whistle, and the Royal Albert Hall assassination attempt heard over the radio in 1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much are examples of cinematic storytelling that use sound to their advantage, in ways silent films couldn't.)

 

So what I'm trying to say (I think...) is that Hitchcock as a "silent film director at heart" refers to his knack for telling the story through images and film edits, rather than talking, talking, talking.  (Although talking was still in the mix.)  His later films were by no means silent films, or devoid of dialogue.  But Hitchcock's films are never just about dialogue.  His movies may indeed work surprisingly well with the sound turned down (which sounds like a fun experiment), and that's not something that can be said for all movies or all directors.

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In Week 3: The Selznick Years, Part 2: Shadow of a Doubt, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1943 film noir, Shadow of a Doubt, and they discuss the theme of doubling. But they did not mention an important double in the two Charlies, and it's not just their name. Once the younger Charlie realizes what her uncle is capable of, and he begs her not to say anything, he gives her an unusual argument--that works! He tells his niece that they are so much alike that they are like twins. And even though the younger Charlie is horrified by what her uncle has done, she sees the similarities in their personalities. And it may be because he gives her the same speech before she comes to her realization: They have a similar conversation in the kitchen when he first arrives in Santa Rosa, and she is thrilled at that time to be a lot like her uncle.

 

Spoilers:

 

Dr. Gehring discusses the scene at the dinner table, when Uncle Charlie talks about money and wealth and widows, as a signature scene. And I agree that it is quite shocking. But the signature scene for me comes when Uncle Charlie and the young Charlie are talking on the porch at night. In that scene, the young Charlie says that she will kill her uncle first, before he has a chance to hurt anyone in the family. The entire film seems to balance on that fulcrum: the struggle between the two Charlies. The film starts with Uncle Charlie, who will do anything to save himself, and ends with the young Charlie, who at that point has not told anyone before her uncle's death what she knew about him and what she would do to protect her family. In fact, Uncle Charlie's funeral is a celebrated procession, and she and her boyfriend start only then to talk about the real Uncle Charlie.

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"In Week 3: The Selznick Years, Part 3: Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1941 screwball comedy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, with a particular focus on Carole Lombard. . . . '

 

I have not yet seen Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and even though I think Hitchcock brings a lot of humor to many of his films, it's hard for me to imagine Hitchcock directing a screwball comedy. I recently saw Secret Agent (1936), which is a serious film about spies in World War I, and it has a lot of humor, some of it involving a fake marriage between two spies as part of their cover. The fake marriage is part of the humor motif, one could say, but the film is serious about its subject and its message. I plan to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, so I'll have to reserve judgment until I do.

 

I really enjoyed Gehring's and Edwards's discussion of the film and of Carole Lombard. I particularly enjoyed the historical context of her death. Maybe it's the romantic in me, but her husband Clark Gable really looked devastated when the Navy ship named in her honor was christened in the newsreel footage. Poor guy.

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I love the lecture videos. I've also tried to catch the pre movie intros on TCM even if I don't watch the entire film then. Very informative. I was happy to see that our Professor Dr. Edwards is a Notorious fan cause it's also one of my favorites.

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I am behind in my film and lecture watching due to being under the weather, but have been making some notes  I did want to say that I just watched the first lecture video on the Selznick years and Dr. Edwards comments on the Mrs. Danvers character where so much what has always been in my mind.   Thank you for reading my mind. Dame Anderson is so powerful, scary and just generally not nice that she has always stuck in my mind more so that the main characters.  She seems so much bigger physically that I think she was in real life.  Not sure how tall she was, but she seems like a much taller more powerful woman than she appears in other roles.  I really think that the secondary characters where so much more interesting.  George Sanders is always a delightful to watch and not sure of the actors name, but Mrs Van Hopper was so well played.

Thanks for making me feel as if I really know what I am talking about, at least as far as Mrs Danvers is concerned.

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"In Week 3: The Selznick Years, Part 4: Notorious, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1946 film noir, Notorious, . . . ."

 

I really enjoyed this video lecture, and I think it's because it brought up other films for me. And because it also brought up a point with which I disagree, but I'll get to that.

 

I thought the theme of duty versus love could also be described as love of country versus love for another person. Someone like Devlin working for the U.S. government probably has a lot more than the average citizen tied up with love of country. He does come off as cold-hearted at first, but I do think he redeems himself by the end of the film.

 

This same theme of love of country versus love for another person comes up in another famous Bergman film: Casablanca. In that film, Rick sums up the theme nicely at the end of the film: “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

 

It also comes up in a more modern film: The Good Shepherd. Matt Damon plays a CIA agent who chooses both family and country, but he can't explain why he is ultimately saving his son by hurting his son so badly.

 

I'm sure there are more examples, but those are the two that come to mind right now.

 

I disagree with Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring that Alex loved Alicia more than Devlin does. When Alex finds out that Alicia is an American agent, he turns on her -- and quickly. He doesn't try to get away and save both her and himself. He is interested only in saving himself. He and his mother resort to poisoning Alicia and watching her die a slow and painful death. Devlin finally redeems himself by taking Alicia out of Alex's house, and Alex is left with that look on his face not because of being betrayed by Alicia but because, when he turns back to his own house, he knows that he is walking back to certain death at the hands of his friends who now know that he has been duped. I never thought that he loved Alicia all that much, and for much of the film, it doesn't seem that Devlin loves her either. But Devlin is the one who saves her life. That counts for a lot in my mind!

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"In Week 4: The Peak Years, Part 1: Strangers on a Train, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1951 film Strangers on a Train that ushers in the Master of Suspense's golden period . . . . "

 

Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring mention briefly a couple of the films that precede Hitchcock's films of the golden period: The two that I remember from the lecture video are Under Capricorn and Stage Fright. I have not seen these films, but I am still curious about them.

 

I am wondering, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring—and anyone else who visits this discussion thread, if you would share your opinions of these films. Even though they are not considered part of Hitchcock's master work more generally, I am guessing that they are still worth a peek.

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Week 3: The Selznick Years- Part 5:Weekly Recap 

 

In the video Dr. Gehring talks about the takes in "Rope" as being 8 minutes.

 

In Alfred Hitchcock  Peter Ackroyd  discusses the "uninterrupted ten minute sequences"  and "ten minute takes" (p. 129)

 

Which is accurate?

 

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Week 3: The Selznick Years- Part 5:Weekly Recap 

 

In the video Dr. Gehring talks about the takes in "Rope" as being 8 minutes.

 

In Alfred Hitchcock  Peter Ackroyd  discusses the "uninterrupted ten minute sequences"  and "ten minute takes" (p. 129)

 

Which is accurate?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope_(film)#Long_takes

 

The shot lengths vary from 04:37 to 10:06, but they average out to about 7:45.

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"In Week 4: The Peak Years, Part 1: Strangers on a Train, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1951 film Strangers on a Train that ushers in the Master of Suspense's golden period . . . . "

 

Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring mention briefly a couple of the films that precede Hitchcock's films of the golden period: The two that I remember from the lecture video are Under Capricorn and Stage Fright. I have not seen these films, but I am still curious about them.

 

I am wondering, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring—and anyone else who visits this discussion thread, if you would share your opinions of these films. Even though they are not considered part of Hitchcock's master work more generally, I am guessing that they are still worth a peek.

I enjoyed Stage Fright. It's not his best, but it has Alastair Sim and Jane Wyman, which are worth seeing in this. And it does have a Hitchcock "touch" or two. In my opinion it's more watchable than, say, The Paradine Case.

 

As for Under Capricorn, I confess that I only saw it once years ago and was so disappointed i never went back. I found it slow. But I'm interested to review it again, and see if I have a different reaction to it, especially in the context of this course.

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Regarding Monday's lecture on Strangers on a Train: Professor Edwards introduced the idea that there's a difference between "Hitchcock guilt" as depicted in this film and how Highsmith used guilt in her novel. I've never read the novel, and am quite interested in exploring this idea. Does anyone agree/disagree?

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The video on Rear Window ends with a snippet of Hitchcock talking, and he refers to Cary Grant being the star of the film.  I'm really surprised he made that mistake.

 

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Regarding Monday's lecture on Strangers on a Train: Professor Edwards introduced the idea that there's a difference between "Hitchcock guilt" as depicted in this film and how Highsmith used guilt in her novel. I've never read the novel, and am quite interested in exploring this idea. Does anyone agree/disagree?

 

I would be interested in the exploring this idea in more depth, but I have not read the novel by Patricia Highsmith either. I'll be honest: I doubt I'll get to it before the class is over!

 

If you are interested in exploring the idea in the film only, I would have to see the film again because it's been a while.

 

For now, I am guessing that the idea of guilt extends to viewers, too. Either Dr. Gehring or Dr. Edwards made the point in the lecture video that viewers become complicit when they start rooting for the murderer to make his or her escape, to conceal the vital clue, and so on. I have seen Rear Window, and I think viewers of that film become complicit in the voyeuristic act of watching the other neighbors in the apartments across the courtyard. It's another example, I believe, of the point made in the lecture video.

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I would be interested in the exploring this idea in more depth, but I have not read the novel by Patricia Highsmith either. I'll be honest: I doubt I'll get to it before the class is over!

 

If you are interested in exploring the idea in the film only, I would have to see the film again because it's been a while.

 

For now, I am guessing that the idea of guilt extends to viewers, too. Either Dr. Gehring or Dr. Edwards made the point in the lecture video that viewers become complicit when they start rooting for the murderer to make his or her escape, to conceal the vital clue, and so on. I have seen Rear Window, and I think viewers of that film become complicit in the voyeuristic act of watching the other neighbors in the apartments across the courtyard. It's another example, I believe, of the point made in the lecture video.

Interesting point. I hadn't given much thought to guilt in the viewer. I definitely agree with the idea of complicity on the part of the viewer in Psycho as raised in the lecture, as far as the car scene goes. It's palpable, my own apprehension regarding whether or not the car will sink. I hadn't thought about it in terms of Rear Window. I suppose because I've enjoyed the movie too much while watching!   

 

Yes, I definitely need to revisit the Strangers film and give that idea some more thought.

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“In Week 4: The Peak Years, Part 2: Rear Window, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock’s 1954 film Rear Window.”

 

My “signature moment” from this lecture was when Dr. Gehring mentioned that Rear Window is the Hitchcock film that his students are most likely to have already seen—and to have enjoyed— when they take his class. I thought, “What? Not Psycho? Not The Birds?”

 

I think it would make an interesting research project to see how different generations of viewers react to Rear Window. What do they think about the invasion of privacy? Do different generations react differently now that privacy is so easily invaded because of online activity and the Internet? Do different generations even mention the invasion of privacy when they think of the major themes of the film?

 

If Dr. Gehring and/or Dr. Edwards poses these questions to their students, I would love to hear the answers!

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“In Week 4: The Peak Years, Part 4: North by Northwest, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1959 film North by Northwest.”

 

First, I just loved the interviews with Kim Novak and Eva Marie Saint in the Lecture Notes. It was great to see Kim Novak candid’s conversation, and I have a new-found appreciation for both stars.

 

Hitchcock’s discussion in today’s Lecture Video of the crop dusting scene was great. I especially noted his description of what could be taken as a typical film noir scene as cliché in 1959. (I took Dr. Edwardss film noir class in 2015 and loved it!) He felt so strongly that he had to improve upon it, and he succeeded.

 

I am really looking forward to seeing Vertigo and North by Northwest again. I am pretty sure I have seen many Hitchcock films, including these two, on television years ago. This time, I plan to see both films on DVD because I very much want to see them in their entirety, without any cutting or editing.

 

So thanks to Dr. Gehring and Dr. Edwards, and to Dr. Edwards and TCM for providing the interviews.

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Oh, there are some very talky films by Hitch.  Another that comes to mind is Dial M for Murder.  But I think he is distinctive for shooting very extended silent (or near-silent) scenes in late movies like Vertigo and Psycho.  

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I originally posted this under Daily Dose #16, but it fits much better here in this discussion - and besides, I want to keep telling people that my student Henry Tegeler is doing an amazing job on the post-production of the lecture videos. I'm very lucky to have him. 

 

Thanks so much! As I've been sharing on Twitter at #Hitchcock50, I am working more and more with a student crew that stays with me for a long time (I've been working with editor Henry since last summer - so like Hitchcock, I'm a fan of stable production crews and keeping talented folks around me!!)

 

What I love about working with students is that in production conferences they are eager to take on new challenges, and this week of Alfred Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann, and Saul Bass inspired Henry to do these amazing intros - he also does an homage to the Vertigo title design in the Wednesday lecture video. 

 

Another thing that is happening is that this is my third TCM course. So like making a third genre film, the third time around allows me to play with a limited number of conventions and elements. This time I am able to explore yet another way to deliver video content. In Film Noir, we shot a single talking head lecture in a classic movies theater, then last year, I was on the TNT Sport Soundstage with Vince Cellini as my partner to use a telestrator for Breakdown of a Gag, and this year for Hitchcock, I really liked the idea of a simple conversation on a plain soundstage between two film scholars and to use lots of B-roll to illustrate our points. I cannot thank Wes Gehring enough for his willingness to be a part of this project--he is truly a marvelous collaborator and a great film scholar to boot!

 

Hope you are enjoying the course!

 

PS, it takes a village to create the materials for this course. I always need to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to my many fine collaborators at TCM, Canvas, and Ball State. This course would be impossible with the hours and hours of work that goes on behind the scenes to put up these modules, create these games, and coordinate all these activities. 

 

Best, Rich

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Thank you so much Dr. Edwards!   Thank you Dr. Gehring!   Thank you for everyone who worked so hard to provide this course.  Thank you to all the students who have been so kind.  

 

I keep getting teary-eyed thinking of the interviews with Mr. Robert Osborne and Kim Novak and Eva Marie Saint.  Mr. Osborne was such a gentlemen and did such amazing interviews.  

 

​My husband and I are always wondering what younger people would make of Alfred Hitchcock movies.  I don't know why that interests us so much.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to say how much this course has meant to me at a stressful time in my life!

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The video discussions with Dr Gehring work really well. I like the format. It feels like I'm sitting in on a seminar. Great job.

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