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After watching the two interviews with Kim Novack and Eva Marie Saint, I remembered something that Hitchcock said about not giving his stars a lot of direction, but talking to them in the dressing room beforehand.  Both of these ladies talked about how the costumes that he required made them see the character that Hitchcock wanted on the screen. The grey suit that was so uncomfortable for Kim Novack and also the wardrobe that Eva Marie Saint helped to pick out with Hitchcock helped to steer the character.  There was an interview on TCM with Teresa Wright talking about  Hitchcock's  Shadow of a Doubt.  He made the script very real and alive just by talking and using different sounds to tell the story.  He had a way of conveying what he wanted but was is some ways very subtle about it.  All of his storyboarding and attention to detail where all apart of his directorial touch.

 

I have another question that I am not sure where to pose this.   I have been watching the credits and have noticed several different terms used for the costumes.  Not only in Hitchcock films but in others.  What is the difference between some of these terms

Gowns by......

Costumes by.....

Dresses by......

Are costumes just for period pieces?  If it is just gowns, who does the rest of the clothes?  Does it depend on the designer how the credit reads?

Just curious.

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“In Week 4: The Peak Years - Part 5: Weekly Recap, Edwards and Gehring reflect and provide a recap on Hitchcock's films in the 1950s, including a few words about his work on television.”

 

Psycho.

 

That’s the film, along with The Birds, that I thought would be most recognizable to today’s film students. But Dr. Gehring said in an earlier Lecture Video that it was Rear Window. I’m interested to hear Gehring’s and Edwards’s discussion of Psycho next week.

 

And I just loved that clip from Hitchcock’s television show. It got a chuckle out of me, which proves to me that Hitchcock’s humor is fresh today, too.

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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!

 

I am interested to hear what film students today think about this, too. But especially about themes in Rear Window because Dr. Gehring mentioned in a Lecture Video that Rear Window is the most recognizable Hitchcock film for his students, the one they are most likely to have seen before starting his course.

 

I was surprised that they wouldn't have already seen Psycho or The Birds!

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Can I talk about "Hitchcock Guilt" (not sure how this topic evolved to that). I'm not wild about Harry, but I found it interesting to watch how many people took on the guilt of his death. The evidence was circumstantial, to be sure, but rather than trying to get out of it, each one embraced their responsibility very straight-forwardly.  it also reminded me of a comment somebody (Wes Gehring?) made about The Lady Vanishes -- each person lies about having seen the lady but each for their own idiosyncratic reason. It's wonderful how Hitch's secondary (or ensemble) casts are so richly developed that these various guilty motivations emerge so clearly and logically. It takes us back to the constant discussions of murder by his characters (Shadow of a Doubt). Hitchcock clearly believed that all of us are secretly --or openly-- fascinated by murder and imagine ourselves doing it or being done in by it all the time. I'm coming to identify this as one of the key components of his Touch. If somebody has read the Highsmith novel, I would also appreciate more comments on how that guilt is different. 

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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 . . . .”

 

Guilt was introduced by Dr. Gehring as a theme in this Lecture Video, and JaneNoir posted the following to start the discussion in this thread:

 

Posted by JaneNoir on 18 July 2017 - 08:57 AM

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 think the point in the Lecture Video is that viewers of Hitchcock films share in the guilt because they identify with the main character, who is usually the one guilty of murder. This seems to be a common theme in many of Hitchcock’s films.

 

As for The Trouble with Harry, part of the humor comes from each character assuming that he or she killed Harry and thus assuming guilt for what all of them believed was a murder, before they knew the facts.

 

I watched The Trouble with Harry on DVD, which came with a feature that explained that the humor in the film was appreciated more by European audiences. The film was more of a commercial success in Europe than it was here in the United States.

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“In Week 5: The Universal Years, Part 1: Psycho, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho.”

 

In today’s Lecture Video, Dr. Gehring calls the scene where Norman Bates gets rid of Marion Crane’s car in the swamp his signature scene. In another instance of Hitchcockian guilt, viewers are rooting for Bates’s success when the car stops sinking for a moment, and he turns his head wondering what to do. We know we shouldn’t be rooting for him, but we do so anyway.

 

I agree, but I also pair this scene with the final shot in Psycho: when the same car is being hauled out of the swamp behind the words “The End.” This final shot in Psycho reminds me of a similar scene in Mystery Street, a 1950 film noir starring Ricardo Montalban. Ever since seeing Mystery Street, I have wondered if Hitchcock borrowed from Mystery Street the idea of sinking a car in water to hide evidence.

 

The bird motif shown in Psycho is a motif that recurs in many of Hitchcock’s films. For example, viewers hear Alice White’s pet bird singing and chirping loudly during the scene when Alice wakes up after finally making it home after the attempted rape and the murder in Blackmail (1929); in Sabotage (1936), one of the collaborators runs a pet shop as a cover and uses a bird cage to carry a bomb; when the passersby find the body on the beach in Young and Innocent (1937), the film cuts to a brief close shot of seagulls flying—and screaming, one could say. There are probably more, but that’s all I can think of right now.

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“In Week 5: The Universal Years, Part 2: The Birds, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds.”

 

This Lecture Video was fascinating for me because I have seen The Birds multiple times and I have read the short story by Daphne du Maurier. The story, which takes place in the British countryside, was first published in 1952 in a story collection, and I have read that it can be seen as a metaphor for the aerial assaults on Great Britain during World War II. It’s been a while since I have read the short story, but I think one of the characters in it muses that maybe humanity has brought this attack from nature on itself because it was so willing to attack others of its own species in the world war. With that interpretation, the apocalyptic theme would make sense, but in the short story, humanity is the indirect cause. Nature is fed up with us and now is going to do something about it. Hitchcock’s interpretation is even creepier because he doesn’t offer any explanation for the birds’ behavior.

 

Dr. Gehring makes the point that the birds attack on humans in Hitchcock’s film has not been seen before, but nature has turned on humans before, and in a very famous piece of literature: Moby Dick. In fact, Herman Melville based his novel on an incident that was famous in his time, wherein a whale turned on a whaling ship and destroyed it. In the Heart of the Sea (2015) was based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 nonfiction book of the same name, and both are about this real-life incident.

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I have another question that I am not sure where to pose this.   I have been watching the credits and have noticed several different terms used for the costumes.  Not only in Hitchcock films but in others.  What is the difference between some of these terms

Gowns by......

Costumes by.....

Dresses by......

Are costumes just for period pieces?  If it is just gowns, who does the rest of the clothes?  Does it depend on the designer how the credit reads?

Just curious.

I'm not an insider or anything, but I've always assumed that "Costumes by" meant all the costumes (clothing) for the cast, whether it's a period piece or a contemporary setting. That person decides what outfits the characters should wear (like the knd of suit -- material, color, fashion -- the lead actor would wear, etc.). "Dresses by" or "Gowns by" is a more specialized credit, where a costumer extraordinaire is brought in just to design the leading lady's elegant attire, while the rest of the clothing/costume decisions are left to somebody else. For example, in Notorious, Edith Head was brought to RKO from her home studio of Paramount specifically to dress star Ingrid Bergman, and she designed Bergman's custom wardrobe, but didn't work on the costuming for the rest of the cast (at least that's my understanding of it). I assume films with special "Gowns by" credits also have a plain old costume designer. Often films will have separate designers for the leading stars' wardrobes, especially when it comes to fancy gowns and things that are out of the everyday hum-drum. Filmmakers want their movie stars to look good, after all. I think a fashion specialist might be brought in to design the dresses and such, but such a specialist wouldn't want to be bothered with more mundane costume needs. Often, these designers were well-known names, even outside the film business, so in some ways it could be like adding more "star power" to the production.
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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 can't say what was meant, specifically, about "Hitchcock guilt", but it got me thinking about how the theme of guilt is explored over and over in Hitchcock's films. What I find interesting about Strangers on a Train is that Farley Granger and later Ruth Roman are not guilty of the murder, but they know who is, they withold this information from the authorities, and they sneak around "acting guilty". It's like someone else's actions have made them guilty somehow, in their own minds, when really they had nothing to do with the crime. Like guilt can be a state of mind as much as a simple matter of cause and effect.

 

This also ties in with the concept of the "wrongfully accused", or the victim of circumstantial evidence and suspicion. Hitchcock's films examine the perception of guilt, where guilt is not something tangible or true, but rather a matter of public opinion, which can be easily influenced or misled. The "truth" of guilt or innocence is irrelevant in the structure of society. It all comes down to swaying opinion, often in court.

 

In I Confess, the priest is not the murderer, but he knows who is, he witholds this information from the authorities, and by trying to keep private matters private, he acts suspicious and is presumed by all around him to be guilty. In Downhill, Ivor Novello is innocent, knows who is guilty, witholds this information, and is thus presumed guilty by those who knew him. The 39 Steps, Young and Innocent, Saboteur, and North by Northwest all deal with wrongfully accused men, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Of course, in The Wrong Man Hitchcock examines how easy it can be, in our own world, for an innocent man to be found guilty, just by a quirk of circumstance. In Dial M for Murder, too, Hitchcock shows how easily an innocent person can be convicted. Spellbound is about a man with a guilt complex, who believes himself to be guilty of murder, even though that may not be the case in reality. (And even in that film, an innocent man is found guilty in a court of law.) The Paradine Case is about legal guilt, and how perceived guilt can be shifted from one person to another by manipulating the facts. Stage Fright shows how easy it can be for people to believe a guilty person is innocent (or, again, how easy it can be to frame someone for a crime). In Suspicion, Cary Grant is suspected, and even presumed, to be guilty without any hard evidence. Likewise, Ivor Novello in The Lodger is suspected of guilt without any hard proof. In Easy Virtue, the woman cannot escape the shame of her scandalous past, which is kinda like guilt (a guilt cast upon her by everyone else).

 

There's external guilt, then there's internal guilt. In Rebecca, Laurence Olivier feels guilty for what happened to his wife. In The Trouble with Harry, numerous characters feel guilty for the death of Harry Worp, without any real proof. In Vertigo, James Stewart feels guilty, first for the cop's death, and then for what happens to Kim Novak.

 

It's interesting to think of the different ways Hitchcock studies the theme of guilt throughout his career. Maybe someone else has a clearer idea of how it relates to Strangers on a Train, particularly regarding the differences from the novel. (SPOILERS: I heard in the book Guy does kill Bruno's father. Criss-cross.)

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Gotta say, although Dr. Edwards is right about Sean Connery's character's paternalism in his psychology, to bring up the sexual politics in MARNIE, and ignore the elephant in the room about how Sean Connery's character rapes Tippi's character and how the movie handles that event and its aftermath is poor form.

 

I do think MARNIE still gets a bad rap from some Hitchcock fans, but at the same time, you can't gloss over it's ugly warts, especially in light of the things Tippi Hedren has said about her relationship with Alfred Hitchcock.

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“In Week 5: The Universal Years, Part 4: Frenzy, Rich Edwards and Wes Gehring discuss and analyze Hitchcock’s 1972 film Frenzy.”

 

Both Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring talk about how difficult it is to understand the dialogue in Frenzy, and I agree. I also had trouble with Blackmail, which they also mentioned. It’s not just the accents. Even the slang can get in the way because it takes some time to put it all in context; by that time, characters are deeper into their conversation and I’ve missed some of it. But there is a way around that: You can use the subtitles or captioning option if you are watching a film on DVD. Either one makes it so much easier to follow along.

 

Dr. Gehring said that some of the crime scenes in Frenzy were “problematic” and “disturbing,” and I agree there, too. But neither Dr. Gehring nor Dr. Edwards mentioned anything about the humor in the film. I have watched it already, and I found myself laughing at certain points. It’s true, as Dr. Gehring points out, that one of the victims is “reduced to a bag of potatoes,” but that victim in the potato sack also kicks—repeatedly—the person looking for an incriminating piece of evidence.

 

I thought this very juxtaposition of graphic violence and humor made the film even more unsettling. Maybe Hitchcock is having fun with his viewers again: We’re watching some gruesome scenes, but there are still other scenes that make us laugh, and thus we are guilty by association and a little bit of complicity. However, I found myself wondering while watching Frenzy if any filmmaker, including Hitchcock, can go only so far when it comes to mixing graphic violence and humor. I don't think I'll watch Frenzy again anytime soon.

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“In Week 5: The Universal Years - Part 5: Weekly Recap, Edwards and Gehring reflect and provide a recap on Hitchcock’s films in the 1960s and 1970s, including a few words about his work on television.”

 

What a great way to end the Lecture Video series for “50 Years of Hitchcock.” I’m sorry there won’t be more installments next week.

 

By the way, I think that Hitchcock’s “touch” involves a heck of a lot more than a MacGuffin in every film. I think one of his most brilliant touches is the ability to tell/show a suspenseful story and still find room for humor. I think that may be one of the reasons that his films still resonate with modern audiences. I sure hope it isn’t because I’m old enough to recognize many of the cultural allusions in Hitchcock films!

 

Many thanks to Dr. Gehring, Dr. Edwards, and the Edwards production team for a great series of Lecture Videos. They really added a lot to the class!

 

P.S. When is the next class?

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Generally, I'm an old-school guy who prefers reading text to video clips. But the video lecture discussions in this class were top-notch and really made the course for me. UNFORTUNATELY, they did not play well. A few played through fine, but most of them would stop and not start without manually jumping back a ways and re-starting or they were erratic with numerous dropped words or stops and starts. About 70% were a struggle to sit through whereas all but one or two Daily Doses played fine. I'm using a desktop computer and would blame it if some hadn't worked perfectly. I also viewed many of them on the same day which would preclude connection issues. Just info for future classes.

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Generally, I'm an old-school guy who prefers reading text to video clips. But the video lecture discussions in this class were top-notch and really made the course for me. UNFORTUNATELY, they did not play well. A few played through fine, but most of them would stop and not start without manually jumping back a ways and re-starting or they were erratic with numerous dropped words or stops and starts. About 70% were a struggle to sit through whereas all but one or two Daily Doses played fine. I'm using a desktop computer and would blame it if some hadn't worked perfectly. I also viewed many of them on the same day which would preclude connection issues. Just info for future classes.

 

I had similar problems with the lecture videos for the Hitchcock class. I wrote to Dr. Edwards via the e-mail program in Canvas, and he mentioned that no one else complained of it. I wish more people had written to him at the beginning of the course because maybe the technical problems could have been fixed.

 

In spite of the problems, I thought the lecture videos were a great addition to the course. The audio was the most important, and at least the audio worked reasonably well.

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I didn't have any technical difficulties with the lecture videos or the Daily Doses (except a couple of the old British films were too dark to see clearly and the British accents and slang were hard to understand).  I thought all of the technical aspects worked great.  And I don't have a very new or powerful computer.  Also, I thought the games were great!  I especially liked "Hitch or Hike."

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By the way, I think that Hitchcock’s “touch” involves a heck of a lot more than a MacGuffin in every film. I think one of his most brilliant touches is the ability to tell/show a suspenseful story and still find room for humor.

 

Great observation!  When people think of Alfred Hitchcock, they think "Master of Suspense", and I think Hitchcock newbies (who might be most familiar with Psycho or The Birds, for whatever reason) expect Hitchcock movies to be horror thrillers, spooky movies full of gruesome murders and diabolical deeds.  (Not that that's totally off the mark...)  They'd be surprised at how funny his films can be.  There's a lot more humor than people might expect, given the Master's reputation.  Great movies often strike a satisfying balance of different emotions, and Hitchcock's humor plays well with his suspense.  It's a combination that is, indeed, a big part of Hitch's signature style.  He tells stories in his peculiar way, and audiences can sense when they're viewing a Hitchcock story.

 

I have only seen a few episodes from Hitchcock's popular TV series, but Hitch's on-screen scenes (at commercial breaks, etc.) are really hilarious, in his patented drolly macabre way.  I know a lot of people grew up with the series, or got to know Hitch from TV before seeing his films.  The guy had a great knack for humor.  I've got to try to watch more of his show.

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As for the lecture videos, like others on this board, I thought they were great.  I prefer sitting in on a thoughtful lecture to reading a bunch of text in a book or something.  The conversation approach, I think, worked really well.  (I don't know how lecture videos were in past courses.)

 

Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring each know a lot about movies and film history, which is a good start, but they bring their own perspectives to the table, which I think adds a lot to the learning experience.  A lot about movies is subjective, and it's nice to have different viewpoints presented and encouraged, so it's not like students are being forced to interpret something one "right" way (which can be off-putting).  I didn't always see things the way the professors did, and that's great.  I thought both professors did a nice job making the topics accessible to the students in the course.

Also, the film clips really add to the discussion, which is why I think these video lessons are more fun than reading a textbook.  I like learning things through manageably-sized videos.  But I suppose there are many types of learners.

Kudos to the production team, especially for those cool title designs in the later weeks.  I wish I could get a job doing that kind of thing.

The videos worked fine for me, watching them mostly on my iPod.  Normal buffering issues with my lackluster wi-fi, but the videos all played through rather smoothly once they got going.

 

Thanks again to Dr. Edwards, Dr. Gehring, and the team for their time and effort.  I thought this course was a lot of fun.

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