Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #6: Knocking 'Em Cold (Opening Scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much)

Recommended Posts

 Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? 

 

It is my opinion from just watching the opening that the characters are going to drive the plot.  We are already being given insight into the young girl, her feelings regarding others, and her ways of trying to manipulate her father.  We see people on a trip, something many middle and lower class people were unable to do during this time, so we start to gain insight into the various characters in the protagonists circle of acquaintances.  The plot will be important, but seeing the people as they interact with the events of the situation will be more important I believe.

 

What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

 

He is somehow someone that may be known to the main characters.  He seems fairly at ease, until he takes a good look at the skier.  At that point, it seems that he is a bit concerned.  Because of this, it may be hard to see his true intentions, as he seems like he is just one of the crowd.  Why would he want t kidnap anyone?

 

We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

 

Like the two previous films, we are introduced to characters as they interact with one another.  We start to learn a bit about them through these interactions.  We are even able to start to get some of their preferred likes and dislikes. In The Lodger, we are introduced to the problem, or conflict right away.  We see a crime that has been committed, and hear the reactions of the characters. It is different in TMWKTM, because we just see a family on vacation, and are not sure what kind of problem is going to transpire.  The only conflict seems to be in the recognition between Lorre's character and the skier.  In The Pleasure Garden, we just see the chorus hall, and the lechery of the men watching the nubile young women, again appealing to more base desires, like in The Lodger, when we see the screams of a murder victim.  Where is the base desires in the opening sequence of TMWKTM?  It isn't there.  We just have a family on holiday.  There is a subtle normalcy to the whole scene.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

​I believe the characters are going to be more important, based on this clip. We're immediately thrown into their lives and are introduced to the protagonists/antagonist. However, we still catch an early glimpse into the plot by the look between Peter Lorre and the skier. There's definitely something there that we'll probably learn about later in the movie.

 

In regards to Abbott himself, we learn that he's a friendly person, somewhat normal even if there's something off about him (especially when he looks at the skier). He doesn't take too much seriously, which seems to be a continuing trait throughout the rest of the movie. Those are the kinds of people that make the best villains. Of course, if we didn't know he was the antagonist before watching the clip, we'd still get the sense that something darker is in store. Hitchcock had a tendency to add dark comedy to his films, which seems to emphasize the darkness of the theme even more. And of course, Lorre is a great actor, especially for these kinds of roles.

 

I noticed the silence of the opening scene and the terror on the skier's face is similar to ​The Lodger​, while the light-heartedness is similar to Pleasure Garden​. One difference, though, was that the tension didn't escalate like in The Lodger​, because nothing actually happened. The darkness of the movie will begin later, as in Pleasure Garden​. Among these films, we can see the "Hitchcock touch" as it adapts to the use of sound and spy thrillers.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Daily Dose #6

Daily Dose #6:  Knocking 'Em Cold
Opening Scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

 

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

Based just on the opening scene, I think that this is going to be a characters driven film, because the whole skiing accident seems to be an excuse to present the three men and the girl, maybe the origin of a future connection between them. It could be a good example of a Macguffin. I can tell that the exchange with the Peter Lorre's character is particularly emphasized, probably, to show a certain aspect of his personality. At this point, it is not quite possible to foresee what is the plot about.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

In my opinion, he doesn't look like someone that take things too seriously and he seems able to find the funny side of the uncomfortable, negative or absurd situations, but there is something weird about him. He behaves in a too optimistic and enthusiast way that makes me suspect that he hides something dark within him, underneath that playful foreigner/tourist appearance.

 

Particularly, I noticed a little bit of that when he changed his expression after he saw the skier, that seriousness was strange after all the joy that he displayed. That increased my suspicions. I haven't seen the film yet (I am going to do it tomorrow), but I expect that the movie will dig into his personality through his actions or relationships with other characters and if I keep in mind the synopsis of the movie, probably he is related with the kidnapping of the girl and the plan of assassination. 

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

As I mentioned in my other responses, this opening presents the characters leaving the plot unknown to the audience and that is quite similar to The Pleasure Garden which gives us an insight into the world of the female dancers (how is their performance and their way to deal with the male audience who want something more), that is the world of Patsy (Virginia Valli). Therefore, it sheds some light about her context and about her too, through the way she reacts to the old man attentions. I would say that this is similar to what is done in The Man who knew too much opening scene. Also, in both cases, we can see a sort of playful tone, but I sense there is something more or darker in the latter than in the first picture of Hitchcock which seems lighter.

 

In the case of The Lodger, I think that its opening scene is plot-driven, the murder, the act of the assassin is more relevant than himself. However, it plants a seed of wondering about what is going to happen latter regarding the story, the characters, their motivations and catches the attention of the spectator with an unexpected situation as The Man who knew too much opening scene does as well (the first with the murder and the second with the skiing accident). 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet).

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the plot is supported by the cast. The winter playground of the idle rich is never very thrilling. So for me the plot is and will everything here. Just a wacky intuitive feeling. I think these characters are interchangeable. Other than Peter Lorre, the rest of the cast (except the dog) seem as interesting as a glass of warm milk. That being said I believe the man who knew too much, doesn't know about anything at all. And that man could very well be Mr. Hitchcock’s close friend Mr. MacGuffin.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film?

 

Mr Lorre is always the prime suspect; he's made a career of it. So it's difficult to believe anything else. Of course there are exceptions. Right away Lorre lets us know he is not fluent in English idioms but comes to a start when he gets a close look at the French skier. They obviously know each other and one feels it's an acrimonious relationship.

 

 

We see he is a wealthy man and he is not easily embarrassed getting up from a fall. As I said before, appears to have an interest on the French skier and being what sounds like a German accent that tends to make the friendship less than acrimonious. The coat he wears boasts money. But maybe I'm grabbing at straws and maybe these are all red herrings. It may show that I was right to distrust him at first glance, or wrong to judge him on prejudices I perceive (and of all his films don't help).

 

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

 

There is certainly a lot of action at the openings these three films but the crowds in all three really have no participatory action in regards to the plot. They are just necessary for the reality of the situations, which is the job of the extra. I found the foreshadowing of danger in all but in the Pleasure Garden: The Lodger (more than foreshadowing I suppose!) and The Man opens with a near miss. The Pleasure Garden takes us into a variety hall where gaiety abounds and other then a petty crime there are no threatening actions.

 

Hitchcock learned how to capture the attention of his audience by using the threat of suspense even if the film opens with a stillness. Other times he could grab us all by the throat, daring us to turn our heads and look away.

 

In this class and its binging I see Hitchcock’s inventiveness with a camera.Iit has truly shown me the beginnings of his genius.

 

Happy 4th you all. And be careful tonight.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As in many of Hitchcock's films, there is foreshadowing early on in the movie - the first thing we see is a potentially catastrophic accident!

Through the quick cuts, there are a few seconds where you're not sure if it's going to end well or not.

Though it's said in a lighthearted way, the skier still says that it could have been the last day of his life, so a shadow is upon the proceedings right away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  I definitely think the characters will be more important.  I actually "tuned out" the dialogue as the skier, the man and the girl were walking along, because I just felt that whatever they were saying wasn't that important.  It was all about the establishment of relationships.

 

2.  The introduction of Abbott is quite genial, considering he's going to be the villain of the piece.  But the man "doth protest too much" methinks, because he's just been hit hard, and he's completely brushing it off.  I would have expected more hesitancy, so it felt like he was trying to take away attention from himself.  Of course, when his whole demeanor changed upon seeing the skier, that just made his introduction far more intriguing.  Something is afoot, but at this point we know nothing.

 

3.  All the opening scenes from the three movies take place in a public setting -- a theater in Pleasure Garden, outdoors at a murder scene in Lodger, and at a sporting event in TMWKTM.  There are lots of people around (although in this movie there are a lot more people who aren't delineated), and he focuses quickly on four key players -- the bystander (Peter Lorre) and the skier and his brother and niece.  

 

I haven't seen this film in a long time, so I've forgotten everything except the scene in the Royal Albert Hall.  Can't wait to watch it again after such a long time.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never fail to find something goofy (in a good way) in a Hitch scene. Look at the way the skier puts his arm over his eyes. I'm pretty sure Hitchcock has never been skiing.  An experienced skier would never do that. It looks a little bit fake, as well.

 

I've never seen Peter Lorre smile so much. It was very strange to see that. The change on his face is telling, though, when he looks at the skier, and we can be sure this isn't the last time we encounter this character (Lorre).

 

Then, we see more cigarettes. People really smoked a lot back then. I used to smoke three packs a day. That was 12 years ago. Still, I'd like to fire one up. I'd love it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) To my eye and ear, this is a story in which the characters are of primary importance. Sure the story/plot will weave within and without, but it is a story about characters.

 

2) Peter Lorre appears to play a character that covers up everything going on with a smile and quip. He is a man of means.

 

3) Tension is being developed, but in a more light-hearted way than the Lodger. All three movies encompass a public gathering/event, whether it be an event (ski-jumping) or police milling around getting information (The Lodger) or the burlesque show. They all seemed to have something sinister that requires follow-up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet) I would think the characters are going to be more important. Opening with ski jumping and we're not going to continue with skiing or the same location seems to bolster that.

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? He's rich, or playing rich, he's not English, and his physical response upon seeing the skiier seem to indicate they will have dealings later in the film.

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. There are crowds....an audience in all 3. Only the Pleasure Garden does not include some kind of physical crime or injury.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

 

     I think the plot is going to engulf the characters and sweep them into the maelstrom created by Hitchcock.  I think the protagonists are merely innocent pawns caught up in the story.  Perhaps the most clearly drawn character in the opening scene is the daughter--pushy, not too well-behaved, indulged.

 

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

 

    Overall, Abbott appears to be a jovial and affable fellow.  However, the moment he actually sees Louis Bernard's (?) face, he drops the veneer and we see a more sinister character, although just for a moment.  So, we can guess Abbott is not as light as he might seem and expect a darker side of him to be revealed. 

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

 

    Briefly, I see a similarity to The Pleasure Garden with the skiers speeding downhill, as with the dancers running down the spiral staircase; and to both The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger in that there are "audiences" (groups of spectators) in all three films, as well as a close-up shot of a face--in this case, the frightened skier.  A difference I see is in the acting style--less intense and more realistic in The Man Who Knew Too Much.  The absence of a beautiful woman as the focal point of the close-up  is also a difference.

 

Can't wait to watch these films!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just watched "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1934) and I have to say that I thought Wes Gehring was being harsh in his commentary where he said the little girl was a brat and he would shoot her himself.  He compared her to Red Chief in "The Ransom of Red Chief"  Does this man have kids?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

 

I think the characters are more essential. How they interact with one another, and how they behave once the general plot of the film starts to take motion. It allows you to feel sympathy for some of them when they eventually have to face difficult situations. It is a Hitchcock film after all.

 

2) What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 

 

It is a little off-putting to see Peter Lorre cheerful and upbeat. You don't know what the character of Abbott's real intentions are. This is apparent when he suddenly changes his behavior the moment he sees the skier, but then he goes back to the upbeat stage. You get the sense that this character is going to be a very complex one. Most villains in the Hitchcock canon are not completely one-dimensional; they are complicated and sometimes more interesting than the heroes. In this case, Abbott is probably going to be one of the better ones.

 

3) We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 

 

The openings to all three films are similar because they immediately put the audience in the action. They also use specific POV shots to convey what's taking place. However, in The Pleasure Garden and 'Man Who Knew Too Much', the openings are more light-hearted than the opening to The Lodger, which is instantly grim. I think the main similarity with each film is that characters will be forced into events and situations that are often beyond their control and they will have to deal with them, especially if they want to survive. Again, these are Hitchcock films. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) The characters grab the viewer with their quirkiness opposed to the ski jump scene.

2) It is obvious that Peter Lorre's character knows the ski jumper...and that the jumper knows him! As I have never seen the film his initial appearance does not affect me, either positively or negatively.

3) The differences are sound vs silence. The similarities are the uses of an introduction that will show us characters who might not be as they seem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. The main characters are introduced in this scene with the exception of the mother, who is referred to and described. I didn't pick up any foreshadowing of doom in this scene, so I think that the characters will be more predominant than the plot.

2. In this scene, Peter Lorre was both cheerful and creepy, which he was in many of his films.

3. This film had more in common with the introduction to the Pleasure Gadren in that the main characters are introduced admist what is seemingly an inauspicious and innocuous beginning. Of course, The Lodger started off with mayhem while these other films didn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1- From the very beginning of the opening scene you are alarmed that something unusual and discomfortable is going to happen. A death alarm! The man or the dog or the girl?! And when everyone is saved you will keep thinking of What will happen to Whom? You are more concerned about Who will face the danger! There is also a repeated sentence by Louis "this is my last day. This could be my last day on earth. This is my last night here". There is also the very little moment when Abbot gazed with shocked eyes at Louis. A look that crossed his big smile and crossed your mind too.. what is between these two men? Who are they? What will happen between them?.

 

2. Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene seems to be a funny light hearted friendly man and also a bit carless too. And this is the reason why it becomes a surprise when we discover his reality.

This is related to the motif of appearance in Hitchcock thriller pictures.

 

3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

 

Both of the film groups open with information about where we are. With motion and action. With people ... a lot of them.

The difference is all or some of the main characters appears in the opening of the second week films but Not the main incident or event. In the second week you don't know too much in the opening scene that evokes your Curiosity not to know how what happened will develop but what will happen to whom! Also the second week films opens with a wide shot for the place "street, mountains, theater" and then it takes you slowly to narrower shots. However the first week films opens with a narrow frame for the staircase dancers or with a vague expressionist image of a killer and a close shot for a murdered lady face.

 

The second week films open with Appetizers but the first week films open with the main course!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This opening scene differed from The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger in a few ways. It was much less experimental. The opening scene of The Lodger showed its German Expressionist influences with its vivid use of shadows and closeups, and The Pleasure Garden experimented with cutaways and other means of showing the audience information the scene's characters didn't know. Th other main difference is in tone. The Lodger opened with a murder, and while The Pleasure Garden opened with pretty girls dancing, there was a similar eeriness with the men leering at the girls. This one, however, was very light-hearted, with laughter and jokes and everything. If I didn't know it was a Hitchcock film, I would've expected a tired family film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)

We meet all the main characters in this upbeat opening scene--all but the mother, and yet she IS introduced by way of mention as to where she is, what she's doing, etc. There will, of course, be a plot, but the characters--and how they will interact--seem to be at the forefront.

2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film?

I have seen Peter Lorre in M and in THE MALTESE FALCON and, in this film, was expecting him to convey a similar persona, so it came as quite a surprise to see him in the opening scene as personable, even jovial. But when he sees the skier is L. Bernard, his conviviality drops like a rock and we get a brief but undeniable glimpse of something cold, even sinister, beneath the mask. Appearance vs. Reality, a motif Hitchcock developed in later films; e.g. Norman Bates in PSYCHO (a polite but nervous surface hiding the homicidal psychopath underneath) and the James Mason character in NORTH BY NORTHWEST (an exterior of courtly manners and polished speech masking something dark).

​A giant step forward here from Hitchcock's silent films is that the characters' reactions are expressed at a more natural, a more realistic speed. Had Hitchcock made a silent version of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, Peter Lorre's double-take upon recognizing the skier would have been a 5-, 6- or even 7-second shot. But in this sound picture, Lorre's reaction is quite quick. This is far more natural than the slow, often plodding pace of silent film. If you blink, you might miss Lorre's quickly covered up reaction shot.
In contrast, by way of one example, Carl Brisson's boxer in THE RING has reaction shots that hold to the point that, as his eyes grow ever larger, he almost appears maniacal. You can practically hear the off-screen director saying, "Okay, Carl, hold it! Hold it...h-o-l-d it...Cut!" These overlong reaction shots are a problem for me when watching some silent films; they make me over-aware of the acting. It's as if the directors--not just Hitchcock--don't trust the audience to "get it" unless the shot is held for several extra seconds.
​In THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, Lorre in one take is, essentially, editing himself: his facial expression morphs from laughter to shocked recognition and back to composed--all in a quicksilver flash. This is screen acting of a very high order--and a giant step forward in the evolution of movies.


3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes.

Like the opening backstage staircase scene of THE PLEASURE GARDEN, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH opens in a glamorous setting: a ski slope at ritzy St. Moritz. In THE LODGER, while the blonde's full screen face is attractive, there's nothing glamorous about a murder victim's final scream.
All three films start with action of one sort or another, immediately drawing the viewer into the story. Also, all three are quickly filled with many people, either as spectator crowds (theater-goers and ski enthusiasts) or curious rubberneckers at a crime scene.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This clip leads me to believe the film is more focused on the characters than the plot.  One can easily see there is more to Abbott than meets the eye, based on his reaction when he sees the ski jumper up close.  Both appear to be giving the signal that they've met before and there is some type of connection.

 

In viewing this clip first, without prior knowledge of the film, I am expecting that Abbott will expose a sinister side the next time we see him. Although he appears jovial, there is something underneath the surface that doesn't match that persona.

 

It was similar in the openings because it used an action-based scene (downhill skiing, dancing girls) to grab the attention of the audience. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven’t seen this version, but based on these couple of exchanges I’m going to assume the characters are going to be more important.  There is not much plot or situation setup so far, although it appears Abbot and the skier recognize or know one another, setting up a question in our mind.  However, based on our lessons on the Hitchcock Touch, I’m guessing that there’s going to be an early form of a MacGuffin that at least gets these characters into a chase-type, suspenseful situation.  I’m very excited to watch this one (I really enjoy the 1956 Jimmy Stewart/Doris Day version), and to watch the entire set of Hitch’s spy thrillers from this period.  I finally was able to watch all of Hitch’s silent films this past weekend (none of which I had seen before), something I’d been wanting and meaning to do for years, and I’m looking forward to continuing through his body of work.  It really is informative and fun going through his career like this; thanks, Mr. Edwards and TCM.

 

Abbot seems to be a very calm, cool, collected individual, but I get the idea that that there’s a very cold, pathological, violent antagonist lurking underneath, ready to unveil himself when needed or tested.  He seems nice enough now, and takes even an embarrassing event in stride, but it might contrast with actions later in the film.  It’s funny, but he reminds me a bit of a James Bond villain here, and I see him almost as a template for what was to become the typical Bond villain.

 

All three of the openings seen in the Daily Doses use an opening scene of spectacle/performance and spectators.  THE MAN doesn’t have the obsessive, voyeuristic focus on a blonde woman (although the young girl does have curly, blond hair).  It also seems to show Hitch moving to a more classical Hollywood style, and honing his story, technique, themes, etc. into more of what will be typically associated with a Hitchcock film and the Hitchcock Touch: there’s a more exotic location (again reminding me of James Bond; perhaps Hitch should have directed one), the everyman protagonist, the calculating antagonist, deception/appearances…and I assume I’ll notice more (like a MacGuffin, thriller genre, etc.) after I’ve watched it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a little of both plot and character the one will work with the other hand in hand in Peter Lorre there seems to be more to him beneath the surface then we see on the outward appearance That will eventually come out our view of him changes as we see what's under the surface emerge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had watched the remake when I was in my preteen years, and didn't enjoy it as much as I had enjoyed rear window. As an adult I watched the original on TCM and was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I've recently rewatched the Doris Day version, and while I appreciate it much more than I did in my youth, the original is still a superior film in my mind.

I really think the European setting is better than the dessert and while I absolutely think Jimmy Stewart is a talent beyond reproach, I buy the relationship between the family members more in the originally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Based on these opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film--the characters or the plot? (It is fine to make an informed guess about the 2nd question if you haven't seen the film yet)


 


That's a hard one. It feels mostly like we are going to be focused more on the characters but there is some part of me interested in the plot since the meeting of Abbott makes me want to see what is about to unfold.


 


2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? 


 


Abbot seems to be a bubbly fun guy upon first impression. However, one thing that stood out to me was a look on his face that when he looked at the skier that felt very sinister to me. He quickly shook it off and started smiling again. I can tell this is going to be a fun yet sinister character.


 


3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week (The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger). How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes. 


 


It started out similar to the other two films mentioned with something that pulls your attention in immediately. Action of the dancers in The Pleasure Garden, the screaming broad in The Lodger and here a crowd of people watching a skier and a girl going after her dog putting herself and the skier in danger. Differences for me would probably be the theme. A sport vs a dance sequence vs a murder.


 


*Additional Reflections


 


I'm really going to have to watch The Man Who Knew Too Much as well as most likely all of his early British films with captions because these characters talk fast and with the English accent it's a bit hard to understand. I can totally see why these early sound films weren't as big over here in the States simply because the accents must have been really difficult to swallow when they probably hadn't heard a lot of English accents previously.


  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided to watch the entire film before answering today's questions, so I will try to avoid any spoilers for anyone who hasn't watched it yet. However, based on the accompanying discussion between Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gehring and today's lecture notes, it seems that the characters will be more important than the plot in this film, although this might be difficult to discern after seeing only the first 2 and a half minutes of the film.  Yet, within that short time, Hitchcock already begins to establish Peter Lorre's character, Abbott, and the obvious relationship between him and the ski jumper, Louis, especially with the looks that they exchange when they first encounter each other.  The look Lorre gives the jumper clearly suggests that there is some sort of "history" or connection, one that Abbott does not like, one that he seems to need to take care of.  This scene also establishes the relationship between Betty and her parents.  Are they playful with their name calling or do they not have a close relationship with their daughter? (answered later in the film)  It seems Jill is not upset when she misses the pigeon because of her daughter and Abbott's watch, but is she?  However, overall at this point it seems they do care for Betty.  Hitchcock also uses this opening scene to begin establishing the comic nature of the villain Abbott.  Lorre is good-natured about being knocked to the ground, laughing about it with Bob.  And even when the dynamic of that relationship changes later, Lorre still plays his role with an undertone of comedy.  This light-hearted first impression might catch viewers off guard later when they realize who Abbott really is.  To some extent, in these cases, the viewers might also tend to side with the villains? As the author Clive Barker says, there is something noble, even tragic in the classic sense, in the villainous, something likable.  Perhaps this is also the case with the character Abbott.  How can you not like him and his darkly humorous words and actions throughout the film? 

This opening scene is similar to The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger in that in all three, the viewers (along with a large group of people on screen) are witness to something that is happening or has just happened.  The former scene (voyeurs at a dance hall) is more light-hearted than the latter (onlookers intruding on the death of the latest victim).  Even the scene in The Man Who Knew Too Much is more light-hearted.  Although the skier falls, almost hitting Betty and her dog, no one is seriously hurt and Hitchcock uses the scene as a way to begin establishing Lorre's use of comedy and establishing the tension/problem between Abbott and Louis.  (mild spoiler) This opening scene also serves as a nice contrast to a similar, more serious scene that occurs about 8 minutes into the film, a nice counterpoint.

Side note: Even though we did not need to address the concept of dark humor, I just need to add that the scene in the tabernacle with the singing is genius (sorry for the spoiler).  Too often today, a director will try to incorporate humor into an otherwise suspenseful film or a horror film, and inadvertently ruins the overall effect. (Poe's notion of the "single effect," perhaps).  However the humor that Hitchcock masterfully weaves into this film actually works.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  I have seen this version a couple of times, but just based on this opening scene one would have to assume that characters that will be more important than plot.  The only "plot" that we get in this scene, the dog getting loose and causing Louis to crash, is really just a contrivance to introduce the characters, and bring them together.  It could have happened in a dozen other ways.

 

2.  The obvious way to introduce a villain in a circumstance like this, where he is knocked down, would be to portray him as haughty, maybe even angry.  But Hitchcock here introduces the sympathetic antagonist, something he would do throughout his career.  Lorre is genuinely good-natured in this scene.  One wants to like him.  The only hint that there may be more to him than meets the eye is the slight double-take when he first recognized Louis.  ( I did not notice this on my first viewing).

 

3.  This opening is similar in the sense that the scene is set up visually.  When Louis is skiing down the hill the sound is minimal.  It was shot much the way he would have shot it in the silent era.  After the crash, all of a sudden we hear ambient crowd noise and later music in the background.   The difference is that this is a film where dialogue is important.  There is much wit in this screenplay, and in all of the thriller sextet.  I had to watch them all multiple times to pick up on all the intricacies of the screenplays.  These movies, while still visual in nature, would not have been as effective as silent films.  It is in the marriage of the visual and the sound that Hitchcock was so brilliant, even this early in his career.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even though Peter Lorre is only briefly in this sequence, he steals the show so to speak. He comes across as jovial and likeable, but that single moment of startled recognition between him and the skier suggests that all is not as it seems. Just from this exchange I get the impression that Lorre is up to no good. This feeling, of course, is probably biased because of other movies I've seen with Lorre playing the villain and because it is mentioned in the lecture video that he plays a very friendly bad guy in this movie. The difference between what a character seems to be and what the character actually is provides a level of moral ambiguity that makes the film interesting. This is one example of the theme that Donald Spoto identifies (mentioned in the lecture notes): Hitchcock's use of spies and espionage to create "worlds of deception" or "worlds of appearances."  

 

I think the opening of The Man Who Knew Too Much is markedly different from the openings scenes of The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger in that it doesn't use the same cinematic techniques--montage, expressionistic lighting, extreme close up, and so forth. The opening here is more traditional in a way. It begins with a dramatic event in the form of a skiing accident, which leads to a crowd scene where the characters are introduced, and the conflict that will propel the story is just barely hinted at.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


© 2019 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
×
×
  • Create New...