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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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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 haven't had a chance to see this version, the original version, in full. But from what I had gathered from the opening scene, the characters will become more important throughout the duration of the film. 

 

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 knows how to focus the attention onto himself, rather than the other people in the conversation. Even as he was leaving, he made it all about himself as he turned back toward the group he had just left. He seems like he may be the type that knows what he wants and will do whatever it takes to get it. 

 

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. 

 

I think the similarities were that all 3 films have an opening that is attention-grabbing. You couldn't help but look at the legs of the girls as they were coming down the stairs in The Pleasure Garden, the tight shot of the girl screaming in The Lodger kept your eyes focused on her, and then you kept focused on the man skiing down the hill in The Man Who Knew Too Much, they are all things that kept you wondering what was going to be happening next.

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1. Based on the opening scene I think the characters are more important because we do not know what the plot is yet. We are introduced to the main characters and see them interact with each other. As the plot develops later in the movie the characters relationship with each other will become even more important.

 

2.Abbott seems friendly and not put out by the accident with the skier and the crowd. But he also seems too jovial, like he does not want to be seen as a person who would easily be upset. But when he sees the skier's face he briefly drops the facade he is trying to uphold and we see a glimpse that all is not so rosy. The skier also recognizes him also, making us wonder where their paths have crossed before. It makes us wonder what really lies under the surface of this seemingly jovial tourist.

 

3. All three opening scenes have a crowd gathered watching either the dancers in The Pleasure Garden, the murder scene and the police investigation and the witness account in The Lodger and the ski jump competition in The Man Who Knew Too Much. The Pleasure Garden had dancers coming down a staircase and The Man Who Knew too Much has skiers coming down a hill. All three films have a blonde with curly hair. There is a close up of the murder victim in the Pleasure Garden and a close up of the skier in the Man Who Knew Too Much. All three films start off with action that draws you into the story.

 

The differences in the opening are the The Pleasure Garden and The Man Who Knew Too Much have a less sinister beginning. The characters are gathered together to be entertained. The Lodger starts off with a murder and the characters are frightened and anxious because a killer is on the loose. 

Also the first two films were silent pictures and the third one has sound. 

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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 did get a chance to see this version of The Man Who Knew Too Much many years ago (like, try 15-20). But I only saw it the once and I remember nothing about it except really, really liking Peter Lorre's performance. That said, I feel like I'm approaching this from the same place as those that have never seen it. I'm not sure if this is me subconsciously remembering something about the film or just making my best educated guess, but I'm sure the film will focus more on the characters than the plot. Hitch's characters, their thinking, and their relationships to both other people and the world around them are almost always at the center of his stories. 

 

I feel like this theory is supported by the way we're shown little glimpses of who these characters are right off the bat. Who they are and how they react to what's going on around them is clearly what's important. We see a bit of the relationship between the father and daughter. (Dad seems to spoil and accommodate the daughter a bit more than he should. I'd be pretty embarrassed if my kid's dog caused that kind of scene, but this guy doesn't really bat an eye.) We see how happy-go-lucky the Peter Lorre character appears to be. We get a sense of the young girl as being the kind of child that kind of gets in the way and causes trouble to some extent as well, although definitely in a childlike, clueless kind of way. 

 

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? 

 

Abbott strikes me as the type of guy that's unflappable. Despite just having been knocked into the snow by a wayward skier, he's laughing, smiling, and making jokes. It's just no big deal the way it might be for somebody else. As someone else mentioned below, this seems unusual for a villain. You'd expect the bad guy to throw a fit or act mega-irritated and this one absolutely doesn't. It makes me instantly interested in knowing more about him and seeing how the rest of this story unfolds.

 

Furthermore, this introduction actually makes me care a bit about Abbott. He's the type of dude I'd like to hang out with and shoot the breeze with over a pizza or a couple of beers. He seems like the type of person I'd honestly like to be more like -- the type that just takes life in stride and is able to turn mishaps into passing incidents to be amused by. Despite knowing he's the villain, I identify with him. It will make it hard for me to hate him later on down the line. It may also make it harder for me to process the idea of him kidnapping a young girl or engaging in God knows what criminal acts. Typical Hitchcock -- asking the viewer to look at characters and concepts from another angle, even if it's an uncomfortable one.

 

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 far as similarities, all three of those films open on scenes that are permeated with energy and vitality. There's no slow, boring build-up. These are exciting scenes where people are engaged and engrossed in some sort of happening -- fun and flirty in Pleasure Garden with the dance hall show, anxiety-ridden in The Lodger with the murder and associated gossip, fast-paced and entertaining in Man Who Knew Too Much with the ski competition and excited spectators.

 

All three of those scenes also take place in settings where you wouldn't expect anything unusual to happen or be brewing. Maybe other people's mileage varies, but I know I wouldn't expect much of note to occur at a dance hall, on an everyday street in London, or on a ski slope someplace I'm vacationing. Nobody involved in these scenes/stories expected anything crazy to befall them. They were just going about their business as they led ordinary lives that are probably a lot like mine.

 

As far as differences, it's mostly the different moods in each one. Each scene involves lots of emotion and excitement, as well as lots of anticipation of one kind or another. However, they all appear to be leading up to very different types of events. (Or so I'm assuming. The only full film of the three I've had a chance to watch so far is The Lodger.)

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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 did get a chance to see this version of The Man Who Knew Too Much many years ago (like, try 15-20). But I only saw it the once and I remember nothing about it except really, really liking Peter Lorre's performance. That said, I feel like I'm approaching this from the same place as those that have never seen it. I'm not sure if this is me subconsciously remembering something about the film or just making my best educated guess, but I'm sure the film will focus more on the characters than the plot. Hitch's characters, their thinking, and their relationships to both other people and the world around them are almost always at the center of his stories. 
 
I feel like this theory is supported by the way we're shown little glimpses of who these characters are right off the bat. Who they are and how they react to what's going on around them is clearly what's important. We see a bit of the relationship between the father and daughter. (Dad seems to spoil and accommodate the daughter a bit more than he should. I'd be pretty embarrassed if my kid's dog caused that kind of scene, but this guy doesn't really bat an eye.) We see how happy-go-lucky the Peter Lorre character appears to be. We get a sense of the young girl as being the kind of child that kind of gets in the way and causes trouble to some extent as well, although definitely in a childlike, clueless kind of way. 
 
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? 
 
Abbott strikes me as the type of guy that's unflappable. Despite just having been knocked into the snow by a wayward skier, he's laughing, smiling, and making jokes. It's just no big deal the way it might be for somebody else. As someone else mentioned below, this seems unusual for a villain. You'd expect the bad guy to throw a fit or act mega-irritated and this one absolutely doesn't. It makes me instantly interested in knowing more about him and seeing how the rest of this story unfolds.
 
Furthermore, this introduction actually makes me care a bit about Abbott. He's the type of dude I'd like to hang out with and shoot the breeze with over a pizza or a couple of beers. He seems like the type of person I'd honestly like to be more like -- the type that just takes life in stride and is able to turn mishaps into passing incidents to be amused by. Despite knowing he's the villain, I identify with him. It will make it hard for me to hate him later on down the line. It may also make it harder for me to process the idea of him kidnapping a young girl or engaging in God knows what criminal acts. Typical Hitchcock -- asking the viewer to look at characters and concepts from another angle, even if it's an uncomfortable one.
 
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 far as similarities, all three of those films open on scenes that are permeated with energy and vitality. There's no slow, boring build-up. These are exciting scenes where people are engaged and engrossed in some sort of happening -- fun and flirty in Pleasure Garden with the dance hall show, anxiety-ridden in The Lodger with the murder and associated gossip, fast-paced and entertaining in Man Who Knew Too Much with the ski competition and excited spectators.
 
All three of those scenes also take place in settings where you wouldn't expect anything unusual to happen or be brewing. Maybe other people's mileage varies, but I know I wouldn't expect much of note to occur at a dance hall, on an everyday street in London, or on a ski slope someplace I'm vacationing. Nobody involved in these scenes/stories expected anything crazy to befall them. They were just going about their business as they led ordinary lives that are probably a lot like mine.
 
As far as differences, it's mostly the different moods in each one. Each scene involves lots of emotion and excitement, as well as lots of anticipation of one kind or another. However, they all appear to be leading up to very different types of events. (Or so I'm assuming. The only full film of the three I've had a chance to watch so far is The Lodger.)

 

Gotta dig likable villains!

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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.

 

I totally didn't notice the way he looked at the skier. Definitely a sign of things to come for sure! 

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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)

Hmm...the characters I believe. I think their natures are going to be integral to moving the film along.

 

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 seems to be a lovely man unless you anger him or disrupt his life in any way.

 

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. A seemingly innocent set of scenes, with an underlying tension that gives the viewer the sense that something terribly sinister is going to happen..

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1. Character will take greater importance over plot - the inciting incident is created when a precocious little girl's dog runs into the laneway for a speed skater. This little  moment is meant to introduce the audience to some of the film's main characters and to give an idea (a notion?) of who they are. 

 

2. Abbot seems easy going at first, played in such a way that when he does get down to business he will seem far more menacing because of this introduction. 

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Based on the opening scene (which appears to focus heavy on character identification), I couldn't help but notice Abbot and Luis seemed to have already some kind of complicated relationship established.
Abbot's face immediately changed for the worst after seeing Luis and he also immediately left the scene after realizing Luis was in front of him. Then he made some kind of joking gesture.
In a 'spy world' (and me not having seen the entire film), I'd suspect Abbot as the villan who is upper class crime boss unafraid to migle in large crowds etc. and Luis being the spy (like MI6 via the accent noone else seemed to share-very James Bond esque etc).
Abbot seems to have a sense of humor from the fall and not being upset to the funky armpit gesture he did to Luis. And if Abbot 'is' the villan as I presume, most really great villans in cinema have an outlandish sense of humor. It's what seperates their character from our mundane reality of obeying rules, laws etc.
If he isn't the villan, than I guess the joke's on me and my views of him currently.
This opening scene is similar to Pleasure Garden and Lodger in these ways:
-Immediately a woman is thrust into the spotlight
-She almost becomes a victim (a touch of German Expressionism)
-Male villans are introduced immediately (Abbot - if I'm correct about him)
-Women are belittled (little daughter etc, dancer in Pleasure Garden being hit on etc, one being robbed etc. In Lodger one being Murdered etc). (German Expressionism using people as props)

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1) Based upon the opening scene, it appears character will be highly important to the film, but plot will matter as well.  Hitchcock’s introduction of his characters in The Man Who Knew Too Much makes us wonder and care about who they are, what will happen to them and why they were brought together in the opening scene to set up the story-line (aka the plot).  Hitchcock draws the audience in to care about the characters (e.g. scuttled ski jump to avert danger on the slopes for a dog and girl), but also makes the audience curious (a brief look of recognition quickly masked between Abbott and Bernard) that pulls the audience forward to know “something is up” – there is more to the story, perhaps even sinister, developing.

 

2) We learn quite a few things about Abbott in the opening scene: a) he appears to be good-natured, friendly and a likable fellow, able to shake off being knocked down with humor, B) his accent is not British, making him different than the other characters, and c) there is more to him than meets the eye – he has a connection with the skier who crashed into the crowd, reveled briefly via a suppressed look of recognition.  The effect of Hitchcock’s introduction of Abbott as a likable man creates added tension to the story, because we are not supposed to like villains, and we want to like Abbott. 

 

3) The common ground for the opening scenes of Hitchcock’s silent films in Daily Doses last week and The Man Who Knew Too Much this week is in the setting.  All three of them take place in public settings where one would have a sense of normalcy and safety; nothing out of the ordinary should happen in these places (a theater show in The Pleasure Garden, a busy public street in the Lodger or on the ski slopes of St. Moritz in The Man Who Knew Too Much) … but yet it does!  

 

For me, the obvious difference between the two Daily Doses is that The Man Who Knew Too Much has the benefit of sound/dialogue helping to establish the characters and the audience’s interest in the plot, whereas The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger as silent films did not.  Visually, Hitchcock used similar techniques of starting his film with an overview of the crowds before moving in on specific characters with close-ups.

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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've never seen this version of the film; but, I am guessing the characters will be more important as the film progresses.

 

  We're just getting a glimpse of the varied personalities.

 

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? 

 

 

Abbott appears very friendly with a good sense of humor, and he doesn't take himself too seriously.  He just got knocked down into the snow; and yet he gets up and brushes himself off, while laughing about the accident and joking about his English.  From the lecture video, I found out Peter Lorre plays the villain of the film, before ever having seen it.  So watching Abbott's pleasant reaction to the crash knowing he is the villain, makes me wonder why he behaves against type.  A likeable villain?  Then seeing the brief, 180-degree change in Abbott's expression when he recognizes the skier, makes me very curious about what evil lurks beneath his overly buoyant exterior.

 

 

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. 

 

 

All three films have opening scenes featuring a crowd that has gathered to watch an event.  All three stories are set into motion by a curly haired female.  The Pleasure Garden and this film open with a playful tone.  The Lodger and this film have a startling  act that occurs seconds into the start of the film.  Unlike The Pleasure Garden or The Lodger, this film is driven by dialogue almost immediately as we hear quick banter between the characters.

 

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The plot takes off here with little to no exposition. Abbot is the only character that portrays some depth, drawing the audience in with good natured patience and humor, then turning suddenly cold while gazing at the skier before slipping back into good humor. He exhibits layers and charisma. The audience wants to spend time with his character, for good or for bad. On the other end if the spectrum is the protagonist, Bob, who is the epitome of two dimensional, societal manners. Luis and Betty fall somewhere in between, though closer to Bob than Abbot. The plot, then will have to take center stage since the protagonist is an everyman through which the audience can live vicariously. They must have a strong and dominant plot, then, to vicariously live.

 

Like Pleasure Garden and The Lodger, The Man Who Knew Too Much opens on a crowd of spectators. The illusion of the stage (the chorus girls, the murder witness, or the ski jumper) is broken when one from the audience makes individual and personal contact with the spectacle. The old man finds the dancer's on stage persona is fake. The man imitating the Avenger with his collar up finds that the murder witness, when he upsets her, is a real human with human emotions and not just a source of scandalous news. And Betty breaks the illusion of the ski jumper transcending average human limitations by standing in his way, placing his and her life in danger. Hitchcock's themes of mob mentality and voyeurism are already well established in these three early films. 

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

a.    While a “plot” is hinted at in Lorre’s glance of recognition, the characters are center stage in this first scene – the odd character of Lorre, and the “spoiled” character of the girl.

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? 

a.    He is “foreign” – e.g. he doesn’t understand English idioms. And… He has a nurse. Is he ill? In bad health? (Or is the nurse an accomplice?)

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. 

a.    Like The Pleasure Garden, there is an audience being entertained.
Like The Lodger, a crowd gathers around a “victim.”

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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)

 

The characters are going to be “more important” because of their relationships with each other. Technically, being an audible film, characters can be developed more fully/personally now because you can hear the intonation of their voices, get real insight into the expressions on their faces, and they are saying foretelling things, such as “I might have been killed, you know. You realize that my last day here might have been my last day on earth.” (1:21) Actions are not exaggerated to carry the story; movements can be more subtle, which means that the story isn’t just about what happens; it’s about who it’s happening to and who is causing it to happen. The plot can take a slight back seat to character development (not that they aren’t both integral).

 

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? 

 

Abbott is a foreigner and only an acquaintance. He knows the skier somehow — or thinks he does. He covers up what he’s thinking by putting on a smile. Example: the “awk-awkward” look on Peter Lorre’s face when he appears to recognize the skier. He is stunned for a moment, and then goes back to being jovial. It’s unclear if the skier recognizes Abbott, but he did notice that Abbott looked at him funny and appears to be concerned about it. It’s likely they were both faking it through that conversation once they saw each other. But in the skier’s case, it seems like he’s genuinely concerned, while Abbott seems clearly to be hiding something. I would expect him to be the type of person who hides himself behind a mask of pleasantries.

 

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 a close-up of the skier’s face when he realizes he’s going to crash. This is similar to the silent scream at the opening of The Lodger.

 

There is also a crowd of people watching a “show”/performance by the skier coming down the mountain, just as there was an audience watching the show in The Pleasure Garden.

 

There is someone doing something he shouldn’t do in The Pleasure Garden — smoking beside a “no smoking” sign. While, in The MWKTM, there is a little girl with a dog who is doing something he shouldn’t be doing — getting in the way of the skier.

 

There is a mix of generations in the characters, both male and female in each of the three stories. In The Lodger, it’s the mom and pop running the boarding house. In The Pleasure Garden, it’s the mom and pop looking out for Patsy. In The MWKTM, it’s the man in the white scarf (girl’s father) and the woman in the hat saying (forebodingly), “Lucky if you didn’t catch your death of cold” to Abbott.

 

There is a cute little dog who steals the show in both The MWKTM and The Pleasure Garden.

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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)

 

Having seen the film before, I know that the plot is more important. The opening scene introduces characters that are not terribly interesting by themselves.  They appear to be ordinary, upper-class folks.  They become interesting when the plot places them in difficult situations.  Will the heroes save their child and the foreign head of state or not? 

 

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 is shown to be a pleasant enough fellow, but with a hint of mystery or secrets about him.  Later in the film, when we see Abbot commit criminal acts, we feel a tension in ourselves and in the character.  How can such a pleasant person do such awful things?  Will this pleasant man actually kill innocent hostages?  We’ll see.

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. 

 

Hitchcock’s openings for these three films are all action scenes, fast-paced activity and quick cuts.  There are no leisurely establishing shots opening any of these films; Hitchcock doesn’t have time for that.  He wants to grab his audiences from the start and keep them involved in his story.

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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)

 

Fairly tough question having seen the film a bunch of times. The characters are quite lively in this opening scene, I can see thinking this might be more of a performance driven film.

 

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?

 

Abbott comes across as laid back & good natured, although that initial look he gives the skier sets suspicion in our mind.

 

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 the Pleasure Garden & this open with loose tones with an audience watching some form of entertainment. Lodger obviously much more serious and cuts to the chase that there is something terrible happening in the film.

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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)

 

​Just based on the opening this film looks like it will involve many characters and be more character driven film.

 

 

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 comes across as normal but the strange look he gives the skier sets us up to believe there is much more to him that meets the eye.

 

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 were shots of lots of people reacting but this film seemed to start off more quiet and show more characters to build up upon rather than a specific event that has already happened as in the lodger.

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Based on the opening scene, I would say the characters are going to be more important than the plot yet I would imagine this would change. 

Abbott plays a dummy if you will, but he is not a dummy. Appearances are deceiving.I love this about Hitchcock films.

 

This scene is similar to "the Pleasure Garden"and "The Lodger" in that there are lots of activity in the scene yet different of course, as there is dialogue, lots of laugh lol!

 

 

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I really believe the character development will be more important than the plot throughout the film.

 

Abbott does come across as fairly laid back, although the initial look that he and the skier exchange leads us to believe that something sinister is going to happen, and we wonder where their paths may have crossed before.

 

The three films are similar in that the opening scenes were quite lively and grabbed the attention of the audience, right off the bat. The Lodger with the close up shot of the woman screaming. The pleasure Garden with the girls coming down the staircase. The Man Who Knew Too Much follows the skier down the mountain

and ultimately crashing.

 

 

Differences: the one that stands out in my mind is that the Pleasure Garden and The Lodger opening scenes are fairly tight shots and in TMWKTM the opening scene is shot at a wide angle.

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Oh course the scene sets up a character rich movie, and what characters. Peter Lorre is one of the best actors in europe at this time in his career and one of the best all time.

 

Quintessential Lorre, he stares and the sinister comes out. You know by hitch use of this visual, he will be a major player in the movie.

 

Location,location location. More budget, less closeups, tricks of low budget movies.

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I watched Rich and Strange (aka East of Shanghai) this morning with the sole intent of watching for the Hitchcock Touch and found many. IT is a good, but not great, movie where you can still see Hitch getting his mind around sound, much of it is like a silent movie, then the flourishes of sound come forward, however, without the type seen in Blackmail. This movie has very minor thrills, some off kilter comedy and romance. Joan Barry (who provided the voice for Anny Ondra in Blackmail) is another wonderful blonde actress who make the screen more beautiful with her presence.

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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 on this opening scene, I think that the characters are going to be more important. You really have no idea what the plot will be, based on this clip. However, you meet several characters, and you watch them and listen to them interact with one another. 


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? 


You learn that Abbott seems to be the kind of man who has a good attitude and who doesn't really let things bother him. He is laughing off the incident. He only drops the facade when he encounters the second man, the skier. It's as if they have met before, or Abbott knows something about him that he doesn't like. 


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 first main difference, of course, is that this is not a silent film. Therefore, we not only get to see the characters interact, but we get to hear them: their tones of voice, their accents, their choices of words. As far as visuals go, all three films are captivating in their openings. You want to watch them and are interested right away. They don't open slowly. 


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The opening scene has a touch of menace as it appears Luis is hurtling directly into the crowd of spectators, like a bowling ball down an alley. Is it just coincidence or fate that Abbott is among the 'pins' knocked down? The girl doesn't seem too affected by her dog jumping from her arms until she sees 'Uncle' Luis headed right for the pup. Is she more afraid for her dog or for her 'Uncle'?  I think it speaks to her character that she would bring her dog to a large crowd, and without a leash to control and protect him.  Luis covers his horrified face when he sees the girl and dog in his path, perhaps not wanting to see the end of his career and/or life.  Wouldn't an expert skier keep his eyes peeled to try to minimize his fall and avoid hurting any spectators?  Is this an indication of some aspect of his life being beyond his control?  Has he already resigned himself to a dismal outcome?  He even mentions how tenuous his hold on life is.

 

The nurse recognized Luis before Abbott did, and seems to mouth a small 'oh'.  She then turns her gaze to Abbott to catch his reaction to the skier. Here Abbott acts the jovial, bumbling oaf, laughing as he brushes off the snow, emphasizing his supposed weakness by mentioning his nurse, who expresses her concern for his health.  But his flickering recognition of Luis injects a foreboding to the scene. He and his nurse leave and he reverts to the harmless little man. (I have trouble seeing Peter Lorre as evil even when he is, because he is so delightful to watch.)  Luis's face seems briefly startled at seeing Abbott, but reverts to his innocent persona. But as Abbott leaves and waves goodbye, Luis juts out his chin at him as if to covertly signal something to Luis.  Are they in cohoots? There is obviously a plot afoot, and the characters seem to be dominant at this point. As Luis and his companions leave, Luis invites them to have dinner on his last night there, emphasizing the wife Jill.  Her gunmanship adds another touch of menace.

 

So far, the characters are predominant, but by the looks exchanged, the prominence of the daughter's role, the mention of guns, and the probable pretense of the nurse and Abbott's relationship, these all point to a plot involving all of these seemingly random characters.

 

The comparison of this opening to those of The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger are similar in that a performer or a character has an audience and both interact with each other.  There is a light and lively tune being played in the background of the skiing event and during the dancers' performance.  The facial expression of the dancer in response to the overly interested audience member and looks on Luis and Abbott's faces create a negative undertone to the films.  In The Lodger, the crowd is horrified as are the spectators when Luis falls on the slopes.  Closeups of faces are in all 3 films - the girl discovering she's been robbed, the murder victim, and Luis as he falls.  Conversations with double meanings occur as the dancer talks to the lecherous man and taunts him with her curl, and as the nurse and Abbott converse.

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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)


Characters I think.


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 seems lighthearted and good-natured - nothing about him seems dark or forboding in this scene.


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 Pleasure Garden, we see the viewpoint of the skier (seeing the dog and girl in his path) not too much of what the girl is viewing of the oncoming skier.


Like the The Lodger, after the skier plows into the crowd, we experience the reactions of the crowd to what is happening. In this however it seems more relaxed and less frenzied as there is no anxiety about the aftermath of a murder and people eanting to know what is happening.


In both, there are less fast edits than used in the silent films.


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1. I think this is almost a trick question. The ski accident is dramatic and potentially life threatening and we hear about future with competition and a shooting match. We also get the distinct impression that some sort of sexual/romantic triangle may exist between the skier and the girl's mother and father. So I wouldn't say that action/plot isn't important here. The unnerving thing is that the characters are playing this scene like a drawing room comedy. They don't pick up on the cues of danger. When the skier points out that his last day in town could have been his last day on earth, the father and daughter pick up on his schedule rather than his almost-demise.

 

2. Peter Lorre seems so genial and above the fray. He downplays his ability to speak English and claims that his nurse knows more about his health than he does. If he is in some sort of dire health straits, he certainly is not giving way to anxiety. He does not seem upset or angry about being run over. Since he is such a high-octane presence, it seems clear we will meet him again. His recognition of the skier is brief but one of those moments that tugs at our attention. There is something not quite everyday about his face--I just HAVE to look at him. His closeups show that we need to keep our eye on him.

 

3. I thought that this film had some strong connections to The Pleasure Garden. For one thing, the resort setting is a sort of Alpine pleasure garden, with a benevolent surface but potential lurking dangers. The precocious little girl is a seedling Hitchcock blonde with a mind of her own. In both films the closeups seem to be signals to pay attention to certain characters. In both films, menace does not dominate at first, but the signs are there as the young woman is robbed in The Pleasure Garden and the skier's accident contradicts the calm and pleasures of St. Moritz as well as the news that there will be a shooting contest (only skeet shooting but this is Hitchcock!). . I have not seen The Lodger in its entirety, and I don't see strong connections with this scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much.

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I see a pattern in opening scenes, for eg. 39 Steps and The Pleasure Garden there is an opening scene in a theatre setting, lots of people, so a very commonly visited public space. Lots of comedy and farce in both as well. We are introduced to important characters here not just everyday people. 

Differences, well there are many as not all his films start out the same way or in the same location. 

 

I'm not sure Hitchcock is trying to introduce a more innocent character that one he normally does. I feel the character is simply more refined and incapable of lashing out. He's more mildly mannered than even Cary Grant in North by Northwest, another innocent who is wronged.

 

 

I agree that there are many on-screen elements of Hitchcock's use of public spaces in his films in opening scenes. If you just look at his early films and silent films even, you can see he uses public spaces and there is no exclusion of the characters from the public. Its very openly portrayed. Love that there is no seclusion. Everything is out in the open and unravelling. There are what is deemed to be a secret, however everyone finds out the so called secret. 

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