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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #8: Cooling Our Heels (Opening Scene from The Lady Vanishes)

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SPOILER ALERT!

 

I always like to post my thoughts before reading other people's so that I'm not influenced by what others are saying.  In my post last night I mentioned that I thought the tune was odd considering the circumstances.  Someone else's post reminded me that the tune did fit one particular person, Miss Froy. She was the only person in the scene with the happy outlook that fit the song that was playing as she made her entrance and exit. 

 

This morning I had one of those Eureka OMG moments that only happen early in the morning or in the middle of the night..  It's the MacGuffin!  It filled me with such delight, I had to share.  How diabolically clever of Hitchcock. 

 

I've seen this movie more than once and it is one of my favorites, but it never occurred to me.  Even watching the scene yesterday when Rich told us to pay attention to the music.  As Wes said early last week, even after repeated watching, you can still find something new.  I have to thank Rich, Wes and this message board for providing my favorite new find. Love it!

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DAILY DOSE #8 (THE LADY VANISHES):

 

WALTZES FROM BANDRIKA

1. Breezy folk music is interrupted by workers announced by the clock's horn as the innkeeper gets news on the "horn."

2. Caldicott & Charter sound like a vaudeville team as the recount standing for the "anthem:" Hungarian Rhapsody.

3. Iris' star entrance commands attention from the keep, the guests and her lackeys.

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1. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.

The scene opens with a relaxed, jolly, friendly atmosphere represented by travelers patiently waiting in the hotel lobby (reading the newspaper, smoking, chatting...), the appearance of a sweet old lady (a smiley Miss Froy) and a cheerful music in the background (the only sound one can hear for the first 30 secs). But then, as Miss Froy opens the door and leave, the strong wind pushing back seems to be the prelude of the chaotic scene (stressful travelers and manager trying to book a rooms) it's just about to start with the entrance of the hotel staff currying in additional luggage from the travelers, the sound of a foreign and made up language viewers cannot understand, the stressed voice of the hotel manager, and the trumpeter figurine inside the clock (again, musical reference!) coming out just that moment, as if making an opening soundtrack from the next hotel manager announcement since the background music has ceased and will remain silent for the rest of the scene. Once Iris enter the scene, the rhythm slows down again (more to come in question number 3)

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.

I feel they bring “Britishness” (or the classical British stereotypes) to the scene, through a small hint of politeness (they don't rush to the counter or make a fuss of the situation: nothing can move/alter a British citizen except for tea and cricket! : D ), insularity (they don't mix with the rest), snobbery (they somehow look a bit upper class and distinguish themselves from other travelers), and definitely... HUMOUR (specially when they believe the hotel manager is getting out of the counter to greet them).
 

I'd like to also make a small comment about the role of the hotel manager, as one of the key characters helping Hitch set the humorous tone of the scene. I cannot help but hearing Roberto Benigni in those glorious Jim Jarmush movies, with his accent and crazy arm-waiving. Would this character in the lady vanishes be an influence for Roberto? Might be going too far in my thinking, I know.

 

3. Describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.

To start with, the camera isolates the entrance of the three women and follows them throughout the hall and stairs, stopping all the previous craziness for a while (as if freezing time).

Even if Iris is not placed in the center of the frame, I think a symbol of her being the star of the scene is that she's the first one of the three being welcomed by the manager and fist one also to drop a sentence. Then she's leading the way together with the hotel manager (is his name Barns?); she is also the one correcting the pronunciation of the word Avalanche – something that portraits her as a high-class English woman (speaking French at the time was the quintessence of European upper class); and she's also the one ordering the room service, incl. The bottle of champagne.

I specially like the feeling the the absence of background noise gives me, specially since I saw 5 secs earlier how noisy the crowd in the lobby had been. This drastic change in the sound reinforces the feeling that everybody is staring at the three ladies - something we confirm bit later in the scene when we get to see it with our own eyes, around min. 2:40 – and in my opinion stresses the importance of the characters.

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1) I found this opening scene very typical of the Hitchcock style and I was utterly amazed that it almost felt like we were in treat for a silent movie until the two male friends entered jabbering away. There appeared to be an element of whimsy in this as well as the serious aspect of the avalanche, which is discarded as to be expected. The music filled a need to provide the light airiness of a folk art being at the basis of this soon to be, very fun romp.

 

2) Caldicott and Charters provide the light touch required of the material. Though, not expected to be the lead roles, they do appear to capture the lead at the beginning and you get the feel, that we are not finished with these characters as yet.

 

3) I was very impressed at the way that Hitch allows the innkeeper to walk straight past Charters and Caldicott to welcome the three women into the inn. You can immediately see that these women are an important part of the film and the future of the movie. They are centrally place throughout the scene and Margaret Lockwood seems to stand "above" the other two women and has the premium dialogue, which comes across as banter. One interesting note, that as a Hitchcock fan, Hitch tends to use blondes as his leading ladies and when this threesome first takes prominence in the scene, you tend to wonder which of the two blondes will be the lead, until you take note that the most relevant woman is the brunette when she takes control of the requirements.

 

This film is always a favourite of mine, but it is also interesting to note that there appears to be far more "shooting" in the British period encapsulated by this and the 39 Steps, than was noted during his Hollywood years.

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1)   Hitchcock is setting up a very warm, inviting, and happy-go-lucky scene thanks in major part to the folk music that plays throughout it and the exchange between the manager and old lady at the beginning. It almost seems to give a false sense of security because your initial reaction is that nothing bad will happen in this place or to these characters because there is no immediate threat.

 

2)   Caldicott and Charters add in a comedic relief note to the hustle and bustle of being stranded in a foreign land. The analysis they give of Margaret Lockwood and her friends is amusing and the reaction of Charters to when the foreign guy does not speak English or when the manager does not start with English in his multi-lingual dialogue stretch reminds me of something that Laurel and Hardy would say in a routine. Just them pointing out the obvious is quite entertaining in itself.

 

3)   Hitchcock makes it quite obvious that Iris is a main character from the beginning. The three girls and the manager are the only characters in the frame and it remain tight on them in a tracking shot that leads to the bottom of the staircase. The manager is being attentive to what they are requesting (Chicken and Champagne) and is primarily focused on pleasing his important guests. I almost feel that the tight tracking shot of them could double as the stares from the nearby characters, even though no one else is seen or heard until the girls and manager exit the frame.

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Opening scene seems very light, no one seems to have any major concerns.  Caldicott & Charters seem to be the only ones, at first, to show any minor annoyance over the delayed train.  It appeared like a scene out of a doctor's office waiting room. People reading, & just glancing up when someone new enters the room.

 

Caldicott & Charters are very funny in that droll "British" sort of way.  (What is it with English speakers & privilege??  Oh, well....another conversation, another time...)  They seem to be oblivious to the politics of the day beyond the cricket scores.  In fact, when one of them seems to have injected a political topic into their conversation, we quickly see that he's really only referring to cricket.

 

Iris & her friends' entrance in many ways like Caldicott & Charters, but more so.  The innkeeper stops what he's doing to cater to them, (overlooking C&C, much to their surprise).  Iris & friends obviously feel very entitled to "the best", oblivious to what is going on around them, except in the most superficial sort of way.

 

I love Miss Froy's entrance.  We don't even hear her speak.  She seems very happy, lighthearted.  Kind of the sweet old aunt who always has a candy treat ready in her handbag for one of her nieces or nephews. Definitely not someone who you would think anyone was interested in kidnapping!

 

The opening was great;  the best is yet to come!

 

A later scene, when Gilbert is in the room above Iris' room is almost exactly a scene out of Top Hat.  Look for it.

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Watching Daily Dose #8, the opening scene of The Lady Vanishes which I can't wait to see later tonight, I feel that Hitchcock opens the scene with merriment and a lightheartedness but underneath a bit of frustration that the train is not there. The music is a catchy tune in the country style which sets up the small town feeling. The atmosphere is cheerful with an undercurrent of tension...mostly class tension, national tension. The desk person makes the announcement about the train being cancelled and tells people to register at the desk in different languages obviously from his favorites (German) to his least favorite (British). He stops everything though to bring in the "America" girls and walk them to the steps. 

 

Caldicott and Charters add a bit of mystery and humor to the scene and also a bit of classism. They are British and exude a sense of being "better than"....they think the desk person is coming to greet them when he walks past and greets the American girls. The two men are not amused by that and also seem to be surprised that the other gentleman cannot speak English. 

 

During the doorway entrance and the cross to exit on the stairs...the dialogue with the deskman is almost all Iris...being cheeky and coy and obviously known to him. She teases him and makes him want to do things for  her, and at the same time acts like a bit of a diva...but a nice one. Hitchcock places her downstage closest to the camera at the entrance next to the deskman as they walk to the stairs. At the staircase he places her above the girls on the stairs level with the gentleman. The camera is focused on her, the other actresses are in shadow and turned slightly away from the camera while she is full face to the camera. She is also dark haired and they are both blondes. 

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Cheery folk music helps to set up a pleasant waiting room scene that is broken when the skiing men come in jabbering away and the cuckoo clock goes off amidst all that.

 

Caldecott and Chalmers add comedy, SHADE (the almighty dollar), a quick overview of "what has happened to us before coming here and waiting for this godforsaken train", and the fact that they (like Shakespeare's gravediggers or nurse) are going to be the comic relief in the show.

 

Love how the focus is pulled past Caldecott and Chalmers to the women, signifying their (or Iris') importance. Iris is in the lead of her friends, is confident and the camera follows her (it seems that the crowd is watching her go up the stairs) as she gives her order and goes up the stairs. This lets the audience know that she is important, as well as the way the innkeeper treats her.

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1. In the opening scene we are presented with a light cheerful folk tune, a flute I think, playing in the background, an Inn Keeper pleasantly serving an older lady, we see a crowd of people sitting  quietly as they wait.  The cheerful quiet atmoshere that is set up initially is suddenly broken by the entrance of two locals, they are not speaking English, the clock chimes in.  They are shouting and have allot to say as they approach the Innkeeper.  We learn that the train has been delayed by an avalanche and "all hell breaks loose" to coin a phrase when the Innkeeper announces this to the crowd and warns them that space is limited in the hotel.  This tranquil mood that has been established is quickly broken.  It's at this time that we are introduced to some of the people who will be the main focus of the story.

 

2.  Calder and Caldicott appear to be two British gentlemen travellng together.  They are anxious to catch the next train to England, we will learn later that they are trying to make it to a cricket match and that they are avid followers of the sport. The Droll delivery of their lines injects a bit of humor to the situation which will play out further as the story unfolds.  We learn in this short exchange that they are entitled and are actually surprised when another traveller or local does not speak English!  We also get a hint that politics of the day may factor in the story as they refer to "England on the brink".

 

3.  The entry of Iris in the scene, causes the Innkeeper to drop everything and direct his undivided attention to her and away from the other patrons.  He quickly shifts focus to the attractive young women who have returned from their outing and so does the camera.  We have a tight shot of the women, there is no one else in the room despite evidence to the contrary.  Calder and Caldicott surmised earlier that they are probably American ("the almighty dollar you know"), displaying a touch of resentment.  It is clear that Iris is the leader of the group as she has the most dialogue and takes charge of their demands.  She appears pleasant, confident, assertive and attractive.  She also demonstrates a sense of humor when she tells her friends "don't give him any ideas"  when they suggest they are so hungry they could eat a horse; no doubt the heroine of the plot that is about to unfold.

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Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes with a nice old lady checking out of a hotel with nice people sitting in the lobby waiting with nice music playing.
The moment she opens the door, to exit the scene, the nice music stops, a cold wind blasts inside and two not nice German Men seem to enter arguring making a noisey mess to no music.
The cuckoo clock suggested to me 'craziness' as cuckoo clocks tend to. The men who entered were causing quite a disturbing stir literally killing the previous scene's pleasant setting (German Expressionism).
The male playing the horn in the cuckoo as supossed to a bird to me suggested the horn of war. WWII implications in a matter of seconds hinting to the 'discomphort' of their presense. Just a theory.
*I'd also like to note this is 'another' film where Hitchcock's opening scene is with a person 'Entering' a Room. Hitchcock's Entrance scenes quite often involve Entrances*
I found Caldicott and Charters characters help the audience in this scene try to make sense of the civil lobby chaos stirring in the hotel (maybe even just the English speakers), depending on your education which Hitchcock constantly tests. Today's The Lady Vanishes tests your knowledge of language? From foreign to body language.
Iris' character was established as the group power leader 'the star' in 'every' way;
-The scene was stolen from all the men at the desk surrounding the hotel lobby clerk to Caldicott and Charters being blown past for a formal greeting.
-Iris was first to have her hand shaken.
-Iris was first greeted.
-Iris was first woman to speak.
-Iris led the group when they walked.
-Iris had the camera draw onto her shutting out the other females during the walk to the stairs.
-Iris stood higher than the other girls when they all stood near the stairs, she was literally 1 step ahead of everyone.
-Iris 'corrected' the mutli-languaged clerk with 'avalanche' pronounciation (Power Woman move).
-Iris is 'the star'
 

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This is my second post and it is an insight that I have gained. I am a fan of "Grantchester."  I now recall episodes in which the episode begins with a death that occurs during some public event or in a public space. I have observed the same in another PBS drama "Murder in Paradise."

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Silence, except for the light-hearted musical score featuring a flute, as Miss Froy, all eyes on her, crosses to pick up her key from Boris the concierge.  She completes her wind-blown exit with the assistance of Caldicott and Charters.  A beat later the flute music stops as the camera follows two blustering Germans blowing in from the same door, crossing right.  Then it’s a quick cut to an exasperated Boris on the phone, cut to the cuckoo clock trumpeting the time, back to Boris, cuckoo clock still trumpeting.  It’s a cacophony of sound that envelops us, creating a mood of fun and madcap mayhem. 

Boris speaks to his audience of stranded guests first in Italian, rush of Italians to desk; then in French, rush of French to desk; then in German, rush of Germans to the desk.  It’s a vaudeville shtick.  Finally in English, “If you wish to stay in my hotel, you must register immediately.”  Caldicott and Charters believe Bruno is making a bee-line to them, and we buy into the bit of misdirection.  He crosses, instead, to the trio of beautiful American women who have entered from the whirlwind door.  And, all eyes follow Boris, as he draws our attention to the female star of the film.  From the opening moment of The Lady Vanishes, Hitchcock gives us a scene within a scene as we watch the crowd watch the action.  As Iris, Bruno, and her friends go up the stairs, all eyes follow the star and her entourage up and out.  I expected applause.

Cut back to C & C and their patter act regarding Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody” misconstrued as the Hungarian national anthem.  They are scene stealers of the first magnitude, adding to the comedic tone.  Hitchcock is brilliant.    

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The lighthearted folk music sets a happy tone until the entrance of the German men, which starts the tone of chaos. The music stops with a whoosh of wind. It is replaced with loud talking, the proprietor of the hotel on the phone-unable to hear the news of the train-yelling into the receiver, the clock trumpeting the time, and the travelers rushing to register at the hotel. It all gives the feeling of confusion and being in a rush before the entrance of the American women.

 

Caldicott and Charters help the viewer make sense of the confusion and the importance of the women who entered by their conversation. Their commentary is lighthearted and silly in some parts, but definitely point out that there are more important people in the room.

 

As soon as the ladies enter, Boris, the proprietor, rushes to greet them and escort them to their room. Iris is the first to speak and kind of takes charge of the group from the beginning, dominating the conversation and attention of Boris.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 

 

The opening shot pans a group of people sitting in a hotel lobby looking rather bored. Their suitcases are cluttered around the room, and they're trying to entertain themselves reading newspapers while they wait.  The music starts up and is cheerful and whimsical, almost like a bird whistling a tune.  An older woman hotel guest breezes down the stairs and walks to the front desk to check out.  Her demeanor (without speaking any words) is happy and friendly.  She's a bright spot amongst the room full of tired people.  The camera zooms in on her paying the hotel clerk (who is busy on the phone), waving goodbye and exiting the hotel; but not before a large gust of wind blows the front door wide open and a couple of guys (Caldicott and Charters) close the door, just as the woman is reaching for it to leave.  There's a slight pause as the men realize the woman needs to open the door just after they close it.  They open it for her and she turns briefly to bid farewell again.  The music and the action of the woman reminds me of the whistle-while-you-work scene in Snow White.  She's a breath of fresh air in a stale room.  Even as she leaves, wind blows into the room.  The woman's appearance and exit is all set against the music, no dialog is spoken.  There's a reason why focus is set on this woman as she enters the scene.  The viewer is led to pay attention to this character.

 

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 

 

Caldicott and Charters add wry humor to the scene, while their dialog provides the viewer with some background on what's been happening in the area recently (England on the brink.)  They are the viewer's connection to the story because at this point the viewer knows as much as Caldicott and Charters do.  They pose questions the viewer has (I wonder who all those women were??).

 

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

 

Iris has dark hair while her friends have lighter hair.  The dark hair stands out and sets Iris apart from the others.  Iris is the first one in the group to speak, showing her confidence.  When the group is heading to the stairs, Iris walks in front.  The camera centers on Boris and Iris, and Boris speaks directly to Iris.  The other two ladies bring up the rear, and do not speak.  As the group nears the staircase, they stop and there's a close-up of Iris speaking to Boris.  She talks of her situation only (But I'm going home tomorrow.).  This emphasizes to the viewer the importance of Iris' travel plans.

 

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The joyful and playful music adds to the opening scene of the stranded travelers in the inn. The hotel clerk speaking multiple languages to the different guest shows that it's a lighthearted mood.

I think Caldicott and Charters characters are delightful. Very light comedic touch which adds a touch of fun to the movie.

 The way the camera goes from the clerk leaving his desk to greet Margaret Lockwood, his complete ignorance of the other guests shows that she's the star. Delightful banter between him and her shows that she's importANT.

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1. The scene opens to serene flute music playing in the background while the people are waiting vfor the train.

 

2. caldicott and charters hold the door for the lady and then sit on the bench. They are not sure what's being said so they walk ovrer to hear better. Then they talk among themselves about whats going on that in turn makes the audience aware of the situation.

 

3.The manager walks over to greet the ladies and focuses on Iris. Iris and the manager carry on a conversation while walking to the stairs (Hitch keeps  the camera focused on them while they walk to the stairs)

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In my opinion, Hitchcock opens THE LADY VANISHES more in the manner of an amiable comedy of the era than a taut suspense/thriller. The opening music adds a carefree mood as does complete absence of any element that is remotely mysterious or threatening.

 

The introduction of Caldicott and Charters add the gaiety of the scene in satirizing the the steadfast British egocentric view of the world, while at the same time providing a somewhat reliable commentary on the other characters for British moviegoers.

 

Iris and her friends are the focal points of the scene. This is demonstrated both by the display of difference on the part of innkeeper and the camera framing and the low camera angles as we watch Iris ascend up the staircase.

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1. The scene is opened with a woman checking out, and with everyone who is sitting in the lobby contentedly. The tune that follows this is cheerful, and ultimately reminds me of something Disney-like. But this quiet tone changes when loud German guests bring in chaos to the scene, complete with a wind blowing them into the hotel. This wind shows that something disorderly is going to happen and the German guests do attract attention. This chaotic mood is furthered with the chiming of the cuckoo clock. This is Hitchcock telling the audience to pay attention to the news that is going to be revealed in the coming seconds. Because of this, the audience feels and sympathizes with the crowd that gathers at the front desk and feels more strongly for them when they are unhappy that their train is going to be delayed.

 

2. They are like the audience, in that they do not know key information. They wonder what is going on and who the women are. One expresses a dislike for Americans, with his comment that the women are "probably Americans," giving the audience some insight into the social mood of Britain at the time. But, they are still funny and set the scene with wry, witty humor. 

 

3. The women have an important feel to them, as the camera follows Boris, who goes to the door to greet the women. He seems to have forgotten the other guests at the front desk, further emphasizing her importance. Hitchcock has set Iris apart from the other women in that she has dark hair, she talks to Boris while the other two blonde women follow behind, and in that the camera focuses on her as she moves up the stairs.

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The music is very calm and happy-like suggesting the film would be of the same temperment. Love when the woman guest leaves and a gush of wind comes in to open the door for her on her way out. Soon after we are introduced to the porters who with the wind, change the tone of the scene instantly. They bring in chaos and utter distraction with their noise, chatter and arguing, making it difficult for things to remain calm and merrily good. Sound further erupts with the cuckoo clock going off, and the front desk man not being able to hear the person on the phone and giving orders to his guests about registering. This is how we are introduced to the next two characters.

 

Here we have the  characters Caldicott and Chalmers being told to register, then the desk man passes them right by upon observing the arrival of three beautiful young women, suggesting Caldicott and Chalmers are being over-looked. This is of course presented in a humourous yet frustrating way to the two men. Further on, their dialogue suggests they are reasonable and calm men unlike the eclecticism of the scene early on and unlikely to react.

 

From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit,  Hitchcock uses dialogue in a way that only the three women and the front desk man can be heard. Everything else stops around them and everyone is just watching and looking at the newest arrival. The camera moves with the characters from the door to the step and the most important character seems to be the one closest to the staircase leading the way (with the camera and onlookers) to the stairs. The camera also focuses on Iris with the front desk man only in one shot which further helps to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

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Overall, the opening scene is light-hearted. For example, the opening music that plays while the lady approaches the manager and then leaves gives off a cheery feeling. The mannerisms of the manager, as well as the other characters, feel comedic. While watching this clip, there's nothing suspenseful feeling about it, even though I have a feeling this is the last time we'll see the lady.

 

Caldicott and Charters add commentary to the scene. As if there was a narrator perhaps describing the setting, what's going on, the people in the room, etc., these two men do that by casual conversation. I love when they think the manager is going to approach them but instead approaches the women who just entered the scene. Another comedic touch, which I am enjoying as I watch Hitchcock's movies.

 

As you watch the women from the door to the stairs, your attention is focused on Iris. She's facing toward the camera, is placed in the middle, and seems to talk the most and clearest. She looks and acts confident, has dark hair (which is a switch from the usual blonde that we know Hitchcock liked as the leading ladies in his movies), and treats the manager as an old friend. All these things add up to establish her as an important character.

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Daily Dose #8 - The Lady Vanishes

 

"....Bandrieka Hotel.  People come, people go.  Nothing ever happens."

 

1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 

 

We're inside a train station hotel, as the folk music (setting place as somewhere in Europe,) fades in the camera starts panning across people waiting for the train.  Like most travelers, they are in small groupings.  The first real action we see is the soon to be vanished Lady dropping something off at the front desk.  The man behind the desk would have been played by Eric Blore or Franklin Pangborn if the film had been made in the states during the 30's.  Watching this again (it's been a few years since I saw the film) I am now struck by the light-hearted tone of this opening, the comic bits that we see, from the bugle sounding cuckoo clock to the two English gentlemen ( "I never thought the Hungarian Rhapsody was the national anthem in the first place." "Probably explains why we were the only two standing.") sets this up to be a comedy.  Brilliant way to set the audience to expect one thing and then giving them another.

 

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 

 

Love these two men.  They serve as a comedic counterpoint to the upcoming drama, and the Hitchcockian equivalent to Shakespeare's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  Further testament to that is the films they would pop up in later in their careers, such as Night Train to Munich, which have them pretty much playing the same roles as here.

 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

Ah, an easy question.  As the manager enters the frame of the three females observe that Lockwood is the one he addresses, setting up the fact that she is a known person to him and of the three, she is the leader.  Lockwood is the only dark-haired of the three females, the other two being blondes, and has the best dialogue ( Blonde #2 - "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" Lockwood - "Don't put ideas into his brain.") As they reach the staircase, Lockwood is placed on a step higher than the other two females, she is the special one, and given, out of the three, a two shot with the manager, as they climb, notice that she even passes the manager on the step, making her the highest and most dominant position of the frame.  Even her clothing, the black and white checked coat she wears around her draws your eye to her.  The person behind her as a checked scarf, but it is of muted colors.  You, as the audience, are drawn to her and made (unknowingly) to like her in this scene.  You want to see more of her.

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1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 


The tone begins as light-hearted - a holiday spirit with folk music in the background. The older women drops something off at the front desk and leaves then everything chnages - the scene becomes loud (cuckoo clock running amuck, the desk manager talking in different languages on the phone and to the guests assembed in the lobby - their train journey is now delayed by an avalanche! What to do? Nothing but wait until the next day - delays knock people of their balance. Then the Americans sweep in and seem to get the royal treatment - another thing to frustrate the others. We know our journey has hit and will hit bumps along the way.


2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 


I believe they serve as commentators on the action. They make the comments we are possibly thinking as the opening unravels. They also serve as a humor element as well.


3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 


She is the center of the moving crowd as it moves before the camera. and main voice off her group. She is beautiful, calm and used to being in charge. The little group of delayed travelers fall into the background while she and her group travels across the stage without a care in the world except for food and champagne.


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I have seen this film about ten times and always see more each time ...love it!

 

1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. 

  • Once more we dive into a scene head first and nearly get whiplash watching all the action in this one charming room:  cuckoo clock blasting way louder than a real one right with the hotelier is trying to speak on the phone (too funny);  the hotelier speaking all of the languages right after another to ensure all of the crowd is aware and of course, English is last and thus the two gents are last in line to register for a room; the special treatment of the three lovely Americans when all other must wait and do so quietly without compliant, and the light music like this is a party, when in reality, an avalanche, waiting, no rooms, high winds, cold, etc. make for a negative group of people waiting for a train on most occasions.  He reverses our thoughts from the start.

2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. 

  • Laurel and Hardy-like to me, they are very close and share the same options on the scene and events, yet their banter about the Hungary  Rhapsody (Himnusz is the real one) song and standing or sitting during the song.  They seem like "us" the regular people, not rich, not poor, not 'foreign' and not use to getting spoiled during their travels. They probably even talk in their sleep.  :lol: 

3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. 

  • The trio are all lovely, but Margaret stands out as brunette vs. two blondes, she is in the right front frame so our eyes go to her first, she is the tallest of the three, she is leading the discussion of the three, she takes command to order the food and she is the first one to climb the stairs as she is a busy woman and doesn't have time to stand in the lobby and chit-chat.  She sees and acknowledges the busy lobby and learns of the events and still pushes the hotelier to get their chicken and champagne right after.  We believe her to be rich, American, spoil, selfish, rude, loud and snobby from this opening scene.  
 
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The music used in the opening scene of The Lady Vanishes sets up a playful, convivial tone of the movie. This is also aided by the two men who come into the inn, who add to the commotion of the manager on the phone. Once the young woman and her two friends enter the scene and begin joking with the manager, the tone has been firmly established as light and humorous. 


The characters of Caldicott and Charters are interesting because all that we know of the two from the beginning of the scene is that they are passengers who missed their last train and are now stuck at the inn. We also learn why they are stuck - Charters, I believe, wanted to remain for the entire Hungarian national anthem. What their dialogue adds to the scene is a personal distraction that the audience can get caught up in as the other guests wait for the manager to return from handling the young ladies. They drive the scene forward because without the manager there is very little that can be done, other than to listen to other guests as they wait.


Iris is established as the central character simply because of how the manager frames his communication with her; long before she makes it into the scene, he delays registering the other guests to speak directly with her and her friends. He also spends an entire camera angel, moving through the hotel lobby and up the stairs speaking with her. He doesn't stop at the door or stop at the bottom of the stairs, he actually walks up the stairs with them. She has his full attention, making her the most important character in the scene. 


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I'm sorry but I cannot see or hear anything else when Margaret Lockwood is on the screen. I maintain that Hedy Lamarr is the most beautiful human to ever live but Ms. Lockwood is exquisite and even resembles Hedy slightly in "The Lady Vanishes". Maybe it's the hair.

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