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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #10: Nothing on Me (Opening Scene of Shadow of a Doubt)

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While watching Daily Dose #10 I am struck by his "devil may care" attitude when he leaves his boarding room after talking to the lady who runs the boarding house. He gather up only what he feels is most important after finishing his drink (to give him gumption) his money. No clothes, or other property. Then he leaves the door open. As if to say I don't give a "damn". The lady seemed very concerned with his welfare. He didn't care about her either other than what he could get out of her. He then thinks because these guys have never met him they won't know it's who they are looking for. Maybe they have a picture someone had. I don't really know why he's so sure. But the guys, not wanted to spook him, ignore him when he passes by even moving a little out of the way to let him pass. But as soon as "Cotton" walks off they begin to trail him. I like how the music mimics the footsteps of the guy on the left. I wasn't watching the other guy so I don't know if his footsteps were in sync or not. The music was very sinister. I really like this movie. The niece Charlie is everything the uncle isn't. And poor mom (sister) is so out of touch, living in the past. The father is pretty clueless too. 

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1) Charlie is on edge: he drinks water not alcohol in order to keep his wits about him, takes a nap while fully dressed (in a double breasted suit no less!). Money appears to be of little consequence and he talks to the landlady about the two strangers as if he was expecting them.

2) The music sets the tone of someone in peril when Charlie is walking past the strangers. The men wearing suits while keeping a hand on their gats also seems like that from a film noir. Fast paced dialogue of a less staged and a more realistic manner also accounts for a film noir element.

3) I cannot fully explain why but Mr. Tiomkin's score sounds more American versus the scores from Mr. Hitchcock' precious films.

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1. As the scene opens, we see Uncle Charlie lying on a bed in a darkened room. He is smoking and the camera pans to the floor where a small pile of bills streamed on the floor. I get the sense this is not a man on-the-run or a man who is not bothered by his deeds. At first glance, I wondered where the money came from-a bank perhaps. He is non-chalant and very cool to the surface. A making of a psychopath. Since Hitch has dealt the themes of duality, we see the coolness and the anxious as the opposite. As the landlady informed Charlie that two men is inquiring about him. We saw nothing but calm. The landlady drew the shades and left. The anger within him comes boiling to the surface as he throw a glass to the floor. He proceed to put on his hat and headed out the house. He sees the two men in questions across the street and boldly walked up to them and defiantly bumped one of them to instigate the game of cat and mouse. Within this brief scene, we know Uncle Charlie is not what he pretends to be. A fine start to a road trip into Hitchcock's world.

 

2. Haven't yet seen The Killers. I can suppose that the man, like Charlie, is contemplating some form of sort while lying on a bed. I can imagine there are deep shadows on the face and the room to indicated mood. Both men, I can assume, are killers. The difference is that one is on his way to the gallows and one is about to escape. While both are psychopaths, one is caught and one is about to be caught himself.

 

3. The music here served as a character as well as the picturesque township of Santa Rosa. It sets the mood of the film. The best example is the Merry Widow waltz. The score tells you what was in Charlie's past all without a single word. 

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As someone who is a Joseph Cotten fan and until seeing Shadow of a Doubt, someone who is accustomed to seeing him portray more honorable, principled characters, I cite the realization that this "Mr. Spencer," as he's known to the landlady (whom I recognize as Dr. Brulov's housekeeper in Spellbound) is sinister, unscrupulous, wanted by police and rather brazen (as he mentions to the landlady, he actually does come out to "meet them," nearly brushing the shoulder of one of them). He does this despite the fact that he believes "they've got nothing on" him. He appears to be a well-heeled gentleman outwardly, but this image, plus his innermost thoughts and unsettling responses to the landlady's questions, clash with the rather seedy, run of the mill environment in which we first see him. This situation is definitely out of balance and we can't, as I've said often, wait to see what happens next! 

 

I am also an avid film noir fan, therefore I was immediately reminded of Burt Lancaster's character Swede in the noir classic The Killers. In deference to those who haven't yet seen The Killers, I will say only that the similarity between the openings to the two films, to me, is striking and the tone aptly set for the action to come. Shadow of a Doubt definitely holds its own in the film noir world, as do numerous Hitchcock films.

 

And as we've been focusing our attention on the opening sequences of Hitchcock's films, I've found Tiomkin's music to be just the right element to advance the plot by giving us an audio snapshot of something that we are about to see that is, of course, dramatic, but that also is more melodic and in some cases lighthearted, when juxtaposed to the undercurrent of danger and intrigue. In the case of Shadow of a Doubt, we're treated to pleasant, lighthearted music befitting the exterior shot of the boarding house with kids playing in the street, interspersed with the soft, lilting melody of "The Merry Widow Waltz," which we will later discover punctuates Uncle Charlie's sordid exploits.

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1) As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

Uncle Charlie is an unusual mixture of nonchalance and fear. The nonchalance refers to the fact that he has money strewn about his room, but the fear refers to the two men tailing him. At first, he seems like an intelligent man; well dressed and sophisticated, yet his inner motives reveal that much deeper is taking place. He is lying in bed with a cigar, which shows his mellowness and thinking. However, after looking out the window, all of that steel crumbles as he gets befuddled by the two men outside. Again, he is one of Hitch's more interestingly complex villains.

 

2) In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

In this case, it is quite similar to The Killers, because both men are in cheap hotels. However, Burt Lancaster in The Killers, knows that the two men are looking for him. He sounds calm, collected and seems to accept his fate. Joseph Cotten in 'Shadow' is aware of the two men outside, and starts to get undone; we don't why this takes place. There is instant tension, considering that the audience is not quite sure who this guy really is at first. What has he done? Why he is worried about the outside? Why does he have money scattered so easily? 

 

3) As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

Obviously a good opening of a suspense thriller has to have a memorable opening with good music, and Tiomkin's score does just that. At first, the music is jolly and lively, but then as you're introduced to Uncle Charlie, the music turns sinister and eerie. It is though it knows that this guy is bad news before the audience ever does. This happens in other films as well. Music isn't just there to contemplate scenes; it can have enormous personality and elevate a film.  

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Ah, so glad to be back into the world of Film Noir.  

 

Question #1

One thing I wanted to mention was the scene that was discussed in today's lecture video in regard to who Uncle Charlie is.  Uncle Charlie shows the misogyny that can be one aspect of the Film Noir world. It is juxtipositioned against the hearth and home of his niece which really gives it a stark contrast. I think this scene really shows the ruthlessness of the character of Uncle Charlie. Charlie isn't a big fan of women. 

 

Question #2

The scene we viewed today for the Daily Dose uses starts with dialogue but toward the end uses the classic film noir technique of narration by the main character that gives their point of view. While the dialogue with the landlady is sparse and limited, narration gives the viewer an insight into who this person really is instead of what his dialogue says about him. 

 

Question #3

The film's score by Dimitri Tiomkin uses all sorts of techniques to drive home the point of that contrast between Uncle Charlie's world and the world he pushes himself into that is inhabited by his niece. There are happy little passages showing small town friendliness contrasted with darker sections that really give that contrast not only a visual face but an auditory one. Passages that use minor chords with an added chime that might be the foreshadowing that the time is running out for this man. The music builds to a crecendo when Uncle Charlie goes outside and passes the men on the corner. The music moves the scene to its conclusion. 

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

First off, I'd just like to say that I just love Joseph Cotten. At first, Uncle Charlie seems somewhat carefree as he has money strewn about the table and the floor as well as laying on the bed in a full suit. Then once the boarding ladies tells him about the two men looking for him, he starts to feel anger but manages to keep it in until she leaves the room. He takes what he feels is of utmost importance to him and then takes off outside casually and "accidentally" bumps into one of the men tailing him. 

 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

I think both persons in Shadow of a Doubt and The Killers are ones who have committed something terribly wrong and are on the run. Then once they're had, the gloves come off and they show who they really are. 

 

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

At first, it gives a happy and cheery vibe as you see kids playing out in the street. Then once Uncle Charlie comes onto the screen, the music takes a darker turn. That tells me that Uncle Charlie is a man who is not who he appears to be. 

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Shadow of a doubt does begin much like "the killers". Joseph Cotton laying on his bed A seemingly defeated man. Burt Landcaster was absolutely resigned to his fate in "the killers." But here in this opening scene Joseph Cotton slowly defies his inevitable defeat . He goes from resignation to conceit, arrogance and head on determination to face his challenges and challengers.

The score takes us on this man's emotional journey. Well, at first we see the opening sunlight kids playing and then the darker mood of the man in bed. The score the music is amazing in taking us through his emotional change in the scene all peeking to his resolute determination as he challenges his fear also known as the man waiting for him outside. But you know what I'm saying ✌️

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 
 
We learn that Uncle Charlie is hiding out/on the lamb (presumably). He's rich, has a nice suit and cigar. Laying in his bead he doesn't seem to care much about the current place he is in life. Resigned to dying. Waiting for death. His demeanor is nonchalant, like he's mentally checked out. Money is on the floor. He's been drinking. We find out people are looking for him, left, but are standing on the corner.

Then all of a sudden he has to decide whether to wait for the killers, the strangers, to come back and kill him. Or he can face them head on and go confront them to see what they do. See if they are bluffing. He takes a drink, smashes his glass and decides to go with plan B.
 
In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)
 
I am not that familiar with film noir so I can't really compare to anything. However after reading about film noir, I do see the style presented here. The depressed atmosphere, the dark personal situation of a person waiting to die. The solemness of the character. I'm looking forward to learning more about film noir.
 
As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 
 
The music in the opening sequence of Shadow of a Doubt is one of my favorite parts of the opening. It's beautifully written and timed. It adds the the roller coaster of the opening. The pacing starts of upbeat while we enter the housing complex on the outside then slows down and we get soft and slow violins when we see Uncle Charlie for the first time. It tells us that the mood is somber and the atmosphere is heavy and weak. Fast forward to when he sits up and throws the glass, the music picks up and becomes even more hectic as the character approaches the door and finally exits while the music accompanies him through the door. 
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I think in the opening of Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock presents more the tone, style, and presence of a character instead of a situation. He focuses more first on the essence and portrayal of a character and later on the circumstance. The film noir quality of this opening scene is the bravery and internal conflict of the character presented; their lives seem to be unimportant, doomed, thus facing death fearlessly. The score also plays an important role, especially on the last scene where the two guys follows our protagonist and the piano follows their intimidating steps. 

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Daily Dose #10

Daily Dose #10: Nothing on Me

Opening Scene from Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

 

1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

In my opinion, the character of Uncle Charlie is built from the very first shot, because we can see kids playing on the street in a normal way, but the next shots from outside of his room are sided conveying a sense of incorrectness like if something about that place is wrong (propbably him). Then, the money on the floor is easily associated with an illegal work and the fact that is just thrown is kind of a clue of the carefree personality of Uncle Charlie. Due to the way he speacks with the woman, he seems smart, owner of the situation, someone that thinks a lot abot the things that he is going to do. The content of the conversation also sets that he is dealing with suspicious people (policemen or thiefs), so he must be dangerous in some way or linked to dangerous affairs. 

 

Also, the reaction he has after the woman leaves shows he is not only a violent man (when he throws the glass), but also that he has skills hiding he is real personality in front of others. Finally, I think that he looks very confident in general, but especially when he walks towards the two men outside of his building. I love the way this scene is assembled giving all these little but really relevant details. 

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

Although I haven't watched The Killers, the atmosphere created by the shadowy look of the scene (even in the middle of a sunny day), makes me think about a film noir. I am particularly amazed by the way the lighting changes alog with the mood of Uncle Charlie just right after the woman leaves the room and he is alone apparently thinking about the two men who are watching him from outside. The sharpy shadows are precise for that moment. Another element from film noir is the urban location presented in this opening, the idea of the danger right there where the people seem to live safe is a common point with the Hitchcock touch too. I suspect that the dark side of Uncle Charlie as a character who looks tranquil and normal in the surface, is another proof that this is a film noir. 

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 

The Shadow of a doubt's score is in perfect correspondence with the mood of this scene and its different moments. In the first place, it establishes a difference between the street where the kids are playing and it is possible to see the Uncle Charlie's building (the music feels normal or even joyful here), and the room where he is (the music here has more bass sounds in which highlights some church bells). When the woman gets in and the conversation takes place, the music is normal again and changes at the time the woman lowes the curtains setting the two sides of Uncle Charlie (the public and the hidden). The climax of this moment is reached when he throws the glass and the music not only increases its volume, but also starts to include high sounds from a violin. This change is repeated when he goes out and walks towards the two men. I would say that the score remarks the evolution of energy, tone and mood throughout the scene guiding the spectaror. 

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1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.
 Never seen this film before, but Uncle Charlie look like a gamgster or gambler he's running away from something. 
 
2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)
 
 It sets up the kind of movie where about to see.
 
3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores take on more importance than the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?
 
The whole music score set up the thilled of the chase. The excitment they want you to feel.

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  1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

     

    He is very tense and trying to calm himself down - but the small sip of water and then the smashing of the glass show that he is about to blow should anything cause him to lose his cool.

     

  2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

     

    Not having seen any film noir to my knowledge - I can only surmise - it has to do with crime and the dark happenings in our society.  In this clip, we see the scads of money "just lying around" and the men watching from the street corner.  All of it is very thug and mafia-like that to me must be film noiresque.

     

  3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

     

    This clip's music harkens back to Hitchcock's music from his British films and the films that I am more familiar with: Rear Window, North by Northwest - there is a happy and lively feeling to it.  It is not as dark and frightening like Rebecca.  It seems to encourage you to keep watching, but it may belie what could really occur in the next scene.

      

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The first thing that stands out to me in this opening scene of Shadow of a Doubt is the juxtaposition of the playing children in broad daylight (set to an upbeat score) with the dark, brooding atmosphere of the boarding house room in which Charlie is lying on his bed, clothed in shadow (there never was a noir element more prominent than shadow). Similar to the opening of The Killers, Charlie is resting and appears defeated, just waiting to be caught by his predators. He's a man with a past. Upon realizing the two men have "nothing on me," he musters the audacity to march out of the building--accompanied by Tiomkin's provocative score that crescendos as he approaches imminent danger--and merely walk past the two men. Charlie is bold and brash. He knows he's wanted, but he won't go down that easily.

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  1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. The sense I got was a corpse lying in a coffin.  He looks dead, lying there in a nice suit.  And his soul is dead, in a sense, and cold.  It is all he can do to tolerate that talking of his landlady.  He is obsessed with money but does not value it. He is angry and bitter and violent.  He is being followed by two men who don’t know what he looks like, or else they are horrible detectives because he walks right past them. 

  2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations) I am not sure this scene does it so much as later ones, such as at the dinner table.  The sense that Charlie is subversive as a character and that this is a dangerous world is the film noir aspect..  He is not just a criminal out of desperation, but out of choice.  He comes from a middle class family and has a sister who is Mrs. Middle America, so how did  he become so cold?  At the same time, something about him makes women want to take care of him. His dialogue with the landlady is weird and evasive.

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?  The waltz-type music really seems out of place!  Disjointed with the image of this strange man playing with a cigar while lying on a bed in seedy boarding house in a full suit. After she leaves it builds til he throws the glass and starts to build in intensity with a sound of a train whistle as he leaves.  

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1. Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) is trying to keep a secretive life from others (example: the housekeeper in the boarding house), to avoid being killed.  He does not want the housekeeper to know about the money on the small table (near his bed) and on the floor.  It looks like that he is deeply concerned (and possibly worried) about his own life.

 

2. Warning (Spoiler Alert for those that haven't seen "The Killers" or "Shadow of a Doubt"): The opening scene with Joseph Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" character in the boarding house bedroom looks similar to the opening gritty bedroom scene of Robert Siodmak's hit 1946 screen adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novel, "The Killers" (where Burt Lancaster's role of "Swede" is similar to Cotten's characterization of "Uncle Charlie").  The only difference is that Lancaster's character is killed in his own bedroom by the two assailants at the conclusion of the opening scene in "The Killers," while Cotten's character is followed by the two men as he is walking down the street.

 

3. Dimitri Tiomkin's orchestral source music score of "Shadow of a Doubt" serves as an enhancement to Hitchcock's film (jovial music is heard at the beginning of the scene where the children are playing outside of the boarding house, then sinister music begins to build up after a long pause when Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" character walks to the window and secretly recognizes the two men that he is hiding from, then the "suspense" builds up in the score after Cotten takes a drink of liquor and throws the glass on the floor, then Tiomkin's score will have more of a suspenseful tone/mood when Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" walks out of the boarding house, onto the street and is followed by the two men that he is avoiding).  You could say the same about another iconic composer associated with the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann (his music would also serve as an enhancement to Hitchcock's later films).  

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1. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

 

Charlie's got a wad of cash and a lot on his mind. He also has a couple of guys on his tail. Charlie is cunning, he thinks things through. He briefly lets his violent streak get the better of him and smashes a glass against the sink. Then he sets his jaw and sets his course. Charlie's a pretty snappy dresser, I might add.

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

 

The opening is Hemingway's The Killers for sure. But Charlie isn't the Swede. He's not resigned to his fate and he's not incapacitated by weariness or guilt. On the contrary, Charlie's going to march right through his pursuers and get out of town. I half expected one of those guys to say "Hey, bright boy" as he passed.

 

3. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

 

Tiomkin's score follows and sometimes anticipates the action perfectly. When the boys in the street are playing ball they're accompanied by an all American waltz. As Charlie makes his decision and then charges past the opposition, Tiompkin builds each scene to a crescendo. When the pursuers start to follow Charlie down the street, they're literally marching to Tiompkin's tune.

 

 

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1.  As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

 

Hitchcock uses this initial scene to delineate Uncle Charlie’s sociopathic personality primarily though the visuals aided to a great degree by the dialogue with his landlady.  The scene begins with a wide shot of children playing ball in the streets below a seedy apartment building.  As the camera moves towards the building, Hitchcock shows tilted-angle shots of the window outside of Uncle Charlie’s room.  These angled shots show that we are entering a situation that is not normal to the world we just saw on the street below.  Hitchcock’s camera dissolves into a dolly shot of a seedy room with a rather dapperly-dressed man (Joseph Cotton) lying on a bed smoking a cigar.  Uncle Charlie seems in a trance singing to himself.  The camera dollies and pans to the left to show a pile of money on the night stand and below it.  Hitchcock has visually summed up Uncle Charlie’s character beyond the fact that this is probably murderous blood money.  The fact that the money is carelessly strewn about shows that there is something eviler afoot than mere greed. (This point is made at his exit from the room.) Hitchcock continues the visual cues of Uncle Charlie’s psyche with the use of deep shadows created by the lighting of the room.  What is very interesting is the way that Hitchcock uses the very minor supporting character of the landlady to further etch Uncle Charlie’s personality traits.  The landlady’s fawning, motherly attitude represents some level of ignorance, even stupidity, about this evil presence that seems to elude her.  She personifies Hitchcock’s now familiar theme that there is evil lurking among us, not necessarily in the shadows but in broad daylight.  However, she is not in danger of being one of his victims since she seems to have only his interests at heart as she scoops the money off the floor and returns it to the bedside table.  And, as Hitchcock shows, Uncle Charlie has very little interest in the money as well since he makes a final exit from this room without taking the money with him.

    

2.  In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations.)

 

First, I consider film noir as a genre, style and movement.  If we could not see the rest of this story, we might imagine that Joseph Cotton is a seedy underworld guy who will take us further into a crime story with other seedy characters.  The visuals and dialogue all point to a film noir genre as he walks down the street to finally escape the federal agents in pursuit.  Instead, Hitchcock closes the initial scene by dissolving into a wide shot of the streets of a happy and bright little rural town.   Hitchcock uses film noir elements as a style to contrast life in the most normal of circumstances.

  

3.  As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

 

 

Tiomkin’s waltz at the beginning of the film becomes a template for Uncle Charlie’s righteous but distorted feelings that are often repeated at certain moments in the film.   No evil person feels that they are bad and, in fact, feel justified in their acts.   The churning waltz at the beginning as the children play in the streets dissolve into a more somber mood as we enter Uncle Charlie’s dark room.   Tiomkin does a great job of accentuating the mood of the scene and the inner workings of Uncle Charlie’s mind without anticipating it.   The music becomes more dissonant in the scenes that are dark or film noir

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As far as film noir tropes go, Hitchcock opens this scene with a canted angle of the children playing, and then a canted, closeup establishing shot of the boarding house. He cuts to Charlie on the bed, and the visuals tell us he is a man in despair, trapped in a corner. The shadows of the curtains appear as bars across his face and the bed he is lying on, as though he is already in prison. The room itself is small and cell like, with a sink visible just beyond the bed. The two detectives are closing in on Charlie, just as Hitchcock did with the camera, from the street, to the building, to his room. The next sequence of shots continues the closing in theme too, but now through blocking and mise en scene rather than camera work. Charlie lies on the bed at the bottom of the frame, and Mrs. Martin stands at the door beyond him, but also above, forming the compositional triangle. When she sees the money on the floor, she approaches the bed in the same triangle placement while Charlie remains still. The effect is like a simultaneous camera zoom and dolly back, like in Orson Wells' Citizen Kane or Hitchcock's own Vertigo, but here the actors are moving instead of the camera. The effect is suffocating and slightly dizzying.

 

Then, determined to break out of his trap, Charlie "breaks" a glass and opens the shade. He even leaves the door to his room open as he leaves. Like a formalist film noir director, Hitchcock shows us the despair and inner turmoil of Charlie through expressive visuals, keeping dialogue to a peripheral minimum. 

 

 

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As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. 

We learn that Charlie, at least for the moment, is transient. He is living in a boarding house and hasn't been in this one for long. He has enough money to notice, and a habit of having that money, to the point that the landlady notices, and that he has a disregard for its security.

 

We know that Charlie is in the middle of his career, what ever that career may be. He is weary. We know that he is being followed -- there is no innocent version of that...

 

We know that he thinks, and is prepared to do the unconventional. He boils with controlled anger, and challenges those trailing him as soon as he finds out they are there.
 

In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)

The boarding house setting; the violence -- even in the scene where he hurls the glass. The play of light and dark - the shadow falling over charlie as she draws the blind; he standing in the dark looking at those standing in the light. The normalcy of the scene outside under which writhes a thread of darkness, suspicion and violence.
 

As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

 The music establishes the scene in a cheery open on the children playing in the street. There is a pause of silence while the landlady talks to Charlie. When she leaves, the music comes back up under him, and emphasizes his emotional turmoil.

 

It also ramps up the tension of him crossing the street in front of them as if he were going to violently assault them, and then falls away after he passes without other action.

 

Finally, the piano stomps to match the footfalls of the two chasers. It draws the attention to the gait of the police, who follow Charlie almost in lockstep as if on parade.

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The opening of Shadow of a Doubt signifies a foretelling of ominous events. We are introduced to a character called Charlie. He’s relaxed, lying on a bed, cigar in hand, possessing zero concern regarding a rather large sum of money sprinkled about the nightstand and floor. Charlie appears to be in rumination, his eyes fixated in a forward direction.

 

Nonetheless, we have been dropped into the narrative of an interesting character who is a wanted man with a shady past. Charlie is swiftly informed of two men, possibly authorities, awaiting his “return.” Maintaining composure, he suggests he will meet the men willingly, but angers quickly upon the woman's exit.

 

Shadow of a Doubt’s opening plays directly off of shadow and light. Shadowy figures often dance about in a film noir, lurking around corners and obscuring villains from detection. While The Killers shrouds the Swede in darkness only to reveal his face just before he's murdered (indicating his guilt), Shadow of a Doubt places Charlie in the shadows just before he makes his escape. Darkness befriends the guilty in a film noir, a necessary, close companion of those fleeing from any sort of sleuth.

 

Charlie has an incredible character transition perfectly matching a shift in the musical tone. As he sits up from a lying position, we can briefly hear a very low resonance, indicative of a growl, within the orchestrated track. It's a literal mounting occurrence of anger within Charlie as he slams a glass into the floor. Dimitri Tiomkin heightened his score here as a crescendo, aligning the music with Charlie's madness and the two clash together intensifying the pinnacle of both musical score and theatrics. This particular scene is revelatory as we witness the making of the narrative's villain. The blinds are drawn, darkness overtakes the room, and alas the true character of Charlie shrouded in darkness is revealed.

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1) Uncle Charlie is a dual person, dark and sinister, moody and carefree. Leaving money strewn around represents the carefree, while the moody lighting and the soft verbal reactions indicate the closed sinister Charlie.

 

2) This scene provides an element of dark foreboding that is classic Film Noir. I have not seen the referenced movie, but I have seen others and this has the very dark dramatic touches of classic film noir. The inner city, the men searching for someone and turned away, but waiting on the corner - just classic!

 

3) The score exudes the mood that Hitchcock was looking for in this dark sinister scene. It provides the impetus of a sense of foreboding while raising the tension in the character of Uncle Charlie.

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In this opening scene from Shadow of a Doubt, we learn that Charlie is renting a room temporarily rather than living in his own apartment. He appears to be in a state of agitation and contemplating something as he lies on the bed. The money lying on the table and floor indicate a sense of desperation. We learn that Charlie is being followed by two men. Although he appears to maintain a cool, calm presence while his landlady is in the room, we soon see his escalating temper when he throws the glass across the room, gathers a few belongings, and decides to face the waiting men. We are unsure what Charlie will do when he sees the men. We watch him walk towards them and wonder if there will be a confrontation, but he simply walks past them, around the corner.

The opening scene reminds me of a film noir in several ways. First, there is the narrowing focus, as the scene begins with boys playing on the street outside, followed quickly by a shot of a boarding house, then the room, the window, the bed inside, the close up of Charlie, and finally the money on the table and floor. This "closing in" on Charlie from a larger to a smaller and smaller focus makes us feel that someone may be narrowing in on him. We find soon that in fact, two men are following him. The shadowy lighting and escalating, ominous music also have feelings of film noir.

The music adds greatly to the sense of tension in the scene. While the landlady is in the room, the music is quiet and hardly noticeable, but as she leaves, the music builds up very quickly. We get the sense that this matches Charlie's mounting anxiety and beating heart. When he throws the glass, the music accompanies this sudden, unpredictable action with a quick stop. As Charlie opens the front door and begins moving towards the two men on the corner, the music has a marching rhythm that adds to the sense of footsteps. This continues after Charlie has walked down the street, as the two men begin following him.

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1)   Even through this brief clip, we learn a great deal about Uncle Charlie and his history. Hitchcock shows us that Joseph Cotten is wanted for something because of him being tailed by the two men. He also shows us that Uncle Charlie might not be the most stable-minded person, with the fact of him talking to himself while watching the men on the corner. I almost feel like that Uncle Charlie can’t be trusted, while also feeling like I need to cheer him on.

 

2)   The main thing that makes this opening feel like film noir is how it’s photographed and the accompanying music. The photography and lighting of this scene is quite spectacular. Shadows dancing across Cotten’s and his land lady’s faces makes mystery, while the music adds suspense and anxiety. I feel like this scene could come out of a detective movie or that a narration on what the character is feeling and thinking could come about at any moment.

 

3)   Tiomkin’s score, I feel, does everything to set the mood, atmosphere and pace for this scene. Without it, the scene would nowhere be the same. The music starts the mood out lightly, and gradually makes the mood more suspicious when the two men come in the picture. The pace is also varying as well. One specific place was when Uncle Charlie was leaving the apartment building. The pace and tone felt like a rapid heartbeat with the music, and it conveyed some of the anxiety that Joseph Cotten was feel when he saw and started approaching those men.

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Sorry - a day late due to travel:

1.     As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

2.     In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers?

a.     Even before reading the notes for this film – I had immediate Déjà vu of the Swede in The Killers. In the beginning of both films, it seems that we have walked in on the film at the end. The protagonist is trapped in a dark corner, waiting for the inevitable end the agents of fate will bring to him. And, in film noir, the beginning of the film is often the beginning of the end, the long slippery descent into darkness and doom.

 

3.     As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?

a.     At two minutes into our clip, there is a low drone from the strings/horns. This is not the crescendo that precedes the smashing of the glass, nor the timpani that follows the smashing – though both those musical cues have significant semiotic weight. But the low drone is more guttural, more visceral – and lends a great deal to the tone of the film at this point. 

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