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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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Dr Edwards mentioning 'doubling' in Shadow of a Doubt - there is plenty of it - but one of immediate notice is the word 'shadow' in the title - a 'dark' double.

1. The prelude establishes Uncle Charlie as hiding something which is of interest to two strangers.. we don't know what he is hiding, or who the men are (the law or criminal?) - so mystery is injected immediately.  Charlie seems subdued and submissive to his circumstance, but quickly flips to defiance (the throwing of the glass, and strutting by the men who he feels threatens him). This suggests potential emotional instability; another layer of mystery.  The music builds to punctuate dramatic circumstance, and tension.

 

2. This scene initially matches the opening of The Killers in that the subject of interest is laying in bed - both physically and emotionally suggesting submissiveness and surrender to circumstance.  It differs though in that with Shadow, Uncle Charlie changes from this initial attitude to anger and action.  Also, the two men visiting do not force their way in, suggesting, rather than specifying, their attitude of lawfulness or 'good guys' (as opposed to the title characters of The Killers bursting in - eventually).  If they are 'good', the Uncle Charlie may be 'bad'.

There is also the Hitchcock 'touch' of shot/reverse-shot of Uncle Charlie walking towards the two-men, showing his attitude, then POV of what he sees, and back, to put the audience in his position of feeling stalked/pursued, building the spectators' tension and paranoia.

3. As mentioned above, the score in this scene heighten the tension (and potential confrontation) with building volume, drama and rhythm.  It matches Uncle Charlie's pace towards and past the two men, and there subsequent pursuit.

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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. 

Uncle Charlie is a man with a past. He is calm and collective but someone who lays in bed in a full suit is either paranoid that he might have to run at anytime or expecting someone to come calling. He has a wad of money on the night stand and floor. Is it stolen money? Was he gambling? If the two men who came calling are police or mobsters Uncle Charlie doesn't seem to be deterred by them in front of the landlady, but once she leaves he gets violent and throws his glass.

 

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 have not seen killers yet)

The film opens outside in the daylight where children are playing, then the camera leads us into a dark rented room in building 13 where Uncle Charlie is laying fully clothed on his bed. The darkened room is mysterious as we focus on the money laying about on the floor. Two strange men are waiting outside. There is a menacing tone about Uncle Charlie, what is he thinking? Is the emotion he's conveying melancholy, paranoia ? These are signs of a film noir film.

 

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 score begins upbeat and joyous when we see the children outside but then stops as we are introduced to Uncle Charlie and his landlady. The music begins again after the landlady leaves and Charlie finishes his drink he gets up. The score continues to ebb and flow as he decides to go outside. We get the sense Charlie is a man on a mission as the music gets faster and louder. This style of music continues as he walks up the the two men and passes them. The music controls the scene it adds an energy to the scene and adds excitement.

 

 

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This scene is a good example of how the stillness of a villain can be more menacing than someone who is "over the top." Uncle Charlie lies very still on the bed as the landlady moves about, but, by the dialogue and the nervous movements of the landlady, you know he is the dominant figure.

 

It's like Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca: in several of her first scenes, her head barely moves, only her eyes. Only in the scene in Rebecca's room do her face, head and hands come alive.

 

In the last scene from the lecture video, Uncle Charlie speaks contemptuously of "those women" without a change of expression, until Charlie protests, "They're alive!"; then he turns his head to respond, "Are they?"

 

Even modern movies capitalize on this: who would you rather be stuck in a room with: Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lecter?

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1)  He seems to be involved in something shady as he is renting a room yet he clearly has money.  So much so that he doesn't even bother to put it away, giving the indication that it isn't important to him or that it doesn't matter if it is lost.  He also has a temper that we clearly see when he finds out about the men that came looking for him.  As he stands there contemplating whether to confront them or wait for them, he throws the glass in what appears to be anger at the fact that he is being backed into a corner.  I think it would also be safe to assume that Charlie isn't afraid in that his decision is to go out and face the men to see what they do. 

 

2)  I haven't seen The Killers but this clip has a very noir feel about it.  The shadows and use of light and dark, the music, the seedy room, Charlie's suit, the money and the two men waiting for him...doesn't get much more noir than that.  There is a very mysterious and seedy feel about the whole clip.

 

3)  The main thing I noticed about the music was how it built to a crescendo as the tension increased while Charlie is deciding what to do about the men outside.  The music slowed and softened slightly once he stepped outside but built up again as he passed the men.

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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 has been involved in some sort of criminal activity - kind of a shady character. With the piles of money lying around, we wonder if he has robbed a bank or what? He seems very casual about everything, from leaving the money on the floor to lying on the bed, smoking the cigar. 

 

When the landlady comes in and tells him that two men are looking for him, the tension in the film starts. Charlie looks out the window, spots them, then decides to taunt them by walking next them, while looking them in the eye.

 

We know from this scene that Charlie is a very cold-blooded person and has done something sinister.

 

Great opening! In typical Hitchcock fashion, the audience receives the information about Charlie up front - something that the other characters in the story don't find out until the end of the film.

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1.  We know that Uncle Charlie is running from something, and is probably guilty, because he is hiding in his room and he says that the two men who want to see him "have nothing on" him. He feels trapped but seems accepting that he will be caught because he mentions that he might go and see them, and he has a lot of money laying around, with no attempt to hide it. We know that the two men are police or detectives, because he has never seen them before, and as soon as he leaves his room, they follow him.

 

2. I have not seen The Killers, but this film reminds me of a film noir because it uses shadows to represent hiding, like when Uncle Charlie is in his room with the blinds closed, and the crooked camera angle that many films noir use to show that something is off.

 

3. The score in this scene and the entire movie helps move the plot along emotionally, and really sets the tone and pace. It starts out as calm ad almost cheerful at the beginning, with the boys playing in the street, and is mellow when Charlie is thinking. But when he decides to leave and try to outrun the detectives, the music speeds up and intensifies, showing how frantic and nervous Charlie is to escape. When the detectives follow him, the music takes on a distinct march, and they walk to its' beat, making it seem as though a huge army of people were following Charlie, catching up to him, ready to pounce. It makes the scene suspenseful and puts us into Charlie's state of mind, even if we do not sympathize with him. The use of the Merry Widow Waltz throughout the film is also very creative, and it is played even if the flashback is not used, just to show that a character is thinking about it, which i think is super cool (if you couldn't tell, this is my favorite Hitchcock film :D ).

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1. We see Uncle Charlie lying on the bed fully clothed during the day. He seems to be meditating on his next move. We see he has piles of money on the nightstand that has also spilled onto the floor in a careless way.

He seems very calm and in control. The landlady informs of the two men who came to see him. He seems mildly interested, but plays it cool. How did Uncle Charlie get that money? What do the men want to see him about? Uncle Charlie has secrets and a past.

He seems to have a way with women. The landlady is very taken with him and seems to be unaware of what Uncle Charlie has been up to. When the landlady leaves he show a violent streak as he throws the glass across the room. He decides to confront the men outside, daring them to follow him.

 

2. It is filmed in black and white so the use of shadows is very important. At first the shadows hide most of Uncle Charlie's face as he and the landlady converse. The way Uncle Charlie is dressed although in his bed, makes us think he is prepared to make a quick get away if needed. The two men waiting outside makes the scene suspenseful as we wonder who they are and why they are waiting for uncle Charlie. The scene takes place in the city, where the criminal element is more likely to be prevalent.The whole scene has a very Noir feel to it.

 

3. The score starts off very light and cheerful as the children play in the street. As we see Uncle Charlie on the bed thinking the music slows its tempo. When he moves about the room gathering his belongings the music intensifies and the mood is one of tension and action. It gets even faster as prepares to leave and meet the men outside. As they follow him the music sounds like a march.

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For starters, y'all don't even know how excited I was to hear that this film was one of Hitch's all-time favorites! It is my absolute favorite classic film. I was so thrilled, haha.

 

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 first time I watched Shadow of a Doubt, I didn't think too much of it at first... not until the music changed after the discussion about Uncle Charlie's "two friends". Then I began to instantly wonder what could be different about this man; his indifference to the stack of money was brought back to my attention (especially why he had that much cash in the first place). It's obvious he is hiding something, and the cat and mouse theme is set up brilliantly in the piece that winds through the streets following this daily dose.

 

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)

Uncle Charlie's living space, coupled with the devil-may-care attitude in the first two minutes. The intensity right from the start. The music spiraling down with the blind, as well as the darkness settling over Uncle Charlie's face. Something I hadn't noticed before is that the house number is '13'... I'm not sure when 13 was first considered "unlucky", but that gave me pause this viewing! The detectives are always a key element, as well.
 

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 beginning stanzas give that eerie sort of feeling that follows later in the film with the waltz motif. It's happy in one sense, but foreboding in the other. It seems quite out of place. I do appreciate Hitch's ability to forgo sound as well, however; as the two are speaking there's nothing to be heard. The atmosphere becomes electric in a way. (like The Birds!) And then it completely turns on its head, and that's when I first knew something was wrong with Uncle Charlie the first time I watched this film. Now it gives me a strange sort of anticipation- especially when he stalks right past the two detectives. (Joseph Cotten- yowzas!)

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1. We learn that it looks like Uncle Charlie is laying low and as something to hide. He seems bored and frustrated and ready for some action. He walks outside the draws the tow strangers after him. I haven't seen the opening for this in a while so I don"t remember what happens to those two guys but it looks like it won't be good.

2. In the Killers, you get the sense of doom and that Burt Lancaster knows that his time is up and he is awaiting his fate. Here, Jospeh Cotton embraces it and dives into it. I think that Shadow of a Doubt is very noirish.

3. Tiomkim sets the mood perfectly with his changing score: cherry with the kids playing at the outset, more atmospheric inside the room, and then sinister and discordant when Uncle Charlie walks outside drawing the two guys after him. I especially like the use of the piano towards the end of the scene.

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Do you notice how often the number 13 comes up in a Hitchcock film? I wonder if it is because he was born on the 13th of August (not to mention the various superstitions involving 13).  In this scene, we see that the boarding house Uncle Charlie is staying in is Number 13, just as is the case for the boarding house in The Lodger.  Of course, Charlie is very much another incarnation of the Lodger. 

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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 tired, weary. He waxes on his situation and his options. He is careless when he feels secure. He is angry and frustrated, working himself to the point where he has the power to act. When he does act, he dares his pursuers to follow him and catch 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)
 
The scene moves from well lit and open on the street with a conventional framing, to Uncle Charlie's window. The shot becomes tighter with the dutch tilt becoming more pronounced with each cut. When we reach Uncle Charlie's room, the scene is dark, punctuated with light. The dialog is almost staccato in its cadence. The threat from the strangers is outside the window. Charlie is on the run.
 
In the noir films I have seen (I haven't seen The Killers), the situation is more explained. Here's the hero, here's the (apparent) problem, and here's the beginning of the action. Shadow of a Doubt doesn't have that on the surface. We don't know what kind of person Uncle Charlie is yet, although he could be pursued because of the money he has.
 
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 music is festive until we get into the room, then it becomes almost funereal. When the blind is drawn, it is foreboding, speeding up in pace in volume until the glass shatters. It goes back to almost festive when Charlie decides what he is going to do. The pace and volume grow as he leaves. It builds again as he approaches the men. As the men walk away from the camera, it is almost a march.

I think the music is a direct reflection of Charlie's mood and mental state.
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1) This scene shows Charlie laying in bed fully clothed, cunningly planning his next move silently. He is holding an unlit cigar in a callous non-caring manner while there is money strewn all over the room. Hitchcock is therefore hinting that that it might not have been legally earned. He is sardonic with the landlady who he has prepared to hide him from any visitors. We hear his inner voice challenging the detectives to a hide and seek game.Viewers also see a sudden violent side to him.

 

2) In the "Killers" the Swede is resigned to meeting his assassins. He is waiting in the dark for his moment of death.In "Shadow of a Doubt", Charlie is deep in thought, buying time and planning his next move. I noticed the fatalistic noir theme in this movie where there is deep trouble brooding for the protagonist.We know it is not going to end well for him.

 

3) At first, the music is carnival like then it suddenly becomes somber to fit the change in scenery and action. The music reaches a climatic peak when he gets up to throw a glass at the wall. It climbs to a fever pitch when he angrily exits the room. The music adds suspense to the moment when he is out in the street. the piano sounds mysterious as he walks past the detectives.I think the music reflects how Charlie's mind is functioning at each precise moment.

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Well ...I watched "The Killers," last night, and I believe the opening of this film and the opening of "Shadow of a Doubt," Joseph Cotten is EXACTLY like Burt Lancaster's as far as the theme, the shadows and the type of location!!  Film Noir at its very best.  Both dressed vs. PJs, both awake and starting at the ceiling in boredom, both men with a flat affect, both doomed and they know it, but resigned to whatever may be (ca sera sera ...where is Doris Day now when they need her?) when we first listen to their discussions with their helpful visitors.  The scene similar s the dark room, the men in the same position, both on top of their covers, closed curtains, lower middle class surroundings, which truly mirror each other.  

 

The differences are the time of day, and one of them truly wants to live to see another day ...Joseph Cotten gets up and literally walks out and escapes, whereas Burt is finished.  His 250K is gone, his obsession with Ava Gardener has been realized once more and he has no desire to live so he chose death knowing it is coming.  Dumb decision on the part of Joe to order the hit as the double whammy is he and Ava get caught and one of them dies and one goes to prison.  Fantastic!

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I've read somewhere that "if it's gonna be noir, you gotta have Venetian blinds."  They add that shadowy, barred look to a space, linear reminders of the dark mixed in with the light, and more importantly, a visual metaphor of imprisonment, of not being able to escape one's fate.

 

 In the opening clip of Shadow of a Doubt that we saw, I was taken aback by the motif of "bars" in a single shot. I've attached a snip I grabbed from our class video, a single still.  From the white lines on the landlady's dress, to the slats in the rocker, the pinstripes in his suit, the stripes on the pillow and the shadow of the window pane (and more!) this can't be accidental.  I believe it exemplifies Hitch's attention to every detail of mise-en-scene and his tight collaboration with the visual designers. 

 

The strains of "The Merry Widow Waltz" are wonderfully woven within the scene as well. Audiences at the time would have been more familiar with the waltz tune than audiences today though I'm not sure if the earlier  Lubitsch film of the same name had the waltz in it or not. But the music plays incongruously with the kids playing ball and the "Rooms to Rent" sign. Later in his room when Cotten decides to go outside, the motif is heard again in a light music box style which is an attention-grabbing juxtaposition to the already known danger of the situation.   I love Hitch's far-ranging use of music- nothing seems out of bounds.  Here he's grabbing something from the 19th century, and a contrast that comes to mind is the dissonant screeching of sound in Psycho, sounds clear pilfered from modernist/avant-garde composers.  

Looking forward to Shadow of a Doubt tonight! 

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1)  He seems to be involved in something shady as he is renting a room yet he clearly has money.  So much so that he doesn't even bother to put it away, giving the indication that it isn't important to him or that it doesn't matter if it is lost.  He also has a temper that we clearly see when he finds out about the men that came looking for him.  As he stands there contemplating whether to confront them or wait for them, he throws the glass in what appears to be anger at the fact that he is being backed into a corner.  I think it would also be safe to assume that Charlie isn't afraid in that his decision is to go out and face the men to see what they do. 

 

Your response here made me think more deeply about what these elements show us of the character. I think they add to make him more psychopathic, less of a "accidental bad guy" and more clearly a criminal who flies into violence in a moment, who seems crazily fearless as he brazenly nearly brushes against the men in the street.  I particularly love your point about the money laying around like "it isn't important to him."  Later on when he gives his "I hate rich widows" speech at his sister's dinner table, we actually do get the sense that it isn't about money at all but more about a irrational hatred. 

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 Uncle Charlie has a way with women; he is able to garner their sympathy and even when she learns the two men are not Charlie's friends, she all the more concerned with him.  She picks up the money and pulls down the shade, so he can take a long nap. That's just what you need she tells him, a long rest.  

 

What an awesome point this is!  It is so crucial to the film- to his crimes and to his ability to fool his sister and his niece- and there it is, right in the first couple of minutes.  Even though he seems a little menacing  to us, laying there on his bed in the dark, his landlady clearly has no trouble mothering him.  

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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. 


We can see that he has a lot of money – so far we don’t know where the money comes from. He seems to accept his fate, but when the landlady leaves he becomes nervous and decides to run away – he’s guilty of something that we’ll only know later. And, well, I love his “hiding in plain sight” moment!


 


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)


When I read about the opening “of a man waiting to be killed”, I instantly thought about The Killers. I see that, like in this movie and many other noirs, we have a high contrast caused by shadows and light in the apartment. Of course, the Swede’s apartment in the 1946 movie is almost empty, while Uncle Charlie’s is a better one, with a good amount of furniture and décor.


I see a very noir touch when Uncle Charlie opens the window and sees the two guys – by the framing, Uncle Charlie is behind bars.


 


 


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? 


It’s quiet inside Uncle Charlie’s room – a contrast to the kids playing outside. Is it a symbol of losing the innocence? Maybe.


As for Tiomkin’s score, it makes us feel tense. As Uncle Charlie says “nothing on me”, the score becomes more dramatic, and we already know that the detectives may have nothing to incriminate him, but he is a sinister figure anyway. When Uncle Charlie gets out of the apartment, the score comes to a crescendo that is almost a scream.


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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. 

 

Uncle Charlie is thinking about something.  He is playing with something in his hands, when the landlady comes in.  We learn his concern about anyone looking for him.  He has been on his bed and doesn't move even when she comes in.  He knows something is waiting for him to face, but he appears not very concerned.  The money carelessly on the floor lets us know a lot of money is involved by his lack of respect for it, especially when the landlady mentions it.  He is scared but not terrorfied.  He seems to have himself under control.  Only when he knows the men are outside waiting for him does his armour crack, but only for a moment.   Even then, he pushes himself forward right out of his room, into the street and passed the same two men.  He controlled the scene.

 

 

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)

 

Saw The Killers a very long time ago and remember it being a movie in black and white and lots of shadows.  The opening scene is dark, in shadows, more so when she pulls the shade down.  It is potent of something that has happened and will happen again.  The room is stark. No fancy furniture, just a few pieces to show it's a bedroom.  His mood is uneven and frenetic when he leaves the house to push past the two men.  

 

 

 

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? 

 

Definitely intensifies the scene.  The short big beginning when the boys are playing, to a quiet almost non-existent background in the bedroom, to a frantic loud rushed piece, as Uncle Charlie runs down the stairs out the door and passed the men.  It shows the action  of the scene in sound.

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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.

 

He is calm. The landlady seems slightly distressed that he has had visitors. I think he is planning what he is going to do. Does he go out and meet them or wait for them to come to him? He decides to go out, which means he has guts.

 

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 use of darkness and shadow is heavily used in both. When he goes outside to meet the men he is thrust into the light. Kind of like hiding in plain sight.

 

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?

 

I think it builds suspense and shows us that things are not as they seem to be.

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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. 

We learn that Uncle Charlie is a cad. He is in trouble for something and as a result, has to flee from the police. We see his demeanor changes after news of the two visitors. He is calm at first and then there is a moment where all of that is shattered as he shatters a glass by forcefully throwing it at the wall in anger.

 

  1. 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 lightning and use of shadows was very reminiscent of a film noir. Uncle Charlie is world weary. While his landlady is frantic about two visitors, Charlie seems unsurprised and unbothered by this news. The mis-en-scene is very "noir" -- a seedy, stark apartment on the rough side of town. 

 

  1. 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? 

It's definitely a stark contrast to the following scene of Uncle Charlie on his bed. The mood is very uplifting. The score showing the people dancing at the party is upbeat and happy. When it begins to be dark is when Uncle Charlie throws his glass to the wall. We know something is wrong and that what we thought isn't what we are going to get. 

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The fat lady with glasses is a great actress. Look at the concern on her face. Clearly, she cares for Charlie. Has Charlie slept with her? I doubt it, but she probably would if Charlie wanted to. 

 

Were the cops so obvious back then? Just standing on the corner casing the place in broad daylight? 

 

Uncle Charlie is clearly a psycho. Look how he throws the glass against the wall. Certainly, he has anger issues. He's going to kill again. And, again. And, again. He smokes cigars incessantly. The kids play stickball in the street. Laughter rings out. Shadows slide sideways. Hitchcock does noir in broad daylight. Good idea, Hitchcock. 

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"Shadow of a Doubt," "Little Foxes, Mrs. Miniver, "Pride of the Yankees," and "Best Years of Our Lives," have one thing in common: one of Hollywood's most underappreciated and talented actresses, Teresa Wright!

 

To star in one of these films, would be a highlight in anyone's career, but to star in all five!  

 

I don't know why her film career did not last a long time, but she is in five of greatest films ever made.

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In the opening scene we learn without a shadow of a doubt that Uncle Charlie has got a problem. First of all he's lying on his bed fully dressed, not relaxed but playing with a cigar. Money strewn around, a mess, yet he lays immobile, thinking, thinking. His answers to the landlady are distant, depressed almost, like he no longer cares. Yet as soon as she leaves, he sits up, sees the detectives, and murmurs they're bluffing. All in all, Uncle Charlie is not who he seems, which is the crux of the film.

 

The opening is definitely film noir, the mystery around this man who the landlady is concerned about, his mumbling answers, then the detectives- what are they looking for? Uncle Charlie's walk past the detectives knowing they'lll tail him. Cat and mouse.

 

The music is spectacular as Uncle Charlie leaves his room, hits the street and walks toward the detectives. The music speeds up, crescendos, and we're caught up in the chase; we have to through it to the end!

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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 character is very well dressed in a suit, even while lying down for a nap, creating a polished veneer.  He reacts to disturbing news from the landlady in a calm way, but when alone, the polished veneer boils over to rage, accompanied by the raising volume of the music, to throwing the glass.  He is shown in a seedy rooming house yet we see lots of money laying around in the open. Why? Something is not right, the guy in some sort of fix, decides to flee, the 'inquiring minds' of the audience want to know more.  Also, I love the observation by the professors that the opening scene serves to establish Uncle Charlie's association to the 'mean streets' of American cities, soon to descend upon and tarnish innocent small town America.

     

  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 have not seen The Killers but, based on experience with and reading about film noir, the opening of Shadow of a Doubt does exhibit some of my expectations to how film noir should look; the rooming house, the urban setting, two strange men in suits lurking on a street corner, a main character who appears to be polished and sophisticated yet in some sort of predicament, especially the influence of German Expressionism and the strategic use of shadows and juxtaposition of light and dark.

     

  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?  To me, the light and breezy waltz tempo of the opening music creates a contrast to what one might expect settling in to view a picture titled Shadow of a Doubt.  Why would we not hear a lot of low strings and brass?  The accompanying visual of well-dressed couples dancing, fading in and out of soft focus, immediately (to me) creates a juxtaposition in context of surrounding visual that something 'is not quite right' in this world.  As noted above, tempo and volume increase as the rage of the character increases.  Another note about music in the film -- the transitions to jazz, especially when Charlie and Uncle Charlie are in bar settings and the conversation turns more sinister.
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"Shadow of a Doubt," "Little Foxes, Mrs. Miniver, "Pride of the Yankees," and "Best Years of Our Lives," have one thing in common: one of Hollywood's most underappreciated and talented actresses, Teresa Wright!

 

To star in one of these films, would be a highlight in anyone's career, but to star in all five!  

 

I don't know why her film career did not last a long time, but she is in five of greatest films ever made.

 

------I was thinking about this last night while watching the film.  She is wonderful in those films and often plays a character who at first seems simply young and carefree but ends up exhibiting her strength in a trying circumstance.  

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