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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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There was a bit of moralizing at the very end of Shadow of a Doubt, I thought. It was an  interesting counterbalance to Hitchcock's oftentimes bleak view of humanity. During Uncle Charlie's funeral when the niece and detective are outside talking, the detective says something along the lines of (paraphrase here)  "The world is not as bad as that, but it seems to go crazy now and then, like your Uncle Charlie, and needs to be watched."    I actually found this quite a hopeful message even though I was ultimately disturbed that an innocent man would always be blamed for Charlie's crimes. I also wondered if this was possibly a reference to the war that was currently underway and which was invisible in this film. 

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There was a bit of moralizing at the very end of Shadow of a Doubt, I thought. It was an interesting counterbalance to Hitchcock's oftentimes bleak view of humanity. During Uncle Charlie's funeral when the niece and detective are outside talking, the detective says something along the lines of (paraphrase here) "The world is not as bad as that, but it seems to go crazy now and then, like your Uncle Charlie, and needs to be watched." I actually found this quite a hopeful message even though I was ultimately disturbed that an innocent man would always be blamed for Charlie's crimes. I also wondered if this was possibly a reference to the war that was currently underway and which was invisible in this film.

I do think that is a reference to the war. Uncle Charlie's monologue at the dinner table about widows and swine sounds like Hitler. There are also background references to the war throughout, such as Gunner's Grill and war bond posters. The film can be read as a homefront story. The insidious Nietzschean fascism attacking small town innocence.

Edited by GSPegger
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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 learned that he already knows that someone would come to the house to try and see him, thus the reason he told the landlady to not to disturb him. We also know that he is a very cool character who doesn't scare easily. And we know that he is in real trouble with the cops.

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) Dont know The Killers. There are aspects of film noir in the opening scene. The landlady speaking to him in the dark and him not moving to acknowledge her. The shadows that fall during that scene gives the look of film noir. His speaking to himself, although just on line, let's us get to know what he is thinking, a bit film noir.

 

A score contribution to a movie can be so important to the scene that it can take the plot point and change it completely. When you see the children playing or a pleasant scene of people going about there own business, the music expresses an emotion of happiness or just going about with there everyday life. However, as we see here, the music will change when we see the main characters communicate dark moods or strange overtones.

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In regards to Hitchcock and Wilder's tacit nod to Hemingway's short story, "The Killers," Uncle Charlie's initial calm reaction to hearing about the men waiting outside for him parallels the way in which the doomed man in "The Killers" just lays in bed, waiting to be killed as the killers approach. It's as if Uncle Charlie was expecting the detectives or even that he was waiting for them as well. 

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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.

     By watching the scene the audience assumes that Uncle Charlie is suspected of doing something of a criminal nature. The reason behind this is the closeup of the money on the nightstand and the money on the floor.  The men waiting outside and as the land lady states that the men would like to speak with him are representing law enforcement or they are of a criminal nature just  like Uncle Charlie. Based upon this scene, the audience does not have enough information yet.

 

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 sort of reminds me of film noir because what is occurring outside of Uncle Charlie's window is a normal innocent afternoon with children at play then a image of Uncle Charlie smoking a cigar.

 

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 score is used for the waltz scene of the " Merry Widow" which is hummed by Uncle Charlie's sister and his niece Charlie.  Widows are also the murder victims of Uncle Charlie.

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The atmosphere set up by Tiomkin with the kids (playing stickball in the street was as East Coast as it can get in film) and the music reminded me of the lil rascals somewhat; playful etc.

Then immediately as you meet Charlie, the music dies (childhood), he's playing with a cigar and has money on the floor (innocence).

You learn quickly that Charlie is a 'wanted' man by the very nice, honest lady, entering the scnene to warn Charlie of how odd these men were.

Charlie looks exhausted.

Charlie talks in a dark ominous way (Noir).

His life seems at bay, or he is worried it may be.

The music then steals each scene by acting out each of Charlie's escalated emotions (anxieties) as he finally decides to step outside n give facing the men a try.

Music would definitely there to help the audience 'feel' what Charlie was feeling.

 

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1. We learn that Charlie seems to be bored and distracted.  The room is not tidy, and the way the loose money is thrown about displays a carelessness or distractedness.  He seems to be thoroughly bored with life, almost as if he doesn't care what happens.  He has a fatalistic attitude;  almost as if it doesn't matter if the two policemen confront him or not.  Seeing the two men out the window seems to raise his ire, and provoke him into action.  So this is a man who can be provoked, who is hiding something, and who may be a criminal.

 

2. There are certainly elements of noir in the way the opening is shot.  A character of questionable morality languishing on a bed, smoke in the air.  The fatalistic attitude, the cat and mouse with the police, even the dismissive dialogue he uses with his landlady, all remind one of various films noir.  I tend to think of noir stylistically, more so than as genre.  And I definitely don't think of any of Hitchcock's films as noir;  he transcends genre.  But there are noirish touches here for sure.

 

3.  Tiomkin was one of the greatest composers of the 40's and 50's, and his scores tended to be grand and sweeping.  His score here matches the tone of the visuals perfectly.  The pacing begins slowly;  we are unsure what Charlie's motivations are, but he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to do anything about it.  Then the score intensifies as he begins to take action.  This is one of a few Hitchcock scores where a particular musical theme is part of the plot.  Much as Ms. Froy's hummed music in The Lady Vanishes was the MacGuffin, the Merry Widow Waltz is used as a recurrent theme in this movie.  This is my favorite of Tiomkin's four scores for Hitchcock, with Strangers on a Train a close second.

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1. This scene is a prelude to the main story. What do we learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude?  Be specific. 

We see already that there is something wrong with Uncle Charlie, something sinister, and someone is after him, either the cops or other bad characters with a gripe against him. He is very confident in himself, saying the men are bluffing and have nothing on him. Then he goes out &, openly defiant, walks right past them.

 

2. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a "film noir"?

The use of darkness and light and shadows in the scenes in his room remind me of a film noir.  I would say maybe even the use of the music in this opening has the same effect.

 

3. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? 

Beginning with the soaring music at the initial opening, we are drawn in, even indoors to the scene of Uncle Charlie lying on the bed, then it becomes very quiet.  The music feels dark when Charlie is in the darkened room and goes to the window. Then, the music rises, getting louder as he decides to go outside & provocatively walk right past the two men who were looking for him.  Lastly, I like the use of the piano notes that seem to match the steps of the two followers, as they begin to trail behind Uncle Charlie. 

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  1. The opening scene offers us some insights into Uncle Charlie. He's lying on a bed, fully-clothed with a cigar. He rents a room in a city which implies he's not doing great financially but he has a large amount of cash haphazardly placed on the nightstand and the floor. He seems alone in the world, with just his landlady looking out for him. He looks out the window and says "You've nothing on me." which kind of implies there is something to be had. Right off the bat it seems like Uncle Charlie is in some kind of trouble and unlike some of the "wrong man" characters who innocently find themselves in danger, it seems like Uncle Charlie has done something wrong to wind up in this position. The comments of the landlady make it clear that Uncle Charlie is being pursued. When he throws the glass, it also shows he has a temper and is under some duress.

     

  2. The opening reminds me of a film noir in some ways. The lecture notes mention "a choking atmosphere of despair, a fatalistic ending" when describing French Poetic Realism and I feel that applies to this scene. Even though it's daytime and there are the sounds and sights of children playing, there is an uncomfortable feeling. The use of shade and shadows also reminds me of film noir. I love that the street number on the building is #13.                                                                                                          
  3. The Tiomken score is especially powerful towards the end of the scene. It reaches a fever pitch when Uncle Charlie breaks his glass. I love how the two men following him march in step with the music implying a relentless pursuit. I notice both of their left hands are in their pockets ... possibly readying concealed guns? The music helps create drama and anxiety.

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  1.  What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.

We learn that he is a brooding and scheming person who works to the point of exahaustion . We know that he has money and that it is most likely earned in unsavory ways. We  also know that there is a lot more to him and that he has a temper. The way the scene is lit suggests an air of darkness and trouble to him as well.

 

  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?

For me the lay the shadows and lighting we used to convey atmosphere and mood are very film noir. He also has his back ot the audience and does not directly face the audience initially. hitch also uses the voice over to advance the plot.

  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?

His score not only underpins the emotional tension onscreen, it frames the drama, like  a painting.

 The way the score rises and falls speeds up and slows down works in synchronization with what we are seeing onscreen. It is an effective tool for drawing us in and maintaining our attention.

 

 

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

 

He is hiding something, and is in the middle of a dangerous and/or illegal situation. He feels he has nothing left to lose, until something motivates him to push forward. He was resigned, but becomes determined and confident. He is not afraid.

 

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?

 

I haven't seen The Killers yet, but I've seen the opening scene during 2015's #NoirSummer and I'm really surprised of the similarities. A flawed man thrown against unshakeable circumstances, fate looming over him, and yet he decides to take fate in his own hands.

 

I can say that I also saw some slight similarities with the opening of The 39 Steps, with the woman spy seeking refuge in Hannay's apartment while a mysterious man waited outside.

 

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 score starts with lively music as we see the kids play in the streets, but as we enter Charlie's apartment, the music pretty much stops. After the maid pulls down the blinds, the music starts again but with a more menacing tone as we dread the arrivel of the mysterious men. As Charlie gets up, music rises more and more and gets more tense, peaking as he walks out. And as he approaches the men, the music again rises more and more.

 

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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 scene opens with a street view of innocent kids playing — shot straight on by the camera. The scene fades into a view of a doorstep and then a window — each shot at a crooked angle by the camera. The window leads into Uncle Charlie’s room. Therefore, we instantly know something is askew with him. The camera angles are an instant visual comparison of right vs. wrong, as are the shadows lying across Uncle Charlie’s face when we first see him.

 

The boarding house lady enters and notices the money he has piled up beside him on the table and floor. She mentions that “Everybody in the world ain’t honest, you know. Though I must say I haven’t had much trouble that way.” She is good and honest, but acknowledges that not everyone is — yet she doesn’t realize she’s talking to one of the people who isn’t.

 

We know Uncle Charlie isn’t a good guy because of his dark demeanor. He doesn’t smile and greet her. He doesn’t thank her for her concern about him. His lack of desire to speak with her or humor a conversation with a well-meaning woman creates a sense that he is living in his own world playing by his own rules.

 

The two men (good guys? — lighter colored suits; engaged in casual conversation with each other makes them seem normal) who are waiting to speak with Uncle Charlie don’t acknowledge him when he comes out, but they follow him down the street. We know from this that Charlie is wanted for some sort of wrongdoing… and that he doesn’t even care! He is confrontational enough to approach the two men without fear and walk past them. He thinks he’s above everyone.

 

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.)

 

Both opening scenes take place in New Jersey. The one in The Killers (

<<I think this is the right one) takes place in the dark at night (and yet it’s only 6pm — hmm). In SOADoubt, the scene is daytime, with full light. Both openings have two men tracking down another man. The Killers has snippy, snappy conversation that I expect from film noir, while in SOADoubt, the boarding house lady is the one doing all the talking. She is snappy, but not snippy. :-) The two snippy characters in The Killers are condescending and rude, thinking they’re above everyone else. They seem to be causing trouble just to make trouble. There’s a lot of double-talk and going around in circles in the conversation.

 

Fast-forward to the scene in the room with the Swede lying in bed and Nick coming to tell him about the two bad men: We get a fast camera pan from L>R from the Swede in bed to the door where Nick enters. We don’t see the face of the Swede; it’s in a shadow. We see Nick’s shadow looming over the bed, fearing for the Swede’s life. The Swede says, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” His voice, like Uncle Charlie’s, is low and monotone, but in this case, it’s a softer voice. We might even feel sympathy for the Swede, even though we haven’t seen him yet. But we already know we don’t like Uncle Charlie… because we have seen his face… his expression… in the light… and we don’t like it.

 

The Swede admits he’s done something wrong and is willing to receive his punishment. In contrast, Uncle Charlie is agitated by anyone having the nerve to even tell him he’s done something wrong, let alone punish him for it.

 

Our POV in The Killers is looking at the bed from a point beyond Nick (e.g., the door); whereas in SOADoubt, our POV is from the wall beside the bed, looking over Uncle Charlie toward the boarding house lady and the open door (full scope of the room).

 

- - -

 

Other observations…

 

Again, we were treated to the skewed camera angles upon meeting Charlie. We saw his carelessness by the way he treated the money at his bedside. We see him fully dressed lying down in a supposed inferior position, but his state of mind is very controlled. For the time being.

 

The boarding house lady pulls down the window shade for Charlie to sleep and the room goes from light (good/safety) to dark (evil/dangerous). Once she leaves the room, Charlie feels comfortable there in the dark and finally gets up out of bed, sips his drink, breaks the glass angrily. From this, we see his physical strength, yet weakness of mind. To him, life seems to be as fragile as a glass that can be picked up and thrown away/broken for no real reason.

 

He re-opens the window shade and looks straight at the two men saying, “You’ve nothing on me.” This line can be taken two ways: 1) You have no proof of anything I’ve done; and 2) You are not as smart, etc. as me. Of course, neither of these are likely true. The two men wouldn’t be watching him if they didn’t know something he’d done… and they were smart enough to track him down. In other words, they are definitely “on to” him.

 

Charlie stands in the half-light/half-dark space… and even when he moves, the shadows of the window frame make the light criss-cross upon him. He heads out the door (#13, which some people fear). He walks straight toward and beside the two men trailing him. They hold back but play it casual. They walk in lockstep with each other to the beat of the music, each with their left hand in their jacket pocket -- almost like they're dancing together.

 

I expect the Sharks and the Jets to appear any minute now... :-)

 

 

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?

 

At first the music is grand and cheerful and gala-worthy… but then the tone and pace turns curious/cautious. The music disappears altogether when the boarding house lady appears. The conversation ensues and then, when she pulls down the window shade, it returns with an ominous mood as we now see Uncle Charlie go from light to dark — his fake persona that he shows everyone, compared to his true evil self.

 

The music heightens when he throws the glass. We then hear the low, thunderous undertones of the bass drum before he re-opens the window shade. Suddenly, the music (and the room) is lighter — like bubbles floating about the air — and Uncle Charlie’s mood turns to one of self-confidence and the ability to con everyone… and then it all gets very dramatic as he walks out the house and we wonder what he’s about to do. It quiets down when he steps outside and casually, but offensively, walks past the two men who then (again) walk in lockstep to the low pounding notes of a piano. Those piano strokes seem to say, “We’ll get you in the end!”

I gleaned a lot from your analysis. Thank you for taking the time to write so thoughtfully.

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For some reason, I am having trouble posting my response today.  Let's hope that the third time is a charm...

 

 

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, I like the parallel between this opening scene and the opening to the film Psycho, with Hitchcock taking us up towards and into the window where we first see Charlie lying on the bed just as he takes up towards and through the window so we can spy on Marion and Sam, who are also lying on a bed.  In this scene, we sense that Charlie has been involved in some type of criminal activity as suggested by the amounts of money lying on the table and the floor.  He doesn't seem concerned about it.  Does this suggest he regrets how he has earned the money?  Also, we sense indecision on his part regarding staying in the room and awaiting his fate or leaving the room to confront it.  We see this in some of his dialogue with Mrs. Martin when he talks about how even though the men are not his friends, he should speak with them anyway.  Also, after Mrs. Martin leaves, Charlie paces the room, weighing his options, especially when he espies the men across the street.  However, he finally decides to be bold and make the first move by not only walking towards the men, but actually brushing up against one of them as he passes by to show that he knows who they are and why they are there but also to show he is not afraid.

 

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)

 

(possible spoilers) I have not seen the film version of "The Killers," but I was immediately reminded of the Hemingway story when I watched this scene.  In both, the main character is lying on a bed, knowing that his pursuers are closing in.  Each must decide whether to fight, flee, or simply surrender.  At first, it seems Charlie has decided to surrender, accepting his fate.  However, instead he chooses to leave the room and indirectly confront the men who are looking for him.  By contrast, The Swede in "The Killers" resigns himself to his fate, it seems, by turning on his side and facing the wall.  In both stories we aren't sure why the characters are being pursued.  Not having seen all of Shadow of a Doubt yet, I'm assuming we will learn the answer to this question eventually.  However, in the story "The Killers," we never learn what Andreson has done.  One can speculate that since he is a boxer, perhaps he refused to take a dive in a fight, costing organized crime some money?  Another "noir" element is SoaD once again is Hitchcock's use of lighting.  This, I realize is not exclusively a noir element, but I think it works as one here, with the contrast between the children playing carelessly in the sunny street and the shadowy room where Charlie contemplates his next move, a room cast in even more shadow when Mrs. Martin draws the shade.  Also, even though this scene does not contain the stereotypical "noir-style" dialogue with a voice over of a detective describing a "dame" who has just walked into his smoke-filled agency, we do hear Charlie say that the men outside have nothing on him.  Lines like this establish the mystery in this film, raising questions in the viewers' minds.

 

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?

 

 

Finally, the music also adds to the noir style of this film.  Tiomkin begins with very light-hearted music while the children are playing outside and the music remains light-hearted at first when we enter Charlie's room while he is lying there talking to Mrs. Martin.  However, the pace quickens with the use of tympani and strident violin strings when Charlie sees the men standing on the corner and as he walks past them, thinking perhaps they won't try anything with children playing in the street.  I might be wrong with this analysis, but in "poetic" terms, the piano chords are "spondaic" or "trochaic," two poetic meters that suggest urgency or danger, unlike the more natural "iambic" pace that Charlie takes as he walks away from the camera and away from the men before they give chase.  For me, this shows that Charlie is aware of the potential danger behind him, as noted with the harsh "trochaic" piano chords being contrasted with his calm rhythmic "iambic" walk.  This is his way of showing that he is aware of the danger, but he doesn't care.

Thank you for sharing your insights with the scoring. This is an area where not only have I never studied, but I also where I lack basic background knowledge and understanding of terminology. 

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1.

-He is careless with his money as we see large amounts lying on the table and floor of a public boarding house;

-He cares about his appearance--his tailored suit fits perfectly and is pressed even after lying down;

-He has a temper (smashes glass in frustration over the police being outside);

-He has no respect for the law, believing himself smarter than the two detectives following him (he brazenly walks past them instead of hiding; also by his words "What do you know. You're bluffing. You've got nothing on me.");

 

-He seems to make unnecessary trouble for himself. He easily confesses to the landlady about not knowing his male callers, explaining they don't know him either, as opposed to simply agreeing with the landlady's assumption of the men being his friends.

 

-For a person who has likely done something illegal, he doesn't seem very concerned about hiding or pretending to be someone that he is not; he has an uneasy confidence.

 

2. I haven't seen The Killers, so I will answer generally. The setting is a city boarding house (most noirs are in gritty, urban settings) and we meet a lone troubled man resting (or trapped?) in his room contemplating his next move. What stands out the most to me as noir is the expressionistic lighting: the shadows of the curtains billowing across Charlie's face and the bed echo his unease; the shadow of the blind comes down over Charlie's face like a curtain at the end of a play foreshadowing his death while Charlie lies still with closed eyes, immaculately dressed as if for his own funeral. The mood is also uneasy and the scene "pregnant with possibilities". The presence of detectives watching, waiting, and following this lone man is also very noir-ish.

 

3. The rhythm of the waltz is echoed in the cuts to Joseph Cotten in the rooming house: from the shot of the children playing in the street, to the rooming house (which is unlucky number 13!), to the window, to the room, all happen to the beat of the music. It sets up what will eventually be a "dance" between Cotten and Wright. The waltz also does not match the urban setting, establishing the well-dressed Cotten as a man who does not fit in with his surroundings.

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I noticed the hole in his suit jacket as well and as the rest of his suit looked pretty good, was this a bullet hole? Many people have commented that he may be in hiding and from the nonchalant attitude with the money, perhaps it is not his focus. There are also a number of comments about the landlady looking out for him as a sign he charms older women. I offer a slightly different view; Let's assume we don't know anything about the rest of the film as if we are seeing it in the theater in it's first release. He is in a low rent boarding house yet he has money, he is lying on the bed but fully dressed like he may be resting momentarily but he is planning to be on the move soon, he is completely at ease with the landlady looking out for him almost as if he expects to be treated that way, and he is interested that the men are looking for him but is not intimidated as he tells the landlady to invite them up and then decides to go to them. I offer that all of these are signs that although he may be lying low while he plots his next move, he is such a narcissist that he feels he does not need to care about the dangers. He feels he has the ability to handle anything that comes as he is the smartest, smoothest, and slickest guy around. He may steal others money but he does not worry about his own. The landlady fawns over him but why shouldn't she, everyone should because he is just that amazing. The guys outside may be after him but why worry, they can't have figured anything out because I am too smart for them. He is so confident, he walks right by them, taunting them to do something and knows he can get away any time he feels like it. The score sets this tone as well.

I too wondered about what appeared to be a hole in the jacket. 

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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 of Uncle Charlie appears to be a charmer (the landlady fawns over him), rude (he doesn’t connect with her politely), a loafer (lying in bed instead of working industriously at some important task), unappreciative of the value of money (perhaps did not come by it honestly). Doesn’t show his cards - we are left to infer what he is thinking - toying with an unlit cigar, hurling a glass across the the room, siding up to the window to look out at the guys scoping his room… And concluding that he is not someone you want to “take home to Mother.”

 

  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)

I will again state the obvious - what I know about film noir I just learned from reading the Professor’s notes. So the list will be seedy hotel, dubious characters, the hint of a crime, thugs or detectives watching the place, loaner - not a family scene, blase air the protagonist has towards the others in the scene.

 

  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?

For my more modern sensibilities, the scoring seems to be over the top - like the Jaws sound track - coaching me on how to respond. I prefer more subtle leading though I do like the reference to the Merry Widow that would be a clue for more astute listeners.

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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.

You can see that something has happened an that Charlie is doubt of how to proceed. As more information unfolds, the character takes action to keep the audience wondering what will happen next.


 

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 use of melodic mood mixed with frame shots, the use of light contrast, gives in the Film Noir atmosphere.


 

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 does indeed set the tone of what's going on and what possibly might happen next. The soundtrack gives you information where there's no dialogue.

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I think Uncle Charlie is a new kind of leading character...a pathologically, evil person. There are no hobbies for this person, no activities beyond whatever evil doings he's engaged in.  He's a criminal who wants or steals money, yet doesn't value it. He's running from something yet doesn't seem to be hiding. He's waiting. Waiting for the next opportunity. For Uncle Charlie, neither legal, nor moral laws exist. For this reason it's film noir at it's scariest. For the innocent there is no honesty or integrity that will prevent Uncle Charlie from changing course.... there is no moral high ground to run to.

 

I think the room itself also sets this squarely in the film noir camp....it's a hot, stuffy, smoky rooming house....used by many. The pace, Charlie's voice, his thought process...it's all slow, like smoke or haze personified. The he picks up his things...maybe even everything he needs to disappear for good and heads out the door. The bullet hole in his jacket confirm all of our fears.....he's bad...but what exactly has he done?

 

For me this music does to us what some of Hitchcock's earlier film work does....throws us off kilter, and tell us something is not right. It's the lilting, slightly off key, waltzy tune...like a pendulum swinging wildly from one side to another....dragging us between good and evil.

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1. His response to the landlady regarding the 2 men, seem an odd way to respond to the fact that they may or may not be his friends - you see an under lying anger. When the camera pans to the loose moneyI felt it showed a reckless attitude an I do not care, is he possible a psycopath?  He then confidently walks towards the 2 men as if to test them and show his fearlessness.

 

2. I find two film noir elements.  Film Noir as a style and as a movement or cycle.

 

3. Once sound entered the film industry, I can't imagine a film without great music!  In the opening scene we see some children playing ball in any hometown in America, music is easy and light it quickly changes once the camera cuts to Uncle Charlie lying on his bed, it becomes softer but odd.  If we jump to the scene when Uncle Charlie is leaving the rooming house, the music seems to become a warning

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1. We find out Uncle Charlie is living on the low side of town renting a room. He is neatly dressed in a suit and he has a lot of money that he doesn't seem to care about. You wonder why is he living in this room when has money. Then the landlady tells him 2 men were looking for him. So now you figure Uncle Charlie is in some kind of trouble, he's hiding out. Landlady closes the shade and cut to shadows covering his face. Something sinister about him. I never noticed this before but in the opening the women dancing seemed to be older and more mature than the men. The men look younger.

 

2. Uncle Charlie seems to have a feeling of dread. As if nothing matters. His mood is dark. He knows they will eventually catch him. He is pressing his luck doesn't have much time. This movie reminds me of The Killers. Men asking questions and looking for him. Laying in the bed waiting. The 2 men walking down the street to the sound of music that signifies to me a determined purpose.

 

 

3. The music is The Merry Widow Waltz. We don't know that in the beginning so we might think this may be a lighthearted little picture. But this is a Hitchcock movie. You know something's coming a twist.

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1. He's in a boarding house, that provides some insight as to who he might be right there, he's well dressed, surrounded by cash, smoking a cigar, relaxed about what's to come, and even what may have happened the night before. In his reaction to the landlady telling him about the two men who visited, he seems well spoken, opinionated, but also mysterious, cutting and on edge. Surprisingly, we learn a lot about his true nature in just a few moments. I like how others pointed out the landlady is willing to protect him, as a nod to his ability to charm women, women who might not otherwise garner attention, something I missed on multiple watchings.

2. It's gritty, and while there's no inner dialogue, we're introduced to a potentially dark character, who is both intelligent and calculating, and also about to go through an ordeal. The two gentlemen on the corner are no doubt detectives, and they begin to follow him, the chase is on.

3. There's an urgency, and also a rhythm, that sort of sets the pace, something is foreboding, and he's rushed / pressured to make the next move. It also fits the backdrop of big city, and possibly crime.

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1. Our good ol' Uncle Charlie is calm, collected, and above all direct. He's basically the equivalent of a snob, but with an added sense of mystery and intimidation. He may be wearing a fancy suit with a lot of cash on hand, but he is well aware that reality is catching up to him and is about to lose it all.

 

2. When the film begins, I immediately get the feeling that a murder had taken place beforehand. As soon as we see our main character in his get-up, cigar and all, he clearly has a story to tell. We also don't know who the two men that were brought up are, but as soon as the story begins, we are eventually going to find out who, and why they are after this man.

 

3. What I noticed is that when we see the children play, the music is all happy, but as we transition further and further into the hotel room where our main character resides, the music starts getting darker and darker in tone until we finally enter the room, where it's all quiet and suspenseful. In a way, film composition and musical composition aren't too different from one another, because they both set the overall mood. 

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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. 

You actual don't learn much about Uncle Charlie other than he looks like he has money but why would he be in a run down boarding house.  From the way he is acting you know something has happened and it has something to do with all the money laying around.  He is almost rude to the woman that runs the boarding house like he thinks he is better then her.  

 

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 (after the shot with the children playing) does remind me of film noir.  The lighting how there is enough light to see what is around but not enough to maybe see all the details and the darkness of the mood that matches the lighting.

 

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 starts off very light when you see the children playing but as soon as it starts to approach the house and into Uncle Charlie's room it starts to get very dark and heavy, again like the lighting and mood of the room.  At first in the room the music is soft for the speaking rolls and slower.  As soon as Uncle Charlie decides he is going to go out past the gentleman that were looking for him it speeds up to match his walk.  It very much moves the story and makes it feel more exciting.

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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 he is a solitary person who is preoccupied with a problem of some sort. When the landlady comes in and informs him that the two men had stopped by, he did not tell her what he was going to do, but mentions the things that he might do…not giving a straight answer, but skirting around the answer. We also see that even though his clothes are nice and he has money on the table, he is living in a lower-class area and is renting a room rather than living in an upper-class area and owning a home.  Thus giving us a picture of a duality that is mentioned in the video.


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)  Detectives, seedy apartment, evasion of questions, the conversation between the landlady and Uncle Charlie regarding the men stopping by to see him and the fact that they don’t want her to tell him…secrets, the way the detectives look away from Uncle Charlie as he walks by but that their heads turn and watch him walk down the road and then they follow him, the way they both put their hands into their pockets to infer that a gun might be there.


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 moody sounds that start the scene where Uncle Charlie is on his bed and then how the music changes as the different events happen in the scene and the music fits what Uncle Charlie is thinking and what he is going to do.  …1.  The discussion with the landlady. 2. When he walks to the window to look for the detectives. 3. The change in music to The Merry Widow Waltz when Uncle Charlie is thinking about the murder.  4. The crescendo when Uncle Charlie decides to get his things and lead the detectives on a merry chase. 


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I don't know if this Daily Dose is the appropriate place for this, but I had a question about Shadow of a Doubt. Am I correct in thinking that this is the only Hitchcock film that features a teenager as the protagonist?

 

It seems entirely appropriate that young Charlie is, well, young, as opposed to other Hitchcock leading actresses. The theme that runs through the movie about the journey from innocence to experience is especially well-suited for a teen. She is not just learning about the existence of evil in people and places she previously thought were bright and good; there is also a creepy undercurrent of awakening sexual awareness between her and her uncle. He gives her a ring and tells her they share the same blood.

 

The signature scene for me in this film (which is probably my favorite of all Hitchcock's films) is when Uncle Charlie forces her into the bar. As they descend the stairs she says "I've never been to a place like this before." She has a ginger ale and Uncle Charlie has a double brandy; she looks like she's going to be sick while Uncle Charlie expounds at length about his disgust with the world she thinks she is part of. Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie are doubles, but there is also Young Charlie's double in the part of the bar maid she knows from school. The bar maid's performance seems jaded and disillusioned with life, as if maybe she had an Uncle Charlie of her own.

 

Joseph Cotten's speech in the bar and his earlier speech at the dinner table as so completely bleak, and it is that dark, dark world view that I think makes this the most noirish of Hitchcock's films.

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