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Top 5 Hitchcock films


konway87
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What is everyone's opinion on The Birds?

 

Bird was also an old term for "woman." Birds can be seen or mentioned in films like Blackmail, Young and Innocent, The Lady Vanishes, Shadow of A Doubt, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, and many other Hitchcock films.

 

I think "The Birds" also shows the revolt of women. Melanie dislikes her mother. And Mitch's mother don't want to lose Mitch. Mitch also brings up a case about a man who shot his wife, because she changed the channel.

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What is everyone's opinion on The Birds?

 

I like (don't love) The Birds for its eerie atmosphere (sound design plays a major role), special effects, and "Melanie Daniels" (Tippi Hedren).

 

The entire feel of The Birds is what really pulls me in. The lack of a score makes the film seem more realistic to me. It makes the sound of birds gathering quite ominous. I also like the "sound" of silence. Silence always makes me feel the moment. It places me in the film. Music scores tend to be more manipulative in comparison. They often tell us how to feel.

 

What I really like about "Melanie Daniels" is that she starts off as a stubborn, selfish society girl who believes she has all the answers and she won't take "no" for an answer. Everything is so perfectly in place with her and she's got to have everything her way. But as the film progresses, we soon realize there's more to Melanie and I believe she also starts to learn there is more for her. She begins to realize what's really important to her the most... Mitch.

 

The Birds is the middle installment of Hitch's "Mother" trilogy. Melanie Daniels not only has to overcome Mitch's mother to be with Mitch, she also has to overcome "Mother Nature."

 

I'll try to break down the film tomorrow night. What's the key component to the film? Believe it or not, it's this:

 

thebirds46.jpg

 

Uh-huh. Lovebirds. By the way, I love the cap above because the closed caption of "engine revving" speaks volumes as does seeing Melanie with the "pedal to the metal." It's just too perfect. Ahhh, Melanie Daniels. You gotta love a gal who just goes for it.

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I love The Birds! And I think that scene in the car with the little love birds leaning side to side is so hilarious! It reminds me of the drive on the Corniche in To Catch a Thief.

 

By the way, can anyone tell me what kind of car it is that Melanie drives? I love it and want one just like that.

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Have you seen the Special Features on the Universal collection edition of *The Birds* ? They are among the best of any movie I've seen, especially the interviews and the storyboard breakdown of key scenes. The work that went into making this picture is truly remarkable. The director and production staff were true artists.

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Instead of analyzing The Birds in its entirety in one post, I thought I'd break it down into segments.

 

A lot of people view The Birds as being just a special effects thriller that sees nature attack humanity. On the surface, it's very much this, but underneath, you will find a film about love and the outside forces (HUMAN nature) it sometimes has to battle to survive.

 

thebirds74.jpg

 

thebirds75.jpg

 

Hitchcock lets us know right off the bat where we are headed with The Birds:

 

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren): Have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?

 

Mrs. MacGruder (Ruth McDevitt): There must be a storm at sea. That can drive them inland, you know.

 

Yeah, there's a "storm" at sea, all right. The storm is Melanie's impending love and all that comes with it.

 

This takes us into a very interesting exchange between Melanie and Mrs. MacGruder.

 

Mrs. MacGruder: I was hoping you'd be a little late. He hasn't arrived yet.

 

Melanie Daniels: But you said 3:00.

 

Mrs. MacGruder: Oh, I know. I know. I've been calling all morning. Oh, Miss Daniels, you have no idea. They are so difficult to get. Really, they are. We have to get them from India when they're baby chicks, and then --

 

Melanie Daniels: This one won't be a chick, will he?

 

Mrs. MacGruder: Oh, no, certainly not. This will be a full-grown mynah. Full grown.

 

Melanie Daniels: And he'll talk?

 

Mrs. MacGruder: Well, yes, of course he'll... well, no, you'll have to teach him to talk.

 

Even though it seems rather clear that Mrs. MacGruder is talking about a mynah bird, her words make you feel as it she is talking about Melanie's "man." The exchange finishes with this:

 

thebirds48.jpg

 

Melanie is used to having things delivered to her. She'll have to change her ways if she's to find what she's looking for.

 

Enter Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), Melanie's man.

 

Mitch Brenner: I wonder if you could help me.

 

Melanie Daniels: What?

 

Yeah, I think Melanie can help ol' Mitch... and vice versa.

 

thebirds49.jpg

 

thebirds50.jpg

 

Mitch Brenner: I said, I wonder if you could help me.

 

Melanie Daniels: Yes, what is it you're looking for, sir?

 

Mitch Brenner: Lovebirds.

 

Melanie Daniels: Lovebirds, sir?

 

Mitch Brenner: Yes. I understand there are different varieties. Is that true?

 

Melanie Daniels: Well, yes, there are.

 

Uh-huh. There are different varieties of loving couples. From here, Mitch talks about his wants from his woman.

 

Mitch Brenner: Well, these are for my sister for her birthday, and as she's only gonna be 11, I wouldn't want a pair of birds that were... too demonstrative.

 

Melanie Daniels: I understand completely.

 

Mitch Brenner: At the same time, I wouldn't want them to be too aloof, either.

 

Melanie Daniels: No, of course not.

 

Mitch Brenner: Do you happen to have a pair of birds that are... just friendly?

 

Melanie Daniels: Oh, I think so.

 

Mitch is telling Melanie his situation and the kind of woman he needs in his situation. He's got an 11-year-old sister that he cares about, so he's not looking for a woman just to have sex with, but he doesn't want his woman to be "too aloof." What guy does? Mitch wants/needs a woman who will be friendly to his sister and...

 

We will soon learn that Mitch knows who Melanie is and that he knows she is pretending to be something she is not. He will call her out on it. This is something Melanie does not appreciate because she feels as if she has been used. The only using she's familiar with is her using of others, especially her father. She doesn't like being on the other side of the fence.

 

thebirds61.jpg

 

Melanie Daniels: Hey, wait a minute. I don't know you.

 

Mitch Brenner: Ah, but I know you.

 

Melanie Daniels: How?

 

Mitch Brenner: We met in court.

 

Melanie Daniels: We never met in court or anyplace else.

 

Mitch Brenner: That's true. I'll rephrase it. I saw you in court.

 

Melanie Daniels: When?

 

Mitch Brenner: Don't you remember one of your practical jokes that resulted in the smashing of a plate glass window?

 

Melanie Daniels: I didn't break that window.

 

Mitch Brenner: Yes, but your little prank did. The judge should have put you behind bars.

 

Melanie Daniels: What are you, a policeman?

 

Mitch Brenner: I merely believe in the law. And I'm not too keen on practical jokers.

 

Melanie Daniels: Well, what do you call your lovebird story --

 

Mitch Brenner: Oh, I really wanted the lovebirds.

 

Melanie Daniels: Well, you knew I didn't work here. You deliberately --

 

Mitch Brenner: Right. I recognized you when I came in. I just thought you might like to know what it's like to be on the other end of a gag. What do you think of that?

 

Melanie Daniels: I think you're a louse.

 

Mitch Brenner: I am. Good day, Miss Daniels. Madam. (Acknowledging Mrs. MacGruder.)

 

Melanie Daniels: And I'm glad you didn't get your lovebirds.

 

Mitch Brenner: Oh, I'll find something else.

 

The above exchange has set the stage for our film and the following line kicks it off:

 

Mitch Brenner: See you in court.

 

thebirds63.jpg

 

It's not the court of law but the court of love where Mitch and Melanie are to meet. I believe the primary theme of The Birds is courtship. Melanie Daniels believes she's the one in control of her love destiny, but her eyes are about to be opened.

 

Mitch has done something not many men (especially Daddy) have ever done to Melanie: he stood up to her. He smacked her back. Her initial reaction to this is disgust. That reaction would soon be replaced by great curiosity. Melanie loves the challenge of Mitch.

 

thebirds64.jpg

 

thebirds65.jpg

 

thebirds66.jpg

 

I just love that Melanie decides to sprint after Mitch. This is the first example of a love burst in The Birds. It will be done by both Melanie and Mitch.

 

Melanie does not catch up to Mitch, but she does take down his license plate number. She would immediately call a "friend" at her father's newspaper to help track down the owner of the car. She would then ask Mrs. MacGruder:

 

thebirds67.jpg

 

With lovebirds in hand, Melanie would go to Mitch's apartment. Mitch is not in, so Melanie decides to leave the lovebirds along with a note outside his door.

 

I love Melanie's "air of confidence" here. She thinks she's in complete control.

 

thebirds77.jpg

 

thebirds78.jpg

 

thebirds76.jpg

 

A neighbor notices Melanie leaving the lovebirds outside of Mitch's apartment and informs her that Mitch is gone for the weekend. This leads to this interesting exchange:

 

Melanie Daniels: Well, where did he go?

 

Neighbor: Bodega Bay. He goes there every weekend.

 

Melanie Daniels: Bodega Bay. Where's that?

 

Neighbor: Up the coast, about 60 miles north of here.

 

Melanie Daniels: Sixty mi... oh!

 

Neighbor: It's an hour and a half by freeway, or two hours if you take the Coast Highway.

 

Melanie's reaction to hearing Mitch is 60 miles away from her. Priceless.

 

thebirds68.jpg

 

Contemplation... done quick.

 

thebirds69.jpg

 

Melanie's not going to get her way. She's not getting her man delivered right to the house. If she really wants to find out about her man, she's gonna have to go the extra 60 miles. How much does this Mitch guy intrigue her?

 

thebirds46.jpg

 

thebirds70.jpg

 

thebirds71.jpg

 

Once again, Melanie hits the love burst. She floors it. Tires screeching and engine revving! Yeah, her engine is definitely revvin'. We're off to Bodega Bay.

 

 

I also wanted to add that Hitchcock's cameo appearance has him walking two dogs, so the couple theme is very much front and center at the outset.

 

thebirds79.jpg

 

I find it humorous that there's a portrait of Hitch's two dogs in the background in this shot.

 

thebirds66.jpg

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A Warm Hitch Good Evening, Miss G -- Thanks! I'll try to post some more either later tonight or tomorrow night.

 

And I think that scene in the car with the little love birds leaning side to side is so hilarious! It reminds me of the drive on the Corniche in To Catch a Thief.

 

You are very correct.

 

I believe To Catch a Thief to also be a "courtship" film. The biggest difference between the two films is the prospective mothers-in-law.

 

 

By the way, can anyone tell me what kind of car it is that Melanie drives? I love it and want one just like that.

 

:D

 

I don't know what make of car Melanie drives.

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Brilliant Observations, Frank. I never noticed any of these great informations about The Birds. I also agree about mynah bird - her words make you feel as it she is talking about Melanie's "man."

 

There was a case Mitch mentions in The Birds. Its about a man who shot his wife just because she changed the channel. Do you think this has anything to do with Birds?

 

I am glad you are going to post more informations about The Birds tomorrow.

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Hey, Konway! -- Brilliant Observations, Frank.

 

Thanks!

 

I never noticed any of these great informations about The Birds.

 

That's saying a lot since you are the one who often points out things in Hitch films that I have never noticed.

 

I also agree about mynah bird - her words make you feel as it she is talking about Melanie's "man."

 

The dialogue is very offbeat. Mrs. MacGruder doesn't say, "your bird hasn't arrived yet," she says, "he hasn't arrived yet." He?

 

And this is classic humor to me:

 

"Melanie Daniels: And he'll talk?

 

Mrs. MacGruder: Well, yes, of course he'll... well, no, you'll have to teach him to talk."

 

Guys need to be taught had to "talk." :D

 

There was a case Mitch mentions in The Birds. Its about a man who shot his wife just because she changed the channel. Do you think this has anything to do with Birds?

 

I actually think that line is all about Hitch's twisted, dark humor. American guys take their sports and remote controls quite serious. Deadly serious.

 

I am glad you are going to post more informations about The Birds tomorrow.

 

I'm gonna try to post something later tonight.

 

Hiya, Dobbsy! -- I almost fell off my perch.

 

:) I like that one.

 

You describe a movie plot better than Charlie Chan did at the end of each of his movies.

 

Thanks! That's a wonderful compliment.

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I actually left *Rebecca* out of my Top 5 not because it isn't a favorite (it's a HUGE favorite) but because I feel it is in many ways more David's movie than Hitch. I am in the minority in that I would NOT have been happy had Hitch had his own way and changed the story around to make his own vision of the movie. I am glad David made him stick to the story because it is one of my favorite novels of all time (I read it every time I go on a long holiday :) ).

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I won't say its a Selznick film, because Daphe Du Maurier insisted Selznick that the film be faithful to the novel. Daphne Du Maurier was very sad about the film version of Jamaica Inn (1939). But Hitchcock hated Jamaica Inn (1939) too.

 

So she insisted David that the film be faithful to the novel. Due to the censorship, the death of Rebecca turned into an accident. So David O. Selznick sent an apology to Daphne Du Maurier about the changes in the film.

 

But I think Hitchcock did get lots of things he wanted in the film. For Example, the scene where Mrs. de Winter and Maxim watching their Honeymoon was actually Hitchcock's idea. According to the Book "Its only a Movie", David O. Selznick wanted the smoke from the burning Manderley to spell out a huge R. Alfred Hitchcock thought the touch lacked any subtlety. When Selznick was preoccupied by Gone with the Wind (1939), Hitchcock was able to replace the smoky R with the burning of a monogrammed lingerie case. He also edited the picture in the camera, a method of filmmaking that didn't allow Selznick to re-edit the picture.

 

I think Hitchcock called Rebecca "A Period Piece." I think Hitchcock's only complaint was the film is lacking humor.

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Hi Konway,

 

Well, David did have a proven track record of not monkeying with novels that were well beloved and I do think that is why he was the ideal producer of DuMaurier's extremely popular story. I know the book inside and out and am very happy with the result, as was the audience of the day. As for the humor, It's a Gothic, Jane-Eyrian story so too many laughs would throw it off balance. I just don't know where Hitch would place the laughs. The book has more humor though, than the movie, but not the kind that is easy to film.

 

Hitchcock liked to just take the germ of a story idea and build his own movie around it---which I think is sensational, but not the best idea for a work so well known and with such built in expectations by the audience. Better off going with more obscure stories which is basically what Hitch did splendidly the rest of his career.

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I agree that film was great, because Daphne Du Maurier and David O. Selznick wanted the film faithful to the novel. But I think we should also consider Hitchcock's contributions. Hitchcock's direction was brilliant. That's one reason why the film is delightful to watch. And Hitchcock replaced Selznick's weak ending with his ending.

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The meditative horror that is built up in the silent sequences (no one, but no one, who hasn't begun directing silents can craft a scene without dialogue as effectively) is one of the best examples of its kind in any of Hitch's films. I wish more people appreciated Rebecca, in fact, for I feel it is often neglected when his early Hollywood films are discussed. I prefer it about a thousand times to Saboteur, for instance.

 

The Criterion release is one of the finest in their entire catalogue and I think past due for a reissue.

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Well, you have my support. I highly appreciate Rebecca. I think Saboteur (1942) is a great film. But Rebecca is better. Saboteur had problems especially in the scripting process. Hitchcock hired Dorothy Parker to write the screenplay. Hitchcock didn't like it, because of the propaganda elements in it. Only few scenes in Saboteur (1942) are written by Dorothy Parker. The scene with Circus Caravans were written by Dorothy Parker.

 

After that, Hitchcock was looking for writer like Ben Hecht. In the end, Hitchcock got Peter Viertel as the writer. Peter Viertel and Joan Harrison wrote the final script for the film. Hitchcock wasn't completely satisfied with the script. But he had no choice.

 

Hitchcock wasn't also satisfied with casting. He wanted Gary Cooper or Henry Fonda for the leading role. Gary Cooper wasn't interested and Henry Fonda was unavailable. So Hitchcock tried to get Joel McCrea. But Joel McCrea was working on another project. So the role finally went to Robert Cummings.

 

Hitchcock wanted Barbara Stanwyck or Margaret Sullavan for the leading role. But Barbara Stanwyck wasn't interested in playing the leading role. So Hitchcock decided to get Margaret Sullavan. But Universal casted Priscilla Lane for the film. That made Hitchcock angry. But he decided to work with her.

 

I think Hitchcock always wanted to work with Margaret Sullavan. But he never got the chance to work with her.

 

Anyway, Did you notice any similarities between Rebecca and Citizen Kane?

 

1) Manderley and Xanadu

2) Ending

3) Rebecca and Charles Foster Kane

4) Camera Shots

 

But this is just my opinion.

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I think the main problem I have with *Saboteur* is the casting, which you bring up. Any of those other choices would have delighted me (especially Coop). I am no fan of Robert Cummings and though I like Priscilla Lane I do not love her or find her fascinating. Both performers are a little too much on the ordinary side to hold my interest. And so they make someone like Otto Kruger seem inordinately more attractive! And even the blind man who plays Priscilla's father fascinates me ever so much more than either of the leads.

 

Coop should have worked with Hitch. Oh my! My mind reels with the possibilities. I can imagine Hitch delighting in putting dear, decent Gary Cooper in so many difficult situations, knowing the audience would be agonizing until he got himself out of them.

 

Similarities between *Rebecca* and Citizen Kane? No, I hadn't even thought about it. But how intriguing! Now you make me want to sit through that abominable film again just for this. :D Of course, I'm just being inflammatory. I don't think it's abominable in the least though ChiO refuses to believe it. Can you give me some more specifics, so that I can look for them? Thanks!

 

*Manderly*

manderly-burned.jpg

 

*Xanadu*

welles_o_kane3b.jpg

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I always wanted to see Margaret Sullavan in a Hitchcock film. Sadly, it never happened. But she was brilliant in The Shop around the Corner. And Lubitsch considered The Shop around the

Corner as the best film he ever made in his life.

 

I uploaded in this link a Powerpoint Presentation about similarities between Citizen Kane and Rebecca.

 

http://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=download&ufid=ECBA8FBA4A7857E6

 

The Characters "Charles Foster Kane" and "Rebecca" are similar in one main subject - They both have possessiveness.

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Bonjour, Mademoiselle G -- I am glad David made him stick to the story

because it is one of my favorite novels of all time (I read it every time I go on a long holiday).

 

I sure hope you start reading Rebecca in a day or two because some of us really

could use a holiday from... uhhh, more tea, me lady?

 

By the way, these long holidays you speak of, are they mental? If they are not, you

must be traveling alone or your company is a complete bore. And if your company isn't

the bore, then YOU must be the snore. Why the heck are you reading novels on a holiday?

 

I think the main problem I have with Saboteur is the casting, which you bring up. Any

of those other choices would have delighted me (especially Coop). I am no fan of Robert

Cummings and though I like Priscilla Lane I do not love her or find her fascinating. Both

performers are a little too much on the ordinary side to hold my interest.

 

Robert Cummings is a very ordinary actor to me and this is why I don't completely love

Saboteur. I really like Priscilla Lane's spunk in Saboteur. My fondness for her

performance has grown with repeat viewings.

 

And so they make someone like Otto Kruger seem inordinately more attractive!

 

I completely agree with you. Hey! That actually felt good! I must be getting sick.

 

Otto Kruger's "Charles Tobin" is one of the best Hitch villains of all time. Kruger plays

suave evil to near perfection.

 

And even the blind man who plays Priscilla's father fascinates me ever so much more

than either of the leads.

 

Yet more agreement.

 

Coop should have worked with Hitch. Oh my! My mind reels with the possibilities. I can imagine Hitch delighting in putting dear, decent Gary Cooper in so many difficult situations,

knowing the audience would be agonizing until he got himself out of them.

 

That holiday cannot come fast enough.

 

Similarities between Rebecca and Citizen Kane? No, I hadn't even thought about it. But

how intriguing! Now you make me want to sit through that abominable film again just for

this. Of course, I'm just being inflammatory. I don't think it's abominable in the least

though ChiO refuses to believe it.

 

ChiO ain't the only one who doesn't believe it. He's the only who counts. ;)

 

(no one, but no one, who hasn't begun directing silents can craft a scene without

dialogue as effectively)

 

That's high praise from you, Fordy Guns.

 

I wish more people appreciated Rebecca, in fact, for I feel it is often neglected when

his early Hollywood films are discussed. I prefer it about a thousand times to Saboteur,

for instance.

 

I'm in the Rebecca is good not great camp. I prefer Saboteur. Rebecca

just doesn't feel like a true Hitch story to me. The film is very Hitchcockian, but the story

isn't. Laurence Olivier doesn't work for me in a Hitch film. I do love Joan Fontaine's

performance, though. She's put through the emotional wringer.

 

Wonderful photos!

 

FYI, The 39 Steps is on at 7:30 A.M. today and one of the worst films ever made

is on at 5:45 P.M. today. My VCR committed suicide just at the mention of taping the

film, Laziest Gal in Town.

 

 

Hey, Konway -- I've never considered the connection between Rebecca

and Citizen Kane but I do see some similarities.

 

I will continue with The Birds later tonight.

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