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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: Groggy on February 01, 2009, 03:24:20 PM



Title: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 01, 2009, 03:24:20 PM
I didn't see a thread pertaining to all of Hitch's oeuvre, and only a few on specific films, but given the frequency of discussion on his works I think he deserves his own thread.

My ratings of the 22 of his films that I've seen to date:

The 39 Steps - 7/10
Rebecca - 8/10
Shadow of a Doubt - 9/10
Notorious - 8/10
The Paradine Case - 5/10
Rope - 9/10
Strangers on a Train - 9/10 (might be a 10 if the acting was better)
Dial M For Murder - 6/10 (haven't seen it in forever though)
Rear Window - 8/10
To Catch a Thief - 6/10
The Trouble With Harry - 5/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much - 6/10
Vertigo - 7/10
North By Northwest - 8/10
Psycho - 8/10
The Birds - 8/10
Marnie - 8/10
Torn Curtain - 4/10
Topaz - 7/10
Frenzy - 9/10

My top five would be:
Strangers on a Train
Rope
Frenzy
Shadow of a Doubt
Psycho


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: The Firecracker on February 01, 2009, 04:36:17 PM
Top Five

North By NorthWest
The Birds
Vertigo
Rope
Rear Window


Psycho hasn't aged all that well.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on February 01, 2009, 04:44:54 PM
Vertigo - 10/10
North By Northwest - 9/10 (would have been an easy 10 without these last and pointless 20 minutes)
Rear Window - 8/10
Psycho - 7/10 (but i would have said 10/10 when it was released)

The rest of his work has not aged so well either... Still one of the greatest and most inspiring directors of all times, needless to say.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 01, 2009, 07:05:09 PM
This guy need his own board, not a measly thread. Well, here goes (in reverse chronological order)

Family Plot 7/10
Frenzy 8/10
Topaz 6/10
Torn Curtain 4/10
Marnie 9/10
The Birds 9/10
Psycho 5/10
NxNW 10/10
Vertigo 11/10
The Wrong Man 8/10
The Trouble With Harry 2/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10
To Catch a Thief 9/10
Rear Window 10/10
Dial M for Murder 8/10
I Confess 5/10
Strangers on a Train 9/10
Stage Fright 4/10
Under Capricorn 8/10
Rope 9/10
The Paradine Case 3/10
Notorious 7/10
Spellbound 6/10
Lifeboat 8/10
Shadow of a Doubt 3/10
Saboteur 6/10
Suspicion 8/10
Foreign Correspondent 7/10
Rebecca 9/10
Jamaica Inn ?
The Lady Vanishes 9/10
Young and Innocent 7/10
Secret Agent 6/10
Sabotage 5/10
The 39 Steps 10/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10

Further back than that I don't much care  . . .


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 01, 2009, 07:20:07 PM
Psycho hasn't aged all that well.
The problem is with the script's construction. The first time through, when you don't know the solution to the mystery, the second half holds your interest, but only until the solution is revealed, and then never again (and no one is likely to ever forget the solution). With repeated viewings, the first half continues to be a beautifully developed bit of cinema that can be enjoyed for a number of reasons (including Bernard Herrmann's top-notch score), but after the central murder, the whole thing defaults to Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Motion Picture (in fact, Hitchcock shot Psycho with his TV crew, not his usual film crew). The central murder takes the only character we care about out of the film--and this is fatal in more ways than one.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on February 01, 2009, 07:35:41 PM
The central murder takes the only character we care about out of the film--and this is fatal in more ways than one.

Strongly disagree!
Yves Lavandier in "Dramaturgie" makes a brilliant analyse about this. The point is the movie switches protagonist about two time (whereas regular movie only have ONE protagonist). At the begining we're with the girl (and yes, beautiful cinematography here, perfect score... very poetic sequences IMO). Then she's murdered. After that we have a ten minutes scene in which our sympathy/attention is transfered to Norman: the cleaning scene. Hitchcock is very careful to create plenty of very little conflicts (is he going to forget the clean this part? that part? what about the money? He forgot it! oh no he didn't). That's what make us care about Bates, according to Lavandier. And I agree. Where the movie aged, IMO, is when we switch again: the protagonist become two people (the sister and the boyfriend). 1) That part is very unoriginal 2) the transition is not carefully prepared, we have absolutly no reason to care about these people. Of course the master of suspens introduces great... suspens, which make it more than watchable on the first time. But after repeated viewings, this is the part that suffers most (whereas the first part grows).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: The Firecracker on February 01, 2009, 09:17:28 PM
The problem is with the script's construction. The first time through, when you don't know the solution to the mystery, the second half holds your interest, but only until the solution is revealed, and then never again (and no one is likely to ever forget the solution)

That and the fact that when I saw it I already knew all the surprises from countless spoilers.
Just goes to show spoilers should always remain secrets even after the film has been part of pop culture for nearly 60 years.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 01, 2009, 09:38:19 PM
Yves Lavandier in "Dramaturgie" makes a brilliant analyse about this. The point is the movie switches protagonist about two time (whereas regular movie only have ONE protagonist). At the begining we're with the girl (and yes, beautiful cinematography here, perfect score... very poetic sequences IMO). Then she's murdered. After that we have a ten minutes scene in which our sympathy/attention is transfered to Norman: the cleaning scene. Hitchcock is very careful to create plenty of very little conflicts (is he going to forget the clean this part? that part? what about the money? He forgot it! oh no he didn't). That's what make us care about Bates, according to Lavandier.
(Actually, he doesn't know about the money. One of the ironies is he throws the money away without knowing what it is.)

No, this is just Hitchcock up to his usual tricks. In Strangers on a Train we have the very suspenseful sequence where Robert Walker loses the lighter in the drain and is trying to retrieve it. He needs to get it and plant it as evidence against Farley Granger before Granger can stop him. Meanwhile, Granger is in a tennis match that he is hurrying to finish so he can go after Walker. Through some great intercutting we go back and forth between the two men: tension builds, will Walker get the lighter in time? Perversely, we find ourselves rooting for him, even though he's the bad guy. The master has played us once again.

But our "sympathies", such as they are, are only provisionally tendered. After the sequence, when our reason is allowed to operate freely again, we are no more sympathetic to Walker than we've ever been. We still want Granger to exonerate himself and we still want to see Walker punished.

Hitchcock was very good at transferring our sympathies to unworthy characters, but he could only do it temporarily. The example of Bates cleaning up the motel room you cite is about as good as that kind of thing gets, but we never come anywhere near to lavishing on Norman the empathy we gave to Marion. In fact, after the scene, we realize that he is now an accessory to murder (at least), and so must be punished. Norman is too odd to have all our sympathy, anyway; that is established in the very good office scene between Bates and Marion with the stuffed birds overhead. That scene does two things (the best written scene in the movie): it establishes without qualification that there is an obvious nut-case in the room, and it solidifies our feelings for Marion (because she can sympathize with the obvious nut-case in the room). We share that sympathy, but it is a guarded sympathy. We can never give our sympathies entirely over to someone so psychologically damaged (unless we ourselves are so damaged). Norman is at no time a contender for the lead in the picture.

Hitchcock attempts to transfer our lead-character sympathies to Vera Miles, but it doesn't work. There is a big hole in the picture after Marion's departure, and it is not successfully filled by anyone.

Lavandier, whom I haven't read, appears to be overthinking the problem. The failure is one of simple dramaturgy. There is an unwritten rule that the protagonist must continue to the end of the play/film, one that Hitchcock disregarded so as to get one of the most effective shocks ever in cinema. But it turns out that the unwritten rule was in place for a very good reason: there's not much to propel the story forward if the protagonist is no longer around. The only solution would have been to introduce a new protagonist, which AH tried to do unsuccessfully. Perhaps he could have pulled it off if he'd spent more time building up the Vera Miles character. But then he'd have had pacing problems . . .  perhaps the problem can't be fixed.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 01, 2009, 09:44:29 PM
That and the fact that when I saw it I already knew all the surprises from countless spoilers.
Just goes to show spoilers should always remain secrets even after the film has been apart of pop culture for nearly 60 years.
How, how, how can this ever be enforced?

Anyway, I disagree. The great films can survive spoilers, just as all the great works of literature can. Does anyone go to see Oedipus Rex to find out how it turns out? Or to Hamlet? Even back in the day, when you went to a play billed as a tragedy you knew in advance, more or less, how it would end.

The great works are spoiler-proof. Which leads to a simple litmus test: if spoilers truly spoil, then maybe the film wasn't all that great to begin with?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: The Firecracker on February 01, 2009, 09:48:49 PM
How, how, how can this ever be enforced?


I'm not saying it can be I'm just saying it should be.


Anyway, I disagree. The great films can survive spoilers, just as all the great works of literature can. Does anyone go to see Oedipus Rex to find out how it turns out? Or to Hamlet? Even back in the day, when you went to a play billed as a tragedy you knew in advance, more or less, how it would end.

The great works are spoiler-proof. Which leads to a simple litmus test: if spoilers truly spoil, then maybe the film wasn't all that great to begin with?

100% agree.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on February 01, 2009, 11:03:51 PM
Hitchcock was very good at transferring our sympathies to unworthy characters, but he could only do it temporarily.

Still disagree. Or i should say: ok for the sympathies, but i only used this word to be clear. You don't have to offer your sympathies to a protagonist. He can be a great protagonist without that. The right word would be empathy. The fact that somebody experiences what Lavandier call a "conflict" is usually enough. Of course the guy is supposed to be the one with the biggest "conflict", and the movie has to be showed from his standpoint. I tend to agree with that (even if empathy is easier to give to a character that already has one's sympathies). This is why, once again, the movie perfectly works for me until the last transfer.

I don't think the problem is here "overthought", it convince me. Furthermore, I kind of remember that the Master of Suspens confirmed (without refering to Lavandier of course) that in the book "Hitchcock/Truffaut" (which happens to be the Best Cinema Book Ever)... I don't have that book with me right now so if nobody has it we'll have to wait until i go back home (where I have it) in a few months.

You should read Lavandier, by the way, his book is very interesting. I don't 100% agree on everything, and some of his references are... embarassing (Francis Veber   :D ).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on February 01, 2009, 11:09:25 PM
The great works are spoiler-proof. Which leads to a simple litmus test: if spoilers truly spoil, then maybe the film wasn't all that great to begin with?

Yes but:

1) Viewing a great movie in a bad context can ruin the movie forever. Usualy it only ruins it for that viewing, but sometimes, you know, you always link the movie and the context of the first time you saw it. So when a stupid guy tells you the ending at the moment when you're buying your ticket, then you have a bad context.

2) The fact that a movie is "spoilerproof" doesn't mean that it is a good idea to spoil everything before seeing it. I know no one has told that here, but still, I hear too often the reasoning "if this is a good movie then i can spoil it to you", which is completly crazy.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 01, 2009, 11:34:30 PM
Still disagree. Or i should say: ok for the sympathies, but i only used this word to be clear. You don't have to offer your sympathies to a protagonist. He can be a great protagonist without that. The right word would be empathy. The fact that somebody experiences what Lavandier call a "conflict" is usually enough. Of course the guy is supposed to be the one with the biggest "conflict", and the movie has to be showed from his standpoint.
This overlooks the fact that Hitchcock is at pains to reassert conventional morality by the end of each of his films. Therefore he doesn't choose protagonists who are criminals. In a film we naturally lend our empathy to whomever the protagonist is (his conflict is 'biggest" merely because it seems so to him/us). What Lavandier says may have a general application, but it misses the specifics of Hitchcock. AH will manipulate audience sympathy/empathy/identification (the semanticshere interests me not at all) with the villain's only temporarily; at the end, we are squarely behind the conventional hero/heroine who has, perhaps after a sojourn in hell, returned to be reintegrated into society. Psycho departs from this pattern, but only slightly: the final image is not of Norman Bates (who continues to creep us out), but of Marion's car being pulled from the swamp. The car is a marker for the missing girl, and evokes in us the sense of her absence, which we suddenly feel keenly. We are reminded that there really was a character in this film to care about, but she's been gone for 50 minutes.

Throw the books away, N_L. Just respond to what's up there on the screen.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on February 02, 2009, 12:08:24 AM
Throw the books away, N_L. Just respond to what's up there on the screen.

These books are usueful to make movies. I also use them to explain why I like/dislike something, but that doesn't change what I feel in front of the movie, don't worry...


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 02, 2009, 06:07:57 AM
Actually, I use books a lot too. I agree with you, the viewing experience is primary. That's why we need to watch important films like those of Hitchcock and Leone 2 or 3 dozen times before we make up our minds about them.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on February 02, 2009, 07:37:14 AM
This guy need his own board, not a measly thread. Well, here goes (in reverse chronological order)

Family Plot 7/10
Frenzy 8/10
Topaz 6/10
Torn Curtain 4/10
Marnie 9/10
The Birds 9/10
Psycho 5/10
NxNW 10/10
Vertigo 11/10
The Wrong Man 8/10
The Trouble With Harry 2/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10
To Catch a Thief 9/10
Rear Window 10/10
Dial M for Murder 8/10
I Confess 5/10
Strangers on a Train 9/10
Stage Fright 4/10
Under Capricorn 8/10
Rope 9/10
The Paradine Case 3/10
Notorious 7/10
Spellbound 6/10
Lifeboat 8/10
Shadow of a Doubt 3/10
Saboteur 6/10
Suspicion 8/10
Foreign Correspondent 7/10
Rebecca 9/10
Jamaica Inn ?
The Lady Vanishes 9/10
Young and Innocent 7/10
Secret Agent 6/10
Sabotage 5/10
The 39 Steps 10/10 ;D
The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10

Further back than that I don't much care  . . .


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 02, 2009, 09:15:39 AM
Psycho hasn't aged all that well.

I'd have to disagree although it's been ages since I've seen it, so allow that to qualify my opinion. I don't think my knowing the twist(s) going in really affected my liking of the film, as I thought it was great. The film would pass your criteria for me, then.

For me, the film worked primarily from direction and the fine performance of Anthony Perkins. He deserves all the credit he gets for this particular performance; he makes Norman an extremely sympathetic and believable character, and knowing that he's the murderer actually enhances the performance/character for me. The movie drags a bit in the middle section but after Arbogast's murder it picks back up again afterwards. The ending with the psychologist strikes a false note but it's not a fatal blow.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 02, 2009, 04:57:32 PM
IMDB Post which may be of interest:
http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/board/nest/120977094 (http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/board/nest/120977094)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on February 03, 2009, 01:27:03 AM
The 39 Steps - 7/10 can't remember much though
Secret Agent - 7/10
Young and Innocent - 6/10
Suspicion - 8/10
Shadow of a Doubt - 8/10
Strangers on a Train - 10/10
Rear Window - 9/10
To Catch a Thief - 7/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much - 7/10
Vertigo - 10/10
North by Northwest - 9/10
Psycho - 6/10
The Birds - 8/10
Marnie - 7/10
That's fourteen, for the time being. One I'm most interested to see now is Rope.

The top 5:
Strangers on a Train
Vertigo
Rear Window
North by Northwest
Shadow of a Doubt


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: cigar joe on February 03, 2009, 04:19:30 AM
My ratings of the 22 of his films that I've seen to date:

The 39 Steps - 6/10
Rebecca - 6/10
Notorious - 7/10
The Paradine Case - 5/10
Rope - 8/10
Dial M For Murder - 6/10
Rear Window - 8/10
To Catch a Thief - 5/10
The Trouble With Harry - 5/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much - 7/10
Strangers on a Train 8/10
Vertigo - 8/10
North By Northwest - 9/10
Psycho - 8/10
The Birds - 5/10
Marnie - 7/10
Torn Curtain - 4/10
Topaz - 6/10
Frenzy - 8/10



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 03, 2009, 09:58:17 AM
I don't know how it's possible CJ, but we've seen the exact same films. :o


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on February 03, 2009, 12:28:59 PM
Rope - 7\10 (humor? Where?)
Lifeboat - 8\10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 03, 2009, 01:25:03 PM
Rope - 7\10 (humor? Where?)
Obviously it doesn't come across in the Italian dub. You're missing half the film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on February 03, 2009, 01:32:53 PM
Obviously it doesn't come across in the Italian dub. You're missing half the film.

Your're missing the fact I told you I would have watched the dvd. These characters strive so much for clever talk to result irritating. Stewart is simply untolerable (he, an intellectual, with those sibilating "s"'s?). I presume you watched it long time ago.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 03, 2009, 06:53:26 PM
Stewart's is a secondary character. The humor is coming out of the mouth of John Dall.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on February 04, 2009, 04:02:33 AM
Yes, but it is exactly the kind of "humor" (I'd rather define it an aggressive banter) you'd expect from his character; and the lines are telephoned. Stewart isn't a secondary character, rather a co-protagonist. And his "funny" lines are as lame as Dall's.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 04, 2009, 05:44:53 AM
I like his twitting of Mrs. Atwater, though. Titoli, do us all a favor, go out and buy yourself a sense of humor.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on February 04, 2009, 06:59:46 AM
Titoli, do us all a favor, go out and buy yourself a sense of humor.

That's exactly the kind of line that I find sucking and that makes you laugh.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 04, 2009, 09:05:55 AM
Titoli doesn't even know what humor is. :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 04, 2009, 09:17:04 AM
Jinkies, I'd note that your ratings of these movies seem wildly inconsistent. I remember you strongly sticking up for Topaz, more than a 6/10 would deserve, and you didn't like Frenzy last time we talked but are giving it an 8/10 here. Did you give those a rewatch and change your mind or what's going on?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on February 04, 2009, 10:12:07 AM
Jinkies, I'd note that your ratings of these movies seem wildly inconsistent. I remember you strongly sticking up for Topaz, more than a 6/10 would deserve, and you didn't like Frenzy last time we talked but are giving it an 8/10 here. Did you give those a rewatch and change your mind or what's going on?

And the Steps.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 04, 2009, 10:51:23 PM
Rating Torn Curtain ahead of Shadow of a Doubt makes him borderline certifiable, come to think of it... :o


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: cigar joe on February 05, 2009, 06:39:19 AM
Quote
I don't know how it's possible CJ, but we've seen the exact same films.

No mystery here, I used your post for a cut & past changed a few ratings and added Rope which I've seen. Problem with that?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 05, 2009, 08:34:45 AM
Rating Torn Curtain ahead of Shadow of a Doubt makes him borderline certifiable, come to think of it... :o
You know well my complete aversion to Shadow of a Doubt. Torn Curtain, at least, has one scene I like.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 05, 2009, 09:33:56 AM
Care to address the other question?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 05, 2009, 11:24:16 AM
I don't know what you're getting at exactly. I can believe I'm inconsistent, but not wildly so.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 05, 2009, 11:44:52 AM
You were bashing Frenzy in a previous conversation but here you give it an 8/10?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 05, 2009, 02:00:15 PM
Remind me of the conversation. Is it in a thread somewhere? Sorry, I just don't remember.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 05, 2009, 02:05:02 PM
I just remember you saying you liked the humor but not much else. And you said you thought Jon Finch was annoying.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 05, 2009, 02:14:59 PM
Here's a PM you sent me when we had our Hitchcock-related discussion a few months ago. Hope you don't mind my posting it here:
Quote
Thanks, Grogs, I read that and you did a very good job. Years ago I would have agreed with everything in it, but as I said earlier, I find Frenzy almost unwatchable now. I realize suddenly that it isn't just Finch's performance--something else is missing, a sense of transcendence, if you will. That sense is present in the best of Hitchcock, and even in some of his more middling exercises. When it's absent--as it is in Shadow a Doubt, The Trouble With Harry, and the film now under discussion--I find Hitchcock a chore to sit through. It isn't a problem often, though; usually the Hitchcock brand delivers on its reputation.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 05, 2009, 02:18:21 PM
Hmmm, I'd forgotten. Well, I guess I'll have to watch it again . . .


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 05, 2009, 02:24:09 PM
Topaz was another one if not as egregious, but I remember you sticking up for it (and arguing at length with Titoli I think) but you only gave it a 6 on your list.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 05, 2009, 04:53:19 PM
Well, it has to swim amongst a lot of better Hitchcock films. Remember, unlike some, I actually use all the points on the spectrum. A "6" is a better-than-average film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 06, 2009, 08:04:58 AM
Fair enough.

I might watch another Hitchcock today if I can get up the energy to walk to the library. Suspicion, Spellbound, Lifeboat, I Confess? We'll see.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 06, 2009, 08:35:02 AM
Fair enough.

I might watch another Hitchcock today if I can get up the energy to walk to the library. Suspicion, Spellbound, Lifeboat, I Confess? We'll see.
Except for the cop-out ending, I like Suspicion a lot. Cary Grant as an evil con man: now there's a concept I can go with!

Spellbound is silly, but Bergman is appealing, and the film has a great score ("Mr. Rozsa, meet the theramin"). Lifeboat is quite good, a nice dry run for such classics-in-confined-spaces as Rope and Rear Window. I confess I've never been able to sit through I Confess at one go, although I've watched all of its parts at different times. Have fun.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 06, 2009, 09:02:33 AM
Kinda off-topic but where's your signature from? I swear I've seen that movie but I can't place it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 06, 2009, 09:38:52 AM
Are you talking to me? There's no one else here, so you must . . .

It's from Sirk's Magnificent Obsession, and I used it simply because the CC have recently released it. Jane Wyman is playing blind in the scene.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 06, 2009, 09:40:23 AM
I figured it was a Sirk film but I haven't seen that one. O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 06, 2009, 03:39:29 PM
Just got a third version of the Vertigo score on CD. That's right, I now own copies of 3 different performances of a film score. Can anyone else match or beat this? (I'm not talking about owning the same performance on different media: record, tape, CD, whatever; nor am I speaking of multiple performances of a classical piece used in a particular movie; I'm talking about recordings by 3 different groups under different conductors performing a score that was originally written for a particular movie). Maniacs only need respond.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 06, 2009, 10:10:42 PM
Well, I didn't get to the library today thanks to airens, so I opted to watch Under Capricorn tonight.

This film is pretty darn average. It's a rather straight-forward historical costume drama with a pretty routine plot, cardboard characters, theatrical dialogue (I believe this was based on a play) and lots of vast, sweeping studio sets. Hitch's direction is good but nothing spectacular; the long takes are done well but they're not overly interesting (unlike Rope) and the script and acting aren't good enough to make this more than a filmed play (and not an overly interesting one either). Plus, the casting is odd, to say the least. Hitchcock's idea of Australians is Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman!? That's just wrong. Bergman's pretty good considering what she has to work with, but Cotten seems grossly out of place. The Brit cast is pretty good (nice to see Cecil Parker from The Ladykillers) but there seems to be little in the story dependent on an Australian setting; the studio sets and complete lack of anything Australian bely the fact that this is just a normal costume drama. It's a curious film, interesting in a way but not really engrossing; I can't say I'm disappointed because I didn't have overly high expectations, but it's frustratingly mediocre. 6/10 seems fair.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on February 06, 2009, 10:25:26 PM
I saw it years ago, and i remember having the exact same feeling about that movie...


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 07, 2009, 02:47:47 AM
The film grows on you. A single viewing isn't sufficient. It's fun to see the usual cutty Hitchcock adopting the gliding camera approach here and so give Preminger and Ophuls a run for their money. I note, Groggy, that you say nothing of the score (you'd better listen again). And the cinematography! This is not only a Technicolor Hitchcock (a rare thing), but one shot by Jack Cardiff himself (just after doing Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes). If you were not marveling at the colors while you watched that can only be because you were viewing an inferior transfer. Granted, the film on video is not represented well in R1; you have to either see it projected or acquire a DVD from abroad to experience it in its full glory. I'm guessing you haven't really seen the film yet.

Nonetheless, the film's technical merits can't cover the fact that the story isn't all that it should be. Over at the Hitchcock board I pointed to obvious structural flaws and took a crack at how to fix them [ahem, SPOILERS ahoy]:
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Watching the film again last night (on the lovely French DVD), I was struck by how awkwardly constructed the plot is toward the end. In particular, the fact that Hattie confesses to Charles before her confession to the Governor, which, needless to say, makes the second confession anticlimactic. Also, there is not enough for Charles to do after he is shot. He recovers quickly, we are told, but we do not see him back on stage until the very end. What's he doing all that time? And why doesn't he come forward with his evidence more promptly?

These problems could have all been solved by reversing the order of the confessions. If Hattie confesses to the Governor first, it will merely seem like a stratagem to save her husband, not only to the Governor, but to Charles and the audience as well. Charles would then put all his energy into persuading Hattie to retract her confession. Then Ingrid Bergman could have her emotional speech about the killing of her brother, only this time it would climax with the sudden understanding (by Charles and the audience simultaneously) that Hattie is in fact telling the truth. Realizing this, Charles would then also understand the true nature of the relationship between Hattie and Flusky, and see just how ridiculous his own position is. He would give up all hope of winning Hattie away from her husband, he would immediately go to the Governor and give his evidence, Flusky would be released from jail, and Hattie would retract her confession. The quay-side departure would then proceed as scripted.

I'm certain with this bit of restructuring, the drama would work better, making the whole appear better than "average." Even as it exists now, it stands up better than most Gainsborough films (which is what it most resembles).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on February 07, 2009, 06:01:09 AM

Family Plot 7/10
Frenzy 8/10
Topaz 6/10
Torn Curtain 6/10
Marnie 7/10
The Birds 10/10
Psycho 10/10
North by Northwest 10/10
Vertigo 10/10
The Wrong Man 8/10
The Trouble With Harry 5/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much 8/10
To Catch a Thief 9/10
Rear Window 8/10
Dial M for Murder 6/10
I Confess 6/10
Strangers on a Train 9/10
Stage Fright 6/10
Under Capricorn 5/10
Rope 7/10
The Paradine Case 8/10
Notorious 10/10
Spellbound 7/10
Lifeboat 6/10
Shadow of a Doubt 10/10
Saboteur 8/10
Mr. and Mrs. Smith 6/10
Suspicion 9/10
Foreign Correspondent 8/10
Rebecca 8/10
Jamaica Inn 6/10
The Lady Vanishes 8/10
Young and Innocent 8/10
Secret Agent 6/10
Sabotage 6/10
The 39 Steps 8/10
The Man Who Knew Too Much 10/10
Number 17 5/10
Rich and Strange 8/10
Murder! 6/10
Blackmail 9/10
Downhill 6/10
The Lodger 8/10



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Cusser on February 07, 2009, 07:04:20 AM
Just got a third version of the Vertigo score on CD. That's right, I now own copies of 3 different performances of a film score. Can anyone else match or beat this? (I'm not talking about owning the same performance on different media: record, tape, CD, whatever; nor am I speaking of multiple performances of a classical piece used in a particular movie; I'm talking about recordings by 3 different groups under different conductors performing a score that was originally written for a particular movie). Maniacs only need respond.

I've got three (or four) versions of "Adventures of Robin Hood", depending on how you count.  First is LP record actually made from the original 78 rpm records that were made and sold about 1938 (first commercial soundtrack recording and radio broadcast).  Second is Korngold's son's version, where he got Utah Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Varujan Kojian) to make a clean recording (I have LP and CD of this).  Third is the Moscow symphony version (CD).  Fourth is that the 2-disc DVD contains a "music-only" soundtrack of the original fim, haven't seen this feature before.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 07, 2009, 07:24:10 AM
I've got three (or four) versions of "Adventures of Robin Hood", depending on how you count.  First is LP record actually made from the original 78 rpm records that were made and sold about 1938 (first commercial soundtrack recording and radio broadcast).  Second is Korngold's son's version, where he got Utah Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Varujan Kojian) to make a clean recording (I have LP and CD of this).  Third is the Moscow symphony version (CD).  Fourth is that the 2-disc DVD contains a "music-only" soundtrack of the original fim, haven't seen this feature before.
Interesting. But if I read you right, your fourth version, although different in many ways from the first, is still the same performance. So I credit you with 3 separate performances. Excellent. I was wondering how common this is (that is, that a score has a career of its own apart from its film and becomes part of the classical repertory). Perhaps there are other many other examples (and now that I think of it, I'm also excluding musicals).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 08, 2009, 02:11:10 PM
I decided to be lazy on my blog today and post my IMDB comment of Frenzy, so...

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A serial killer is on the loose in London - a sex maniac who rapes his victims and then strangles them with his tie. This couldn't matter less to Richard Blaney (Jon Finch), a bitter, washed-up veteran who loses his job at a pub and is generally mad at the world. But Blaney soon becomes the prime suspect after his ex-wife (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) becomes a victim of the killer - and the circumstantial evidence implicating him becomes overwhelming. With the help of co-worker/lover Babs (Anna Massey) and the reluctant help of an old RAF buddy and his wife (Clive Swift and Billie Whitelaw), he goes on the lam, further implicating him. After Babs is found strangled, Blaney is arrested - but Chief Inspector Oxford (Alec McCowan) of Scotland Yard begins to doubt his guilt. Soon, he realizes that the wrong man is in jail - and that the murderer is actually Blaney's buddy Bob Rusk (Barry Foster), a seemingly cheerful Covent Garden grocer. However, Blaney has escaped from jail, and Oxford must get to Rusk before Blaney does in order to sure that the right man is caught.

On the surface, "Frenzy" is a rather typical Alfred Hitchcock film, exploring the familiar ground of a man implicated in a crime he didn't commit, but against whom the evidence is overwhelming. But Hitchcock is able to add some new twists, and a great deal of darkness which make the film stand out in his canon. While not held in terribly high regard by most Hitch enthusiasts, I would name Frenzy as being one of his two or three best films.

After years of self-imposed exile from his homeland, Hitchcock makes a triumphant return to London, and the early sections of the movie show a director sending a big coming-home Valentine to his native land. But the movie is more than that; the attitude quickly becomes dark, sour and sardonic. A British official (John Boxer) giving a speech on pollution is interrupted by the discovery of a body in the river beneath him. Two Englishmen have a rather dark discussion about serial killers and their "appropriateness" in London; indeed, London is the home of Jack the Ripper, so a serial killer on the prowl is business as usual for most. Unlike Americans, the British are rather blasé about the prospect of a murderer in their midst. This essentially British attitude pervades the film, as Hitchcock employs his trademark dark humor to accentuate the violence going on around him.

The movie has several striking images and scenes which make it stand out. The most obvious is the murder of Barbara Leigh-Hunt, an uncomfortably long and graphic scene of rape and violence, where Hitchcock takes full advantage of the increasingly lax censorship. The shot of Leigh-Hunt's corpse with its tongue dangling out is extremely chilling. Even more effective is the murder of Babs, as Hitchcock sets us up, then pans back through the apartment and out into the bustling street - a bravura piece of film making that says more than another, equally graphic strangulation could have. The scene where Rusk rides a potato truck to recover a bit of evidence from one of his victims (another typical Hitchcock device - making us sympathize with the killer) is effectively suspenseful. The scenes of comedy, particularly the Inspector's gourmet dinners with his wife (Vivien Merchant), go along with rather than provide relief from the violent goings-on in the main plot. And the denouement is classic Hitch.

Another ingenious twist is the character of Dick Blaney. Blaney is another Hitchcockian "wrong man" who, seemingly trapped by circumstantial evidence and afraid of the police, goes on the run, seemingly implicating himself. But unlike previous such characters - Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man, Grace Kelly in Dial M For Murder, Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and North By Northwest - Blaney is a completely surly, unlikeable character who nags his ex-wife, carries on in public, and is a complete an utter jerk (as evidenced by a surprisingly affective shot where he tramples a box of grapes on the street). Bob Rusk, by contrast, is cheerful, friendly and helpful - when he's not strangling women, of course. It's very hard to work up much sympathy for Blaney; while some consider this a drawback, I'd actually consider it a benefit, and it's an intriguing twist on a hoary old idea that Hitchcock pulls of brilliantly.

The cast is uniformly excellent. Hitchcock probably benefits from the lack of established stars; the B- and C-list actors here are probably better for not having the baggage of a screen persona with them. Jon Finch pulls off his rather difficult character well, avoiding the temptation to make Blaney likable. Barry Foster turns in a chillingly effective performance as Rusk, making him one of Hitchcock's greatest villains. Anna Massey and Barbara Leigh-Hunt are both charming, while Jean Marsh is effective as the cold-hearted, man-hating secretary who is key in convicting Blaney. Alex McCowan and Vivien Merchant provide several scenes of hysterical black humor as the Investigator and his wife. Clive Swift, Billie Whitelaw, Elsie Randolph and Michael Bates round out the cast nicely.

Frenzy is arguably the best of Hitchcock's later efforts, and it stands up very well even next to his best work. By adding a few neat twists and a welcome edge of darkness, the Master of Suspense creates another masterful thriller. 9/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/02/frenzy.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/02/frenzy.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 09, 2009, 11:26:53 AM
"groggybruno"? That's the best you could do?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 09, 2009, 11:31:28 AM
Stalking me again, huh? :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 09, 2009, 01:49:32 PM
No. Where's the sport in stalking the most predictable guy on the planet?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 16, 2009, 10:30:38 PM
I just spent $4.95 so you all could read this. Hope you appreciate it.
Quote
The Trouble With Alfred Hitchcock
Terry Teachout

February 2009


In November of last year, Cahiers du Cinéma, the influential French film magazine, asked 78 French-speaking critics and scholars to choose the greatest film directors of all time. Alfred Hitchcock received the second-highest number of votes, just behind Jean Renoir but ahead of Fritz Lang, Charlie Chaplin, John Ford, Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, Luis Buñuel, F.W. Murnau, and Howard Hawks. The same group gave Hitchcock’s Vertigo the number-eight spot on a list of the 100 best films.1

No eyebrows were raised by the inclusion of a director of thrillers on so stellar a list of what the French refer to as cinéastes. Nor is anyone known to have expressed surprise in 2002 when Sight & Sound, the British film magazine, published the results of the latest in a series of top-10 polls that it has been conducting at decade-long intervals since 1952. On that occasion, an international panel of film critics ranked Vertigo at #2 on their list of great films, just behind Citizen Kane, while a similar group of film directors placed it at #6.

What is most noteworthy about Hitchcock’s inclusion on these lists, however, is that it is a comparatively recent development. It was not until 1982, for instance, that Vertigo first made Sight & Sound’s top ten. By then it had become commonplace to speak of Hitchcock as a great artist, though such talk had been rare in his own lifetime. To be sure, James Agee, the much-admired film critic of Time and the Nation, had gone so far as to suggest that his films were comparable in quality to the work of “all but the few best writers of his time.” But Agee’s was a minority opinion. More common was the view of Dwight Macdonald, who wrote in 1960 that while Hitchcock’s early films had been full of “humor and romance,” these qualities had been “leached out by his years in Hollywood, and there now remains only the ingenuity and the meanness.”

What made the critics change their mind about Hitchcock? The first step in his elevation to the pantheon came with the publication in 1967 of Hitchcock/Truffaut, a book in which the French director François Truffaut, a central figure in the “new wave” of postwar European cinema, interviewed his older colleague at length about the making of Hitchcock’s 50-odd feature films. Not coincidentally, Truffaut’s book appeared at the moment when the long-accepted distinction between “commercial” and “art” films was breaking down. Throughout the first half-century of filmmaking, it had been generally assumed that Europe was the center of artistically serious cinema. As early as the 50’s, though, a new generation of critics was starting to pay closer attention to the work of such Hollywood directors as Ford, Hawks, and Hitchcock, and before long their films were being taken as seriously as the rock critics of the day took the music of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. In the same way that the pop culture of the 60’s attained critical respectability, so did the maker of Psycho and To Catch a Thief come to be viewed not as a purveyor of well-crafted entertainment but as an artist of the first rank.

But does Hitchcock’s body of work merit such praise? Or is its current critical standing a reflection of the postmodern tendency to treat pop culture as though it were comparable in significance to high art?

_____________

 

The first step in disentangling Hitchcock’s achievement from his reputation is to recognize that his output was extremely variable in quality. While the best of the movies that he made in England between 1925 and 1939 are more than just (in his own dismissive phrase) “the work of a talented amateur,” such early efforts as The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938) are for the most part little more than polished entertainments in which Hitchcock’s characteristic style and thematic preoccupations were still taking shape.

It was not until Hitchcock emigrated to America in 1939 that he evolved into a mature artist, and even then the process was a protracted one. It would be four years before he made the first film, Shadow of a Doubt, in which the elements of his style came into focus for the first time. And of the two dozen feature films that followed it, only Notorious (1946), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960) are worthy of close critical scrutiny. Several of the other films that Hitchcock made during the two-decade-long period of his creative ascendancy, Rebecca (1940) and To Catch a Thief (1955) in particular, are hugely diverting in their glossy way, but the others are less interesting, and after Psycho he lost his creative touch. In the end, then, it is on these seven films alone that Hitchcock’s claim to artistic seriousness ultimately rests.

What do these films have in common? To begin with, they are thrillers whose protagonists unexpectedly find themselves entangled in situations that put their lives at risk. One or more of the protagonists is morally equivocal, on occasion to the point of outright villainy. At the same time, most of these films also contain comic scenes, and two, Rear Window and North by Northwest, are in essence romantic comedies with suspenseful plots. Above all, Hitchcock’s key films deal more in images than in words. He had started out as a silent filmmaker, and even after the introduction of sound in 1928, his movies continued to be visually oriented to a degree unusual among directors of his generation.

This is not to say that the dialogue in a Hitchcock film is incidental. All seven of his key movies are well written, and on one of them, Shadow of a Doubt, he collaborated with a noted playwright, Thornton Wilder.2 But Hitchcock’s main interest as a filmmaker was not in plot or dialogue but in dramatic situations, and in most cases he chose to articulate them pictorially rather than verbally. Indeed, many of the best-remembered episodes from his key films, such as the scene in North by Northwest in which Cary Grant is chased across a cornfield by a renegade cropduster, are self-contained vignettes that contain little or no dialogue.

_____________

 

Hitchcock’s visual orientation was so strong as to approach the abstract. This made his films seem illogical to older critics whose expectations had been shaped by the conventions of the novel and the stage. Graham Greene, for example, found Hitchcock’s early films to be dramatically shallow, mainly because they lacked the armature of plot-based psychological development that Greene thought essential to storytelling:

    His films consist of a series of small “amusing” melodramatic situations. . . . Very perfunctorily he builds up to these tricky situations (paying no attention on the way to inconsistencies, loose ends, psychological absurdities) and then drops them; they mean nothing: they lead to nothing.

But Hitchcock did not care to make plot-driven films. To be sure, all of his films have plots, but in most cases their scripts pivot around a tiny plot twist, trivial in itself, that is used to set the characters in motion. Most film critics of the 30’s and 40’s, by contrast, seem to have thought of the medium as an offshoot of live theater, not an independent art form with its own rules, and they underrated Hitchcock precisely because he chose to structure his films in a way that had little in common with the iron logic of the “well-made” stage play.

Conversely, it was this same preference that led the new-wave filmmakers of the 50’s and 60’s to embrace Hitchcock’s work. Only then did he come to be viewed as a major figure in American film. But while François Truffaut and his European contemporaries all deemphasized plot in favor of character and atmosphere, Hitchcock had something quite different in mind. As he explained to Ernest Lehman, who wrote the screenplay for North by Northwest:

    The audience is like a great organ that you and I are playing. At one moment we play this note on them and get this reaction, and then we play that chord and they react that way. And someday we won’t even have to make a movie —there’ll be electrodes implanted in their brains, and we’ll just press different buttons and they’ll go “ooooh” and “aaaah” and we’ll frighten them, and make them laugh.

That Hitchcock should have used a musical metaphor to describe his artistic ambitions was no accident. George Bernard Shaw once remarked of Verdi’s Il Trovatore that “it is absolutely void of intellectual interest: the appeal is to the instincts and the senses all through.” Much the same thing can be said of Vertigo, whose plot borders on the nonsensical and whose characters, in the memorable phrase of the film critic Charles Thomas Samuels, are “mere containers of stress.” Such a film can only be properly appreciated if it is approached as an exercise in non-naturalistic theater, the cinematic equivalent of a piece of dramatic music or a plotless ballet whose “subject matter” is pure emotion.3

CONTINUED
 

 



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 16, 2009, 10:33:10 PM
"The Trouble With Alfred Hitchcock" Pt. 2
_____________

 

Quote
Samuels was no less astute when he spoke of the “contentless virtuosity” of Hitchcock’s best films. But he was not quite right to suggest that these films are devoid of content. Their content consists of Hitchcock’s fantasies. They are exercises in wish fulfillment—and the wishes are often perverse.

In most of Hitchcock’s key films, the hero (or anti-hero) is a man who becomes obsessed with a sexually aggressive woman, usually a blonde. These “Hitchcock blondes” are dangerous creatures whose sexuality is potentially lethal. The only way for a man to escape this fate is to obtain control over such women, either by spurning their advances (Notorious, Rear Window), transforming them into a different kind of woman (Vertigo), or killing them (Psycho, Strangers on a Train). Only in North by Northwest does the male protagonist choose the normal course of pursuing the woman he desires.

This aspect of Hitchcock’s films horrified Ingmar Bergman, the most admired art-film director of the 50’s and 60’s. As he observed in an interview with John Simon:

    [Hitchcock] has something in Psycho, he had some moments . . . this picture tells very much about him. Not very good things. He is completely infantile, and I would like to know more—no, I don’t want to know—about his behavior with, or, rather, against women.

Bergman’s suspicions were confirmed by Donald Spoto in The Dark Side of Genius (1983), a biography of Hitchcock in which it was disclosed for the first time that the director had sexually harassed certain of the actresses who appeared in his later films. Spoto expands on these revelations in his latest book, Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies, a collection of profiles that adds further detail to the portrait painted in The Dark Side of Genius.4 Though Spoto has a weakness for unsourced gossip, there can be no doubt that Hitchcock sought to use his power as a Hollywood director in order to act on the fantasies out of which his films were woven.

It is unsettling, for instance, to learn that the fictional relationship portrayed in Vertigo, in which a mentally ill detective (James Stewart) attempts to turn a common shopgirl (Kim Novak) into a duplicate of another, more glamorous woman whom he once loved, was more or less played out in real life by Hitchcock and the actress Tippi Hedren, who starred in two of his later films. Yet one need not know about Hitchcock’s pursuit of Hedren in order to be disturbed by the content of a film like Vertigo, which is all too clearly the work of a sexually frustrated man whose view of women was—to put it mildly—unattractive.

_____________

 

It says much about Hitchcock’s present-day reputation that Vertigo, which was greeted with indifference by the critics of 1958 and failed at the box office, is now widely regarded as the greatest of his films. For unlike most of the rest of Hitchcock’s key films, Vertigo has no comic aspect: it is one of his rare attempts to make a wholly tragic statement. Yet he was almost always at his best when he leavened his thrillers with humor, and it is not in Vertigo but in North by Northwest, the most unabashedly comic of his later films, that he comes closest to creating a perfect work of art.

Few film critics understand that comedy is (or can be) as serious as tragedy, and even those who know how good North by Northwest is often feel obliged to make tacit apologies for its lightness of tone. Spoto, for instance, claims that the film “leavens the gravest concerns with a spiky and mature wit.” This is, of course, nonsense on stilts. North by Northwest, though it pretends to be a cold-war thriller about an American businessman (Cary Grant) who is being pursued by Soviet agents who mistakenly believe him to be working for the CIA, is in truth “about” excitement pure and simple. In this instance, Charles Thomas Samuels was entirely right: North by Northwest has no more “content” than a ride on a roller coaster.

This lack of content defines the nature—and the limits—of Hitchcock’s artistic achievement. To compare a film like North by Northwest with a great stage comedy like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night or Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is to realize that Hitchcock’s brand of comedy, for all its verve and virtuosity, tells us little about human nature. On the other hand, North by Northwest has much in common with such brilliantly frivolous film comedies of the 30’s and 40’s as Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise, Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby, and Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve, just as it compares favorably with the classic stage farces of Noël Coward and Georges Feydeau. The dialogue is sophisticated, the acting immaculate, the wide-screen cinematography gorgeously resplendent, while the film’s near-total absence of dramatic logic is rendered irrelevant by the fact that the plot is a mere pretext for the jewel-like visual vignettes that are strung on it.

It is in North by Northwest that Hitchcock comes closest to creating a cinematic counterpart of pure lyric theater. Elsewhere he is hampered by the self-imposed naturalistic conventions of the thriller, the commercial genre in which he chose to work. In Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious, Strangers on a Train, and Rear Window, we encounter dramatic situations that border on the poetic—but their lyricism is diminished by the triteness of the mystery-type plot mechanisms in which they are embedded.

These mechanisms are less obtrusive in Vertigo and Psycho, the darkest of Hitchcock’s major films, which are strongly poetic in quality and succeed in freeing themselves from the fetters of naturalism. But the content of these latter films, as Ingmar Bergman observed, is so unabashedly obsessional as to restrict their expressive potential. Unlike such operatic melodramas as Bizet’s Carmen and the middle-period work of Verdi, which tell stories so universal in their implications as to approach the mythic, Hitchcock’s cinematic “operas” are twisted tales wrenched from the psyche of a man whose experience is unrecognizably idiosyncratic.

All this suggests that Alfred Hitchcock, far from being a great creative artist, was actually a minor master who succeeded in creating only one fully realized masterpiece, North by Northwest. While his other key films are unfailingly involving and at times quite beautiful, their cramped emotional scale deprives them of the power of transcendent illumination without which no work of art can be truly great.

Footnotes

1 The rest of Cahiers du Cinéma’s top ten films, in descending order, were Welles’s Citizen Kane, Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter and Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (tied), Murnau’s Sunrise, Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, Lang’s M, Singin’ in the Rain, Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise, and Ford’s The Searchers.
2 Hitchcock, like most golden-age Hollywood directors, was not a “writer” in the conventional sense of the word. Though he worked closely with his screenwriters to develop the scenarios of his films, he rarely wrote any of their dialogue.
3 Significantly, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho were all scored by the film composer Bernard Herrmann, who exaggerated only slightly when he claimed that Hitchcock “only finishes a picture 60 percent. I have to finish it for him.” For a discussion of Herrmann’s contribution to the dramatic effect of Hitchcock’s films, see my essay “Hitchcock’s Music Man” (COMMENTARY, February 2007).
4 Harmony, 352 pp., $25.95

© 2009 Commentary Inc.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 16, 2009, 10:50:02 PM
Oh God. I may be a moron but I've read enough film writings to know BS when I see it.

Do we really need to parrot the hoary old cliche about "Hitchcock blondes"? That's a ridiculously overblown generalization, particularly considering the films listed as being "important" - on what planet are Ruth Roman, Ingrid Bergman, and Teresa Wright blondes? Not to mention other films not taken under consideration.

That's just one criticism I have of the piece. I wouldn't disagree that Hitchcock's films are largely skimpy on the plot, but his conclusion that Hitchcock is an ultimately empty director because of this doesn't square well with me at all. Nor does the characterization of Hitchcock's sexual politics, which fails to take into regard the rather feminist perspective he took in many if not most of his films. Nor the idea that, even accepting this generalization's conclusions of such (especially in re Vertigo), it makes the films any less interesting or enjoyable; if anything I'd argue the contrary.

Overall, a rather reductive piece with precious little actual analysis or insight, and lots of parroting of cliches and generalizations about Hitchcock's work. I'd barely give it a C for effort. It gives me optimism that if goobers like this get paid to scribble such garbage, I have a decent shot of breaking into criticism.

Thanks for the essay Jenkins. O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on February 17, 2009, 02:39:11 AM
I just spent $4.95 so you all could read this. Hope you appreciate it.
Lets say I owe you a beer O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: ShortFuse on February 21, 2009, 11:23:19 AM
I've seen Psycho, The Birds, North by North West, Marnie, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 version), Rebecca, Rear Window, and Vertigo.

I'm definitley a fan. Rebecca was probably his first masterpiece IMO.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 21, 2009, 12:06:34 PM
Well, as AH himself once said, it's really a Selznick picture.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 25, 2009, 03:25:57 PM
My brother's review of Rear Window (which he watched in an Intro to Film Class). He probably wouldn't appreciate my posting it here though, so shh... :D

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Alfred Hitchcock...Al...fred...Hitchcock...sounds familiar.

Haha, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. This week's film was Hitchcock's Rear Window. Staring James Stewart and the gorgeous Grace Kelly, the film takes us through...you know what, everyone knows about Jimmy Stewart spying on neighbors in his wheelchair. I don't think I have to explain the plot at all, unless those reading have been hiding under a rock.

First off, let me say I loved Stewart in this as much as I have in the other films this semester. He's an amazing actor, and has a range of emotions that I rarely see on screen anymore. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone as capable an actor as he. Grace Kelly is the beautiful fiancee that is the opposite of Stewart's low-paid, high-risk photographer character. She's a wonderful woman; strong, smart, willing to take risks (as we see late in the film), but also willing to buy her man things at random (unlike the social norm where the man buys the woman things...stupid social norm. Cost me $100+...but that's a tangent). Jefferies's (Stewart) nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) provides comic relief by voicing her thoughts about the murder. Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey) doesn't play enough of a part for me to really mind him beyond the fact that the evidence he presents which shows that Mr. Thorwald (Raymond Burr) isn't guilty.

This film was meant as a suspense film. I found that, while suspenseful in some parts, I got a bit confused by all the evidence that Doyle finds that proves Thorwald's innocence. Seemed so concrete, then Lisa (Kelly) finds the ring in Thorwald's apartment, and...gah. Turns out he did do it. I think. Maybe? Or maybe they just arrested him for assaulting Jefferies? I don't know.

The subplots with the patrons of the apartments that Jefferies watches are slightly intriguing. The one I found most...engrossing was the one with Ms. Lonely Hearts (Judith Evelyn). The ending, where Lisa is snooping about the apartment, also has Ms. Lonely Hearts about to down a lethal amount of pills (for exactly the ailment that her name describes), but she's saved by something, and that made me happy.

Overall, good movie. Not as good as the others, but good nonetheless.

4/5


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 25, 2009, 06:19:01 PM
Quote
The ending, where Lisa is snooping about the apartment, also has Ms. Lonely Hearts about to down a lethal amount of pills (for exactly the ailment that her name describes), but she's saved by something, and that made me happy.
Yikes, the defect is genetic! She's saved by the soundtrack, Groggy Lite.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 25, 2009, 08:49:03 PM
I'd have to ask the bloke but it's possible was trying to avoid spoilers.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 26, 2009, 02:02:19 PM
Yikes, the defect is genetic! She's saved by the soundtrack, Groggy Lite.

Indeed, Dick Jinkies!

Quote
"O_o  I KNOW what she was saved by.  I was keeping it from the people who read
it." - Tim


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on March 10, 2009, 02:41:01 AM
Just watched The Lady Vanishes (1938).
SPOILERS I guess.
Probably the funniest Hitchcock and I'd give it 9/10 but their escape by the train is somehow not working after all. It feels as if they "just get away" and that's it... The climax should be something bigger than the nun turning the switch.

So my rating shall be 8.5/10. Could be in my top 5 of Hitchcock.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on March 10, 2009, 06:08:48 AM
Quote
"O_o  I KNOW what she was saved by.  I was keeping it from the people who read
it." - Tim
Whatever for, Groggy Tim? It didn't occur to you that by mentioning that Miss Lonelyhearts is saved at all that you've already provided a bigger spoiler?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on March 10, 2009, 06:11:25 AM
Just watched The Lady Vanishes (1938).
SPOILERS I guess.
Probably the funniest Hitchcock and I'd give it 9/10 but their escape by the train is somehow not working after all. It feels as if they "just get away" and that's it... The climax should be something bigger than the nun turning the switch.

So my rating shall be 8.5/10. Could be in my top 5 of Hitchcock.
Fair enough. Hitchcock came on to the project late, so if it is in any way atypical, the work of others should probably be credited.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on March 10, 2009, 08:19:15 AM
Fair enough. Hitchcock came on to the project late, so if it is in any way atypical, the work of others should probably be credited.
The shootout was very un-Hitchcockian. But it was just strange and unexpected in a Hitchcock movie, not poorly done, unlike the escape. We're in London before we even realize that they managed to get away from the bad guys. I call it bad pacing.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 19, 2009, 09:38:17 PM
Whatever for, Groggy Tim? It didn't occur to you that by mentioning that Miss Lonelyhearts is saved at all that you've already provided a bigger spoiler?

I raised this point with Groggy Tim this evening and he tells Jenkins to go suck a dick.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on March 19, 2009, 09:59:34 PM
Like I said: it's genetic.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 19, 2009, 10:10:54 PM
Good thing you've never had children.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on March 20, 2009, 06:09:21 AM
Oooh, what a come-back! Did you think of that one on yer own, or did Groggy-Tim help you?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 20, 2009, 09:13:24 AM
Oooh, what a come-back! Did you think of that one on yer own, or did Groggy-Tim help you?

My sister-girlfriend. :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Whalestoe on March 20, 2009, 11:34:39 AM
My sister-girlfriend. :D

Perhaps that isn't the best way to refer to her? :-\


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 20, 2009, 11:51:12 AM
Perhaps that isn't the best way to refer to her? :-\

Take it up with Titoli.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 26, 2009, 07:45:33 PM
As a corollary to this thread Pitt is offering a class devoted entirely to Hitchcock next semester.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on March 26, 2009, 07:54:44 PM
Even if you don't take the class, Grogs, I'd be interested in getting the details of the syllabus.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 26, 2009, 09:21:21 PM
Even if you don't take the class, Grogs, I'd be interested in getting the details of the syllabus.

I had the professor for my Intro to Film Genres class last fall. He's a pretty nice and knowledgable fellow.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 05, 2009, 06:38:23 PM
I finally got around to watching The Wrong Man today. I was completely blown away by it. It's very different from Hitchcock's usual style in a lot of ways - being based on a true story is certainly a big part of it - but Hitchcock adapts perfectly to the material. His directoral style is still very much in evidence, but the movie's sense of documentary realism makes it all the more compelling. Bernard Herrman's score is one of his best for Hitchcock. The ending is a bit of a cop-out but I suppose it's excusable given that it's based on a true story.

The biggest reason the film worked though was the acting. Henry Fonda gives quite possibly his best performance, better even than Juror #8 and Frank. He gives a remarkably subtle performance, showing all of his character's pent-up anger and frustration which never quite reaches a boil. And Vera Miles, whom I normally find annoying as all get it out, is wonderful and horribly tragic as his wife. Nice (and pleasantly surprising) supporting role by Anthony Quayle too.

I might need to chew it over in my mind a bit but for the moment I'm giving it the title of Best Hitchcock Film (that I've seen). 10/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Tuco the ugly on April 06, 2009, 02:03:09 AM
Dial M for Murder (1954) - 6.1/10

I'm usually a sucker for playish movies but this didn't impress me at all. I've seen it about four or five times so far and the already shaky impression slowly deteriorated furthermore with each new viewing. This is the first viewing in years, though. I sorta put it on ice, to see what happens. And nothing good happened...

First of all the apartment is too small and looks exactly like a set-up. Everything looks like just made for the movie. Am I the only one to see this as a problem?

Second, I don't usually like pathetic and crying and things like that, but those characters are stripped of all emotions. It seems like they're discussing a movie rather than real events. Mark is convincing Tony to lie and take Margot's guilt and he's like... standing there, saying ''It wouldn't work.'' - LOL!

Third and final, is the story thin or what? I've been listening people praising it's complexity over all these years, but really, in the end it all comes to the wrong keys. But even before that, Margot gets the rope because she accidentally killed a man that sneaked into her house and tried to kill her... and nobody believes her??!! C'mon.


I'm gonna go that far and call that remake with Michael Douglas better than this, I'd give it a solid 7/10.

Sorry, Mr. Cock.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 06, 2009, 05:55:53 AM
Dial M for Murder (1954) - 6.1/10

I'm usually a sucker for playish movies but this didn't impress me at all. I've seen it about four or five times so far and the already shaky impression slowly deteriorated furthermore with each new viewing. This is the first viewing in years, though. I sorta put it on ice, to see what happens. And nothing good happened...

First of all the apartment is too small and looks exactly like a set-up. Everything looks like just made for the movie. Am I the only one to see this as a problem?

Second, I don't usually like pathetic and crying and things like that, but those characters are stripped of all emotions. It seems like they're discussing a movie rather than real events. Mark is convincing Tony to lie and take Margot's guilt and he's like... standing there, saying ''It wouldn't work.'' - LOL!

Third and final, is the story thin or what? I've been listening people praising it's complexity over all these years, but really, in the end it all comes to the wrong keys. But even before that, Margot gets the rope because she accidentally killed a man that sneaked into her house and tried to kill her... and nobody believes her??!! C'mon.


I'm gonna go that far and call that remake with Michael Douglas better than this, I'd give it a solid 7/10.

Sorry, Mr. Cock.
I suppose all your objections are valid, but what trumps them for me is the first act of the play/film and the performance delivered by Ray Milland. The set-up is always what gets my motor racing: the seduction of Anthony Dawson is a thing of beauty to behold. The actual carrying out of the plan, which, of course, goes wrong, is less interesting, but then the improvisation that Milland's character has to pull out of his ass is quite exciting. The third act is, I admit, pretty dull, except for the stuff, again, with Milland. When Robert Cummings comes to Milland with his plan it's fun to see the wheels turning in Milland's character's head: he has to seem to be sympathetic--even enthusiastic--about the subterfuge (which is, ironically, the truth) while at the same time putting the kabosh on the whole thing. Milland tap dances really well, but you can only improvise for so long before circumstances catch up with you. But then, there's Milland again at the end, calmly pouring himself a drink. You should have done likewise before the picture started.

So I say this to you: your analysis is correct, but irrelevant. And let's have no more nonsense about the Michael Douglas film being the better picture. Where is suavity anywhere to be found there?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 06, 2009, 06:06:32 AM
It's very different from Hitchcock's usual style in a lot of ways - being based on a true story is certainly a big part of it - but Hitchcock adapts perfectly to the material. His directoral style is still very much in evidence, but the movie's sense of documentary realism makes it all the more compelling.
That's one way of looking at it. Here's another: what the hell was AH doing making a Stanley Kramer film? That means the public was cheated out of a Hitchcock picture for 1957. Roast beef, even when cooked to perfection, is no substitute for cake when cake is what was wanted.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 06, 2009, 07:35:13 AM
That's one way of looking at it. Here's another: what the hell was AH doing making a Stanley Kramer film? That means the public was cheated out of a Hitchcock picture for 1957. Roast beef, even when cooked to perfection, is no substitute for cake when cake is what was wanted.

You give the film an 8/10 and here you are complaining about my praising it with an insipid and meaningless analogy?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: cigar joe on April 06, 2009, 07:44:09 AM
Quote
Perhaps that isn't the best way to refer to her?

Hey, its Pittsburgh!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 06, 2009, 07:52:14 AM
Hey, its Pittsburgh!

Titoli ain't from Pittsburgh. And we're splitsville now so it doesn't much matter anyway.

Anyway, this ain't the thread for that. Keep your eyes on the Cock. :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 06, 2009, 08:44:17 AM
You give the film an 8/10 and here you are complaining about my praising it with an insipid and meaningless analogy?
The analogy may have been insipid, but meaningless? Your rhetoric is getting the better of your common sense.

I like the film. I didn't say the point of view expressed was necessarily my own. Still, I wonder how you can give this film a 10 and not give, say, Rear Window and Vertigo elevens? One answer presents itself: you don't really like Hitchcock, so you overpraise his most conventional film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 06, 2009, 09:03:51 AM
Quote
I didn't say the point of view expressed was necessarily my own.

So the old devil's advocate again?

Quote
Still, I wonder how you can give this film a 10 and not give, say, Rear Window and Vertigo elevens?

Because I didn't find them nearly as good as this one?

Quote
One answer presents itself: you don't really like Hitchcock, so you overpraise his most conventional film.

My taste in Hitchcock is more unconventional than yours. That does not mean I don't like Hitchcock.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 06, 2009, 09:55:09 AM
No, you don't seem to like the things in Hitchcock that others admire. And of course, things like your tin ear prevents you from fully enjoying--and appreciating--the music. The jazz score for The Wrong Man is certainly good, but it's not the same order of achievement as the one for Vertigo, which is essentially an opera without vocal parts ("where all the arias are stared").

I just remembered why I used that "insipid analogy" you couldn't abide (although "metaphor" is what you should have called it). Hitchcock himself referred to his films as "slices of cake." Just as AH betrayed his audience in Rope and Under Capricorn by eschewing the use of his signature montage, he frustrated audience expectations by advertising a film called The Wrong Man that didn't use wrong man tropes (most famously, the double chase), the very things he made his name with (as in The 39 Steps, for example). AH was a great experimenter, and that was a good thing, but he also spent a lot of time developing his brand. The Wrong Man represents a classic bait-and-switch move. It's easy for us to overlook it now, we don't have to wait a year for the next Hitchcock film, but at the time it had to have annoyed cinema goers. People must have come out wondering, "What happened to the cake?"


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 06, 2009, 05:12:56 PM
No, you don't seem to like the things in Hitchcock that others admire.

So I enjoy Hitchcock for a different reason than you or Pauline Kael might. Big furry deal. I suppose all true Hitchcock fans MUST have Vertigo and Rear Window as their top two, eh? Although I note you dislike the highly-accredited Shadow of a Doubt and Psycho, which are widely consider among his best work. Where have I accused you of being not a true Hitchcock fan?

Quote
And of course, things like your tin ear prevents you from fully enjoying--and appreciating--the music. The jazz score for The Wrong Man is certainly good, but it's not the same order of achievement as the one for Vertigo, which is essentially an opera without vocal parts ("where all the arias are stared").

Are you really this much of an obnoxious fool? I've heard this argument from you many, many times and I have to say I don't know whether you're being honest for facetious when you make arguments like this. The 40% rule of music is not universally valid, nor should I think it applied as literally as you seem to. This seems to be a question of subjectivity and taste, not an absolute value. I apologize for having a different aesthetic view of the world than you but I'd have hoped you were reconciled to that fact by now.

Please also point me to my review of Vertigo, other than brief comments I made immediately after watching it. Where have I had opportunity to discuss the film in depth? The answer, being nowhere, explains why I've said nothing about its score.

Quote
I just remembered why I used that "insipid analogy" you couldn't abide (although "metaphor" is what you should have called it). Hitchcock himself referred to his films as "slices of cake." Just as AH betrayed his audience in Rope and Under Capricorn by eschewing the use of his signature montage, he frustrated audience expectations by advertising a film called The Wrong Man that didn't use wrong man tropes (most famously, the double chase), the very things he made his name with (as in The 39 Steps, for example). AH was a great experimenter, and that was a good thing, but he also spent a lot of time developing his brand. The Wrong Man represents a classic bait-and-switch move. It's easy for us to overlook it now, we don't have to wait a year for the next Hitchcock film, but at the time it had to have annoyed cinema goers. People must have come out wondering, "What happened to the cake?"

So you enjoyed the film (as you did Rope and Under Capricorn I believe) but are complaining that it isn't more like Hitchcock movies? Daft.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on April 06, 2009, 05:38:54 PM
Old couple.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Tuco the ugly on April 07, 2009, 01:10:49 AM
I suppose all your objections are valid, but what trumps them for me is the first act of the play/film and the performance delivered by Ray Milland. The set-up is always what gets my motor racing: the seduction of Anthony Dawson is a thing of beauty to behold. The actual carrying out of the plan, which, of course, goes wrong, is less interesting, but then the improvisation that Milland's character has to pull out of his ass is quite exciting. The third act is, I admit, pretty dull, except for the stuff, again, with Milland. When Robert Cummings comes to Milland with his plan it's fun to see the wheels turning in Milland's character's head: he has to seem to be sympathetic--even enthusiastic--about the subterfuge (which is, ironically, the truth) while at the same time putting the kabosh on the whole thing. Milland tap dances really well, but you can only improvise for so long before circumstances catch up with you. But then, there's Milland again at the end, calmly pouring himself a drink. You should have done likewise before the picture started.

I agree about Milland, superb performance. But, for me it's the other way around, your analysis is correct, but irrelevant to me cause I can't get past those things that bother me. I also agree about the drink, I should have done it, unfortunately I've seen it before and as everybody was praising it more and more it was just getting more and more to my nerves.

And let's have no more nonsense about the Michael Douglas film being the better picture. Where is suavity anywhere to be found there?

LOL, I agree, it was just a little flame. My apologize. I'd give it 5/10.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Tuco the ugly on April 07, 2009, 01:12:12 AM
Old couple.

Love it! (The sequel too.)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 07, 2009, 05:57:48 AM
Are you really this much of an obnoxious fool? I've heard this argument from you many, many times and I have to say I don't know whether you're being honest for facetious when you make arguments like this. The 40% rule of music is not universally valid, nor should I think it applied as literally as you seem to. This seems to be a question of subjectivity and taste, not an absolute value. I apologize for having a different aesthetic view of the world than you but I'd have hoped you were reconciled to that fact by now.
Yer a bit touchy, ain't ya, Junior?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on April 07, 2009, 09:58:37 AM
Love it! (The sequel too.)

i'm going to shoot the 3rd and final one this summer: "Old Couple III : Dave Jenkins and Groggy the Kid". Dave will finaly end up killing the Grog by throwing him a DVD of Vertigo in the chest. But this is of course a metaphore: by doing so, he's killing his own youth.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 07, 2009, 10:50:49 AM
Yer a bit touchy, ain't ya, Junior?

Yeah, snob talk tends to piss me off.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 07, 2009, 11:04:29 AM
i'm going to shoot the 3rd and final one this summer: "Old Couple III : Dave Jenkins and Groggy the Kid". Dave will finaly end up killing the Grog by throwing him a DVD of Vertigo in the chest. But this is of course a metaphore: by doing so, he's killing his own youth.
Oh, the humanity!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 07, 2009, 11:27:15 AM
Youth? What youth?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 08, 2009, 09:42:03 AM
This IMDB post shows why The Wrong Man is very much a Hitchcock:
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0051207/board/nest/52293462 (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0051207/board/nest/52293462)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 08, 2009, 02:15:43 PM
This guy takes special pleading to a new height:

Quote
1. In "The Wrong Man," Vera Miles has a breakdown and Henry Fonda, after being briefed on her condition by a shrink (Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heroes) leaves her in the asylum, walking down a darkening hall. In "Vertigo," James Stewart has a breakdown and Barbara Bel Geddes, after being briefed on his conditon by a shrink (Banker Drysdale of the Beverly Hillbillies), leaves her in the asylum, walking down a darkening hall.
Needless to say, a trivial similarity. I could point to any number of "walking down a darkening hall" scenes in an attempt to link any number of films. Isn't this just how the notion of film noir got started?

Quote
2. In North by Northwest, New Yorker Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is wrongly accused of murder. In The Wrong Man, New Yorker Manny Ballestrero is wrongly accused of robbery.
Forest-for-the-trees mentality. AH produced a slew of Wrong Man films, including, but not limited to The 39 Steps, Young and Innocent, Saboteur, To Catch a Thief, NxNW, and Frenzy. The Wrong Man genre hews closely to a simple formula, that of the double chase: whilst the police hunt the wrong man, that man in turn hunts the "right" man (or men). Ironically, The Wrong Man eschews the formula, but understandably so: it is following real life events. One can argue that this provides a refreshing change to the formula; to my mind, it just means that AH had to direct with one half of his brain tied behind his back.

Quote
3. "The Wrong Man," just like "Psycho" of two years later, is filmed in black-and-white, and postulates a bleak workaday world in which just trying to make ends meet is a grinding challenge, and a meager attempt to escape (on vacation, with money)...meets with criminal persecution. Also, Vera Miles is in both movies.
Just too overwhelmed by this one to respond.

Quote
4. In "The Birds" as in "The Wrong Man," the villainy isn't a "he" or a "she." It's an "it": an oppressive universe that rises up against the heroes without rhyme or reason, with no ability on the hero's part to right that universe.
Except that in The Wrong Man the hero finally does appeal to a higher court, and his delivery comes as an answer to a prayer. The main point is he IS delivered, unlike the hero in The Birds (whose ultimate fate is left in doubt). The Wrong Man thus affirms a moral universe: injustice, when it occurs, does not stand. Justice prevails in the end. I guess you could say that that makes TWM less like The Birds and more like . . . most of the other Hitchcock films. But for the 1950s, this is just Standard Industry Worldview. Like "walking down a darkening hall", it's too commonplace to have any real significance.

Quote
5. (Bonus) "Marnie" has a famous bad painting of a ship by an apartment house on Baltimore Harbor. "The Wrong Man" has a great REAL shot of a huge ship by an apartment house on New York Harbor.
wow.

One could do a much better job showing that TWM is both stylistically and thematically linked to other Hitchcock films. But it's pointless to ignore what is different about the film, a difference that is so fundamental that it makes the film stand out from all the others: unlike his usual practice, Hitchcock felt constrained in this case to stick closely to his source material, because this time the source material was "a true story." When adapting thrillers and other cheap fiction, AH was ruthless, willing to completely gut a source in order to transform it (Lodge, the author of the novel To Catch a Thief wanted to sue AH over its adaptation). But in this case AH felt he couldn't be himself.

Hitchcock wasn't Rossellini and for a very good reason: his talent was nurtured on ir-reality rather than naturalism. Of course, it is interesting to see a film that could be described as a Rossellini-Hitchcock blend, but at the end of the day adulterated Hitchcock is still less than full-strength Hitchcock.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on April 10, 2009, 08:07:46 PM
I cannot remember if this had been on discussion on the board when it was released...
Anyway, it belongs to this thread: Hitchcock meets Scorsese.

http://www.scorsesefilmfreixenet.com/video_eng.htm


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on April 11, 2009, 01:42:03 AM
I cannot remember if this had been on discussion on the board when it was released...
Anyway, it belongs to this thread: Hitchcock meets Scorsese.

http://www.scorsesefilmfreixenet.com/video_eng.htm
Yeah, I think we had a thread for it. I remember liking it a lot even though there were many references to movies I hadn't seen yet.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 11, 2009, 10:36:10 AM
Just as a heads-up, tonight TCM is showing:

Saboteur
Shadow of a Doubt
Foreign Correspondant
Rebecca

May try to catch one or two of those myself.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 12, 2009, 04:56:56 AM
Since I don't seem able to sleep, here's my review of Shadow of a Doubt after a third viewing on TCM:

Quote
Well, since I can't get to sleep, I'll get Easter off to an early start by writing a comment on Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). I watched this film for the third time on TCM, and it just gets better with each viewing. Of the 26 Hitchcocks I've seen to date, it may very well be my favorite, or at least in the top five. I already did a bit of a discussion of this film in my roasting of The Stepfather, a low-rent '80s remake/rip-off, so forgive me if I have nothing new or insightful to say on the film. Certainly it's been analyzed and reviewed to death already, but in my insomniac state I might as well give it a go.

Young Charlie Newton (Theresa Wright) is a teenaged girl in the small-town of Santa Rosa, California, bored with her staid small-town life. As if by a "miracle", the family receives a visit from Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten), young Charlie's namesake and the charming, successful brother of her mother Emma (Patricia Collinge). The family and community give Charlie a warm welcome, but the arrival of a pair of detectives posing as surveymen (Macdonald Carey and Wallace Ford) and some decidedly strange behavior by Uncle Charlie make young Charlie suspicious. It turns out that Uncle Charlie is a serial killer, the "Merry Widow Murderer", and Charlie is torn towards her affection for one of the detectives and love of her Uncle. Pretty soon, however, Uncle Charlie's psychosis boils to the surface, and his niece must find a way to drive him out of town - and keep herself alive in the process.

Shadow of a Doubt is among the first films to really explore the underbelly of small-town America. As cliched and overexposed an idea this is nowadays, it was certainly novel and shocking at the time. With the help of playwright Thornton Wilder (Our Town), Hitchcock constructs a dark, gothic film that defies categorization - horror film? family melodrama? film noir? thriller? satire? - showing the horrors and dirt lurking in the corners of the most sterile American household.

The character of Uncle Charlie is one of Hitchcock's greatest creations. He is, as others have commented, an evil, ominous, even vampiric figure: earning his lifeblood of women, hiding in the shadows (with his private compartment on the lengthy train journey), his charm and influence over his sister and others in the small town, refusing to be photographed - he's an evil presence who has slipped into an idyllic small town without them noticing, and now that he's here there's little chance of him leaving. Through the course of the film, cracks in his charming facade gradually emerge, most notably in several misogynist and nihilistic rants worthy of August Strindberg, raging against the evil of a world he sees as "a foul sty... a hell" - but it seems only Charlie (and perhaps her brainy little sister Ann (Edna May Winnacot)) has a true understanding of his nature. The relationship between the two Charlies is decidedly uncomfortable, bordering on the incestuous, giving an even more repulsive and disturbing undertone to the storyline. The film implies that an accident as a child unhinged him, but as the film presents him, Uncle Charlie - charming, handsome, successful, but also a cold-blooded killer keeping his hatreds and neuroses close to his chest - is Evil Incarnate.

The film also functions as a satire of small-town, middle-class American values - an odd choice of target for the British Hitchcock, but one he succeeds with completely. Charlie's inert and boring father (Henry Travers) endlessly talks about murders with his bothersome friend Herbie (Hume Cronyn), completely unaware of the successful murderer in their very midst - Hitchcockian black humor at its finest. Charlie's mother Emma is an almost tragic figure: Enraptured by the return of her beloved brother, seemingly not all there mentally, she clings onto an illusory happiness. The nuclear family is revealed as being a simmering , and Charlie only helps to bring these to the surface. Emma is more than a bit facetious when she tells the detectives that "We're not a normal American family"; it's hard to argue against the assertion. Long before David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Desperate Housewives, Hitchcock shows us that beneath even the most idyllic small town lurk hidden desires, repressions, and dangers.

Hitchcock is at his best directorially. It's not his most flashy film but he certainly adapts well to the material. He gives Charlie a clear aura of evil throughout with his shadowy cinematography, and manages to make the most "normal" of American households look menacing. Dimitri Tiomkin creates a moody, effective score that enhances the movie's atmosphere immeasuribly.

The cast is generally solid. Joseph Cotten is not an actor I'm inordinately fond of, but cast very much against type as Charlie, he gives by far his best performance. He is subtle and restrained to the extreme, making Charlie's slow unravelling all the more unsettling. Theresa Wright gives a lovely performance as the younger Charlie, in an intelligent, loving and restless girl caught in an impossible situation. The supporting cast varies in quality: Hume Cronyn and Henry Travers provide some great moments of comedy, and Patricia Collinge is effective as Charlie's confused Mother, but Macdonald Carey and Wallace Ford as the two detectives are stiff, and the romance subplot between Carey and Wright seems awkward and only detracts from the main story.

Shadow of a Doubt is simply one of the greats. I hesitate at listing it as my favorite Hitchcock film (though it's up there with Strangers on a Train, Rope, and Frenzy), but it's definitely on the short list. A film that gets better with each successive viewing is certainly a worthy contender for such a title.

Rating: 9/10 - Highest Recommendation (awful close to a 10)


http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/04/shadow-of-doubt.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/04/shadow-of-doubt.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on April 12, 2009, 06:13:12 AM
 O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 12, 2009, 08:32:53 AM
Although I don't like the film, your review is a good one. Very well put together. I do have to take exception to one of your statements though: "Shadow of a Doubt is among the first films to really explore the underbelly of small-town America." There's a brief scene with Uncles Charlie and Charlie in some kind of bar or club that could be said to qualify (which includes the appearance of a ruined ex-school chum of Charlie's), but other than that, I can't think of any other example of Santa Rosa's "underbelly" and that brief visit hardly constitutes an exploration. By and large, the small town is shown to be a very nice--though dull--place. Of course, Uncle Charlie's arrival changes things, but he is clearly presented as an outsider. In fact, he's the serpent who enters the Garden, only this time Eve see's what he's up to and scuttles his plans. Then the status quo reasserts itself, and small town values are vindicated. Young Charlie is no longer innocent, and will probably end up leaving Eden, but the other inhabitants will continue in their blissful ignorance of a wickeder, wider world. Eden isn't shown to be a lie, just set apart from the Fallen World, and it works for the people there who haven't yet been touched by the outside.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 12, 2009, 09:32:34 AM
Fair point Jenkins. That should have figured into my thinking. O0

This viewing, the whole movie struck me as very similar to Ibsen and Strindberg's various works, which I've unfortunately been writing a lengthy paper on for my English class. I'd wanted to comment more on that but being an insomniac writing at 6 AM kind of impairs one's thinking.

Here's a silly little thing I put together after watching the movie last night. I know it's missing a word but that's my own fault.

(http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2688/3/26/712033031/n712033031_2393419_1237141.jpg)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 12, 2009, 07:43:44 PM
LOL! And that's one creepy looking sausage, too.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Tuco the ugly on April 12, 2009, 08:01:29 PM
I'm afraid to ask but, are we sure that's a real sausage?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 12, 2009, 08:58:57 PM
LOL! And that's one creepy looking sausage, too.

But it's preferred by 4 out of 5 Merry Widows! ;)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 20, 2009, 03:53:52 AM
http://ayearofhitchcock.com/podcast


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on April 20, 2009, 06:15:38 AM
http://ayearofhitchcock.com/podcast
Looks nice O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 27, 2009, 04:49:16 PM
Well, as promised, here's my review of Vertigo after my rewatch today:

Quote
So, Vertigo. This is my second viewing of the film widely considered Alfred Hitchcock's magnum opus, and my reaction remains largely the same: underwhelmed. It's certainly easy to see why Vertigo gets so much critical acclaim: Hitchcock is at the top of his creative game, it features an extraordinary lead performance by James Stewart, and the movie deals with a fascinating subject matter. Unfortunately, much of Vertigo's 129 minutes is a slog, well-made but laboriously paced, with the real meat of the film not coming until the last half hour or so.

John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart) is a police detective who quits the force after his acrophobia (fear of heights) leads to the accidental death of a colleague. Struggling to recover from his injuries physical and mental, he's recruited by an old college friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) to investigate his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), whose increasingly erratic behavior has led him to believe she's been possessed by a malevolent spirit. Scottie and Madeleine fall in love, but their romance is short-lived, as Madeleine commits suicide during one of her trances - leaving Scottie even more distraught and guilt-ridden. Scottie, however, meets Judy (Novak), whom he obsessively makes over into the spitting image of his departed love - only to discover belatedly that she was the Madeliene he knew, both pawns in Elster's elaborate plan to murder his wife.

Vertigo's biggest problem is its story structure and pacing. The film. The early sections of the film is driven primarily by Scottie's sense of guilt - first in allowing his police colleague to die, and then Madeleine. The early scenes of his investigation of Madeliene are very slow, very talky and ultimately a drag - Hitchcock at his worst, without much of his virtues aside from gorgeous photography and art direction. The movie's complete lack of humor, dark or otherwise, is also an odd flaw; Hitchcock excels in inserting humor into even the darkest of his movies, but there's not a trace of his usual wit to be had here. Towards the end, the movie takes a sharp left turn towards an examination of sexual neuroses, where it becomes really interesting - but it seems only marginally connected to the previous sections of the film, with Scottie's overwhelming guilt complex being sublimated by something even more disturbing.

Indeed, the meat of the movie is its dealing with male sexual obsession - in that regard, it's fascinating and more than a bit disturbing. Scottie slowly falls in love with Madeleine, the archetypical cool, calm and distant Hitchcock blonde - or rather, the image of her, rather than the person herself. Scottie has the pretty, smart and affectionate Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes), his ex-fiancee, right under his nose, but he's too wrapped up in Madeleine to pay her any attention, ultimately driving Midge away for trying to make him see how ridiculous the whole thing is. Scottie would rather accept the fantasy of Madeliene, unable to realize its illusory nature, thanks to the acquiescence of Judy. This does have an interesting biographical tinge, considering Hitchcock's personal life, but in doing so reflects the perversity of male sexuality and the gender roles. Unfortunately, the film takes it time getting to this point - it's not until after Madeleine's death that this part of the story really takes hold, and thus it's the better part of 80 minutes before the story finds its real focus and point of interest.

Certainly, Hitchcock has rarely made a more artistically impressive film. Aside from the cheesy dream-sequence two-thirds of the way through, the movie shines technically, with impressive art direction/set design, wonderfully creative cinematography, and gorgeous use of San Francisco and California locations - no studio sets or painted backdrops here. Bernard Herrman provides a wonderfully dramatic and atmospheric score which adds immeasuribly to the film's atmosphere.

James Stewart gives perhaps his best screen performance as Scottie. Stewart had already radically departed from his pre-World War II nice guy image, with increasingly dark and neurotic characters in films like Winchester '73, Rope, and The Naked Spur, but Vertigo provides perhaps the ultimate seperation from his Mr. Smith Goes to Washington/The Shop Around the Corner persona, exploring the depths of neuroses lurking beneath Scottie's nice guy exterior. Kim Novak does a wonderful job balancing both sides of Judy's character, the icey blonde romantic fantasy and the average girl caught between a rock and a hard place. The supporting cast is largely non-descript, aside from Barbara Bel Geddes as Midge, tragically unable to connect with her increasingly distraught friend.

I'm not going to condemn those who acclaim Vertigo as Hitchcock's finest work and a cinematic masterpiece. But the movie has severe narrative and structural flaws that prevent me from giving it that title. A second viewing only confirmed my initial feelings: that Vertigo is a frustratingly disappointing film that is more interesting than entertaining. If it seems I'm being unduly negative in a review of a 7/10 film, it's only because of the film's reputation as a flawless masterpiece.

Rating: 7/10 - Recommended

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/04/vertigo.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/04/vertigo.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on April 28, 2009, 02:15:35 AM
Quote
Aside from the cheesy dream-sequence two-thirds of the way through
I can see why you would call it cheesy but I personally find it very fascinating.

Overall I think Vertigo is more like a David Lynch movie than a Hitchcock movie. To me it's all about the - almost mystical - atmosphere.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 28, 2009, 06:04:24 AM
Quote
The movie's complete lack of humor, dark or otherwise, is also an odd flaw; Hitchcock excels in inserting humor into even the darkest of his movies, but there's not a trace of his usual wit to be had here.
There are in fact 4 gags in the film; go back and look for them. All are associated with Midge, the "light" character that disappears from the plot once the darkness closes in completely. I submit that Midge is essential for the telling of the story, that we need her presence for the first 3 acts of the film, that her absence thereafter is therefore made palpable and thus significant.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 28, 2009, 06:40:09 AM
There are in fact 4 gags in the film; go back and look for them. All are associated with Midge, the "light" character that disappears from the plot once the darkness closes in completely. I submit that Midge is essential for the telling of the story, that we need her presence for the first 3 acts of the film, that her absence thereafter is therefore made palpable and thus significant.

They are very slight gags. The only one I liked was her self-portrait. Four jokes in a 129 minute film isn't much, anyway.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 28, 2009, 12:06:27 PM
There is a very great difference between "slight" and "complete lack of." I have to bring this up because the Italian Word Police are always monitoring these threads.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 28, 2009, 04:13:26 PM
Ah yes, I forgot about him...  :(


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on May 01, 2009, 07:44:03 AM
Family Plot:

Quote
Another day, another Hitchcock film. Today we'll be taking a look at Hitch's final film, the comic thriller Family Plot (1976). Family Plot is generally ranked in the bottom tier of Hitch's work, for whatever reason - the slight plot? The lack of big-name glamorous stars? Like Topaz, it has been unfairly maligned by critics as a general rule, when it really is a fun, entertaining ride - at the very least it's more enjoyable than our previous Hitchcock film. It's more Charade than North By Northwest, but that's not a bad thing.

Blanche Tyler (Barbara Harris) is a fake "psychic" who runs a con-game with her cab driver boyfriend George (Bruce Dern), swindling money off of old, rich widows. However, when one of her clients (Cathleen Nesbit) offers a reward of $10,000 to find her illegitimate nephew - the heir to the family's fortune - Blanche and George engage in a major investigation, finding their job not as easy as it may seem, given that the heir is presumably dead. Unfortunately, Barbara and George find that he is very much alive - only now he's posing under the name Arthur Adamson (William Devane), who along with his girlfriend (Karen Black) is running a lucrative business of kidnapping and extortion.

Family Plot is very slight in content; it lacks the style and depth that characterize Hitchcock's best films. It's Hitchcock lite, but it's much more enjoyable in this regard than many of Hitchcock's other day at the beach films (To Catch a Thief and the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much). The film is consistently funny and well-written, allowing Hitch to indulge his dark sense of humor to the fullest. The movie is basically a very dark comedy of errors, expertly plotted by Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, the surprisingly intricate and clever plot providing. George and Blanche's oblivious investigations bring them in touch with a very dangerous criminal - and yet, they are extremely successful at their con game, making them interesting and sympathetic protagonists. The film only becomes truly dark towards the end, when Blanche and George find themselves in mortal peril, but it's very much in keeping with the rest of the film.

Hitchcock's direction is good if unspectacular: the movie isn't driven so much by direction as the plot and characters, which are expertly drawn. John Williams provides a nice early-career score. As with Frenzy, Hitchcock makes great use of a B-list economy cast: Bruce Dern is excellent as the faux-detective George, Barbara Harris is hysterical as the fake psychic Blanche, William Devane is appropriately slimy and menacing as Adamson, Karen Black alluring, sexy and sympathetic, and fine supporting performances are provided by Ed Lauter, Cathleen Nesbit, Nicholas Colasanto and Katharine Helmond.

Family Plot isn't one of Hitchcock's masterpieces, but it's a fun comic thriller and never really tries to be more than that. Am I saying that it's better than Vertigo? Maybe not artistically, but it's sure more enjoyable.

Rating: 8/10 - Highly Recommended


http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/05/family-plot.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/05/family-plot.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on May 09, 2009, 07:59:51 AM
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) - 7/10
As this is only 75 minutes long, it avoids the draggyness of the remake but is also less impressive visually. The Albert Hall scene in the remake is better mainly because a) the cymbals are introduced earlier b) the colours are amazing. But then again, -34 version has the better ending (frankly I can't remember the ending of the remake but I guess that says a lot). But the actors are so uncharismatic that I barely cared for them. 


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 05, 2009, 02:53:05 PM
Review of North by Northwest after a second viewing:

Quote
Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) is one of Hitchcock's most outstanding achievements, a near-perfect distillation of his cinematic style and penchant for bravura entertainment. Out of this film came pretty much every James Bond adventure, and any number of other action films and thrillers. Its madcap, deliciously complex plotting, however, holds up amazingly well fifty years later, despite innumerable inferior imitations, and the film remains among the best of its type.

Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is a bored, middle-aged Manhattan stockbroker whose life takes a turn for the unusual when he is kidnapped by a pair of thugs during happy hour. He meets with Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), a menacingly cultured man who seems convinced Thornhill is a man named Caplan, and narrowly escapes death at the hands of his thugs. Thornhill inadvertently finds himself in the midst of a complex CIA scheme - Caplan is an invention of a CIA chief known as "the Professor" (Leo G. Carroll), to throw Vandamm (a freelance criminal selling government secrets to foreign governments) off the trail of an agent - and somehow Thornhill gains Caplan's identity. Thornhill winds up accused of murder, tracked by police, the CIA and Vandamm's goons, and falls for a girl, Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who isn't what seems to be at first, second or even third glance. It all leads to an explosive denouement atop Mt. Rushmore as Thornhill's attempts at survival and Vandamm's scheming comes to a head.

North by Northwest is a no-stops, breakneck thriller, full of innumerable twists, turns, betrayals, double-crosses and revelations, each more absurd and incredible than the last. Ernest Lehman's wonderfully inventive, perfectly-constructed and endlessly witty screenplay keeps things moving at a lightning pace. The plot is set in motion by a stray line by a bar waiter, and quickly builds to wonderfully absurd proportions. As in Hitchcock's earlier spy capers - The 39 Steps, Foreign Correspondant and Notorious - the fact of the film's plot (at heart, a rather banal catch the spy story) is not so interesting as how it develops. In this film, Grant's stock broker is ingeniously transformed from a loser mistaken for a super-suave spy, to an actual (if unwitting) hero by film's end - all he needs is the Walther and a Martini and he's James Bond. It's all excrutiatingly absurd, but it works perfectly for that very reason; one doesn't care about the leaps of logic because the whole thing is so damned entertaining.

As usual, Hitchcock excells in set-pieces, and this film featuers some of his very best. The film's most iconic scene is, of course, the six-minute long sequence where Thornhill is buzzed by a crop duster while waiting for a bus. This scene is Hitchcock at his absolute best; with virtually no dialogue and completely without music, he creates an incredibly suspenseful, brilliantly shot sequence - its tertiary relation to the plot hardly prevents it from being a gripping set piece in its own right. The Mt. Rushmore climax, where Roger and Eve dodge Vandamm's thugs, is more conventionally exciting, helped along by Bernard Herrmann's intense, driving score, but manages to almost meet the standard set by the earlier scene. The cinematography, screenplay and music are all perfect, the art direction particularly ingenious - it's really hard to find fault with the movie unless one is looking at from a logical standpoint, which is just silly.

Cary Grant is pitch-perfect as Thornhill, the Hitchcockian Everyman forced into an impossible situation; this is arguably his signature role and he plays it to the hilt, investing the reluctant spy with suave, cynical world-weariness and clipped, witty charm. James Mason easily matches Grant, having some choice dialogue and stealing his every scene through sheer charisma. Mason was often typecast as cultured bad guys, but rarely more affective than here (I exempt Lord Jim, of course); one doesn't mind typecasting when the actor is perfect for it. Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront) is wonderfully cast against type as the beautiful, sexy and conflicted Eve - the archetypical "Hitchcock blonde" - and her chemistry with Grant is wonderful. The supporting cast includes fine performances by Hitchcock regular Leo G. Carroll, Martin Landau as Vandamm's chief thug, and Jessie Royce Landis has an amusing bit as Thornhill's exasperated mother. (Also keep an eye out for one of Hitch's most amusing cameos.)

North by Northwest is a near-perfect piece of classic Hollywood entertainment. The only reason it doesn't get a ten is because I wouldn't rate in my personal top five, but such arbitrariness in number ratings should not dissuade you from seeing it ASAP.

Rating: 9/10 - Highest Recommendation

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/north-by-northwest.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/north-by-northwest.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: twood on August 06, 2009, 08:23:16 AM

Shadow of a Doubt 3/10


WTF?!   Awesome film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 06, 2009, 06:12:23 PM
Review of North by Northwest after a second viewing:

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/north-by-northwest.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/north-by-northwest.html)
Not a bad review. You neglected to note the significance of names like "Thornhill" "Eve" and "Vandamm" or how the film follows the formula of medieval quest motifs, but I don't want to get picky.

Oh, Grant doesn't play a stock broker, he's a Mad(ison Avenue) Man.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 06, 2009, 06:13:05 PM
WTF?!   Awesome film.
Oops. Let me change that to a "2".


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 07, 2009, 06:15:13 AM
You're right about Thornhill's profession, how'd I miss that? :-\


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2009, 01:30:56 PM
You're right about Thornhill's profession, how'd I miss that? :-\
An important detail in a film whose theme is illusion vs. reality.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on August 08, 2009, 02:03:26 PM
An important detail in a film whose theme is illusion vs. reality.

Care to elaborate, Jenkins? I'm just curious as to what you have say because I never thought about this movie in thematic terms.

And what do you guys think about Marnie? I love it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 02:39:11 PM
I thought Marnie was very good, it's been awhile since I've seen it. I was really impressed by Tippi Hedren if memory serves.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Colonel Günther Ruiz on August 08, 2009, 03:02:30 PM
Review of North by Northwest after a second viewing:

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/north-by-northwest.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/north-by-northwest.html)

Agreed, a fine review.  I can only imagine what Hitch thought of the immense popularity of From Russia with Love and other Bond flicks.  Compare the cropduster scene from NbNw to the clumsy, confusing helicopter scene in FRwL, a poorly directed, half-assed imitation.  Some of the early Bonds are entertaining enough but none of them have aged as well as NbNw.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 03:12:25 PM
I seem to recall Hitch hating the Bond films (their blatant copying of the NxNW formula being a major part of it) and he made his "realistic" spy flicks Torn Curtain and Topaz as a sort of rebuttal. I don't have a source for this onhand, though.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on August 08, 2009, 03:14:18 PM
I thought Marnie was very good, it's been awhile since I've seen it. I was really impressed by Tippi Hedren if memory serves.

Her voice was perfectly suited for such a troubled character. I love that a character's psyche is at the forefront of the plot, as opposed to the usual mysterious event or happenings - yet we get that at its conclusion. It's a twisted little movie.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 03:28:52 PM
It covers a lot of the same ground as Spellbound, but a lot better I thought. Marnie was more of a character study, Spellbound was actually ABOUT the Freudian bull puckey.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2009, 04:24:10 PM
Care to elaborate, Jenkins? I'm just curious as to what you have say because I never thought about this movie in thematic terms.
Early on, play-acting is expressly invoked. Thornhill, in his first encounter with Vandamm, insists he is on his way to see a performance at "The Winter Garden theater" and the villain replies, "You make this very room a theater" (or something like that, I'm going by memory). Later, when Roger returns with the police, the woman at the house fools the officials with a false story and Thornhill comments, exasperatedly, "What a performance!" The bad guys think Thornhill is pretending not to be an agent when they "know" that he is one (and they don't get why he is insisting on a cover that's been blown). In fact, Thornhill ends up playing the part of Kaplan, the fictional agent he's identified with. The play-acting idea is revived in the Auction Scene, when Vandamm tells Thornhill (something along the lines of) "You should get less training from the FBI and more from the Actor's Studio." Thornhill replies: "Apparently the only thing that will satisfy you is when I play dead." The rejoinder: "Your very next role. You'll be most convincing." This in fact is prophetic, because Thornhill soon convinces everyone that Eve has killed him. Finally, Thornhill saves the day and gets the girl by doing the very hero stuff that "Kaplan" would have done if there had been such a person to begin with. Thornhill, orginally the Madison Avenue man who spins illusions to ensnare hapless consumers, becomes himself ensnared by an illusion. Ironically, this is all to the good: Thornhill is made more authentic by his experience, and in the process, saves Eve and National Security. He can never go back to being the callow pitchman he was before. Play-acting has been good for him.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2009, 04:38:00 PM
It covers a lot of the same ground as Spellbound, but a lot better I thought. Marnie was more of a character study, Spellbound was actually ABOUT the Freudian bull puckey.
Yes, it's more successful, until it actually tries wrapping things up. The last couple of minutes--the explanation--ruins the film for me. Better that things had not been made so explicit. You have to believe in the Freudian paradigm to believe in the solution offered, and even in 1964 audiences were skeptical. A film like Vertigo, by contrast, is better because it depicts plausible psychology without offering an "analysis" of it.

Btw, another thriller with a Freudian solution is Robert Benton's Still of the Night (1982).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on August 08, 2009, 05:42:28 PM
Early on, play-acting is expressly invoked. Thornhill, in his first encounter with Vandamm, insists he is on his way to see a performance at "The Winter Garden theater" and the villain replies, "You make this very room a theater" (or something like that, I'm going by memory). Later, when Roger returns with the police, the woman at the house fools the officials with a false story and Thornhill comments, exasperatedly, "What a performance!" The bad guys think Thornhill is pretending not to be an agent when they "know" that he is one (and they don't get why he is insisting on a cover that's been blown). In fact, Thornhill ends up playing the part of Kaplan, the fictional agent he's identified with. The play-acting idea is revived in the Auction Scene, when Vandamm tells Thornhill (something along the lines of) "You should get less training from the FBI and more from the Actor's Studio." Thornhill replies: "Apparently the only thing that will satisfy you is when I play dead." The rejoinder: "Your very next role. You'll be most convincing." This in fact is prophetic, because Thornhill soon convinces everyone that Eve has killed him. Finally, Thornhill saves the day and gets the girl by doing the very hero stuff that "Kaplan" would have done if there had been such a person to begin with. Thornhill, orginally the Madison Avenue man who spins illusions to ensnare hapless consumers, becomes himself ensnared by an illusion. Ironically, this is all to the good: Thornhill is made more authentic by his experience, and in the process, saves Eve and National Security. He can never go back to being the callow pitchman he was before. Play-acting has been good for him.

I wish I had something to add, but that's great analysis, and I completely agree after watching it earlier this week.

And I agree with Groggs about Spellbound, on how it's more about the theory than the character and how Marnie is superior to telling a similar story.

I didn't have a problem with the explanation in the final moments in Marnie because I saw the plot as a character study + mystery - but if you think the theory is too extraordinary, then I can see how it can  ruin the overall experience, in a way. It arguably would be a better movie had Connery tried shaking down the mother for information, failed, and had his relationship with Marnie dissolve because of it. I will say the explanation is a lot more effective than in Psycho, which feels tacked on.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2009, 05:52:44 PM
I will say the explanation is a lot more effective than in Psycho, which feels tacked on.
I can agree with you there.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 05:56:26 PM
Hitchcock's apparent need to explain everything to the audience does get a bit annoying. Pretty much all of his films have at least one big scene where everything stops cold for a lengthy, throat-clearing bit of exposition. Leo G. Carroll in North by Northwest is another good example, Kim Novak's monologue in Vertigo after meeting Stewart as her real identity, several key scenes in Rebecca (the scene where Olivier explains what happens to his wife has to go on for ten minutes at least). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting. In his best films it can usually be overlooked, but generally it's one of his worst attributes as a director.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on August 08, 2009, 06:08:27 PM
Hitchcock's apparent need to explain everything to the audience does get a bit annoying. Pretty much all of his films have at least one big scene where everything stops cold for a lengthy, throat-clearing bit of exposition. Leo G. Carroll in North by Northwest is another good example, Kim Novak's monologue in Vertigo after meeting Stewart as her real identity, several key scenes in Rebecca (the scene where Olivier explains what happens to his wife has to go on for ten minutes at least). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting. In his best films it can usually be overlooked, but generally it's one of his worst attributes as a director.

Outside of the cameos, it's probably his worst. I completely agree.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 06:17:41 PM
I usually like his cameos when I can pick them out. At the very worst I don't notice them in most of his films, I only pick up on the really obvious ones.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on August 08, 2009, 06:52:44 PM
I was joking, I don't mind them either. I always catch them but I never consciously try to play "where's waldo", so to speak.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 06:59:24 PM
Marnie is probably my favorite of the one's I've been able to spot. Rope gets points for creativity though.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on August 08, 2009, 07:24:43 PM
I don't even remember the cameo from Marnie but I know that I saw it. I can't really recall too many, yet I almost always catch them

You might find this interesting or amusing:

http://www.filmsite.org/hitchcockcameos.html (http://www.filmsite.org/hitchcockcameos.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 08, 2009, 07:43:54 PM
I'll give that link a look tomorrow.

In Marnie he was in the hotel hallway near the beginning and gave the camera a guilty look.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: twood on August 11, 2009, 08:49:18 AM
SPELLBOUND was pretty crap IMO, just a silly movie.

I believe Hitch rated 'Shadow of Doubt' as his greatest film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 11, 2009, 10:25:10 AM
SPELLBOUND was pretty crap IMO, just a silly movie.

I believe Hitch rated 'Shadow of Doubt' as his greatest film.

And with good reason. I've come around to that opinion myself. Of the Hitchcocks I've seen more than once, so for it holds up the best to repeat viewings; I'll have to see NxNW again to confirm this though.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 11, 2009, 04:46:20 PM
Hitchcock's apparent need to explain everything to the audience does get a bit annoying. Pretty much all of his films have at least one big scene where everything stops cold for a lengthy, throat-clearing bit of exposition. Leo G. Carroll in North by Northwest is another good example, Kim Novak's monologue in Vertigo after meeting Stewart as her real identity, several key scenes in Rebecca (the scene where Olivier explains what happens to his wife has to go on for ten minutes at least). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting. In his best films it can usually be overlooked, but generally it's one of his worst attributes as a director.
I don't think you can make a blanket statement on this. There are times when pieces of exposition show up as giant frozen turds, impossible to digest (Simon Oakland's speech in Psycho is the most egregious example), but at other times they are necessary and somewhat more artfully deployed. Leo G. Carroll's appearances in NxNW are cases in point: the first time he shows it's mostly to bring the slower audience members up to speed, but his appearance also marks the end of the film's first act and launches the second one. Thereafter, he operates as a kind of Chorus, summing up the action but also signaling transitions: he's there at the end of the second act (at the Northwest ticket counter and then on the field where a lot of needless exposition is cleverly masked by a propeller starting up), and of course he's there at the end of the third act, on top of Mt. Rushmore (just before the epilogue). Given the fact that he is something of a puppetmaster throughout, it is appropriate for "the Professor" to appear and speak about the story he is, in a sense, bringing to our attention.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 13, 2009, 06:35:17 AM
Happy Birthday! O0 O0 O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 13, 2009, 06:36:49 PM
Review of The Wrong Man:

Quote
Today is the 110th birthday of the great Alfred Hitchcock, and to celebrate a gave a rewatch to one of his most overlooked films, The Wrong Man (1956). Although a very atypical Hitchcock film - a docudrama about a real-life case - Hitchcock invests the film with his usual style and skill. The result is one of Hitchcock's very best films, deserving of far more praise than it usually receives.

Christopher "Manny" Balestrero (Henry Fonda) is a musician at New York's Stork Club. While trying take out a loan for wife Rose (Vera Miles)'s dental surgery, he is mistaken by an insurance clerk for a man wanted for several robberies. A chain of events sees Manny arrested by the police, who use witness testimony and circumstantial evidence to indict him of murder. While Manny struggles to clear his name, he notices his wife, wracked by grief and despair, is slowly slipping into dementia. Manny enlists the help of ambitious lawyer Frank O'Connor (Anthony Quayle) to help clear his name legally, but his wife may be beyond saving.

The Wrong Man is a combination of social problem films with Hitchcock's usual preoccupations. The wrong man theme is, of course, one of Hitchcock's favorite storylines, but rarely was it. Similarly, Hitchcock's psychological musings, often obnoxious, overwrought and (Spellbound, Marnie), take on a wholly realistic, with not only Manny's plight but Rose's heartbreaking dissent into madness. By applying it to a real-life case, Hitchcock allows many of his to apply to fruition. The movie obviously isn't as fun or entertaining as, say, Psycho or North by Northwest, but it's a fascinating, thoughtful work in its own right.

Hitchcock's fear of police has made for many a memorable scene in his films (Mort Mills in Psycho perhaps epitomizing this), but his portrayal of the cold, police system is chilling. The title and the casting of iconic good guy Henry Fonda as Manny indicate that a question of guilt is not at stake; the film is not about guilt or innocence, or suspense in any meaningful way, but about how wrong the whole system inherently is. Manny is arrested without a warrant outside his own home, paraded in front of witnesses and interrogated, without having any rights provided to him, without even a lawyer. Though the cops (Harold J. Stone and Charles Cooper) patronizingly tell Manny that they're on his side, they immediately transform Manny into a criminal at the slightest provocation; indeed, it seems that the cops are taking advantage of a legally-ignorant man for their own sake. The whole scene is chilling, something that might be expected in a fascist state, but not 1950's America. The whole ordeal is, in its own way, as terrifying as Hitchcock's horror films; we can only hope that things have improved somewhat since the film was. The film would make "problem directors" like Sam Fuller, Robert Aldrich and Gillo Pontecorvo proud; arguably, it's even more pointed and venomous than their works.

The film is not nearly as stylish as most of Hitchcock's films, but the warped, surreal nightmare of Vertigo wouldn't suit the material. Drawing heavily on Italian neo-realism and the wave of American "kitchen-sink" drama, Hitchcock provides a stark, look, aside from a few style touches of mixed quality (the painfully obvious "spinning camera" as Manny languishes in jail) and Robert Burke's nice deep-focus photography that would make Orson Welles proud. Still, Hitchcock is to be commended for marrying his usual style to the film's docudrama tone with relative ease - a testament to his talent and versatility. Bernard Herrman provides a lively, nervous jazz score that perfectly counterparts the action.

Henry Fonda gives one of his very best performances as Manny. Fonda underplays the role wonderfully; his Manny is not a righteous Atticus Finch, giving speeches about social justice or the evil of his tormentors, but a normal guy trying to navigate through an unjust system without complaint or comment. Equally impressive is Vera Miles in her break-out role; so annoying as a comic relief foil in John Ford's The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, she shows a remarkable amount of range and subtlety, perfectly playing Rose's mixture of guilt, despair and anguish. The always-dependable Anthony Quayle gives a fine, layered performance as the lawyer Connor, though his English accent seems out of place; Harold J. Stone, Charles Cooper, Esther Mincotti, and Richard Robbins provide strong support. Hogan's Heroes star Werner Klemperer has a nice (uncredited) role as a psychiatrist.

The Wrong Man is a great film, and makes it into my top three Hitchcock movies. Those expecting a typical Hitchcock film (if there is such a thing) might be disappointed; expect a fine film and you will pleased.

Rating: 9/10 - Highest Recommendation

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/wrong-man.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/08/wrong-man.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 24, 2009, 10:41:11 AM

Suspicion (1941)

One of only a handful of Hitchcocks I enjoyed thoroughly in the last couple of years, that horrible ending being excluded of course, just wiped out as it doesn't or never did exist. Very good story with constant suspenseful discharging and recharging of Joan Fontaine's character. And Joan Fontaine playing Lina... One of the distinguished few actresses that you could put your hand in the fire for them winning an Oscar. Gorgeous, charismatic, gawky, suspicious, loving, etc. etc. She did everything here, she really did deserve that little statuette. Hell, I even like Cary Grant in this. Good work Mr. Hitchcock.


8/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 24, 2009, 10:47:42 AM
Suspicion (1941)

One of only a handful of Hitchcocks I enjoyed thoroughly in the last couple of years, that horrible ending being excluded of course, just wiped out as it doesn't or never did exist. Very good story with constant suspenseful discharging and recharging of Joan Fontaine's character. And Joan Fontaine playing Lina... One of the distinguished few actresses that you could put your hand in the fire for them winning an Oscar. Gorgeous, charismatic, gawky, suspicious, loving, etc. etc. She did everything here, she really did deserve that little statuette. Hell, I even like Cary Grant in this. Good work Mr. Hitchcock.


8/10
Well, when you're right you're right. And you're right!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 24, 2009, 02:51:47 PM
Suspicion (1941)

One of only a handful of Hitchcocks I enjoyed thoroughly in the last couple of years, that horrible ending being excluded of course, just wiped out as it doesn't or never did exist. Very good story with constant suspenseful discharging and recharging of Joan Fontaine's character. And Joan Fontaine playing Lina... One of the distinguished few actresses that you could put your hand in the fire for them winning an Oscar. Gorgeous, charismatic, gawky, suspicious, loving, etc. etc. She did everything here, she really did deserve that little statuette. Hell, I even like Cary Grant in this. Good work Mr. Hitchcock.


8/10

I saw this a short time ago, it was really cool.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 24, 2009, 02:53:43 PM
Well, when you're right you're right. And you're right!

Under Capricorn next, never seen that one. I have a feeling that might be an unbeknown gem.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 26, 2009, 08:06:26 AM
Under Capricorn next, never seen that one. I have a feeling that might be an unbeknown gem.
Unbeknown to some. FYI, the only DVD that does justice to the Technicolor is the French edition (and it has forced French subtitles). But if you ever get a chance to see the film projected . . . .

DVDBeaver reviews/compares the new NxNW Blu-ray: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare5/northbynorthwest.htm


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 26, 2009, 10:06:41 AM
Under Capricorn next, never seen that one. I have a feeling that might be an unbeknown gem.

It just about induced hibernation in me. If you can buy Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman as Aussies, maybe you'll enjoy it more, but I sure as hell couldn't.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 26, 2009, 02:44:14 PM

I didn't watch Under Capricorn, but decided to go for Secret Agent instead. I had them both in hand and for whatever reason my hand spontaneously pushed in the later. Hmm, the sixth sense speaking?



Secret Agent (1936)

Mediocre spy flick made interesting by the then rising star John Gielgud and the always sinister-looking Peter Lorre. Certain parts looked extremely amateurish and low-budget to me; the first 15 minutes or so is mostly two persons and a camera stuff, with the camera rarely making a notable movement or the characters saying something important. Other than that there's a couple of curious moments and line exchanges between characters; the brief scene in the church (dead guy playing the organs) being almost brilliant.

You can watch it and it won't hurt you, but there's really no need unless you wanna see every single movie made by Alfred Hitchcock, or starring either John Gielgud or Peter Lorre.


6/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 26, 2009, 02:52:34 PM
You can watch it and it won't hurt you, but there's really no need unless you wanna see every single movie made by Alfred Hitchcock, or starring either John Gielgud or Peter Lorre.
Or Madeleine Carroll. But I think your take is essentially correct.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 26, 2009, 03:41:01 PM
Or Madeleine Carroll.

Madeleine Carroll, yeah, she was alright, but besides this and The 39 Steps I couldn't really name any movie she was in.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 26, 2009, 06:55:43 PM
She's in the '37 version of The Prisoner of Zenda. She's also in Preminger's adaptation of "Lady Windermere's Fan" (called The Fan). But the 2 Hitchcock films are undoubtedly her most famous roles.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 26, 2009, 08:00:44 PM
She's in the '37 version of The Prisoner of Zenda. She's also in Preminger's adaptation of "Lady Windermere's Fan" (called The Fan). But the 2 Hitchcock films are undoubtedly her most famous roles.

TPOZ I've been preparing to watch for a long time, but by the time I was ready couldn't find the movie anymore. . .  Sorry Madeleine.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 26, 2009, 08:58:04 PM

Psycho (1960)

A very good and in more than one department innovative if rather typical Hitchcock flick. I still like it a great deal but on the other hand perfectly understand why it doesn't fare so well with many anymore. It's real strange that the usual carefully minced Hitchcock logic falls short more than once here for the sake of making the story flow further. For example: it always baffles me the part where Marion hears the 'fight' between Norman and his mother from the motel, I mean that's just not possible. I know it might be just a minor thing in the whole movie but it always irritates me a great deal, because you know it's not Hitchcock's reputation to put logic aside for the sake of the story flow. As a matter of fact, in most of his movies the logic of the cases dictates the tempo and flow of the story. How many times, no matter how good certain movies of his are, you say something like this to yourself while watching it: OK, yeah Hitch, it's a good mystery, no argument about that, but couldn't you have pushed the logical babbling aside a little and concentrated on the characters being more spontaneous? I think he alone understood this and tried to compensate it with some later scenes, but actually did quite the contrary. The infamous ''undressing scene'', in which Marion's boyfriend fights 'Norman Bates' mother' and undresses 'her' at the same time. I mean what the hell is that? It may have symbolical connotations, but it looks frickin' ridiculous. Same thing with the final ''doctor scene'', but that one is a little more lubricated because the actor playing the doctor did a great job, and you can imagine him being a doctor from bumfuck (Arizona), happy that he has the chance to tell someone about the most complex case that he witnessed in his career.

So, I still like it, but it's far from a perfect movie everybody seems to think it is, and I don't agree it's Hitchcock's best.


7.75/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 27, 2009, 09:46:36 AM
Same thing with the final ''doctor scene'', but that one is a little more lubricated because the actor playing the doctor did a great job, and you can imagine him being a doctor from bumfuck (Arizona), happy that he has the chance to tell someone about the most complex case that he witnessed in his career.
The great Simon Oakland, playing against type. He usually got cast as the loudmouthed jerk nobody could stand. I always remember him (fondly) as Vern St. Cloud from The Rockford Files.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 27, 2009, 02:32:27 PM
The first time I saw that scene it didn't make any sense at all to me. Not what the guy was saying but rather why was he saying it, because it was so obvious from the movie; Bates went nuts and started dressing like his dead mother, and he killed a few people to make the whole process more entertaining. - What was there that needed further explaination? The only credible interpretation that I could find to ease the grip of banality was that one about the revigorated doctor from bumfuck (Arizona).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 27, 2009, 05:48:15 PM
Well, I think he's there for dramatic effect. The 1960 audience had been put through the ringer, and the comforting words of the Doc would help everybody decompress and prepare them to re-enter real life. Or at least that's the way it appeared at first. Actually, AH was lulling his audience into a false sense of security ("Norman Bates can be explained; there's a rational world out there after all") before leveling the final sucker punch: the trunk of the car with Marion's dead body in it, suddenly rising from the muck. Explain that one, Doctor!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 27, 2009, 09:33:04 PM
That fits too in the ''compensation theory'' I mentioned before.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 28, 2009, 09:52:40 AM

Vertigo (1958)

The thing that pisses me off about Vertigo is that its degree of realism is not even zero, it's below zero. This is often a problem with Hitchcock's movies, but here he really exaggerated. I mean, apart from the murders and a romance went wrong from time to time, the characters have no worries whatsoever in their happy little lives. There's no sick people and certainly no suffering people, there's no poor people, they all live in nice apartments and dine in fine restaurants, they all have interesting hobbies, they all have free time at hands whenever needed, they're all smart and intuitive and more than willing to pursue (and ultimately solve) constant mysteries. They just glide from point A to point B to satisfy the director's obsession with murder plots. To make it short - they're only instruments, they're not even characters, they only serve to resolve the mystery and nothing else. All the other stuff they do is there just to fill the screen-time and nothing more, they're irrelevant and shallow. It's garbage; they don't live, and to call them one-dimensional would be a compliment.

Of course, the mystery itself is good, I won't lie saying I didn't enjoy it to a certain degree, it's not exceptional but it's (although overlong) good and entertaining... For a mystery episode in a TV show, certainly not for a movie that is considered by many to be one of the best movies ever made.


7.2/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 28, 2009, 09:58:52 AM
I again didn't watch Under Capricorn... Something went wrong with the DVD player; I can hear it working but it wont open. I opened it to see what's wrong and it looked like he recovered, I though the contact was weak cause of the dust or something, but then again went crazy as soon as I closed it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 28, 2009, 10:04:44 AM
My problem with Vertigo is more that it leaves the real meat for the end of the movie. I didn't find the mystery plot that interesting, even with a rewatch (perhaps even ESPECIALLY with a re-watch) - the first hour is pretty rote stuff if you ask me, not really interesting at all. Then the movie completely shifts gears and its depiction of Stewart's dissent into fetishism and madness is absolutely gripping. The problem with that, though, is that it has seemingly nothing to do with what came before - the movie had been an exploration of Scottie's guilt, now it takes a left turn into a story of sexual obsession. What? I like Kim Novak, she does the icey blonde thing very well, and James Stewart gives close to a career-best performance. Certainly on a technical level the film is without fault, but it still leaves me cold. Jinkies can masturbate over the admittedly great score all he likes; I don't subscribe to a literal interperetation of the "score is 40% of a movie" scale as he does, and the movie has bigger problems than that.

PS: Under Capricorn isn't worth going any great lengths to see, but if you for some bizarre reason you REALLY want to see it, it is on YouTube.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 28, 2009, 10:54:18 AM
My problem with Vertigo is more that it leaves the real meat for the end of the movie. I didn't find the mystery plot that interesting, even with a rewatch (perhaps even ESPECIALLY with a re-watch) - the first hour is pretty rote stuff if you ask me, not really interesting at all. Then the movie completely shifts gears and its depiction of Stewart's dissent into fetishism and madness is absolutely gripping. The problem with that, though, is that it has seemingly nothing to do with what came before - the movie had been an exploration of Scottie's guilt, now it takes a left turn into a story of sexual obsession. What?
It's a layered approach. The movie begins by posing the question, What's the worst thing that could befall someone? The tentative answer: to be the person responsible for the death of another. Is there anything worse? In a few minutes another answer is offered: to be the person responsible for the death of your loved one. Is there yet one degree more exquisitely awful than that? The ending posits a seeming impossibility: to be the person responsible for the death of that loved one twice.

There is no left turn in the plot, but the steady escalation of catastrophe. The sexual obsession is in addition to the sense of guilt, but a relationship between the two is suggested. Guilt precedes obsession; is it causative?

I take the point about Vertigo--and Hitchcock generally--not concerning itself/himself with realism and/or credible characters. But that's not what we go to Hitchcock for. It's like criticizing opera for having people singing their feelings. It isn't realistic, but there are compensations, the music being the main one.

There is, as it happens, impressive music in Vertiigo too. The film is virtually an opera, where "all the aria's are stared" (to re-purpose a quote applied to the work of another director). In fact, the love theme is lifted almost whole cloth from the overture to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. The music conveys more in the way of emotion than any explication of character ever could. I never have any problem "feeling" what Scottie feels. The ending of the film always leaves me devastated.

Which is to say, Realism is fine, but that's not all there is to Reality.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 28, 2009, 11:16:17 AM
My problem with Vertigo is more that it leaves the real meat for the end of the movie. I didn't find the mystery plot that interesting, even with a rewatch (perhaps even ESPECIALLY with a re-watch) - the first hour is pretty rote stuff if you ask me, not really interesting at all. Then the movie completely shifts gears and its depiction of Stewart's dissent into fetishism and madness is absolutely gripping. The problem with that, though, is that it has seemingly nothing to do with what came before - the movie had been an exploration of Scottie's guilt, now it takes a left turn into a story of sexual obsession. What? I like Kim Novak, she does the icey blonde thing very well, and James Stewart gives close to a career-best performance. Certainly on a technical level the film is without fault, but it still leaves me cold.

This is in fact only a symptom of something I'd call ''The Hitchcockian TV syndrome''; Alfred Hitchcock being more interested in the mystery than the other parts of the movie, but too proud to admit it. After years of more subtle (yet pretty obvious) escalation we get what we get in Vertigo; a movie with a good mystery that is unfortunately sluggishly carried for about 2 hours and ultimately eroded by the director's vanity. Vertigo is TV stuff, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", and despite being visually/technically pleasing on the highest level possible, it does not change the fact that it is (as you noted yourself) empty and irrelevant for nearly 3/4 of its running time, and (as I noted myself) babbittly vexing and shallow.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 28, 2009, 11:21:19 AM
PS: Under Capricorn isn't worth going any great lengths to see, but if you for some bizarre reason you REALLY want to see it, it is on YouTube.

I have it, but the DVD player won't open, and I don't feel like watching it on my computer.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 28, 2009, 11:36:06 AM
I take the point about Vertigo--and Hitchcock generally--not concerning itself/himself with realism and/or credible characters. But that's not what we go to Hitchcock for. It's like criticizing opera for having people singing their feelings. It isn't realistic, but there are compensations, the music being the main one.

There is, as it happens, impressive music in Vertiigo too. The film is virtually an opera, where "all the aria's are stared" (to re-purpose a quote applied to the work of another director). In fact, the love theme is lifted almost whole cloth from the overture to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. The music conveys more in the way of emotion than any explication of character ever could. I never have any problem "feeling" what Scottie feels. The ending of the film always leaves me devastated.

That's absolutely true (can't argue with that and don't want to be a hypocrite), but it is also ultimately the reason why today Alfred Hitchcock is mostly considered/remembered as the ''master of suspense'', and not a ''master director'' such as: Sergio Leone, Andrey Tarkovsky, Luis Buñuel or those other distinguished few. It is also the reason why many of his movies are slowly but steadily being chewed by the tooth of time.

That perhaps is snobism, but it also makes very much sense.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 28, 2009, 08:40:06 PM
That's absolutely true (can't argue with that and don't want to be a hypocrite), but it is also ultimately the reason why today Alfred Hitchcock is mostly considered/remembered as the ''master of suspense'', and not a ''master director'' such as: Sergio Leone, Andrey Tarkovsky, Luis Buñuel or those other distinguished few. It is also the reason why many of his movies are slowly but steadily being chewed by the tooth of time.
And yet more books have been written on Hitchcock than on any other director in the history of cinema. His critical standing is not in doubt. Look at the last Sight & Sound Poll (2002): Vertigo is right up there after Citizen Kane.
And it has arrived there after steadily rising in the ranks for decades.

You're free to dissent, and I'm not even trying to convince you that Vertigo and Hitchcock are great, but you're off the track if you think that there are not many who feel that AH is the acme of film excellence.

BTW, the AH film that most closely resembles the TV show is not Vertigo, but Psycho. Hitchcock even used his TV crew to shoot the picture. This explains why the second half is so bland (Vera Miles and Martin Balsam being TV actors mostly), and why it relies on so many less-than-interesting sets. It really is Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Motion Picture.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 31, 2009, 05:03:38 AM
And yet more books have been written on Hitchcock than on any other director in the history of cinema. His critical standing is not in doubt.

I don't know if that's true but it's fascinating nevertheless. From the technical point of view there is definitely much to write about him, but not so much about the psychology of the characters, diversity of the stories, genres of his movies and things like that. Once you figure out the mold he preferred (or better - was obsessed with), his opus becomes as intriguing as a peeled banana.

''We don't go to Hitchcock for that'', that is true, he was good/great at what he was doing, the problem today is that his field of interest was too narrow; those things that are missing in his movies make a huge difference to me. For example; if you watch Leone's opus you can see he directed 5 Westerns out of 7 movies he directed altogether, so at first you could say he wasn't much different from Hitchcock, but if you'd examine how many aspects of every bit of those movies he explored, there would be no question who's the more versatile and inspired - greater - director.

Look at the last Sight & Sound Poll (2002): Vertigo is right up there after Citizen Kane.

Sorry, I do care for other people's opinions, to a certain extent, but absolutely hate polls, ''best of'' lists and things like that. I mean, I might check some every once and a while but just out of curiosity, they never make me change my mind about movies.

And it has arrived there after steadily rising in the ranks for decades.

Now, I think he has 2 or 3 movies that are worthy enough to be considered the Creme de la Cremme of the genre, if we're talking about them than I agree his reputation may be cemented (or actually gradually rising) in the tops of mainstream cinema, but I'm pretty sure the general consensus about his opus is slowly but steadily going downhill as time passes.

You're free to dissent, and I'm not even trying to convince you that Vertigo and Hitchcock are great, but you're off the track if you think that there are not many who feel that AH is the acme of film excellence.

Hitchcock is great, but only in certain fields, just as Vertigo is good, but only in certain fields. As I see it, that's the problem, and I believe more and more will see this as the true with each passing year. Ultimately, if that didn't convince you, I'll say that many different people think many different things are excellent, but that doesn't necessarily make them so. :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 31, 2009, 08:17:37 AM
I don't know if that's true but it's fascinating nevertheless. From the technical point of view there is definitely much to write about him, but not so much about the psychology of the characters, diversity of the stories, genres of his movies and things like that.
You need to take a look at a copy of Sloan's Alfred Hitchcock: A Guide to References and Resources (1993). The annotated bibliography in it is 200 pages long, and few of the works referenced there deal with technical issues. And if a new edition of Sloan were released now, the bibliography would probably have to be twice as long. People continue to write about Hitchcock because they want to engage his ideas, not endlessly discuss the camera lenses he used.

It's interesting that you mention psychology of the characters, because AH has been extremely popular with Freudians. Robin Wood is probably the one with the highest profile, and he's been writing on psychology in Hitchcock since 1965. Not being a Freudian myself I don't get much out of a psychological approach; I prefer coming at the films from a archetypal perspective, partly because of my own training in literary studies, but also because of the large influence a book called The Hitchcock Romance(1989) has had on me. The author, Leslie Brill, painstakingly demonstrated that AH's films could be divided into four types: comedies, tragedies, works of irony, and romances (the last being in the mold of medieval adventure tales). Brill thinks AH favored romances (the most successful example being NxNW), but it doesn't take long to find examples of other types in his films: Rear Window is a capital "C" comedy, Vertigo a tragedy, Psycho is probably best viewed as a work of irony (that is, an Anti-romance). And once you acknowledge the existence of multiple genres in Hitchcock, it is easy to treat his oeuvre much as you would treat the works of Shakespeare (who also produced comedies, tragedies, works of irony (histories), and romances).

For my own part, I find Vertigo every bit as interesting as Othello; I await an occasion upon which to construct an essay comparing and contrasting the two.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on October 31, 2009, 11:36:35 AM
You need to take a look at a copy of Sloan's Alfred Hitchcock: A Guide to References and Resources (1993). The annotated bibliography in it is 200 pages long, and few of the works referenced there deal with technical issues. And if a new edition of Sloan were released now, the bibliography would probably have to be twice as long. People continue to write about Hitchcock because they want to engage his ideas, not endlessly discuss the camera lenses he used.

It's interesting that you mention psychology of the characters, because AH has been extremely popular with Freudians. Robin Wood is probably the one with the highest profile, and he's been writing on psychology in Hitchcock since 1965. Not being a Freudian myself I don't get much out of a psychological approach; I prefer coming at the films from a archetypal perspective, partly because of my own training in literary studies, but also because of the large influence a book called The Hitchcock Romance(1989) has had on me. The author, Leslie Brill, painstakingly demonstrated that AH's films could be divided into four types: comedies, tragedies, works of irony, and romances (the last being in the mold of medieval adventure tales). Brill thinks AH favored romances (the most successful example being NxNW), but it doesn't take long to find examples of other types in his films: Rear Window is a capital "C" comedy, Vertigo a tragedy, Psycho is probably best viewed as a work of irony (that is, an Anti-romance). And once you acknowledge the existence of multiple genres in Hitchcock, it is easy to treat his oeuvre much as you would treat the works of Shakespeare (who also produced comedies, tragedies, works of irony (histories), and romances).

For my own part, I find Vertigo every bit as interesting as Othello; I await an occasion upon which to construct an essay comparing and contrasting the two.

I probably didn't express myself the best way; under ''technicality'' I meant not only things like camera lenses, sets, set lightening, etc., but everything that is chewed up in a routinely way multiple times before being implemented in the movie, without too much passion. Exactly what I see the main flaw of Hitchcock's opus; passion becoming obsession and finally mutating into formality. Therefore the screenplay/story and its characters can also be considered technicalities, and I considered them to be exactly that in many Hitchcock's movies. Same thing with ''character psychology''; yes, I bet Freudians are crazy about many of them them. The reason for that is very simple - they're often taken straight from medical encyclopedias. They don't exist outside the ''mystery box'', they don't live, about 99% of their emotions, characteristics, etc. are used in the movie only because there must be an angle to them in the murder plot. Therefore I find it often very hard to take them too seriously, although I always acknowledged the patience, devotion and will spent in making them.

Thanks for the recommendations, I'd like very much to read some of those books every now and then, but unfortunately I don't have the resources to do so. But from my point of view it is also questionable what is the purpose of those works? I understand that someone writes about movies/directors he/she esteems, that finds multiple valuable aspects about them that he/she needs to share with someone, but what do I have to gain from reading them? Especially if I didn't see those things he/she is writing about in the movie(s) he/she is writing about? There's not much point reading about something you didn't see in the movie. Either you didn't perceive it cause it was not presented properly, or it isn't there at all. A motion picture is a unit of its own, what you see is what you get, there isn't an ''explanation'' coming afterward that's should make you appreciate it more. Especially not from a third person.

 O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 31, 2009, 04:20:50 PM
There's not much point reading about something you didn't see in the movie. Either you didn't perceive it cause it was not presented properly, or it isn't there at all.
There is another possibility: the matter was both present and presented "properly" and you still failed to perceive it. But that doesn't mean you can never perceive it; perhaps it will take you 5 or 10 passes before it becomes apparent to you. As no one has time to watch every film 10 times, critics therefore are our necessary "stand-ins." They do the donkey work and report their findings and then we can assess whether their conclusions are valid or not. Even when our subsequent viewing doesn't support a critic's conclusions, his observations can be nonetheless valuable, simply because he has saved us so much time. Watching a film after reading a detailed analysis can be like seeing the film for a 10th rather than a second time.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on November 02, 2009, 10:37:17 PM
There is another possibility: the matter was both present and presented "properly" and you still failed to perceive it. But that doesn't mean you can never perceive it; perhaps it will take you 5 or 10 passes before it becomes apparent to you. As no one has time to watch every film 10 times, critics therefore are our necessary "stand-ins." They do the donkey work and report their findings and then we can assess whether their conclusions are valid or not. Even when our subsequent viewing doesn't support a critic's conclusions, his observations can be nonetheless valuable, simply because he has saved us so much time. Watching a film after reading a detailed analysis can be like seeing the film for a 10th rather than a second time.

Hah, yeah, that may be true, but, a movie experience should comprise both the enjoyment of the movie and the understanding of the movie. There are very few good/great movies that do not abide to this unwritten rule. You must watch and take each movie as a single unit, you can't dissect it to little parts and then adjoin as you feel makes more sense and looks better. And, of course, the customer is always right; if he/she doesn't see something in a movie, then there really isn't something he/she should have seen in it. This way of thinking can be objected to, of course, but in the end one truth cannot be denied - a director makes movies for audiences, not for himself alone, or just for people that ''understand'' them.

Besides, it is also virtually impossible to read a book for every movie you watch, just as is impossible to watch every movie 10 times. ;)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on November 03, 2009, 06:52:20 AM

Under Capricorn (1949)

Watched it, finally, and it was a huge mistake. It's a turkey. It's overlong, uninspired (though visually attractive at times) and bloody dull. This was a bloody missed match from the very start to be my kind of movie; a historical drama and a non-typical Hitchcock flick. I was really trying to understand what was going on for the first hour and a half, the characters were just parading around with not much to do or say, and if it wasn't for the last half hour/twenty minutes I don't think I'd still know.

Should have spared my time for something better.


(around) 4/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on November 03, 2009, 08:21:49 AM
Capricorn isn't bad IMO but it's too obviously set-bound to ignite much interest. Given that the film is ostensibly set in Australia rather than a Hollywood backlot, it would be nice to see SOMETHING of the Land Down Under, even some inserted second-unit work. There doesn't seem much reason why this story should be in Australia, as filmed it could take place just about anywhere a period costume could be found. Plus Cotten and Bergman are badly miscast. Jenkins will gush about the cinematography but except for a few of the long takes it's not that impressive - certainly not enough to overcome its limitations.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on November 03, 2009, 09:09:05 AM
I'm glad you pointed that out Groggy, I also thought Hitchcock didn't capture one bit of Australia, but I thought I maybe slept through a few short shots of Australia's famous outdoors. I can see it would have been difficult to incorporate them in the story, but still, seems like it could have been a great chance to sting the bloody monotony every once and a while.

P.S. No, UC really is bad.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on November 03, 2009, 06:54:42 PM
Capricorn isn't bad IMO but it's too obviously set-bound to ignite much interest. Given that the film is ostensibly set in Australia rather than a Hollywood backlot, it would be nice to see SOMETHING of the Land Down Under, even some inserted second-unit work. There doesn't seem much reason why this story should be in Australia, as filmed it could take place just about anywhere a period costume could be found. Plus Cotten and Bergman are badly miscast. Jenkins will gush about the cinematography but except for a few of the long takes it's not that impressive - certainly not enough to overcome its limitations.
Unless you've seen a restored print of the film, or the very nice French DVD, you haven't seen a proper presentation of UC. A Technicolor Hitchcock is a thing of beauty, and rare to behold (I believe the only other one was Rope, and there not much attention was given to featuring clothes and decor).

All you say is true, Grogs, nonetheless. There is even more to criticize, especially by way of the plot. Over at the Hitchcock board awhile back I did a quick analysis and made suggestions on how the story could be improved. I think my comments went something like this  . . . [cue ripple effect] . . .

Quote
Watching the film again last night I was struck by how awkwardly constructed the plot is toward the end. In particular, the fact that Hattie confesses to Charles before her confession to the Governor, which, needless to say, makes the second confession anticlimactic. Also, there is not enough for Charles to do after he is shot. He recovers quickly, we are told, but we do not see him back on stage until the very end. What's he doing all that time? And why doesn't he come forward with his evidence more promptly?

These problems could have all been solved by reversing the order of the confessions. If Hattie confesses to the Governor first, it will merely seem like a stratagem to save her husband, not only to the Governor, but to Charles and the audience as well. Charles would then put all his energy into persuading Hattie to retract her confession. Then Ingrid Bergman could have her emotional speech about the killing of her brother, only this time it would climax with the sudden understanding (by Charles and the audience simultaneously) that Hattie is in fact telling the truth. Realizing this, Charles would then also understand the true nature of the relationship between Hattie and Flusky, and see just how ridiculous his own position is. He would give up all hope of winning Hattie away from her husband, he would immediately go to the Governor and give his evidence, Flusky would be released from jail, and Hattie would retract her confession. The quay-side departure would then proceed as scripted.

That would work better, wouldn't it? Something to consider for the re-make, eh?

In spite of all this, I find that the picture has grown on me with repeated viewings. If you compare it to other films of its genre (The Man in Grey, for example, or The Wicked Lady) it holds its own.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on November 03, 2009, 09:20:01 PM
I think the story has potential but isn't executed very well. The movie comes off as a filmed play, which worked fine with Rope, but smacks of a lack of creativity here. Not a lot of dramatic tension and character development is awkward at best. Your suggestions are fine but isn't the movie based on a novel? I did like Michael Wilding and Cecil Parker quite a bit though, too bad Cotten and Bergman are the leads.

There was a miniseries version in the '80s which apparently has good reviews on IMDB but I'd no way of knowing how to verify that.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 09, 2010, 09:02:29 PM
The Grog Blog weighs in on Notorious after a TCM rewatch.

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Notorious (1946) is one of Hitchcock's more serious spy flicks, a radical departure from the frilly escapism of The 39 Steps, Foreign Correspondant and North by Northwest. A masterpiece of suspense and direction, it also paints the spy game in a wonderfully dark, ambiguous light.

Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) is the daughter of an executed Nazi spy, living as a dissolute playgirl in Florida. She gets taken home by Devlin (Cary Grant), a handsome stranger who turns out to be an American intelligence agent. Alicia is reluctantly recruited by Devlin to woo Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), an American businessman in Rio De Janiero working with a group of Nazi exiles. Alicia falls for Devlin, but Devlin rebuffs her advances, convincing her that it's in her best interest to bed (and marry) Alex while finding out what his associates are working on. Alex eventually wises up to Alicia's game, and he and his mother (Madame Konstantin) begin to poison her - and Devlin must decide whether or not to save her.

Notorious is a product of the morally-ambiguous post-war period which also provided Gilda and The Third Man. The film's elliptical plot about Nazi refugees harnessing uranium ore is really secondary to the character interaction and the story's marvellous moral ambiguity. The Cold War had not yet set in, yet the film presages the dark spy stories of John Le Carre, where neither side has the moral high ground; any superiority the US government can claim is undermined by their cold, callous manipulation of Alicia, and ultimately Alex, destroying their lives for a higher yet more ephemeral purpose. Hitchcock makes the film wonderfully entertaining, balancing story and characters with dark realism, unlike the stultifying boredom of Torn Curtain and Topaz, which sacrifice entertainment for contrived, stilted "realism".

This is one of Hitchcock's strongest film's character-wise, wonderfully developing its three central characters. Alicia in particular is a beautifully drawn protagonist, a sad, isolated "fallen woman" with a past who finds herself manipulated, used and nearly killed by men who see her solely as a useful tool or sex object. Devlin is a cold-hearted agent who callously uses Alicia, only to fall for her in spite of himself. Alex is a charming man whose affection for Alicia seems genuine, and despite his Nazi ties he is sympathetic - particularly when things begin to stack up against him. These three characters play off each other marvellously, their interaction driving the film's plot, heightening suspense, and providing. The film's ending is even more problematic; is it a happy ending because our protagonists get away alive, or is it otherwise, because a likeable (if not exactly innocent) man is left hanging out to dry?

Hitchcock's direction is typically impressive. Ted Tatzlaff's cinematography is perfectly striking, with lots of inventive camera angles and lighting (particularly the scene where Alicia suffers a blackout, imagining her husband and mother-in-law as shadowy demons), creating a unique, striking atmosphere. Ben Hecht's script is wonderfully constructed, emphasizing character and atmosphere over plot, with a boatload of sharp, quotable dialogue. Add Theron Wrath's pitch-perfect editing and Roy Webb's fine score and you have a technically perfect film.

Ingrid Bergman gives perhaps her best performance. Never more beautiful or vulnerable than here, Bergman successfully draws her difficult character, making her convincingly desperate, charmingly in love, and tragically out of her element. Cary Grant does a fine job adding a dark edge to his usual charming cad persona. Claude Rains makes Alex a remarkably sympathetic character, as much a victim of events as Alicia; his reaction to discovering Alicia's perfidy is a moment of incredible poignancy. The supporting cast is equally accomplished, from reliable hand Louis Calhern (Juarez) as Devlin's boss to Austrian actress Leopoldine "Madame" Konstantin, who gives a chilling turn as Alex's domineering mother.

Notorious is an all-around fine film. It only avoids classification as a "Great Movie" because I save that category for my absolute favorite films, but I'm more than happy to acknowledge this as a fine piece of work in its own right.

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/01/notorious.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/01/notorious.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 09, 2010, 11:29:28 PM
Quote
The film's ending is even more problematic; is it a happy ending because our protagonists get away alive, or is it otherwise, because a likeable (if not exactly innocent) man is left hanging out to dry?
Hitchcock blew the ending--Alicia should have died. Then there could have been the great irony of Devlin successfully finishing the mission but having sacrificed the woman he loved in the process. It would have added more gravity to the film, made it all seem more consequential.

As it stands, Sebastian goes to his probable death, but who cares? If you're going to have a death at the end of a picture, it should be someone the audience feels something about. Otherwise you might as well make a Schwarzenegger picture.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 09, 2010, 11:32:34 PM
I do care something about Sebastian, since I feel he's made a fairly sympathetic character. But I definitely agree that letting Alicia live was a big mistake. Everything in the film was building up to her death, and Hitchcock drops the ball by going for the "happy" ending.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 11, 2010, 10:19:15 PM
Interesting:
http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/board/nest/153743020 (http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/board/nest/153743020)

I'll try and track down the article proper for confirmation.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 22, 2010, 09:18:36 PM
Topaz review.

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Topaz (1969) is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most-maligned films, a dry, slow, "realistic" Cold War spy caper with a non-star cast. Some of the criticisms are fair - it's long, slow-paced, and unfocused, with a wooden plank of a lead in Frederick Stafford - but it's far from the bad, boring film its reputation suggests. Its brilliant scenes come in spurts, but parts of Topaz are Hitchcock at or near his best. If nothing else, it's miles better than the interminable, dull-as-dirt Torn Curtain.

In 1962, with the Cuban Missile Crisis heating up, KGB Chief Boris Kusenov (Per-Axel Arosenius) defects to America. French intelligence Agent Andre Devereaux (Frederick Stafford) is approached by CIA Chief Michael Nordstrom (John Forsythe) to investigate Kusenov's information of Russian missiles in Cuba. Devereaux uses his Cuban spy ring, including lover Juanita De Cordoba (Karin Dors), to gain information, only to run afoul of Rico Para (John Vernon), Castro's vicious right-hand man - and Juanita's paramour. Devereaux also uncovers the existence of Topaz, a ring of KGB spies operating out of Paris, and tries to smoke out the culprits - including several of his high-ranking colleagues.

Topaz's biggest problem is that it seems like two movies in one. The two main plot threads - Devereaux's work in Cuba, and the unravelling of the Paris spy ring - are loosely connected at best, and both halves seem strangely underdeveloped. The Cuba scenes are fleshed out with the Deverauex-Para-Juanita triangle, which plays as a retread of Notorious, and some liberally-used stock footage of Castro and Che Guevara. Throw in a trite subplot about Devereaux's family troubles, and Topaz is all over the place, with too many characters to follow, and too many plot threads left hanging. To be fair, the movie is never boring, but at the same time so much is going on that the story doesn't properly come together. The ending is a bizarrely unsatisfying non-climax - and yet it's the best of the three filmed endings.

Despite his supposed disinterest in the project, Hitchcock does a fine job directorally, and the movie excells at individual set-pieces, some of which rank among Hitchcock's best. The most famous is Para's murder of Juanita, with her purple dress spreading out beneath her like a pool of blood. Hitchcock makes brilliant use of silence in a number of scenes, from the tense escape of the defectors at the film's onset, to Philippe's (Roscoe Lee Browne) infiltration of a Cuban-occupied hotel, to the ingenious way a pair of Cuban spies are unmasked, and the disturbing post-torture scene. Jack Hildyard's striking photography and Maurice Jarre's low-key score certainly help matters, though Samuel Taylor's script is clunky and overloaded with exposition. Even if the underlying story is subpar, the movie is worth watching for these individual scenes.

Frederick Stafford, an unknown Austrian actor, is a handsome dud, giving a thoroughly wooden and stiff performance. John Forsythe (The Trouble With Harry) is equally one-note, while the beautiful Diane Dors (You Only Live Twice) is left hanging with a half-developed character. Dany Robin and Claude Jade go through the motions as Andre's estranged wife and daughter. The most interesting performances are in the corners: John Vernon's (Animal House) fearsome strongman, Philippe Noiret (Cinema Paradiso) and Michel Piccoli's (Belle du Jour) French spies, Roscoe Lee Browne's (The Cowboys) Harlem florist and Per-Axel Arosenius's obnoxious defector.

Topaz is a mess, but it's at least an entertaining one. There's a germ of a good idea or two here, and some excellent individual scenes; it's too bad that it doesn't quite come together into a great film. Ultimately Topaz is one of those films that's more interesting than good.

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/01/topaz.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/01/topaz.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 23, 2010, 09:57:37 AM
Quote
Topaz's biggest problem is that it seems like two movies in one. The two main plot threads - Devereaux's work in Cuba, and the unravelling of the Paris spy ring - are loosely connected at best, and both halves seem strangely underdeveloped. The Cuba scenes are fleshed out with the Deverauex-Para-Juanita triangle, which plays as a retread of Notorious, and some liberally-used stock footage of Castro and Che Guevara. Throw in a trite subplot about Devereaux's family troubles, and Topaz is all over the place, with too many characters to follow, and too many plot threads left hanging. To be fair, the movie is never boring, but at the same time so much is going on that the story doesn't properly come together. The ending is a bizarrely unsatisfying non-climax - and yet it's the best of the three filmed endings.

Topaz suffers in comparison with other Hitchcocks, but if you put it up against the other serious spy stories of the 60s it more than holds its own. I like the fact that it's two films in one, and if it had been formatted as a mini-series no-one would squawk about the ensemble approach. And the Devereaux family troubles aren't an irrelevancy, that's what helps to link Part One with Part Two and, very neatly, underlines the theme of double betrayal. Yes, the first part of the film bears a strong resemblance to Notorious, but if you recall, I think Hitchcock got the ending of Notorious wrong. Topaz gave him the opportunity to go back over the same ground and improve things (or at least offer an alternative reading). This is actually typical of AH: for example, he kept making and remaking the man-on-the-run story until he made NxNW, the definitive version. He kept attempting to make filmed plays until he made the perfect blend of stage and cinema in Rear Window. Having done a psychoanalytical mystery in Spellbound, he returned to the form, but with greater seriousness, for Marnie. And he never tired of reprising the role of the psychopathic killer: Uncle Charlie, Bruno in Strangers On a Train, Norman Bates, the Necktie Strangler in Frenzy. Theme and variation is a valid approach, and I applaud Hitchcock for his use of it.

And I'd say the ending of Topaz was AH's attempt to be less like himself and more like John Le Carre (the rightly-discarded duel scene being a Hitchcock touch that would not have fit with the material at all). If that had been George Smiley watching the traitor preparing to fly off at the end (or even Smiley learning about his suicide), it would have seemed entirely appropriate. Again, I think the Hitchcock name on the film actually does more harm than good: the expectations it raises in the audience can't be met (given the nature of the story--which follows the Uris novel pretty closely). But if you just watch the film as part of a 60s Spy Film festival--alongside, say, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and A Dandy in Aspect--it can certainly seem a satisfying entertainment.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 23, 2010, 10:20:30 AM
Topaz suffers in comparison with other Hitchcocks, but if you put it up against the other serious spy stories of the 60s it more than holds its own. I like the fact that it's two films in one,

I would like the fact that the film has two big plots except both are under-developed and not really tied together. The Cuba stuff was interesting on its own, and the Paris stuff might have been interesting if they'd had more time to deal with it. As it is it seems rushed; just when the Paris stuff is starting to get interesting, the film just ends.  Despite its length, both halves of the film seem rushed and half-formed.

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and if it had been formatted as a mini-series no-one would squawk about the ensemble approach.


Two problems with that:

a) It's a two-hour forty-minute movie;
b) Much of the cast sucks.

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And the Devereaux family troubles aren't an irrelevancy, that's what helps to link Part One with Part Two and, very neatly, underlines the theme of double betrayal.

If you want to read it that way, sure, but it smacks of wishful analysis to me. Devereaux's wife is an undeveloped character, and the revelation that she's been cheating is neither a shock nor really of interest.

Quote
Yes, the first part of the film bears a strong resemblance to Notorious, but if you recall, I think Hitchcock got the ending of Notorious wrong. Topaz gave him the opportunity to go back over the same ground and improve things (or at least offer an alternative reading). This is actually typical of AH: for example, he kept making and remaking the man-on-the-run story until he made NxNW, the definitive version. He kept attempting to make filmed plays until he made the perfect blend of stage and cinema in Rear Window. Having done a psychoanalytical mystery in Spellbound, he returned to the form, but with greater seriousness, for Marnie. And he never tired of reprising the role of the psychopathic killer: Uncle Charlie, Bruno in Strangers On a Train, Norman Bates, the Necktie Strangler in Frenzy. Theme and variation is a valid approach, and I applaud Hitchcock for his use of it.

I didn't necessarily mean it as a criticism, except I felt this story lacked time to develop. Para is an imposing bad guy but all we learn about Juanita is that she's pretty, a spy, and in love with Devereaux. His secret is uncovered by Para too early to be effective. Hitchcock returning to the same well is not a problem, but doing it in a half-hearted fashion is.

Quote
And I'd say the ending of Topaz was AH's attempt to be less like himself and more like John Le Carre (the rightly-discarded duel scene being a Hitchcock touch that would not have fit with the material at all).

The duel was even worse than the ending we have on the movie. But the Piccoli-suicide version is worse than either.

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If that had been George Smiley watching the traitor preparing to fly off at the end (or even Smiley learning about his suicide), it would have seemed entirely appropriate.

This makes an assumption that I like John Le Carre. Which I don't, based on my admittedly-limited exposure to his work. I might have accepted the ending better if there had been some build-up to it, but it seems like Hitchcock either didn't know what to do or didn't care how it turned out (the latter seems likely given the problems he had with the production). If it's a problem with the novel, then it's a problem with the novel - that doesn't excuse the flaws of the film. Things can be changed from book to film as Hitchcock himself showed, and quite often for the better.

Quote
But if you just watch the film as part of a 60s Spy Film festival--alongside, say, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and A Dandy in Aspect--it can certainly seem a satisfying entertainment.

I agree.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on February 08, 2010, 12:29:10 PM
A fairly succinct take on Rebecca.

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Alfred Hitchcock's only Best Director nomination came for Rebecca (1940), a meticulous, long-winded adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's novel. It's not one of Hitchcock's best films, and his attempts to turn a melodrama into a thriller are a mixed success. Still, it's a technically perfect film, and a slew of great performances makes it well worth watching.

A unnamed young woman (Joan Fontaine) meets handsome widower Maxim DeWinter (Laurence Olivier) while on vacation in France. The two marry quickly, but the new Mrs. DeWinter is disheartened to find that Maxim is obsessed with the memory of his late wife Rebecca, who died in a tragic accident. Mrs. DeWinter is anguished to find herself in the shadow of Rebecca, and it doesn't help that the demonic Miss Danvers (Judith Anderson) tries to drive her insane. Also intruding is Rebecca's cousin Jack (George Sanders), who suspects that Maxim murdered Rebecca.

Rebecca's biggest problem is its somewhat schizophrenic tone. Producer David O. Selznick clearly wanted it to be a woman's picture, while Hitchcock seems to have wanted a thriller. The melodrama part of the film is fairly bland, with lots of dull dialogue and throat-clearing exposition, but the second thread, where Hitchcock's interest clearly lies, is excellent. The murder investigation plot is good if a bit too conveniently wrapped up, but the scenes of Miss Danvers terrorizing Mrs. DeWinter with mind games and suggestions of suicide are superb. It helps that our protagonist is a beautiful and charming lady, and we can easily sympathize with her dilemma. Miss Danvers truly is a nasty piece of work, and her omnipresent, demonic character nearly overwhelms the rest of the film - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Hitchcock's direction is superb. In his Hollywood debut, Hitchcock relishes his large budget, making exquisite use of George Barnes' creepy shadows and lighting, and Lyle Wheeler's cavernous, expansive sets, to create an atmosphere of foreboding, isolation and dread. The movie is a bit more conventional than his later works, but it's still an impressive achievement. Franz Waxman's bombastic score is the only major technical flaw. This is a first-rate production, and certainly deserving of its technical accolades.

The radiant Joan Fontaine (Suspicion) gives a wonderful lead performance: self-conscious, inadequate, vulnerable and easily tormented, she's an easy protagonist to sympathize with. Laurence Olivier does well in a rather colorless role. Late in the film, Olivier is given the thankless task of spouting ten minutes of non-stop exposition, and somehow pulls it off. Judith Anderson (The Furies) is one of the all-time great villainesses, making Miss Danvers a chilling, omnipresent force of evil. George Sanders (All About Eve) plays his usual smooth-talking cad, and C. Aubrey Smith (The Four Feathers), Nigel Bruce (The Charge of the Light Brigade), Gladys Cooper (My Fair Lady) and Leo G. Carroll (North by Northwest) round out the supporting cast.

Rebecca isn't a truly great film, but Hitchcock and his cast make it an entertaining and engrossing movie.


http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/02/rebecca.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/02/rebecca.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 08, 2010, 09:01:12 PM
I liked Rebecca a lot the first time I saw it. It pretty well bores me now.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on February 15, 2010, 03:56:07 PM
Saw these in the last week.

The Lady Vanishes (1938) - I really disliked this because I didn't enjoy the communal aspect of the first 20-30 minutes. I never laughed at the jokes or thought much of the characters. So by the time of the train ride I'm already waiting for it to conclude. I also thought it took way too long for the story to develop. A very long 105 minutes. I saw the first 20 minutes 3-4 years ago and fell asleep. I wish I had done the same this time around.

Saboteur (1942) - I thought the first hour was pretty good even though there were some logic/script issues. It lost momentum in hour 2 but overall I'd give it a passing grade. It's strange seeing the Statue of Liberty sequence without Herrmann or Herrmann-esque music blaring. It was very odd and while I'm normally an advocate of directors abandoning convention, I thought the scene lost most of its allure and appeal.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 15, 2010, 04:13:30 PM
The Lady Vanishes (1938) - I really disliked this because I didn't enjoy the communal aspect of the first 20-30 minutes. I never laughed at the jokes or thought much of the characters. So by the time of the train ride I'm already waiting for it to conclude. I also thought it took way too long for the story to develop. A very long 105 minutes. I saw the first 20 minutes 3-4 years ago and fell asleep. I wish I had done the same this time around.
Did you not like Caldicott and Charters? Well, if those characters don't appeal to you, then I guess the first 20 minutes would be tough going. I find them amusing, and they were extremely well received at the time, going on to appear in their own films and making more appearances in those of others (I think they show up in another train film, Berlin Express). Of course, it also helps if you have some appreciation for cricket mania.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on February 15, 2010, 05:31:37 PM
Did you not like Caldicott and Charters? Well, if those characters don't appeal to you, then I guess the first 20 minutes would be tough going. I find them amusing, and they were extremely well received at the time, going on to appear in their own films and making more appearances in those of others (I think they show up in another train film, Berlin Express). Of course, it also helps if you have some appreciation for cricket mania.

I was indifferent to those characters, so yeah, those first 20 minutes were tough to sit through.

For whatever reason(s), I'm just not very agreeable with classic English cinema. Outside of Powell, a little Lean and early Hitch--and a few other random movies--I can't say I have enjoyed too many British films from the 30s-60s. I don't know why either.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on May 06, 2010, 10:35:33 AM
I was indifferent to those characters, so yeah, those first 20 minutes were tough to sit through.

For whatever reason(s), I'm just not very agreeable with classic English cinema. Outside of Powell, a little Lean and early Hitch--and a few other random movies--I can't say I have enjoyed too many British films from the 30s-60s. I don't know why either.
Ealing comedies? Ladykillers? The Lavender Hill Mob? But apart from those and the ones you mentioned I can't really name great older British films either.

Silent Hitch coming to silver screen:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/hitchcocks-forgotten-silent-films-restored-1958696.html


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on May 06, 2010, 11:37:40 AM
(I think they show up in another train film, Berlin Express).
Oops, I misspoke. The other train film those characters are in is Night Train To Munich. It's coming as a CC disc this summer!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 05, 2010, 04:49:45 PM
Looooooooooks good: http://hcc.techradar.com/playback/blu-ray/hitchock-goes-hi-def-our-exclusive-psycho-blu-ray-review-05-08-10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on November 21, 2010, 02:52:33 PM
Notorious (1946) - 8/10
I had a kind of problem with the first half of the movie, before the party or ball scene. I think it's just me: it's getting harder and harder all the time to get really sucked into a movie, not caring for the technique. Because now, for the first half of the movie, I was just thinking stuff like: "Oh, now we move into a close-up, interesting choice. But why is this dolly shot here? Ah, I see..." And it's not fun at all, not being able to enjoy a movie. Usually I'm able to balance these things, enjoying and analyzing, so that the don't rule out one another, but not this time... until the ball scene (or thereabout). Before the ball scene it's an Ingrid Bergman film but after that it's an Alfred Hitchcock film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on November 21, 2010, 03:23:19 PM
Was this the first time you've seen the film? It's natural to get analytical when re-watching, but to approach the film as you describe on a first viewing, is, well, not normal. And I don't think anyone here is qualified to address the issue. You should probably leave the board immediately and seek professional help. >:D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on November 22, 2010, 12:43:11 AM
Was this the first time you've seen the film? It's natural to get analytical when re-watching, but to approach the film as you describe on a first viewing, is, well, not normal. And I don't think anyone here is qualified to address the issue. You should probably leave the board immediately and seek professional help. >:D
Yeah, this was my first time. Maybe I was just too excited, so I couldn't perform...


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on November 22, 2010, 05:50:09 AM
 ;D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on December 15, 2010, 07:31:56 AM
My longer thoughts on Psycho:

Quote
As big of an admirer as I am of Alfred Hitchcock, I find certain tendencies of his annoying. His talent is unquestioned, but his tendency to choose nonsensical narratives and cinematic experimentation over sensible plotting and genuine artistry is often grating. When it works, it works brilliantly (Rear Window, North by Northwest), but just as often you'll get nonsense like Spellbound and Under Capricorn which isn't the sum of its pretentious parts. Which brings us to today's subject.

Psycho is probably Hitchcock's most famous and well-loved work (with Rear Window and Vertigo close behind); it's certainly his most influential, providing the template for the "slasher film" which dominated horror through the '70s and '80s. I can definitely understand the acclaim for Vertigo, a film that's fascinating even if it's not very good. But Psycho seems more an exercise in craftsmanship than a great movie. At its center is one of the all-time great movie characters, but everything surrounding him is fairly rote and uninteresting.

Secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is carrying on a sordid affair with Sam Loomis (John Gavin) and is looking for a way out of her wretched life. She steals $40,000 from her boss (Vaughn Taylor) and flees to Phoenix, stopping at the remote Bates Motel on her way out of town. The hotel proprietor is Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a nice-enough fellow who seems dominated by his invalid old mother. Marion meets a ghastly fate, and Sam, Marion's sister Lila (Vera Miles) and detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam), not expecting foul play, realize that Norman's mother holds the key to the mystery.

Psycho mostly seems like an artist directing beneath his talent; not as much as To Catch a Thief, but then To Catch a Thief doesn't have long Robin Wood-penned books claiming it an all-time masterpiece (at least I hope not). That Hitchcock deliberately eschewed the Technicolor vistas of his previous films for a chintzy black-and-white B-Movie does not make Psycho a masterpiece. To this cynical viewer, it seems an exercise in bad faith. What he does, he does well, but why do it this way at all?

Compared to Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, released the same year, Psycho is an extremely safe and conventional film, its shocking twist aside. Its simplistic Hollywood morality is rather tiresome: Marion steals from a sleazy businessman and her nebbish of a boss, the cops are creepy as hell and she has a good reason to do it. Sam and Lila are onhand to provide us with bland "conventional" leads. The rough edges of Norman's psychosis are smoothed over by an obnoxious exposition scene, with Simon Oakland's psychiatrist providing an interminable monologue about Norman's psychosis. With a few tweaks, Psycho could easily have been an episode of The Twilight Zone (or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, for that matter). One could easily say this banality enhances the terror once Norman's true nature is revealed, but I'd argue it neuters it.

Psycho's greatest triumph is Norman Bates, who remains one of Hollywood's greatest killers. He seems affable if awkward at first, but his lengthy scene with Marion reveals a disturbed individual, a routine conversation degenerating into a psychiatric examination. Norman embodies all the neuroses only hinted at in previous Hitchcock films, specifically sexual deviancy and transsexuality: the crass shorthand of homosexuality as psychosis becomes something more direct and horrifying. Helped by Anthony Perkins, Norman remains the most compellingly creepy psycho in Hollywood history.

In this regard, Psycho is unquestionably ahead of its time. The characters in the story, and presumably 1960 viewers, couldn't fathom warped sexuality as a motive for crime, with serial killers still a rare phenomenon. Post-WWII America was still innocent enough to be shocked by Howard Unruh's New Jersey killing spree and Ed Gein's sordid antics in Wisconsin. After several decades of far more gruesome serial killers and exploitative horror films, Norman's relatively subdued psychosis remains disturbing, and explains Psycho's enduring reputation.

Hitchcock's direction is excellent. He provides stylish set-pieces - an extreme close-up of Marion's dead eye, the creepy cop (Mort Mills) stalking Marion, Marion's guilt-driven mental musings, Norman's parlor packed with stuffed birds - helped immeasuribly by George Tomasini's frantic editing and Bernard Herrman's shrieking score. The infamous shower scene has been dissected to death, a masterpiece of editing, music and primal terror, but for my money Arbogast's demise is equally striking. Again, there's no quibbling with Hitchcock's technical finesse, even if it's at the service of a lame story.

Anthony Perkins (The Tin Star) is brilliantly subversive casting. After a decade as a bland, pretty boy star, Perkins eclipses his entire career, in an even more shocking turn than Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West. He captures Norman's in subtle ways, with a nervous laugh and that manifests itself at inopportune moments. The final scene of him alone in a prison cell, his mother's "voice" providing an insight into his thoughts, is more horrifying and enduring than anything else in the film.

Hitchcock handles the other actors just as well. Janet Leigh (Act of Violence) gives her most memorable performance, convincingly desperate and guilt-ridden, and she makes a compelling protagonist for the first third of the film. Martin Balsam (All the President's Men) gives his best performance, and John McIntire (Winchester '73) and Simon Oakland (The Sand Pebbles) make the most of weak parts. Even the wooden John Gavin (Spartacus) and annoying Vera Miles (The Searchers) come off well under Hitch's direction.

I don't mean to sell Psycho as a bad or mediocre film, by any means. It has more than enough virtues to justify watching it, but it's far from Hitchcock's best, either in artistic or entertainment value. 7.5/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/12/psycho-1960.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2010/12/psycho-1960.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on December 15, 2010, 11:37:11 AM
Quote
Psycho is an extremely safe and conventional film, its shocking twist aside. Its simplistic Hollywood morality is rather tiresome . . .
Nothing could be further from the truth. The final shot of the film, the trunk of Marion's car being withdrawn from the swamp, freighted as it is with caustic irony, is emblematic of a picture with an uncharacteristically bleak outlook. The typical Hollywood film of the time preached the usual bromides: good fortune follows virtue, bad fortune issues from vice. Redemption was possible for bad characters who reformed, of course, so intentions also counted. These were the foundations on which most commercial films were built, and Hitchcock generally kept to plan.

NxNW, the film made the year before Psycho, provides an excellent case in point. Roger Thornhill is leading a comfortable yet sterile existence until Fate, Destiny, Grace (what you will) takes a hand and pulls him kicking-and-screaming into The Adventure. He runs the series of trials and emerges a hero, revitalized, and with a fresh mate in tow. His is a story as old as Orlando's, as Perceval's, perhaps even as old as Job's. It was one Hollywood--and Hitchcock--turned to again and again.

Psycho is something else again. The ostensible heroine of the piece takes a wrong turning, and experiences a drive, a descent, and a dark night of the soul. But when she touches bottom, she rediscovers her better self (in that great scene with Norman in the motel office). We see her in the following scene, preparing to return to Phoenix (a city named for a resurrecting bird), apparently to make restitution and face the music. She has repented. But mere intentions are not sufficient to the purpose--Norman kills her.

At the end of the shower scene, we are shown blood and water swirling down the drain. Then a close-up on Marion's dead pupil provides a corresponding image: the life force is emptying out, is already gone. This is all that Marion and her intentions amount to in the end. The void has opened. There is no transcendence.

Marion's body enters the car trunk and car goes into the swamp; Marion is gone from the movie entirely. The other characters go about their business. Interest shifts to Norman. Marion is gone and forgotten.

At the end, the shot of the trunk represents the promise of revelation. But Hitchcock quickly cuts away to the final graphic (Saul Bass's fractured lines). We do not witness the discovery of the contents of the trunk (not only the corpse, but the remains of the money). We don't get a chance to see the body again. Marion cannot re-enter the film. The trunk suggests her eternal absence.

This is not conventional 1960 Hollywood morality. This is an incredibly bleak view of the world, bleaker even then the one provided earlier in Vertigo or the one that would subsequently be put forth in The Birds. To call the film safe and conventional is to sell it short.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 10, 2011, 08:30:09 AM
It's Hitchcock Week at Trailers From Hell: http://trailersfromhell.com/


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on February 10, 2011, 02:45:51 PM
I'm incredibly bored so I'll post a Hitch top 11

Vertigo 13/10
Rear Window 10/10
NxNW 10/10
To Catch a Thief 9/10
Strangers on a Train 9/10
Marnie 9/10
Psycho 9/10 (I love the first half about as much as the big 3)
The Birds 9/10
Notorious 8-9/10
Dial M for Murder 8-9/10
Rope 8-9/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 11, 2011, 10:30:05 AM
I'm incredibly bored so I'll post a Hitch top 11

Vertigo 13/10
Rear Window 10/10
NxNW 10/10
To Catch a Thief 9/10
Strangers on a Train 9/10
Marnie 9/10
Psycho 9/10 (I love the first half about as much as the big 3)
The Birds 9/10
Notorious 8-9/10
Dial M for Murder 8-9/10
Rope 8-9/10
That's pretty close to my own ranking, except I'd put The 39 Steps in there and maybe Suspicion. Glad to see you didn't mention Shadow of a Doubt. I used to value Rebecca highly, but lately I find I can't really be bothered with it.

The next Hitch to go Blu will apparently be The Birds. I'm hoping V and RW will soon follow. Somebody (the CC, perhaps?) needs to bring out Under Capricorn in all its Technicolor goodness.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on February 11, 2011, 05:25:45 PM
That's pretty close to my own ranking, except I'd put The 39 Steps in there and maybe Suspicion. Glad to see you didn't mention Shadow of a Doubt. I used to value Rebecca highly, but lately I find I can't really be bothered with it.

The next Hitch to go Blu will apparently be The Birds. I'm hoping V and RW will soon follow. Somebody (the CC, perhaps?) needs to bring out Under Capricorn in all its Technicolor goodness.

Suspicion is the only pre-46 Hitchcock movie I like. The 39 Steps, Rebecca and Shadow of a Doubt are too English and proper to click with me - even though the last two are US movies.

I liked SoaD on the first watch a few years ago but it's not something I want to revisit anytime soon. I don't strongly dislike Joseph Cotton, like I remember you stating, but I don't care for him. Had Bogart played that part, I'd probably have a much different opinion of the movie.

Rebecca takes way too long to get going and I flat out don't like Olivier.

I don't really have anything negative to say about The 39 Steps (besides its 'Englishness') but it lacks the exuberance of my favorite Hitchcock movies.

I haven't seen Under Capricorn.

I've heard nothing but good things about NxNW b-ray. RW and Vertigo have to be coming out soon.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 12, 2011, 03:46:01 PM
I've heard nothing but good things about NxNW b-ray.
Me too. But I've resisted buying it. I find that the DVD is so good, up-scaled through my BD player, that I don't feel the need for the upgrade. I suppose I'll eventually buy a cheap used copy.

The Paramount/Universal DVDs, on the other hand, show their limitations on larger screens. The Vertigo and RW DVDs look bad to this 2011 home video viewer. And Universal did such a good job on the Psycho BD that I'm confident their other transfers will shine.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on February 13, 2011, 03:58:09 PM
I actually don't own a Hitchcock movie on dvd. I kept waiting for those boxed set collections' prices to drop, which never happened as far as I know. His stuff is on TCM so much that I never got around to buying anything. I'll probably own every movie on my list on b-ray since the quality is vastly superior to a tv broadcast. I was much more concerned with aspect ratio until the HD craze hit recently. It will be nice to not to double dip on anything.

On the other hand, I own 3 copies of the dollars trilogy. At least I got the 3 b-rays for 10 each.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on March 20, 2011, 12:52:54 PM
Frenzy (1972) - 7.5/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on May 13, 2011, 08:01:50 PM
I'm watching random scenes on the NxNW bluray, holy shit is this pretty to look at. There is so much depth to the image, the colors pop like crazy.

I also watched the shower scene on the Psycho BD and that was almost equally impressive.

I was definitely misinformed about the whole bluray process a while back, but these things are like crack to me now. It's basically like owning a film print to watch on your tv. It doesn't beat the theater experience but it certainly creates a different movie watching experience.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 05, 2012, 05:31:47 PM
Savant, in rare form, on the new Spellbound Blu: http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3798spel.html
As per usual, much of the review is an analysis of the film itself. Certainly worth a read.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on February 26, 2012, 10:04:56 PM
Wow! http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/To-Catch-a-Thief-Blu-ray/35498/#Screenshots


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 09:15:05 PM
dj suggested we move our discussion of Psycho to this thread, so I will copy the last 3 posts we made on that movie in the RTLMYS thread:

drinkanddestroy http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?PHPSESSID=jvoef46ehng66t7evc30cc19c1&topic=7645.msg155820#msg155820


Psycho (1960) 10/10

My first viewing of this movie.

I saw the 1998 re-make in theaters (I was in 9th grade, and some classmate mentioned that it was supposed to be "sooooo scary!") and didn't love it all that much. I then found out it was (virtually) a shot-for-shot re-make of, and never felt any urgency to see the original, figuring that eventually I would, someday. Well that day is today. And a great day it is! A wonderful movie. Anthony Perkins is much more of a sweet, innocent - looking guy, as opposed to Vince Vaughn who (if memory serves me correct from 1998) seemed much more openly psychotic.


As for the scene with psychiatrist yammering on and on at the end, I wonder if it was really necessary. Reading Roger Ebert's review on this movie in his "Great Movies" section, I see he believes that as well. Here is what Ebert says about it:



For thoughtful viewers, however, an equal surprise is still waiting. That is the mystery of why Hitchcock marred the ending of a masterpiece with a sequence that is grotesquely out of place. After the murders have been solved, there is an inexplicable scene during which a long-winded psychiatrist (Simon Oakland) lectures the assembled survivors on the causes of Norman's psychopathic behavior. This is an anticlimax taken almost to the point of parody.

If I were bold enough to reedit Hitchcock's film, I would include only the doctor's first explanation of Norman's dual personality: "Norman Bates no longer exists. He only half existed to begin with. And now, the other half has taken over, probably for all time." Then I would cut out everything else the psychiatrist says, and cut to the shots of Norman wrapped in the blanket while his mother's voice speaks ("It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son..."). Those edits, I submit, would have made "Psycho" very nearly perfect. I have never encountered a single convincing defense of the psychiatric blather; Truffaut tactfully avoids it in his famous interview.



I suppose maybe it was important to let us know that Norman had actually killed his mom and her lover, as opposed to what the police had always believed was a murder-suicide. But that speech by the shrink does seem (at least mostly) unnecessary.

Finally, I don't know why, after showing Norman in jail, they cut to the shot of the car being lifted from the swamp, before THE END flashed on the screen. Was that really necessary to see? I mean, we know they are going to remove the car; that shot is useless. Wouldn't have been much creepier if the movie had ended with that shot of Norman's face?

I've never liked when tense moments (eg. while Janet Leigh is driving with the cop behind her) are punctuated with the repeated boom-boom on the soundtrack. That sort of thing always annoyed me.  I don't need to be told when a moment is supposed to be tense, and it doesn't add anything. Just annoys me.

Anyway, what can I say about this movie except that it's reputation as a masterpiece is well-deserved  

p.s. I am watching the Collector's edition dvd (rented from Netflix), and it has a a really wonderful "Making of Psycho" piece in the Special Features, that goes for 94 minutes. I am in middle of watching it now, and it is terrific. they have so many people who were involved with the movie (eg. the screenwriter, the assistant director, Hitch's daughter who has a small role, Janet Leigh, Hitch's personal assistant, etc.). If you love this movie, and get your hands on the Collector's Edition dvd, be sure to check this out  

----------------------------------------------------------------


dave jenkins  http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=7645.msg155886#msg155886



You missed the point of the movie. The film began with Marion Crane, and even though she dies about mid-way through, it is still her story. The shot of the trunk of the car, where her body was stashed, reminds the audience of Marion's fate. After the comforting words of the headshrinker, after having everything "explained," the audience gets handed something that can't be disposed of neatly--Marion's senseless murder. Upon reflection, the audience may even recall that Marion was killed at the point of redemption: she was just about to return the money she stole (another irony: Norman Bates entombed the money with the body unknowingly--something else that the final shot may cause one to remember). But in the world Hitchcock imagined for Marion there is no redemption. That is the chilling final meaning the closing shot communicates, creepier than anything having to do with Norman Bates.

If you study Hitchcock as a genre, you note that Psycho comes soon after Vertigo, Hitchcock's experiment with Tragedy. But even Tragedy with a capital "T" allows for transcendence; with Psycho, a tale of blackest Irony (where transcendence is not allowed), AH touched bottom. In his very next picture, The Birds, he would again treat the subject of a hostile and uncaring universe, but would re-introduce hope in the form of "lovebirds" (both the winged and human varieties). AH's period of pessimism was a short one.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 09:18:00 PM
I have to disagree with you here. This is not really Marion Crane's story.

(Note: Much of what I am gonna say about this movie is from the extensive Making Of documentary on the dvd, which, as I described in my previous post, features many of those involved with the film: Leigh, Hitch's daughter, Hitch's assistant, the screenwriter, cinematographer, assistant director, etc.)

One of the biggest surprises of this movie is how the protagonists shift: first we think this is going to be a movie about Marion Crane. This was a deliberate trick by Hitchcock: Hitchcock specifically chose a big star, Janet Leigh, so that the audience will take it for granted that it will be her movie. Then, we are shocked when she actually dies so early in the film. In fact, Hitch was so concerned that latecomers to the theater would wonder "where is Janet Leigh," that he made the now-famous rule that nobody can enter the theater after the movie begins (which also turned out to be a great marketing ploy).

But having Janet Leigh as Marion Crane was one of the big tricks on the audience here.
Another big trick is the way the protagonists shift. Surprisingly enough, once Marion is killed, Norman himself becomes sort of the protagonist. Below, in yellow, I will quote 4 paragraphs from Roger Ebert's review, which I agree with. (The first two paragraphs I am quoting are near the beginning of the review, and the last two are near the end of the review. The full review is here http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19981206/REVIEWS08/401010353/1023 )




" Yet no other Hitchcock film had a greater impact. "I was directing the viewers," the director told Truffaut in their book-length interview. "You might say I was playing them, like an organ." It was the most shocking film its original audience members had ever seen. "Do not reveal the surprises!" the ads shouted, and no moviegoer could have anticipated the surprises Hitchcock had in store--the murder of Marion (Janet Leigh), the apparent heroine, only a third of the way into the film, and the secret of Norman's mother. "Psycho" was promoted like a William Castle exploitation thriller. "It is required that you see 'Psycho' from the very beginning!" Hitchcock decreed, explaining, "the late-comers would have been waiting to see Janet Leigh after she had disappeared from the screen action."



These surprises are now widely known, and yet "Psycho" continues to work as a frightening, insinuating thriller. That's largely because of Hitchcock's artistry in two areas that are not as obvious: The setup of the Marion Crane story, and the relationship between Marion and Norman (Anthony Perkins). Both of these elements work because Hitchcock devotes his full attention and skill to treating them as if they will be developed for the entire picture. "

-------------------------------

" The death of the heroine is followed by Norman's meticulous mopping-up of the death scene. Hitchcock is insidiously substituting protagonists. Marion is dead, but now (not consciously but in a deeper place) we identify with Norman--not because we could stab someone, but because, if we did, we would be consumed by fear and guilt, as he is. The sequence ends with the masterful shot of Bates pushing Marion's car (containing her body and the cash) into a swamp. The car sinks, then pauses. Norman watches intently. The car finally disappears under the surface.

Analyzing our feelings, we realize we wanted that car to sink, as much as Norman did. Before Sam Loomis reappears, teamed up with Marion's sister Lila (Vera Miles) to search for her, "Psycho" already has a new protagonist: Norman Bates. This is one of the most audacious substitutions in Hitchcock's long practice of leading and manipulating us. The rest of the film is effective melodrama, and there are two effective shocks. The private eye Arbogast (Martin Balsam) is murdered, in a shot that uses back-projection to seem to follow him down the stairs. And the secret of Norman's mother is revealed."

By the end of the movie, the story/fate of Norman Bates interests me much more than does the story of Marion Crane, whom I don't care about much anymore. And I don't need any reminder that the money is in the trunk -- I saw Norman throw it in just the same way I saw him throw Marion in, and I am as fully aware that the money is in there as I am aware that Marion is in there.

This movie is about Norman Bates -- just look at the title -- not Marion. I am not saying she is "just another" victim of Norman's; her story is indeed important and features aspects of Hitch's style. But overall, I think we are supposed to feel that if this movie is somebody's story, it is Norman's.

(I haven't seen nearly as many Hitch movies as you have: off the top of my head, the only ones I can think of are Psycho, Rebecca, The Wrong Man, North by Northwest, and Strangers on a Train. So I am not nearly as familiar with Hitch's general, style, ideas, and themes as you are).



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 10:30:37 PM
I have to disagree with you here. This is not really Marion Crane's story.
You are wrong. End of discussion.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 11:07:04 PM
You are wrong. End of discussion.
well, I guess that's that, then, The fact I believe so, as do so many people involved in the making of the movie, including the director and screenwriter and so many others, and so many critrics do, etc etc. etc. doesn't matter.

Because if someone disagrees with dj's opinion, it's not like "maybe I can understand where you are coming from? Perhaps there is something to be discussed?

Rather, it's "YOU ARE WRONG. END OF DISCUSSION."

I am not sure why the always gentlemanly dj would invite me to this thread -- while knowing my points of view on the matter -- just to tell me I was wrong and to end the discussion? If cj is the Czar of Noir, what's dj -- the Dictator of Discussion?

So I warn all future trollers on this thread: because dj says so, THIS PARTICULAR DISCUSSION IS OVER
As for me, I'll flee as quickly as I have come, and never again get involved with a dictator. I LIVE only in LIBERTY!
LIBERTAD!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 11:43:21 PM
As ususal, you don't understand anything of what I tell you. This discussion began because you assumed Hitchcock made a mistake with the ending of Psycho. I tried to explain that the ending is not a mistake. My belief that the ending is not a mistake is founded on the understanding that Marion Crane is the central character of the film. You will not allow me to have my assumption. I cannot make the case for the ending of Psycho being the correct ending without that assumption. Therefore, the discussion is over.

So now we know.

Hitchcock, the greatest practitioner of cinematic art in the 20th Century, who, in 1959 was operating at the peak of his creative powers, blew the ending of one of his most famous and successful films.

Drink & Destroy, some kid who just saw the film for the first time last week, is so perspicacious that he spotted this flaw immediately, although it has gone unnoticed by the critical establishment for over 50 years.

Don't take this the wrong way, Drink, but: U. R. A. MORAN.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 23, 2012, 01:26:09 AM


Hitchcock, the greatest practitioner of cinematic art in the 20th Century, who, in 1959 was operating at the peak of his creative powers, blew the ending of one of his most famous and successful films.

Drink & Destroy, some kid who just saw the film for the first time last week, is so perspicacious that he spotted this flaw immediately, although it has gone unnoticed by the critical establishment for over 50 years.

Don't take this the wrong way, Drink, but: U. R. A. MORAN.

hmmm... I disagreed with the very final shot that we see for what, 3 seconds? I wouldn't exactly call that "blowing the ending." Anyway, my opinion of the final shot is based on a premise of the movie not being "about Marion"; this premise is indeed shared by not only "the critical establishment," (at least Roger Ebert, the most well-known critic alive), but also those who made the movie. Watch the documentary on the dvd.
And once I accept the notion that -- at least by the end of the movie -- it's about Norman and not Marion, then my question about the final shot is legitimate.
(I read somewhere that the final shot may be to indicate that there are more cars in the swamp, but I don't think that's correct, cuz in that case it should show many cars being pulled out, we only see one, presumably Marion's).


Besides, if you look at the wording of when I made the point, I asked it as a question, to bring it up for discussion, as in "was that really necessary? wouldn't it have been better the other way? etc." It's not like I said "Hitch doesn't know what the hell he is doing!" I simply asked a question cuz I think it's a legitimate point for discussion. Now I'm not allowed to question Hitch?? Really?

Anyway, if you believe that the movie really is about Marion all along, you have every right to that belief, no matter how many people disagree with it. Everyone has the right to their opinion; I don't think it's necessary to preface every statement with "IMO" cuz it's obvious that what someone says is his own opinion. This entire discussion board is for individuals to share their thoughts on the movies they see: And the fact is that everyone is entitled to share their opinion about anyone. You can choose whether or not to accept what someone says, care about it, or even read it, but everyone has the right to share their opinions and nobody is too big or great or infallible for any viewer to be allowed to share their opinion of it. Otherwise, just close this thread to future discussion. Seriously. If a dumb kid like me can't say a word about the ending to a great movie by a cinematic master, then why the fuck are you even reading this? Why the fuck are you even on these boards? CUZ THAT IS WHAT THE FUCK THESE BOARDS ARE ABOUT  ::)


Take this any way you want to dj, but U.R. A. JACKASS  



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 23, 2012, 03:26:09 PM
Hitchcock, the greatest practitioner of cinematic art in the 20th Century, who, in 1959 was operating at the peak of his creative powers, blew the ending of one of his most famous and successful films.

Drink & Destroy, some kid who just saw the film for the first time last week, is so perspicacious that he spotted this flaw immediately, although it has gone unnoticed by the critical establishment for over 50 years.

Don't take this the wrong way, Drink, but: U. R. A. MORAN.

Jenkins, I usually take your side when you spar with Drink. But even I have to point out this is a remarkably obnoxious comment. Proclaiming your view of a film the only valid one is at best worthy of IMDB.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 24, 2012, 02:58:19 AM
Jenkins, I usually take your side when you spar with Drink. But even I have to point out this is a remarkably obnoxious comment. Proclaiming your view of a film the only valid one is at best worthy of IMDB.


You know Groggy, I get a  real kick out of how for some reason, whenever you criticize a position of dj's vis-a-vis my own, you are always careful to qualify that by noting that that you are usually on dj's side ;D ;D ;D



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2012, 05:49:59 AM
Jenkins, I usually take your side when you spar with Drink. But even I have to point out this is a remarkably obnoxious comment. Proclaiming your view of a film the only valid one is at best worthy of IMDB.
That's not what I was doing. I was checking out of a discussion after D&D altered the terms of the discussion. I wanted to talk about the ending of the film, but D&D wanted to bring in irrelevant material that was going to lead things away from the topic. It just wasn't worth my time anymore.

There are in fact any number of ways of looking at the ending of Psycho. One has only to read Rothman, Wood, etc. Somehow, I don't think D&D can be bothered to do so. He's happy with Ebert and the supplements on the DVD. Fine. He can go his way, I'll go mine.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 24, 2012, 07:03:18 AM
That's not what I was doing. I was checking out of a discussion after D&D altered the terms of the discussion. I wanted to talk about the ending of the film, but D&D wanted to bring in irrelevant material that was going to lead things away from the topic. It just wasn't worth my time anymore.

There are in fact any number of ways of looking at the ending of Psycho. One has only to read Rothman, Wood, etc. Somehow, I don't think D&D can be bothered to do so. He's happy with Ebert and the supplements on the DVD. Fine. He can go his way, I'll go mine.

Those supplements on the dvd that you seem to not think much of are made by the people who made the movie, including the screenwriter.  Yes, I will go with their interpretation of the movie (at least as much as I will go with experts, critics, film historians etc. It's not a matter of who is correct; idk if there is an objective "correct." The point is that since my view is one that is shared by many people who are at least as qualified as those you mention who support your view, that makes my point legitimate, and allows it to take a seat at the table as part of the conversation, as opposed to being instantly rejected as hiogwash. And the reason I mentioned Ebert is: you said something about how all the critics supposedly missed the premise my point was based on, and I was just pointing out how you missed the most famous critic's opinion.

Again, to be clear: I am not trying to say "I MUST BE RIGHT; YOU MUST BE WRONG. END OF STORY." That is a dj thing. I don't do that. All I am saying is that I think my point is a legitimate part of the discussion. And if you are going to use as "proof" the fact that such-and-such experts support your theory, all I am saying is that I certainly have experts on my side. To dismiss all those on the "making of" documentary -- who actually MADE the movie -- is beyond ludicrous. It's laughable.

But all this is perhaps only 1% as laughable as your insane notion that a kid like me has no right to even question the final shot of a Hitch movie. I wasn't bashing Hitch, I was just asking about it: wouldn't it have made more sense if he had shown X instead of Y? I think that is a pretty fair and respectable way to bring up a point, with all due respect to Hitch. If I am not allowed to ask a question on him, WTF is this thread for? Just for you to kiss Hitch's ass?

And above all else, your personal attacks -- not the first or second time -- are so undignified and obnoxious. Not hurtful, I don't give a shit about that. It's just obnoxious. And quite frankly, surprising. I never expected you to resort to this, but lately you have been doing it all the time. Calling people morons, idiots, and all sorts of rude shit just because they present a viewpoint on a movie that differs greatly with yours. That is completely inappropriate. Can't you stick with the substance of the matter? Are you afraid you have little substance and have to resort to this shit? Does prefacing the latest bullshit line with the qualifier "don't take this the wrong way"  make it any less rude and inappropriate than the other ad hominem attacks you've made with the qualifier "oh, now I am back to my normal affable self?"

You are certainly not the only one around here who does that all the time, and it bothers me equally when anyone does it. Cuz it is stupid and rude and not funny and most importantly, IT DETRACTS FROM THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOARD: TO DISCUSS MOVIES. That's what I do: I discuss movies. And if I disagree with someone's opinion on movies, even very strongly, I let them know and share my opinion, cuz that is what these boards are supposed to be about: discussing movies! But it never crossed my mind to resort to personal attacks -- except in moments like now, when I feel it is necessary and appropriate to respond in the kind to an asshole who can't seem to stick to discussing movies politely.

 I am a moron cuz I dare question Hitch; I am an idiot cuz I often don't like movies that come from plays, right? Seriously.

This bothers me for 2 reasons: cuz it detracts from discussing movies -- the point of these boards; and cuz occasionally I have to sink to your level to tell you the fucking truth.

I really never figured you for such an asshole, but I guess the truth eventually comes out.

And if this kid can criticize Hitch, the master of cinema, he can also question dj, the master of the sergio leone web board: I don't care how many movies you have seen and how many posts you have made here. You would serve the board a lot better if you stuck to movies and stopped the personal shit.

Sorry (to everyone else) for the long-winded shit, but this is annoyance over all dj's rudeness coming out into one post. This is the last time I will dignify this bullshit with a response. If he wants to allow that bug to keep crawling higher up his ass, I won't try to stop ::)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 24, 2012, 07:05:10 AM
There are in fact any number of ways of looking at the ending of Psycho. One has only to read Rothman, Wood, etc. Somehow, I don't think D&D can be bothered to do so. He's happy with Ebert and the supplements on the DVD. Fine. He can go his way, I'll go mine.

And therein lies the problem. If your issue was just D&D playing lawyer than fair enough. But I don't see your argument is being anything more than rote snobbery. Eg., your requiring a lifetime of study to analyze or critique a film. Am I not entitled to pass judgment on Orca before reading dozens of critical essays on it? Do I need a sheaf of reviews to prove it sucks?

Not to mention that yeah, complaining that D&D isn't "allowing" you an assertion implies you aren't open to opposite readings. All analyses of the film must generate from your premise that it's about Marion. Good way to stifle discussion Mr. Jinx.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 24, 2012, 07:20:33 AM
To Drink: Hitchcock is a sore point with Jenkins generally. He once said I wasn't a real Hitchcock fan or some such for proclaiming The Wrong Man his best film. Perhaps an overreaction after my first viewing of that movie (though the title is fluid: Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, Frenzy and North by Northwest are all contenders) but surely not deserving of a long-winded diatribe about how I don't "get" Hitchcock. That and how I need to see Vertigo a thousand times and memorize the score to truly appreciate it.

Then again, I get that way over Lean and Leone so I probably oughtn't throw stones. Though this particular form of snobbery I generally try and avoid. (Adrian Turner says this about Ryan's Daughter! You're an idiot, Jenkins!) I merely suggest you be leery broaching the topic with Jinkies.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2012, 01:39:47 PM
Not to mention that yeah, complaining that D&D isn't "allowing" you an assertion implies you aren't open to opposite readings. All analyses of the film must generate from your premise that it's about Marion. Good way to stifle discussion Mr. Jinx.
The real problem was that I started a discussion with D&D and realized it was a mistake and wanted to end it. I should have found a way to do it more gracefully, but at that point I certainly did want to stifle discussion. I don't object to discussions in general (other posts of mine should bear me out), just to discussions with D&D. I've learned my lesson, though. I'll assiduously avoid exchanges with him in the future.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 24, 2012, 03:35:46 PM
The real problem was that I started a discussion with D&D and realized it was a mistake and wanted to end it. I should have found a way to do it more gracefully, but at that point I certainly did want to stifle discussion. I don't object to discussions in general (other posts of mine should bear me out), just to discussions with D&D. I've learned my lesson, though. I'll assiduously avoid exchanges with him in the future.


With posts like this I certainly wonder how you two could stand each other in person. :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 24, 2012, 08:40:09 PM
so I make a post about Psycho in the RTLMYS thread; dj asks me to go over to the Hitch thread to discuss it further, and then when I dare have a different opinion than him about the movie, he says it was a mistake to have a discussion with me. That's right, it is so awful it is when you are discussing a movie with someone and he... GASP! has a different opinion than you do!  ::)

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who enjoy discussing movies without getting all personal about it, and those with a bug up their ass.

This is the most absolutely absurd  thing I have ever seen ;D ;D ;D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on April 25, 2012, 04:59:18 AM
The lesson is don't take DJ up on his offers... unless Criterion DVDs are in question.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 20, 2012, 07:19:32 AM
Yeah, baby!!! http://www.filmforum.org/movies/more/dial_m_for_murder


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 20, 2012, 07:34:33 AM
Yeah, baby!!! http://www.filmforum.org/movies/more/dial_m_for_murder

Are you excited about seeing this on the Big Screen  -- or more accurately at Film Forum, the Medium Screen -- or about seeing it as originally intended in 3D?

The reason I ask is that I saw this movie a few weeks ago for the first time, and it is not a great movie. Rates no more than a 7.5/10. That's not a bad rating, but maybe I expect more when it comes to Hitchcock? I don't have any interest in seeing the movie again.

HOWEVER, seeing it in 3D (as intended by Hitch) is certainly an interesting proposition.....  ;)



As for the movie, there is one scene in particular that annoyed me:

SPOILER ALERT TILL END OF POST

It's the key scene (literally!) where the detective has laid the trap for Milland, and told Kelly what he has done, and is watching from the window to see if Milland will fall into the trap. As Milland leaves the building when the key doesn't work, then he has the puzzled look on his face, and turns back into the building, the detective is narrating all this for Kelly. No need for that. We can see what is happening. Once the detective explained exactly what he was waiting to see happen, it would have been far more effective if the camera had simply followed on Milland, silently (or with music), but without the superfluous narration by the detective.

Alternatively, if the detective had not previously explained to Kelly the trap he laid for Milland, then the detective could narrate Milland's actions, while explaining the significance of those actions topKelly (ie. the trap Milland was falling into). However, once he explained the trap to Kelly, having him then narrate Milland's actions is a very poor bit of filmmaking.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 20, 2012, 07:53:05 AM
Are you excited about seeing this on the Big Screen  -- or more accurately at Film Forum, the Medium Screen -- or about seeing it as originally intended in 3D?

The reason I ask is that I saw this movie a few weeks ago for the first time, and it is not a great movie. Rates no more than a 7.5/10. That's not a bad rating, but maybe I expect more when it comes to Hitchcock? I don't have any interest in seeing the movie again.

HOWEVER, seeing it in 3D (as intended by Hitch) is certainly an interesting proposition.....  ;)
Yeah, I've never seen it in 3-D. Film Forum has shown it before in that format, but in the old 3D system. Given that this is DCP (with improved colors, clarity, etc.) and in the new 3D process, I very much want to see it. It will be coming out on disc for home viewing next month, but I don't want to convert my system to 3-D just for one title. I want to go to the theater and see it in 3-D, then go home and enjoy it on Blu in 2D.

I agree that this isn't first-tier Hitchcock, but it certainly has its pleasures, mostly Anthony Dawson and Ray Milland being evil. And Grace Kelly is in Technicolor, never a bad thing.

You're right about the superfluous narration: it's probably a hold-over from the play (where what Milland's character is doing is off stage and HAS TO BE narrated). You'd athought, though, that AH, master of silent story-telling, would have handled that correctly, but maybe he was in a hurry and didn't have time to rethink the scene. Or maybe he was genuinely worried that the audience wouldn't get it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 20, 2012, 09:33:04 AM
And Grace Kelly is in Technicolor, never a bad thing.

You're right about the superfluous narration: it's probably a hold-over from the play (where what Milland's character is doing is off stage and HAS TO BE narrated). You'd athought, though, that AH, master of silent story-telling, would have handled that correctly, but maybe he was in a hurry and didn't have time to rethink the scene. Or maybe he was genuinely worried that the audience wouldn't get it.

 I don't think there is a single audience member who wouldn't "get it" when they see Milland doing the exact things that the detective said he would do, about 10 seconds ago.

But anyway, you're right about seeing Grace Kelly in technicolor......... and 3D O0

If I'm exceedingly bored, I might check it out, but probably not. But I really do wanna see Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, playing during approximately the same week



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 26, 2012, 02:16:52 PM
In yesterday's column, DVD Savant has some interesting things to say regarding the new 3D Dial "M" DCP:
Quote
It's shaping up as a 3D week here at DVD Savant. On Monday I was fortunate to attend a Warner Home Video screening at Grauman's Chinese of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial "M" for Murder. It's being released on 3D Blu-ray on October 9 but I haven't heard of any theatrical screenings so this was a big opportunity. George Feltenstein gave an enthusiastic, informative introduction, explaining that a similar 3D festival in New York in the early 1980s led to a brief 3D revival, the one that included Jaws 3D. Back in 1979 I had been fortunate to see a two-projector Polaroid screening at the Tiffany Theater on the Sunset Strip, which was my best experience ever with old-style 3D.
 
They projected the restored digital Dial "M" in the modern Real D format, which ironed out all the potential flaws. The alignment and convergence of the images is now perfect. The color restoration is quite good as well -- only opticals looked a bit less sharp. Hitchcock's conservative use of the 3D process is still marvelous, with foreground objects (particularly a table lamp) lending depth to the '3D stage' without asking us to strain our eyes. Even more than usual, Hitchcock directs our attention to exactly the right part of the frame, and focuses and converges the effect for that plane. He really can't afford distractions, for the screenplay is almost two solid hours of drawing room mystery exposition. Miraculously, the unobtrusive 3D provides a sort of hyper-spatial context, not a distraction. Our concentration is not broken. Other 3D pictures, even the new ones, are constantly "billboarding" the depth effect. After the main titles, Hitchcock does this maybe only four times.
 
This was also the first time I've seen Dial "M" displayed at its proper aspect ratio, 1:85. It mattes off very cleanly. I fully understand why earlier 3D film festivals didn't show it this way -- aligning a two-projector system involved hours of work, so they just left the screen unmatted and showed everything full frame.
 
It may have been wishful thinking, but George Feltenstein said he'd like to see all of Warners' 3D titles converted this way. The plan is to prep House of Wax for Home Video 3D in 2013.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 27, 2012, 06:58:06 AM
Thanks for the post, dj. I don't plan on going, but if I hear that it is absolutely awesome and a few scheduling matters fall into place, then there is a chance that i may.

I've still never seen a movie in 3D. I remember watching the bonus features on the Dial M for Murder dvd where they discussed how the 3D worked when the movie was originally released, something like this: the 3D glasses gave you a big headache, and the screen was basically split into two halves, and if you removed the 3D glasses, the screen would look fuzzy in middle where the left half met the right half. I wonder if this restoration will have the same issues.

And if you do go, can you please report back as to whether a) the glasses give you a headache; and b) if you remove your glasses does it look like a normal non-3D movie, or does the screen look screwed up in middle? Cuz I didn't love this movie on first viewing, and there is absolutely no reason for me to see this movie (ever again), unless the 3D is just irresistibly amazingly awesome, and the two problems I mentioned above no longer exist.

Thanks  O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 27, 2012, 07:02:29 AM
From the little I've read here and there, it seems to me that RE: the issue of "What is Hitch's Greatest Movie?" the discussion usually centers around (one of) these 4: North by Northwest, Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo. Is that correct?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on September 27, 2012, 09:16:45 AM
From the little I've read here and there, it seems to me that RE: the issue of "What is Hitch's Greatest Movie?", the discussion usually centers around (one of) these 4: North by Northwest, Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo. Is that correct?



I would add Notorious.

Personally I'm not that much impressed by Rear Window. Good thriller though, but not amongst his 10 best for me.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on September 27, 2012, 09:45:31 AM
Dial M was my first Hitchcock film but I haven't seen it in years. I'd much rather see it in two dimensions were I to revisit it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on September 27, 2012, 09:46:44 AM
Personally I'm not that much impressed by Rear Window. Good thriller though, but not amongst his 10 best for me.

Rear Window is quite interesting on a technical and thematic level. As a story it's nothing special.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 27, 2012, 11:08:58 AM
Rear Window is quite interesting on a technical and thematic level. As a story it's nothing special.

I think Rear Window is a terrific movie. IMO James Stewart delivers one of his 3 greatest performances. (The other 2 are The Man Who Knew Too Much and Call Northside 777. [And maybe you could add Vertigo to that list). Grace Kelly's acting ability was as amazing as her beauty.

What's most awesome about this movie is its sense of perspective. Though lots of stuff are happening in all the different apartments, we never leave Stewart's apartment; everything that happens in the other apartments are only seen from Stewart's perspective. As Roger Ebert says in the first paragraph of his review http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20000220/REVIEWS08/2200301/1023 "The hero of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" is trapped in a wheelchair, and we're trapped, too--trapped inside his point of view, inside his lack of freedom and his limited options. When he passes his long days and nights by shamelessly maintaining a secret watch on his neighbors, we share his obsession. It's wrong, we know, to spy on others, but after all, aren't we always voyeurs when we go to the movies? Here's a film about a man who does on the screen what we do in the audience--look through a lens at the private lives of strangers."



As for the story, I'm not sure if it's supposed to play as a typical mystery/thriller; I have a feeling that it's supposed to be all about the personalities, and the movie's symbolism/techniques. (In a way, this is perhaps like Vertigo, where the mystery of the rich guy's dead wife is not really very important -- hence it's revealed in a rather undramatic manner, relatively early in the movie -- what matters is what it does to Scottie; we walk out of the theater thinking about the psychological aspects of what happened to Scottie, rather than the resolution of the "mystery"). In a somewhat similar vein, in Rear Window, I do not think we are supposed to walk away from the movie thinking about how the "mystery was solved"; rather, the point is the symbolism, the voyeurism, and what it all means and what it all represents. The  actual solving of the mystery and the crime is relatively unimportant to the movie.

RE: your comment about the story being nothing special: per the foregoing, I don't know if the story per se is supposed to be the focus of the movie.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on September 27, 2012, 12:09:45 PM
James Stewart, he was more fascinating in the Anthony Mann films. Especially in The Naked Spur, Bend of the River and The Far Country.

Rear Window. I'm just asking me was the camera really completely in Stewart's room? Not exactly sure at the moment.

Sure is that Rope has more than one shot, even if we don't count the "invisible" made cuts,


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on September 28, 2012, 03:21:45 AM
Dial M for Murder is playing in 3D in Helsinki tomorrow. I might make the trip but I'm not sure at the moment.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 28, 2012, 11:43:48 AM
As for the story, I'm not sure if it's supposed to play as a typical mystery/thriller; I have a feeling that it's supposed to be all about the personalities, and the movie's symbolism/techniques.
Rear Window is a movie with two stories. The first is about the discovery of a murder and the attempt by Jeff and Lisa to prove that the murder has in fact occurred. The second tale is the love story: in the process of proving the murder, Jeff is compelled to acknowledge and then act upon his true feelings for Lisa. The stories parallel each other and resolve themselves concurrently. Both stories are concerned with a hunt for evidence and the film, with amazing economy, provides a single discovery to answer both problems.

That discovery is, of course, the ring. As far as Thorwald is concerned, the ring has both a literal and symbolic significance. Possession of it counts against him in both cases. As Lisa says, Thorwald wouldn't have the ring on him if his wife were still alive, so its discovery is the thing that will likely send him to the chair. But there is also this irony: Thorwald's attempt to terminate with extreme prejudice his union with a detested wife will be thwarted by the very symbol of that union. This must have appealed to H's Jesuitical thinking.

As far as Lisa is concerned, the ring also has both a literal and symbolic significance, and possession of it counts in her favor, again in both cases. At the beginning of the film Jeff is uncertain about his future relationship with Lisa because he doesn't think she can cut it as an action photographer's moll. But when Jeff, for obvious reasons, can't himself "get the goods" on Thorwald, Lisa swings into action. Because the ring is the desired proof Jeff needs, Lisa's possession of it proves not only that Jeff is right about Thorwald, it also proves that Jeff has been wrong about Lisa. She is man enough for any job Jeff himself would want to tackle. Jeff "sees" the proof though his field glasses: it is therefore magnified for his benefit as well as ours. But there is also this added irony: to hide the ring from Thorwald's gaze, Lisa slips it on her ring finger, and it is in this position that Jeff first sees it. So the object that suspends Jeff's previous objection to Lisa and so validates her claim on him also serves as an indicator of their (likely) future union.

Given the marital theme of the film (most of the people in the windows across the way have relationship issues--the newlyweds, Miss Lonelyhearts, the Thorwalds, Miss Torso), the Jeff-Lisa story is cunningly developed. And of course, it is the opposite of the Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald's story that we see through the looking glass of Jeff's rear window. Few film plots have been so artfully constructed.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 28, 2012, 12:06:58 PM

Sure is that Rope has more than one shot, even if we don't count the "invisible" made cuts,
Wikipedia has the relevant info:
Quote
Hitchcock shot for periods lasting up to ten minutes (the length of a film camera magazine), continuously panning from actor to actor, though most shots in the film wound up being shorter. Every other segment ends by panning against or tracking into an object—a man's jacket blocking the entire screen, or the back of a piece of furniture, for example. In this way, Hitchcock effectively masked half the cuts in the film.
 
However, at the end of 20 minutes (two magazines of film make one reel of film on the projector in the movie theater), the projectionist—when the film was shown in theaters—had to change reels. On these changeovers, Hitchcock cuts to a new camera setup, deliberately not disguising the cut.

If you go to the entry, you can get exact times for each of the film's segments.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 28, 2012, 12:58:11 PM
When he passes his long days and nights by shamelessly maintaining a secret watch on his neighbors, we share his obsession. It's wrong, we know, to spy on others, but after all, aren't we always voyeurs when we go to the movies? Here's a film about a man who does on the screen what we do in the audience--look through a lens at the private lives of strangers.
The voyeurism canard is an old and tired one, and I'm not at all surprised that that fraud Ebert subscribes to it. The idea is laughable on its face: as if there were no difference between what a film-goer does and what a peeping tom gets up to! In the first case, a viewer pays money to watch actors playing invented characters perform; in the second, a real person with a legitimate expectation of privacy is surreptitiously observed. Two entirely different categories. The fact that Ebert confuses these two is such a fundemental error that it calls into question all his other assertions.

What about the idea that Jeff as a character in the film is a kind of voyeur? Here there is room for debate, but I think it's important to remember to what extent Hitchcock alibis his hero. Remember, Jeff is a photographer, prevented from doing what he usually does by his injury. Bored, he looks across at the (conveniently un-curtained) windows of his neighbors. But does he watch with the cold eye of a professional, or just to get his jollies? Since he doesn't hide what he's doing (he tells Stella, Lisa, and Doyle about it), and there is a certain detachment to what he does, I'm inclined to think he is acting the professional at most times (maybe not when he's watching Miss Torso). As he tells Doyle, he shot some of his best pictures on his days off. Well, he's "off" over the course of the film; his "eye", though, is never off, it's always searching for that next great photo op. Also, he claims that turnabout is fair play, anyone choosing to look into his open window is welcome to do so. This is not the attitude, as far as I understand it, of most peeping toms.

Finally, what do Jeff's viewings result in? The detection and apprehension of a murderer. Surely this is a desirable outcome, one that would be lauded in any society. And when Jeff shares his suspicions, first with Stella, then with Lisa, then with Doyle, do they condemn Jeff for his actions? Not at all. In fact, Doyle is a policeman; if there is something unsavory in Jeff's activities, why doesn't he caution, censure, or even incarcerate his friend? For most of the film, Doyle doesn't believe Jeff's theory about the murder. Nonetheless, at no time does he tell his friend that Jeff is doing wrong, or that he is legally bound to desist. Doyle thinks Jeff is cracked, but he isn't worried about the guy violating any statutes.

On balance, then, I think H has arranged matters to exonerate Jeff on a charge of voyeurism (i.e. illicit viewing). In fact, Jeff's actions are apparently endorsed by the society in which he lives, and certainly by the film in which he exists. All good things follow from what he does.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 28, 2012, 02:15:57 PM
The voyeurism canard is an old and tired one, and I'm not at all surprised that that fraud Ebert subscribes to it. The idea is laughable on its face: as if there were no difference between what a film-goer does and what a peeping tom gets up to! In the first case, a viewer pays money to watch actors playing invented characters perform; in the second, a real person with a legitimate expectation of privacy is surreptitiously observed. Two entirely different categories. The fact that Ebert confuses these two is such a fundemental error that it calls into question all his other assertions.

What about the idea that Jeff as a character in the film is a kind of voyeur? Here there is room for debate, but I think it's important to remember to what extent Hitchcock alibis his hero. Remember, Jeff is a photographer, prevented from doing what he usually does by his injury. Bored, he looks across at the (conveniently un-curtained) windows of his neighbors. But does he watch with the cold eye of a professional, or just to get his jollies? Since he doesn't hide what he's doing (he tells Stella, Lisa, and Doyle about it), and there is a certain detachment to what he does, I'm inclined to think he is acting the professional at most times (maybe not when he's watching Miss Torso). As he tells Doyle, he shot some of his best pictures on his days off. Well, he's "off" over the course of the film; his "eye", though, is never off, it's always searching for that next great photo op. Also, he claims that turnabout is fair play, anyone choosing to look into his open window is welcome to do so. This is not the attitude, as far as I understand it, of most peeping toms.

Finally, what do Jeff's viewings result in? The detection and apprehension of a murderer. Surely this is a desirable outcome, one that would be lauded in any society. And when Jeff shares his suspicions, first with Stella, then with Lisa, then with Doyle, do they condemn Jeff for his actions? Not at all. In fact, Doyle is a policeman; if there is something unsavory in Jeff's activities, why doesn't he caution, censure, or even incarcerate his friend? For most of the film, Doyle doesn't believe Jeff's theory about the murder. Nonetheless, at no time does he tell his friend that Jeff is doing wrong, or that he is legally bound to desist. Doyle thinks Jeff is cracked, but he isn't worried about the guy violating any statutes.

On balance, then, I think H has arranged matters to exonerate Jeff on a charge of voyeurism (i.e. illicit viewing). In fact, Jeff's actions are apparently endorsed by the society in which he lives, and certainly by the film in which he exists. All good things follow from what he does.

"The voyeurism canard is an old and tired one"? Come on, dj. The movie definitely is about voyeurism (which is a recurring Hitch theme). Nobody is saying that what Jeff is doing is the same as playing Peeping Tom, nor is it illegal. But in a certain sense, there is a voyeuristic element to what he is doing: he may tell his friends about it, but I don't think its the sort of thing he;'d want to have printed in the newspaper. He's not just looking out the window: he is using high-powered binoculars and a camera's zoom lens. He is sure;y not a bad guy, but there is a certain something that just doesn't feel right about it, and Jeff himself admits as much. In a manner of speaking, if not in a literal sense, there is something voyeuristic and creepy about it.

As for the open windows: I don't know how common air conditioners were in 1954, but I don't think it was nearly as common as it is today; and on a hot summer day, sure everyone's windows would be open.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on September 28, 2012, 03:27:44 PM
Quote
Remember, Jeff is a photographer, prevented from doing what he usually does by his injury.

It baffles me how you can cite this as evidence against his being a voyeur. The whole point of Jeff being a photographer is that he's a professional voyeur!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 29, 2012, 03:53:37 PM
It baffles me how you can cite this as evidence against his being a voyeur. The whole point of Jeff being a photographer is that he's a professional voyeur!
If your definition of voyeurism is "illicit viewing" (which is how I define it) then you are using a contradictory term. Jeff is a "professional" photographer in the sense not only that he makes his living at it, but that he operates within a profession with which society approves (unlike, say, a "professional" hitman). Jeff isn't ashamed of his job, nor does he have to hide what he does. In fact, society rewards what he does; he has its approval at every turn. His professional activities are therefore, by definition, sanctioned. The only question then is, When he's off duty, is he still a professional?

A man always peeping between a woman's legs might be a pervert . . . or a gynecologist. Society's imprimatur makes all the difference.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 29, 2012, 04:13:55 PM
On Returning From A 3-D Showing of "DIAL M"

I  see now how the 3D process intensifies certain tendencies in AH’s mise en scene, tendencies that put objects on an equal footing with characters. Which is to say, things in the film can communicate meaning as effectively as what the actors say or do.

Here Michael Walker’s Hitchcock’s Motifs (2005) can be of use. Motif hunting has its charms, but there are dangers. An object in one Hitchcock film may recur in another but with an altered value. An example is birds. After The Birds, many critics went back and noticed every instance of avian presence in the films. Not all were careful to notice that birds were just as likely to have positive associations as negative ones. It just depended on particular contexts.

Keeping the dangers of motif-hunting in mind, it is possible nonetheless to get some good out of the activity.

Two symbols are especially potent in Dial M: Margot’s handbag, and the keys on which the plot turns. Handbags show up a lot in Hitchcock, and their association with women (on multiple levels) is obvious. Keys are crucial in just 3 of Hitchcock’s films, made over a brief span (1946-1954): Notorious, Under Capricorn, and Dial M.

Quote
Although the keys in DIAL M FOR MURDER do not have the resonances of those in the two earlier movies, they are not without symbolic interest. Here, too, they are related to a husband’s murderousness towards his wife, and her possession of the key(s) is controlled by him. For example, Margot insists to Inspector Hubbard that Swann could not have come in through the front door, because there are only two keys: ‘My husband had his with him and mine was in my handbag—here’. She takes it out, and Hitchcock highlights it by a reverse angle shot in which her disembodied hand holds the key away from the camera and towards the group of men in front of her. Margot cannot imagine that her story has been undermined by her husband’s manipulation of the evidence, including the keys (this is Swann’s key, not hers). . . .
276
[a first-time viewer doesn’t yet know about Tony’s mistake, however, so the double irony of the image is only apparent on subsequent viewings.]
Quote
By framing the shot this way, Hitchcock constructs it, on behalf of the audience, as an accusation directed at the three men, and all of them fail her, Hubbard and Mark because—at this stage—they are unable to see the logic of her story: that her husband has been trying to kill her.
276
[That may be one way to interpret the meaning of that shot.  Another occurs to me: if, as Walker says, the key is a symbol of male authority, the shot may simply show the disapproving looks of three  patriarchs when confronted by a woman trying to usurp their symbol for her own purpose. Alternatively: the key is a symbol of control, and the shot shows the woman offering it to the three men who will shape her destiny: Tony, who tries to have her killed and then framed for murder; Hubbard, who will save her from hanging; and Mark, who (presumably) will end up with her in the end. Throughout the film Margot is a passive creature who (beyond killing Swann inadvertently), rather than acting on her own behalf, is usually being acted upon.]

Quote
As Sheldon Hall points out, this shot [the disembodied female hand outstretched away from the camera] is symbolically answered when, towards the end of the film, Hubbard takes her own key out of the hiding place under the stair carpet . . . and, to show it to Margot and Mark, holds it toward the audience (‘DIAL M FOR MURDER’ in Unexplored Hitchcock, ed. Ian Cameron, forthcoming). If the film is seen in 3D, this answering moment is given particular emphasis: it is one of only two moments when Hitchcock uses the striking (and usually much abused) device of visualizing something come out of the screen and into the audience.
276
It is the ultimate Hitchcock moment, in fact: we are being told, in an entirely visual way, that the key is the key (to the solution of the crime). AH may also be showing us who is in the driver’s seat: Inspector Hubbard. Possession of the key allows him to save and damn, and, even better, explain everything.

Margot’s handbag shows up in the picture a lot, but two instances are particularly telling. The first is when Tony surreptitiously removes Margot’s latch key from her bag, in a manner that suggests both great familiarity and most heinous violation. Literally and symbolically, Tony is disarming her and making her accessible to her murderer.

At the end of the picture the handbag returns.
Quote
When Chief Inspector Hubbard questions Margot about the key in her handbag, he begins politely: ‘May I have your bag a moment?’ However, once she has surrendered the bag, he becomes quite dominating. He takes the key out, holds it up to ask her whose it is, continues to hold it whilst he goes and fetches Tony’s (now empty) briefcase, and then returns it to the purse and the purse to the bag with a theatrical flourish. At this point, with no more explanation, he simply commandeers the handbag, sending it with a colleague, Pearson, back to the police station.

Although Margot is the owner of the handbag, she is completely sidelined. Nor is this corrected at the end of the film. When Tony enters the flat to discover Margot, Mark and Hubbard all waiting for him, he is carrying both the handbag and Margot’s key. She does not receive either, but Tony makes a point of presenting Hubbard with her key, as if identifying him as the patriarchal figure who controls the keys.
284-285

No doubt Margot will get both back. No doubt also Mark, in the future, will have access to each.

NB:  one doesn’t have to throw the “P” word around for all these symbols to operate. It is enough to acknowledge that they are symbols and work as such in the film. The keys don’t have to stand for male authority generally, they can merely refer to the power and/or authority that the particular males in this picture—Tony, Hubbard, Mark—are vying for throughout. And the handbag doesn’t have to represent all women, merely the one female character in Dial M.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 29, 2012, 09:20:02 PM
Nevermind that Jeff's occupation is photographer. There is no doubt whatsoever that what Jeff spends the movie doing is bordering on questionable behavior. he even mentions that himself, I don't have the exact quote, but he asks something like, is it wrong to look into someone's window with a high-powered zoom lens? Yes, the windows are open; and if someone glances in, there's nothing wrong with that. But to spend the whole day staring inside, trying to see all you can that's going on, with the assistance of high-powered binoculars and zoom lens, is certainly straddling some moral line. He is not a clear-cut Peeping Tom or anything like that, but there is a little something that's wrong with what he's doing, maybe voyeurism's second cousin.

This point is so simple and straightforward, I don't see how it can possibly even be debated. If you think Jeff's behavior is meant to be 100% fine, and that the ends justify the means, then in my humble opinion you missed the point of this movie.

(And btw, in the tapes of Peter Bogdanovich's interviews with Hitchcock (some clips are played on the dvd's bonus features), Bogdanovich at one point mentions how we are supposed to feel some sympathy for the neighbor (played by Raymond Burr), for if Jeff hadn't spied on him, he wouldn't have been caught. Bogdanovich makes that statement during the interview, and Hitch doesn't dispute it. Not clear proof of anything, but definitely worth a mention).  

I just don't see how anyone can watch Rear Window and believe that Jeff's actions are presented as completely benign. But hey, that's just my opinion  :)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 01, 2012, 05:54:21 AM
Nevermind that Jeff's occupation is photographer.
No, that is the crux of the matter. Just follow the plot's through-line--or, if you prefer, Jeff's "character arc."

At the beginning of the film Jeff has a problem and it has nothing to do with voyeurism. He’s got the opportunity to deepen his relationship with Lisa but he’s refusing to make the necessary commitment. And the reason he’s balking isn’t because he’s afraid Lisa won’t give him the kind of thrill he gets from illicit viewing or any of that kind of nonsense. He thinks she’s incompatible with his profession. And for Jeff his profession is everything—his professional life is all he has; it has, in fact, driven out any hope of a personal life. Ironically, the very thing that removes Jeff from the possibility of voyeurism—his professionalism—is the thing that prevents him from engaging with Lisa. His professionalism provides him with the objectivity and emotional detachment necessary for him to take great pictures (he can, for example, stand on a racetrack snapping away at a disintegrating vehicle not minding that he’s about to be hit by debris and get the shot). This is true for whatever subject he treats—including the subject of his relationship with Lisa. Just look at the matter-of-fact handling Jeff gives the issue during the early discussion scene with Lisa. Clearly, he’s thinking with his head, not his heart.

That’s how things stand before the adventure begins. Hitchcock (and John Michael Hayes’ wonderful script) then arranges matters so that the murder investigation will put Jeff through an emotional wringer. It is only at the point where Lisa is in danger—where Jeff sees  that she is being menaced by Thorwald, a sight so dreadful that he has to look away—that Jeff can acknowledge (“see”) his feelings for her. Only then does his professional objectivity fall away. Only then is he capable of emotional re-engagement.  If they both survive the adventure Jeff will look upon Lisa and the relationship he has with her with very different eyes.

But to survive Jeff must first battle Thorwald, and that means risking Death By Defenestration.  The rear window of the film’s title has, naturally, a symbolic aspect. The window is the screen through which Jeff has coolly viewed the world about him, the thing that has separated him from real life. It is also the portal leading from the professional to the personal. When Jeff goes through it, very reluctantly, he is leaving emotional detachment behind and re-engaging with quotidian experience in a very fundamental way. In a film about viewing and re-viewing, he is at last able to see with “corrected vision” and act accordingly. He can be a civilian again.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 01, 2012, 06:18:13 AM
There is no doubt whatsoever that what Jeff spends the movie doing is bordering on questionable behavior. he even mentions that himself, I don't have the exact quote, but he asks something like, is it wrong to look into someone's window with a high-powered zoom lens? Yes, the windows are open; and if someone glances in, there's nothing wrong with that. But to spend the whole day staring inside, trying to see all you can that's going on, with the assistance of high-powered binoculars and zoom lens, is certainly straddling some moral line. He is not a clear-cut Peeping Tom or anything like that, but there is a little something that's wrong with what he's doing, maybe voyeurism's second cousin.
No, the film takes great pains to see that the "peeping tom" charge against Jeff is deflected. Stella raises the issue, and then there is the comment you mention, and even Lisa gets into the act at one point. But there is a clear strategy at work here. Hitchcock and his scriptwriter know that the matter will occur to the audience, so they head them off by bringing it up first and dismissing it.

Stella, Lisa, and Doyle all give Jeff a certain amount of guff about looking out the window, but they only become really concerned when he begins to develop an obsession regarding Thorwald. However, once each comes round to the notion--or at least the possibility--that Thorwald is a murderer, they are no longer concerned about any privacy issues. And recall, Jeff doesn't start using his special lenses until after he becomes suspicious of Thorwald. Clearly, murder detection trumps any scruples regarding Thorwald's expectation of privacy.

Anyway, the best test to put the film to is the one it was given in 1954. Then the term “voyeur” was unknown to the average filmgoer, although people knew about “Peeping Toms.” They knew what they were and they didn’t like them. It would have been impossible to make a commercially successful film about such a person in 1954 America, so AH did everything he could to alibi his hero so that he wouldn’t lose audience sympathy. He was successful—Rear Window was a smash hit. Four years later, with the same leading man, Hitchcock tried to sell America a hero who starts out following one woman and gradually ends up stalking her double. This film was calledVertigo and it tanked at the box office. American audiences of the period did not warm to creeps. They did like heroes they could identify with, and when one they approved of surfaced in an entertaining film like Rear Window, they signalled their approval by purchasing multiple tickets.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 04, 2012, 09:50:40 AM
I don't buy the distinction at all, sorry. One can be "professional" and still be a voyeur. In any case, if Jeff is taking a purely "professional" interest in his neighbors why does he get involved?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 04, 2012, 12:43:41 PM
I don't buy the distinction at all, sorry. One can be "professional" and still be a voyeur.
Any hypothetical can be argued. The question is, is that the matter in the present instance? I look at the evidence before me and say no.
Quote
In any case, if Jeff is taking a purely "professional" interest in his neighbors why does he get involved?
He doesn't at first. I think the murder occurs (based on the cry in the night that Jeff hears) at about the 20 minute mark. Then, as he notices other things, he starts hauling out the field glasses and telephoto lens. He gradually becomes caught up in what becomes a murder investigation. And this is the path AH has set for his hero: he begins in a state of professional detachment and moves toward personal involvement. This is necessary, not only for the discovery of the murderer, but for Jeff's "discovery" regarding Lisa and his feelings for her.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 04, 2012, 12:51:42 PM
are you sure that Stewart doesn't begin using the binoculars and camera zoom before he suspects Raymond Burr? Besides, doesn't he use those devices to peer in on the other neighbors as well?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 04, 2012, 01:35:12 PM
Only after he starts spying on Thorwald (he asks Stella to hand him the field glasses as she leaves; he wants them for Thorwald. He switches to the telephoto when the glasses can't do the job). Perhaps there is a slippery-slope argument to be made here.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 04, 2012, 04:56:19 PM
dj, if you have the Rear Window dvd, check out the bonus features, where Peter Bogdanovich plays some clips of his taped interviews with Hitchcock.
There is a bonus feature documentary about 55 minutes long called "Rear Window Ethics: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock classic." I saw it several months ago, but if I recall correctly: some of those Bogdanovich-Hitchcock tapes play there, and the implication I got is that Jeff's behavior is not supposed to be viewed favorably. As I mentioned previously, one particular comment by Bogdanovich that I very clearly remember, is how he mentions during the interview how we are supposed to feel bad for Thorwald, he is presented as some sort of victim, for if Jeff hadn't spied on him, he wouldn't have been caught. Hitch does not dispute those comments by Bogdanovich [he may have even said "Yes," in agreement]. If that's true, then Jeff's spying is necessarily presented negatively; for if there is nothing wrong with it, then there is no reason to feel any sympathy for Thorwald.

Anyway, if you have the dvd (and you have just about every one that exists, don't you?  ;)) and you have the time, perhaps you'd like to check out that documentary, and see if I am presenting that interview bit correctly. If I am wrong, then I apologize, but  you'll still have a good time watching that terrific documentary; I think like the first 35 or 40 minutes are discussing the movie, while the last 15-20 minutes are a discussion of the Harris-Katz restoration).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on October 08, 2012, 02:22:16 AM
Every Alfred Hitchcock Interview Available Online:

http://filmmakeriq.com/2012/09/every-alfred-hitchcock-interview-available-online/

Didn't get a chance to watch any of these, far too much work lately ("GOOOOOOOOD FOR YA", would Christian "Nice Guy" Bale say).
If you have some time on your side, check out the entire blog FilmmakerIQ, he often post very interesting articles/interviews/pics about past and present fimmaking/filmmakers. And also DIY filmmaking, but you don't care about that. Don't waste your time on his podcasts though.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 11, 2012, 06:18:15 PM
Just saw SUSPICION. The worst of the 11 Hitch films I have seen so far. (And I have seen ROPE. So yeah, this one is pretty bad).

SPOILER


and btw, the title basically gives away the movie

anyway, so at the end, we find that Fontain was wrong about Grant, he wasn't trying to kill anyone after all. So what? he's still a douche, she's still married to a douche. We get the big overhead shot and the triumphant music, as if this is some happy ending, the couple is exiting the stage in love, etc. but really, wtf is so happy? He's still a crooked good for nothing, a thief and a deadbeat, and in a couple of days he's going to no doubt get into some shit again. I am not necessarily looking for a movie to have a happy ending, but I find it ridiculous how, once Fontain realizes that Grant is not a murderer, it's presented as some triumph, like they're gonna live happily ever after all. He's still a piece of shit and they sure as hell ain't gonna live happily ever after


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 12, 2012, 06:17:17 AM
Suspicion is mostly a great movie, but Hitchcock paints himself into a corner with the ending. Neither of the possible solutions is really satisfying and there's not much Hitch can do to alleviate that. I enjoy the ride well-enough not to mind overmuch.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 12, 2012, 09:44:14 AM
Suspicion is mostly a great movie, but Hitchcock paints himself into a corner with the ending. Neither of the possible solutions is really satisfying and there's not much Hitch can do to alleviate that. I enjoy the ride well-enough not to mind overmuch.
Yup, that's pretty much the way I see it too. Anymore, when I watch it I skip the ending.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 12, 2012, 02:29:40 PM
Can you suggest a better ending?

What about if Fontaine would have killed Grant, but then realized the truth that he wasn't a murderer after all? Maybe that would have been better. And nobody would have felt bad for Grant dying, that guy deserved to die anyway.

btw, I remember Fontaine being much prettier in REBECCA. (without the glasses!) Anyway, she is a damn good actress. And on October 22nd, she will celebrate her 95th birthday! (And her sis Olivia de Havilland is 96!) I guess there's still time for them to make up! (I guess family squabbles is good for longevity?  ;))


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 12, 2012, 02:33:23 PM
That's my point. The way the drama's set up it can only end one of two ways, neither satisfactory.

Also, I don't see how the title gives away anything.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 13, 2012, 07:44:51 AM
Review of I Confess:

Quote
I Confess (1953) is middling Alfred Hitchcock. Another variant on Hitchcock's "wrong man" plot, its religious trappings don't compensate for sloppy plotting. Montgomery Clift helps with a strong performance.

Father Michael Logan (Montgomery Clift) hears the confession of church gardener Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse), who's murdered a lawyer named Vilette. Logan cannot break the seal of the confessional, even when police suspect him of the murder. Inspector Larrue (Karl Malden) finds Logan has a perfect motive: his past relationship with Ruth Grandfort (Ann Baxter), now unhappily married to a businessman (Roger Dann). Can Logan prove his innocence?

I Confess leans heavily on its priest plot to avoid familiarity. Hitchcock, a devout Catholic, no doubt felt its religious angle sincerely, and this aspect works well-enough. This doesn't stop I Confess from being contrived and profoundly muddled.

I Confess succeeds showing Logan's conflict. He fears not only breaking his clerical vows but exposing his shameful past, a credible characterization. His ambiguous relationship with Ruth torments him, while he scuffles with superiors afraid of the image problem generated by police suspicions. Hitchcock and writers George Tabori and William Archibald handle Logan's dilemma with sensitivity, saving I Confess from being gimmicky glop.

Move beyond Logan's characterization though and you've got a trifling, illogical plot. Is Larrue really so dense he can't guess why a Catholic priest might not cooperate? Ruth proves a selfish ninny who only makes things worse. Good thing that Keller blows his secret by publicly shooting someone. Hitchcock sets up Logan as a martyr with Calvary imagery - yet it's not Logan who's sacrificed. I Confess proves confused in its story and muddled in its message.

Hitchcock's direction is a mixed bag. He provides lots of moody photography, contrasting bright, scenic Quebec with cavernous church interiors and cramped police quarters. Ruth's romantic flashback, with glowing costumes and sunny scenery, provides an idyllic interlude. Hitchcock's a master of set pieces and the climactic chase works dramatically for all its illogic.

But the religious iconography proves insultingly obvious. As Logan walks to the police station, he passes a Calvary statue. Later, he testifies at his trial with a crucifix highlighted in the background. Presumably Hitchcock thought Logan healing lepers and turning water into wine was too on the nose.

Montgomery Clift provides a solid turn. His brooding intensity, repressed romanticism and religious devotion make him a compelling hero. His supporting cast is less commendable. Ann Baxter (All About Eve) suffers playing a ninny, while Karl Malden (On the Waterfront) is required to be snide and obtuse. O.E. Hasse (Decision Before Dawn) provides cartoon villainy and Dolly Haas's killer's wife is underutilized.

I Confess unfortunately proves mediocre. Its production values and Clift's acting salvage what would otherwise be forgettable. 6/10

 http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/10/i-confess.html  (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/10/i-confess.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 13, 2012, 12:49:17 PM
Can you suggest a better ending?

What about if Fontaine would have killed Grant, but then realized the truth that he wasn't a murderer after all? Maybe that would have been better. And nobody would have felt bad for Grant dying, that guy deserved to die anyway.

Apparently Hitchcock wanted to keep the ending from the source novel. Eg. Grant's character is a murderer, but Fontaine writes a note that implicates him, revealed post-mortem. Apparently the studio did not like such a morbid ending so we get the non-finale of the finished film. I don't know if this would have worked better than Suspicion's ultimate ending, but it's certainly less hokey.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 13, 2012, 04:07:26 PM
Apparently Hitchcock wanted to keep the ending from the source novel. Eg. Grant's character is a murderer, but Fontaine writes a note that implicates him, revealed post-mortem. Apparently the studio did not like such a morbid ending so we get the non-finale of the finished film. I don't know if this would have worked better than Suspicion's ultimate ending, but it's certainly less hokey.
Less hokey than "I know he's a murderer but I love him so much I'm going to swallow the poison anyway, but he really needs to pay for his crime, so I'll just put a note in the mail"? Puh-lease!

You were right the first time. Neither ending works.

Drink's idea is interesting, and puts me in mind of a Joan Crawford film in which Jack Palance is a character who marries well-to-do Crawford and then plans her murder. Crawford finds out about it, and then decides to turn the tables on Palance and bump him off instead. Unhappily, the filmmakers lost their nerve at the end and made certain that Crawford wasn't culpable for how everything turns out. I guess the stars back then really couldn't bear to see their images besmirched, even a little.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 13, 2012, 07:31:23 PM


Also, I don't see how the title gives away anything.


I didn't think a movie would use the term "suspicion" for someone that's guilty. I felt, while I was watching the movie, that they wouldn't use the title SUSPICION for someone that's guilty.

Also, there's other shit that doesn't make sense besides for the ending. When Grant decides to cancel the real estate deal, and then tells his friend "but I don't want to be responsible for doing so; you have to come with me to check out the place one more time and make the final decision." Once we learn that Grant is not a murderer, that makes no sense. Grant is a complete self-centered asshole, and would he really be looking out for his friend and ensure that the friend had the right to make the final decision? And he is suddenly so responsible, detail-oriented, and caring that he insists on a drive out there for his friend to check out the place one more time? Sure, it helps to create the tension and uncertainty, but once you learn that Grant was not doing it to set up his friend, that trip out to the bluff becomes more than a little contrived.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 13, 2012, 07:45:32 PM
Coming soon

Hitchcock (2012) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

Here is the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rQuRLERl6A

Plot synopsis and cast, courtesy of imdb:

 "A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959."


Scarlet Johansson.... Janet Leigh
 Jessica Biel.... Vera Miles
Anthony Hopkins.... Alfred Hitchcock
Michael Stuhlbarg...... Lew Wasserman
Helen Mirren....Alma Reville
Toni Collette..... Peggy Robertson
Ralph Macchio..... Joe Stefano
Danny Huston..... Witfield Cook
James D'Arcy.... Anthony Perkins
Michael Wincott    ...   Ed Gein
Kurtwood Smith    ...   Geoffrey Shurlock
Judith Hoag    ...   Lillian
Richard Portnow    ...   Barney Balaban
Tara Summers    ...   Rita Riggs
Wallace Langham    ...   Saul Bass
Danielle Burgio    ...   Dead Woman
Kai Lennox    ...   Hilton Green
Currie Graham    ...   Flack
Steven Lee Allen    ...   Crew Member
Frank Collison    ...   Henry Gein
Gil McKinney    ...   Reporter #2
Spencer Garrett    ...   Tomasini
John Rothman    ...   Accountant
John Lacy    ...   First Guard
Mia Serafino    ...   Secretary
Lindsey Ginter    ...   Propmaster
Gina Fricchione    ...   Crew Member / Hairstylist
Emma Jacobs    ...   Blonde Fan
David Hill    ...   Leonard J South - Camera Operator
Melinda Chilton    ...   Margo Epper
Paul Schackman    ...   Bernard Herrmann
Mary Anne McGarry    ...   Hedda Hopper
Josh Yeo    ...   John Gavin
Howard Gibson    ...   Party Guest #1
Sabrina Diaz    ...   Chorus Girl
Karina Deyko    ...   Margaret Joyce
Jonn Faircrest    ...   Lighting Crew
Richard Chassler    ...   Martin Balsam
Cynthia Youngblood    ...   June Gleason
Cletus Young    ...   Chet
Lorie Stewart    ...   Party Guest #3



It's fucking ridiculous how Hopkins and Mirren -- who seem to be the two main characters in the movie -- get 3rd and 5th billing.  
But wtf do I know about that... I mean, I never understood how Claudia Cardinale received top billing over Henry Fonda in OUATITW, even on American posters. I guess the young hot actors are more marketable than older legendary ones?


I'm just going to have to get used to the idea of Anthony Hopkins (one of my all-time favorite actors) in a fat suit  ;D ( Robert De Niro gained like 70 pounds for Raging Bull, but there's noooo waaaay anyone can actually gain enough to be as big as Hitch  ;))



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 13, 2012, 08:22:05 PM
Here are 2 amazing articles on Dial M:
http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/dial-m-blu-ray-review
http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2012/09/07/dial-m-for-murder-hitchcock-frets-not-at-his-narrow-room/


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 13, 2012, 08:38:56 PM
Here are 2 amazing articles on Dial M:
http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/dial-m-blu-ray-review
http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2012/09/07/dial-m-for-murder-hitchcock-frets-not-at-his-narrow-room/

did you see the 3D at Film Forum?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on October 14, 2012, 04:47:11 AM
I never had much problems with the ending of Suspicion as it is. With a brilliant ending (however that might have been) it would have become one of Hitchcock's most admired films. Strong film nevertheless 8/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 15, 2012, 01:31:07 PM
did you see the 3D at Film Forum?
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It helps to be with an appreciative audience.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 15, 2012, 02:21:06 PM
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It helps to be with an appreciative audience.

Nice. definitely true about the audience.


What was the best part about the 3D -- was it the scissors pointing right at the viewer?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 15, 2012, 03:05:42 PM
No, the interesting things had to do with lending emphasis to something usually covered with an audio sting: an actor's reaction shot, say, or the moment when Inspector Hubbard extends what is literally The Key To The Problem into the audience. Of course, sometimes Hitch would use both the 3D image and the sting at the same time.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 16, 2012, 06:03:08 AM
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) will come out on Criterion in January: http://www.criterion.com/films/27999-the-man-who-knew-too-much


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on October 16, 2012, 06:47:12 AM
Apparently Hitchcock wanted to keep the ending from the source novel. Eg. Grant's character is a murderer, but Fontaine writes a note that implicates him, revealed post-mortem. Apparently the studio did not like such a morbid ending so we get the non-finale of the finished film. I don't know if this would have worked better than Suspicion's ultimate ending, but it's certainly less hokey.

In the Hitchcock/Truffaut, Truffaut asks why we got this ending instead of the other one. Hitch hanswered that the audience at the time was not ready to see Grant as a murderer.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 16, 2012, 10:18:17 AM
In the Hitchcock/Truffaut, Truffaut asks why we got this ending instead of the other one. Hitch hanswered that the audience at the time was not ready to see Grant as a murderer.
Hitch was being a bit disingenuous. The studio wasn't ready to see Grant as a murderer (nor Grant himself).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2012, 02:27:18 PM
Rope (1948):

Quote
Rope is Hitchcock's most notorious experiment, using a "single take" to adapt Patrick Hamilton's play. Critics rarely list Rope among his best work; Hitchcock himself called it a "stunt," telling Francois Truffaut it violated his focus on "the importance of cutting and montage." Rope holds up better for its thematic content than its directorial sleight-of-hand.

College students Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) murder classmate David, hoping a "perfect crime" will prove them superior. Hiding the body in a chest, they invite David's friends and family for dinner. Among the guests are David's fiancee Janet (Joan Chandler), jealous friend Kenneth (Douglas Dick), his straight-laced father (Cedrick Hardwicke) and aunt (Constance Collier). Also invited is Rupert (James Stewart), the boys' old teacher and intellectual mentor. Brandon and Phillip credit Rupert with inspiring their murder, and indeed Rupert quickly grows suspicious.

Rope can't be discussed without dissecting its direction. In 1948 Hitchcock could only achieve ten-minute takes and strains to maintain the illusion of unbroken shooting. Unable to cut at will, he employs a tracking camera, keying in on individuals and objects of importance. As Rupert unravels the murder, the camera follows his narration through the apartment. A time-progressive matte painting of the sky (including Hitchcock's cleverest cameo) changes subtly through the film. That Rope is first Hitchcock's first color movie is its least notable aspect!

Such technical virtuosity is a double-edged sword. The one-take gimmick appears impressive but on closer examination the seams show. Track-ins on characters' backs are awkwardly staged and Hitchcock even sneaks in a few undisguised cuts. Even if flawlessly executed Rope might seem an artificial exercise in craftsmanship. It's to Hitchcock's credit that things work so well.

Rope indeed seems primitive after the Steadicam achievements of Russian Ark and Children of Men. Then again, modern directors have more tools at their disposal. Long take shots are now an obvious, overused way of showing off. Joe Wright stages a five minute tracking shot in Atonement, but as a digitally-aided, self-contained sequence it's far less impressive. Hitchcock can't be faulted for using cruder methods, though his intent is ultimately similar.

Fortunately, Rope proves well-crafted on all levels. The story draws on Leopold and Loeb's Nietzsche-inspired murder with appropriate perversity. The homosexual content is surprisingly frank, with Brandon and Phillip engaging in sexual banter ("Can we stay like this for a minute?") and bickering like an old couple. Arthur Laurents seeds banal conversations with deathly puns that provide an air of black comedy. Brandon secretly gloats in his crime, dining off the chest with David's body and flaunting the murder weapon. This mixture of ghoulish humor and suspense proves delightfully Hitchcockian.

Some critics attack Rope as "anti-intellectual" but the film plays more ambiguously. Certainly its critique of Nietzsche and the "Superman" idea carries through strongly: when a character makes the obvious Nazi comparison, Brandon attacks Hitler merely for indiscriminate killing. But while Brandon and Phillip quickly credit Rupert with their idea, Brandon's pushy personality suggests individual inspiration. It's unclear whether Rupert's comments arose from a casual bull session or a more serious debate. Rupert's final speech is either self-serving or a pointed author's message about misusing ideas.

James Stewart seems awkwardly cast but provides a wry, intelligent performance. He certainly delivers the final peroration with conviction. John Dall (Spartacus) was never so well-used, playing a suitably charming creep, while Farley Granger's (Strangers on a Train) simpering nervousness makes an ideal contrast. The supporting cast performs competently, with Constance Collier's scatterbrained biddy standing out. 8/10

To be continued


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2012, 02:29:31 PM
Under Capricorn (1949)

Quote
Rope transcends its gimmick through good acting and a compelling story. Under Capricorn has no such luck. Its main asset is cinematographer Jack Cardiff, whose Technicolor eye makes Capricorn pleasant to watch. At heart it's a stolid melodrama with few surprises. Awkward casting further undermines the dramatic potential.

Ne'er-do-well Charles Adaire (Michael Wilding) arrives in colonial Australia as a guest of the new Governor (Cecil Parker), his cousin. Charles hopes to strike it rich but soon gets embroiled in a love triangle. He falls for Lady Henrietta (Ingird Bergman), the distant, alcoholic wife of Samson Flusky (Joseph Cotten), an emancipated convict-turned-landowner. Servant Milly (Margaret Leighton) stokes Sam's suspicions, leading to an attempted murder and several shocking confessions.

Drawing from Helen Simpson's novel, Under Capricorn presents a class-driven melodrama. Australia is a nation of convicts, self-made nouveau riche clashing with snooty English gentry. This certainly plays into Milly's schemes, as she turns the proletariat Sam against his aristocratic wife. The concept's intriguing but never achieves take off. With so many indoor scenes Australia becomes an afterthought. The only native touches are a shrunken head and a throwaway line about platypuses.

The plot mechanics aren't impressive either. James Bridie's script apes Hitchcock's Rebecca, with its tormented wife, scheming servants, class differences and verbose murder confessions. The second half bogs down in long speeches while crucial events occur off-screen. Audience interest in the story dries up long before the climax.

Michael Wilding (The Scarlet Coat) is, at best, a likable stiff. Ingrid Bergman proves unusually flat and unengaged. Joseph Cotten gave his best performance in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, and here contributes one of his worst. Margaret Leighton (7 Women) excels in her Iago act but Cecil Parker (The Ladykillers) plays an officious bore. It's a shame seeing such good actors go to waste.

As before Capricorn makes a fine technical showpiece. Hitchcock uses more conventional long takes than Rope, with Cardiff's camera exploring governor's mansions, vast estates and dinner parties at length. The shots are visually impressive but don't distract from the dull story. Where Rope is entertaining, Under Capricorn is soporific. 6/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/10/experiments-in-hitchcock-rope-1948-and.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/10/experiments-in-hitchcock-rope-1948-and.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 21, 2012, 03:01:59 PM
I thought Rope was shit. Not because of the technical stuff. I didn't find the subject matter interesting at all.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2012, 03:13:41 PM
Since the Hitchcock theatrical film got mentioned further up the thread, it's only fair to mention this:

http://tv.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/arts/television/the-girl-on-hbo-with-sienna-miller-and-toby-jones.html?ref=arts?WT.mc_id=AR-D-I-NYT-MOD-MOD-M276-ROS-1012-HDR&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c=197999 (http://tv.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/arts/television/the-girl-on-hbo-with-sienna-miller-and-toby-jones.html?ref=arts?WT.mc_id=AR-D-I-NYT-MOD-MOD-M276-ROS-1012-HDR&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c=197999)

Am I the only one sick of Toby Jones' gargoyle mug popping up everywhere? I'm not wild about Anthony Hopkins as Hitch either but come on.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2012, 03:14:02 PM
I thought Rope was shit. Not because of the technical stuff. I didn't find the subject matter interesting at all.

Shit is a bit vague. Care to expand?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 21, 2012, 03:40:21 PM
Shit is a bit vague. Care to expand?

I just didn't find the story that interesting. It's supposed to be like really creepy and deranged and therefore really awesome, but I just found it sort of corny and trying to hard.

I think creepiness (like everything else) is much more effective when it's subtle

Take Psycho: you get this weird feeling all along that something is not right at the Bates Motel, but you're not sure what. You don't find out for certain that norman Bates is crazy until near the end (you just think he loves his mom and is covering up her crime). When the truth finally hits you, it's nuts.


It's a very different story than ROPE, of course. But ROPE is like "Hey, look at us, we're creepy. Isn't that amazingly awesome? We serve dinner on a chest used t store a dead body, and do all we can to get ourselves found out. We're terrifically creepy, right?" Wrong. It;'s dumb and unintesresting.

I'm not certain that I'm coming across clearly, you have a better way with words than I do. But I just felt ROPE was being too cute and was much more stupid than creepy.

And when a story bores me, I don't really focus all that much on style. Not having read a word about ROPE until after I saw the movie, I paid no attention to the "ten minute take" stuff or anything like that. I just basically waited for the movie to be over.

The movie was probably more about homosexuality than about suspense/creepiness


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2012, 03:42:55 PM
I just didn't find the story that interesting. It's supposed to be like really creepy and deranged and therefore really awesome, but I just found it sort of corny and trying to hard.

I think creepiness (like everything else) is much more effective when it's subtle

I don't think creepiness was the intent. Suspense mixed with very dark humor seems a more likely goal.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 21, 2012, 07:21:01 PM
Quote
Track-ins on characters' backs are awkwardly staged and Hitchcock even sneaks in a few undisguised cuts.

The irony is that viewers now play spot-the-edit with the so-called "masked" cuts, but miss all the standard un-disguised ones. For technical reasons AH had to alternate every masked cut with a standard cut, but you'd never know that if you just read most of what has been written about the film.

Quote
Rope indeed seems primitive after the Steadicam achievements of Russian Ark and Children of Men. Then again, modern directors have more tools at their disposal. Long take shots are now an obvious, overused way of showing off. Joe Wright stages a five minute tracking shot in Atonement, but as a digitally-aided, self-contained sequence it's far less impressive. Hitchcock can't be faulted for using cruder methods, though his intent is ultimately similar.
You miss the obvious point. The Russian Ark guy and Joe Wright use their extended takes to heighten the illusion of reality in their mise-en-scene. Rope, by contrast, was an obvious stage play, and AH wasn't at all concerned about disguising the fact. In fact, he wanted his audience to revel in the stagey-ness of it all. This film is part of a series of one-set experiments that began with Lifeboat, continued through Rope and Dial M, and concluded with Rear Window. The use of the one-take technique was designed in part, I think, to make the spectator think he's no longer in the audience, he's up on stage with the actors. For about 10 years, AH seemed to be working on the problem of how to fuse stagecraft with the grammar of cinema. He finally decided, I guess, to give up on the long takes in favor of standard cutting, and the result was his masterpiece, RW. Having solved the problem, AH then moved on. But Rope remains, it seems to me, a valid alternative blueprint for putting a play on celluoid.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 21, 2012, 10:46:59 PM
I don't think creepiness was the intent. Suspense mixed with very dark humor seems a more likely goal.

yeah, you're right, I guess it's more of dark humor. But again, it was so up-front without the slightest attempt at subtlety, I just didn't enjoy it.

Eg. if the boys had no choice but to hide the body in the trunk, that would have been dark humor. But doing it intentionally just loses the fun of it. Sure, that's the point of the story, how they do this intentionally, to see how close they can come to giving it away without actually being caught. But it's that in your face "I am being so dark, isn't it awesome how dark I am being?" that I just didn't like.

As for the Hitch cameo you mentioned, as I recall it, he appears walking outside the apartment window at the very beginning, right?

My favorite Hitch cameo (of the 11 Hitch movies I've seen) is in Dial M for Murder. When he shows up in that class photo, I can't remember the last time I've laughed that hard!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 22, 2012, 04:20:39 AM
Hitchcock was a neon sign in the backdrop.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 22, 2012, 04:25:43 AM
The irony is that viewers now play spot-the-edit with the so-called "masked" cuts, but miss all the standard un-disguised ones. For technical reasons AH had to alternate every masked cut with a standard cut, but you'd never know that if you just read most of what has been written about the film.

I feel insulted but I'm not sure how. You're getting more subtle Jenkins.

I like your read about Hitchcock's intended artificiality. I think this kind of stylization invariably calls attention to itself though, regardless of whether it's meant to be "realistic" or not.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 22, 2012, 05:03:13 AM
Hitchcock was a neon sign in the backdrop.

It says here that there are 2 Hitch cameos in Rope, the opening shot and the neon sign http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope_%28film%29#Director.27s_cameo (scroll up a bit on that page, and there's a list of all the "takes" in Rope)


Someone put together a YouTube vid of Hitch cameos: Rope's cameo is shown  at 4:20 of the vid, he only shows the opening shot, no neon sign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okLiLsncyi0


also, I see someone has posted the full Rope to YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTo7myWPhac&feature=related

I read about the neon sign and so now that i am looking for it I see some red light flashing, but there is no way that I could tell it's Hitch's silhouette, and i haven't seen Lifeboat so I don't know about Reduco




Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 22, 2012, 07:16:26 AM
I like your read about Hitchcock's intended artificiality. I think this kind of stylization invariably calls attention to itself though, regardless of whether it's meant to be "realistic" or not.
Yes, but there are different types of "realism" (i.e. movie realism). There is still a world of difference between making a shot that calls attention to itself in a "realistic" setting, and a shot that calls attention to itself in a stage-like setting. The operative word here being "world."


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 22, 2012, 08:44:22 AM
Maybe it should read immersive instead of realistic.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 22, 2012, 09:12:33 AM
Yeah, that might do it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 22, 2012, 07:47:43 PM
The Lady Vanishes:

Quote
The Lady Vanishes (1938) is Alfred Hitchcock's most inventive British film. A meticulously crafted thriller, it transcends even The 39 Steps in its streamlined plotting and tonal blend. An appealing cast, headed by the radiant Margaret Lockwood, helps too.

Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) travels to her wedding through Bandrika. While waiting for a train struck in the head and is tended to by Ms. Froy (May Whitty), an elderly English matron. After falling asleep Ms. Froy appears to have vanished, and her fellow passengers claim she never existed. Iris suspects something's afoot, joining Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) to unravel a curious spy plot.

The Lady Vanishes takes cinematic duplicity to an extreme. Iris herself isn't sure if Ms. Froy existed or not, between her injury and everyone contradicting her. But it turns out her passengers have hidden agendas: the Todhunters (Cecil Parker) are hiding an affair, Caldecott and Carothers (Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford) want to reach a cricket match, the Doctor (Paul Lukas) is treating another patient and several passengers are spies. Even after confirming Ms. Froy's identity Iris still needs to uncover other passengers' agendas. Lady delights in baffling both its characters and audience.

Hitchcock incorporates this playful sleight-of-hand into his direction. An extended set piece has Iris and Gilbert fighting the magician Doppo (Philip Lever), who uses a false-bottomed case to escape. Amusingly, Doppo's rabbits watch the fight from a nearby crate! Several double-exposure dream sequences (a train wheel montage a la I Know Where I'm Going!, Ms. Froy's face imposed on other passengers) and miniature sets further enhance the unreal atmosphere.

For all its frivolity Lady has a serious undertone. Unlike many late '30s films it's grounded in pre-WWII tensions, though the only overt acknowledgment is Caldecott and Carothers worrying about England's cricket team. At film's end the disparate passengers must unite against the villains. One character makes a surprise sacrifice while a misguided pacifist naturally eats a bullet. A musical code provides the clever Macguffin.

Margaret Lockwood might be Hitchcock's most endearing heroine. In contrast to the usual femmes fatale, nutcases or confused victims, Lockwood's Iris is pleasingly plucky, shrewd and quick-witted. Michael Redgrave makes a good romantic match. May Whitty makes a strong impression and Paul Lukas excels against type. Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford's doubles-act proved so popular they revived it in a half-dozen films.

The Lady Vanishes is a delicious cinematic confection. Even among Alfred Hitchcock's oeuvre it has few equals in mixing comedy, suspense and romance. 8/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-lady-vanishes.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-lady-vanishes.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 23, 2012, 06:18:26 AM
Quote
The Lady Vanishes (1938) is Alfred Hitchcock's most inventive British film. A meticulously crafted thriller, it transcends even The 39 Steps in its streamlined plotting and tonal blend.
Possibly true. But I still prefer Steps for its "couples" tour: Hanney and "Miss Smith", the crofter and his wife, Hanney and the crofter's wife, the professor and his wife, the innkeeper and his wife, and, of course, ultimately, Hanney and Pamela. Tour and theme perfectly co-join. Hitchcock would not achieve such formal elegance again until Rear Window.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 23, 2012, 06:40:57 AM
Concededly I saw 39 Steps years ago in less than optimal circumstances. It's due a rewatch.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 23, 2012, 08:10:52 AM
I recommend the Criterion Blu-ray.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 23, 2012, 03:06:13 PM
My review of Under Capricorn generated an interesting dissent. Konrad87 writes:

Quote
Hancock, I like your review on Rope (1948). It must be noted that Rope (1948) was also based on an incident in Hitchcock's life where his shooting idea in Foreign Correspondent (1940) was copied in real life to kill someone at a place called Tarahan.

But I have to disagree with Under Capricorn. Its one of my favorite films.

French critics and other European Critics consider Under Capricorn as one of the best films from Hitchcock.

Under Capricorn was published a year before Rebecca was published. In the novel, We see tormented wife, class differences, and trouble causing maid just like we see in the film.

But the film is much more stronger due to strong script and great performances. The problem is people try to see this film as a thriller. Its not a thriller. Its a drama with some thrilling moments. This is the same problem the audience face with Hitchcock's Musical Waltzes from Vienna (1934). Its a Musical. Not a thriller.

Playwright James Bridie's ability to write characters in a rondelay with each taking the other's place at different times.

What I meant by this is James Bridie (along with Alfred Hitchcock and Hume Cronyn) wrote the screenplay in a way where 4 characters (Charles, Sam, Lady Henrietta, Milly) are so alike.

Charles Adare and Lady Henrietta belong to the higher class. While Sam and Milly belong to the lower class. The mind of Charles Adare is filled with shameful emptiness. Charles Adare says to Henrietta "I spent most of my life warding off boredom." Charles Adare wanting to recreate Hattie as if she were still young Hattie Considine, he desires his own form of second chance, to return to the point in the past where he might start afresh, without the shameful emptiness of his adventures so far. So he is looking for redemption just like Henrietta and Sam. Alcoholism represents the shame of Lady Henrietta.

Charles Adare is also like Milly. Charles Adare loves Henrietta. And he tries to take her away from Sam. Milly loves Sam. And she tries to take away Sam from Lady Henrietta. As for Milly and Lady Henrietta, they both love Sam. They are willing to do anything for Sam. Lady Henrietta killed Dermot to save Sam's life. Milly tries to kill Lady Henrietta, because she thinks Lady Henrietta is only making Sam's life miserable.

As you know, Lady Henrietta's request to Sam to let Milly go at the end is an act of forgiveness.

Milly makes the audience realize certain things that we aren't aware of. Here is an example. When Lady Henrietta says something like this "what kind of love drives you to make such horrible things to do...", after she finds out that Milly tries to kill her. And Lady Henrietta says "when we speak of the love, we don't mean same thing." And she asks Milly "Why did you want to kill me? Do you think he could love a murderess?" And immediately Milly replies "He married one."

I think that's when Milly makes Lady Henrietta and us realize something - Lady Henrietta killed her brother Dermot to save Sam from getting killed. Milly requests Sam to stay with her, because Sam will be done for (if he returns to Ireland with Lady Henrietta). To save his life, Milly tried to kill Lady Henrietta. She makes the decision to kill Lady Henrietta only after Sam makes his mind to go to Ireland with Lady Henrietta. So Milly and Lady Henrietta are so alike. Through forgiving Milly, Lady Henrietta gets her redemption. And through forgiving Sam, Charles Adare gets his redemption.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 23, 2012, 08:07:40 PM
DVD Savant on Strangers on a Train:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3988stra.html (http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3988stra.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on October 24, 2012, 01:57:15 AM
Quote
French critics and other European Critics consider Under Capricorn as one of the best films from Hitchcock.

I doubt that this is true. I have never heard anyone considering Under Capricorn as even one of the better Hitchcocks.
Only a curiosity in Hitchcock's career. His least interesting film after 1934. The Trouble with Harry is probably worse, but that is at least a film many consider as a good one.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 24, 2012, 04:26:48 AM
I doubt that this is true. I have never heard anyone considering Under Capricorn as even one of the better Hitchcocks.
Only a curiosity in Hitchcock's career. His least interesting film after 1934. The Trouble with Harry is probably worse, but that is at least a film many consider as a good one.

Truffaut seemed complimentary towards it. Though whether that equates to "one of his best" is another matter.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 24, 2012, 06:39:07 AM
I doubt that this is true. I have never heard anyone considering Under Capricorn as even one of the better Hitchcocks.
Only a curiosity in Hitchcock's career. His least interesting film after 1934. The Trouble with Harry is probably worse, but that is at least a film many consider as a good one.
It has a Herrmann score, anyway.

UC is better than The Paradine Case, I Confess, or Torn Curtain. And the Technicolor is astounding. If we ever get a Blu-ray of it I'll be very happy.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 24, 2012, 06:58:00 AM
It's curious how Capricorn's defenders like to emphasize how it fits into Hitchcock's filmography through recurring themes and characterizations. For me this points up its derivativeness more than auteur awe. I credit Konrad for at least moving beyond this line of defense.

Capricorn's probably sabotaged by the actors more than anything else. Say what you will about Paradine Case and I Confess, they at least have memorable performances by Laughton and Clift. Capricorn's cast are either miscast, terrible or both. Only Margaret Leighton comes off well and even she's basically aping Judith Anderson in Rebecca.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on October 24, 2012, 12:15:19 PM
I like The Paradine Case very much, I'm a defender of it. I Confess and Torn Curtain are also better for me.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on October 24, 2012, 01:19:20 PM
I like The Paradine Case very much, I'm a defender of it. I Confess and Torn Curtain are also better for me.

You may be the only one.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 25, 2012, 01:26:41 PM
Robert Harris on some of the new Blu-rays:
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324707/a-few-words-about-rear-window-in-blu-ray
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324714/a-few-words-about-the-man-who-knew-too-much-in-blu-ray
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324716/a-few-words-about-frenzy-in-blu-ray
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324706/a-few-words-about-rope-in-blu-ray

(The link to the Vertigo review is in the Vertigo thread)



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 25, 2012, 03:53:05 PM
Robert Harris on some of the new Blu-rays:
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324707/a-few-words-about-rear-window-in-blu-ray
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324714/a-few-words-about-the-man-who-knew-too-much-in-blu-ray
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324716/a-few-words-about-frenzy-in-blu-ray
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/324706/a-few-words-about-rope-in-blu-ray

(The link to the Vertigo review is in the Vertigo thread)



wow, it looks like Harris is not very happy with this blu ray boxset.

Of course (as he admits) the average fan knows far less about this than he does, and may not notice this shit. So the average fan may love it.

I've long believed that ignorance is bliss. When I was just a casual movie fan and knew nothing about aspect ratios, restoration, sound, mono etc. etc. etc., life was much simpler. eg.  I must have watched the Die Hard trilogy a combined 100 times as a teenager, always on videotape in my 13" tv/vcr combo (no doubt panned and scanned), and loved every minute of it. didn't know a damn thing about anything. The more you know, the more you can appreciate greatness, but the more you realize when things are not great  :-\



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 30, 2012, 09:54:06 AM
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Alfred-Hitchcock-The-Masterpiece-Collection-Blu-ray/45102/#Review

Good news on the Vertigo transfer, at any rate.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 30, 2012, 01:23:50 PM
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Alfred-Hitchcock-The-Masterpiece-Collection-Blu-ray/45102/#Review

Good news on the Vertigo transfer, at any rate.

this guy seems to be much happier with the Vertigo release than Harris was. But I guess that's understandable, Harris knows everything there is to know about it, where all the imperfections are, etc.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 31, 2012, 08:46:59 AM
Ha! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIl7CkgYYMM


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on November 04, 2012, 08:44:51 AM
Marnie's Blu-Ray release:

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film4/blu-ray_reviews_58/marnie_blu-ray.htm (http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film4/blu-ray_reviews_58/marnie_blu-ray.htm)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on November 05, 2012, 06:20:11 AM
Every Alfred Hitchcock Interview Available Online:

http://filmmakeriq.com/2012/09/every-alfred-hitchcock-interview-available-online/

Didn't get a chance to watch any of these, far too much work lately ("GOOOOOOOOD FOR YA", would Christian "Nice Guy" Bale say).
If you have some time on your side, check out the entire blog FilmmakerIQ, he often post very interesting articles/interviews/pics about past and present fimmaking/filmmakers. And also DIY filmmaking, but you don't care about that. Don't waste your time on his podcasts though.

Anyone watched anything? Still didn't try :)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 21, 2012, 11:15:07 AM
Coming soon

Hitchcock (2012) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

Here is the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rQuRLERl6A

Plot synopsis and cast, courtesy of imdb:

 "A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959."


Scarlet Johansson.... Janet Leigh
 Jessica Biel.... Vera Miles
Anthony Hopkins.... Alfred Hitchcock
Michael Stuhlbarg...... Lew Wasserman
Helen Mirren....Alma Reville
Toni Collette..... Peggy Robertson
Ralph Macchio..... Joe Stefano
Danny Huston..... Witfield Cook
James D'Arcy.... Anthony Perkins
Michael Wincott    ...   Ed Gein
Kurtwood Smith    ...   Geoffrey Shurlock
Judith Hoag    ...   Lillian
Richard Portnow    ...   Barney Balaban
Tara Summers    ...   Rita Riggs
Wallace Langham    ...   Saul Bass
Danielle Burgio    ...   Dead Woman
Kai Lennox    ...   Hilton Green
Currie Graham    ...   Flack
Steven Lee Allen    ...   Crew Member
Frank Collison    ...   Henry Gein
Gil McKinney    ...   Reporter #2
Spencer Garrett    ...   Tomasini
John Rothman    ...   Accountant
John Lacy    ...   First Guard
Mia Serafino    ...   Secretary
Lindsey Ginter    ...   Propmaster
Gina Fricchione    ...   Crew Member / Hairstylist
Emma Jacobs    ...   Blonde Fan
David Hill    ...   Leonard J South - Camera Operator
Melinda Chilton    ...   Margo Epper
Paul Schackman    ...   Bernard Herrmann
Mary Anne McGarry    ...   Hedda Hopper
Josh Yeo    ...   John Gavin
Howard Gibson    ...   Party Guest #1
Sabrina Diaz    ...   Chorus Girl
Karina Deyko    ...   Margaret Joyce
Jonn Faircrest    ...   Lighting Crew
Richard Chassler    ...   Martin Balsam
Cynthia Youngblood    ...   June Gleason
Cletus Young    ...   Chet
Lorie Stewart    ...   Party Guest #3



It's fucking ridiculous how Hopkins and Mirren -- who seem to be the two main characters in the movie -- get 3rd and 5th billing.  




So now that the official poster has been released http://www.hitchcockthemovie.com/   Hopkins and Mirren indeed have first billing, above the credits, (followed by Johansson; Jessica Biel is 8th!) I am not sure why IMDB initially had the order of billing screwed up, but they have the correct order now http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

I hope to see this movie next week  :)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on November 21, 2012, 12:40:37 PM
I'm still on the fence about his one. I'm not sold on Hopkins as Hitchcock, neither am I sure that the making of Psycho is particularly cinematic material. But I'll keep an eye out for reviews.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: cigar joe on November 21, 2012, 02:41:37 PM

So now that the official poster has been released http://www.hitchcockthemovie.com/   Hopkins and Mirren indeed have first billing, above the credits, (followed by Johansson; Jessica Biel is 8th!) I am not sure why IMDB initially had the order of billing screwed up, but they have the correct order now http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

I hope to see this movie next week  :)
I'd rather see this than Lincoln to tell you the truth  8)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on November 21, 2012, 03:06:43 PM
It's your money CJ, use it however you like. O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 21, 2012, 03:14:19 PM
I'd rather see this than Lincoln to tell you the truth  8)

I can't compare Lincoln to Hitchcock as the latter won't be released until Friday, but I can assure you that while Lincoln is interesting, it is not a must-see.

Whoever did Day-Lewis's makeup did a damn fine job, he really does look like Abe  ;)

btw, I believe Lincoln is the earliest-set movie that I've seen, that uses the f-word. (And many uses of the s-word as well). Were people really using those word in 1865?

I remember gthat in The King's Speech, the doctor asked the king "do you know the f-word?" If that's anywhere near accurate, I presume that means the word wasn't very common even at that time in the 1930's-40's?
btw, I once saw an old Warner Bros. clip of "outtakes," of mistakes left on the cutting room floor, of movies from the 30's and 40's. There must have been 10 or 20 outtakes, and in every one of them, when an actor/actress screwed up a line, he/she screamed one of two words: either "rats" or goddamnit." I enjoyed the history lesson on curse words of the era  ;)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 22, 2012, 09:30:18 PM
On Friday 11/23/12, TCM will be showing Hitch movies all day:

6:30 AM -- Hitch Profile

8:00 AM -- Under Capricorn

10:00 AM -- Strangers on a Train

11:45 AM -- The Wrong Man

1:45 PM -- North by Northwest

4:15 PM -- Suspicion

6:00 PM -- Dial M for Murder


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on November 23, 2012, 06:20:03 AM
Damn it, and I have to work today! TiVo's set for a few of them.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on November 30, 2012, 06:20:15 AM
Going through the blu-ray set has been pleasurable. I'm skipping all the discs where problems have been reported, and I'm skipping all the films that I don't care about. That whittles things down to:

The Trouble With Harry. Beautiful transfer, shame about the film. The trouble with The Trouble With Harry is there isn't enough story here for a feature; it would have worked for the TV show. It occurred to me, watching it this time, that what they should have done is bring in the guy/guys actually responsible for Harry's death. Maybe the murderers left something on the body they need, or maybe they just want to tidy up. So then the problem for the heroes is to not only avoid being the-wrong-men-and-women in the case, but to also defeat the bad guys. Maybe the closing gag includes getting rid of Harry's body, but then ending up with the bodies of two more! Anyway, the film as it is rates a 6/10. The transfer from Vistavision: 10/10.

The Birds. Problematic source, good results for the film in which Hitchcock out-Bunueled Bunuel. Film: 9/10. Transfer: 8/10.

Vertigo. Fantastic colors, except for skin tones, which run a little hot (yeah, Stewart is supposed to be worked up, but should he be flushed in every scene?). Film 11/10. Transfer: 9/10.

Rear Window. Wow, this really blew me away. There are details here (especially of the apts. across the way) that I have never noticed before. Film and transfer: 10/10.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on December 24, 2012, 02:12:50 PM
Yeah, Baby! http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Man-Who-Knew-Too-Much-Blu-ray/57780/#Screenshots


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 31, 2012, 04:56:00 AM
Just saw The Birds, was having great fun till the movie just ended without any explanation of wtf happened.

Yeah, I suppose I could get into a whole deep shit about symbolic shit of what Hedrin brought to the town, and Rod Taylor and his female relationships, and I see books have been written on it, and praising the movie's technical skill etc.

Well first things first, whatever profundities there are, the movie shouldn't have ended as it did. No, I am not nearly sophisticated enough to insist "well that's the genius of it, o it;s so brilliant, only idiots need to be told why birds attack a town, its left intentionally open to interpretation, so nerds at film festivals can debate it forever blah blah blah" none of that "it means wtf you want it to mean' bullshit.

if anyone wants to provide a simple explanation for wtf the Birds are, then I am all ears.


And btw, I recall someone here recently bashed Hedren (was it you, Groggers?) Well this is the first movie of hers I've seen (Marni is next up in my queue), but she was absolutely wonderful in The Birds. As good as any performance by a Hitch blond.


------------------------------------

btw, on the subject of The Birds, here is a ten0minute video clip of Tippi Hedren speaking at BFI about her experiences with Hitch, which I am sure you are familiar with by now (and which I hear are the subject of the HBO Film "the Girl," which I hope to see as soon as Netflix gets the dvd). As always, it's a shame when a dead person can't defend himself; but assuming this is true, it's very sad, Hedren obviously nd understandably gets very emotional speaking about it even all these years later. She comes across to me as very believable and very hurt by it all.

Whether or not you believe that Hedren was a talented actress, the bottom line is he just buried her  -- paying her the contract $ but not giving her any work, and saying she was unavailable when other directors inquired as to her services -- and killed any chance she had. It really doesn't matter if you think she had no talent, bottom line is that, if these accusations are correct, then Hitch yet again fits the stereotype of the brilliant filmmaker who as a human being is just an absolute piece of shit. I've heard that about John Ford, and our beloved Sergio Leone, and soooooooo many others.

of course, there are so many who are not like that, but that is a stereotype, and Hitch fits it here. Again, I wasn't there and I don't know what happened. But if Hedren is being honest about Hitch, then what a disgustingly piece of shit he was, what  a terrible thing to do, to destroy an actress's career cuz she doesn't want to fuck your nasty, 400 pound married ass.

very sad to watch this, seeing how after all these years, this still affects Hedren when she speaks bout it, and understandably so  :'(


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on December 31, 2012, 05:08:33 AM
The film does not give an explanation, and I never thought I must search for one. It is perfect as it is.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 31, 2012, 05:31:02 AM
The film does not give an explanation, and I never thought I must search for one. It is perfect as it is.

really? no need for an explanation as to why suddenly all birds in the town go insane? Obviously, it's meant to fuck with you and make yiu think it's all thee metaphors, symbolism, etc. I never felt the need to spend time searching for the meaning of "what was behind the whim of that fat tub of lard?"

As I recall (I am pretty sure his daughter Pat said this on the Vertigo dvd commentary), he's just leave things vague -- not cuz there was any deeper meaning that he just didn't want to state clearly -- but just so everyone would apply wtf they wanted to, each person would say "oh, this is what it meant, this is what it was so deep about, blah blah blah"

Fuck that. if there's a straightforward explanation, great, and soemtimes there's a deeperm implication as well, also great.

But I won't be like one of those idiots who would take a piece of paper that was doodled on by some Beatle stoned out of his mind, and try to decipher the depths of the brilliance of his profundities, when in fact he was intentionally doing something meaningless just cuz he enjoyed seeing everyone scramble to interpret the nonsense as if it was Shakespeare.

Fuck that  ::)

Though i ascribe no brilliance to that, I will still say that I enjoyed watching this very much, mostly because of Hedren. (And btw, the little girl was very good as well). This was the first Hedren movie I've ever seen, but if it's true that Hitch ruined her career for personal reasons and that she didn't make many movies after The BIrds and Marnie, then it's a darn shame. I mean, morally, it's an equally terrible thing to do no matter how much/little talent a person has; but I mean that on an artistic level, I am greatly disappointed that it means I won't see her much. Cuz I really, really loved her here. yes, she is pretty, but that;s not what I am talking about. She really had the not-too-common combination of looks and talent



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on December 31, 2012, 05:51:44 AM
The Birds was probably the first commercial film which had such an ending in which things are obviously not explained. Probably a brave decision.

And frankly said any explanation will hardly be as good as that ending. I don't think it is a cheap way to get away with the fact that they weren't able to think of one. It is a great idea which works in The Birds very well.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on December 31, 2012, 05:59:20 AM
really? no need for an explanation as to why suddenly all birds in the town go insane?



No, not really. I appreciate David Lynch very much, but his films are filled with stuff I have not the slightest idea what it could probably mean, or why the fuck it even is there. But I feel that everything must be exactly as it is, and it is fantastic.

And I can easily find some explanations why the birds go mad (nature strikes back because mankind fucked up nature etc), but the real question is why they are calm at the end. and that is just like in a Lynch film. It is great, but I can't explain why. and I don't see much reason to find an explanation.

I don't know how the short story ends the film is based upon. Maybe there is an explanation, maybe it is too different from the film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 31, 2012, 07:17:23 AM
The Birds was probably the first commercial film which had such an ending in which things are obviously not explained. Probably a brave decision.

And frankly said any explanation will hardly be as good as that ending. I don't think it is a cheap way to get away with the fact that they weren't able to think of one. It is a great idea which works in The Birds very well.



a "brave decision"? How about a "lazy decision"? or an "uncreative one"?


Yeah, we're all waiting for this big revelation at the end, and as the minutes tick away (especially if you are watching on dvd, rather than in a theater, and you check the timer, and see the minutes ticking down and wondering, WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO TELL US THE BIG REVELATION?") yes, I guess you can say it's in it's own weird way "innovative" or "groundbreaking" or "new" or "original." But I don't believe that any of those things are good per se'; it's great to be "innovatively good," or "groundbreakingly good." We've seen a millio times where filmmakers seem to believe that being different or unconventional is good just for the sake of beoing different or unconventional.

I'm not saying I need an ending where everything is spelled out like we are in kindergarten (eg.I agree with Roger Ebert that the one mistake in an otherwise perfect Psycho) is the loooooong explanation of Norman Bates's illness by the psychiatrist, played by Simon Oakland; one line would have sufficed.... Also, I recently saw Il Posto, which has an ending that at first felt like it just fell off the table, but the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated its subtlety).

But with The Birds, it's nothing to do with a positive subtlety or ambiguity or whatever. It's plain and simple seeing a calamity happen over and over -- completely unexpected and unnatural, nobody knows why its happening -- yet at the end, we don't know either. Not one drop. Not a hint or a clue.

yes, until that point, it's a movie that is made very well and very enjoyable to watch, most of all thanks to a wonderful performance by Hedren. But the ending -- or lack of it -- completely ruins it all. I mean, I can definitely see myself tuning in when this movie plays on TCM; I will still enjoy watching Hedren's scenes. (And thankfully for dvd, I was able to use my forward button and speed through some of the very extended bird-attack scenes). But not giving a shit about telling us wtf is going on, that's being too cute by way more than half.

p.s. I should mention somewhere that the image on the dvd looked pretty bad to me, rather grainy, especially in the early reels. Though I know to some of you, the more grain the better.

Also, there were several moments where the disc seemed to speed up, eg. someone is walking, and they will suddenly just start walking MUCH faster for 2 seconds, and then revert to normal. This issue of the disc speeding up out of nowhere at a few random places for a couple of seconds, is one that I have experienced twice before that I can remember -- on the dvd's for Vertigo (1958) and for Madigan (1968) -- all three of these discs happen to be from Universal. Coincidence?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on December 31, 2012, 12:47:33 PM
But with The Birds, it's nothing to do with a positive subtlety or ambiguity or whatever. It's plain and simple seeing a calamity happen over and over -- completely unexpected and unnatural, nobody knows why its happening -- yet at the end, we don't know either. Not one drop. Not a hint or a clue.
Not true. In the diner scene various characters weigh in with their interpretation of events. The viewer is free to adopt any of these. Or none. Or create their own based on the evidence presented. Or to conciously forego explanation entirely, as a surealist would.

Your suggestion that we be given some neat explanation--that the town of Bodega Bay was built on an Indian burial ground, for example, OR that nuclear testing at sea has affected the birds, OR that a collective avian Omni-mind is now martialing revenge strikes on the humans, OR a hundred-other-Hollywood-bullshit-reasons--wouldn't make the film better, just make it seem more like a lot of other films. But we have those other films in abundance. I personally prefer a lot of variety in cinema, and I'm glad The Birds is the unique experience it is.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on December 31, 2012, 01:01:20 PM
a "brave decision"? How about a "lazy decision"? or an "uncreative one"?


Yeah, we're all waiting for this big revelation at the end, and as the minutes tick away (especially if you are watching on dvd, rather than in a theater, and you check the timer, and see the minutes ticking down and wondering, WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO TELL US THE BIG REVELATION?") yes, I guess you can say it's in it's own weird way "innovative" or "groundbreaking" or "new" or "original." But I don't believe that any of those things are good per se'; it's great to be "innovatively good," or "groundbreakingly good." We've seen a millio times where filmmakers seem to believe that being different or unconventional is good just for the sake of beoing different or unconventional.

Being different is always a good thing, but does not necessarily make a good film.

And no idea is "per se" good, it always depends on the context. What I love in one film I will maybe hate in another one. Depends on the film ...

And a certain idea is automatically innovative as long as no one else did it before.

But I have no clue how any kind of whatever explanation could have turned The Birds in a better film. Imo every explanation would have cost some quality.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 07, 2013, 04:56:14 AM
after seeing The Birds, I now just saw Marnie, and I gotta say, Tippi Hedren was a great actress. If her story about Hitch being obsessed with her and destroying her career out of spite are true, then -- in addition to it being sad, most importantly, for Hedren, having a career and life screwed up -- it's also sad for us that we didn't get to see her more.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 10, 2013, 01:12:34 AM
just saw Shadow of a Doubt (1943) for the first time, gets a 6/10

Hitch's daughter Pat says, "This was my father's favorite movie, because he loved the idea of bringing menace into a small town."


SPOILERS:  I guess it was disappointing for me in the way the story develops, there really are almost no surprises, almost no SUSPENSE. We know there is something mysterious about Uncle Charlie, the only question is WHAT, the most suspense in the movie is when Young Charlie finds it out after making it to the library just on time. So he is wanted for murder, and that's it. We're waiting for some big surprise that never comes.

When the other suspect is killed, it really makes no sense that the cops stop going after Uncle Charlie; there was no mention that they ever found any proof that the other guy was guilty. So Uncle Charlie is still  the guilty one -- 99.9% if not 100% - the shadow of a doubt.

So it comes down to this: mysterious uncle comes to town, men are after him; Young Charlie (and the viewer) find out what it is that he is wanted for, he is wrongfully exonerated, he tries several times unsuccessfully to kill young Charlie who knows the truth, then he gets killed at the end.

This movie really has no suspense -- unless you say that waiting for a twist that never happens is suspense (which is kinda what happens with The Birds -- we never do find out wtf the animals were attacking, and IMO that diminished from the movie


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on February 10, 2013, 02:28:43 AM
What twist did you expect?

As far as I remember it it was clear from the first scene on that Cotten was a woman murderer. As always by Hitch the suspense is not about things we have to guess, but is build around things we know. The tension between the 2 Charlies makes this film great. This is one of Hitchcock's abysmal films. And one of his best.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Senza on March 01, 2013, 10:50:14 PM
My favourite of his would probably have to be Rear Window (1954), I remember watching it when I was about 9 or 10 and got so tense during the scenes when Lisa was in Thorwald's apartment and when Thorwald was coming to Jeff's apartment. The man really knows how to direct suspense.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on March 02, 2013, 08:26:54 AM
Yes, but more to the point, the suspense is never usually an end in itself. At least, not in his later films. Certainly not in RW.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 25, 2013, 06:29:20 AM
Just saw I Confess for the first time. This is a damn good movie. 8/10.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Senza on March 27, 2013, 01:42:21 AM
I wish more trailers like Hitchcock's intro to The Birds were made today.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 28, 2013, 05:05:56 AM
Just saw I Confess for the first time. This is a damn good movie. 8/10.


Nah.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Senza on March 29, 2013, 12:31:28 AM
Nah.

Yeah.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on March 29, 2013, 07:27:33 AM
Don't make me come over there.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Senza on March 29, 2013, 07:20:24 PM
Don't make me come over there.

Please do, you'll enjoy it here in the land down under :)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 05, 2013, 01:35:50 PM
The Lady Vanishes (1938) 5/10

The first half of the movie is enjoyable, until this turns into a silly comedy/mystery/thriller.

Margaret Lockwood is pretty.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on July 03, 2013, 07:27:19 AM
A great introduction to Bernard Herrmann, so well done that even tin-eared Groggy should get something out of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipo5Lgz4GFQ

(a tip of the hat to DVD Savant for publicizing the link)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on July 05, 2013, 07:18:03 AM
Why Groggy would watch it, of course, remains an open question.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on July 05, 2013, 03:37:48 PM
Why Groggy would watch it, of course, remains an open question.
Oh, maybe just to escape--however briefly--from the suffocating hell of his daily existence. ;D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 05, 2013, 05:06:33 PM
Oh, maybe just to escape--however briefly--from the suffocating hell of his daily existence. ;D

you really crack yourself up


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on July 05, 2013, 06:31:55 PM
Suffocating hell describes my daily existence pretty well. But maybe that's just the angsty 20-something talking. :D


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on July 29, 2013, 06:03:08 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2380336/Cannes-robbery--34m-diamond-heist-waterfront-hotel-famous-Hitchcocks-To-Catch-A-Thief.html


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 29, 2013, 10:29:49 PM
TCM is having "Sundays with Hitch" every Sunday in September
http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html?tz=est&sdate=2013-09-01


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 03, 2013, 05:59:03 AM
Psycho 9.5/10 (second viewing)

same opinion as last time - the only blemish on this movie is the way-too-long scene at the end with Simon Oakland explaining what happened to Norman Bates; that scene could have been a quarter as long.

I saw the movie as part of TCM's "Sundays with Hitch," playing all September. Also, TCM's Star of the Month (every Thursday night in September) is Kim Novak, so I have seen some of her movies lately, and RE: the whole Vera Miles/Kim Novak/Psycho thing (which I know we've discussed earlier but I am not interested in reading back 20 pages; so I am probably repeating some of what I have said previously), I'll just say this:
I've always liked Vera Miles, I think she is a good actress, but I like Novak more, and I think Novak did a terrific job with Vertigo. So, while I think it is disgusting that Hitch would actually get angry at and resent Miles for becoming pregnant, as far as cinema is concerned, I think it turned out for the best that Novak got the gig in Vertigo; I don't think I would have liked Miles as much as I liked Novak in that movie. And RE: the nonsense about Miles losing her chance at becoming a star: Vertigo wasn't a very successful movie when it was released, and I'm not sure if that movie actually even made Novak such a big star, so I don't think that even if Miles had gotten the gig, it would have changed her career much. As it is, she had a respectable career, was a good actress, chose to be a mother, and God bless her for it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 03, 2013, 04:55:05 PM
Psycho 9.5/10 (second viewing)

So, while I think it is disgusting that Hitch would actually get angry at and resent Miles for becoming pregnant. . . .
He didn't.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 28, 2013, 10:36:54 PM
I just watched the HBO movie The Girl, about Hitch-Hedren. I've heard about Hedren's story (from videos of her own interviews; I've never read any of Donald Spoto's books). I'm sure DJ will dispute every word of it; I, for one, won't pretend to have any idea about what did or did not happen between Hitch and Hedren.

Toby Jones was incredible as Hitch. As much as I love Anthony Hopkins as an actor, and enjoyed watching him in Hitchcock, I have to say that Toby Jones did a far better imitation of Hitch's voice and accent. Hopkins did 'Hopkins does Hitchcock'; Jones did Hithcock!

btw, a note at the end says that Marnie was Hitch's final masterpiece. Really? I don't know many who consider Marnie a masterpiece. Even The Birds, which is a very good movie, (I gave it an 8/10), IMO is not a masterpiece.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 29, 2013, 11:54:02 AM
btw, a note at the end says that Marnie was Hitch's final masterpiece. Really? I don't know many who consider Marnie a masterpiece. Even The Birds, which is a very good movie, (I gave it an 8/10), IMO is not a masterpiece.
The critic Robin Wood always championed the film. Anyway, whether your regard for the film is high or not, you can't ignore Frenzy (1972), which many think is the true final masterpiece. But all such superlatives-hurling is bootless.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on September 29, 2013, 11:57:46 AM
Marnie is ok, but a lesser film from that director. The psychological stuff isn't convincing for me, and the film drags towards the end. And Connery is in that role not good either.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 29, 2013, 12:19:19 PM
Marnie is ok, but a lesser film from that director. The psychological stuff isn't convincing for me, and the film drags towards the end. And Connery is in that role not good either.
My only problem is with the ending. The solution is rather humdrum and not very convincing. And I don't buy the Freudian belief in talking cures--that once you've talked about a past trauma you've repressed you free yourself from its hold on you and you can then get on with things (too simplistic).

The film really misses a bet, anyway, by focusing so much on Hedren and losing sight of Connery. He's the real interesting head case. When he makes the speech in which he compares Hedren to to an animal he's stalked and captured--that's the point of departure for a much more interesting film. I realize Hitch had already made Vertigo by that point, but there was much more that could have been gotten out of the theme of male obsession.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on September 29, 2013, 02:13:56 PM
Yes, the ending is not interesting. And after a certain point foreseeable.

The first half is promising, the 2nd half doesn't deliver for me.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 04, 2013, 04:22:42 AM
Just saw Lifeboat for the first time. I give it an 8/10.

I've been reading about the controversy, how some critics felt the movie showed the Nazi in a positive way; personally, I don't see how anyone can say that. Yes, early on, some of the Allies do treat the Nazi humanely, but by the end, the film is telling us that is a mistake – we see how cruel the Nazis are, and that it was a mistake for the Allies to ever treat him like a human being; they should have cut the bastard's heart out the moment he came on the boat. I really don't see how, by the end of the movie, anyone can think that the movie is in any way showing the Nazi positively. TCM's notes on the movie http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/81373/Lifeboat/notes.html discuss that issue. I'll cut and paste the pertinent paragraphs here:


Lifeboat generated much controversy upon its release, as some critics were angered by the character of "Willi." Political columnist Dorothy Thompson and film critic Bosley Crowther were among the influential writers who accused Steinbeck and Hitchcock of glorifying the German character while presenting the "Allied" characters as negative. The irate Thompson gave the film "ten days to get out of town," while Crowther professed to having a "sneaking suspicion that the Nazis, with some cutting here and there, could turn Lifeboat into a whiplash against the 'decadent democracies.' And it is questionable whether such a picture, with such a theme, is judicious at this time." The criticism led Steinbeck, who had previously been accused of being pro-Nazi with reference to his German characters in the novel and film The Moon Is Down (see below), to disassociate himself from Lifeboat. Life magazine noted that Steinbeck "disclaimed any responsibility for Director Hitchcock's and Scenarist Jo Swerling's treatment of his material." Upon learning of Steinbeck's discontent with the film, Crowther wrote an article for the New York Times detailing the differences between Steinbeck's original story and the film, and stating that Hitchcock and Macgowan had "pre-empted" Steinbeck's "creative authority." In a telegram to Annie Laurie Williams, reprinted in a modern source, Steinbeck requested that she tell Twentieth Century-Fox to remove his name "from any connection with any showing of this film." Some critics also complained about the portrayal of "Joe," who they felt was too stereotyped. In a December 26, 1943 New York Herald Tribune interview, actor Lee stated that he had tried to "revise the part" by cutting out some dialogue and action that he found to be demeaning. On March 15, 1945, in a deposition given for a pending lawsuit concerning the film (described below), Lee voiced his disappointment over the released picture. Lee stated that he had thought the character of Joe would be "a variation from any other Negro that was ever on the screen," but instead the filmmakers "stunk it up somehow or other, and it turned out to be the same old stereotyped Negro."
       Hitchcock, Macgowan and Bankhead all defended the picture in print. Hitchcock maintained that he had intended the film to show how the Allies must stop bickering amongst themselves and unite in order to win the war. In a March 19, 1944 Los Angeles Times article, Hitchcock defended his protrayal of "Willi" by stating, "I always respect my villain, build[ing] him into a redoubtable character that will make my hero or thesis more admirable in defeating him or it." Bankhead supported Hitchcock in a February 6, 1944 New York Herald Tribune interview, in which she declared that "Hitchcock's a genius, a real genius. He wanted to teach an important lesson. He wanted to say that you can't trust the enemy....in Lifeboat you see clearly that you can't trust a Nazi, no matter how nice he seems to be." In a letter to the screen editors of the New York Times, Macgowan noted that the chief objective of the filmmakers had been to shape "a film with as much excitement and reality as we could summon under challenging technical limitations."


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 04, 2013, 02:44:45 PM
The "controversy" is of historical interest only. Today's more sophisticated audiences have no trouble seeing what AH was getting at (provided they can take the time to view a b&w film). Do you think people today are confused about Demme's position on Hannibal Lecter?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 04, 2013, 04:24:46 PM
to me, most of the people on the boat that wanted to treat the Nazi humanely, like the Henry Hull character, were only cuz of an international law-type of concern, or a belief that "let's not stoop to their level," but not because they regarded the Nazi as anything less than an animal. But the Tallulah Bankhead character really seemed to be like she had no particular disdain for the Nazi, she seemed to have no more disdain for him than she had for the rest of the people on board... although, by the end, she too realizes how wrong she was.

I think some of the writing for her character, especially early on, was a little silly. Like so much emphasis on "I don't care about anyone, just my things" was too overdone. But Bankhead's performance was incredible.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: T.H. on October 05, 2013, 01:19:49 PM
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Alfred-Hitchcock-The-Essentials-Collection-Blu-ray/68454/

The five film bluray set is 37.99 USD as I type this.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 05, 2013, 06:06:47 PM
But Bankhead's performance was incredible.
You should see her in A Royal Scandal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvbEb3hg1ws


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 05, 2013, 06:50:21 PM
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Alfred-Hitchcock-The-Essentials-Collection-Blu-ray/68454/

The five film bluray set is 37.99 USD as I type this.

so they knocked down the huge blu-ray pack now to the five "essentials"? I guess the single-movie editions can't be far behind  :)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 05, 2013, 06:51:46 PM
You should see her in A Royal Scandal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvbEb3hg1ws

whenever I click on a YouTube link in the past few days, the video automatically begins in mute; I have to raise the volume if I want to hear the sound. This happening to anyone else?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 05, 2013, 07:20:28 PM
I guess the single-movie editions can't be far behind  :)
Where ya been? Many of them are already out (Rope, Man Who Knew Too Much '56, Trouble W/Harry, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Marnie). Topaz is due in Nov., Frenzy in Dec. They will make you wait to 2014 for Rear Window and Vertigo, natch.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 06, 2013, 06:45:59 PM
Where ya been? Many of them are already out (Rope, Man Who Knew Too Much '56, Trouble W/Harry, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Marnie). Topaz is due in Nov., Frenzy in Dec. They will make you wait to 2014 for Rear Window and Vertigo, natch.
And if you can't wait, all the films from the set are available from the UK now, and all are REGION FREE.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 06, 2013, 09:31:05 PM
Where ya been? Many of them are already out (Rope, Man Who Knew Too Much '56, Trouble W/Harry, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Marnie). Topaz is due in Nov., Frenzy in Dec. They will make you wait to 2014 for Rear Window and Vertigo, natch.

I never had any doubt I wasn't gonna buy any boxsets; I don't feel any urgency to own any Hitch BRD's besides possibly Vertigo. And I have no problem waiting for the single-edition


btw, a while ago, I said Vertigo was not the best Hitch movie, but Psycho was. Now, I'll finally agree: Vertigo is my favorite Hitch movie. (Note: I haven't seen Notorious.)
As great as Psycho is – a flawless movie except for the shrink's long-winded speech at the end – and despite Vertigo being far from flawless, there is just a certain magic that Vertigo has that elevates it beyond the level of masterpiece. No doubt, all the talk about it and focus on it following its No. 1 vote on Sight & Sound definitely had a big effect on me watching and re-watching and re-watching it, but ultimately, I have to agree, Vertigo is Hitch's greatest movie.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 07, 2013, 08:57:39 AM
I just noticed that most if not all of these new releases have French and Spanish dubs. I tried watching part of The Birds and Rear Window last night in French, with the English dub captions turned on. Kind of fun. The Birds seemed to work better, maybe because the English dialogue is sometimes hard to take.

Watching The Birds yet again, it suddenly occurred to me how to do the remake. There was a rumor awhile ago that Naomi Watts had optioned the rights for the remake, but nothing seems to have come of it. Just as well, as I'm sure she would have turned it into a Spielberg film. Of course, everybody sees the possibilities for the use of CGI--especially since the original SFX look so clunky now. But my brainwave about the remake had to do with showing less, not more. Sure, use your CGI, but don't show the attacks! Have the attacks happen off screen, with our hero and heroine arriving on the scenes only afterwards, and have them deduce what's going on. What I really like about Hitch's film are the scenes of quiet menace, where the birds are just perching, apparently innocently. But there sure get to be a lot of them at times. The jungle-gym scene at the school is classic. But why do the birds have to attack? Isn't their presence alone enough to generate panic? You could do some clever editing to show POV of the kids and what not, getting more and more freaked out with all these birds. The run from the school to the diner could be just as terrifying if done right.

Of course, you'd have to have deaths. People are dying under mysterious circumstances, and no one is sure how. There's some evidence to implicate the birds, but the authorities are ignoring it. Throw in a few red herrings: a misanthropic Greenie, say, who identifies with birds over and against his own kind. Make Annie Hayworth a more suspicious character. Maybe even add an evil town councilman.

The deaths start accumulating, and no one will credit Mitch and Melanie's suspicion. No one has actually seen anything happen, after all. Keep the seagull attack of Melanie, the bird that flies into Annie's door. Cut the birthday party attack. Maybe keep the birds-from-the-chimney sequence, because it can be read as something other than an attack. Certainly keep the Dan Fawcett scene pretty much as it is--in fact, have another like it.

Eventually you have to have the final reveal of who the culprits really are. And this could be the way you get in Hitch's original ending for the film: having escaped from Bodega Bay, the couple head back to SF, only to arrive and find The Birds in possession. Ka-chang!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 07, 2013, 09:23:19 AM


Watching The Birds yet again, it suddenly occurred to me how to do the remake.

Tippi Hedren as Lydia Brenner?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 01, 2014, 04:29:16 PM
Quote
From the NYTimes:

IN JUNE 1962, François Truffaut asked one of his “masters,” Alfred Hitchcock, to answer some 500 questions about his career. On Aug. 13 (Hitch’s 63rd birthday), the men, along with Truffaut’s collaborator the translator Helen G. Scott, met in Beverly Hills to commence work on the first of two epic interview sessions that resulted in more than 40 hours of tape. Their conversations covered the sweep of Hitchcock’s astonishing career — from his early stint creating title cards for silent pictures to a gruesome, lengthily staged murder in “Torn Curtain” — and led to the publication of Truffaut’s “Hitchcock,” one of the most influential books on its subject.

This year, Bruce Goldstein, the director of repertory programing at Film Forum, will turn that legendary Hitchcock/Truffaut encounter into a pair of complementary, back-to-back retrospectives. The Complete Hitchcock, a five-week series, begins on Feb. 21 and includes nine silent features that have been restored by the British Film Institute. (Hitchcock’s television oeuvre will be shown at the Paley Center for Media.) On March 28, the day after the Hitchcock series ends, with his 1928 feature “The Manxman,” Tout Truffaut begins. The three-week series will allow you to trace Hitchcock’s influence on Truffaut, including in “The Bride Wore Black,” a Hitchcockian tale with Jeanne Moreau, which he shot in 1967 — the year the American edition of his Hitchcock book was published.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 01, 2014, 10:11:15 PM
Niiiiiiice. (But I won't be watching any of the silents  ;) )

RE: Truffaut: I've seen all the Antoine Doinel films, Day for Night, The Last Metro, The Bride Wore Black, and Shoot the Piano Player. (I'm also aware of Mississippi Mermaid, The Wild Child, and Jules and Jim, which I may or may not watch one day). Are there any good Truffaut movies out there that haven't been mentioned in this post?

BTW, I noticed that IMDB calls it "Shoot the Pianist." Doesn't IMDB usually use the American title? In that case, it should be "Shoot the Piano Player" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054389/releaseinfo?ref_=tt_ov_inf


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on January 02, 2014, 07:26:09 AM
You should definitely watch Mississipi Mermaid, it's very powerful. Jules and Jim is more interesting for its innovating techniques (Scorsese said he used a lot of them in Casino/Goodfellas) than for the film itself: it drags a lot. Still cool.
Have you ever seen La Femme d'à Côté? I rank it among Mississipi Mermaid and The Bride Wore Black: the heavy stuff (as opposed to the lighter Doinel/Day For Night films).
And if you're feeling more "arty", you can give Les 2 Anglaises et le Continent or La Chambre Verte a shot. I'm not fond of them but there are huge fans of these more literary works. And by huge fans I mean guys getting close to cry when quoting lines from them. You know, arty guys.
____________________________________


Anyway, back to Hitch:

Here is an article about 6 filmmaking tips from Hitchcock.

Some of them are based on quotes, others on videos of interviews. It doesn't go deep into the analyse, and telling the truth, nihil novi sub sole for Sir Alfred fans. They're really tips for wannabe filmmakers, but I'm technically oriented: I assume that most of the time you learn more about something by learning about the process than by reading in depth analysis (I still enjoy both). So you may enjoy them or at least like the clips. By the way, the AFI youtube channel (see the embed videos in the article) justifies the existence of YouTube by itself.

http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/6-filmmaking-tips-from-alfred-hitchcock.php


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 02, 2014, 09:52:25 AM
You should definitely watch Mississipi Mermaid, it's very powerful. Jules and Jim is more interesting for its innovating techniques (Scorsese said he used a lot of them in Casino/Goodfellas) than for the film itself: it drags a lot. Still cool.
Have you ever seen La Femme d'à Côté? I rank it among Mississipi Mermaid and The Bride Wore Black: the heavy stuff (as opposed to the lighter Doinel/Day For Night films).
And if you're feeling more "arty", you can give Les 2 Anglaises et le Continent or La Chambre Verte a shot. I'm not fond of them but there are huge fans of these more literary works. And by huge fans I mean guys getting close to cry when quoting lines from them. You know, arty guys.
____________________________________




I've tried watching Mississippi Mermaid a few times, but whenever it's on TCM, the subtitles are half cut off; and the DVD is windowboxed, which is annoying. I'll see it eventually.

I didn't give much of a chance to Jules and Jim or The Wild Child; I shut those off pretty quickly, maybe I'll give them another chance one day if someone strongly recommends them.

The only Doinel film I liked was The 400 Blows. (Antoine & Colette is a short, so I am not counting that one, but) the last three are not very good. I wouldn't call The 400 Blows a  "lighter" film, but I assume you were referring to other Doinel films when you used that term.... I wouldn't call Day for Night lighter either (though it may be lighter than eg. The 400 Blows). One thing I found awfully annoying about Day for Night (which was otherwise a very good movie) is the writing for the Leaud character. All he does is either cry over a girl, or run around asking everyone, (paraphrased) "Are women amazing?" "Are women awesome?" "Are women divine?" God Almighty, how could Truffaut have thought that could be an interesting character, or anything other than an insanely annoying character. It almost feels like he hated Leaud and he said, "I'll give you a part that will make the audience hate you, too!

On a related note, did Leaud have any good dramatic roles after The 400 Blows? The only non-Doinel movie I have seen him in is Day for Night. In other words, I never saw him in a good role other than The 400 Blows. I wouldn't blame him for those bad movies, I blame the writing mostly, but I'm interested to see how he would handle a serious adult role. Any suggestions?

Finally, I generally do not like artsy stuff. eg. Godard often annoys me. I loved Breathless, thought Vivre Sa Vie was very good although I am not a fan of chapter headings; thought Contempt/Le Mepris was decent; then I saw Pierrot Le Fou, and I shut if off after a few minutes and never watched Godard again... And I won't do so unless someone can tell me good movies he made that are more conventional and not artsy for the sake of being artsy.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on January 02, 2014, 10:47:09 AM
By "lighter" I mean more fun/entertaining/easier to watch. By "heavier" I mean more dramatic/depressing/powerful/darker. 400 blows is heavier than the other Doinel films but much lighter than the ones I ranked as "heavy stuff". It still stands out in many ways.

If you watch the films I ranked as heavier you will understand what I mean. It's not about the topic it's about the general tone and the way you feel after watching them.

I don't know Leaud's career too well (although a quick IMDB search would tell us a lot). I have seen him work with Godard. Then I guess he mostly did (and still does) theater plays. He never was a great actor in the De Niro meaning of the word. He's more in a french tradition of being what Leone called "a mask": someone who plays himself and is cool enough this way. Like Clint or Bronson, in his own way  :D
When I see him on TV now he's become quite weird: he aged almost as well as Mark Hamill.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 02, 2014, 11:05:44 AM


I don't know Leaud's career too well (although a quick IMDB search would tell us a lot). I have seen him work with Godard. Then I guess he mostly did (and still does) theater plays. He never was a great actor in the De Niro meaning of the word. He's more in a french tradition of being what Leone called "a mask": someone who plays himself and is cool enough this way. Like Clint or Bronson, in his own way  :D
When I see him on TV now he's become quite weird: he aged almost as well as Mark Hamill.

well I don't consider an actor who "plays himself" a negative, even if he isn't gonna win any Oscars.

John Wayne often – though certainly not always – played himself. Steve McQueen. As you mentioned, Bronson and Eastwood. All great actors. To me, the job of an actor is for the viewer to enjoy watching him.... for whatever reason. I love watching McQueen cuz he is cool, and I enjoy watching him as much as I enjoy watching some Method actor transform himself into some unrecognizable character. Henry Fonda was another great actor who probably never took an acting lesson in his life. He just did his thing and I loved watching him (and listening to him; I absolutely love his voice and the way he spoke). The list goes on and on.
So if the audience enjoys themselves whenever you are on screen, you have done your job. (And no, I generally do NOT enjoy myself when a hot woman with zero acting ability comes on screen). Of course, watching an actor transform himself into some unrecognizable character can be very enjoyable as well. But there are other ways to be enjoyable... and for the guys like Steve McQueen who are enjoyable just for playing themselves, I am very happy they made many movies where they played themselves.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 02, 2014, 11:18:58 AM
although I gather that Leone preferred these types of actors who just played cool.

He talks about how much he didn't get along with Steiger in the beginning of DYS, until they reached an understanding; although Frayling says that when Steiger was interviewed for STDWD, he said there wasn't that much fighting, so maybe Leone exaggerated that a lot.

And Frayling says that on FAFDM, Leone did not get along with Gian Maria Volonte, and he kept ordering retakes to reduce the size of his performance. (You can probably consider Volonte in FAFDM more of an "actor," even though to my knowledge he never attended the Actors Studio  ;) )

But, although Leone said he was not a fan of Method acting, he did get along fine with Wallach and De Niro.

so..... do you think Leone's dislike of Method actors was truly an artistic preference? or was it cuz he remembered watching the AW's of his youth, where most actors were probably "cool" as opposed to "acting"? or was it cuz he as the director wanted to dominate the film? (Perhaps the last option can be doubted if only cuz Leone was generally beloved by his actors, and accepting of actors' suggestions.)



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on January 02, 2014, 11:45:46 AM
Like Alfred Hitchcock or David Fincher, Leone was one of these directors who need to have total control of what happens in front of their camera. They try to reach certain standards of technical perfection that are almost impossible to reach, and completely impossible if you let your actors improvise and move around and stuff. It's the old school technique. Scorsese is the only director that often tries to achieve this "fully controlled look" while still pushing his actors toward more liberty, but that's only possible because he spends months and months in the editing room after that and also because his style is very fast cuts oriented (more cuts = more control over the performance of the actors).

Remember "Once Upon A Time Sergio Leone". Leone told a screenwriter (I don't remember who) something like:
"You have to write a line for her while she walks from there to there in the room."
I think it's a telling example of how everything in the creation process of a Leone film is tied to his own visual style. For the record, nobody work like that anymore, except maybe Cuaron in Gravity.

Also, when Leone talked about his collaboration with DeNiro, he said it was amazing because sometimes he could just put his camera in a corner and DeNiro and Woods would just do their stuff and he was discovering what was happening, kind of like shooting a documentary. So I think all he needed was working with really talented method actors to learn about that other kind of filmmaking, that is more based on the magic moments you cannot prepare, but cost you a bit in term of visual style.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 02, 2014, 12:30:24 PM
I don't know Leaud's career too well (although a quick IMDB search would tell us a lot). I have seen him work with Godard. Then I guess he mostly did (and still does) theater plays. He never was a great actor in the De Niro meaning of the word. He's more in a french tradition of being what Leone called "a mask": someone who plays himself and is cool enough this way. Like Clint or Bronson, in his own way  :D
When I see him on TV now he's become quite weird: he aged almost as well as Mark Hamill.
Which is why he was perfect casting for Irma Vep (1996).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 02, 2014, 01:55:30 PM
Leaud considered himself to be a non-actor. Despite this not too untrue understatement he had a very, very long acting career, and apart from working constantly with Truffaut and Godard he made films with Pasolini, Bertolucci, Skolimovski, Tsai Ming-liang and Kaurismäki, amongst lots of other films.
And he was in Rivette's legendary 13 hours film Out 1 and in Eustache's The Mama and the Whore, which was a critic's darling in the 70s, or seemed to be an epochal film then.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on January 02, 2014, 01:58:58 PM
I just feel terrible for forgetting about these movies.
He's not dead, by the way. Not working as much as he used to, but still alive and well.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 02, 2014, 02:00:27 PM
And I won't do so unless someone can tell me good movies he made that are more conventional and not artsy for the sake of being artsy.

Only that Godard's films are not artsy for the sake of being artsy.

What about films that are unartsy for the sake of being unartsy?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on January 02, 2014, 02:08:36 PM
I just feel terrible for forgetting about these movies.
He's not dead, by the way. Not working as much as he used to, but still alive and well.
I saw him last year in Kaurismäki's Le Havre. Though the part was really small, he gave an excellent Leaud.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 02, 2014, 03:59:54 PM

What about films that are unartsy for the sake of being unartsy?

I prefer those to the ones that are artsy for the sake of being artsy.

Even a conventional, standard, studio system melodrama with commercial appeal and a studio-enforced happy ending can often be a good movie.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 02, 2014, 04:13:58 PM
That wasn't a real question.

Every film can be good, that is only a matter of perspective, a matter of taste. The real interesting question is not what is entertaining, but on which level do we get entertained. When an ambitious film (like e.g. 2001) is boring for one, which means he can't connect with the film, then he probably calls it a pretentious movie, or arty fartsy, or whatever. But if one can connect with 2001, then it can be one of the most fascinating films ever, and then is nothing in it art for art's sake, but only a flow of scenes in which the camera is always in the right place, and everything in it is justified by itself. You can call this art, I do call it art sometimes, but I call it mostly entertainment. Ii can only be art if it is entertaining, and if it is entertaining it must be art, at least some kind of it.
Godard is entertainment too, but unlike e.g. Star Wars only for a minority. But for me Star Wars is often boring, while 2001 is a heartfelt entertainment, it's a touching movie.

A film's main problem is not if it is art or not, but if it is entertaining or not.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 02, 2014, 04:24:57 PM
That wasn't a real question.



and it sure as hell wasn't a real answer


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 02, 2014, 04:32:47 PM
Did not sound so ...


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 02, 2014, 05:12:09 PM
I see we had this discussion about actor vs. mask here http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=214.msg161243#msg161243 (and probably several other places, too  ;) )


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 03, 2014, 07:23:14 AM
I just saw NOW, VOYAGER for the first (and certainly the last) time, and I regret every nice word I said yesterday about studio system melodramas.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 03, 2014, 01:42:28 PM
Like Alfred Hitchcock or David Fincher, Leone was one of these directors who need to have total control of what happens in front of their camera. They try to reach certain standards of technical perfection that are almost impossible to reach, and completely impossible if you let your actors improvise and move around and stuff. It's the old school technique. Scorsese is the only director that often tries to achieve this "fully controlled look" while still pushing his actors toward more liberty, but that's only possible because he spends months and months in the editing room after that and also because his style is very fast cuts oriented (more cuts = more control over the performance of the actors).

Remember "Once Upon A Time Sergio Leone". Leone told a screenwriter (I don't remember who) something like:
"You have to write a line for her while she walks from there to there in the room."
I think it's a telling example of how everything in the creation process of a Leone film is tied to his own visual style. For the record, nobody work like that anymore, except maybe Cuaron in Gravity.

Also, when Leone talked about his collaboration with DeNiro, he said it was amazing because sometimes he could just put his camera in a corner and DeNiro and Woods would just do their stuff and he was discovering what was happening, kind of like shooting a documentary. So I think all he needed was working with really talented method actors to learn about that other kind of filmmaking, that is more based on the magic moments you cannot prepare, but cost you a bit in term of visual style.
Very good comments.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on January 04, 2014, 01:20:31 PM

The Lady Vanishes (1938) - 7/10

I enjoyed it, though it has its flaws that emanate mostly from its period, making it look quite silly and childish at times.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 04, 2014, 04:13:15 PM
THE LADY VANISHES is a ridiculous movie. I think I rated it like a 4/10. That shootout on the train is like something out of a comedy sketch... I recall that Truffaut seemed to like it a lot


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 04, 2014, 04:15:29 PM
Does anyone besides me like I CONFESS? I don't see it discussed much. I rated it an 8/10, anyone else here rate it that high?... I also happen to generally be a big fan of Anne Baxter....


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 04, 2014, 07:04:47 PM
Not really.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on January 05, 2014, 01:45:51 AM
THE LADY VANISHES is a ridiculous movie. I think I rated it like a 4/10. That shootout on the train is like something out of a comedy sketch... I recall that Truffaut seemed to like it a lot

Yeah, it is quite hilarious, however, the rest of the movie glides pretty well besides the excesses of its time, like the whole idea of the movie, which is... I would say dumb but let's go hilarious once more.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 05, 2014, 02:51:45 AM
The Lady Vanishes is great fun. Its easygoing nonchalance looks a bit careless at times, but Hitch's inspired directing carries it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on January 05, 2014, 04:43:55 AM
True, there's a shot of the train station from above I remember, shot probably from a helicopter that's just brilliant in its simpleness. Now it is simple, back then it was a idea-quest that wasn't so easy to pull out. I mean, you can see how it is done and you can see what its faults are, yet it doesn't detract anything of the viewing pleasure. (I understand most of the times that either works or doesn't.)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 05, 2014, 07:07:16 AM
I'm not saying THE LADY VANISHES was a great movie without that shootout, but from the moment of that shootout I hated the movie. It completely changes the tone of the movie, like, there's no tension whatsoever, there's no doubt the lady will live and the mission will succeed; it goes from what could be a serious espionage movie to a comedy sketch. And the part about the song? and how about that old lady jumping outta the train and dodging bullets like she is friggin' Bruce Willis  ;DI hope Hitchcock had fun making it cuz I sure as hell did not have fun watching it... The early part in the hotel was alright, from when they went on the train, it all went downhill. Come to think of it, maybe it woulda been better if the train had gotten snowed in and they woulda had to stay in the hotel for a month; we mighta had a better movie (maybe we can get that version on the BRD's bonus features?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on January 05, 2014, 11:50:04 AM
Personally, I didn't doubt one second she was gonna live. From the start till the end.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 06, 2014, 11:15:08 AM
It's not a suspense film, it's a comedy (hence D&D's antipathy).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 06, 2014, 02:07:57 PM
It's a lighthearted thriller.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 06, 2014, 04:43:01 PM
It's not a suspense film, it's a comedy (hence D&D's antipathy).

it only becomes a comedy for the second half - just at the moment that the storyline actually takes a "serious" turn!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 06, 2014, 04:53:51 PM
I just saw Notorious for the first time. (I hate Cary Grant, that's why I never watched it till now; but it was playing on TCM so I figured, I gotta see it eventually, now is as good a time as any.) And I gotta say, this movie is way overrated. The last scene is the only really great scene in the movie - except the early part where Ingrid Bergman is drunk and slurring her speech, that's real funny. Bergman and Claude Rains are always great to watch. But the problem is that just as the story gets good, the movie ends! When Rains figures out what Bergman is really up to, that's when things start to get exciting - that's a great moment to launch a story, rather than to just about end it. I mean, I could not believe that Grant walks her outta the house... the doors close, and THE END! I was like, "This just started getting fun!" I can't give this anything better than a 7/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Dust Devil on January 07, 2014, 02:57:21 AM
Was thinking about watching it yesterday.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 07, 2014, 03:26:48 AM
I just saw Notorious for the first time. (I hate Cary Grant, that's why I never watched it till now; but it was playing on TCM so I figured, I gotta see it eventually, now is as good a time as any.) And I gotta say, this movie is way overrated. The last scene is the only really great scene in the movie - except the early part where Ingrid Bergman is drunk and slurring her speech, that's real funny. Bergman and Claude Rains are always great to watch. But the problem is that just as the story gets good, the movie ends! When Rains figures out what Bergman is really up to, that's when things start to get exciting - that's a great moment to launch a story, rather than to just about end it. I mean, I could not believe that Grant walks her outta the house... the doors close, and THE END! I was like, "This just started getting fun!" I can't give this anything better than a 7/10

The ending is perfect as it is, and for that a brilliant idea. The film is filled with great scenes, actually it is Hitchcock's most stylish film, his visually most exciting. This is pure cinema. For me it is the best Hitchcock film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 07, 2014, 07:40:22 AM
another problem with Notorious is how fast that love affair happens. Grant follows Bergman, Bergman curses him out, Grant asks her to help the gov't, she agrees, they go to Brazil the next day, and BOOM! she is begging him to love her  ::) Come on. These things take time. Quite a bit of time. Of course, cinema compresses time, but the filmmaker has to make us feel that the two are actually in love, rather than just telling us, "They are in love. Accept it." I couldn't feel or give a damn about their "love."


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 07, 2014, 08:20:37 AM
I feel it.
Crant is cold as ice here, and pretty controlled, so it is difficult to guess what he is really thinking, what is love, what is job.

The balance between storytelling and character development is perfect here.

The only other Hitchcock which can match Notorious is Psycho. I prefer Notorious for a little bit cause of the explanation overkill at the end of Psycho.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 07, 2014, 04:56:53 PM
I think the ending of Notorious is its highpoint. Mainly for the haunting implications of what fate awaits Rains once Grant and Bergman leave.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 07, 2014, 05:14:29 PM
how did the other Nazis figure out the truth - isn't it because one of them recognizes Grant as an American agent? If so, why do they allow him to leave? why don't they kill Grant and Bergman before they walk out of the home?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 08, 2014, 02:18:49 AM
In the film's runtime they don't figure it out, but after Grant leaves Raines cold-heartedly back, they begin to wonder. And the film's last shot implies that they will ask questions for which Raines won't have satisfying answers.
Now I feel sorry for poor Raines, and the ending has a tricky but strong emotional value.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 02:57:22 AM
I thought that when the Nazi mentioned there was a cop following him, it was Grant; that's why the Nazi wanted to "talk to" Rains; so it doesn't make sense why the Nazis allow Grant and Bergman to walk out of the house.

I figured you would feel bad for Rains. You previously said you pitied the Nazi at the end of Schindler's List. So, why shouldn't you pity another Nazi? They're all the same.

Of course. Cuz there's no black and white good and evil in the world. So, pity the Nazi, pity the Ally, it's all pretty much the same thing, just a tiny little shade of grey here or there.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 03:13:12 AM
I mean, I understand that there is the automatic instinct not to think of his as one might a "typical" Nazi; after all, he is Claude Rains, and it's a fact that you just can't hate a character that's played by an actor you love. Like Orson Welles with The Stranger. (Similarly, everyone remembers Capt. renault in Casablanca as a funny guy who's great fun to watch, only cuz Rains is such a brilliant actor; Renault is in fact as bad as any character in the history of the movies – similar to a Nazi collaborator). So yeah, somehow I don't find myself buring with hatred at him as I would if eg. they'd gotten some real German to play this character that I could have actually felt was a Nazi. But to say that you actually pitied him - not just this subconscious instinct, but that you do actually really pity him, what can I say. It seems like you'd pity any defeated character, no matter how bad he is. And considering that the really bad guys are usually defeated by the end of a movie, you probably pity every bad character to cross the screen...

for me, when a character is evil and I hate him, then in the movie - as in life - the greater his downfall, the happier I am. If he doesn't just get beaten but gets salt poured in his wounds, that's even better. And if you rub his nose in it, even better. And the if you chop him up limb by limb and have him scream through every moment, every scream would be music to my ears.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 08, 2014, 03:20:31 AM
I thought that when the Nazi mentioned there was a cop following him, it was Grant; that's why the Nazi wanted to "talk to" Rains; so it doesn't make sense why the Nazis allow Grant and Bergman to walk out of the house.

What cop?

They want to talk to Rains because one remembers that there is no telephone in the sleeping room.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Kt0Ud5jr8

Quote
I figured you would feel bad for Rains. You previously said you pitied the Nazi at the end of Schindler's List. So, why shouldn't you pity another Nazi? They're all the same.


These are 2 extremely different things. In Schindler's List it is because I can't distance me from any kind of execution scenes. If there is a film character who deserves death, than it is Fiennes, but still when they show the execution it hurts me inside. I can't feel satisfaction when one is executed, deservedly or not.

Rains on the other hand is portrayed as a complex human being, a man with faults, a man with limitations, a man caught in unhappy circumstances. The last scene is intended to make one feel sad for him, and yes to pity him. I do.

And Nazis are of course not all the same. Apart from a few sadists most of them were apparently normal people who would have become more or less good democrats if they had lived only 40 year later. Still they did all these horrible crimes. It would be easier to understand if they all were sadists, but most of them were just normal guys .

Quote
Of course. Cuz there's no black and white good and evil in the world. So, pity the Nazi, pity the Ally, it's all pretty much the same thing, just a tiny little shade of grey here or there.

The point is not to pity them, the point is to understand them. Which does not mean to justify their doings.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 03:32:45 AM
people can (and probably will) argue for a hundred years whether those people would have done the same thing if they woulda shoulda coulda lived in a different time and didn't have Hitler to rile them up. Obviously, I don't think that every one of them would have gone around throwing people into gas chambers on their own if they had been living in some other country at some other time - lotsa people are lazy or scared of the law and don't act on their hatreds unless they get someone to rile them up or legalize it.

However, that doesn't change a damn thing. the fact is that they did what they did and they are just as guilty as anyone else - if someone coordinated throwing a hundred thousand people into a gas chamber, or if they "merely" helped out after someone else riled them up and took care of the coordination, they're all the same. On some level, you can say the coordinator is even worse; but we are talking about such insane levels of evil that at that point, who cares? it's kinda like saying that a serial killer who kills ten people is less bad than a serial killer who kills 50 people. In a way, yes, but it really doesn't matter. I view them all as the worst things that have ever walked the earth and don't feel a need to find any nuance or imagine what woulda coulda shoulda been if they had lived in another time. Everyone is faced with situations in life where they can choose to do the right thing or the wrong thing. And if you choose the latter, I wouldn't try to find any nuance with "well, he wasn't the coordinator, o if he had lived in a different country or at a different time...."

As for the execution - I enjoy watching Nazis being executed. My only regret is that I couldn't do it myself. Boy, that would be a great pleasure, to be able to tear apart a Nazi limb by limb.....



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 08, 2014, 03:35:14 AM
I mean, I understand that there is the automatic instinct not to think of his as one might a "typical" Nazi; after all, he is Claude Rains, and it's a fact that you just can't hate a character that's played by an actor you love. Like Orson Welles with The Stranger. (Similarly, everyone remembers Capt. renault in Casablanca as a funny guy who's great fun to watch, only cuz Rains is such a brilliant actor; Renault is in fact as bad as any character in the history of the movies – similar to a Nazi collaborator). So yeah, somehow I don't find myself buring with hatred at him as I would if eg. they'd gotten some real German to play this character that I could have actually felt was a Nazi. But to say that you actually pitied him - not just this subconscious instinct, but that you do actually really pity him, what can I say. It seems like you'd pity any defeated character, no matter how bad he is. And considering that the really bad guys are usually defeated by the end of a movie, you probably pity every bad character to cross the screen...

for me, when a character is evil and I hate him, then in the movie - as in life - the greater his downfall, the happier I am. If he doesn't just get beaten but gets salt poured in his wounds, that's even better. And if you rub his nose in it, even better. And the if you chop him up limb by limb and have him scream through every moment, every scream would be music to my ears.

That's your usual b/w thinking. And with that it's no wonder you can't understand what I'm trying to say.

And your attitude towards people you hate is not that different from the way most Nazis thought.
You despise terrorists, but your thinking would make you an ideal terrorist if you would live in a country which is threatened by another overpowering nation. A country which feels helpless, which fears to lose their cultural identity.
You are ready to torture other people cause you think they deserve it. And you don't make much differentiations in your way of arguing who deserves it.

Just think about this.

And don't say I said you were a Nazi ..

Just think about this.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 03:38:32 AM
I heard a saying from some ancient scholars, "He who has mercy on the sadists will ultimately be sadistic to the merciful."

Think about that.

To everything there is a season. A time for love, a time for hate, a time for war, a time for peace

being merciful and loving and caring and understanding to everyone all the time is just as bad as being hateful to everyone all the time.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 08, 2014, 07:39:07 AM
So yeah, somehow I don't find myself buring with hatred at him as I would if eg. they'd gotten some real German to play this character that I could have actually felt was a Nazi. But to say that you actually pitied him - not just this subconscious instinct, but that you do actually really pity him, what can I say. It seems like you'd pity any defeated character, no matter how bad he is. And considering that the really bad guys are usually defeated by the end of a movie, you probably pity every bad character to cross the screen...

for me, when a character is evil and I hate him, then in the movie - as in life - the greater his downfall, the happier I am.
There seems to be a basic confusion of categories at work here. Art is not life. You yourself usually recognize the distinction (e.g. in your approach to criminal protagonists in gangster films), yet in this case you do not. I understand your particular antipathy to Nazis. But I appeal to you for consistency. A character in a dramatic work is not a human being. The holocaust happened in real life--the only place it could happen. The conventions of drama cannot hold it. It never happened in the cinema world.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 08, 2014, 07:44:43 AM
another problem with Notorious is how fast that love affair happens.
Is this a problem only with Notorious, or with all Hollywood films prior to, say, 1967?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on January 08, 2014, 09:53:48 AM
I heard a saying from some ancient scholars, "He who has mercy on the sadists will ultimately be sadistic to the merciful."

Think about that.

To everything there is a season. A time for love, a time for hate, a time for war, a time for peace

being merciful and loving and caring and understanding to everyone all the time is just as bad as being hateful to everyone all the time.

Actually it isn't.
And this isn't about seasons but about reasons.

And I haven't said that I would be merciful to everyone, not necessarily to mass murderers. Don't interpret things in my statements which I haven't said. Try to think dialectical.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 11:38:24 AM
DJ - it's not about Nazis per se. It would be the same thing with eg. child molesters or the KGB or terrorist whatever. Of course, art is very different than life. Of course, there are many characters in movies that I root for and like whom I would never root for if they existed in real life.  But there is a certain line beyond which I don't root for cinematic characters either. It's hard to explain where that that line is drawn and why (eg. a mafia guy who we love may have 20 murders on his hands and be even worse than some of these "unacceptable" cinematic characters).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 08, 2014, 02:00:01 PM
DJ - it's not about Nazis per se. It would be the same thing with eg. child molesters or the KGB or terrorist whatever. Of course, art is very different than life. Of course, there are many characters in movies that I root for and like whom I would never root for if they existed in real life.  But there is a certain line beyond which I don't root for cinematic characters either. It's hard to explain where that that line is drawn and why (eg. a mafia guy who we love may have 20 murders on his hands and be even worse than some of these "unacceptable" cinematic characters).
OK, but don't expect anyone else to share your view. My dad can't stomach movies that glamorize criminals--that's because he spent 20 years as a deputy US Marshal dealing with them. He has a particular loathing for Goodfellas because he actually had to deal with Henry Hill after Hill went into the Witness Security program. I can accept his particular aversion. But it is not an antipathy that can be universalized. Others of course do not feel the same way, and arguing from his experience would not change anyone's mind.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 02:17:29 PM
OK, but don't expect anyone else to share your view. My dad can't stomach movies that glamorize criminals--that's because he spent 20 years as a deputy US Marshal dealing with them. He has a particular loathing for Goodfellas because he actually had to deal with Henry Hill after Hill went into the Witness Security program. I can accept his particular aversion. But it is not an antipathy that can be universalized. Others of course do not feel the same way, and arguing from his experience would not change anyone's mind.

I think most people have some level beyond which they won't root for a movie character. We accept a lot (heck, we LOVE a lot) from movie characters, but would you really root for a movie serial killer, a movie pedophile, a movie mass murderer, a movie Hitler or Stalin?

Even those movies which make us root for pretty bad people, like the Dollars films, have some REALLY bad people we'd never root for, like Indio who kills a woman and child. I mean, I love watching Indio on the screen cuz Volonte is such a great actor - and I love watching Claude Rains on the screen no matter how detestable his character is because he is such a great actor – but I wouldn't root for him or pity him.

I do pity your father if he can't enjoy a good gangster movie.... he's missing half of what's great about cinema; what does he like to watch, romance and alien movies?  ;)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 08, 2014, 02:25:53 PM

Even those movies which make us root for pretty bad people, like the Dollars films, have some REALLY bad people we'd never root for, like Indio who kills a woman and child. I mean, I love watching Indio on the screen cuz Volonte is such a great actor - and I love watching Claude Rains on the screen no matter how detestable his character is because he is such a great actor – but I wouldn't root for him or pity him.

Not as they're presented now, of course. That's because you've got, for example, Eastwood to root for. But what if a movie featured Indio as the protagonist? What if there was no Eastwood? I can easily imagine a film that took Indio as the main character, where one would end up rooting for him, even as he heads for hell (his chosen destination). That's one of the things Shakespeare discovered when he wrote Richard III--the villain can be the hero.

My dad doesn't really like movies, he likes TV like NCIS. I think the last film he really enjoyed was Groundhog Day.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 02:33:20 PM
Not as they're presented now, of course. That's because you've got, for example, Eastwood to root for. But what if a movie featured Indio as the protagonist? What if there was no Eastwood? I can easily imagine a film that took Indio as the main character, where one would end up rooting for him, even as he heads for hell (his chosen destination). That's one of the things Shakespeare discovered when he wrote Richard III--the villain can be the hero.


yeah I was thinking about that - I don't think we'd root for Indio even if he was the main character after seeing him the kill the woman and child. Which movie has a really evil main as main character? M - did you root for the serial killer in M?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2014, 08:58:44 PM
Hitchcock documentary on the Holocaust – mostly footage taken after the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp – to be restored and released later this year. Here is the article from the Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/alfred-hitchcocks-unseen-holocaust-documentary-to-be-screened-9044945.html



Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened


It's a little known fact that the great director made a film about the Nazi death camps – but, horrified by the footage he saw, the documentary was never shown. Now it is to be released.

Geoffrey Macnab

Wednesday 08 January 2014



The British Army Film Unit cameramen who shot the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 used to joke about the reaction of Alfred Hitchcock to the horrific footage they filmed. When Hitchcock first saw the footage, the legendary British director was reportedly so traumatised that he stayed away from Pinewood Studios for a week. Hitchcock may have been the king of horror movies but he was utterly appalled by "the real thing".

In 1945, Hitchcock had been enlisted by his friend and patron Sidney Bernstein to help with a documentary on German wartime atrocities, based on the footage of the camps shot by British and Soviet film units. In the event, that documentary was never seen.

"It was suppressed because of the changing political situation, particularly for the British," suggests Dr Toby Haggith, Senior Curator at the Department of Research, Imperial War Museum. "Once they discovered the camps, the Americans and British were keen to release a film very quickly that would show the camps and get the German people to accept their responsibility for the atrocities that were there."

The film took far longer to make than had originally been envisaged. By late 1945, the need for it began to wane. The Allied military government decided that rubbing the Germans' noses in their own guilt wouldn't help with postwar reconstruction.

Five of the film's six reels were eventually deposited in the Imperial War Museum and the project was quietly forgotten.

In the 1980s, the footage was discovered in a rusty can in the museum by an American researcher. It was eventually shown in an incomplete version at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984 and then broadcast on American PBS in 1985 under the title Memory of the Camps but in poor quality and without the missing sixth reel. The original narration, thought to have been written by future Labour Cabinet Minister Richard Crossman in collaboration with Australian journalist Colin Wills, was read by actor Trevor Howard.

Now, finally, the film is set to be seen in a version that Hitchcock, Bernstein and the other collaborators intended. The Imperial War Museum has painstakingly restored it using digital technology and has pieced together the extra material from the missing sixth reel. A new documentary, Night Will Fall, is also being made with André Singer, executive producer of The Actof Killing, as director and Stephen Frears as directorial advisor. Both the original film about the camps and the new documentary will be shown on British TV in early 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the "liberation" of Europe. Before that, next year, they are due to be shown together at festivals and in cinemas.

The decision to revive the film is bound to provoke anguished debate. It includes truly shocking footage of the camps (Belsen-Bergen in particular.) The film's own commentary, which has been re-recorded with a new actor, has a phrase about "sightseers" at a "chamber of horrors."

Billy Wilder, who directed Death Mills (1945), an American film about the German atrocities, was forthright about why he did not want atrocity footage to be seen in later years. Wilder questioned whether it had worked in "re-educating" the German civilian population about what their leaders had been doing in their name.

"They [the Germans] couldn't cope with it. He [Wilder] told me people just left the screening or closed their eyes. They didn't want to see," Wilder's friend Volker Schlöndorff recalled in a 2011 interview. "They found out it was almost unbearable to see these documents and almost indecent for the victims or the people related to the victims."

In Memory of the Camps, there is imagery of heaps of naked bodies being piled up in mass graves. The footage seems as surreal as anything you might see in a Hieronymus Bosch painting but then you remember that these corpses haven't been conjured up by some artist's twisted imagination. These are real victims whose relatives are alive today.

In the documentary, we see the Germans themselves confronted with the enormity of the crimes committed in their name and forced to help bury the dead themselves.

As Toby Haggith acknowledges, the film is "much more candid" than any of the other documentaries about the camps. Haggith also describes it as "brilliant" and "sophisticated". The editors Stewart McAllister (famous for his work with Humphrey Jennings) and Peter Tanner, working under advice from Hitchcock, fashioned an immensely powerful and moving film from the hours and hours of grim material at their disposal. The documentary isn't all about death. We also see imagery of reconstruction and reconciliation. There is footage of camp inmates having their first showers and cleaning their clothes. The film-makers show the painstaking way that typhus was eradicated from the camps.

Haggith speak of the "brilliance" of the original cameramen at the camps, who were working without direction but still had an uncanny knack for homing in on the most poignant and telling images.

"It's both an alienating film in terms of its subject matter but also one that has a deep humanity and empathy about it," Haggith suggests. "Rather than coming away feeling totally depressed and beaten, there are elements of hope."

The Trevor Howard voiceover narration in Memory of the Camps is strangely reminiscent of the one that director Carol Reed himself read over the opening of The Third Man (in which Howard co-starred.) It has the same sardonic understatement as it describes the devastation wreaked by the war. In the new version, the words will remain (but have now been recorded by a contemporary actor.)

Memory of the Camps was a title given to the documentary years after it was made. It will now be renamed. Haggith won't reveal the new title.

For Hitchcock fans, the Holocaust film is a cause for both excitement and wariness. On the one hand, it seems obvious that his work on the documentary must have had a profound influence on him. He may have been a "treatment advisor" on the project rather than its actual director but his exposure to imagery as extreme as this must have coloured his approach to depicting horror and violence on screen.

The wariness comes from the sense that it is both distasteful and absurdly reductive to see a Nazi atrocity documentary as a " Hitchcock movie". We will never know exactly how much he contributed to the film, even if it seems certain that his ideas about how it should be structured were taken on board.

"Our experience with it has been similar to the experience of the cameramen really, in that the technical work has to some degree protected us from the meaning of the film," Haggith suggests of the experience of spending many months poring over such gruesome and disturbing imagery. He adds that "the fact that we have been habituated to these images over the last 70 years" has meant that the restorers have been able to treat the film as "historical source material."

The restoration is now almost complete. How will contemporary audiences react to a film which, when it was first being put together, traumatised Hitchcock himself and so deeply upset its original editors, who weren't aware of what had actually gone on in the camps?

"Judging by the two test screenings we have had for colleagues, experts and film historians, what struck me was that they found it extremely disturbing," Haggith says. "When you're sitting in a darkened cinema and you're focusing on a screen, your attention is very focused, unlike watching it on television... the digital restoration has made this material seem very fresh. One of the common remarks was that it [the film] was both terrible and brilliant at the same time."

That, Haggith, believes is testament to the craftsmanship of the film-makers, who took some of "the most atrocious and disturbing footage that had yet been recorded in cinema at that stage" and turned into a film that was lucid, moving and instructive as well as appalling. The job now for those showing the film is to provide context and explanation. As Haggith puts it: "We can't stop the film being incredibly upsetting and disturbing but we can help people understand why it is being presented in that way."

The restored version of the concentration camp film, retrospectively titled 'Memory of the Camps', will be released later this year.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 09, 2014, 06:15:48 AM
yeah I was thinking about that - I don't think we'd root for Indio even if he was the main character after seeing him the kill the woman and child. Which movie has a really evil main as main character? M - did you root for the serial killer in M?
Hmm, I don't know if "root for" is the way I'd put it. I'll have to think about that particular case.

But sticking with Shakespeare, he has killers who kill women and children and still retain a certain amount of the audience's sympathy. The aforementioned Richard III is a child killer; so is Macbeth. The audience doesn't actually "root for" the characters, perhaps, but they aren't really rooting for anyone else either. I'd say most responses are mixed. Shakespeare's child-killers are also masters of poetic monologues, and their self-justifications for their crimes can be seductive.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 20, 2014, 03:49:07 PM
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdreviews5/foreigncorrespondant.htm
Quote
ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' -  Blu-ray - January 13':    Criterion's transfer is from a new 2K digital restoration and looks very good. The light scratches seen on the SD have been removed. Even the 1940 effects look superb! There is some texture and the 1080P shows more information in the frame - generally on all four edges. Contrast is more layered and detail heightens - often, in close-ups, to very impressive proportions. This is a giant leap beyond Warner's 2004 SD appearing significantly more film-like.

Criterion stay true to form with an authentic linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. It sounds clean and consistent with hints of notable bass. Alfred Newman (The Diary of Anne Frank,  Bus Stop,  Blood and Sand,  A Letter to Three Wives,  Panic in the Streets etc.) did the score and it plays well against the action and chase scenes. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked  Blu-ray disc.

Criterion have added some wonderful extras - they have produced a new 20-minute piece on the visual effects in the film with effects expert Craig Barron who identifies some of Foreign Correspondent's thrilling set pieces.  Foreign Correspondent was released a year before the U.S. entered World War II. The ending of the film was added at the last minute to bolster anti-isolationist sentiment among American viewers. In a new 25-minute video entitled Hollywood Propaganda and World War II writer Mark Harris is interviewed discussing this film's important role and other Hollywood propaganda films played during the war. Originally broadcast on June 8th, 1972 we get an interview with director Alfred Hitchcock from an episode of The Dick Cavett Show. It runs over an hour! Included is a 25-minute Radio adaptation of the film from 1946, starring Joseph Cotten. Cool is  Have You Heard? The Story of Wartime Rumors, a 1942 Life magazine “photo-drama” by Hitchcock. There is also a trailer plus the package contains a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar James Naremore. The package is Dual-Format containing two DVDs - one with the film and a second with the many extras.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 26, 2014, 08:34:51 AM
Film Forum Calendar (including Hitchcock and Truffaut series): http://www.filmforum.org/pdf/ff2_cal102_FINAL_Complete_v4.pdf


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 17, 2014, 04:56:36 PM
that's a pdf link, DJ

I'll give the regular link here

first, there is a program of the nine surviving silent Hitch films, all newly restored by BFI and played to musical accompaniment, Feb. 21 - May 4, 2014 http://www.filmforum.org/movies/more/the_hitchcock_9#nowplaying

and here are the sound films (including Dial M for Murder in 3D), playing Feb. 21- March 27, 2014 http://www.filmforum.org/movies/more/the_complete_hitchcock#nowplaying


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 29, 2014, 10:44:57 PM
Rewatched Marnie tonight, didn't like as much as the first time around.

Quote
Marnie (1964) has long divided Alfred Hitchcock fans. Much discussion centers on Tippi Hedren's performance, but this movie has deeper problems. It's a grab bag of auteurist tricks without purpose, a beautifully shot mess.

Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren) is a serial thief preying on rich businessmen. Her latest employer is Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), who falls for his new secretary. Mark catches Marnie in the act and entraps her into marriage. Mark soon discovers Marnie is a neurotic mess: terrified of red color and thunderstorms, unable to bear a man's touch. Mark resolves to cure Marnie, curing her kleptomania and confronting Marnie's man-hating mother (Lois Latham).

Marnie seems a directorial highlight reel, each scene calculated to showcase Hitchcock's brilliance to the Cahiers crowd. There's no denying that Marnie's artistically exquisite: Hitchcock and photographer Robert Burns relish bursts of vivid colors, from the ever-present red to sparkling yellow taxes and Rutland's green estate. Several scenes are top-notch Hitch: the exhilarating opening, Marnie and Mark's savage wedding night, a spellbinding split screen set piece where Marnie robs a safe as a janitor sweeps the next room.

But Hitchcock balances brilliance with overwrought showboating. There's the laughable matte effects, from Marnie's dockside neighborhood (resembling a wall mural) to phony city-scapes. A fox hunt has striking widescreen photography, ruined by cheap rear projection in close-ups. And Hitchcock's recurring motif of Manrie's red-tinged freakouts grows ludicrous with repetition. Even Bernard Herrmann's score seems overbearing, loud even in quiet moments: this might be the only film where Herrmann's music detracts.

Plotwise, Marnie plays like discarded bits of earlier Hitchcock films: Vertigo's sexual obsession, Spellbound's psychosomatic triggers, Psycho's Freudian nightmare. Scenarist Jay Presson Allen never outgrows his assertion that "women are stupid and feeble and men are filthy pigs." Marnie carries a vaginal alligator purse and recoils at men; Mark relishes "caging" her like a wild beast. Then Mark unaccountably changes from predator to understanding husband, helping Marnie confront her demons. The ending revisits Spellbound, where recovered memories instantly cure Marnie.

Tippi Hedren gets her second starring role, far more challenging than The Birds. Stories abound of Hitchcock's obsessive efforts to mold Hedren into a starlet and lover, as if reenacting Vertigo. Onscreen Hedren is likeable and appealing, but a lightweight. She can't grasp Marnie's complexity, despite furtive gestures and wide-eyed shivering. Hedren lacks Grace Kelly's charisma or Eva Marie Saint's personality, an alluring screen presence but not a convincing character.

Meanwhile, Sean Connery flops in his first stab at non-Bond stardom. Reciting boorish dialogue ("I'm fighting a powerful impulse to beat the hell out of you") in a Philadelphia-cum-Edinburgh brogue, he's wooden despite flashes of Bondian roguishness. Louise Latham contrasts with cornpone scenery chewing. Diane Baker steals every scene: snarky, beautiful and intelligent, Baker injects welcome sanity. Alan Napier, Bruce Dern and Mariette Hartley play supporting roles.

Marnie has its champions which is understandable. As a directorial showpiece, it points up Hitchcock's talents (and shortcomings). As a film, it's nonsense. It raises the curtain on Hitchcock's late period, where craftsmanship's increasingly replaced with incidental pleasures. 6/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2014/08/marnie.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2014/08/marnie.html)

Parenthetically, my first viewing of this film came sometime in April '07, when I had to shoot, develop, transfer and edit a freshman film project on the same damned day. Memories...


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 30, 2014, 07:06:56 PM
I saw Marnie a while ago, as I remember it, it's one of those movies that draws you in at first, you are enjoying it, then as it goes on and gets closer to the end you wonder what the hell you are doing there.

I enjoy reading your reviews anytime, Groggy. You are a very good writer and have a way with words, to capture a thought succinctly.
Just one friendly suggestion: IMO, Don't just tick off cast/crew credits if you don't have an opinion opinion to share on them. Like after reading your opinions on 3 actors, then I read you ticking off "X, Y, and Z have supporting roles." well, what did you think of their performances? Even if it's a brief one-liner, say what you thought of them or don't mention them at all; as a reader, I don't need a cast list ticked off, it makes me wanna ask, well, what did you think of them? If they aren't worth discussing for even a sentence, then their presence need not be mentioned; a review needn't state what can easily be found in a cast list, IMO. You can even add one extra word, like "X, Y and Z give ADEQUATE, or GOOD, or AWFUL supporting performances. Hey, that's just the opinion of this movie fan who likes to read movie reviews. But I admire (and envy) your way with the language; nice work! ;)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 30, 2014, 08:55:14 PM
Thanks Drink.

Admittedly, I remembered enjoying Marnie more the first time around. But then I was a shave tail film student, easily distracted by pretty colors and camera tricks.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 30, 2014, 10:12:46 PM
Thanks Drink.

Admittedly, I remembered enjoying Marnie more the first time around. But then I was a shave tail film student, easily distracted by pretty colors and camera tricks.

the painted scenery is so obvious, that irritated me.

In The Birds, I think the background of the town is as well - added into the top half of the film or something - but i couldn't tell till I read about it later. In Marnie, it's obvious.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on August 31, 2014, 03:23:06 AM
Some think that in Marnie the artificial studio background is intent.
Hitchcock's films are of course filled with bad rear projections, but in Marnie the artificial scenery in some scenes really may have an artistic reason.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 31, 2014, 03:25:10 AM
Just Sir Alfred with the MGM lion, 1957.

(http://www.distractify.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads//2014/08/1643-934x.jpg)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 31, 2014, 07:27:26 AM
Some think that in Marnie the artificial studio background is intent.
Hitchcock's films are of course filled with bad rear projections, but in Marnie the artificial scenery in some scenes really may have an artistic reason.

What purpose does "artificiality" serve in this particular instance? Is Marnie supposed to be a fairy tale? Frankly I'd say it's auteurists refusing to admit Hitch screwed up. Even if intentional (and I doubt it) such obvious phoniness is distracting and stupid.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 31, 2014, 11:49:21 AM
Talking about auuterists fanboys of Hitch: Although Truffaut's book with Hitch is a classic, does it seem to you he likes way too much unlikeable shit? One thing I remember is him praising THE LADY VANISHES, which IMO is a stupid movie. Of course, Truuffaut has the right to disagree with me on some movies, but it happened so often that at times I thought maybe he sounded like a nerdy auuter trying to find brilliance in shitty stuff.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 31, 2014, 12:03:21 PM
Talking about auuterists fanboys of Hitch: Although Truffaut's book with Hitch is a classic, does it seem to you he likes way too much unlikeable shit? One thing I remember is him praising THE LADY VANISHES, which IMO is a stupid movie. Of course, Truuffaut has the right to disagree with me on some movies, but it happened so often that at times I thought maybe he sounded like a nerdy auuter trying to find brilliance in shitty stuff.

Really good directors like Hitch usually show brilliance even in their shitiest work. And The Lady Vanishes is far from being a bad movie: the action bit in the end aged VERY poorly put the rest of it is classic Hitch. That being said, Truffaut talks a bit too much like a fanboy in this book. He's too respectful. You can see the student talking to his hero, which is always irritating.
Still the best cinema book I've ever read, by far (far = at least 10 times better than anything else; I literally became a much better filmmaker after reading this).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on August 31, 2014, 12:30:36 PM
Talking about auuterists fanboys of Hitch: Although Truffaut's book with Hitch is a classic, does it seem to you he likes way too much unlikeable shit? One thing I remember is him praising THE LADY VANISHES, which IMO is a stupid movie. Of course, Truuffaut has the right to disagree with me on some movies, but it happened so often that at times I thought maybe he sounded like a nerdy auuter trying to find brilliance in shitty stuff.

But you are one of the few who thinks that The Lady Vanishes is shit. In fact it always was one of his classic movies, and has generally a good reputation.

Noodles, I don't think that Truffaut was a fanboy, at least not in the negative sense of the word. He loved his films, but that did not stop him from thinking. And he is also very critical towards other Hitchcock films. The book reflects his taste, and that's exactly what I expect from every book. It is more likely that the other way round Hitchcock was maybe less honest about his intentions. Whatever, it is a fascinating book, even if it all all would have been one big lie. (wasn't it Hitch who said "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" ? ;) )


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 31, 2014, 12:51:04 PM
Hitchcock isn't very honest because he judges his own films from the success they got instead of for what they are. Anyway, this itself is already a great lesson for aspiring filmmakers. Also, you're probably right about Truffaut's attitude. It probably has more to do with the way journalists talked at the time than with anything else. I often listen to radio shows as old as from the 1960's or 70's, the way the hosts ask questions to the guests is so over-respectful that it becomes funny.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on August 31, 2014, 07:00:29 PM
Really good directors like Hitch usually show brilliance even in their shitiest work.

Yeah, even Torn Curtain has that awesome murder scene.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 31, 2014, 07:15:58 PM
Exactly.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 01, 2014, 12:07:47 AM
It is more likely that the other way round Hitchcock was maybe less honest about his intentions.
Yes. AH tended to pander to his interviewers. Just look what happened when Bogdanovich talked to him--Peter often misunderstands the films, and AH just agrees with him! Both AH and Leone were untrustworthy interviewees.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on September 01, 2014, 07:18:41 AM
Maybe we can sub for that "directors are untrustworthy interviewees."


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on September 01, 2014, 08:15:14 AM
Spellbound:

Quote
Spellbound (1945) is definitely problematic Alfred Hitchcock. Its reputation rests on the charming stars and incomparable style. Yet the story is a messy psychodrama that doesn't hang together.

Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) works for psychologist Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll). Murchison is being replaced by Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck), who immediately falls for Constance. But the new arrival isn't Edwardes at all; he's John Ballantine, an amnesiac who'd been in Edwardes' care. The police suspect Edwardes has been murdered and Ballantine's a suspect. Constance and John go on the lam, Constance trying to clear her patient by unraveling his memory.

Spellbound probably works best as a romance. Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck are both charming leads, beautiful and generating pitch-perfect chemistry. Bergman starts as a frigid academic, ultimately thawed the Power of Love. But Bergman retains her smarts and skill, and our respect. Peck gets the lesser role: for all his flustered breakdowns, he's charming and sympathetic. Cynics love noting it's unprofessional for Constance to treat and romance John. But Bergman and Peck's smoldering interplay melts any reservations.

The supporting players aren't as compelling. Leo G. Carroll is competent in a role requiring exposition and studied arrogance. At least Carroll sells Murchison's abrupt last act revelation. Rhonda Fleming and Norman Lloyd play inmates as caricatures. One attempts suicide but the character's so broadly drawn we're not especially sympathetic. Michael Chekhov gets a fun role as Constance's mentor: "I hope you have babies instead of phobias!"

Even Bergman and Peck struggle with Spellbound's inane plot. It's a typical Hitchcock wrong man drama, complicated by the amnesia gimmick. Screenwriter Ben Hecht shows little handle on psychology: psychiatrists openly mock their patients and speak in jargon even off the clock. Ballantine's sent into a frenzy by parallel lines, a device flogged to death like Marnie's flashing red. Naturally, Ballantine recovers simply by remembering his trauma. This isn't worse than most B Movie psychodramas, but we expect better from Hitchcock.

Fortunately, Hitchcock's direction is superb. Admittedly, there are cheesy gags like the "opening doors" or third-person shots of milk glasses and revolvers. But Hitchcock nails everything else: the moody atmosphere, glamorous photography and edgy pacing. The standout dream sequence was designed by Salvador Dali but actually shot by William Cameron Menzies. Hitchcock and Menzies invest the bizarre imagery of eyes and swooping wings with real energy, making it more than a gimmick. Miklos Rosza contributes a melodramatic score laced with theremin music for Ballantine's blackouts.

Spellbound's appeal is obvious. Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck make a wonderful pairing, and Hitchcock's direction is eerily beautiful. Aside from curmudgeons like me, who cares about the plot? 7/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2014/09/spellbound.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2014/09/spellbound.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on September 01, 2014, 08:49:03 AM
Maybe we can sub for that "directors are untrustworthy interviewees."

I think that's already included in "Sergio Leone Web Boards".


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on September 01, 2014, 07:01:10 PM
Quote
Even Bergman and Peck struggle with Spellbound's inane plot. It's a typical Hitchcock wrong man drama, complicated by the amnesia gimmick. Screenwriter Ben Hecht shows little handle on psychology: psychiatrists openly mock their patients and speak in jargon even off the clock. Ballantine's sent into a frenzy by parallel lines, a device flogged to death like Marnie's flashing red. Naturally, Ballantine recovers simply by remembering his trauma. This isn't worse than most B Movie psychodramas, but we expect better from Hitchcock.
Even worse is the symbol-laden dream that must be decoded to solve the mystery. It's somewhat clever to conflate what a detective does with what an analyst gets up to, but credibility only stretches so far. Even hard-core Freudians wouldn't buy the nightmare with its explanation (And remember, there's a double trauma involved, one that includes the accidental killing of Ballantine's young brother). It's a shame, because the Dali-inspired dream is visually arresting. The explanation is as big a letdown as Simon Oakland at the end of Psycho explaining Norman Bates.

Btw, the device of Freudian dream interpretation to solve a crime was used again in Robert Benton's not very good Still Of the Night (1982).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on September 20, 2014, 09:48:31 PM
Watched Rear Window with my Hitchcock-loving brother (not the one cited elsewhere in this thread) tonight, which was fun. O0

Quote
Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) is the rare movie that appeals to everyone. Auteurists love it for showcasing Hitchcock's thematic preoccupations. Film buffs admire its faultless, innovative craftsmanship. Casual viewers like the attractive stars and thriller structure. Everyone wins.

L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is a photographer who broke his leg on the job. Recuperating in his sweltering apartment, he's taken to spying on his neighbors. Alongside other melodramas, he grows convinced that Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) murdered his invalid wife. He convinces girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), though the police remain dubious. How can Jeffries prove Thorwald did it? Naturally, by sending Lisa to investigate!

Rear Window is the best expression of Hitchcock's skill. He's more impressive on a soundstage than in his larger-scale movies. Key scenes play without dialogue: the panning shot introducing the neighbors and then Jeff (via his photographs, and a close-up on his sweating face); Jeff watching Thorwald leave and return in a rainstorm; Jeff arming himself with flashbulbs as footsteps thud up the stairs. Hitchcock makes peerless use of sound and music, alongside brilliant visual details: one shot of Thorwald's apartment, dark except for a burning cigarette, is bone-chilling.

This restricted setting works better than Rope, a self-conscious experiment. Here Hitchcock creates a diverse little universe, conveyed through striking little playlets. Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy), a tarty ballet dancer, entertains hapless suitors; Miss Lonelyhearts (Judith Evelyn) contemplates suicide while a neighbor (Ross Bagdasarian) composes music. Hitchcock ties these vignettes together, these characters bonded through diegetic sound and shared space. Each story gets resolved alongside the thriller plot. Such details make Rear Window effortlessly immersive.

Critics relish Rear Window's voyeurism, conveyed in ways obvious and subtle. John Michael Hayes' script decries our "race of peeping toms," viewing other peoples' lives as entertainment. Yet Hitchcock plays with our expectations, even here. Lisa's introduction marks her as a fetish object (that dreamy close-up!) but unlike Jeff, she can act, inserting herself into the drama. Jeff is as helpless as the viewer... or a film director watching an actress go off-script. Flashing Thorwald with camera bulbs makes a wonderfully impotent gesture: Jeff might as well use a remote control.

Besides direct remakes like Disturbia, Rear Window inspired a whole genre of voyeur thrillers. These movies make human perception central to the story, often distorting or subverting Hitchcock's approach. Blow-Up and The Conversation hinge on the hero misinterpreting an event, their intervention only making things worse. Michael Powell's Peeping Tom goes further, making its protagonist a serial killer. Peeping becomes not only morally dubious but destructive.

James Stewart starts off as a frustrated creep (shades of Vertigo?), but his dogged investigation overcomes any misgivings. Grace Kelly's never been better: decked out in Edith Head dresses and breaking into Thorwald's apartment, she's beautiful, brave and resourceful. Thelma Ritter (All About Eve) and Wendell Corey (The Furies) contribute snark from the sidelines. Raymond Burr is equally intimidating across the yard or five feet away.

Does anyone need to be sold on Rear Window? Few films achieve such a seamless blend of art and entertainment. 9/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2014/09/rear-window.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2014/09/rear-window.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 21, 2014, 03:32:34 AM
nice review Grogs  O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: cigar joe on September 21, 2014, 11:29:43 AM
 O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 05, 2014, 06:37:31 PM
On Nov. 8, 2014, TCM will be showing  Saboteur at 6:00 PM EST http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html?tz=PST&sdate=2014-11-08
That is the same day that Norman Lloyd, who plays the saboteur, will turn 100  :)

Here is video of Lloyd from 2011 in a Q&A after a screening of the movie in Palm Springs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WDWcRHwxHs

There are many more videos of Lloyd on YouTube, discussing Hitch and the other great filmmakers Lloyd worked for. Check them out; Lloyd is always great fun to listen to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Norman+Lloyd


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 11, 2015, 09:27:54 PM
http://thedigitalbits.com/columns/history-legacy--showmanship/to-catch-a-thief-60th


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on August 17, 2015, 01:45:47 AM
Spellbound 1945 - 5/10
Moves between mildly entertaining and utter shit. It certainly hasn't aged well, mostly because in the last 70 years the Freudian stuff the film is filled with has become first mainstream and eventually totally clichéd. Most of the film is spent on clumsy exposition of how psychoanalysis works, and since today everybody knows all this by preschool anyway, we spend 110 minutes on mostly uninteresting (or alternatively: totally unbelievable) babble. On top of that the acting is pretty bad by any standards (I blame Hitch's lazy directing more than the obviously talented actors), the lighting is far from the best of Hollywood and the unnecessary rear-projections bugged me more than ever. There certainly were some mildly entertaining moments too, but right now I can't remember what.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 19, 2015, 07:28:22 PM
Under Capricorn on the big screen! Three-strip Technicolor print! Intro'd by Isabella Rosillini! If Drink misses this, he's beyond all hope. http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/film_screenings/24533


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 20, 2015, 01:46:47 AM
Spellbound 1945 - 5/10
Moves between mildly entertaining and utter shit. It certainly hasn't aged well, mostly because in the last 70 years the Freudian stuff the film is filled with has become first mainstream and eventually totally clichéd. Most of the film is spent on clumsy exposition of how psychoanalysis works, and since today everybody knows all this by preschool anyway, we spend 110 minutes on mostly uninteresting (or alternatively: totally unbelievable) babble. On top of that the acting is pretty bad by any standards (I blame Hitch's lazy directing more than the obviously talented actors), the lighting is far from the best of Hollywood and the unnecessary rear-projections bugged me more than ever. There certainly were some mildly entertaining moments too, but right now I can't remember what.

I agree with everything but to me it's a 7/10: the flashback is incredibly haunting. It's one of the most disturbing thing I have ever seen and the fact that it was shot 70 years ago is unbelievable.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: moviesceleton on August 20, 2015, 04:51:55 AM
I agree with everything but to me it's a 7/10: the flashback is incredibly haunting. It's one of the most disturbing thing I have ever seen and the fact that it was shot 70 years ago is unbelievable.
yeah, that flashback was certainly very effective and disturbing. A flash of great filmmaking in otherwise mediocre film.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 20, 2015, 06:01:02 AM
yeah, that flashback was certainly very effective and disturbing. A flash of great filmmaking in otherwise mediocre film.

You also need to take into account what you said yourself: the psychoanalysis stuff has terribly aged, but at the time it hadn't (of course). It's a weird film, based on a weird concept. I certainly wouldn't watch it more than once a decade (I think I have the DVD somewhere) but it's a bit more than "mediocre". It's still unique, like, say, a bad Gaspar Noe film. I would take that kind of mediocre over any 5/10 Avengers-like.

Side note: the French title is very different, but also hints at some kind of haunted house film: La Maison du Docteur Edwards (The House of Doctor Edwards).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 20, 2015, 08:17:42 AM
yeah, that flashback was certainly very effective and disturbing. A flash of great filmmaking in otherwise mediocre film.
Reportedly, the flashback was even better (and longer) before Selznick fucked with it.

The pseudo-Fraud material is risible at this point, but all one has to do is compare this film with something like Still of the Night to see how Hitchcock's treatment is infinitely superior to the work of others dealing with similar material. And of course, AH would later surpass himself in this area when he made Marnie.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 20, 2015, 09:02:47 AM
I don't think STILL OF THE NIGHT is a good comparison because the whole point of that movie seems to be an homage to Hitch. It's not merely a movie inspired by the same thing that inspired Hitch; rather, it is a movie whose whole point seems to be to show a bunch of explicit Hitch references. It's like comparing THE GODFATHER to THE FRESHMAN.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 20, 2015, 05:27:35 PM
Well, The Freshman is a comedy, so that's not really a good comparison either.

I was thinking more along the lines of the dream that is shown to the audience in Hitch's film, and the "Green Box" solution used in Still of the Night. AH's dream imagery still has power (as noodles_leone can attest), but Green Box is just stupid. Freud was a fraud, but if you're going to go that way Hitchcock was able to give it an entertaining spin.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on August 21, 2015, 05:24:06 AM
Spellbound is a good Hitchcock, albeit far from his greatest works. 7/10


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 21, 2015, 04:10:35 PM
Spellbound is a good Hitchcock, albeit far from his greatest works. 7/10
Wow, we agree!


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on August 22, 2015, 05:04:04 AM
Actually we often agree (wow²)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 09, 2016, 05:23:46 AM
As noted on the RTLMYS thread, I watched both Hitchcock biopics this past week. Didn't like either one, though my Hitchcock review seems harsh in light of The Girl. Anyway, Hitchcock first:

Quote
Since Alfred Hitchcock is among the few classic directors still a household name, a biopic was inevitable. But did it have to be Hitchcock (2012)? Sacha Gervasi's seriocomic account of the making of Psycho misfires, often inaccurate and infrequently entertaining.

 It's 1960 and Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) seems bored with his career. North by Northwest was a major hit, but Hitchcock wants more challenging material. He reads Robert Bloch's Psycho and decides to adapt it, despite Paramount's opposition. Hitchcock engages with the novel's antihero, Norman Bates, to the chagrin of his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). She wonders if Hitchcock's allowing Bloch's psychosis to his own demons.

Hitchcock faces one insuperable problem: while Psycho was groundbreaking in its violence and psychosexual portraiture, it wasn't an especially arduous production. Hitchcock finances the movie himself and battles censorial fuddy-duddies, and there's amusement in his desperation to preserve the twist ending, swearing the cast to secrecy and buying up Bloch's book. Still, Gervasi and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin, working off a nonfiction book by Stephen Rebello, enliven things with questionable dramatizations.

Hitchcock's distortions range from forgivable to inexplicable. Hitchcock's battles with distributor Paramount are detailed, but it's nowhere mentioned that he shot the movie at Universal. There's also Alma stepping into the director's chair when Hitchcock becomes sick and overseeing the editing. It's nice to acknowledge Alma as Hitchcock's partner; she helped write and edit his scripts for decades, becoming an indispensable collaborator. But Hitchcock overbalances the ledger; what would John L. Russell and George Tomassini say?

 While making Alma Hitch's equal, Gervasi also has her resist Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), writer and (unmentioned here) occasional Hitchcock collaborator. This subplot's merely unnecessary, unlike Hitchcock's most bizarre conceit. Hitchcock's visited by the ghost of Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the real-life Norman Bates, in several ridiculous sequences. This ill-conceived device disconnects themes from story, spotlighting Hitchcock's biggest flaw.

 Since Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius, writers love equating Hitchcock's films with his real-world hang-ups. Whether Hitchcock was a puckish genius or manipulative nutcase depends on whether you asked Grace Kelly or Tippi Hedren. Hitchcock acknowledges his foibles: he leers at starlets and keeps portraits of his "Hitchcock blondes" while neglecting Alma. Gervasi curiously treats this as charming rather than creepy, Hitchcock a playful eccentric, presenting perversion without committing to it.

Following Rebello, Hitchcock claims that he sabotaged Vera Miles' (Jessica Biel) career after declining Vertigo. Hitchcock also badgers Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) with smutty ranting and a simulated knife attack, driving her to hysteria. This projects Tippi Hedren's claims of abuse onto Leigh, with whom Hitchcock had an amiable relationship. Fair that a biopic explore this, but why Psycho? Surely Vertigo or Marnie are more fitting? Then again, HBO's The Girl tackled the latter and fared even worse.

 Anthony Hopkins makes Hitch a glib cockney gargoyle, unrecognizable under mountains of makeup. In fairness, Hopkins captures Hitchcock's morbid humor: he distributes articles on Gein to party guests and invites a timorous censor (Kurtwood Smith) to direct a love scene. On the other hand, Hopkins suggests little of Hitchcock's charm, genius or skill, instead seeming a constipated ghoul more pitiable than engaging.

Helen Mirren's tart wit and innate intelligence enlivens her inconsistent character. We respect her skill and unyielding tolerance for Hitchcock while questioning her judgment. Scarlett Johansson makes a pitch-perfect Janet Leigh, but Jessica Biel neither resembles nor invokes Vera Miles. James D'Arcy's dead-on Anthony Perkins is completely wasted. Danny Huston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Toni Collete and Kurtwood Smith play peripheral roles.

 One could ignore Hitchcock's factual infelicities if it had more to offer. Despite some snappy dialogue and a few clever scenes (Hitchcock conducting his audience's screams), it's mostly inert. In any case, film buffs are the primary audience and who better to appreciate its inaccuracies?  5/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/hitchcock-2012.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/hitchcock-2012.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 09, 2016, 05:25:25 AM
The Girl:

Quote
Alfred Hitchcock had a rough 2012. Sacha Gervais's Hitchcock purports to celebrate the director but depicts him as a repressed, voyeuristic weirdo. That's complementary next to Julian Jarrold's The Girl, an HBO Films production which borders on character assassination.

 While preparing The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) spots model Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) in a commercial. Instantly smitten, he offers Hedren the leading role. Initially Hedren's flattered, but she finds Hitchcock a demanding taskmaster on and off the set. Their collaboration is a success, and Hitchcock taps Hedren to appear in his next film, Marnie. Hedren's increasingly unnerved by Hitchcock's attention, which escalates from flirtation and bawdy jokes to stalking, harassment and worse.

The Girl draws from Donald Spoto's Spellbound by Beauty, which explores Hitchcock's alleged sexual hang-ups. It's a controversial topic, as Hitchcock's eccentricities affected everyone differently. It's telling that many collaborators lined up against the film. Kim Novak and Eva Marie Saint denied any harassment from Hitchcock, merely professional attentiveness. From other sources, we know that Grace Kelly and Janet Leigh laughed off Hitchcock's lewd limericks and pranks.

But these ladies were established stars. Hedren was a newcomer, and his vulgarity didn't seem so innocent. Besides jokes, Hedren recounts resisting Hitchcock's sexual advances in torrid detail. This seems depressingly credible; it's not the first time a director took advantage of an ingénue. Hedren claims that Hitchcock sabotaged her career, a more questionable claim challenged by biographers. Hedren wasn't a budding Grace Kelly cut down, but a mediocre actress harassed by a spurned lover.

 Unfortunately, The Girl can only paint in broad strokes. Gwyneth Hughes' script is melodramatic mush, pitting poor innocent Tippi against master lecher Hitchcock. Tippi gushes to Hitchcock that "I'm putty in your hands!" Too bad Hitchcock takes her literally, reenacting Vertigo in real life - casting Hedren as a real "Hitchcock blonde." One sympathizes with Tippi's ordeal, but Sienna Miller's performance is so flat and affectless it's hard to root for her.

 If Hitchcock's characterizations are questionable, The Girl's prove borderline slanderous. Alma Hitchcock (Imelda Staunton) and secretary Peggy Robertson (Penelope Miller) are enablers for Hitch's lechery. Though dramatically tedious, Hitchcock's idea that Alma resisted Whitfield Cook's advances has a factual basis. The Girl shows Hitchcock dismissing Alma as a glorified sister, and Alma subsequently leaving him, apropos of nothing.

But who could love The Girl's Hitchcock? Toby Jones is a one-note creep, rarely changing his inexpressive glower throughout the film. Which fits the script compiling every imaginable cheap shot. Hitchcock complains about his weight, insults Alma and browbeats assistants. When not torturing Tippi with real birds, he's fondling her breasts, drunk dialing her on Christmas and demanding sexual favors. Even Hedren concedes Hitchcock's charm and talent; how could she have tolerated a 24 hour monster?

 After 90 minutes of tawdriness, The Girl climaxes with a Lifetime movie resolution. Hitchcock again propositions Tippi, then threatens to destroy her career. Tippi berates Hitchcock for turning "a real woman into a statue," which would be an applause line from anyone less lifeless. Then a title card informs us that critics consider Marnie a masterpiece. I'm not surprised that The Girl can't even get its postscript right. 3/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-girl-2012.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-girl-2012.html)

Now I must comb through my back catalogue to see which real Hitchcock movies I haven't reviewed yet.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 10, 2016, 07:12:49 PM
Suspicion:

Quote
Alfred Hitchcock undertook Suspicion (1941) as a break from David O. Selznick's domineering supervision. The film was a hit, winning Joan Fontaine a Best Actress Oscar, and remains a favorite for many Hitchcock fans. But it's one of his most problematic films, the studio-enforced ending emblematic of deeper flaws.

 Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) marries ne'er-do-well Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant), against the wishes of her family. Lina finds Johnnie an irresponsible layabout, frittering money on gambling and absurd real estate schemes. When a business deal with Johnnie's friend Beaky (Nigel Bruce) goes south, Lina becomes afraid that Johnnie's more than just a cad - she suspects he's plotting her demise.

 Patrick McGilligan half-jokingly suggests that Suspicion is Hitchcock remaking Rebecca without Selznick. Besides Joan Fontaine, there are similarities in wives absorbed by their husband's dark pasts. Suspicion's romance seems flimsier: Lina rushes after Johnnie after hearing her mother (Dame May Whitty) call her a spinster, and she's surprised when Johnnie isn't the man of her dreams? His vices and compulsive lying cause tension, yet they remain in love because the plot requires. It's silly melodrama, but no worse than many Hollywood films.

 The problem is that Suspicion never sells us on its central idea. Johnnie's a glad-handing gold-digger, lazy but hardly homicidal. It's a leap from losing gambling money and pawning family heirlooms to murder. Worse, Lina's suspicion comes from on Johnnie's fondness for mystery novels and a game of anagrams! A creative filmmaker could easily frame Lina as delusional, but Hitchcock gives us a half-baked guessing game, inserting clues then waving them away.


Even so, Suspicion snaps to life in the second half. Hitchcock's interesting touches come here: Harry Stradling Sr.'s brooding photography, casting Johnnie as darkness entering the home; the glowing glass of "poisoned" milk. There's Auriol Lee as a mystery writer who "always thinks of my murderers as heroes," an amusing touch. Suspicion nonetheless remains an Idiot Plot, where the story could be resolved by two characters sitting down and chatting. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happens.

 Hitchcock always bemoaned RKO's demanding a happy ending, afraid of alienating audiences and eroding Cary Grant's image. Yet Hitchcock's preferred conclusion seems worse: Lina would passively accept death, drinking Johnnie's poison while sending a letter to alert the authorities. It's a catch-22: if Johnnie's a villain, the story's obvious. If he's innocent, it's been a waste of time. Always fuzzy on plot, Hitchcock nonetheless usually avoided such easy traps.

 No one complains about Suspicion's stars. Joan Fontaine's award-winning performance gives her a variant on Rebecca's Mrs. DeWinter, bewildered, trapped but a tad more assertive. Cary Grant shifts from charmer to menacing figure with remarkable ease. Hitchcock casts character roles well, with Cecil Hardwicke and Dame May Whitty as Lina's parents, Nigel Bruce as the idiot Beaky, and a walk-on for Leo G. Carroll.

 Auteurists often present Suspicion as a masterwork mutilated by a brainless studio. But the project's deeply flawed in ways that even an ideal ending couldn't resolve. Suspicion is minor Hitchcock, a decent idea badly handled. 5/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/suspicion.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/suspicion.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 10, 2016, 07:24:26 PM
Good to have you back, Groggers; I've missed your reviews  O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 12, 2016, 07:16:36 PM
Dial M for Murder:

Quote
Dial M for Murder (1954) was my first Alfred Hitchcock film. Not sure how much I appreciated it at age 12, but parts of it stuck with me even after seeing his more acclaimed works. It's a good introduction to the Master of Suspense, with its twisted murder plot, nifty direction and Grace Kelly.

 Tony Wendice (Ray Milland), a retired tennis player, learns his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) is carrying on with writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). Tony contemplates murder through ingenuity: he blackmails college chum C.A. Swan (Anthony Dawson) into killing Margot. Swan botches the hit, killed by Margot in self-defense. Tony spins the evidence to convict Margot for murder. Mark and Police Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) smell a rat, teaming up to trap Tony.

 Based on Frederick Knott's play, Dial M for Murder transcens its format through effective direction. The film's shot entirely on soundstages without inhibiting its creativity. Key scenes are staged in elaborate, sometimes abstract fashion: overhead shots during the murder preparations, a phone's internal mechanisms triggering the murder, Margot testifying before a candy-colored scrim. Originally shot in 3D, Dial M's just as effective flat.

 In a typically Hitchcockian touch, Dial M twists its audience's sympathy during the murder scene. We identify not with Margot, the innocent victim, but Swan, trapped into killing by his shady past, skulking among shadows to avoid detection. Shooting in lurid, shadowy colors, staged with precise, ominous pacing (there's no music and little sound for most of the scene), Hitchcock builds the tension unbearably until the violence occurs. It concludes with a gruesome death by scissors, borrowed from Fritz Lang's Ministry of Fear but rendered unforgettable by Hitchcock.

 Knott's story is both clever and predictable. Tony's ability to manipulate characters and events makes him a wonderful heel, destroying lives for personal satisfaction more than revenge. Novelist Mark fancies himself a crime expert, yet his scheme to save Margot earns Tony's derision as implausible! Inspector Hubbard pieces together minor bits of evidence (the missing scarf, a spare latchkey) to trap Tony. It's a neat piece of work, well-made yet a little too neat. Which isn't to deny that the conclusion's eminently satisfying.

 Ray Milland is a classic villain, charmingly devious, dangerously suave. It's probably his best work. Grace Kelly, making her Hitchcock debut, is luminously ornamental; she's much better-used in Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. John Williams is perfectly cast as the wry Inspector Hubbard; Anthony Dawson makes a bewildered, sympathetic heel. Only Robert Cummings, previously of Saboteur, flops as Kelly's romantic partner.

 The worst one can say about Dial M for Murder is that it's an exercise in craftsmanship, no insult when done this well. Compared to Hitchcock's other stage-to-screen adaptations (Juno and the Paycock, Rope) it's a masterpiece. Even without that qualification, it's still a satisfying yarn. 7.5/10


http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/dial-m-for-murder.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/dial-m-for-murder.html)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 13, 2016, 08:55:08 AM
Quote
Suspicion is . . . a decent idea badly handled. 5/10
In fact, the other way round--as you yourself just demonstrated! (Do you actually listen to yourself as you write?). You mention the story's Catch-22: there's no way to win unless, as the computer in Wargames discovered, you don't play. But Hitchcock did play, and we're the richer for it.

The film can't have a Catch-22 AND be a decent idea. The idea is inherently flawed (again, just check the summation you've blogged) but AH took this bad idea and handled it with aplomb. The film is very entertaining, and works better than many of his better plotted and more successful films (I'd rather watch this than Rebecca or Notorious, for example). Sometimes AH demonstrates such mastery of his medium that I am inclined to overlook plot problems--as in this case. I'd go a "7."


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 13, 2016, 11:31:28 AM
You're right, I should have written "a mediocre idea indifferently handled." That can easily be changed.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 14, 2016, 10:47:46 AM
You're right, I should have written "a mediocre idea indifferently handled." That can easily be changed.
Indifferently handled? There's someone writing on this board who disagrees with you. His name is Groggy too.
Quote
Suspicion snaps to life in the second half. Hitchcock's interesting touches come here: Harry Stradling Sr.'s brooding photography, casting Johnnie as darkness entering the home; the glowing glass of "poisoned" milk. There's Auriol Lee as a mystery writer who "always thinks of my murderers as heroes," an amusing touch.

Sounds like AH was playing a losing hand exceedingly well. Indifferently handled?

Quote
No one complains about Suspicion's stars. Joan Fontaine's award-winning performance gives her a variant on Rebecca's Mrs. DeWinter, bewildered, trapped but a tad more assertive. Cary Grant shifts from charmer to menacing figure with remarkable ease. Hitchcock casts character roles well, with Cecil Hardwicke and Dame May Whitty as Lina's parents, Nigel Bruce as the idiot Beaky, and a walk-on for Leo G. Carroll.
So the director's most important job, casting, produced nothing but aces. Indifferently handled?

It seems as though there are two different Groggys writing these posts, the laser-sighted analyst holding forth in the beginning and middle bits, and the wooly thinker who puts together the summaries at the end. I hope the first guy can eventually educate the second, or at least get him to pipe down about things he doesn't understand.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 14, 2016, 11:16:01 AM
Quote
Sounds like AH was playing a losing hand exceedingly well. Indifferently handled?
Sure, the movie belatedly becomes interesting halfway through. Being charitable, and ignoring the ending, it's still 50 percent turd.

Quote
So the director's most important job, casting

I'm sorry, what?




Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 15, 2016, 05:44:37 AM
I'm sorry, what?
So you admit you don’t understand what a film director does? Don’t lose heart, Groggy. You have your whole life to learn cinema. If you save your breath I feel a man like you could manage it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 15, 2016, 06:18:30 AM
I wasn't aware your definition of director was so narrow.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 15, 2016, 08:37:16 AM
I wasn't aware that you could be so disingenuous as to pretend you'd never heard a director say his most important job is casting.

If if that's just hot air, the kind of thing directors are always saying but not meaning, still, you're not claiming that directors have nothing to do with casting, right? That being the case, whatever AH's responsibility for casting, you have to admit he did his job on Suspicion well.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Novecento on January 15, 2016, 09:09:40 AM
I wasn't aware that you could be so disingenuous as to pretend you'd never heard a director say his most important job is casting.

I can't speak for Groggy here, but personally I'd imagine those are the directors that I tend not to rank very highly. Sure it's very important, but by no means is it the most important thing.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on January 15, 2016, 09:41:28 AM
I can't speak for Groggy here, but personally I'd imagine those are the directors that I tend not to rank very highly. Sure it's very important, but by no means is it the most important thing.
You are totally missing the point. Whether the director's most important job is casting or not, he still is involved in it to some extent. Groggy tried to win on a technicality. I insist that the issue be argued on substance. The cast of Suspicion is wonderful, every role assigned to ace performers. Groggy himself concedes this, in fact, he is the one who originally made the point, yet he seems to want to deny Hitchcock the credit. I call him on his BS.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Groggy on January 15, 2016, 01:36:07 PM
Quote
I insist that the issue be argued on substance.

 ;D Okay, for this you win.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 24, 2016, 04:24:51 PM
This weekend in WSJ's Arts in Review section:

http://on.wsj.com/2akIFk7



A Different Way to Master Suspense

By Jack Sullivan

July 22, 2016



Bernard Herrmann’s music for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Torn Curtain”—a harrowing and haunting score—sundered what many believe is the greatest director-composer collaboration in Hollywood history. Pressured by Universal Pictures to deliver pop-oriented music in tune with the times, Hitchcock demanded that Herrmann eschew his “old pattern” of symphonic composition and deliver ’60s “beat and rhythm.” Incorrigibly independent as ever, Herrmann composed a dense, brutal, unapologetically symphonic score powered by 12 flutes, 16 horns, nine trombones, two tubas, double timpani, eight cellos and eight basses. He also, as in “Psycho,” composed an electrifying murder cue even though Hitchcock specified no music. Normally averse to unpleasantness, Hitchcock came unannounced to a recording session at Goldwyn Studios, listened to the Prelude, and angrily dismissed Herrmann in front of his orchestra colleagues, who cheered the score even as Hitchcock renounced it. The two never spoke again.

It’s amazing the collaboration lasted through eight pictures. Both men were uncompromising perfectionists who saw life as treacherous chaos fleetingly ordered by art. A blow-up was bound to happen, especially since Hitchcock believed Herrmann was increasingly overstepping his bounds.

“Torn Curtain,” an oddly static Cold War spy thriller, was popular with audiences (the star power of Paul Newman and Julie Andrews surely helped) but harshly panned by critics on its release 50 years ago this month. Herrmann’s unused score, however, is something else, a bleak, powerful evocation of life behind the Iron Curtain unlike anything else in Hollywood music. It is a lost masterpiece—though not entirely, for it appears on a Varèse Sarabande CD; a Sony CD with a sensational performance of a “Torn Curtain” suite by the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by by Esa-Pekka Salonen; and a Universal DVD that lays in Herrmann’s cues for key scenes so that one can compare the score with the movie’s replacement one by the hastily hired John Addison.

With the Herrmann score, the film’s central characters, secret agent Michael Armstrong and his lover, Sarah Sherman, move furtively through the film as if pursued by the composer’s icy brass unisons and stalking chords. The moments of lyricism we get in other Herrmann-Hitchcock films are absent. The closest we get to melody are ominous bass and woodwind lines in cues like “The Formula” and “The Blackboard,” moments reminiscent of Shostakovich, whom Hitchcock tried to land for his next Cold War picture, “Topaz.” (Needless to say, the Soviet authorities were not cooperative.)

Despite the exotic orchestration—Herrmann promised that “the sound of 12 flutes will be terrifying”—there is something fundamental about this score. The most disturbing cue is the one Hitchcock explicitly forbade for the killing of the Soviet agent Gromek, an explosion of rage and violence in the timpani and lower brass, a premonition of Herrmann’s gathering storm with Hitchcock. Equally daring is the quiet music where Herrmann strips his huge orchestra down to intimate chamber ensembles: the queasy atonal sequence with agitated flutes depicting the cat-and-mouse movements of Michael and Gromek, or the sinister dialogue between brass and basses in “The Search.”

In the one surviving music note from Hitchcock to Herrmann, Hitchcock requested for the Prelude “an exciting, arresting, and rhythmic piece of music whose function would be to immediately rivet the audience’s attention.” Riveting it certainly is, but a ’60s beat is nowhere to be found. Ironically, Addison’s replacement prelude, a glum waltz, doesn’t have it either, nor do any of his cues.

For the static opening scene, Addison provides no music, but Herrmann brings it to life with modal chords full of subtle menace; for the following sequence, Addison gives us standard Hollywood romance music followed by what his notes call “gay phrases,” setting an awkwardly off-key mood for this secretive bedroom scene, where Michael jumps out of bed and lies to the message boy to protect his identity. In Herrmann’s version, basses plummet as woodwinds rise, a disorienting contrary motion suggesting impending doom. Addison’s score delivers stock responses, telling us what we should feel rather than making us feel it.

Most dismiss the movie “Torn Curtain” out of hand, but we forget that until Herrmann composed the shower scene for “Psycho”—against the Master’s wishes—Hitchcock himself believed that earlier film was so dull that he considered cutting it up and putting it on television. Herrmann gave “Psycho” the jolt that inspired Hitchcock to believe in the project again. Music matters in Hitchcock; John Williams, Hitchcock’s final composer, told me that it is “a character in the métier.” In “Torn Curtain,” it’s a missing character, a central one that might have made a difference.

Herrmann’s score for “Torn Curtain” is unusually incisive and self-contained: Hitchcock ordered Herrmann to sketch it “in advance because we have an urgent problem of meeting a tax date,” so the composer was forced to create it from his imagination without finished scenes. In happier days Hitchcock had asked Herrmann onto the set before shooting, debating which scenes needed music. Left on his own, Herrmann produced a one-of-a-kind work that is lonely and uncompromising—unforgettable even without the movie it might have saved.

Mr. Sullivan, chair of the English department at Rider University, is the author of “Hitchcock’s Music” (Yale University Press).


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on July 26, 2016, 01:00:25 AM
Lifeboat (1944) I saw it in the '80's and wasn't impressed, heavy melodrama. Rewatched it yesterday undubbed and on big screen and was about to give up vision after half a hour but made it to the end and found the movie gets better after the usual devices for introducing the characters (so you have to believe that a commie, a tycoon, an intellectual (or about), a negro, etc. end up casually on the same boat) and the usual melodramatic scenes to introduce contrast all to be solved at the end (the 2 love stories are usual hollywooden stuff). There are some visual effects as it is only to be expected from H. (strong one the shoe tossed away after the amputation) but then there's also the contradictions of the nazi who is a surgeon by trade, turned into a submarine commander (yeah, sure) who saves Bendix' life (how I hate his voice and bogus slang) just to "suicide" him a while later.  But toward the end the whole scene of the german supply ship coming to the rescue then bombed etc. make it for a generous 7/10.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: titoli on July 26, 2016, 10:10:36 AM
BTW, I don't think that a big and fat man like Slezak could ever have made it in a U-Boot, where space was limited.

In the special features of the double dvd there's an excellent, thorough 1963 interview with Hitchcock (and some of his collaborators, Hermann among them) made for a canadian series called Telescope conducted by an interviewer (Fletcher Markle) who never asks stupid questions and seems to know the matter. Hitch's answers are always serious, though sometimes tinged with humour. 10/10

Here's an excerpt:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJQE7Kv-9JU


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on July 29, 2016, 05:17:30 PM
The Met's 2016-2017 HD Cinema Schedule is up. The first performance is of Tristan und Isolde, which, as all good Hitchcockians know, provided plenty of melody for Bernie's Love Theme in Vertigo. OK, the opera is 5 hours long--maybe you just want to go for the overture and then split?

http://www.metopera.org/Season/In-Cinemas/


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 01, 2016, 04:28:24 PM
The Alfred Hitchcock Encyclopedia (2016) by Stephen Whitty. https://www.amazon.com/Alfred-Hitchcock-Encyclopedia-Stephen-Whitty/dp/144225159X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475358780&sr=8-1&keywords=the+alfred+hitchcock+encyclopedia

My copy just arrived. The entries run to 518 pages, and Whitty seems to have done a thorough job. Opening the book in the middle I get the beginning of the Ms: "MACGUFFIN". I read, "The thing that the characters--chiefly the antagonists--care deeply about in a thriller and for which the audience does not give a damn. Whether it's jewels, evidence of a murder, or the "secret clause" to a peace treaty is utterly unimportant; it is merely the spark that sets the story in motion. MacGuffins in Hitchcock films probably begin with the glove in BLACKMAIL. . . . " and then Whitty goes on to list the usual suspects, and a few I'd never considered before. He surely goes wrong by including "the house key in DIAL M FOR MURDER", which the audience DOES give a damn about. Without thoroughly understanding the role of that key in the film the audience can't make sense of the plot. And even "evidence of a murder" isn't ever probably a MacGuffin: in Rear Window, for example, the evidence is necessary to prove both the crime and Jeffries' sanity, neither of which can be matters of indifference to the audience. Whitty's definition is too broad; it should not be synonymous with "inciting action." (Is it, btw, necessary to find a MacGuffin in every Hitchcock film? What's the MacGuffin in Lifeboat, WWII?).

Nonetheless, the entry has lots of helpful info. "Hitchcock's earliest public mention of it seemed to come in 1939, when he described it in a lecture at Columbia University." "IVOR MONTAGU credits screenwriter ANGUS MACPHAIL with the term." As in other reference books, names given in all-caps indicate that there are separate entries for those.

The entry for Leopold and Loeb is informative. Loeb was killed by a cellmate in prison, but Leopold got out (on a 99-year-for-kidnapping charge plus a life-for-murder charge) "moved to Puerto Rico, married, worked for various charities, and wrote a book about birds." Of course ROPE, the play, the radio play, and the film are mentioned, but the entry also indicates other works derived from the case: Compulsion, which I knew about, and Swoon, which I didn't.

The book should provide endless hours of fascinating reading, as well as a model to which The SL Encyclopedia can aspire.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 01, 2016, 06:07:49 PM
Is MacGaufin necessarily something the audience doesn't care about? I thought it was just something that was an excuse for the movie to happen - to have the situations, characters, and dialogues that we enjoy while watching the movie; the plot device allows the movie to happen so that we can pretend there is a plot, though the real enjoyment comes not from the plot but from all the other elements. The plot is just an excuse for the other elements we enjoy to be there. The audience may think it is important and not realize till the end of the movie that it's really not an important element of the movie.That's sort of how I understood what the MacGauffin is all about, though I certainly can't say I ever understood it that well. Am I wrong?

In the Billy Wilder movie FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO, Groggy said the whole business about the five graves was a MacGauffin. Do you agree with that?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on October 02, 2016, 02:52:19 AM
That McGuffin thing has gone meanwhile completely out of control. It was not much more than a little joke played against critics who blamed Hitchcock's thrillers for not having enough substance. It was a kind of offensive defence by saying "look, you did not even understand what the films are about, you criticised them for the most unimportant things". Truffaut formulated this even better when he wrote: "Hitchcock has long been judged by the flowers he places in the vase, but it was in fact the modelling of the vase which got all his attention".

The MacGuffin was nothing more than an absurd story to describe that the story motivating background of some of Hitchcock's spy thrillers was unimportant and interchangeable. The story needed this plot device, without it there wouldn't be a story, but for the film's protagonist and for the film's audience it is rather unimportant what it really is. Cause Hitchcock was interested to have Robert Donat being on the run in the Scottish highlands handcuffed to a beautiful woman or Cary Grant being mistaken for a dangerous spy.
But for being a MacGuffin it is important that this story device does not appear in the film itself, does not really become a part of the film. Like The Guns of Navarone without the guns or Treasure Island without ever reaching the island.

But meanwhile everything which motivates a film in the background seems to be a MacGuffin. Rosebud in Citzen Kane, the falcon statuette in The Maltese Falcon, the money bag in No Country for Old Men are no MagGs, but the Rabbit's Foot in MI III is one. If e.g. the stolen money at the beginning of Psycho is a MacG, then every film about money, gold, jewels, treasures etc has a MacG, but when every film has one it is nothing special, and then the whole MacG thing has turned itself into some kind of MacGuffin.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on October 02, 2016, 03:46:49 AM
DJ, that book sure looks cool as hell.
Also I cannot wait for the moment you'll publish the SLE.

That McGuffin thing has gone meanwhile completely out of control. It was not much more than a little joke played against critics who blamed Hitchcock's thrillers for not having enough substance. It was a kind of offensive defence by saying "look, you did not even understand what the films are about, you criticised them for the most unimportant things". Truffaut formulated this even better when he wrote: "Hitchcock has long been judged by the flowers he places in the vase, but it was in fact the modelling of the vase which got all his attention".

The MacGuffin was nothing more than an absurd story to describe that the story motivating background of some of Hitchcock's spy thrillers was unimportant and interchangeable. The story needed this plot device, without it there wouldn't be a story, but for the film's protagonist and for the film's audience it is rather unimportant what it really is. Cause Hitchcock was interested to have Robert Donat being on the run in the Scottish highlands handcuffed to a beautiful woman or Cary Grant being mistaken for a dangerous spy.
But for being a MacGuffin it is important that this story device does not appear in the film itself, does not really become a part oft he film. Like The Guns of Navarone without the guns or Treasure Island without ever reaching the island.

But meanwhile everything which motivates a film in the background seems to be a MacGuffin. Rosebud in Citzen Kane, the falcon statuette in The Maltese Falcon, the money bag in No Country for Old Men are no MagGs, but the Rabbit's Foot in MI III is one. If e.g. the stolen money at the beginning of Psycho is a MacG, then every film about money, gold, jewels, treasures etc has a MacG, but when every film has one it is nothing special, and then the whole MacG thing has turned itself into some kind of MacGuffin.

 O0 O0 O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 02, 2016, 11:06:06 AM
Stanton, very good points.  O0 O0 O0


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on October 02, 2016, 12:57:22 PM
Yes, thanks, but how comes that meanwhile the whole world spots MacGuffins in every possible film?

It seems that this idea blessed by the inerrable Hitchcock has now such an universally attractive dimension, that the more inventive question should be now if there is any film without a MacGuffin out there?


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 02, 2016, 01:01:40 PM
Like the whole noir thing - are there any crime films that are not noirs?  ;)


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Novecento on October 02, 2016, 02:33:59 PM
Like the whole noir thing - are there any crime films that are not noirs?  ;)

By all means. And for some sticklers, not being in b&w nor made between the 1940s and 1950s calls for automatic disqualification regardless of the narrative.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on October 03, 2016, 03:06:03 AM
But Chinatown is a "real" noir.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Novecento on October 03, 2016, 11:11:47 AM
Yes it is and stylistically it is a far better example than say "L.A. Confidential" which is another oft-mentioned "neo-noir".


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 09, 2016, 01:33:59 PM
Continuing through The Hitchcock Encyclopedia again. The work has great breadth, but when it occasionally reaches for depth it isn’t always successful. Sometimes it gets things completely wrong.

As an example, there is this excerpt for the entry on Coppel, Alec (1907 – 1972):

Quote
After several story credits for ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, the director brought Coppel back for VERTIGO, where he was one of at least three writers to take a crack at the tricky PIERRE BOILEAU and THOMAS NARCEJAC novel; whatever his approach, his script was discarded, and a new writer, SAMUEL A. TAYLOR, was brought in to start from scratch.

This is patently untrue. We know from Dan Auiler’s Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic that Coppel’s screenplay provided the structure and many of the important scenes in the film. Coppel in fact has an onscreen credit, which he would not have been entitled to if Taylor had had “to start from scratch.” Actually, Coppel had to fight for credit as Hitchcock wasn’t going to bother to give it to him. The fact that Coppel prevailed shows that he had conclusive evidence to lay before the WGA.

Taylor’s contribution was essentially the creation of the character Midge. All the scenes she appears in were therefore written by Taylor. It was also, I believe, Taylor’s idea to give the game away with the Judy letter-writing scene. The “freedom-and-power” meme, which appears 3 times in the film, may have been his also.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 09, 2016, 02:52:26 PM
I don't want to just spot errors, I want to praise good work when I see it. I appreciated this observation in the entry for NxNW:
Quote
He [Thornhill] is a man who figuratively isn't there--until he's confused with George Kaplan, a man who literally isn't there, a fictional construct who is (in actual truth) an empty suit, moved around from vacant room to vacant room. And the curious thing is that, by being confused with Kaplan, Thornhill, who isn't really present for anyone or anything in his life, suddenly becomes real and of vital importance. He is pursued by villains, he pursues a lovely woman, he takes action. He is alive, and he has an identity at last--and only because his own identity was MISTAKEN for someone else's and his own life was taken over by a man who never lived.
This is good but doesn't go far enough. Once the adventure is over--once Kaplan has gone back to being Thornhill--his life remains forever changed. He has Eve, and she will be the making of him. The adventure, which he did not seek, which instead reached out to him and pulled him in, was ultimately his salvation.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on October 09, 2016, 04:42:39 PM
The entry for Alfred Hitchcock Presents leaves the impression that AH wrote all the intros himself. He certainly did not; they were all scripted for him by James B. Allardice. This seems like an odd oversight for an Encyclopedia. Neither is there an entry for Allardice.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on October 10, 2016, 03:51:16 AM
I don't want to just spot errors, I want to praise good work when I see it. I appreciated this observation in the entry for NxNW:This is good but doesn't go far enough. Once the adventure is over--once Kaplan has gone back to being Thornhill--his life remains forever changed. He has Eve, and she will be the making of him. The adventure, which he did not seek, which instead reached out to him and pulled him in, was ultimately his salvation.

I agree.

The entry for Alfred Hitchcock Presents leaves the impression that AH wrote all the intros himself. He certainly did not; they were all scripted for him by James B. Allardice. This seems like an odd oversight for an Encyclopedia. Neither is there an entry for Allardice.

I'd say that the screenwriting dispute over Vertigo is the kind of imprecision that is bound to be found in such a book but that one is a major mistake for an AH Encyclopedia.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 15, 2017, 01:09:32 AM
TCM just showed a bunch of Hitch films. Having never seen any of his films after Marnie, I was happy to have the opportunity to finally see Torn Curtain, Topaz, and Frenzy.

1. Torn Curtain is decent; I give it a 7/10

-- When Newman gives the press conference announcing that he has defected to East Germany, he looks miserable and nervous and unhappy. IMO this is a terrible acting choice. He should have played the character as if he were thrilled to be defecting, to try to convince the East Germans (if not the viewers. He spends the press conference looking as if he is constipated.

-- I like that the characters in the movie speak whatever languages they'd be speaking in real life - where it makes sense that they speak English (e.g., when speaking to Newman), they speak English. Where it makes sense that they speak German, they speak German. (Not having subtitles is also good – it puts us in Newman's point of view, as he can't understand what they are saying. Anyway, I understand a bit of German, so it's a little easier for me.)

-- Gromek's death scene is the most famous of the movie, a great scene. I enjoyed seeing the German get the gas chamber (though I'm not certain if it was intended that way).

-- Many movies have one character whose job is to be nothing but a pain in the ass. The blonde woman on the phony "Leipzig-Berlin" bus plays that role, constantly whining and whining, the pain in the ass role.



2. Topaz is a crappy movie; I give it a 6/10

-- In this movie, everyone speaks English. It's better when people speak the languages their character would be speaking in real life, but I don't have a problem with people speaking English - many, many great movies have people speaking English throughout despite taking place in a foreign country. No problem with that. The problem is that the accents in this movie are absolutely awful. I don't think there is one legitimate Cuban accent!

-- when the plane lands on the tarmac early in the movie, you can tell that the film is sped up; the people are walking waaaaay too quickly. It's comically bad.

-- "Can I offer you a cigarette? Oh no, you are smoking." That's not nearly as funny as the classic line between Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past.  ;)

-- the blood is all way too bright red, terribly fake

-- what's never explained is why the authorities at the Cuban airport never found the film in the razor blades. Wasn't he hiding teh film in the razor blades - and the Cuban authorities knew it - but they didn't find it? Was the film at the last second switched from the razor blades to the book?

anyway, this movie is crappy.

3. Frenzy - this movie is really good, can sit proudly in the Hitchcock ouevre. 8/10

Frenzy is all of Hitchcock's macabre fantasies, fully unleashed without the Production Code  ;D To quote from Roger Ebert's review
"Frenzy is a return to old forms by the master of suspense ... The only 1970s details are the violence and the nudity (both approached with a certain grisly abandon that has us imagining "Psycho" without the shower curtain)." http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/frenzy-1972

The only thing I'd criticize – very mildly – is that the ending lacks a major BOOM piece of evidence. Blaney is convicted – presumably all trial long he said he was innocent as Rusk was guilty, but Inspector Oxford doesn't believe him. Now, only after he is taken to prison and keeps swearing he is innocent, Oxford (goaded by his wife) finally decides to believe him – not that the evidence against Blaney has diminished, but merely because he finds out that Rusk likes sadomasichim and was at the rest stop on the night of Babs's death ... so convinced that he's ready to ask the governor for a pardon ... even after finding the escaped Blaney with another body! What I'd like is for there to have been one piece of breakthrough evidence, more than the mere fact that Rusk is not wearing a tie (hey, he's not wearing a jacket, either!) And here it is: When Rusk is trying to pry his pin from Babs's dead hand, he tries using his pocketknife, which cracks. Rusk forgets about the piece, and puts the pocketknife back into his pocket. I was WAITING for the cops to recover that piece of metal, and then find the matching pocketknife in Rusk's pocket! But no, that's forgotten about  ;) Anyway, again, that's a mild criticism.

IMO, of all the movies Hitch made after Psycho, Frenzy is the best. I haven't seen Kaleidoscope or Family Plot, so I'm only counting The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, and Frenzy.



Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on August 15, 2017, 09:07:03 AM
-- Gromek's death scene is the most famous of the movie, a great scene. I enjoyed seeing the German get the gas chamber (though I'm not certain if it was intended that way).

 ;D ;D ;D

By far my favorite scene of the movie, and the definitive evidence old Hitch still had it.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on August 15, 2017, 01:07:15 PM


IMO, of all the movies Hitch made after Psycho, Frenzy is the best. I haven't seen Kaleidoscope or Family Plot, so I'm only counting The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, and Frenzy.



No Kaleidoscope in Hitch's oeuvre.

After The Birds, which is one of his best, I also think that Frenzy is the finest of his late films.




Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 15, 2017, 02:31:13 PM
No Kaleidoscope in Hitch's oeuvre.

After The Birds, which is one of his best, I also think that Frenzy is the finest of his late films.




When looking at Hitch's ouevre of directed films on IMDB, I see Kaleidescope on there. I have no idea what it is http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/filmotype/director?ref_=m_nmfm_2


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: XhcnoirX on August 16, 2017, 01:30:46 AM
When looking at Hitch's ouevre of directed films on IMDB, I see Kaleidescope on there. I have no idea what it is http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/filmotype/director?ref_=m_nmfm_2

It is one of the projects that his name was attached to that never made it into production. I imagine the reason it's listed on IMDb is because he did shoot a few reels of (silent) test footage. See also https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Kaleidoscope


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 16, 2017, 02:22:59 AM
It is one of the projects that his name was attached to that never made it into production. I imagine the reason it's listed on IMDb is because he did shoot a few reels of (silent) test footage. See also https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Kaleidoscope

Thanks for that. I had no idea what KALEIDESCOPE was, but I figured it was not a normal feature: It has an IMDB page, but it doesn't have any ratings.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: stanton on August 16, 2017, 05:27:29 AM
These photos of Kaleidoscope look in matters of nudity very daring for a Hollywood film made in 67/68. And go far beyond what Hitch did in Frenzy.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Spikeopath on August 16, 2017, 06:29:41 AM
My favourite director of all time.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on August 17, 2017, 09:59:40 AM

-- Gromek's death scene is the most famous of the movie, a great scene. I enjoyed seeing the German get the gas chamber (though I'm not certain if it was intended that way).
I am. This is just the kind of gag the Master liked to put over. (cf: Tippi Hedren in the phone booth (cage) whilst outside the Birds circulate.)
Quote
-- Many movies have one character whose job is to be nothing but a pain in the ass. The blonde woman on the phony "Leipzig-Berlin" bus plays that role, constantly whining and whining, the pain in the ass role.
This kind of character frequently appears in real life, too, especially on chat boards.




Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: Moorman on November 27, 2017, 07:42:36 PM
I acquired the movie Suspicion as part of a Hitchcock boxset that had other titles that i wanted.  I didn't know what to expect for that reason.  The cinematography was great. The acting was superb. Everything else was atrocious.  Everytime i got interested, the movie would pull back and go off in a direction that left you wanting. It would never fulfill any of the ideas it would present.  The ending of the movie was like the icing on the whole incomplete case.  It was bad. All build up and all you got was a little speech from Johnny and a quick turn around of the vehicle and the ending credits...   I rate this a 5 out of 10 and possibility the worst Hitchcock film i have watched thus far...


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: noodles_leone on November 28, 2017, 02:10:23 AM
Definitely not the best Hitch, but the ending is really nice.


Title: Re: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread
Post by: dave jenkins on November 29, 2017, 08:22:13 AM
I like the film more every year.