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: Hitchcock (2012)  ( 7666 )
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« : November 23, 2012, 12:41:06 AM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

So Hitchcock is being released today; I plan on seeing it some time next week, and I'm sure some of y'all will as well, so I'll start the thread now.

First off, here is a short interview Anthony Hopkins did with the Huffington Post, on doing the movie and on some of his views on filmmaking

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/19/anthony-hopkins-hitchcock-oscars_n_2156179.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

« : November 23, 2012, 12:43:13 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #1 : November 23, 2012, 10:51:04 PM »

O0

« : November 23, 2012, 11:59:39 PM sargatanas »
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« #2 : November 24, 2012, 04:45:35 PM »

I'll be seeing this movie tonite at the 9:50 showing in the Regal Union Square. (That's the theaterI used to cut school and sneak to in 9th grade).


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« #3 : November 24, 2012, 09:45:26 PM »

D$D,
micheal wincott's portrayal of ed gein :~o ?


« : November 24, 2012, 11:23:35 PM sargatanas »
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« #4 : November 25, 2012, 03:34:48 AM »

7.5/10

In a nutshell: Hitchcock not a great film, but if you are a Psycho fan, you should definitely see it once.

In reading Roger Ebert's review of the movie, http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121120/REVIEWS/121129996 I see there are so many issues on which I agree with Ebert here, so for those items, it'll be easier for me to just copy the appropriate sentences by Ebert, rather than writing my own thoughts, which would be less interesting, worse-written, and more labor-intensive  ;)

RE: the performances: "Given the focus of this film, much depends on the character of Alma Reville, and Helen Mirren is warm and effective in the role; her intelligence crackles. Anthony Hopkins, superb actor although he is, would not seem to be an obvious choice to play Hitchcock, but I accepted him. His makeup job is transformative.
As Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates, James D'Arcy is uncanny. He captures the nature of the man. Scarlett Johansson, as Janet Leigh, doesn't look a lot like the original but projects her spunk, intelligence and sense of humor."


(The only clause I may disagree with in that paragraph is that Hopkins would not seem an obvious choice to play Hitch: to that i would ask, "Who would be a  more obvious choice? Someone fatter? If you can set aside the issue of the body size, I think Hopkins is as obvious a choice as any. But anyway....)

And I agree with Ebert's comments RE: the story

"Hitchcock" tells the story not so much as the making of the film, but as the behind-the-scenes relationship of Alma and Hitch. This is a disappointment, since I imagine most movie fans will expect more info about the film's production history. I also found a subplot distracting, in which Alma begins a series of private meetings devoted to working on a screenplay by her friend Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). Hitchcock, whose marriage had become sexless, nevertheless began to fret his beloved spouse might be having an affair.

This focus on Alma's personal life is somewhat speculative and seems to have been employed by director Sacha Gervasi and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin to skew the film in the direction of a "woman's picture," of all things. They can't entirely be blamed, because I learn from the trade papers that this film was refused permission to show or copy any footage from "Psycho," or even use the famous Bates family home that still stands on the back lot at Universal. There's irony here, because in 1998, director Gun Van Sant won permission to make an actual shot-by-shot remake of "Psycho."



One place I think the movie goes very wrong with, is its use of the character playing Ed Gein, the serial killer that the book was based on: interspersed throughout the movie are various dream/fantasy moments where Hitch imagines himself interacting with Gein and being there with Gein. In one instance, it is clearly Hitch having a nightmare, but in other instances, it's a fantasy, as in one scene where we suddenly see Hitch on a couch in a psychiatrist's office, talking to the psychiatrist, who is...Gein. IMO these scenes are completely useless, as is the silly framing device (one scene in beginning and one scene at the end of the movie, with Hitch narrating those two scenes).

In response to the question of how Michale Walcott did: he did fine, but those scenes involving him are very brief, and he barely says a word; it's basically just Hitch having a fantasy for a minute of being there with Gein; in these very brief scenes, Gein barely says a word; he's usually just dragging a body somewhere or something like that. So, Walcott did fine for his role, though it's not very large.

As Ebert mentioned above, James D'Arcy is amazing as Anthony Perkins, but unfortunately, he basically only has one scene. It's an absolutely hilarious scene in Hitch's office -- D'Arcy has Perkins's mannerisms spot-on -- but considering how awesome it is, you really wish that they'd have used more of him.


Jessica Biel plays a completely disparaged Vera Miles: Hitch had wanted Miles to play Madeliene/Judy in Vertigo, but shortly before shooting, Miles found out that she was pregnant, which angered Hitch terribly. So Hitch put Miles -- who was still under contract with him for one more movie -- in Psycho as Marion's sister, basically as a way of demeaning her with this small role, as revenge cuz he was really angry with her for getting pregnant and being unavailable for Vertigo. So what little the 7th-billed Jessica Biel does appear here, she is basically always being demeaned.

(btw, while I am not certain as to whether this "revenge" aspect really is true, I have definitely heard about Hitch being angry at Miles for getting pregnant; I must say that it's one of the more deplorable things I've ever heard about a movie director, who in general are a deplorable lot).



Finally, I will say that the best moment in the movie occurs toward the very end, as the audience is watching Psycho for the first time; I believe it's the 2nd to last scene; IMO, the movie should have ended at that moment, rather than having another scene afterward; cuz it's just a wonderful moment (one of the few good moments that have not been revealed in trailers, so I won't give it away).

Kind of reminds me of Gone with the Wind, which definitely should have ended on the "frankly my dear..." line, rather than with the subsequent "With tara.... tomorrow is another day" scene

« : November 25, 2012, 04:12:24 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #5 : November 25, 2012, 02:31:15 PM »

One place I think the movie goes very wrong with, is its use of the character playing Ed Gein, the serial killer that the book was based on: interspersed throughout the movie are various dream/fantasy moments where Hitch imagines himself interacting with Gein and being there with Gein. In one instance, it is clearly Hitch having a nighmare, but in other instances, it's a fantasy, as in one scene where we suddenly see Hitch on a couch in a psychiatrist's office, talking to the psychiatrist, who is... IMO these scenes are completely useless, as is the silly framing device (one scene in beginning and one scene at the end of the movie, with Hitch narrating those two scenes).
Agreed.

Quote
Jessica Biel plays a completely disparaged Vera Miles: Hitch had wanted Miles to play Madeliene/Judy in Vertigo, but shortly before shooting, Miles found out that she was pregnant, which angered Hitch terribly. So Hitch put Miles -- who was still under contract with him for one more movie -- in Psycho as Marion's sister, basically as a way of demeaning her with this small role, as revenge cuz he was really angry with her for getting pregnant and being unavailable for Vertigo. So what little the 7th-billed Jessica Biel does appear here, she is basically always being demeaned.

(btw, while I am not certain as to whether this "revenge" aspect really is true, but I have definitely heard that Hitch was terribly angry at Miles for getting pregnant before Vertigo; I must say that it's one of the more deplorable things I've ever heard about a movie director, who in general are a deplorable lot).

The movie perpetuates that legend about Hitch and Vera. It's one of many things in the film that isn't true.

Anyone who looks up Ms. Miles career will see she did a lot of TV. The television industry is where actors in the 50s and 60s could work if they wanted regular work with regular hours on studio lots--the kind of arrangement ideal for actors wanting to start and raise families. Ms. Miles always put her family ahead of her career. She did a few films (2 with Hitchcock), but she was always going to be primarily a TV actress.

She appeared 3 times on Hitch's TV show. Her first appearance was on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1955, in a famous episode called "Revenge." Prior to appearing in The Wrong Man (1957) she entered into her personal contract with Hitchcock. I don't know much about the details of that contract, but apparently it lapsed soon after she finished her work on Psycho (1960). However, if there was animosity on one side or the other over the "contract years", why then did Miles go back to work for Hitchcock on 2 subsequent occasions? She appeared in both a 1962 episode and a 1965 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Was she so desperate for work she had to abase herself before the ogre? Not at all. She was getting plenty of work--she could pick and choose her roles. And Hitchcock, for his part, was apparently happy to get her when he could.

It's true that at the time of Vertigo AH initially thought he'd use Miles for that project. Hitch often held onto the leading lady from the previous picture when starting a new production. He liked working with people he knew. Then Miles became unavailable. Rather than inconveniencing Hitchcock and making him angry, however, Vera's pregnancy was a way for everyone to save face on a project that wasn't right for Ms. Miles. Vera's range as an actress was rather limited. She could have managed Madeleine, just, but Judy? It must have become clear in pre-production that she didn't have the chops for both roles. Luckily, Kim Novak came along.

Later, Hitchcock disparaged Novak's performance, but in point of fact, Novak is very good in Vertigo. She does the ethereal Madeleine and the earthy Judy equally well, and makes us believe initially that they are two different women but then subsequently makes it plausible that the two are one. No way could Miles have come anywhere close to those performances. Novak was a good choice, but Hitchcock had a bad habit of blaming others when things went wrong (and when things went right, he took credit for every detail in the production). Because Vertigo was not as commercially successful as he'd hoped (acutaully it made a moderate first-run profit), the scapegoating began. Novak's performance was to blame. But wasn't Hitch responsible for the casting? Yes, well, Novak was a last minute substitution when Miles dropped out, so it was Miles's fault. Thus began the legend that Hitchcock had been annoyed with her at the time; really, an ex-post-facto justification.

Putting Vera on Psycho was not an act of revenge. AH had already decided that he needed a star for the Marion Crane role to create the kind of impact he was going for, and stars cost money. Hichcock needed a reliable woman in the role of Marion's sister, one who wouldn't cost him much: Miles, already under contract, was the natural choice. Vera got lots of screen time and she gave an excellent performance, perhaps the finest of her career. How was that possible if Hitch had been taking revenge? If you are under contract to someone who has something against you, the way that person takes revenge is by NOT letting you work (just ask Tippi Hedren). Finally, if Miles had had such a negative experience working on Psycho, why would she agree to appear in Psycho 2?  Wouldn't the negative associations with the original project prevent her from working on the sequel? No, not if there never were any such negative associations.

So, another Hollywood legend, another case of utter B.S.

Quote
Finally, I will say that the best moment in the movie occurs toward the very end, as the audience is watching Psycho for the first time; I believe it's the 2nd to last scene; IMO, the movie should have ended at that moment, rather than having another scene afterward; cuz it's just a wonderful moment (one of the few good moments that have not been revealed in trailers, so I won't give it away).
Yes, the best scene of the movie. No doubt apocryphal, but an example of literary license properly taken. Unhappily, it is a rare occurance in a picture of generally dubious taste. Taking license can be condoned, but only when the results are good. Changing facts of a potentially interesting production history just to produce a tepid film about a couple going through a half-hearted marital spat isn't worth taking trouble over.



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« #6 : November 25, 2012, 04:25:44 PM »



The movie perpetuates that legend about Hitch and Vera. It's one of many things in the film that isn't true.

Anyone who looks up Ms. Miles career will see she did a lot of TV. The television industry is where actors in the 50s and 60s could work if they wanted regular work with regular hours on studio lots--the kind of arrangement ideal for actors wanting to start and raise families. Ms. Miles always put her family ahead of her career. She did a few films (2 with Hitchcock), but she was always going to be primarily a TV actress.

She appeared 3 times on Hitch's TV show. Her first appearance was on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1955, in a famous episode called "Revenge." Prior to appearing in The Wrong Man (1957) she entered into her personal contract with Hitchcock. I don't know much about the details of that contract, but apparently it lapsed soon after she finished her work on Psycho (1960). However, if there was animosity on one side or the other over the "contract years", why then did Miles go back to work for Hitchcock on 2 subsequent occasions? She appeared in both a 1962 episode and a 1965 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Was she so desperate for work she had to abase herself before the ogre? Not at all. She was getting plenty of work--she could pick and choose her roles. And Hitchcock, for his part, was apparently happy to get her when he could.

It's true that at the time of Vertigo AH initially thought he'd use Miles for that project. Hitch often held onto the leading lady from the previous picture when starting a new production. He liked working with people he knew. Then Miles became unavailable. Rather than inconveniencing Hitchcock and making him angry, however, Vera's pregnancy was a way for everyone to save face on a project that wasn't right for Ms. Miles. Vera's range as an actress was rather limited. She could have managed Madeleine, just, but Judy? It must have become clear in pre-production that she didn't have the chops for both roles. Luckily, Kim Novak came along.

Later, Hitchcock disparaged Novak's performance, but in point of fact, Novak is very good in Vertigo. She does the ethereal Madeleine and the earthy Judy equally well, and makes us believe initially that they are two different women but then subsequently makes it plausible that the two are one. No way could Miles have come anywhere close to those performances. Novak was a good choice, but Hitchcock had a bad habit of blaming others when things went wrong (and when things went right, he took credit for every detail in the production). Because Vertigo was not as commercially successful as he'd hoped (acutaully it made a moderate first-run profit), the scapegoating began. Novak's performance was to blame. But wasn't Hitch responsible for the casting? Yes, well, Novak was a last minute substitution when Miles dropped out, so it was Miles's fault. Thus began the legend that Hitchcock had been annoyed with her at the time; really, an ex-post-facto justification.

Putting Vera on Psycho was not an act of revenge. AH had already decided that he needed a star for the Marion Crane role to create the kind of impact he was going for, and stars cost money. Hichcock needed a reliable woman in the role of Marion's sister, one who wouldn't cost him much: Miles, already under contract, was the natural choice. Vera got lots of screen time and she gave an excellent performance, perhaps the finest of her career. How was that possible if Hitch had been taking revenge? If you are under contract to someone who has something against you, the way that person takes revenge is by NOT letting you work (just ask Tippi Hedren). Finally, if Miles had had such a negative experience working on Psycho, why would she agree to appear in Psycho 2?  Wouldn't the negative associations with the original project prevent her from working on the sequel? No, not if there never were any such negative associations.

So, another Hollywood legend, another case of utter B.S.


-- I have no idea about the truth of any of that other stuff, of Hitch taking "revenge" on Miles, etc. But I definitely heard previously (I believe someone said it on the dvd bonus features of one of Hitch's movies (probably Vertigo?) about the fact that Hitch got angry at Miles when she told him she was pregnant and had to drop out of Vertigo.


--- I always liked Miles (I think she was spectacular in her other Hitch performance, in The Wrong Man). But was she right for the Madeleine/Judy role in Vertigo? Would she have delivered as amazing a performance as Novak did? We'll never know  ;)

--- Wikipedia cites this Hitch quote from Hitchcock/Truffaut book: "She became pregnant just before the part that was going to turn her into a star. After that, I lost interest. I couldn't get the rhythm going with her again." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Miles#Career


And in Hitchcock, Hitch repeatedly tells Miles and others that is she would have not gotten pregnant before Vertigo, "I would have made you a star!" Well, as you mentioned dj, Vertigo was initially not a very big success; so would playing the lead in that movie have really made Miles a bigger star? Did it turn out to be that much of a boost to Novak's career?)

--- Although Psycho was distributed by Paramount, it was shot on the Universal lot; Hitchcock makes no mention of this; the clear indication is that everything is being shot on the Paramount lot; the Universal lot isn't mentioned at all.

--- In Hitchcock, Hitch's assistant Peggy Robertson is shown to be some American babe as horrified as anyone by Hitch's idea for Psycho. In fact, Robertson -- who had a British accent as strong as Hitch himself -- was the one that first showed the book to Hitch!


« : November 25, 2012, 04:49:07 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #7 : November 26, 2012, 06:18:49 AM »

-- I have no idea about the truth of any of that other stuff, of Hitch taking "revenge" on Miles, etc. But I definitely heard previously (I believe someone said it on the dvd bonus features of one of Hitch's movies (probably Vertigo?) about the fact that Hitch got angry at Miles when she told him she was pregnant and had to drop out of Vertigo.
DVD bonus features are for entertainment purposes only and are not trustworthy where production histories are concerned. And what kind of source is "someone"? Unless that someone is Herb Coleman, the comment is hearsay and not, as they say, best evidence. Best evidence comes from Coleman because he took the call from Miles and then delivered the information to Hitchcock, who was in hospital at the time. According to Coleman's account, Hitch was not angry when he got the news (I'm taking this info from the McGilligun biography, p. 547). The reason Hitchcock wasn't mad will become plain below.

Quote
--- Wikipedia cites this Hitch quote from Hitchcock/Truffaut book: "She became pregnant just before the part that was going to turn her into a star. After that, I lost interest. I couldn't get the rhythm going with her again." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Miles#Career

As I've mentioned before, the Truffaut interview is good fun, but again, not a reliable source for production history facts. Hitch talked to Truffaut, if memory serves, while in France to promote The Birds (which would be 1963). The casting/non-casting of Miles for Vertigo occurred during the period October 56-March 57, six years earlier. Hitch, therefore, was not relaying his state of mind at the time of production, but rather, how he'd come to see the matter subsequently. Time does funny things to perceptions, and anyway, Hitch always had to spin things to show that he was always in control. We have very good reason to doubt his word in this particular case because Dan Auiler has actually researched Vertigo's production history and looked at the evidence. (btw, the meme that Hitch was angry at Miles for becoming pregnant seems to come from a distorted reading of this Truffaut quote--no other source preceeds it, nor can any alternative path of transmission be educed).

Quote
Vertigo was intended as Miles big break—but even before her first screen tests in November of 1956, there were signs of doubt from Hitchcock. A few weeks before Miles reported to Stage 5 at Paramount for hair, costume, and makeup tests, Hitchcock screened The Eddy Duchin Story. . . .

And the timing of the Duchin screening is too suggestive to be ignored. Hitchcock himself claimed that he often watched movies for casting purposes, a claim confirmed by his associates.

Was Hitchcock casting From Among the Dead[Vertigo] when he screened The Eddy Duchin Story, starring Kim Novak, on October 25, 1956? And what was the substance of the meeting he had with Vera Miles five days later, on October thirtieth? These are the facts: Hitchcock screen-tested Miles in November; after requesting delays for personal reasons in January and February, Miles pulled out of the production in March because she was pregnant. Kim Novak was almost immediately named as her replacement. No other names were floated . . . there is no evidence that screen tests were performed (except for Miles) on any actress, including Novak, for the role.
21,23
Note something interesting: Miles, with whom AH had just made The Wrong Man, was required to do a screen test! What greater indication can there be that Hitch was unsure of his actress? And when Novak came in immediately after Miles bowed out, no screen test required, can there be any greater proof of Hitch's confidence in his "new" star?

Quote
Peter Brown claims in his book on Novak that Miles was never seriously considered for the role. Wasserman wanted Novak from the beginning, he contends, and pushed Hitchcock to accept Novak even as they were testing Miles. But nothing in the Paramount or Hitchcock files at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Library shows any pressure on Hitchcock from Paramount. Herbert Coleman admits that Novak was the studio’s first choice, but he recalls no explicit pressure from Paramount. Considering the amount of control in his contract, moreover, any such pressure would have been meaningless. (Advice from Wasserman, though, would have been another matter.) A plausible scenario is that all agreed Novak was the better choice after Vera Miles drew such tepid critical and box-office response in The Wrong Man, and the actress’s pregnancy provided an easy out. Hitchcock was famous for finding ways to end relationships without ruffling feathers.

In retrospect, it’s odd that there was even a serious competition between the two women. Novak meant big box office, while Miles never registered. Would Stewart agree to star in a major Hitchcock thriller with an unknown after costarring with Grace Kelly and Doris Day? [Stewart, since Winchester '73, had a financial stake in all his pictures; his feelings about casting would have counted with the director]
24
Vertigo, the Making of a Hitchcock Classic(1997)
Dan Auiler

The situation is clear: AH initially wanted to use Miles because she was handy and under contract; as pre-production progressed, however, it became clear that Novak was more suitable for the role; when Miles announced her pregnancy, everybody gave a sigh of relief. Hitchcock was therefore not angry with Miles, he was grateful for a way out of a sticky predicament. Later, he misrepresented the events, the kind of thing he did frequently. QED.



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« #8 : November 26, 2012, 11:42:07 AM »

I must say that it's one of the more deplorable things I've ever heard about a movie director...

What about our own Leone's actions just after Al Muloch killed himself by jumping out the window in costume?  Apparently all Leone was concerned about was retrieving the outfit so he could finish the train station sequence. 

Anyway, that's the story, so print the legend (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with the excellent Vera Miles).

Vera Miles was also excellent in The Searchers.

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« #9 : November 26, 2012, 11:50:08 AM »

Anyway, that's the story, so print the legend (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with the excellent Vera Miles).

Vera Miles was also excellent in The Searchers.

Meh. I don't much care for Miles in her Ford films. The Wrong Man is easily her best performance.



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« #10 : November 26, 2012, 12:30:03 PM »



The situation is clear: AH initially wanted to use Miles because she was handy and under contract; as pre-production progressed, however, it became clear that Novak was more suitable for the role; when Miles announced her pregnancy, everybody gave a sigh of relief. Hitchcock was therefore not angry with Miles, he was grateful for a way out of a sticky predicament. Later, he misrepresented the events, the kind of thing he did frequently. QED.

compiling some evidence doesn't necessarily mean "the situation is clear." Even the books you are quoting are deducing their opinion largely based on evidence not offered, eg. a lack of letters indicating Hitch's preference for one actress over the other on Vertigo. And the fact that Hitch did not react angrily the moment Coleman informed him in the hospital that Miles was pregnant -- does that necessarily mean that he didn't express anger later on during the production?

Of course, what one person involved says on a dvd commentary (and no, I don't remember who it was), isn't necessarily the truth. But I don't think the other side is rock-solid either. You have definitely read a lot more about Hitch than I have, and you certainly have a right to your opinion on this issue, but I wouldn't say that "the situation is clear."


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« #11 : November 26, 2012, 02:32:03 PM »

compiling some evidence doesn't necessarily mean "the situation is clear." Even the books you are quoting are deducing their opinion largely based on evidence not offered, eg. a lack of letters indicating Hitch's preference for one actress over the other on Vertigo. And the fact that Hitch did not react angrily the moment Coleman informed him in the hospital that Miles was pregnant -- does that necessarily mean that he didn't express anger later on during the production?

Of course, what one person involved says on a dvd commentary (and no, I don't remember who it was), isn't necessarily the truth.
We can do better than that. The contention is that AH was angry with Miles. Not that he could have been angry with her, or might have been angry with her, but that he was actually angry with her. Yet on inspection, we find no evidence whatsoever that this was the case. None. Further, we see that AH's actions regarding the casting of Vertigo and subsequently the casting of Psycho can be explained without recourse to the Hitch-was-angry-with-Vera theory. I can't definitively prove that the Devil's Triangle doesn't exist, either, but there's no reason to suppose it does. The same can be said regarding the Angry Hitchcock Myth.



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« #12 : November 26, 2012, 03:08:36 PM »

Put another way: burden of proof is on Drink.



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« #13 : November 26, 2012, 05:08:05 PM »

as I said previously, all I ever heard about Hitch being angry when Miles got pregnant was one statement on the dvd bonus feature. And I was reminded of that statement when watching Hitchcock.  I don't own that dvd (I think it was Vertigo ?) but the next time I do see it, I will be sure to quote exactly who the speaker was, and her/his exact quote. Needless to say, neither that quote alone -- nor the reference to this in Hitchcock -- prove anything at all. I've never argued that they do. I just said that someone involved with Hitch made a statement to that effect -- and that is absolutely true. As to whether or not the statement he/she made is true, I have no idea.

And yes, the burden of proof is on the person making (rather than opposing) an argument, and that burden has not been met. I never said it has. All I've said is that I think it's equally wrong to argue that "the situation is clear." (Btw Groggy, in addition to your lesson about evidence and burden of proof, you should also include one other important lesson that any good lawyer knows: never use words like "clearly..." when making an argument; rather, let the strength of the substantive argument stand on its own). Repeated use of the phrase "the situation is clear" doesn't do anything whatsoever to illuminate an issue  ;)

« : November 26, 2012, 05:14:28 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #14 : November 26, 2012, 05:31:07 PM »

Clearly Jenkins is not an attorney.



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