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Anyone find Notorious commentary 'stretches' a bit? (1 Viewer)

Dave_M

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Just got done listening to Marian Keane's commentary on the Criterion version of Notorious and have to say Ms. Keane is a little too over the top on the sexual metaphors. I found myself cracking up with each new "discovery" of phallic clocks and keys, sexual doors opening, flower bouquets, wet drains, wine bottles, even uranium ore spilt on the floor. Please, Ms. Keane, sometimes uranium ore is just uranium ore!

Dave
 

Robert Harris

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There is a very funny story that Pat Hitchcock tells about one of her daughters coming home after taking a film class in school.

Apparently the "professor" was expounding on Hitch's use of color in a certain film -- not necessarily knowing who was in his class.

Pat send her daughter to her grandfather with the query, who laughed about the things people "find" in his films. He explained that the selection of color was the job of the art director and costume designer. He had very little to do with it.

Sometimes a wine bottle is just a wine bottle.

RAH
 

Scott_MacD

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Sometimes a wine bottle is just a wine bottle.
Indeed.. however, but her commentary makes for superb entertainment. Although I don't tire of the film.

And besides, Notorious is a pretty sexually charged film IMHO.. (coming from a bloke who thinks Showgirls is flaccid.)
 

Jussi Tarvainen

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Yes, a year ago I read an interesting article about similarities between a Finnish painter called Helene Schjerfbeck's paintings and Hitchcock films. Apparently Hitchcock was an intellectual, very aware of some less-known painters. The article I read showed side-by-side comparisons of Schjerfbeck's paintings and stills from Hitchcock's films. The similarities were striking.
I also read that Hitch often spent hours on set to get an actress to stand just right or to get the background just the way he wanted it. He never spoke of these things, of course, to retain control of his films and be able to continue working in Hollywood. :emoji_thumbsup:
 

Eric Paddon

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This is one reason why I've never been too fond of those in literary/film criticism who overobsess on looking for subliminal messages. I think one of my favorite stories debunking this line of thinking was in John Frankenheimer's "Manchurian Candidate" commentary regarding the scene where Frank Sinatra reprograms Laurence Harvey. It shows Sinatra slightly out of focus the whole time and Frankenheimer recalled how some critic said this was a brilliant depiction of the brainwashed haze Harvey would be seeing Sinatra in. But as Frankenheimer said, the reason why Sinatra was blurry was the camera was accidentally out of focus but because Sinatra was notorious for giving his best performance on the first take, Frankenheimer decided he had no choice but to use it blurs and all since Sinatra got progressively worse on each take.
 

Randy_M

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Personally, I think Keane's Notorious commentary is pretty much of a snooze...I'd much rather hear interesting facts about the players and humorous productions tales...Like the one on The Lady Vanishes (Criterion).

Never liked psychology classes, either.
 

Eric Paddon

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Agreed. Keane's commentary is one of the worst I've ever heard for any film. Thank goodness for the Behlmer.
 

Jonathan W

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I am surprised that there are as many people out there who don't care for Marian Keane as there are on this thread (a small number, but disconcerting nonetheless). I think she's GREAT. Perhaps the best film commentator of them all. I am excited to buy Criterion disks for her commentaries. Great movies like THE 39 STEPS, THE LADY EVE and NOTORIOUS are fortunate to have the lavish attention that Keane gives them. Her voice is one of the gentlest intellectual resources in understanding a director who is often accused of brutalizing women in his films. Keane brings a generous warmth to her commentaries that illuminates the immediacy of the material, transforming the critiquing process into something far more expansive and interesting than a dusty, scholastic lecture.

As for her NOTORIOUS commentary, she obviously indicates that the fabric of the film is drenched in sexual imagery, and I agree. NOTORIOUS is a film about sex and fear of sex, impotence and hidden desires. For a serious thinker, the film will yield symbols that, at times, may be a stretch - but, with respect to Keane, I laugh those off without necessarily dismissing their academic accuracy. Hitchcock was very thorough about the details of his films, so an historian like Keane is given excellent reason to read deliberateness into the director's shots. Therefore, while I find it funny to hear such an elegant person delve frequently into frank references to innuendo, I cannot honestly say that she is wrong. On the other hand, her analysis is so fresh and modern and grand and considerately organized(you never hear her say "um" or pause in search of a word) that I am truly amazed that anyone would have a problem with her. I say this not to criticize others here, but in the hopes that many more out there truly appreciate what this woman brings to our understanding of GREAT films.
 

Randy_M

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Actually, I find it refreshing that we can have views that are polar opposites and still respect each other's opinions. That's the greatest thing about the HTF!

Cheers
 

Ken_McAlinden

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One of my favorite moments in any commentary is on the Criterion "Hard Boiled" laserdisc and/or DVD. Critic Dave Kehr talks quite a bit about the significance of the origami birds decorating Tony Leung's houseboat and their symbolic meaning, and Woo comes on afterwards and more or less says that he just thought they looked cool. Whoever edited that track together deserves some kind of an award. :)
Regards,
 

Kevin M

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I found the commentary on Criterion's Seven Samurai to be of a similar vain. Oh, don't get me wrong it is definitely interesting & well informed, but there are true moments of overzealous "Fan Boy" boasting, "See how he filmed that blade of grass? NO ONE IN FILM HISTORY EVER FILMED GRASS LIKE THAT BEFORE OR SINCE!! KUROSAWA IS A GENIUS"
That is of course a exaggeration and I agree that Kurosawa was a genius but often when I hear overzealous commentaries like this I just want to shake the commentator a little and say "Hey, it's okay.....it's going to be...okay".
 

Enrique B Chamorro

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You must read Camille Paglia's booklet

for the BFI on "Birds" and listen to

her commentary on Basic Instinct.

What she says at times must be profound

or completely from left field, but always

very entertaining.
 

Rich Malloy

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Yes, a year ago I read an interesting article about similarities between a Finnish painter called Helene Schjerfbeck's paintings and Hitchcock films. Apparently Hitchcock was an intellectual, very aware of some less-known painters. The article I read showed side-by-side comparisons of Schjerfbeck's paintings and stills from Hitchcock's films. The similarities were striking.
Hitchcock certainly went well out of his way to cultivate a relationship with "the masses", downplaying the artsy-fartsy in favor of the sensationalistic. Simply put, he knew how to put asses in the seats.

But Eric couldn't be closer to the mark about the other qualities that also added up to "the real Hitchcock". He was an extraordinarily cultivated man, with a deep interest not only in psychoanalysis as discussed above, but also very broadly in the fine arts. He never intended his movies to be only for the cognoscenti, appreciated only by Le Monde, but he was fully aware of what his contemporaries were doing.

And so, when Michelangelo Antonioni sent shockwaves through the film world with "L'avventura" (though not much of a ripple among the mainstream movie audiences), Hitchcock responded with "The Birds". And one simply cannot understand the significance of that film - or fully appreciate Hitchcock as an artist - without an understanding of how connected Hitch was to the most complex and revolutionary art of his day.

I think there's an unfortunate tendency to treat Hitch as something less than he was, to claim him for "the common man" or some such nonesense, and to scoff at the notion that there are deeper levels to his films. But I don't think you have to be among the Cahiers du cinema crowd to see that maybe there's quite a bit more to Hitch than his well-cultivated public persona allowed. And there really is, you know.
 

Dave_M

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This thread(as many do) seems to be similar to passing a secret around the room in elementary school and by the time it gets to the last person, the secret isn't much like the original. The original statement was not meant to demean the art and talent of Mr. Hitchcock, yet there is a definite vibe in some of the replies that he needs to be defended from attack.

Just because I and some others found a commentary to be far-fetched does not mean we feel that the director of the film made it for the "common man" and didn't put a lot of thought and effort into it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hitchcock can't tell us whether Ms. Keane is on or off the mark with her interpretation of symbols in the film which makes everybody's opinion of the commentary equal. Just as long as we are talking about the commentary.

There is always room for a new thread to give opinions on why Mr. Hitchcock is one of the greatest directors and personalities in cinema history.

Dave
 

Brook K

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Hmm, The Birds as a response to L'avventura? I'll have to think on that one.
And I assume you mean that Hitchcock's response was more than just making a much, much, MUCH better film. :D
 

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