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Fellini & Hitchcock: Where to start? (1 Viewer)

Marlon

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Marlon
I think it's about time for me to start collecting (or at least begin to watch) some of the films from these masters but I have no idea where to begin.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks...
 

Lew Crippen

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Good question. And one which is not too easy to answer—but then, I have some opinions. :D both made different types of films (Hitchcock less so) during different parts of their carrears, so it is tempting to suggest that you begin with earlier films and work your way through. A problem with this, may be that some viewers might not care for the styles of earlier films and be put off, but like latter films very much.

Still, considering each in turn:

Federico Fellini, was considered to be a part of the post war, ‘neo-realist’ school during the early part of his career. I would highly recommend:

La Strada
Nights of Cabiria
La Dolce vita


None of these completely fits in the ‘neo-realist’ mode, but they all are much less fantastic than his later films. Many would also put on this list of early films:

I Vitelloni

a film that I find not as good as the other three, but many others do (and to be fair, it has been many years since I’ve seen it, so I may misremember).

Nest chronologically, you might try what I (and many others) consider his masterwork:

8 1/2

Now this is a difficult film, but hugely rewarding. Criterion has an outstanding DVD set.

For films after this (and ones which many Americans consider typical of Fellini) you might try:

Juliet of the Spirits
Satyircon
Roma
Amacord


I don’t think Juliet of the Spirits and Roma are first rate Fellini, but even so I like them both (and love ‘Juliet’—it is just so stunningly beautiful).

Alfred Hitchcock (for a quick, easy reference) had about three or four different periods to consider: England, Selznick, and post-Selznick (referring to producer David O. Selznick).

Highly recommended from the films he made in England are:

The 39 Steps
The Lady Vanishes


with the later being probably his best early work. If you like both of these, there are many other films from this period from which to choose.

Selznick brought Hitchcock to America to make some films. You should see both:

Rebecca
Spellbound


though the later would not be on everyone’s list.

The first film he made (Selznick not involved) after Spellboud was

Notorious

which I love and highly recommend.

Then there are a series of ‘classics’ which pretty much everyone knows:

Strangers on a Train
Rear Window
The Man Who Knew too Much
Vertigo
North by Northwest
Psycho


I think that these are his best films, and of them all I love Vertigo the most. Many others feel that way about Rear Window or North by Northwest. Regardless of how you feel, it is great fun to see them all.

Finally you get to the later films:

The Birds
Marnie


I don’t care for The Birds, but I included it, as for some reason, many do.

Hope this helps.
 

Matt<>Broon

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Blimey. That's a hard one. :)

For Hitch I think you could do much worse than digging out Vertigo or pretty much any of the classics his name is associated with (Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest etc). Personally I've never greatly cared for Psycho but moments of the film are simply sublime.

North by Northwest was a little more accessible to me, probably partly because I'm a massive Grant fan and he's excellent throughout.

Fellini is altogether trickier.. La Dolce Vita is my favorite Fellini & I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it but he's not for everyone. Try renting it and see what you think.
 

Matt<>Broon

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Heh, would you look at that.

Posts about Hitchcock & Fellini and suddenly the S&S Club are all over it. :p)

PS - I'd agree with Lew that 8 1/2 is Fellini's 'masterwork' but as he hints it's just SO damn arty (dare I even suggest masturbatory) that for me it's simply not as accessible or as fun to watch as La Dolce Vita.

I suspect that might be because La Dolce Vita is just so spectacular and epic (much like Anita Eckberg's twin talents) that it sweeps you along in a way that 8 1/2 simply doesn't.

8 1/2 is probably the most incredible movie about film-making ever though & it deserves a watch by anyone remotely interested. I just wouldn't start there. :D
 

george kaplan

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I'd start with 8 1/2 for Fellini

and Rear Window or North by Northwest for Hitchcock.

While I agree with most of Lew's extended list for Hitchcock (although I'd add a few like Rope & The Trouble with Harry & Shadow of a Doubt), if you don't like Rear Window or North by Northwest (which would blow my mind), Hitchcock might not be your cup of tea.
 

Holadem

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North By Nothwest was my first Hitch and I never felt the need to watch it again... I followed with Rear Window and then saw the genius. Simply one of the most original movies I have ever seen. Next was Psycho, a huge disapointment. Then Notorious, which for me is a love story more than anything else, and seriously underrated IMO. Vertigo is my personal fav, probably his best, and IMO is in another class altogether. The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, Rope and The Man Who Knew Too Much were good considering it's Hitchcock (they would have been great from anyone else :D). The Birds which again I only found good has been growing on me with each viewing more because of the characters than of those pesky birds.

Next up? Probably the Lady Vanishes.

Fellini: I am struggling to finish 81/2

--
Holadem
 

Marlon

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OK, you guys have definately given me an incredible start. I think I'll try Lew's chronological approach, but begin with rentals (per Matt).

Seems like I'm going to have to get a nice bonus this year to cover the DVD purchases...

Thanks again...
 

Arman

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I'm late. I started with what the majority considered their very best, Hitchcock's Vertigo & Fellini's 8 1/2. But I will absolutely encourage you to go ahead and do Lew's nice suggestion.
 

rich_d

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OK, you guys have definately given me an incredible start. I think I'll try Lew's chronological approach, but begin with rentals (per Matt).

Seems like I'm going to have to get a nice bonus this year to cover the DVD purchases...

Thanks again...
Why buy when you can just check them out first at your libary?

Both these great directors are well covered at most libraries (many are even doing DVDs these days) so why shell out bucks while your in the learning process?

I also kinda reject the premise (of sorts). I don't know anybody that ever said well now I'm collecting Fellini's or Hitch's. To me the approach is great films. Watch great films and you're collection will be populated by great directors naturally.
 

Seth Paxton

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One approach to Hitchcock you might try would be to mix eras in consecutive viewings, such as first pairing The 39 Steps with North by Northwest (both spy mixups).

Then The Lady Vanishes and Vertigo or Notorious (a bit more detective work).

But then Rear Window should also be an early viewing as it is one of his most rewarding pure thrillers.

I strongly second Rope which seems to be diminished in some views for being a "stage play" style film. However, its interesting because of the portrayal of the film as one long sequence shot (continuous take). Its faked thanks to convenient points when the camera passes behind things, but still interesting. I happen to enjoy the acting/scenario immensely.

I'm not a huge Shadow of a Doubt fan, but because of the type of story it is and that it's still Hitch doing great work, many other people reasonably place it pretty high on lists of his work.


edit: I 2nd Rich's post. It's a very good point. Let the process come to you. I happen to have a "Directors" section in my DVD rack. It actually contains at least half of my DVDs. But it has evolved only because I reached the point where I owned many films by a director whom I thought was noteworthy and distinctive, so his works were moved into the "Directors" section. Now there are about 20 directors in it (with 3 or more films at least).

There are a few that I love and so I seek out those other films by them that I don't know or maybe don't love as much, simply because I do like to watch them from time to time at least in reference to the director's work. But this is more like Kurosawa or Hitch, and only after they earned that status by impressing me so many times with the films that I first saw.
 

Marlon

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Why buy when you can just check them out first at your libary?

Both these great directors are well covered at most libraries (many are even doing DVDs these days) so why shell out bucks while your in the learning process?
Good idea. I'll check to see if my library had DVD copies of both directors (I don't own a VCR, so video doesn't help).
 

Bill Street

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I would take an "early" and "late" sampling for Fellini as well as Hitch.

For Fellini, as Lew mentioned, there is a *major* stylistic change in Fellini's work that occurs about the middle of his career. I would suggest watching La Dolce Vita and then following it up with 8 1/2 as these two films, though they sequentially follow one another in Fellini's career, have a tremendous difference in their subject matter and their whole approach.

For Hitchcock you should definitely experience one of his British films and compare it to his later Hollywood period. The shift in style and focus is not as pronounced as in the case of Fellini, but you can easily trace the development of a master director. If I had to name two Hitchcock films for you, I would suggest the British The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo for the Hollywood period.

Bill S.
 

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