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The Alfred Hitchcock Filmography - A Chronological viewing

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Nelson Au, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Lead Actor

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    Rope has always been a favorite of mine ever since I first viewed it. I believe Showtime had a special arrangement when 5 films were rediscovered and they built that into their promos for the channel. I remember being speechless after that first viewing. The subject matter, the callousness of the two boys and their belief that their teacher would support them, chilling. The continuous takes and floor lever camera movement just drew me into the story. I still hold this film in high regard and still get creeped out by Brandon.

    Seems like Vertigo, Rear Window and The Man Who Knew To0 Much were also a part of that promo. Can't remember the fifth film.
     
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  2. Mike2001

    Mike2001 Supporting Actor

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    The Trouble with Harry
     
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  3. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    In my late childhood I was fortunate to watch a 35mm Technicolor print of Rope. I remember it being absolutely gorgeous. Needless to say, many of the ideas espoused in the film escaped me at the time, but the mind of a child is a trap and can process many things later on.
    I also saw Compulsion when it came out and many things went over my head. My mother had to explain what Leopold & Loeb had done. At the time Leopold had married a nurse and was living in Puerto Rico. Loeb had been murdered in jail. All this information came from my mother, although, of course, she was somewhat circumspect about the whole affair.
     
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  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I'd always read that Rope was a minor hit, not a flop at the box-office. Under Capricorn was a box-office disaster so I understand.
     
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  5. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks guys for the input and insights about Rope.

    The main thing I wondered about in terms of the transfer were how the flame on the candles looked. They looked a little halo-ish. Not sure if that was the intent of the cinematographer, the film stock caused it, or there was shrinkage of each color layer. It wasn’t bad, but caught my eye.

    As a literal first time watching this if I ignore my experience watching the laserdisc ages ago, the color was really amazing. It reminded me a bit of the look of the 50’s films.

    The whole concept of being of a superior mind was a concept that I didn’t recall from the earlier viewing. So it was interesting to really get that important point as it the plot develops. Ben that was a good term you used, it made for an uncomfortable viewing experience.

    Thanks for the rstings list of the films from the 1940’s. I agree with that list more or less. I might rate Suspicion a little higher. I will see Under Capricorn next.
     
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  6. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    I'd be interested to read a quote from a source that says that Rope was a minor hit. That's not my impression.

    In Donald Spoto's biography, The Dark Side of Genius, he writes: "When it was released in August 1948—to mixed reviews and lukewarm pubic response—there was some talk about the single set, but no one paid much attention to the ten-minute takes. Several social and educational associations across America, however, condemned Rope as undesirable and dangerous, and a few European theaters who were then booking films from Warner Brothers asked for substitutes."

    Imdb says in the trivia section that "Several American theaters banned it upon release."

    It was a somewhat expensive movie at the time, in part because of the $300,000 salary for James Stewart, which was a considerable part of the c. $1.5 million dollar production budget.
     
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  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    It was probably some comment made on the Rope featurette, but I may be confusing it with one of the other less regarded films in his filmography.
     
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  8. Message #188 of 273 Jul 24, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Hitchcock, unfortunately, had four movies in a row that were box office disappointments—The Paradine Case, Rope, Under Capricorn, and Stage Fright. But Strangers on a Train from 1951 finally turned out to be a big hit.
     
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  9. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I haven’t seen Stage Fright yet, so I’m avoiding the end of your post! :)
     
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  10. Cineman

    Cineman Second Unit

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    I recall seeing The Paradine Case in a popular Los Angeles revival theater in the 1970s, not expecting much at all considering the negative word on it over the years. But I have to say we in the audience were fully entertained. It was clearly a lessor effort compared to his great ones. But I don't think there was a dull sequence in it. Even Hitchcock's "failures" are more entertaining than some other director's biggest hits.
     
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  11. Message #191 of 273 Jul 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    Cineman

    Cineman Second Unit

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    The extended takes was an idea that Hitchcock said he'd been intrigued by for years. After all, he'd been justifiably praised for memorable extended take shots in earlier films going all the way back to the 1930s at least. The drummer with an eye twitch in Young and Innocent was a notable and celebrated one. Just prior to Rope, the kissing scene and the stairway crane shot in Notorious were much talked about highlights. It was as though critics and audiences were encouraging him to do more and more of that. So he wanted to experiment to see if there was something more powerful about the extended take in terms of audience involvement and reaction than the usual montage or assembly of various shots and angles method.

    After Rope, he continued with the experiment to a lesser degree in Under Capricorn. There are several really long takes in that movie, too.

    However, after those two back-to-back extended takes experiments, Rope and Under Capricorn, I think Hitchcock decided extended takes did not involve the audience better than the montage approach, if anything less so, and he abandoned the idea. Yes, he still employed an extended take here and there, but sparingly.

    I am sure I could be forgetting some that were notable, even famous, but I don't believe there is much evidence of them in his subsequent major hits and widely considered great movies like Strangers on a Train, Rear Window (Of course, the opening shot was a long take. But it did not seem nearly as long as others in his earlier films. I would say it was more celebrated for how much complex and important information is power packed into it rather than the length of it), The Man Who Knew Too Much, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds and so on. Instead, he was being praised for something quite the opposite of the long take; his brilliant use of cutting and montage.

    Again, maybe I'm having a Senior Moment and have totally forgotten some that I hope others here remember and mention. But it seems to me the only widely praised and note-worthy extended take in a Hitchcock film after those two experimental films in the late 40s doesn't show up until Frenzy in the 1970s. I am talking about the long, torturous camera crane shot down and around the dark stairway and out into the street market during a rape murder occurring in the upstairs office. And in that one he does cheat in a clever cut at the ground level when a fellow carrying a slaughtered beef or lamb (I think. Maybe it was a bag of potatoes) crosses the screen. I suppose we could say there is a version of the stairway crane shot in Psycho as well when we see Norman walking up the stairs to take Mother down into the fruit cellar. But I don't think even that one was as celebrated or oft cited as much as the one in Frenzy.

    To be sure, there were several longer take shots in some post-1940s Hitchcock movies. But he never again used one as a "bravura" cinematic highlight in a movie save for that one in Frenzy. As I recall. For example, there is an incredibly long, uninterrupted shot in To Catch a Thief of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly sitting in a convertible car eating a picnic meal of fried chicken, opening bottles of beer, drinking, munching, chatting it up with a cat and mouse dialogue where Kelly is trying to catch Grant in a lie about his true identity. The thing is amazing. It goes on and on without a cut, two expensive stars having to get every move, gesture, line, inflection, bottle opening, handing a chicken piece here, napkin wipe, taking a drink from the beer there exactly right and all with that very entertaining cat and mouse tone.

    Yet, I am not sure many critics talk about it or point out how impressive that scene was, having been done with essentially just one extended shot. Hitchcock, Grant and Kelly just throw it in there like, hey, nothin' to it, folks.

    My feeling is his subsequent films were greater than they would have been had Hitchcock not gotten that extended take experiment out of his system and came away from it more convinced and confident than ever that the power of his kind of cinema was in the art of precision montage and not in producing long takes.
     
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  12. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Hi David, interesting about the extended sequence in To Catch a Thief. I’m looking forward to that as it’s another favorite. I know that scene with the picnic lunch and I never noticed that it was one long extended sequence. I’ve seen it many many times too. I always thought it felt a little improvised so that’s a tribute to the actors who could play it like it was happening for the first time.
     
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  13. Message #193 of 273 Jul 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    Cineman

    Cineman Second Unit

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    The long take I am referring to begins once they have settled down in the car seat and open the picnic basket. I would bet it is the single longest shot in the movie. It must continue for about three minutes before a cut occurs as he moves in for the kiss, one can presume in part to change the subject.

    To me, that long take is particularly notable because of the deceptively simple action taking place all through the dialogue. The actors are genuinely eating and swallowing the food and drink in real time on camera. That is actually quite rare in movies. The swallowing part, that is. What if you are dealing with a Kubrick or a Wyler, directors noted for shooting dozens of takes!

    Generally speaking, we see an actor put a spoonful of food into his mouth, if we see the actual food moving from plate to mouth at all, and then there is a judicious cut to someone or something else so the actor does not actually have to swallow the food on camera. The standard procedure is to place a "spit bucket" just off screen for him to spit the food into it at the word "Cut!" after each and every take. Swallowing for real each time, even in small amounts, is risky to the well being of the actor because no one has any idea how many spoonfuls of food will need to be shoveled into his mouth due to takes, retakes and more retakes.

    But not in that shot. Grant and Kelly really are taking bites off the chicken pieces, taking swigs of their beers and swallowing every bite and swig on camera for the duration of the shot.

    I would love to have heard the dicussion about what they were about to embark upon right before Hitchcock called, "Action!" I'd wager neither of those actors would have agreed to taking that risk with any director other than Alfred Hitchcock and his trusted crew.

    LATE EDIT: My curiosity got the better of me so I popped in the dvd/Blu-ray of Notorious and To Catch a Thief to compare the length of the kissing scene shot in the former to the picnic dining scene shot in the latter Cary Grant starring film. It turns out the rarely if ever mentioned picnic dining scene shot in To Catch a Thief, at roughly three minutes in length, is longer than the far more celebrated kissing shot in Notorious by roughly 20-25 seconds. Naturally, it stands to reason we'd be more attentive to the kissing scene shot than a shot showing two people eating chicken.

    Another fun fact: The first 30 seconds or so of the kissing scene in Notorious, which, of course, is not one extended kiss but a dialogue scene with several smaller kisses and pecks throughout, is a conversation about...eating chicken! haha. Hitchcock never ceases to entertain and amaze, even in the most seemingly innocuous detail.
     
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  14. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I’m 7 films away from To Catch a Thief, I’ll try to remember to pay closer attention to that scene.

    Hard to believe I’m going to wrap up the 1940’s with Under Capricorn and then move onto the 1950’s.
     
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  15. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Arguably, Hitchcock's greatest decade.
     
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  16. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Agreed!
     
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  17. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    The great thing about Hitchcock is that he had four marvelous decades each filled with high spots with just an occasional dip every few films. The 1950s does have the fewest dips, I grant you.
     
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  18. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Even alot of the TV episodes he directed in the 50's are really good too.
     
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  19. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Under Captricorn.

    Under Capricorn
    1949
    117 minutes Color 1.33:1
    Cast:
    Ingrid Bergman - Lady Henrietta Flusky
    Joseph Cotten - Sam Flusky
    Michael Wilding - Charles Adare
    Margaret Leighton - Milly
    Cecil Parker - The Governor
    Denis O'Dea - Mr Corrigan
    Jack Watling - Winter
    Harcourt Williams - The Coachman
    John Ruddock - Mr Potter
    Bill Shine - Mr Banks
    Victor Lucas - The Reverend Smiley
    Ronald Adam - Mr Riggs
    Francis De Wolff - Major Wilkins
    G H Mulcaster - Doctor Macallister
    Olive Sloane - Sal
    Maureen Delaney - Flo
    Adaptation of the novel by: Helen Simpson
    Adaptation by: Hume Cronyn
    Screenplay by: James Bridie. (John Colton, Margaret Linden and Helen Simpson)
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Transatlantic Pictures and Warner Brothers
    Viewed 7/27/19

    Kino Lorber Blu Ray 2018

    Synopsis

    In 1831, a new Governor, Sir Richard, arrives in New South Wales Australia to take over from his predecessor. He brings along his cousin Mr. Charles Adare who wishes to seek out his fortune there. Mr. Adare meets Sam Flusky on his first day who is a powerful land owner and wants to help Charles with a business deal. Mr. Flusky invites Charles to attend dinner at Mr. Flusky’s home where he meets Mrs. Henrietta Flusky. She turns out to be a childhood friend of Charles back in Ireland. But something is not quite right about Henrietta who seems to be an alcoholic or on the verge of madness.

    Impressions

    Under Capricorn is a film I had no knowledge of. I didn’t know what it was about and had a vague notion it was a costume drama based on stills I’d seen. I started to think this might be like Mr. and Mrs. Smith with a mix of Waltzes from Vienna, a film that is nothing like what we would expect from Hitchcock.

    I thought it was an interesting story, though soap opera-ish. It’s a character study about sacrifice and loyalty. We learn from the story that Sam Flusky has a secret past where the citizens of New Wales has an unwritten rule that you don’t ask what crime or indiscretion an individual had been incarcerated for. Sam had paid his price and has now made a good life living in New Wales with his wife Henrietta. But there is something amiss with her and Charles with Sam’s OK sets about to try to help his childhood friend to get to the bottom of her problem.

    I started to wonder if Henrietta was still suffering from the poison that Alexander’s mother had given Alicia in Notorious. But Charles was able to bring her out of her fog and back into the world of the living.

    Joseph Cotton brings a cold aloofness to Sam as he seems less interested in everything except his business. He is very concerned about Henrietta, but he doesn’t really show it until Charles starts to get too close.

    Milly is the housekeeper who rules the house and servants. In a way it felt a little like Rebecca as the Milly character has some shades to Mrs. Danvers. She certainly has an agenda we learn later in the story.

    I thought the film didn’t really come into the Hitchcockian level until the last 1/4 of the film and from there I started to really feel the suspense. The ending built up to satisfactory conclusion. Except the I didn’t expect the outcome for Charles.

    Ingrid Bergman has an amazing sequence when she reveals a story about her past to Charles and it’s a single extended shot with no cuts. There were several other long extended shots with the other characters, but I can see Hitchcock still had not totally abandoned his experiments he started with Rope.

    Seeing Cecil Parker as the Governor was interesting. He has a distinctive voice and speaking manner. I keep thinking I’ve seen him in other films, but I can only recall him as the character in Indiscreet also with Bergman and Cary Grant. His character there wasn’t so authoritative.

    The film certainly has some cool shots with matte paintings to establish the Flusky home as well as the New Wales shipping docks and city. The sets were interesting too of the house. The colors were also pretty cool to see for such an early film. It has the same warm look that I saw in Rope.

    I might watch one more time and for the audio commentary. I did listen to the Truffaut Hitchcock discussion about this film.

    Overall, not as bad as I thought, not the worst. So ends the decade of the 1940's.
     
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  20. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I've made no secret of the fact that Under Capricorn is my least favorite Hitchcock by a country mile. I had hoped that the latest home video release on Blu-ray might bring some life to the proceedings, but I found it as narratively inert as ever with obvious villains and a pace that just slogs along without ever fully engaging me. I'm happy for those who find some merit to it, but every few years I trot it out to give it another chance, and I'm always disappointed. Just not my cup of Hitchcock tea.
     
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