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The Alfred Hitchcock Filmography - A Chronological viewing

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

  1. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    I like parts of Under Capricorn, but it's very slow. The tragedy of it all is what most appeals to me.
     
  2. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Agreed it's not the best Hitchcock. I also found the tragedy aspects of the story as what gave the film some grit. Maybe upon a second viewing I won't like it as much, but I didn't think it felt that slow. Definitely not a lot of action. :)

    The two bits that shocked me where the sight of the shrunken heads.
     
  3. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    I remember seeing a stunning 35mm Technicolor print of UC in NYC in the '70s. It helped.
     
  4. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Stage Fright.

    Stage Fright

    1950
    110 minutes B&W 1.33:1
    Cast:
    Jane Wyman - Eve Gill
    Marlene Dietrich - Charlotte Inwood
    Michael Wilding - Detective Inspector Wilfred "Ordinary" Smith
    Richard Todd - Jonathan Cooper
    Alastair Sim - Commodore Gill
    Sybil Thorndike - Mrs Gill
    Kay Walsh - Nellie Goode
    Miles Malleson - Mr Fortesque
    Hector MacGregor - Freddie
    Joyce Grenfell - Lovely Ducks
    André Morell - Inspector Byard
    Patricia Hitchcock - Chubby Bannister
    Ballard Berkeley - Sergeant Mellish
    Adaptation of the original novel "Man Running” by Selwyn Jepson
    Adapted by Alma Reville
    Screenplay by: Whitfield Cook
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Transatlantic Pictures and Warner Brothers
    Viewed- 8/3/19

    Alfred Hitchcock The Signature Collection box set, Warner Brothers, 2004

    Synopsis

    Eve Gill is a drama student working to be an actress and her friend Jonathan Cooper is a suspect for the murder of his lover’s husband. His lover is actress Charlotte Inwood and she is presented as the murderess. Eve feels she has feelings for Jonathan and sets out to try to exonerate him, but ends up falling in love with the police inspector on the case.

    Impressions

    This film surprised me, I thought it was a cracking story and the viewer is thrown right into the plot already in motion. The story is set in contemporary London England, where Hitchcock filmed it. His first film made there since moving to America.

    This is another title I have not seen or knew of. It has a flashback sequence at the start that sets up the situation. The film first opens where we see Eve Gill, a drama student working to be an actress and her friend, Jonathan Cooper, an actor who is her friend and they are on the run from the police as they are driving at high speed in her car getting away from the police. She sets out to hide Jonathan. The flashback sequence starts with Jonathan telling Eve that Charlotte killed her husband because he was abusing her. She asks Jonathan’s help to conceal evidence. She is wearing a dress with the blood of her husband on it that he must help her dispose of it.

    What I found so fun was how Eve dove right into it trying to prove her friend Jonathan is Innocent by placing herself into Charlotte Inwood’s house. She bribes Nellie, Charlotte’s maid/dresser to pretend to be sick and Eve disguises herself as a temporary maid/dresser to get to the truth. There is fun too when Eve enlists the help of her father whose a wonderfully acted character.

    While trying to get more information, Eve becomes involved with Detective Smith. They are mutually attracted to each other an a romance begins with them. There is fun as we see Eve acting while playing Charlotte’s maid/dresser and avoiding Detective Smith when he’s in the house to ask Charlotte more questions. Eventually Eve is caught by Detective Smith but he uses the situation to trap the killer.

    I thought the climax was really good as it was like two climaxes, the second one I didn’t see coming.

    Overall, I really liked this movie. It needs a second viewing. I read it was criticized at the time of release as the flashback sequence at the start wasn’t exactly the truth, but I saw it like Obi-Wan, it’s the truth from a certain point of view. Even though it wasn’t really the truth.

    I’d known who Marlene Dietrich is, but not until last year I saw her in Blonde Venus. I’ve since picked up the Dietrich Criterion Boxset so I’ll be checking that out. So it was interesting to see her in a film later in her career. She must be around 50 when she made this film and was as flamboyant as ever. A Hitchcock cool blonde too. She was really good. The songs she sings sounded very familiar, like she sang them in earlier films? Her sequences were real scene stealers.

    I don’t think I’ve seen Jane Wyman before, she was really good here. She has a long career well before Stage Fright. Even so, this was the first film I’d seen her in. I did pick up a title I’d not seen before on the Criterion sale called All That Heaven Allows with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. That looked like a really offbeat and unusual story, so it’s a blind buy.

    I liked Michael Wilding in the role of Detective “Ordinary” Smith. He was very good here in a more support role, but an important one. He was good in Under Capricorn, but I felt like he was a more sympathetic character here.

    The actors playing Eve’s parents, Alastair Sim as Commodore Gill and Sybil Thorndike as Mrs Gill were great with their quirky natures. And Kay Walsh was really nasty as the maid/dresser. Patrica Hitchcock made her film debut here as Chubby Bannister. I almost missed it. And the Hitchcock cameo was really obvious here. Couldn’t miss it, and it doesn’t break the fourth wall.

    stage fright cameo.
    image from Alfred Hitchcock wiki

    I see that Hitchcock still was experimenting with the long extended shots, but this time, it was with a camera on a crane during the flashback sequence as we see Jonathan enter Charlotte’s house, go through the front door and up the stairs. Very much like his earlier film, Number Seventeen.

    This film is worth a second and fourth look. There’s some things I might have missed. I don’t think it’s out on a remaster blu ray. The DVD was quite watchable, but some damage was visible on the film.
     
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  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I’m sorry I missed the “Rope” discussion - I love that film!

    Coincidentally I showed it to my wife this week and she enjoyed it too.

    It never gets old or slow or boring to me. Once it starts I’m just in it. I love Hitch’s use of long takes and I love the way he used the camera and almost dances from one frame to another. It’s actually very similar to my own shooting style, which developed organically before I had seen the film. When I finally did see it, it was pretty special.
     
  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    It's never too late Josh!

    I found Rope engaging right off. There is that constant sense of danger that someone will discover the body. And agreed, I was constantly aware of the camera moving so your eye is never static for too long. It was cool to watch the camera follow the actors as they move from the living room to the entry and to the dining room.
     
  7. Mark McSherry

    Mark McSherry Stunt Coordinator

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    Don't forget that Criterion is releasing the bluray of another Sirk/Hudson/Wyman film August 20th--- Magnificent Obsession was released a year earlier than All That Heaven Allows.
     
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  8. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    So glad there is another who likes Stage Fright as much as I do. The controversial flashback at the beginning of the film has never bothered me at all, and I've never understood folks' objections to it once the film has pulled its surprise revelation near the end setting up the very suspenseful stalking that climaxes the picture. I don't think Jane Wyman is as effective a Hitchcock heroine as Bergman or Kelly, but since she was a recent Oscar winner, Hitch basically had her foisted off on him by Warner Bros.

    Dietrich's showstopping number "The Laziest Gal in Town" was written especially for her for this film by the great Cole Porter.

    The movie definitely needs some tender loving care by Warners before releasing it on Blu-ray.
     
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  9. David Weicker

    David Weicker Producer

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    I've been following along with these discussions, and enjoying them. However one thing bugs me.

    People keep talking about the 'long takes' in Rope. This riles me because Rope is known as a gimmick film. Its not a film of multiple long takes. It is designed as One Take. Yes, there were practical considerations due to reel changes, so Hitchcock had to get creative to hide that, but he was attempting one uninterrupted film.

    A long take is the staircase scene in Frenzy, or the opening shot of The Player, or the opening shot of Touch Of Evil, or the street conversation between Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken in Miracle Of Morgan's Creek.
     
  10. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Mark, I’d read about Magnificent Obsession as I read about All That Heaven Allows and was very curious to see that as well. So I’ll be adding that to my blind buy list. I didn’t know it was coming, so that’s great. Just a few weeks from now. Thanks for the heads up!
     
  11. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    You’re absolutely right - just lazy shorthand on my part.
     
  12. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Matt- Regarding the Laziest Girl in Town, I re-viewed that sequence. That wasn’t what I thought I heard, it was la vie en rose that she sings later. Her rendition was cut off when she saw the doll with the blood. So I didn’t get it right away. I’d heard it in an episode of Get Smart when 99 sings it in Casablanca. :). Not to take away from her Laziest Girl in Town number, it was one of the centerpieces of the film.

    It was interesting to read that Hitchcock was known for his total control of all aspects of production, but he allowed Dietrich to do the lighting, art direction, musical direction, etc, as he realized she was equally as well adept at them all.
     
  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Oh, yes, "La Vie en Rose" is a classic 1945 cabaret song introduced by French chanteuse Edith Piaf and definitely NOT written for Stage Fright.
     
  14. Message #214 of 309 Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
    Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Strangers_on_a_Train_(film).

    Strangers on a Train
    1951
    103 minutes (101 minutes) B&W 1.37:1
    Cast:
    Farley Granger as Guy Haines
    Ruth Roman as Anne Morton
    Robert Walker as Bruno Antony
    Leo G. Carroll as Senator Morton
    Patricia Hitchcock as Barbara Morton
    Laura Elliott as Miriam Joyce Haines
    Marion Lorne as Mrs. Antony
    Jonathan Hale as Mr. Antony
    Howard St. John as Police Capt. Turley
    John Brown as Professor Collins
    Norma Varden as Mrs. Cunningham
    Robert Gist as Detective Hennessey
    John Doucette as Detective Hammond (uncredited)
    Georges Renavent as Monsieur Darville (uncredited)
    Odette Myrtil as Madame Darville (uncredited)
    Murray Alper as Boatman who recognizes Bruno (uncredited)
    Barry Norton as Tennis Match Spectator (uncredited)
    Based on the original novel "Strangers on a Train” by Patricia Highsmith
    Treatment by: Whitfield Cook
    Screenplay by: Raymond Chandler, Czenzi Ormonde
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Transatlantic Pictures and Warner Brothers
    View 8/10/19

    Warner Brothers Blu Ray, 2012

    Synopsis

    Guy Haines is a professional tennis player who boards a train and meets Bruno Antony, a charming stranger who inserts himself into Guy’s personal space to strike up a friendship. Guy’s notoriety and personal life being in the gossips columns has made it possible for Bruno to know that Guy is splitting up with his wife to marry a senator’s daughter. But there’s more to Bruno then Guy knows. Bruno is a rich kid but doesn’t like being told by his father what he should do with his life. After a friendly lunch, Bruno suggests the perfect murder and Guy wants none of it. Bruno suggests that he kill Guy’s wife and Guy kill Bruno’s father. Since they are strangers to each other, there’s no connection to tie the murders to each other. Guy thinks he’s joking and says his good-byes and makes his escape from Bruno’s crazy plan.

    Impressions

    This is the second time I’ve watched Strangers on a Train and a first on the Warner Blu Ray. This was such an energetic film! The plot is a terrific one and Hitchcock pulled out all the tricks to make for a great suspense film. The opening shoots of the two main characters feet as they head to the train is very engaging and culminates with the shot of Guy’s shoe accidentally bumping into Bruno’s show.

    And what a great cast, Farley Granger is back as the put upon partner in a crime he did not want to be put into. Like Rope, Robert Walker is terrific is the psychopath who is making life difficult for Farley Granger. Ruth Roman as Anne Morton, Guy’s fiancée, is not an actress I’m that familiar with but she looks so familiar. Laura Elliott as Miriam Haines is terrific as the terrible wife of Guy. How did he get mixed up with her! I never knew if Patricia Hitchcock was a real actress or was just put into her father’s films. I see she has many credits in Hitchcock projects and she did study acting. I thought she was good as Anne’s sister, Barbara. The gag with Barbara’s glasses was great as we see Bruno suddenly in terror as he sees her thick glasses. Similar to the thick glasses that Miriam wore.

    Marion Lorne is familiar to me after having watched the entire 8 year run of Bewitched. She’s similar slightly off kilter as the mother of Bruno. Obviously she shown as part of the source of Bruno’s insanity. She was terrific.

    The murder sequence is really well built up as we see Bruno stalking the awful Miriam from her house to the amusement park and then on the boat ride through the tunnel of love and to the little island. The shot of the murder reflected in her glasses is so well captured.

    The cigarette lighter that Guy accidentally leaves on the train is the magguffin that is the one piece of evidence that Bruno keeps and can use as his ace to frame Guy of the murder of Guy doesn’t hold up his end of the deal that he never agreed to.

    The sequence with the tennis match was great. It was exciting as we see Guy trying so hard to win and get to the amusement park in Metcalf to confront Bruno. Bruno enjoys using Guy’s lighter a little too much and he accidentally drops it down a street grate where there is another suspenseful sequence as he tries to retrieve it. It’s the only sequence when he actually looses his cool.

    On the final confrontation between Bruno and Guy on the carousel, the whole bit where it’s sped up and they are fighting as everyone else is trying to hang on was exciting. But I wondered if that is even possible for the carousel to go that fast! In the end it was a satisfying climax to the story with a little bit of good fun at the end.

    One last thing, I was thinking about Joseph Cotton’s portrayal of Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt and how Strangers on a Train takes the psychopath character to another level. Robert Walker’s Bruno was quite a character and performance. And both Charlie and Bruno are charming characters. And I see there’s discussions that Strangers on a Train carries on the tradition of doubles. The main characters are like doubles, but good and evil sides are represented.

    Strangers-on-a-Train.
     
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  15. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Cinematographer

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    If you've watched the entire run of Bewitched, you may have recognized Laura Elliott. She later reverted to her real name of Kasey Rogers and played Louise Tate starting in season three. Of course with those glasses she wears here, it's hard to recognize her.
     
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  16. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Wow, I wouldn’t have known that Miriam was Louise Tate! Thanks for that info, I don’t think I would have ever known that Laura Elliott is really Kasey Rogers. The thick glasses did make it hard to tell.
     
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  17. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Strangers on a Train is a masterpiece, pure and simple. A great suspense thriller from beginning to end. And so many classic moments! The way Hitchcock blended a carousel miniature with the real thing at the climax when it goes off the rails practically lifted me out of my seat when I saw this in a revival theater many years ago! I like most of his Warners output, but this one towers over his other Warner pics.
     
  18. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Agreed! I remember years ago hearing about Strangers on a Train is a classic at the level of Hitchcock’s best.
     
  19. Message #219 of 309 Aug 16, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
    Cineman

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    Strangers on a Train is my choice for a first introduction to Hitchcock's canon of films for anyone not already exposed to it. Believe it or not, there are many movie fans who have seen clips, heard or read discussions of them but have not watched an entire Hitchcock movie from beginning to end. Well, maybe my situation is different in that I have retired in Asia where there are many rabid movie fans, especially for American movies, but most have not been exposed to the classics. And, of course, there are still many Westerners under the age of 50 who have never seen an entire Hitchcock movie from beginning to end as well.

    Strangers on a Train displays all of Hitchcock's strengths as a filmmaker and story teller, including suspense, romance, humor, compelling characters, exciting sequences topped by a rousing, hair raising finale. And it pulls you into it so quickly and seemingly effortlessly before you even realize you've been captured and cannot wait to see where this is going, what will happen next.

    Most importantly, you've got that marvelous element of conflicting emotions and Hitchcockian anxiety (yes, High Anxiety! lol), a truly rarefied version of "suspense", in so many sequences; we're charmed by Bruno, amused and repelled by his weird behavior and relationship with Mom, delighted by his droll dismissal of the kid in the cowboy outfit, pointing a toy gun at him while holding a balloon, then reminded how lonely Bruno's life as a kid must have been. We enjoy watching his cat and mouse antics with Miriam, horrified by the swift, silent, dispassionate elimination of her as nothing more than an inconvenience.

    My god, we find ourselves wriggling in our seats with worry over whether Bruno will finally retrieve that cigarette lighter in order to frame an innocent man, essentially rooting for the bad guy to carry on, shift the blame to someone else and get away with it! Shifting the blame to the "good" guy we're supposed to be rooting for instead! Alfred Hitchcock put us in that conflicted state of mind. Made us question our complacent assurance that, if it came to it, we would surely choose the side of the good guys after all, wouldn't we? Few if any other directors did that so well or ever will. And he did it in the form of pure entertainment, not as a finger-wagging morality lesson.

    That is what a great Hitchcock movie feels like. It is unlike any other movie-going experience. More unlike it by comparison to what passes for a movie-going experience today than ever before, imo. And once I have shown a fellow movie fan what that is all about, he or she cannot wait to experience more of it. And just look at the treats in store from there.
     
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  20. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Great post David! I think I experienced all that while watching the film.

    I also found myself dong a web search trying to determine the make and model of that lighter. I think it would be cool to try to get one. Of course the inscription and tennis rackets would not be on it.
     
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