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The Alfred Hitchcock Filmography - A Chronological viewing

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

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm embarrassed because I still haven't watched my 2016 Blu-ray yet.:blush: I've watched the movie a number of times over the years, but hasn't been in the right mood to watch it in 1080p. It's probably because I simply love Vera Miles and it's painful seeing her in that film role.
     
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  2. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    I saw The Wrong Man (was it the first time?) in a magnificent 35mm print at the Carnegie Hall Cinema decades ago. I thought it was a great Hitchcock film, with velvety B&W cinematography; and the hitchcockian theme of the wrong man persecuted by the law is always at the fore because it IS a true story. The chilling shot of the superimposition of the real culprit over Fonda's face is sheer genius. The psychological dissolution of Manny's wife, as portrayed by Vera Miles, is terrifying and moving, a great piece of acting. This movie is a suspenseful horror story. So what if there is no humor. Must Hitchcock films need humor to be successful?
     
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  3. Message #303 of 353 Oct 12, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
    Cineman

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    One interesting detail about this movie, which is one of those movies I like more every time I watch it, is Hitchcock appears to muddy the water about whether or not the man who is caught at the end is indeed "the actual robber" who committed those earlier crimes or "The Right Man." How do we know that? Isn't it possible those ladies could misidentify a second man for the same crime? Why are we so trusting in their judgement this time? Maybe he is a husband and father who finds himself strapped for cash, just like Manny, and is brought to the breaking point and tries to rob the store out of desperation. That is actually what he claims as a kind of defense excuse for his trying to rob the store, isn't it? "I have a wife and kids!"

    One tip-off that this is a question Hitchcock would like to leave open is when the maitre d at the nightclub goes to Manny at the end of the movie to tell him "They got the right man," his words are obscured by the foley soundtrack. Hitchcock does not want it stated aloud that "They got the right man" in his movie because he'd rather we consider the possibility that maybe they didn't.

    I think that adds much more complexity to Manny's prayer. To whatever extent a prayer works, particularly in a Hitchcock movie, perhaps it only worked to inspire a desperate man to make one big mistake, the result of which he will now likely be found liable for several other crimes that he might not have committed.
     
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  4. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    David, thats a very interesting way to look at the film. In my only single viewing of the film, I took it for face value that manny was truly cleared and they got the right guy this time. But I like your interpretation.
     
  5. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Vertigo.
    Vertigo

    1958
    105 minutes Color 1.85:1 VistaVision
    Cast-
    James Stewart - Detective John "Scottie" Ferguson
    Kim Novak - Madeleine Elster / Judy Barton
    Barbara Bel Geddes - Midge Wood
    Tom Helmore - Gavin Elster
    Henry Jones - Coroner
    Raymond Bailey - Scottie's Doctor
    Ellen Corby - Manager of McKittrick Hotel
    Konstantin Shayne - Pop Leibel
    Lee Patrick - Car owner mistaken for Madeleine
    Based on the novel D'Entre les Morts, (translates to “Among the Dead”) American title: The Living and the Dead. Written by Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud (Thomas Narcejac)
    Written by- Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor
    Score by - Bernard Herrmann
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Paramount Studios
    Restoration by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz.
    Viewed 9/28/19

    -Alfred Hitchcock The Masterpiece Collection Blu Ray box set, Universal, 2012
    -Also available in the Alfred Hitchcock The Masterpiece Collection box set, Universal Studios, 2005
    -Vertigo DVD Collectors Edition 1998

    Synopsis

    John “Scotty” Ferguson is a San Francisco police detective who discovers he has a severe fear of heights while chasing a suspect on a rooftop when he slips and nearly falls. Because of his fear, he is forced to retire from the police force. After he recovers from his injuries, an old college acquaintance hires John to follow and watch out for his wife Madeleine who is acting oddly and looses her self-identify. John becomes obsessed with her and falls in love with her after he saves her from drowning in the San Francisco Bay. He tries to help her with her troubling obsession with a dead woman who may have a connection to her past.

    Impressions


    This is the big one that many consider is Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Some say it’s his most personal film as it embodies his passion for making over someone, into someone else that fits his vision of that character.

    There has been so much written about this film and it regularly makes the list of the all time greatest film. It’s been discussed and examined and reviewed by many who have much greater insight then I ever could.

    I first discovered Vertigo in the 1990’s, probably on the Harris/Katz restoration laserdisc. I must have 5 or 6 different copies in various formats, laserdisc, DVDs and Blu ray. So I’ve seen it more then a few times. Prior to seeing the film, all I knew of it was that it was satirized by Mel Brooks in High Anxiety, and I’ve not seen it. The first time I saw Vertigo, it was totally engrossing as I was trying to figure out the mystery of Carlotta and Madeleine. Then when the incident at the Mission San Juan Bautista occurs, the movie takes an unexpected turn. I really didn’t know where the film was going. So it was a great surprise to learn of Judy Barton.

    The film’s themes involve obsession as Scotty first meets Madeleine and then later transforming Judy into Madeleine. You could say that it also involves a man who is emasculated and then overcomes it by transforming Judy before he can open himself again with the reincarnated Madeleine.

    It’s a serious film that requires full attention I think to see things and discover new things each time. The main thing I respond to is the obsessive aspect that Scotty goes through when he first meets Madeleine and then later as he tries to make Judy over. The murder aspect of the film always seems secondary to me. But the murder mystery is a major factor that drives the plot. When Scotty puts all the pieces together, you can just feel his anger and rage as he drags Judy up the bell tower.

    After this last viewing, I came away thinking, this is a really slick scam that is pulled on Scotty to try to get away with the perfect murder. But it turns on Judy Barton as she was as affected by the scheme as much as Scotty was.

    I’ve also noticed that Hitchcock is using the profile shot again as he used it for Grace Kelly. This time he uses the shot to reveal that in profile, Madeleine and Judy appear so similar.

    James Stewart gives an interesting performance as John Ferguson, I’ve not seen all his other films, I have seen several from the 1930’s through the present. Most screen star actors have a type they play best. Stewart from what I read is an Everyman, I guess that means he’s like your average guy. I couldn’t find a big difference between his character here and Rear Window. Just a guy caught up in a serious situation. I didn’t like him in Rope as that seemed like such a different character for him.

    Kim Novak plays Madeleine and Judy so well that you really believe they are two different characters. But they are really the same. She’s pretty amazing when you think that she is play-acting as Madeleine to fool Scotty. On repeat viewings, I keep thinking that. And it became clear to me that she really did not want to play along anymore by running away from Scotty at the Mission and run up the tower to stop the plan.

    Midge is played Barbara Bel Geddes and she’s the long suffering girlfriend of Scotty who almost married her, but she called it off. She seems to have regretted that as she still carries a flame for Scotty.

    The Bernard Herrmann score is a very celebrated score for its romantic elements as well as an iconic section for the dizzying vertigo scenes. Due to a musician strike in Hollywood at the time, the score was recorded in London and Vienna and conducted by Muir Matheson. I’ve picked up the 1995 Varese Saraband re-recording conducted by Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In 1996 Varese Saraband also released the original recording from the film. As I understand it, the tapes were thought lost until the Harris/Katz restoration efforts found the tapes. They were in very poor condition and were copied just in time as the tapes were degraded so badly. The CD of this recording is not complete as some sections were non recoverable and some sections have audio drop outs. But at least it exists. For the film Harris and Katz used these tapes for the score and created new foley effects. For sections of the score missing, the tracks were extracted from a print.

    There is also the James Conlon version of the score, a re-recording done in 1999 as part of a book called Feature Film by Douglas Gordon. I managed to find a new copy a few years ago. The book is of photos and images inspired by the music. The book contains a CD of the score that Conlon made conducting the Paris Opera Orchestra. Of the two re-recordings, I do find that Conlon’s matches the original the best in timing and reproduction of the original recording. But for me, both can’t seem to match the original’s signature swirling dizzying vertigo cue. If like me, you like the re-recoding to match the original exactly, the Conlon is pretty close. Some parts I might not tell the difference. But the vertigo cue is never recreated well. This Feature Film book is a curious project and it’s only interest for me is the CD.

    2Vertigo_640x359.
    Vertigo’s titles are created by Saul Bass, a graphic designer of note who did the swirling graphics. What a perfect combination of images created in the titles that works with the music so well. He comes back to do the titles for North by Northwest.

    A side note, since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve been to many of the locations where the film was shot. I drove down to San Juan Bautista and that was really cool. I must do that again. Additionally, Vertigo is often screened at the Castro Theater in San Francisco when they do a Vertigo showing. Often Kim Novak appears. I’ve never made the trek.

    And I’ve mentioned this site before, but it’s a pretty cool site that locates and shows photos of the San Francisco filming locations for many films made in San Francisco. The site shows both the scene in the film and the way the location appears now.

    http://reelsf.com/vertigo-1958

    Vertigo is like a dream. It is often filmed with filters and images appear dream like, such as the sequence when Scotty follows Madeleine to the Mission Delores in San Francisco. Later, when Judy emerges as the recreated Madeleine from the bathroom, she is ghostly and slowly solidifies before Scotty as he is transported back to San Juan Bautista when he last sees Madeleine. So many things to see in this film and rediscover and or reinterpret. I always get caught up in it when I watch it and it doesn’t leave my mind for some time.
     
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  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Yes, it is a haunted and haunting film. I understand why so many deem it Hitchcock's masterpiece. It is deep on so many levels, and it's also a quite wonderful murder mystery in its most basic outline. That said, as much as I love and admire it, it's not the Hitchcock film I revisit the most often; four or five others claim those spots. But it is a great, great film.
     
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  7. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Matt- I was having a hard time with how to compose this post and you used a great descriptor I couldn’t find. The film is haunting. Maybe that’s why it sticks with me so long after a viewing.

    It is a tough film and I agree, there are other Hitchcock titles that are more fun to revisit.
     
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  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Same here!
     
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  9. Message #309 of 353 Oct 14, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
    Cineman

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    I fell in love with VERTIGO on my first viewing of it on a prime time television network presentation of it sometime in the late 1960s I suppose. I've now forgotten the year. It immediately became my favorite movie and has remained in that spot ever since. Later, during the period of time when Hitchcock pulled it and four other titles out of circulation, I would take an annual pilgrimage to the UCLA Film Archives and watch it on one of those small monitors as a matter of "research". Sometimes I would bring a friend who'd never seen it. Did that a few times with a couple of the other titles he pulled from circulation at the time, REAR WINDOW and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH ('56).

    Of course, it was a huge deal to me when they were finally re-released to theaters, now can be seen everywhere on home video in those beautifully restored versions.

    Hard to believe there was a time when titles like VERTIGO and, yep, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE were so seldom seen that even rabid movie fan friends of mine had not seen them, barely recognized the titles at all. With VERTIGO that kind of made sense since it was pulled from circulation for a time. And it was not the box office hit of the three Hitchcock movies that followed and got almost all the buzz for a couple of decades. So it was quite gratifying to watch the progress of VERTIGO moving from barely a mention at all on various Great Movie lists like those you'd see from AFI and Sight & Sound publications to either the number one choice as "The Greatest Movie of All Time" or at least among the top 10 or 12.

    For the past several years I have been retired and living in Thailand. There is quite a following for American and other foreign film classics here. There are film art houses and revival type theaters in Bangkok that show Hitchcock films. The first annual Bangkok Silent Movie Festival a few years back featured all of the extant Hitchcock silents, culminating in a large, old style movie palace screening of THE LODGER.

    The Blu-ray of VERTIGO I bought here has the option of watching it with Thai dubbing or Thai subtitles. Now, believe it or not, but I find the Thai dubbing of the available Hitchcock movies here to be pretty darn good. I mean, to my ears the actors do get the tone, tenor, meaning and emotion of the dialogue down very well. I can say on these Hitchcock movie Blu-rays, the music soundtracks and foley sounds are all as clear and present as in the original English version. Only the words of the actors are in a different language.

    I mention that because, since most of my friends who come to watch a movie like VERTIGO for the very first time in their lives on my fairly decent 84" home theater set up are not native English speakers, I will have to choose whether I want to show it dubbed or with subtitles. I always choose dubbed with no subtitles. First of all, I don't need to hear the words in English anymore. I've seen VERTIGO so many times I know exactly what every character is saying. And hearing it in Thai without English subtitles helps me to learn a new word or two in my adopted country's native language. lol. But I also don't want bright white subtitles radiating light from the screen during any of those all important dark scenes in the movie.

    So, here is what I wanted to say about the experience of watching VERTIGO in another language that I am still not so fluent in that I pay much attention to the actual words and without English subtitles; it affords me the opportunity to watch it without the "distraction" of words. I watch it in about as pure a visual and cinematic experience as I suppose Hitchcock would have hoped for. I soak in every image, ever shot, every gesture and facial expression of the actors, every physical nuance of the actors and as caught on film by Hitchcock and his team. All accompanied by the proper sound effects and that wonderful Bernard Herrmann score. And the result has been the most glorious, emotional viewings of VERTIGO of my life.

    I am sure I am carrying over all the dozens of previous viewings of it into these new experiences. But watching it this way, as I have now done 5-6 times since I moved here, really has brought a new, deeply emotional life to it I thought had been replaced by a merely intellectual or academic viewing of it after all these years.
     
  10. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    David, thanks for your post! That's an interesting point of view you bring, seeing the film in another country that is non-english speaking. I can see your point very well. I know the film pretty well, and I have been more mindful to watch it for the visuals rather then dialogue. Though I still like to hear it to find anything I might have missed in the story from earlier viewings.
     
  11. Message #311 of 353 Oct 20, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
    Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Northbynorthwest1.

    North by Northwest

    1959
    136 minutes Color 1.85:1 VistaVision
    Cast-
    Cary Grant - Roger O Thornhill
    Eva Marie Saint - Eve Kendall
    James Mason - Phillip Vandamm
    Jessie Royce Landis - Clara Thornhill
    Leo G. Carroll - The Professor
    Josephine Hutchinson - Handsome Woman, aka "Mrs Townsend"
    Philip Ober - Lester Townsend
    Martin Landau - Leonard
    Adam Williams - Valerian
    Edward Platt - Victor Larrabee
    Robert Ellenstein - Licht
    Les Tremayne - Auctioneer
    Philip Coolidge - Doctor Cross
    Patrick McVey - Chicago Police Sergeant
    Ed Binns - Captain Junket, Nassau County Detective
    Ken Lynch - Charley, Chicago Policeman
    Written by- Ernest Lieman
    Score by - Bernard Herrmann
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - MGM
    Viewed 10/5/19 and again on 10/12/19 because it was so fun.

    -Alfred Hitchcock The Masterpiece Collection Blu Ray box set, Universal, 2012
    -MGM 50th Anniversary Blu Ray 2009

    Synopsis

    Roger Thornhill is a Madison Avenue advertising executive who is mistaken for George Kaplan and is thrust into a spy ring plot. He meets Eve Kendall on a train while on the run from the police who helps him evade the police. Thornhill is in on a chase across the US to find the real Kaplan and clear his name.

    Impressions

    North by Northwest is a crowd pleaser and one of the most entertaining and fun films of not only Hitchcock’s filmography, but of all films. Its one of my favorites. Now that I know what to look for, I can see all the Hitchcockian elements in place. Its a grand entrainment with adventure, romance and suspense.

    This film contains all the Hitchcock hallmarks, the wrong man accused, the Mother, a cool blonde, a train, a Maguffin, and spies. It’s all wrapped up in a fun chase and romance. Iconic sequences include the crop dusting sequence and scenes that take place at Mount Rushmore.

    One of my earliest childhood memories is thinking that Hitchcock made films that were really more about horror and murder. My early exposure to Hitchcock was the early 1960’s films, The Birds mainly. And included Dial M for Murder, all shown on TV when I was a kid. Though I’d never seen Psycho before at that time. So when I first saw this film in the 1990’s, it was such a fun surprise.

    There are several really fun and exciting and not to mention suspenseful sequences, the drunken car chase, the United Nations, Plaza Hotel, the train from New York to Chicago, the crop duster sequence that ends in a wild chase, and then the auction house sequence. That is a clever segment for how Thornhill escapes from Vandamm’s killers. It’s funny and at the same time, suspenseful. Finally the Mount Rushmore sequence where Thornhill finds Vandamm’s house.

    An aspect that I found interesting is the amount of interest from fans of the house that Vandamm lives in. I am a long time fan of and have interest in mid century modern architecture. The basic simple clean designs of homes from the era of noted architects such as Keonig ,Lautner, Neutra, Ellwood, and Soriano is an interest of mine. So I was surprised to find so much interest in the Vandamm house, people want to know if the house exists. It does not exist except as a matte painting and a partially built set in the studio. It was designed by the production staff to mimic designs by Frank Lloyd Wright. It has some of Wright’s hallmarks using the stones on the walls and the cantilever section that Thornhill climbs up.

    northwest01dailyicon.

    I also am a fan of vintage cars as noted in the To Catch a Thief post. It wasn’t until this viewing of North by Northwest that I took more interesting the Mercedes. ( No, I didn’t borrow Laura’s Mercedes! What a performance! ). In looking it up, it’s a 1959 Mercedes 220 SE cabriolet. It’s an elegant car and if the story is true, Cary Grant purchased the car after the film was completed. It was interesting that Hitchcock used the car as part of the film promotion by including it in the advertisements.

    Mercedes ad.JPG

    The car has been seen in Monterey during the 2016 car week on the weekend of the annual Concours de Elegance at Pebble Beach. But the car appears to be a tan or white color in the film and this photo of the Mercedes is silver. Maybe it was promoted as the same model and year as the car in NxNW. It looks great in silver.

    IMG_0506.JPG

    Saul Bass continues his work with Hitchcock for the titles and the titles are another great combination of logo design and animated graphics.

    NxNW title.JPG

    The final ingredient is Bernard Hermann’s score. Another title available on CD made from its original recording. This score sounds great and it was well cared for by MGM. It’s interesting that there are bits that sound similar to some of the cues in Vertigo. And it’s fun that he uses the Vertigo cue for one shot on Mount Rushmore to give that sense of great height.

    Cary Grant makes his final Hitchcock film and is in fine form. He was 55 when he made the film. The suit he wears is so iconic now, it’s considered a fashion standard. Reportedly, it was his own suit he wore. Though I don’t know how true that is. Eva Marie Saint makes her first Hitchcock film as the cool blonde Eve Kendall. When I first saw the film, I never really liked her as I would have preferred to see Hitchcock’s favorite, Grace Kelly. She was effective though and played well in the scenes with Grant. Upon recent viewings, I think she works out very well. And on this last viewing, I think she played Eve with the right amount of coolness. Kelly would have been too tied to Thief and Dial M and Rear Window. Jessie Royce Landis is back this time as Cary Grant’s mother who was 63 at the time. Her scenes were great! “...and Bourdon. I remember when it used to be in bottles.” James Mason played Vandamm as a very high class villain. I really liked how cultured and urban is he. And he has a great final line in the film. Martin Landau as Leonard was very interesting too. He’s playing it very cool and it’s unclear if he really is in love with Vandamm. So it was an interesting subtext to his performance. Leo G Carroll returns again for another Hitchcock film as The Professor.

    A very fun and entertaining film, and such a change from Vertigo.
     

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  12. benbess

    benbess Producer

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  13. Osato

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    this would be a great first Hitchcock title on UHd Blu Ray.
     
  14. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Yes, North by Northwest is one of the great film entertainments with all of the qualities one could wish in a premiere popcorn movie: humor, suspense, romance, glamour, surprises, and absolutely indelible sequences never matched by anyone else.
     
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  15. Message #315 of 353 Oct 20, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
    Cineman

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    So true. In my opinion, VERTIGO is Hitchcock's greatest dark romantic suspense masterpiece and NORTH BY NORTHWEST is his greatest lighter "comic" suspense masterpiece. I think it is notable that they were made back-to-back at the end of what could be considered his Hollywood "glamour" period, right before turning to something decidedly edgier, certainly not glamorous and miles away from the Hollywood establishment style of movie he'd been part of since he arrived in America in the early 1940s. They could be seen as his final statements, high water mark fond farewells to the two predominant genres he'd produced during that amazingly successful period of his career.

    With that in mind it always strikes a nostalgic chord in me that the final scene of each movie has one of his iconic and most often cast major Hollywood establishment star leading men say something meaningful about being "sentimental." In VERTIGO, regarding the necklace, Jimmy Stewart tells Judy she shouldn't have been "so sentimental" at what could be determined is his character's true emotional breaking point as indicated by the telling change in the music score at that very instant. In NBNW, Cary Grant's final line of dialogue and the last in the movie is, "I know, but I'm sentimental", in response to Eve being amused that he booked the same upper berth style train compartment they'd spent their first night together in for their honeymoon night.

    Intentional or not, I do think there was something about being sentimental that was on Hitchcock's mind at that point in his life and career that led him or convinced him to have those words wind up at the end of those particular movies.
     
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  16. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Matt, I never thought of North by Northwest as a popcorn film, but you’re right, it really is an escapist adventure! I always thought of it as a Hitchcock suspense thriller. It does feel Bondian too.

    David, what an interesting interpretation about the use of the word “sentimental” in both Vertigo and NxNW. I can see that very clearly now that I’ve made this journey in chronological order. Prior, I never had done this before so it becomes more clear that NxNW is the last of the style of the 1950’s major glossy Hollywood movie star thrillers. The next decade is a big shift. But is it that big a change? The Wrong Man and Vertigo were not the conventional popcorn films. But I can see how you can make that case.
     
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  17. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I thought I’d take a slight change and post about the musical scores for the Hitchcock titles that we could buy on CD or vinyl. I’m not knowledgeable about the vinyl releases. I’ve been in a bit of a soundtrack collector mode in the past several years. Not sure why, I guess I really enjoy listening to the scores from favorite movies.

    So I thought I’d make a list of the Hitchcock titles I have on CD. This is not a complete collection as I’d like to chase more titles. I know there are other titles or versions probably out there. So it would be interesting to learn more about what’s available. I prefer to buy the complete scores, not the complication releases that include titles from several films.

    These are the titles I currently own on CD:
    1. Spellbound, 1945. Miklos Rosa composer. Re-recording done in 2007. Allan Wilson conducting. Released by Intrada.
    2. To Catch A Thief, 1955. Lyn Murray composer. Original recording released in 2014 by Intrada.
    3. Vertigo, 1958. Bernard Herrmann composer, original recording released by Varese Sarabande 1996
    4. Vertigo, 1958. Bernard Herrmann composer, re-recording done in 1996, Joel McNeely conducting. Released by Varese Sarabande 1996
    5. Vertigo, 1958. Bernard Herrmann composer, re-recording done in 1999, James Conlon conducting. Released by Archangel 1999
    6. North by Northwest, 1959 Bernard Herrmann composer, original recording. Released by Intrada in 2012
    7. Psycho, 1960 Bernard Herrmann composer, re-recording done in 1997. Joel McNeely conducting. Released by Varese Saraband 1997.

    Psycho is a title I’d like to someday own the original recording, I see there is a vinyl release from Europe that is allegedly the actual recording. I don’t know this score very well and i’ve Not watched Psycho that often, so the McNeely version sounds OK.

    I’d be interested if others know of other releases. This site has a list of the Hitchcock releases, but I doubt it’s complete:
    https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Hitchcock_albums
     
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  18. Osato

    Osato Producer

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    great post and thanks for posting that page too!

    I only have vertigo and north by Northwest soundtracks.
     
  19. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Osato, glad you liked the Hitchcock webpage! Those two soundtracks you have are great ones!
     
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  20. Message #320 of 353 Oct 27, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
    Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Psycho_(1960).
    Psycho
    1960
    109 minutes B&W 1.85:1
    Cast:
    Anthony Perkins - Norman Bates
    Janet Leigh - Marion Crane
    Vera Miles - Lila Crane
    John Gavin - Sam Loomis
    Martin Balsam - Detective Milton Arbogast
    John McIntire - Sheriff Al Chambers
    Simon Oakland - Doctor Richmond
    Vaughn Taylor - George Lowery
    Frank Albertson - Tom Cassidy
    Lurene Tuttle - Eliza Chambers
    Patricia Hitchcock - Caroline
    John Anderson - Charlie
    Mort Mills - Highway Patrol officer
    Sam Flint - Officer
    Jeanette Nolan - Norma Bates (uncredited voice)
    Virginia Gregg - Norma Bates (uncredited voice)
    Paul Jasmin - Norma Bates (uncredited voice)
    Based on the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch
    Written by: Joseph Stefano
    Score by: Bernard Herrmann
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Shamley Productions
    Paramount Pictures
    Viewed 10/19/19

    Alfred Hitchcock The Masterpiece Collection Blu Ray box set, Universal, 2012

    Synopsis

    Marion Crane is having an affair with a man who cannot commit to her for financial reasons due to his ex-wife. While at work as a secretary to a real estate office, she is given $40,000 from a client for a property purchase to take to the bank. Feeling trapped and seeking an escape, she decides to take the money and use it for a fresh start with her boyfriend. But due to a rainstorm while driving away during the night, she gets lost and decides to spend the night at a motel she encounters, the Bates Motel.

    Impressions

    I’ve seen Psycho maybe three times, the first time in the early 1990’s. When this title came up after watching North by Northwest for this project, I waited a week before I sat down to watch Psycho. I wasn’t sure why, but I was resisting to see it. And I had not seen it in at least 10 plus years. I knew the story and it wasn’t because it was scary. I think it might be because with this film, Hitchcock has taken a turn towards a new direction and into the horror genre. This turn is made even more acute because I’m watching the films in order. And having just completed the 1950’s with some of the best and glossiest Hollywood films he made, this film is a very sharp turn.

    Having not seen this film for so long, it was like seeing it for the first time. I found it more engrossing then I remembered. It was so well crafted. The famous shower scene was not a shock to me as I knew it was coming. What was interesting was seeing the conversation between Marion and Norman when he brings her some food. I did not remember that she decides then to return the money and face the consequences. Every scene was so well set up and shot. Also the choice to make the film in Black and White also heightened the mood of the film.

    I didn’t know till reading up on it afterwards that nearly everyone at Paramount did not want Hitchcock to make this film, preferring another North by Northwest type film. So Hitchcock funded it himself and used the TV show crew and filmed it at Universal Studios and it was made for under a million dollars. It was a huge hit of course and is iconic now. Though it’s not one of my favorite films, I can appreciate that he wanted to try something new. And it was influential to a new genre. I ended up liking the film more this time around. And I forgot to add, the last shot of Norman was very effective and creepy.

    Since I’ve not seen this film in so long, I’d not known the film score that Herrmann composed. Of course I knew the famous music used during the shower scene, but not the rest of the score. And it is a cool score indeed and so I made the effort to buy the re-recording that McNeely made. I would prefer to pick up the actual recording someday of the complete score.

    Again Saul Bass was involved in designing the titles for the film. What was particularly cool was the flying titles across the screen when the location and time of day is shown, this must have been one of the most early examples of doing this.

    psycho.

    One last thing, I also watched the 1998 remake made by Gus Van Sant when it first came out on DVD. I was very curious to check that out. It seemed like an interesting idea, but was an empty project. It didn’t really add anything or try to make the story its own as far as I can recall. I don’t think I’ll ever see that again.
     

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