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The Alfred Hitchcock Filmography - A Chronological viewing

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

  1. Message #161 of 229 Jul 7, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
    Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Spellbound.

    Spellbound

    1945
    111 minutes B&W 1.37:1
    Cast:
    Ingrid Bergman - Doctor Constance Peterson
    Gregory Peck - John Ballantine
    Michael Chekhov - Doctor Alex Brulov
    Leo G. Carroll - Doctor Murchison
    John Emery - Doctor Fleurot
    Steven Geray - Doctor Graff
    Paul Harvey - Doctor Hanish
    Donald Curtis - Harry
    Rhonda Fleming - Mary Carmichael
    Norman Lloyd - Mr Garmes
    Wallace Ford - Hotel Masher
    Bill Goodwin - Hotel Detective
    Art Baker - Lieutenant Cooley
    Regis Toomey - Sergeant
    Written by: Angus MacPhail, Ben Hecht, John Palmer
    Based on the original novel, "The House Of Dr. Edwardes" by - Hilary St George Sanders
    Score by: Miklós Rózsa
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Selznick International Pictures

    View 7/5/19

    -Criterion Spine Number 136 DVD 2002
    -MGM Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection 8 Master Works, 2008 DVD Box Set
    -MGM/Fox Blu Ray, 2012.

    Synopsis

    Dr. Constance Peterson is one of the psychoanalysts who works at the Green Manors mental asylum. She is perceived as cool and detached by the other doctors, especially the male doctors. The asylum is run by Dr. Murchison who we learn is being forced to retire and will be replaced by the famous Dr. Anthony Edwardes. He is perceived as much younger then the staff at Green Manors is expecting. Upon arrival, a strong attraction develops between Dr. Edwardes and Dr. Peterson. But it is soon discovered that Dr. Edwardes is not what he appears to be.

    Impressions

    I think this is the third time I’ve seen Spellbound and I must confess, it didn’t quite work for me as I was much younger at the times I’d first seen the film. So maybe it wasn’t working for me then. I had watched Spellbound for the first time on the Criterion DVD.

    Upon this viewing, I was much more invested. Maybe the technobabble of the psychoanalysis was what was not working for me earlier. This time I was more focused on the building romance that so quickly melts Dr. Peterson’s heart for Edwardes. I’m not sure I’ve seen Hitchcock framed the shots of Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in such close-up before in earlier films as they are admitting their love each other. ( opening doors was a fun metaphor) Then there is the mystery of what is the hidden secret of Anthony Edwardes. It’s interesting that again, a strong female character gets involved in helping the male character from their troubles. This though I think is the first time the mystery is Edwardes himself doesn’t know what’s wrong with himself. I was much more invested in the story as they try to resolve Edwardes’ past. What I found interesting is that Hitchcock reveals who the real killer is to Dr. Peterson at the same time the audience learns it and my mind was working as Dr. Peterson’s to figure it out. What I don’t quite know is how the killer was able to know that John Ballantyne would become paranoid and want to take Dr. Edwardes place. It could be that Hitchcock thinking that it doesn’t matter, this is all we need to know to follow the story. I guess Ballantyne’s guilt complex was all that was needed to explain it.

    While Dr. Peterson and Ballantyne are on the run from the police, it’s becomes a case of the wrong man. The sequence at the train station reminded me of the sequence from North by Northwest, but without all the comedy.

    I admired Bergman’s performances in other films and the next film, Notorious, so I’m looking forward to it. It was interesting to see Gregory Peck so early in his career. He worked well with Bergman here. Again we see Leo G Carroll. I was amused to see Norman Lloyd again after Saboteur.

    I can see now why this film is one of Hitchcock’s celebrated titles from the Selznick era. It’s quite fun! And the visual symbolisms and the Salvador Dali dream sequences were fun to look for.

    By the way, until now, I had not mentioned any of the earlier Hitchcock film scores. I guess because I didn’t feel they were that strong or distinctive. But this film surprised me that I noticed the score. Miklós Rózsa created quite a strong theme and I can see that this was a celebrated score for those into film scores. So I immediately searched to see Intrada had created a new re-recording of the entire score a few years ago, so I ordered it immediately before it was out of print. Regardless of the reviews, I thought I’d hear it for myself. (I prefer to find the actual original recordings, but sometimes you get what you can get.) I’m a fan of the Herrmann scores for the latter films, so it is refreshing to find another composer making a mark on an earlier Hitchcock title.

    Spellbound_600a.

    I took a quick look at the DVD after seeing the blu ray and it still looks pretty good. I’m glad I have it for its extras. When I played the 2012 MGM Blu Ray, I had forgotten there is an overture at the start. I see it’s on both the Criterion and MGM disc.

    The Hitchcock cameo was another funny one, where he appears in an elevator carrying a violin case and smoking a cigar.
     
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  2. Message #162 of 229 Jul 7, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
    Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    IMG_0419.JPG

    Notorious

    1946
    101 minutes B&W 1.37:1
    Cast:
    Cary Grant - T R Devlin
    Ingrid Bergman - Alicia Huberman
    Claude Rains - Alexander Sebastian
    Louis Calhern - Captain Paul Prescott
    Leopoldine Konstantin - Madame Sebastian
    Reinhold Schünzel - Doctor Anderson
    Moroni Olsen - Walter Beardsley
    Ivan Triesault - Eric Mathis
    Alex Minotis - Joseph, the Butler
    Written by: Ben Hecht
    Score by: Roy Webb
    Costumes: Edith Head
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - RKO Radio Pictures
    View 7/6/19

    -Criterion laserdisc Number 100, CAV 4 sides 1990
    -Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD, 1999
    -Criterion Spine Number 137 DVD 2001
    -MGM Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection 8 Master Works, 2008 DVD Box Set
    -MGM Fox Blu Ray 2011
    -Criterion Spine Number 137 Blu Ray 2019

    IMG_0414.JPG


    Synopsis

    It is post War, 1946. Alicia Huberman is a woman with a troubled past whose German father has just been convicted by a US court for treason against the United States government. TR Devlin is a government agent who must convince her to aid in spying on a group of Nazis who have fled to South America, Rio De Janeiro. Once there, they find that Alex Sebastian is among the Nazi spies who also happens to have known Alicia and she had reject Alex’s romantic interest. Her job is to get friendly with Alex to learn what she can about the Nazis.

    Impressions

    “Right below the belt, every time.”

    This is one of my favorite of the Hitchcock titles and Cary Grant titles. As noted above, my first exposure to Notorious was finding the Criterion laserdisc in a laserdisc shop when a customer sold it back. I happen to be there said I would take it.

    There’s been a lot of commentaries and analysis of this film and I couldn’t match their depth in a simple post here. There’s two main things in this film that I’m responding to I think. First the romance that we want to see happen between Dev and Alicia. After Dev and Alicia first meet at the party at her house, Dev is at first untrusting of Alicia because he thinks she isn’t a respectable woman. Alicia isn’t sure she can trust Dev because he’s a cop and she doesn’t trust them, yet a romance seems possible. Once in Rio, the pair do fall in love. But the job gets in the way and Devlin learns from his boss that Alicia must spy on Sebastian to even be his girl friend and find out what his Nazi colleagues are up to. They both simply could not admit to each other their true feelings. And so because she couldn’t say no and Dev couldn’t say don't do it, Alicia is plunged into a risky and dangerous role to woo Sebastian. This causes Dev to become even more cold as he must hide his true feelings for Alicia.

    The reveal of the German’s plot is the main McGuffin that propels the suspense. As Alicia’s true nature is discovered by Sebastian, he and his mother are the only ones to know. There is a double suspense here as not only is Alicia in trouble, so is Sebastian from not only the FBI/CIA, but the Nazis too.

    The two main plots are then thrust together as Dev must finally act and save Alicia. Dev finally allows himself to admit the truth and do the right thing and risk everything for Alicia. It’s the love story that Hitchcock brings out so well amongst this story about spying and Nazis.

    I don’t watch this film that often but I’ve collected every iteration. I saved the new Criterion Blu Ray just for this project, so it’s probably been about 4 or 5 years since my last viewing. I like that I can revisit a favorite title and still be a little surprised or catch things I didn’t notice before. What made this viewing interesting was the chronological viewing of Suspicion, Grant’s first Hitchcock film, to Spellbound, Bergman’s first Hitchcock and then the pairing of Grant and Bergman in Notorious. In Suspicion, Grant is dark with a questionable character. In Notorious, Grant is dark and cold and somewhat ruthless character. I didn’t realize that until listening again to Marian Keane’s commentary and having the background this time, I can see what Keane is saying, Hitchcock liked Cary Grant and wanted to explore that darker side of him. Keane is a film scholar from what I can find who taught film. I can see her commentaries for Criterion is controversial from what I’ve found on the web. She often mentions deeper layers of meaning to the symbolism that Hitchcock shows us. I thought most of the imagery wasn’t that hard to figure out after a few viewings. On the other hand, I don’t always look for them. The wine bottles and key are the main symbols and the literal key to the McGuffin.

    IMG_0418.JPG

    As far as villains go, Sebastian was mainly a momma’s boy as his mother was the real monster. This must be the first mother to appear in a Hitchcock film that we will see later on. Sebastian is just a poor pawn who is used, like Alicia is used. This made him very sympathetic as so many have observed. So the ending is particularly more dark for him.

    I have not mentioned the famous kissing sequence or crane shot into the key in Alicia’s hand. I think we all know about those.

    As mentioned in the Spellbound post, I was really enjoying the film score for that film. (And the CD arrived for the soundtrack. So I’ll check that out. ) I always thought the score for Notorious really adds to the flavor of the film. I learned that Roy Webb was a staff musician at RKO was assigned this project. I see that his work isn’t as well celebrated and there is no complete film score CD available. I checked out the Criterion DVD’s isolated music score track. Too bad the effects are also there as the music alone would have been great to have.

    I really enjoyed the new Criterion presentation. I had a quick look at most of the original Criterion DVD to compare. As well as a quick look at the Master Works DVD. The DVD’s appear darker and I was wondering if the Criterion Blu Ray was too light. But I think it looks better as Sebastian’s mansion doesn’t look so dark when we first see Alicia’s car approach it.

    I think Cary Grant had one of his best performance in a dramatic role here, not to diminish his lighter comedic roles. He’s walking this line between his duty and job and wanting to save Alicia. While he hates that he has to do what he does, he is cruel to her even at some points, he lets Alicia go into the Nazi house and quite probably great danger. And Ingrid Bergman is just perfectly cast and plays so well with Grant. There is that playful sequence at the start where she is beginning to fall in love with Dev. She’s constantly poking at him to crack and really tell her how he feels, to admit she’s not that notorious woman anymore. He finally cracks, but just as he does, it’s over as the job is given to them. You can really feel for her when she is thrust into Sebastian’s world which she just cannot stand. And at the end, is her smile more for Dev or for Sebastian’s fate?

    I like Bergman a lot in Notorious. She runs through all the emotions and you can see the subtle reactions she makes through out the film.

    Hitchcock’s cameo was quick as he can be seen drinking a glass of champagne at the party and quickly exits screen left. I guess he didn’t want this cameo to be humorous. I can’t believe I’ve come this far now in the Hitchcock viewing project! This film is one of the titles I was eager to revisit because of the new blu ray and because I haven’t seen it in a while and one I always enjoy. It’s a very satisfying movie. As Robert Harris’s review of the new blu ray says, essential Hitchcock.

    IMG_0416.JPG
     
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  3. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I just blasted through two of the bigger Hitchcock films of the 1940's era. I just couldn't wait to get to Notorious and post this. I'll be curious what others think of Notorious and Spellbound as well as Lifeboat.
     
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  4. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    I love all three of these movies, which all get my "A+" rating. Thanks for your write ups!++ I'm tired after a car trip to the Cincinnati Museum of History today, but maybe tomorrow I'll post a little more....
     
  5. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I've reviewed all of these great Hitchcocks, of course, and love them all, particularly Lifeboat and Notorious, neither of which I ever tire of viewing. How he lost the Best Director Oscar for Lifeboat to Leo McCarey for Going My Way is a mystery for the ages. I guess the movie wasn't a big enough hit to reward it. Tallulah wasn't even nominated for Best Actress even though she had won the New York Film Critics award for the performance. She wouldn't have beaten Ingrid in Gaslight even if she had been nominated, but it was a gross snub.

    I've never understood the feeling that Hitchcock was picturing the Germans too positively in Lifeboat. Willi is a liar, a deceiver, and a murderer (and he was no superman; he had energy pills and water while the others were starving and thirsting to death: that's no superman.)
     
  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Looking forward to your thoughts Ben. Thanks, glad you like the write-ups.
     
  7. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Matt- maybe it was politics that kept Hitchcock from the Oscar for Lifeboat. Agreed about Willi, it’s clear that Willi is shown to be working against everyone.

    I am surprised though that my weekend binge of Spellbound and Notorious, has me still thinking of Notorious. There are complex relationships going on between Dev, Alicia and Sebastian. As much as I love Vertigo, Notorious continues to grow on me and I’ve seen it a lot of times.

    Speaking of Gaslight, as soon as I can get a copy of the new Blu Ray, I plan to add that to my collection. I’ve never seen it. Oh, I’ve seen a few clips or segments when it was on TV, but I never watched the whole movie.

    Amazon is being flakey so I might have to find another source for it.
     
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  8. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Notorious would certainly be among my top five Hitchcock films. I think it's a masterpiece with nothing quite like it in all of cinema.
     
  9. Message #169 of 229 Jul 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    From p.119-120 of Donald Spoto's book The Art of Alfred Hitchcock....

    "Shadow of a Doubt is a perfectly realized film because its method and its matter coincide precisely. The idea that we are all to some extent combinations of angelic and demonic impulses, that we have duel forces at war within us, is as old as the Greeks....

    The long series of doubles in Shadow of a Doubt includes: two detectives in Philadelphia and two in Santa Rosa; two criminals sought; two occasions on which Uncle Charlie is amusingly but ironically called 'the spoiled one'; two women with eyeglasses; two dinner sequences at the Newton home; two celebratory toasts; two amateur sleuths who have two conversations about methods of committing murder. Also: two occasions when Herb interrupts family activities at the Newton home; two young Newton children; two...." Spoto goes on for another half page with the twos, including the "Till Two" bar with the waitress who says she has worked there two weeks.
     
  10. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Ben, that’s interesting, it looks like the screenwriter and Hitchcock were having some fun with the pairings and use of the number 2. The theme of twins and pairs was certainly a constant throughout the movie. :). And I like the idea of the twins being a facet of good and evil.

    I still have not picked up that book yet, but I’d like to have it.

    I also came across an E! True Hollywood Story on YouTube covering Hitchcock and his career. I’m not sure how much is true in that, but there’s many interviews with family and colleagues.
     
  11. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    The Paradine Case.

    The Paradine Case
    1947
    125 minutes B&W 1.33:1
    Cast:
    Gregory Peck - Anthony Keane, Counsel for the Defense
    Ann Todd - Gay Keane
    Charles Laughton - Judge Lord Thomas Horfield
    Charles Coburn - Sir Simon Flaquer
    Ethel Barrymore - Lady Sophie Horfield
    Louis Jourdan - Andre Latour, Paradine's Valet
    Alida Valli - Mrs Maddalena Anna Paradine
    Joan Tetzel - Judy Flaquer
    Leo G. Carroll - Sir Joseph, Counsel for the Prosecution
    John Goldsworthy - Lakin
    Lester Matthews - Inspector Ambrose
    Patrick Aherne - Sergeant Leggett
    Colin Hunter - Baker
    Isobel Elsom - Innkeeper
    Adaptation of the novel by: Robert S. Hichens
    Written by: Alma Reville, James Bridie, Ben Hecht, David O. Selznick
    Score by: Franz Waxman
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Selznick International Pictures, Vanguard Films
    Viewed 7/13/19

    -Kino Lorber Blu Ray 2017
    -MGM Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection 8 Master Works, 2008 DVD Box Set

    Synopsis

    The young and beautiful Mrs. Paradine is accused of murdering her older husband who is also blind by poison. Anthony Keane is a successful lawyer who is brought in to defend her, but once he meets her and begins to work on her defense, he begins to fall in love with her. All the while, Anthony’s loving wife is aware of this and tries to stay by his side.

    Impressions

    This is the first time I’ve seen this film. I didn’t know anything about it. I was a little weary of it because of comments on this thread that it wasn’t one of Hitchcock’s better films. But I wanted to give it a fair shake and watch it with an open mind.

    It starts off pretty interestingly as we the opulent world in which Mrs Paradine lives. She’s very cultured and lives very well. Then the police come and arrest her for the murder of her husband, and while she’s leaving, she tells the butler to apologize to the cook for missing the dinner he prepared. Then we see the contrast of the police station and the shock of removing her veneer of the upper class to be a prisoner in a stark prison cell.

    The scene changes to Anthony Keane as he comes home from a case to his loving wife, Gay. The Keane’s also live very well in a large home. It’s clear they are very much in love. He tells her that his associate has taken the Paradine case and that he will go meet Mrs Paradine.

    The way it’s presented, it seemed a bit muddled but was clear Keane was falling for her once he meets Mrs Paradine and begins to go off the rails in trying to force a defense that his associate doesn’t agree with. I can see how Hitchcock was trying to go for a story of how a decent and good man is brought down by this woman who is a femme fatale. She never really shows she will reciprocate, but let’s him think so. And it will lead down a path that could destroy him.

    The big moments in the courtroom were the big bits of suspense. There’s a great sequence when Mrs Paradine’s valet, Andre Latour is brought into the court after Keane calls for him as his next witness, Hitchcock sets up a shot that telegraphs a kind of connection between Latour and Mrs Paradine with her in the center of the shot and Latour walking into the court to the witness stand. The camera stays on Mrs Paradine, but is turning to stay with Latour as he walks past. As the truth suddenly comes out as to who the murderer is, I could see it coming, but there was one surprise I didn’t expect which sealed the case. So that changed the outcome and surprised me and it set up the finale. That sequence was very interestingly filmed from the high angles.

    I had read a little about the film after watching it and could see how it was a difficult project as Selznick was very overbearing in his desire to control it. It was a bit of a chore to watch. I wondered if it was because of Selznick trying so hard to make his mark on the film that the editing and pace were off. But the interview with François Truffaut and Peter Bogdanovich revealed that Hitchcock shot what he needed and it didn’t give Selznick much room to change things. So maybe Hitchcock’s heart wasn’t fully with this film. He was on the verge of leaving Selznick so he could go on his own and this was a film he was contractually bound to make.

    There’s some good things in the film visually and there is some good surprises in the plot, but they didn’t add up to a great movie. I was invested in Gregory Peck as Keane and Ann Todd as his wife as they navigate this very troubling case that appears to be ripping their marriage apart. Hitchcock did not want someone like Louis Jourdan as Latour as he was so clean cut, he felt the role required someone more rough and crude. Alida Valli was actually pretty good as Mrs Paradine. I thought she brought the qualities of the role as needed. Jourdan and Valli were new stars in the Selznick troupe of actors who he wanted use in this film. Greta Garbo was Selznick’s choice for Mrs Paradine, but she declined and Ingrid Bergman was considered too. I didn’t know till afterwards that Anthony Keane was meant to be an Englishman. There were times I could hear Gregory Peck try to do an English accent, but most of the time he was American. It would have been interesting to see Ronald Coleman in the role, or Laurence Olivier as the other Hitchcock choice. I’m amused that each time I’ve seen Charles Laughton, he’s got some over the top make-up going on for his character. He was pretty slimy and an awful character. He also wasn’t very partial as the judge and was knocking Keane’s case when the opportunities arose. Leo G. Carroll appears again as the prosecuting attorney, he was good as he tries his case.

    Speaking of Laughton, I hadn’t noticed that there is a mixture of pairs again with triangles. Judge Lord Thomas Horfield and his wife, and his interest in Mrs. Keane. Anthony and his wife Gay and Anthony and his interest in Mrs Paradine. Sir Simon Flaquer and his daughter, Judy Flaquer. Judy and Gay. And Mrs. Paradine and her husband and the other.

    I’m not sure I’ll watch this film again. But I am interested in watching for re-viewing the way the shots are set up and the camera angles used. And I might take the time to listen to the audio commentary on the Kino and MGM disc.

    Regarding the Kino disc, I haven’t read Matt’s review of it yet. I couldn’t help notice that the image looked great, but that there seemed to be a faint checkerboard pattern I could see in the darker scenes in the early parts of the film.
     
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  12. Message #172 of 229 Jul 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
    benbess

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    As you say, Paradine is a weak movie that has some interesting moments. Somehow I don't believe for a second that Gregory Peck's character is obsessed with Alida Valli. AV seems creepy to me rather than alluring in such a way that would bring about such blindness. And so both the screenplay and the casting seem fatally flawed, along with perhaps even the basic idea of the story. I blame Selznick mostly, who I think made Hitchcock do this one. It's still an interesting film in places, but I guess I'd rate it about a C+. After three A+s in a row it's a big letdown, but Rope imho is another winner, although rather disturbing. But then, with Under Capricorn, we get back to a film that's another letdown before we get to to fabulous 50s.

    PS Off topic, but if anyone else here likes old advertisements, especially old automobile ads, I've posted some colorful high-rez images of ads for Packards, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, LaSalles, etc. in a new thread in the After Hours Lounge (Off Topics) section of HTF.
     
  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I've always felt that The Paradine Case was better than it's been given credit for. Great? Certainly not, but I've always found it watchable and some of the performances are quite good.
     
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  14. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Rope2.

    Rope

    1948
    80 minutes Color 1.37:1
    Cast:
    James Stewart - Rupert Cadell
    John Dall - Brandon Shaw
    Farley Granger - Phillip Morgan
    Cedric Hardwicke - Mr Kentley
    Constance Collier - Mrs Atwater
    Douglas Dick - Kenneth Lawrence
    Edith Evanson - Mrs Wilson
    Dick Hogan - David Kentley
    Joan Chandler - Janet Walker
    Adaptation of the play, Rope’s End by: Patrick Hamilton 1929
    Treatment by: Hume Cronyn
    Written by: Ben Hecht, Arthur Laurents
    Directed by - Alfred Hitchcock
    Production Studio - Transatlantic Pictures and Warner Brothers
    View 7/20/19

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

    Synopsis

    Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan are two young prep school friends who share an apartment in New York City. They have developed a unique point of view where their superior intellects gives them the right to kill those who are not as superior. A view they learned from one of their teachers at Harvard. So they decide to kill their friend David Kentley and place the body in a chest. Then they carry on with their thrills by having a party that evening at their apartment. Guests include David’s father and aunt, his girlfriend Janet, his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend Kenneth and their former teacher, Rupert Caldwell. Mrs. Wilson, their housekeeper also attends to help with the party needs.

    Impressions

    This must be the first film Hitchcock made in color. This film was also the first film made by Hitchcock and his producing partner Sidney Bernstein, who formed Transatlantic Pictures. Hitchcock was free from Selznick and could make movies as he envisioned without any artistic interference.

    I’ve seen Rope only once on laserdisc ages ago when I first found it on a used Universal laserdisc. At the time, I wasn’t that taken by it, probably because it wasn’t a very good transfer. I watched Rope on blu ray for the first time from the Masterpiece Blu Ray Collection disc from 2012. This was essentially like watching the film for the first time. I was amazed by how good it looks on this transfer. I’m sure the experts might feel there is room to improve it, but I thought it looked great.

    This was interesting as we see Brandon and Phillip commit the murder at the start of the film and then the rest of the film we see how it affects them. Brandan becomes more and more brazen thinking he committed the perfect murder with impunity while Phillip starts to unravel from the guilt. Brandon delights as he brings his friend together with his ex, Janet. And knowing that David is dead, Brandon seems to enjoy that his father is become more and more worried that something has happened to David, all the while his body is in the chest in front of them. Brandon’s taunting Phillip causes Philip to lose his cool in front of everyone and then Rupert becomes suspicious something is up as he knows of Brandon’s tendencies to do some bad things. While the film is very staged and set bound, I was still engaged enough in the film. I thought the way that Phillip was unraveling during the party and later when Rupert stays a while longer to snoop was building up a good amount of suspense.

    I also could not help at first to pay attention to that apartment set. I thought it was well done as it allowed the camera to move around with the actors as Hitchcock was doing his experiment of long takes with no edits. The gimmick of the long takes with transitions when the camera needed to reload film was OK at first. I noticed one cut in the film when the scene cuts from one actor over to Jimmy Stewart. I guess there was no way to pan. It was an interesting effort.

    The use of color was cool too. I liked how the neon signs outside the apartment was throwing color into the apartment. And I noticed the Hitchcock cameo appearance much more clearly.

    This must be the only time I felt Stewart was playing a less then likable character in a Hitchcock film until the end when he realizes his mistake. I liked this film more then I thought I would. It’s not going to be one of my favorites, but an interesting piece of work.
     
  15. benbess

    benbess Producer

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  16. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Fantastic pictures and diagrams. Thanks for sharing, Ben!

    I agree; it's more interesting as an experiment than as a finished narrative (I thought Rupert arrives at his conclusions too conveniently), but it's very watchable and I'm never bored watching it despite its basically being a photographed play. But it's photographed magnificently.
     
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  17. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Hey Ben, thanks for posting those great photos and the illustration of the apartment layout. I love that kind of stuff! I see this film has been studied allot, but seems to remain largely unknown.

    Matt, for sure this was a very interesting experimental film and thinking about it over the last day has increased my appreciation for the concept and doing a film this way.

    About Rupert, perhaps he did arrive at his conclusions too conveniently. But I was noticing the shots of Rupert reacting to something that Brandon would say or how Phillip reacts and so Hitchcock would drop those hints that Ruperts is into something. I figured he knows of the mischievous pranks that Brandon was capable of from his time in school.

    I discovered by accident a webpage called Talk Film Society where they have a series of pages where various contributors at the site do reviews of film series. There’s a series called Beginner’s Guide to Alfred Hitchcock. They seem pretty good.

    https://talkfilmsociety.com/columns/beginners-guide-to-alfred-hitchcock-rope-1948
     
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  18. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Ben, thanks for the link to the murder case this play and film are based on. I knew the film was based on something true, but not the specific details. That was a horrible crime, I read over most of the wiki on the case, but didn’t want to get too deep into it!
     
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  19. Osato

    Osato Producer

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    I like this one. For sure a lesser Hitchcock film but still one I enjoy every time I see it!
     
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  20. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    For me and a few other Hitchcock fans, Rope is one of Hitchcock's great or near-great films. It's a very uncomfortable film, and quite tense because of the long and seemingly continuous takes. On one level it's commenting on the then-recent past of the Nazis, and that's briefly mentioned in the film iirc. It's also showing how a teacher can with ideas corrupt students in ways that can't quite be foreseen. It's rather abrupt, by James Stewart pulls off the performance of denouncing his previous views by the end, and then suddenly saying that it wasn't really his ideas that did this—it was them.

    This was a bold and expensive experiment by Hitchcock, in terms of the set, the long takes, the themes, Technicolor, etc. It's so grim that it's not surprising that it was a box-office failure, and since it was made by Hitchcock's own production company the losses almost crippled Transatlantic—and then Under Capricorn killed it.

    In terms of picture quality the blu-ray is ok, but that's about it. I don't think Rope had the benefit of the "Ultra Resolution" process, or whatever it was called, that was developed by Warner Bros. HV for combining the three Technicolor strips perfectly into one. The colors are ok, but perhaps could pop a little more too, as with other Technicolor films of this era that have been given full restorations.

    In terms of the 1940s, it's simply an astonishing decade for Hitchcock. I don't recall that any other director made as many good to great films in a ten year period, except for Hitchcock himself when it comes to the 1950s. Here are my ratings as of today for the 1940s....

    Rebecca: A+
    Foreign Correspondent: B+
    Mr. and Mrs. Smith: D
    Suspicion: C+
    Saboteur: A-
    Shadow of a Doubt: A+
    Lifeboat: A+
    Spellbound: A+
    Notorious: A+
    The Paradine Case: C+
    Rope: A
    Under Capricorn: C+

    And so we have twelve feature films in ten years, eight of which are great or near-great. There are four "duds," but three of the four duds have some quite interesting moments and performances. Only one movie here is a total washout imho.
     
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