Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in ‘To Catch A Thief’, 1955Posted: February 12, 2017 Filed under: Cinema, Entertainment, Photography | Tags: 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock, Film, Gary Grant, Grace Kelly Leave a comment
[VIDEO] How Hitchcock Got People To See ‘Psycho’Posted: January 23, 2017 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock filmography, Bathroom, Cinema, Film, Movies, New York City, Paramount Pictures, Promotion, Thriller Leave a comment
Alfred Hitchcock and Paramount present a guide to their revolutionary release of “Psycho” in this extended “press book on film” from the Academy Film Archive.
Psycho Shower Scene DocumentaryPosted: January 23, 2017 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Entertainment Weekly, Feature film, Horror, Jason Segel, Psycho, Rooney Mara, Shower Scene, Sundance Film Festival, suspense, Thriller Leave a comment
Clark Collis writes: The new documentary 78/52 gives a closer look at the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 terror classic Psycho with assistance from a lengthy list of interviewees, including Guillermo del Toro, Peter Bogdanovich, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Neil Marshall, Danny Elfman, Karyn Kusama, Apocalypse Now editor Walter Murch, Janet Leigh’s actress daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, and Anthony Perkins’ filmmaker son, Osgood Perkins. The film’s title refers to the number of setups (78) and the number of cuts (52) in the notorious sequence.
[WATCH – psycho shower scene doc 78/52: Exclusive clip]
Written and directed by Alexandre O. Philippe (Doc of the Dead), 78/52 was showcased as a work-in-progress at Fantasia’s Frontieres International Film Market. Read the rest of this entry »
Danish poster for ‘Citizen Kane’, 1946 (Orson Welles, USA, 1941)Posted: January 17, 2017 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Global | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Citizen Kane, design, Illustration, Movies, Orson Welles, Poster Art, typography Leave a comment
1946 Danish poster for CITIZEN KANE (Orson Welles, USA, 1941)
Poster source: Posteritati
The Danish title translates as “The Big Man.” Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Focal Lengths and Lenses used by Great DirectorsPosted: January 9, 2017 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinematography, David Lean, Directors, Filmmaking, Lenses, Martin Scorsese, Movies, Orson Welles, Photography, Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielberg, video Leave a comment
‘Psycho’, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1960Posted: December 12, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Cinematography, Hitchcock, Movies, Psycho Leave a comment
Hitchcock Poster: ‘The Next Showing of Psycho Begins at…’Posted: August 26, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, design, Horror, Illustration, Movies, Mystery, Poster Art, suspense, Thriller, typography Leave a comment
[PHOTOS] Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’, 1958Posted: August 16, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Cinematography, design, Glamour, graphics, Illustration, Kim Novak, Movie Posters, Movies, typography Leave a comment
Spanish Poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’, by Fernando Albericio, USA, 1954Posted: August 15, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Cinema of the United Kingdom, design, Fernando Albericio, François Truffaut, Illustration, Movies, North by Northwest, Poster Art, Psycho (film), Rear Window, SPAIN, The Birds (film), Thriller (genre), typography Leave a comment
Spanish one sheet for REAR WINDOW (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1954)
Designer: Fernando Albericio
Poster source: Heritage Auctions
OH YES: Alfred Hitchcock Action FigurePosted: May 29, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Action figure, Alfred Hitchcock, Art, Cannes Film Festival, Cinema, Dolls, Movies, novelty, Psycho (film), toys Leave a comment
Mondo collaborated with artists Trevor Grove and Michael Norman to create this 1/6 scale collectible figure of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. The action figure includes:
2 Cigars (1 lit & 1 unlit)
4 Interchangeable Hands…(read more)
Source: Dangerous Minds
DON’T TELL NORMA: Psychobarn Constructed on the Met Museum’s RooftopPosted: May 23, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Bates Motel, Central Saint Martins, Comfort object, Cornelia Parker, Edward Hopper, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, Psycho (film), Psycho House 1 Comment
The fourth annual installation of commissioned work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor roof garden has been revealed. this year’s site-specific installation follows french artist pierre huyghe’s animal and mineral landscape presented last year, and american artist dan graham’s ‘hedge two-way mirror walkabout’ in 2014.
The roof garden commission 2016: Cornelia Parker
video courtesy of the met
The large-scale sculpture reaches a height of nearly 30 feet, appearing to be a completely constructed house at first glance, but upon closer inspection, revealing itself as two façades propped up with scaffolding. fabricated from a deconstructed red barn taken from a farm in upstate new york, the scaled-down structure is both genuine and fictional, conjuring the psychological and emotional aspects that are associated with these two architectural typologies.
Additionally, parker has incorporated the red siding, wood floors, whitewashed posts, and corrugated steel roofing from an old barn. the title of refers to the psychoanalytic theory of transitional objects used by children to help negotiate their identity as separate from their parents.
For the 2016 edition, british artist cornelia parker combines two iconic aspects of american architecture — the image of a classic red barn, and the ominous bates mansion from alfred hitchcock’s 1960 film psycho — for the installation ‘transitional object (psychobarn)’.
[See more here, at designboom.com]
‘I was very excited to find the original set from psycho was only two flats, all propped up from behind, like a stage set would be, and it was filmed from a particular angle so you only saw the house, side on,’parker says. ‘I’ve built the house in the same angle. I’ve tipped it into the corner, and then if you go around the back, you can see it’s all propped up and you realize it’s a façade. but I wanted it to be believable from this angle. so the roof garden becomes the garden of this house. so I like the idea of the private hedge around the met roof. and then hunkering in the corner is this sinister house.’
‘I collaborated with a restoration company, who go around america and they take down old barns,’ parker says. ‘so the roof of this house is made from the corrugated metal from the barn roof. the siding is made obviously from the siding of the barn. so this is the barn, reconfigured. so I quite like the idea of the barn being this quite wholesome thing, this, you know, lovely thing about the landscape and the countryside, and politicians like standing in front of red barns because it typifies wholesomeness. and then the psycho house is the opposite. it’s just all the dark psychological stuff you don’t really want to look at.’ Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant on the set of Notorious, 1946Posted: May 23, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Cinema, Hitchcock, Movies, Notorious, Photography Leave a comment
Title Cards: ‘Suspicion’, Alfred Hitchcock, 1941Posted: April 13, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Cary Grant, Cinema, Joan Fontaine, Movies, Mystery, suspense, Thriller, Title Cards Leave a comment
Movie title and typography from ‘Suspicion’ (1941), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce
Source: Suspicion (1941) Alfred Hitchcock
[VIDEO] The Hidden Trick in Almost Every Classic Hitchcock ScenePosted: April 10, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Dominant-party system, Filmmaking, Frenzy, Hollywood, James Stewart, Marnie (film), Movies, North by Northwest, Psycho (film), Rear Window, The Birds (film), Tom Helmore, Vertigo (film) Leave a comment
Bryan Menages writes: Hitchcock is the unquestioned master of suspense. But what is it about his scenes that makes them so gripping, and why do they stand up to repeated viewings, even when you know the twist?
To answer this, the Nerdwriter turned to blocking—how you position stuff and people in relation to each other—specifically, the blocking in an early interaction from Vertigo. In the lengthy scene, a retired detective (Jimmy Stewart) meets a shipping tycoon (Tom Helmore) in his office, where he’s about to be lied to quite a bit.
During the meeting, Hitchcock uses the chairs to suggest power, with the dominant party at any given time being physically higher than the seated party. Similarly, the back half of the room is slightly raised and blocked by partial walls, almost like a stage…(read more)
Italian Poster for Hitchcock’s ‘The Wrong Man’, by Luigi MartinatiPosted: February 23, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, design, Henry Fonda, Hitchcock, Illustration, Italy, Movies, Mystery, Poster Art, suspense, Thriller, typography, vintage Leave a comment
Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch a Thief’Posted: February 15, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Cinema, Cinematography, Grace Kelly, Movies, Photography Leave a comment
[PHOTO] Tippi Hedren, ‘Marnie’, 1964Posted: November 21, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Marnie (movie) Hollywood, Movies, Photography, Tippi Hedren Leave a comment
[PHOTO] Tippi Hedren & Suzanne Pleshette, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, 1963Posted: November 11, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Film, Hollywood, Movies, Photography, suspense, Suzanne Pleshette, The Birds, Thriller, Tippi Hedren Leave a comment
Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, 1963Posted: October 30, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Animation, Cinema, Horror, Movies, Mystery, Photography, suspense, The Birds, Thriller 2 Comments
Movie Poster: Alfred Hitchock’s ‘Psycho’Posted: October 11, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, design, Horror, Illustration, Mystery, Psycho (movie) Poster Art, suspense, Thriller, typography, vintage Leave a comment
[PHOTOS] On Set With Alfred HitchcockPosted: October 11, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, History, Mediasphere | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Asquith, Anthony Perkins, Cary Grant, Cinema, Director, Film, Janet Leigh, Photography, Psycho (film), Ryan Murphy (writer) Leave a comment
On set with Alfred Hitchcock – Amazing behind-the-scenes photos of the master at work. (more here)
Source: vintage everyday
Ingrid Bergman & Claude Rains in ‘Notorious’Posted: September 29, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Claude Rains, fashion, Films, Glamour, Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Movies, Mystery, Notorious, Photography, suspense, Thriller Leave a comment
Alfred Hitchcock: ‘The Birds’, 1963Posted: September 29, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, History | Tags: Academy Award, Actor, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Horror, Jessica Tandy, Movies, Mystery, North by Northwest, Paris Hilton, Psycho (film), Rod Taylor, Romance, Suzanne Pleshette, The Birds (film), Thriller, Tippi Hedren, Vertigo Leave a comment
A few nights ago, I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds‘, for the first time in decades. I wonder why? I’ve seen restored versions of Psycho, Read Window, and Vertigo multiple times, but for some reason I’d missed re-watching this one. It was a pleasure to see again. And to see Tippi Hedren with fresh eyes.
I was surprised to discover a curious resemblance between actress Tippi Hedren, at age 33, and Paris Hilton, now 34. The resemblance is minor, but notable.
And I’m not the first to notice it. A brief Google search shows seekers asking if Tippi and Paris are related. (they are not) In the course of this, I also rediscovered that Tippi Hedren is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith. Born in 1957, Melanie Griffith recalls visiting the set during the filming of The Birds, in 1962, when she was a little girl.
I was also pleased to find that the earthy and vivacious brunette female co-star is Suzanne Pleshette, another detail I’d forgotten. She has features similar to Elizabeth Taylor, or a young Stockard Channing.
Notice, in the photo below, how the 33 year-old Hedren has similar features, or facial expression, to the 34-year old Paris Hilton. See a similarity? I think it’s there.
Since we all know the story, and suspense isn’t a factor, I was free to pay closer attention to Tippi Hedren‘s performance, and to the interpersonal drama between the main characters, played by Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, and Suzanne Pleshette.
What a strange, dark, pensive, Freudian, romantic-erotic narrative! Where much is left unsaid, but implied. Jealousy, loneliness, abandonment, flirtation, hostility, attraction, are all explored, but not resolved. I’ve always thought of Vertigo as being the most neurotic, sexually obsessed, repressed, fixated story in Hitchock’s canon, but I had underestimated the peculiar storyline of The Birds. Before the actual birds take over the story, there’s a lot of familial and romantic turbulence. And the cast is wonderful.
Tippi Hedren looks so elegant, mischievous, and glamorous, one can see why Hitchcock selected the untrained model, fixated on her, and elevated her to movie star. Much is written about Hitchock’s abusive, controlling personality, and troubles with female leads, no need to cover that here, Hedren was no exception. Leaving all that aside, it was a pleasure to simply marvel at how lovingly photographed the neophyte actress is, and how well-crafted the film is. The moody San Francisco and northern California seaside locations, the special effects, the sound design (no music, only bird sounds make up the film’s score) the cinematography…besides being one of the most famous horror movies of all time, it’s also a terrific early 1960s time-capsule. Next time you watch it? Forget about the birds, and follow the other elements of the story. Perhaps you’ll find it as rewarding as I did.
[PHOTO] Recurring Beach NightmarePosted: September 22, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Hollywood, London, Movies, Photography Leave a comment
[PHOTO] Alfred Hitchcock on the Set of Rear Window, 1954Posted: September 17, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, History | Tags: 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Crime fiction, Directors, Hitchcock, Movies, Mystery, Rear Window (movie), Thriller Leave a comment
Celebrating Alfred Hitchcock, Born Today, August 13, 1899: Classic Movie PostersPosted: August 13, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Cinematography, design, England, Film, Filmmaking, Hollywood, Illustration, Movies, Photography, vintage Leave a comment
Alfred Hitchcock, Born Today, Aug. 13, 1899Posted: August 13, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, History | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, England, Filmmaker, Hollywood, Movies, Mystery, suspense, Thriller Leave a comment
[Order Michael Wood’s book “Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much” from Amazon.com]
[Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]]
[See more – in our Hitchcock archives at punditfromanotherplanet]
1950s French Re-Release for Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rope’, 1948; Le Classique du Suspense!Posted: August 3, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, History | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Cinema, design, Drama, Films, France, Hitchcock, Illustration, James Stewart, Movie Posters, Mystery, Poster Art, Rope (movie), Thriller, typography Leave a comment
1950s re-release French grande for ROPE (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1948)
Artist: Roger Soubie (1898-1984) [see also]
Poster source: Heritage Auctions
[BOOKS] Hitchcock: The Fine Art of FearPosted: June 30, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Reading Room | Tags: 20th Century Fox, Academy Award for Best Director, Academy Award for Best Picture, Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, American Film Institute, Bird, Cary Grant, Dive bomber, North by Northwest, Psycho (film), The Birds (film), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film), YouTube Leave a comment
Robert Nason writes: In Alfred Hitchcock’s films, the lack of information—or the possession of it—can have deadly consequences. The titles are revealing: “Suspicion” (1941), “Notorious” (1946), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934, 1956). In his concise, insightful book on the director, Michael Wood asserts that in Hitchcock’s films there are “only three options: to know too little, to know too much . . . and to know a whole lot that is entirely plausible and completely wrong.”
“Some claim that Hitch was a sadist who took ‘pleasure in seeing beautiful women in harm’s way.’ Mr. Wood argues that Hitchcock worked out his own fears on film: ‘Far from enjoying the torments of these women at risk, he identified with them.'”
Hitchcock was born on Aug. 13, 1899, the son of a greengrocer. Members of this economic class, Mr. Wood says, were suspicious of the posh people above them and the unruly ones below. Hitchcock’s films would abound with upper-class villains and fearful mobs. As a Catholic, Hitchcock was an outsider in Protestant England; he would later be an English outsider in America.
[Order Michael Wood’s book “Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much” from Amazon.com]
Shy, chubby and intelligent, the young Hitchcock had few friends. He preferred attending sensational London trials—and movies. Instead of fan magazines, Hitch—as he preferred to be called—avidly read technical film journals and landed a job designing movie title cards. As a fledging director of silents, he was influenced by the shadowy lighting and dynamic camera movements of German Expressionist cinema. He would combine their beauty and atmosphere of anxiety with a dash of black humor and a blonde in jeopardy. All the ingredients were in place for his third feature, “The Lodger” (1927), the film “in which he became Hitchcock,” as Mr. Wood puts it. The title character is suspected by everyone as a Jack-the-Ripperish killer. Is he or isn’t he? “Innocence and guilt,” Mr. Wood notes, “leave many of the same traces.”
When Hitchcock came to Hollywood in 1939, he had already imparted alarming warnings to his British countrymen in a recent string of thrillers. He would send the same message to Americans: A menace threatened not only Great Britain and the United States but civilization as a whole. In many of Hitchcock’s great British films, from “The 39 Steps” (1935) to “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), we’re usually not told who the spies are working for, but there’s little doubt who the enemy is. Likewise, in his early Hollywood film “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), the “peace activist,” suavely played by Herbert Marshall, is actually a spy working for the unnamed foe.
[Read the full story here, at WSJ]
While some Hitchcock films deal with global threats, the truly frightening works dwell upon more intimate dangers. In the film that was the director’s personal favorite, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), Joseph Cotton plays a dapper killer of wealthy women, proving that evil could lurk even in anytown America. In “Strangers on a Train” (1951) and “Rear Window” (1954), brutal murders occur, respectively, in an amusement park and a middle-class apartment building. Hitchcock became an American citizen in 1955, the same year that his hit television program “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” debuted. Mr. Wood suggests that the habitually fearful Hitchcock worried about “losing what he most cared about” at the pinnacle of his career, and this contributed to the richness of his confident yet melancholy films during the next few years.
Mr. Wood devotes more space to “Vertigo” (1958) than to any other Hitchcock film. In this masterpiece of misinformation and obsession, Jimmy Stewartplays a retired private investigator fascinated by a suicidal woman who is hardly who she seems to be. In “North by Northwest” (1959), Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a shallow Madison Avenue advertising man thought by enemy spies to be an American intelligence officer who in fact doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock, 1963Posted: May 20, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Movies, Photography, Tippi Hedren, vintage Leave a comment
[PHOTO] Alfred Hitchcock on Set of ‘Rear Window‘Posted: May 4, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Films, Jimmy Stewart, Movies, Photography, Rear Window (movie), vintage 1 Comment
[PHOTO] James Stewart and Grace Kelly, Cycling Through the Studio Lot During the Filming of Rear Window (1954)Posted: April 29, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Hollywood, James Stewart, Photography, Rear Window, vintage 1 Comment
[VIDEO] Fellini’s 8 1/2 Gets a New TrailerPosted: April 16, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Education, Mediasphere | Tags: 8½, Academy Award, Alan Peacock, Alfred Hitchcock, Art film, BBC Films, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, British Film Institute, Cinema, Federico Fellini, Film Festival 1 Comment
Considered by lily-livered wags, art-film know-alls and self-describing cinephiles as one of the greatest movies ever made, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ is getting another run-out on the UK’s big screens, an opportunity which has been afforded by those kind folks over at BFI. It’s now a matter of course that repertory films which get re-released are given the brand new trailer treatment, and this one is no exception. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] Alfred Hitchcock, 1956Posted: April 15, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Film, Gelatin Silver Studio Work Print, Hollywood, Photography, Richard Avedon, vintage Leave a comment
RICHARD AVEDON (American, 1923-2004)
Alfred Hitchcock, Director, New York, March 16, 1956
Vintage gelatin silver studio work print
Cannes 2015 Poster Honors Ingrid BergmanPosted: March 23, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, History, Mediasphere | Tags: 8½, Alfred Hitchcock, Cannes Film Festival, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Ingrid Bergman, La Dolce Vita, Marcello Mastroianni, Roberto Rossellini, United States 1 Comment
There is perhaps no other film festival in the world whose annual poster is so anticipated, dissected and collected as the Cannes Film Festival. After paying homage last year to Marcello Mastroianni in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, this edition has chosen to honor Ingrid Bergman at the centenary of her birth. The Cassablanca star and three-time Oscar-winner was jury president in Cannes in 1973.
She worked with such directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Roberto Rossellini and Ingmar Bergman; and starred opposite iconic actors including Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck. A documentary by Stig Björkman, Ingrid Bergman, In Her Own Words, will feature in the Cannes Classics section in May, the fest said today….(read more)
Pulp Fiction: ‘Vertigo’Posted: January 21, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Reading Room | Tags: 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock, Crime fiction, Dell Books, design, Hitchcock, Illustration, Mystery, Paperback, Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejax, Thriller, typography, vintage Leave a comment
Dell 977 (by uk vintage)
Cover art by Robert Maguire
[PHOTO] Alfred Hitchcock Takes a ShotPosted: January 19, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinema, Crime fiction, Films, Guns, Hitchcock, Horror, Movies, Mystery, Photography, Thriller, vintage Leave a comment
Point of View and ‘Intrarealism’ in HitchcockPosted: January 17, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Ben Affleck, Cinema, David Fincher, Gillian Flynn, Gus Van Sant, Movies, Mystery, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train (film), Thriller, Warner Bros Leave a comment
In 1980, in Wide Angle, Daniel Sallitt writes:
Hitchcock’s work has always provided much of the source material for discussions of the nature of point of view and identification in the cinema. The most readily identifiable and frequently used sequence in Hitchcock has the characteristic form of alternation between closeups of a person looking at something and shots from the person’s point of view of what the person is seeing; this kind of sequence, embodying as it does a very pure notion of viewpoint, has always seemed the central instance of subjective cinema. Add to this the undeniable power of Hitchcock’s films to involve the spectator in the narrative in some way which has always seemed more direct than that of other films, and one has the makings of a rudimentary model of identification, with manipulation of visual point of view creating a sense of subjective involvement by proxy in the film universe. The purpose of this paper is to examine and question this model, which seems to me a simplification, albeit a very understandable one, of what is actually going on in the films.
[Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]]
The fact that Hitchcock’s point-of-view sequences often appear at moments of greatest narrative tension and viewer absorption may be part of the reason that we tend to assume a simple cause and effect relationship; it is, however, worth noting and examining the many examples of point-of-view or subjective sequences which don’t operate in the expected way. The particular point which I would dispute most strongly is that Hitchcock’s films are in some way dedicated to a notion of psychological subjectivity, that the films examine reality from an individual’s psychological viewpoint which we are compelled to share. It is necessary to ask exactly how Hitchcock employs subjective techniques, and exactly what their effect is, before deciding on what level subjectivity is operating in the films. In addition, I wish to identify more general aesthetic strategies operating in Hitchcock of which point of view is a specific manifestation.
The first thing to consider on the subject of point of view and subjectivity is the frequency with which Hitchcock switches the visual point of view from character to character within a sequence. A few examples, chosen at random from among many: the switch to the crofter’s point of view as he spies on Donat and Peggy Ashcroft from outside the house in The Thirty-Nine Steps; in the church sequence in the second Man Who Knew Too Much, the pastor’s point-of-view shots of his wife informing him of Stewart and Day’s presence, in a sequence which otherwise works from Stewart and Day’s point of view; the transition from Grant and Bergman’s point of view in the wine cellar in Notorious to Rains’ point of view as he sees them kissing; the seamless alternation between the point of view of Bruno and Miriam in the fairground murder sequence in Strangers on a Train. There is no shortage of such examples; Hitchcock constantly exercises his option of moving from one point of view to another. What is most interesting about these alternations is that they jolt the spectator so little.
[See more – in our Hitchcock archives at punditfromanotherplanet]
There is no more sense of dislocation or of a violation of rules than there is with any shift of emphasis from one aspect of a situation to another. On the basis of this observation, one should question the extent to which the use of a character as the focal point of a point-of-view sequence necessitates an adoption of that character’s psychological perspective on the event. If this were the case, one would expect to be jolted at each switch of point of view, as one were forced to adopt a different psychological orientation. Indeed, if we know anything about a character’s psychology during a point-of-view shot, it consists of stored knowledge from previous scenes or shots rather than information obtained from the shot itself; any inferences we make about the psychological state of our “stand-in” are just that, intellectualized inferences; whereas the direct impact of the shot comes instead from our perception of what one would see from this point in the film universe. Our eyes substitute for the character’s eyes, but we have no force acting on us at that moment to even make us aware of the character’s thoughts, much less to make us share them.
As confirmation of this, note the large number of point-of-view shots in which there is no importance attached to the character’s psychology, or even in which there is no particular character corresponding to the point of view (for instance, when a shot previously established as a character’s point of view is repeated after the character has gone). A few examples: the early shot in Notorious in which we get the point of view of a newsman looking into the courtroom; in the scene in Foreign Correspondent in which the two fake policemen are trapped by an accumulation of hotel workers, the point-of-view shots of McCrea and Day escaping down the corridor as seen by the pseudo-cops; Raymond Burr’s point-of-view shots of the blindness inflicted by Stewart’s flashbulbs in Rear Window; the point-of-view shots through the windows of the stalled dining car in The Lady Vanishes, many of which have no observer of whom to be the point of view. Here there is little or no possibility of the point-of-view shots being intimately bound up with character psychology and still the shots work perfectly well, giving us no sense of being daring or unusual devices.
The effect is very much as if we were simply borrowing a character’s eyes for a moment so that we could use their viewpoint. One concludes that, far from being a device to inflict the character’s psychology on us, the point-of-view shot is somehow rather impersonal and remote from the character whose point of view is being used, as if our direct experience of a viewpoint would always outweigh our intellectualized inference of what the shot would make the character feel. The point-of-view shot seems to be an accurate evocation of a character’s psychological state only when that psychological state resembles the one that the point-of-view shot naturally inflicts on us, the sense of suddenly having visual access to a new, different universe—as in, for example, the scenes of Vera Miles exploring the Bates house in Psycho, or of Fonda being jailed in The Wrong Man. Which is to say that the point-of-view shot is a means of putting the spectator in some relation, not to the character, but to the film universe. Read the rest of this entry »
Hitchcock: ‘To Catch a Theif’Posted: January 2, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment | Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Cinema, design, Grace Kelly, Hitchcock, Hollywood, Illustration, Movie Poster, Movies, Mystery, Technicolor, Thriller, typography, Vistavision Leave a comment
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]