Amph The Films of Alfred Hitchcock: Disc: ]Alfred Hitchcock's Secret of Happiness

Discussion in 'Community' started by solojones, May 15, 2006.

  1. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    I don't know, it's just a universally acknowledged truth. Why are hardly any posters drawn today, for one thing?

    Sorry for the delay. My brother's in town so I haven't been online much.

    Champagne (1928)
    [image=http://www.carteles.metropoliglobal.com/galerias/data/603/3229zw80h6h64B0gqRwrH6rb69qH4uch38.jpg]
    From the book: "Spoiled and headstrong Betty Balfour gets a taste of the real world selling flowers in a cabaret after her Wall Street tycoon father pretends he is impoverished in order to prove that her boyfriend is a fortune hunter. Balfour was at the time Britain's leading female star."

    This is a comedy. We know Hitch had a great sense of humour, but I have to say that this one baffles me a bit. I imagine it's dry, but I haven't heard anything to suggest it's dark at all. Of course, again I haven't seen it. I don't think it's available on DVD.



    -sj loves kevin spacey

  2. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
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    Me, either. Plain comedy isn't Hitchcock's best genre, though. :p
  3. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
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    Yah... well, I suspect anyway. We're still 6 years away from the first Hitch film I've actually seen :p


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  4. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I love the movie posters, though. :)
  5. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2001
    star 6
    You know, not that I'd ever suggest anything this devilish, but we could skip a few films that no-one hear has ever heard of, let alone seen? :p
  6. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    But they look better in my book where they're bigger :p


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  7. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    [sternly]No skipping![/sternly]
  8. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

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    star 6
  9. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
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    Sorry, I was on medical leave at Mayo Clinic and then I was on vacation in New England. I'm back now.

    The next film is

    Easy Virtue (1928)
    This is a drama. According to IMDB, what it's about is: Laurita Finton is accused by her husband of being in love with an artist. There is a trial, but the artist, who has been rejected by the girl, kills himself. Laurita's world is destroyed so she decides to leave, changing her identity and starting a new life. She falls in love with a rich young man, John Whittaker, but his family doesn't like Laurita, a girl with an "easy virtue". John's mother finds out about the shadows in Laurita's past and tells everything to her son.


    I haven't seen it, but this is really interesting. Even though it's not a suspense, it seems to clearly have a lot of the elements that would mark Hitch's famous suspense films. I would be interested in seeing this one. Apparently you can get it on DVD along with 'Blackmail'.



    -sj loves kevin spacey


  10. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    It sounds a good bit like "Notorious" and "The Paradine Case."

    (Note: In those days, if you caught your spouse in adultery, you sue them & their lover, so that's what the reference to a trial is.)
  11. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
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    Programing note: TCM is showing an upcoming movie in this thread: "Foreign Correspondent" (1940) starring Joel McCrea, tomorrow at 5:00 pm PT.
  12. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    The Farmer's Wife (1928)
    This is a drama and apparently somewhat of a comedy that I admit I haven't heard of either :p Here's what the IMDB summary says:
    Farmer Sweetland is an old and lonely widower who manages to marry again. He likes three ladies, but they all reject him, instigated by Aramintha, the farmer's maid who is secretely in love with her master. The farmer seems to start thinking love is no more his business, but he realizes that the right woman has always lived by his side. She is Aramintha herself.

    Another one of thse somewhat quirky earlier films of Hitch's. I think it's interesting, though. Before he found his nitch as the 'Master of Suspense', he really made a fair variety of films. I think some of these interestingly reveal the things he cared about that he put so masterfully into his other, supposed 'genre' films.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  13. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
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    This film was adapted from a very successful London stage play. In his interview book with Hitchcock, Truffaut describes the film as being influenced by Murnau and the German school. Hitchcock says that he took over of the camera himself when the cameraman got sick, but that he considered that the film had too much dialogue and 'too many titles.'
  14. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
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    Sorry, I've been gone a lot.

    The Manxman (1929)
    IMDB summary-
    Poor fisherman Pete falls in love with Kate, the daughter of a landlord on Man island. Pete decides to leave on his ship to earn some money and then to marry the girl. Before leaving, Pete asks his friend Philip to take care of Kate, but the young man is in love with her too. There comes the tragic news: Pete's ship is wrecked. Philip and Kate have to hide no more and they plan to marry; however, Pete is not dead.


    Oooh, this seems like a juicy, Hitchcock-esque personal story. Even if it is lacking the suspenseful aspects of his later films. This one sounds like it could have the personal conflict aspect down.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  15. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
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    I think Hitchcock says to Truffaut about this film that it involved one of the characters being put on trial for attempted suicide (then against the law) which horrified foreign critics, as well it might.

    I'd like to see this.
  16. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Ok, ok, sorry for being late here. I've been in some exciting places- Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin... :p

    Blackmail (1929)
    [image=http://www.tepasmas.com/posters/fullsize/blackmail.jpg]
    From the book:
    Having starred in Hitchcock's previous film, The Manxman, Polish-born Anny Ondra appears to have been the first in a succession of ice-cool blondes with whom Hitchcock became fascinated. The actress plays a tobacconist's daughter who becomes conscience-stricken after fatally stabbing a pickup artist (Cyril Ritchard) during an attempted seduction (or rape?). All the while Ondra's detective boyfriend (John Loongden) conceals incriminating evidence: her glove, prefiguring the cigarette lighter in Strangers on a Train. Seemingly a simple story of love versus duty, Blackmail is actually memorably ironic and profound. Based on a hit play and begun as a silent, this became Britain's first synchronous-sound feature film. The landmark talkie is noted for its innovative sound and special effects, including a famous chase scene through the British Museum, culminating in the blackmailer's fall from the doomed roof.

    Future director Ronald Neame was the 'clapperboy' on the film; Michael Powell was the stills cameraman.



    This is one I would *really* love to see, but haven't. Not just because of Hitchcock, but because of its place in cinema history in general. Truth be told, though, there are a lot of these kinds of 'cinematic landmark' films I haven't seen. I'm on my way, though. Why tomorrow I'm watching MASH, which features the first use of the f-word :p Ok so I've seen that one, but not in a long time.

    Well, I've added this one to my Netflix queue anyway. So I'll have seen it by about the time we're on, oh, say, Vertigo ;)


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  17. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
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    I'd love to see it, too. The chase in the British Museum, especially.

  18. solojones Chosen One

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    Yeah that especially caught my eye. Particularly because I've been to the British Museum and I always enjoy shouting, "I've been there!" :p


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  19. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
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    I think it was planned as a silent film, and they had to dub Ondra, who had a heavy accent.
  20. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
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    It was planned silent, but the technology for sound became available partway through filming.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  21. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
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    Typically, Hitchcock wasn't fazed by the switch to sound and even experimented.
  22. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Though some of his thrillers are very funny, and his black humour is obvious in some films, his one attempt at a black comedy, "The Trouble With Harry" didn't work.

    I disagree. It may not have done well, but, for my money, it's one of my favorite Hitchcock films (probably number nine out of my top ten favorites).


    Haven't seen "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"

    I'll reserve comment until we get to discussing it proper.


    Why are the posters for these films so much more interesting than anything produced today.

    No Photoshop.


    I haven't seen it, but this is really interesting. Even though it's not a suspense, it seems to clearly have a lot of the elements that would mark Hitch's famous suspense films. I would be interested in seeing this one. Apparently you can get it on DVD along with 'Blackmail'.

    Yes, I have that set. I haven't seen Easy Virtue yet, though. Of the few Hitchcock films I haven't seen (all in the early era), this one, June and the Peacock and the Ring hold no interest for me. However, since I do have this one, I'll watch it someday.

    Re: Blackmail, this is the oldest of his films that I have seen. It is good, all things considered. Let me preference my opinion on this and my opinion on all his films from his first decade by saying I am of the opinion that the art-form of film was never fully realized (i.e, matured into a valid art form) until the mid-to-late 30s. Everything before that is really experimental, trial and error and not that great, in my book. As a result, I'm not the best one to give feedback on pre-1935 films.

    Now, specifically with Blackmail - for its era, it's good. The main thing I like about this one the dark tone. Usually these older movies have a reputation of being happy all the way through, or ending happily. This film does neither. The "good guys" win, but the characters go through a traumatic experience which leaves a dark mark on them, and this is clearly indicated in the ending. Also, to achieve their goal, an innocent man dies - well, OK, he isn't "innocent", he's the blackmailer, but the blackmailer is just some guy down on his luck during the depression who decides to take advantage of the situation. Sure, not a "good guy" or even likable, but (a) he's right in his accusations, and (b) when he realizes the game is up he tries to come clean, but is still killed for a crime he does not commit. Not a traditional happy ending at all, but not too uncommon for Hitchcock.

    There are a few good segments in the film. It's interesting to note that blackmail only gets about twenty minutes of the screentime of the plot.

    Hitchcock has some fun with the use of sound in this one. In particular there is one scene where the mother of the lead character mentions the word "knife", which makes the lead character jumpy. The dialogue fades out and all the audience can hear is the word "knife" pop-up every few seconds, until finally the word is shouted and the main character jumps (good use of psychological prespective.)

    Blackmail is also a good intro to the Hitchock "guilty woman" theme which we would see play out a lot throughout his career in the years to come.
  23. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I am of the opinion that the art-form of film was never fully realized (i.e, matured into a valid art form) until the mid-to-late 30s.

    I can't watch a film like "The Last Laugh" or "Sunrise" and agree with that statement. I think the very best silent films had an art form of their own, which was destroyed by sound.
  24. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I've yet to see a silent film I liked. I've never bought the "sound ruined the art form" argument, because the films use dialogue, even silent films. Dialogue should be spoken. Now, it is possible to do a film without dialogue, in which case silent film would be a valid medium, but it would be difficult and you wouldn't have very many of these.

    But really, I didn't want to side-track this thread into a silent vs. sound era debate, I just wanted you guys to know where I was coming from when I critic anything prior to 39 Steps (and actually, I've only seen three Hitchcock films prior to 39 Steps, Blackmail being the first).
  25. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Murnau didn't believe in title cards and thought you should be able to do a film without. "The Last Laugh" had one; "Sunrise" only a few. They are so engrossing, you don't really miss sound. And like you, I disdained silent films until I was able to see some really good ones.

    I don't think sound ruined the art form; most films were improved by sound, because most directors and writers weren't very good anyway. Some directors adapted readily to sound, like Hitchcock. But there was a small number of good silent films, and the particular language of those films was destroyed by sound.