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

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

  1. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
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    Most people today (a vast majority) do not think sound ruined film, but there is that old school (and I mean old school) fringe that still clings to that notion. I remember having to watch a documentary in college about how the coming of sound was a aken to great cultural tragedy. I remember thinking "huh?"

    I didn't think Blackmail felt all that much like a silent film. He moved into sound pretty well, as you say. Interestingly enough Rich and Strange (isn't that his next film?) felt more like a silent film that a sound film. Rich and Strange was definitely a step back, in many ways.
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I don't think sound was a disaster, but if you can watch Steamboat Bill, Jr. or Our Hospitality or City Lights and say that they aren't truly great art, then we simply have different definitions of 'art.'

  3. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

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    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5

    Agreed Rogue, CITY LIGHTS was an awesome film, Chaplin at his best.
    Pure cinema and pure genius. Few people took silent film to the heights
    that Chaplin did.

    I think some context is appropriate for the thread.
    Back in 1929, directors were not the anointed stars they are today.
    When Hitchcock started making films, no one had ever
    heard of Truffaut's auteur theory. That was several
    decades away. It was a very, very different world then.

  4. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    NOTICE: Hitchcock's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" will be on TCM on August 17th, 2006. Check your local listings. I know I will, because I haven't seen it.
  5. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Today is the 105th Anniversary of Hitchcock's birthday. Encore has been having a weekend-long Hitchcock marathon. So, uh, happy belated birthday Hitch?

    I'm not very qualified to enter a debate about silent film because I really haven't seen much silent film. I will say, though, from a theatre history point of view, it's always struck me as curious that some people had trouble adapting to the 'talkies'. Hadn't any of them ever been to a play? The things had been around for a while, you know.


    Actually, Stryphe, speaking of theatre, our next film is:

    Juno and the Paycock (1930)
    From my trusty, rusty book:
    Set in the early 1920's during the Irish civil war, Hitchcock and Alma Reville's adaptation of Sean O'Casey's play depicts the hardships of a poor Dublin family.

    [image=http://www.terra.es/personal8/hitchcock01a/1930%20Juno%20and%20the%20Paycock%20(ing).jpg]

    This poster describes the film as 'A tragi-comedy of Irish Life which reaches the highest pinnacle of dramatic intensity'... I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems like they're trying too hard. This is Hitchcock's lowest rated film on IMDB, with a mere 4.7 stars. Yeesh.

    The good news is we're only 7 films away from one I've actually seen :p That brings up something I need to ask you all, though. That film will be The Man Who Knew Too Much, the original version. Should we talk about it then individually, talk about it later along with its remake, or talk about it and its remake then?






    -sj loves kevin spacey
  6. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Talk about it in sequence.

    I would like to see Hitchcock's attempt at drama, but this is another film that's difficult to find.
  7. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
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    See, I'm not sure if the poor quality (supposedly) of this film would have more to do with the source material or the direction. Actually, in general, I wonder how much of Hitchcock's films are ever attributed to the screenwriters. Yes, often Hitch had a fair amount of involvement in the development of stories. But I think probably the amount of credit due his screenwriters is underplayed. For instance, Psycho is one of my Hitch's best films and is my favourite film of all time, but would never have been possible without Joseph Steffano taking Robert Bloch's crappy novel and turning it into a great script.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  8. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Hitchcock did contribute to the scripts, mainly by shaping them by describing what he wanted to the screenwriter. This worked better with some people than others. He greatly liked, for instance, Thornton Wilder, who worked on "Shadow of a Doubt"; he hated, OTOH, Raymond Chandler ("Strangers on a Train") and had his work rewritten by a woman called Czerni Ormond (?) In the early days, he and his wife often collaborated on the scripts (though they were always attributed to her). After the failure of "Under Capricorn" she refused further involvement, but her opinion always ruled. If Hitchcock wanted to tell someone that he liked their work, he'd say that Alma liked it.
  9. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I've always found Hitch fascinating for the simple reason that he spanned the artform like no one else. He saw silent cinema die and usher in sound. He saw the rise and fall of the production code and he saw the opening flourishes of the MPAA. He lived in the experimental phase of early cinema, saw the big studio system reach its zenith and die and saw the rise of independent cinema . . . I mean, great God, the man stands as a metaphor for the industry as a whole.

    I tried to watch an old VHS release of Juno and the Paycock (O'Casey is generally considered to be the best of the Irish playwrights, so I was curious to see it . . . ), but the tape was such poor quality I couldn't really see anything, so I gave up.
  10. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
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    I've never heard anything good about Juno and the Paycock, so I have never wanted to see it.

    EDIT - hope you don't mind, but I updated the thread title.
  11. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Mind, why would I mind? Any help is welcome. :)
  12. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

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    Nov 14, 2001
    star 6

    Speaking of which, Hitch had a unique approach to adaptation. He had two points of adaptation theory:

    1. Only adapt novels that are little-known. This means that they can be ruthlessly changed as much as needed.

    2. Read the novel once, and then write the screenplay.
  13. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
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    Rebecca wasn't exactly little known, though.
  14. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 11, 1998
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    "Rebecca" was David Selznick's idea--the producer. At that time, Hitchcock was working for hire.
  15. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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  16. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

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    Yes, I was waiting for someone to say that. Rebecca is the obvious exception to his theory of adaptation, and is probably one reason why he disliked the end result so much. Certainly the literal-translation of the opening scene with narration ("Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again") is very un-Hitchcock. Especially considering that it is a flashback without a flashforward.
  17. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I have heard, and I'm not saying this is true only that I've heard it, that he had his studio buy up all available copies of Bloch's Psycho, so that no one would get the book and therefore know the twist ending.

    I don't know that it is true, but it certainly rings true for him.

    Rear Window is another notable exception, probably because it's a short story. It's all right out of Woolrich's original work; they expanded it by adding the romantic subplot and deepening the detective's character, but I think everything from the story is pretty well in the movie, down to that climax in the darkened apartment which plays out only a hair differently.

    A case of addition, but very little subtraction.

    *stop skipping ahead, stop skipping ahead*

    Sorry. :p
  18. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

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    Nov 14, 2001
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    Didn't the author of Rear Window have something to do with the making of the film? I seem to remember something like that from the "Making of" featurette on the DVD.
  19. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I don't think he did. Might be wrong, though.

    Hitch hated Rebecca? I'm surprised. That movie was great.

    So, while we're waiting for the next movie to be posted, as anyone actually seen Juno and the Paycock?
  20. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2001
    star 6
    I haven't seen Juno and the Paycock, no.


    Yes, Hitch really disliked Rebecca. He even referred to it as not really a "Hitchcock" film, and regarded it as outside his body of work.
  21. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, I don't think anyone has seen this movie :p I will update the thread when I get back from my massage.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  22. Palpateen Jedi Master

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    Apr 26, 2000
    star 4
    I've never heard of it. Is it mentioned in Donald Spoto's book on Hitchcock films?
  23. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
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    I don't know, I'm not familiar with that book... now to our next film.

    Murder! (1930)
    From IMDB:
    An actress in a travelling theatre group is murdered and Diana Baring, another member of the group is found suffering from amnesia standing by the body. Diana is tried and convicted of the murder, but Sir John Menier a famous actor on the jury is convinced of her innocence. Sir John sets out to find the real murderer before Diana's death sentence is carried out.


    Haven't seen it, but it's available on DVD in... some set :p Seems like pretty standard fair, though. Less subtle than Hitchcock's later work, which has the wonderful quality of an often normal premise at first that gets darker the deeper we see in.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  24. Palpateen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2000
    star 4

    This sounds like a very interesting premise. Hitchcock was always interested in Murder.
    I didn't realize he had made a movie simply titled with that word.

    Solojones, I recommend the Spoto book. It's excellent. It's analysis of Vertigo is especially good.
  25. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Haven't seen it, I even forgot it existed. The plot does sound interesting and very Hitchcock, but at the same time, as I said earlier, from what I've seen of his very early works I was not largely impressed, not enough so to hunt ones down I've not seen. I bought and watched Blackmail for its historical value more than anything. Rich and Strange was given to me.