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Suggestions for a Hitchcock scene analysis?

Old 02-20-03, 02:03 PM
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Suggestions for a Hitchcock scene analysis?

Hey all! Thought maybe you could help me out here and throw some suggestions my way...

I'm taking a Hitchcock course at university right now, and our first paper is a short scene analysis on a scene from any of Hitchcock's films. So... that leaves plenty of choices. Maybe you fine folks could narrow the selection down by suggesting a few scenes that you think would be worthwhile and interesting to analyze.

(By "scene analysis", I mean, looking at a specific scene -- or sequence -- and analyzing pretty much everything about it.. ie: how the framing communicates meaning, what the script in that sequence is actually getting at, lighting choices, general mise en scene, etc... and just generally how that particular scene/sequence relates to and communicates information about the rest of the film as a whole).

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Old 02-20-03, 02:10 PM
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the rape/murder in Blackmail or the breakfast scene in Blackmail
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Old 02-20-03, 02:23 PM
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Since everyone else is going to do the shower scene from Psycho, don't do that.

Honestly, I'd pick a scene from Frenzy. One of my favorite scenes of all-time is the tracking shot during the scene where the woman is murdered in the protaganist's office. Another great scene(s) are the dinner scenes between the detective and his wife. Kind of an inside joke for Hitchcock since scenes with people eating are an underlying theme in many of his films.
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Old 02-20-03, 02:30 PM
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I'm sure a bunch of classmates will do PSYCHO, but one scene they might not do is one of my all time favs.

Anyone who hasn't seen the film stop reading now!

As you know, we start the film with one character, and even tho she is a thief, our "emotions" follow her. The scene right after she is killed, and Norman buries the car in the lake, illustrates how Hitchcock manipulates the audience to now turn our emotions so easily to this new character. Left staring at our dead main character, we quickly begin to care for Norman as he "tidys up." This emotion shift is cemented when we realize we actual "feel bad" that the car doesn't sink all the way at first, and relieved when it finally does. That's was our protagonist in there!! How fickle audiences can be made to be.

Anyway... have fun with whatever scene you choose!
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Old 02-20-03, 02:44 PM
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How about the last shot in North by Northwest?

Seriously, I would pick the scene where Bergman realizes she's being poisoned in Notorious. Or, maybe the opening scene in Rear Window that introduces all the main characters.
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Old 02-20-03, 03:18 PM
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How about the opening scene in PSYCHO (in the hotel room), which reveals so much about Marian Crane, sets up some expectations, puts us off guard for what will happen ... wonderful scene!
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Old 02-20-03, 06:34 PM
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The chase scene up the chuch tower in Vertigo could be a good one to do.
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Old 02-20-03, 06:42 PM
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How about the crop duster scene in North by Northwest?
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Old 02-20-03, 07:17 PM
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I did one on Rear Window in college

There's a pretty hefty undercurrent of masculine competency and feminine inadequacy through the entire movie.

From the start, Grace Kelly wants Stewart to marry her, but he tells her she won't be accustomed to the rigors of his masculine life (I think it was photography and travelling- can't remember specifics). And as you can see, she's all dressed up in skirts and high heels, well-kept hair and make-up- totally inadequate for marrying Stewart. Now, throughout the movie, you see her becoming more and more "masculine" (as defined by Stewart's conditions for marriage) by taking the initiative in investigating the missing wife (climbing through windows, breaking in, etc).

The culminating scene of this theme (which even my professor didn't realize until I told her about it) is when she breaks into the guy's apartment to find the ring which supposedly belongs to the missing wife. Kelly grabs the ring (while Stewart is looking through his binoculars), and slips it on her finger just before the big guy (Thurwald?) returns to his apartment. When she slipped on the ring, she kind of waves it around so that Stewart notices. While it's easy to realize that this is her point of saying "I found her ring, she's got to be missing!", I interpret this to be also "I earned this ring, and marriage, because I've demonstrated that I can do all these manly things"

Last scene of the movie- she's wearing jeans (if i recall correctly).

There are other scenes and sequences if you look closely. For framing and other technical stuff, I didn't pay too much attention to, so can't help you there.
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Old 02-20-03, 07:34 PM
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Kim Novak's "glowing" return in Vertigo.
Rope - the entire film
The "birds eye" view shot of seagulls attacking the bay in what else, The Birds.
The scenes leading up to the shower sequence in Psycho.
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Old 02-20-03, 08:18 PM
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Many scenes in Vertigo are really complex and well done. I'd recommend taking a closer look at the movie and picking any scene, pretty much. I like the one where James Stewart dives in the river under the Golden Gate.
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Old 02-20-03, 08:46 PM
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Uncle Charlie's introduction in "Shadow of a Doubt"
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Old 02-21-03, 09:12 AM
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I'd second pretty much any scene from Vertigo. I'm especially fond of Madeleine's introduction at Ernie's. The red wallpaper, her green dress, that long tracking shot, the introduction of Madeleine's musical theme, the lighting change as she walks past Scottie, (seemingly) oblivious, and the dense mise-en-scene (walks past a mirror on the way out of the restaurant, suggesting the duality of the character... excuse me, I've gotta go watch Vertigo now!
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Old 02-21-03, 01:35 PM
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I would probably pick the playground scene in The Birds because for me, although I think The Birds is second tier Hitchcock, it is the most suspenseful scene in all of Hitchcock's work. The birds sitting on the jungle gym and their number growing one by one in the background....and the children in the schoolhouse singing that ristlety rastlety song.....
The documentary on The Birds dvd mentions that Hitchcock made up new verses for that song so it was long enough for the scene, lol.
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Old 02-21-03, 02:39 PM
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for the purposes of writing a paper, i'd go with the birds. it's a deceptively simple movie, but there's a lot to dig at below the surface, whether you're talking about psychological ideas or film/shot construction. i think it'd be a little more fun to test your brain with the birds than with the more "obvious" stuff in other films.

specifically, i'd look at how hitch leads up to scenes of horror in the birds. for example, he uses multiple in-line cuts showing the gouged out eyes at the farmer's house. why did he use in-line cuts instead of a zoom in? how does that relate or work with his choices in other scenes (he uses a zoom in the shot just before, showing broken teacups). as with all of hitch, there's a lot to talk about in terms of why he went with one directoral choice instead of another. good luck.
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Old 02-22-03, 12:47 AM
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The Salvador Dali scene in Spellbound (though that may be too much Dali, not enough Hitchcock).

The fight/murder scene in the cottage in Torn Curtain. If you haven't seen this scene, you need to.

The amputation scene in Lifeboat.

The cliff scene in Suspicion.

The opening scene in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, when the two are locked in the bedroom together.

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Old 02-22-03, 12:28 PM
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REAR WINDOW --- one of my all time favorite scenes is near the end of rear window when perry mason (i forget his real name or characters name) finds out that he's been watched all this time and knows that he's been caught. The look on his face as he looks straight toward the camera is priceless! I don't know if this would be able to generate an entire paper out of this short scene, but I felt I should mention it! One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films of all time
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Old 02-22-03, 01:00 PM
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Strangers on a Train -the stalking at the carnival scene leading to
the murder on the island


Notorious - the long shot of Grant and Bergman talking/embracing right before he gets called in to be told what her mission is. Or the slow zoom in from the top of the stairs to the key at the party.

Last edited by Tscott; 02-22-03 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 02-22-03, 01:42 PM
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Wow, thanks for all the suggestions, guys!

I think I've actually decided to do an early scene from Notorious... the "party" sequence at Ingrid Bergman's place, after her father's been sentanced to jail (it's more-or-less the second 'sequence' in the entire film). There's plenty of stuff going on in that scene, particularly the number of clues that are dropped in regards to events that will later happen in the film.
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Old 02-22-03, 03:23 PM
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Just FYI - That scene was supposed to be longer... One of the commentaries on the Criterion DVD mentions this. Might be a good little "add" that the instructor might not know about.

And you probably know this...but "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" uses that scene. Nothing to use in the paper, but since you'll be an expert on it after you are done, it might be fun ta watch if you haven't seen it already. Steve Martin inserted for Grant...but with extra dialog and close-ups.
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Old 02-25-03, 01:24 PM
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BassDude... if it's not too much trouble, do you think you might be able to expand on why that scene was apparently supposed to be longer? (I don't have access to the Criterion DVD).

Also, I'm gonna check out the Truffaut/Hitchcock interview book later today.. maybe Hitch says something in that.
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Old 02-25-03, 01:35 PM
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How about when the Woman brings Cary Grant dinner from 21 in Rear Window. Lots to talk about there.
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