Newly restored Vertigo

November 6, 2009

“Where Vertigo was first released, it was not one of it`s greatest hits. But time does things to movies & the way we see them. But along the way it was almost lost to us forever.” James C. Katz & Robert A. Harris (Restoration Producer)

Restoration team James C. Katz (left) and Robert A. Harris.

We chose Vertigo as a candidate for reservation for 2 reasons:

Number 1- It`s a great film. It`s one of the most important films ever made.

Number 2-The film elements themselves, both picture and sound, were in dire need of preservation.

The film was last released theatrically in 1984, and the audiences have not seen on the big screen for 12 years.

At first they had to do: lots of research, put all the elements together and decide whether they can do the restoration at all. (There are many films that are not possible to restore)

“When we first opened  the cans on Vertigo, basically what we found was a faded negative. Virtually looked as though the negative had been dragged on the floor before it had been printed, and we had differential shrinkage between the yellow, cyan and magenta separation masters, which really led us to restore the film in a totally different manner.”

” To preserve a film is a phone call, a purchase order, a lab order. To restore a film is a year or two years of work and a major commitment.”

Robert A. Harris


Universal would commit more than a million dollars to the restoration of Vertigo. The restoration took  2 years. They were restoring more than a thousand pieces of film negative & using original technicolor prints of reference, they experiement with modern film stocks and proecessing techniques to recreate the precise visual texture Hitchcock intended for every shot.

Vertigo was photographed in a Paramount process called Vista Vision which was an extremely high quality process which was normally reduction-printed to 35-millimeter. Vista Vision went through the camera from right to left. It was horizontal and it was a double-frame 35-millimeter image then they had converting it to 70 mm /D.T.S. (large format)!

Harris: Vertigo was shot in Vistavision, a negative twice the size of 35 millimeter. It lends itself perfectly to 70 millimeter. It’s really being seen [now] in large format the way it was photographed, the size it was photographed, for the first time in 38 years. There are things you’re going to see in this film that have never been seen before. You can see details – I’ll give you one example. When Judy steps [across her apartment toward Ferguson] as Madeleine once again, you see the muscles in her cheeks twitching and her lips moving, and you could not see that in 35 millimeter.

They left a new 65-millimeter preservation negative. They left a 65-millimeter duplicating positive. Hopefully it will last at least 200 years.

In 1996, the film was given a lengthy and controversial restoration and re-released to theaters. The new print featured restored color and newly created audio, utilizing modern sound effects mixed in DTS digital surround sound. In October 1996, the restored Vertigo premiered at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, exhibited for the first time in DTS and 70 mm, a format with a similar frame size to the VistaVision system in which it was originally shot.

Audiences are going to see a film that Hitchcock never saw. They’re going to see a 70 millimeter DTS version of a 1958 classic. People who think they’ve seen the film haven’t seen the film. We hope audiences that don’t know how it ends will come and see this version. It looks as good as this picture has in 30 years.

James C. Katz

Because of the restoration, we can see a huge bruise on Kim Novak`s knee as Jimmy Stewart pulls her out of San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco Bay

(http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2008/06/15/dd-vertigo06_fortp_421804763.jpg)

Awesome and brilliant, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was recently restored, and its power is immense. Jimmy Stewart never did finer work, and Hitchcock’s masterpiece, though its meaning may be lost on many, reveals a man at his most obsessed — an apt metaphor for Hitch himself. The restored Vertigo features vibrant colors and a crystal clear soundtrack, but it’s the tale of Stewart’s heights-fearing detective who gets caught up with the woman he’s investigating that makes Vertigosuch a treat. Old San Francisco has never looked more devious, and Hitchcock has never been better.

A film review by Christopher Null – Copyright © 1996 Filmcritic.com

He kept fiendish control of the movies he made, planning shots down to the tiniest details before he arrived on the set. But when it came to caring for the film negatives and soundtrack recordings — the proof of his genius — Alfred Hitchcock was the man who didn’t know too much.

”Hitch was ill-advised,” says producer James Katz, who has made a minicareer of salvaging great movies in partnership with restoration expert Robert Harris. They’ve already snatched such vintage mega-productions as My Fair Lady and Spartacus from the ravages of neglect, and two years ago Universal Pictures commissioned them to work their makeover magic on Vertigo, Hitchcock’s 1958 masterwork of sexual fetishism starring James Stewart in a series of cold sweats and Kim Novak in a series of hot outfits. What Katz and Harris uncovered was more shocking than the plot twists: Reel after reel of film materials was kinky, shrunken, torn, faded, mottled, or decomposing to vinegar. In a few more years, what remained might have been Vertigone.

Turning 1,300 separate pieces of original camera negative into a new negative and prints goes beyond complicated, but even the least techno-centric moviegoer will recognize the spellbinding quality of the results in the big-screen, major-city venues booked for Vertigo‘s rerelease over the next two months: Have Jimmy Stewart’s eyes ever looked so blue, or San Francisco so dreamily gorgeous?

The restorers’ most impressive wizardry, though, is sonic. Because they found high-fidelity stereo tracks for Bernard Herrmann’s soaring score, they ”made the music another major star of the movie,” says Katz. And therein lay a major snag. Once remixed in thundering DTS digital stereo, the orchestrations all but drowned out the tinny sound effects in surviving prints. That meant they had to be researched and rerecorded from scratch — from the proper pitch of a Karmann Ghia engine (for the car Barbara Bel Geddes’ character drives) to the make of pistol a cop fires in the movie’s thrillingly noisy initial chase.

While mixing sound levels, Katz and Harris worked from Hitchcock’s own dubbing notes. And when that failed to settle judgment calls, they sought out a still-living master: Martin Scorsese pronounced the surf in one Golden Gate scene ”too loud.” The waters receded, but the restoration’s expanded sound field still makes Vertigo a more bracing plunge than it’s ever been.

Brush Up You Hitchcock by Steve Daly

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,294640,00.html

My mother saw Vertigo in her childhood, and last week she saw the Newly Restored version. She did not feel the difference. It is unquestionable, that the restoration was a good step. We are lucky to have a masterpiece like Vertigo. My point is: the old and the new version have the same Hitchcock feeling.

 

Question:

Is there a significant difference between the old Vertigo and the Newly restored Vertigo?

Researches:

Vertigo Newly Restored DVD / Obsessed with Vertigo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertigo_(film)#Restoration

http://www.filmcritic.com/misc/emporium.nsf/reviews/Vertigo

http://www.bernardherrmann.org/articles/smith/vertigo/

Music – Bernard Herrmann

November 4, 2009

Bernard Herrmann was an American composer who trained as a classical musician, winning a composition prize at 13 and founding his own chamber orchestra at 20, but soon he began to mix his traditional compositions. His first work with Alfred Hitchcock was 1955 The Trouble with Harry, and he signed on as a composer on ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS.

The two perfectionists’ clash over innumerable details -Hitchcock wanted a jazz score for Psycho, with no music at all for the shower scene- did not prevent their collaboration from yielding some of the greatest film music ever written.

A question immediately arises:  Would had been as famous the Psycho or Vertigo as they are without Bernard Herrmann’s music?

Everybody knows that if we watch a horror movie, to protect ourselves the best tactic is to cover our ears. The music as an element in films is indispensable. As Bernard Herrmann himself said:

When Hitchcock finishes a film, it’s only 60% complete. I supply the other 40%.”

hermann

http://www.greenwood.com/images/coverImage.aspx?sku=GR1490

The music score for Vertigo was composed by Bernard Herrmann between 3 January and 19 February 1958. The recordings were made in London and Vienna, with orchestra conducted by Muir Mathieson. (A musicians’ strike had prevented the score from being recorded in Los Angeles with Herrmann conducting).

Legendary composer Bernard Herrmann contributed immensely to Vertigo’s emotional impact. His hypnotic, intensely romantic score is one of the most memorable in movie history.

Hitchcock’s favorite composer was the instrument  of his innermost feelings.

Vertigo DVD

In a 2004 special issue by Sight & Sound devoted to Film Music, Martin Scorsese described the qualities of Herrmann’s famous score:

Hitchcock’s film is about obsession, which means that it’s about circling back to the same moment, again and again … And the music is also built around spirals and circles, fulfilment and despair. Herrmann really understood what Hitchcock was going for — he wanted to penetrate to the heart of obsession.”

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Herrmann)

In 1958 Alfred Hitchcock created his masterpiece, Vertigo. Based upon the novel D’Entre les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Vertigo was, itself, a modern variation of the Tristan myth upon which Richard Wagner based his opera, Tristan and Isolde. A story of love, obsession and enduring passion for a woman obscuring the fragile boundaries separating life and death, Vertigo became the perfect culmination not only of Alfred Hitchcock’s filmic fears and vulnerability, but of Bernard Herrmann’s, as well. (…)

(…)Misunderstood and under appreciated by American audiences at the time of its initial release, Vertigo is considered by most critics today not only Hitchcock’s greatest work, but one of the greatest motion pictures ever filmed. The picture and its musical scoring by Bernard Herrmann are exquisite jewels. As in his earlier examination of love transcending the vaporous curtain of mortal passage,The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Herrmann’s music for Vertigo is nearly exultant in its expression of mortal anguish and the redemption of love. Herrmann’s own deeply felt longing for love and acceptance is excruciatingly evident in the hauntingly lovely, poignant and exquisitely painful music rapturously caressing the film. Wagnerian it its intensity, Vertigo is at once stunning and torturous. Its searing sensitivity is startling, stripping naked the composer and his own anguished vulnerability. Vertigo is a deeply felt canvas, a sad and beautiful portrait, painted by two of the cinema’s most gifted artists.

Bernard Herrmann believed that music for the cinema carried the same significance as music written for the concert hall.

Music was music, he said, and he gave unsparingly of his talent to films, television, radio, opera and the concert stage. He abhorred the term “Film Composer”… as if there could ever be a difference in the quality separating films and the concert stage. Herrmann felt that music snobbery on the part of critics was absurd. There were only two kinds of music, good and bad. All of Herrmann’s music was of the former variety. A year before Vertigo, Bernard Herrmann formed the third of his three major film associations, first with Orson Welles, then with Alfred Hitchcock and, finally, with Ray Harryhausen, the legendary Stop Motion/Special Effects technician. Beginning in 1957 with Harryhausen’s The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad and on through The Three Worlds Of Gulliver, Mysterious Island and Jason And The Argonauts, Herrmann seemed to find another kindred spirit in the imaginative Harryhausen, and an outlet for his own soaring spirit, a spirit unwilling and unable to be contained by earthly or mortal constraints. The gentle, sensitive Harryhausen opened up a whole new dimension to the hungry composer, a world in which his musical boundaries were lovingly ripped asunder, a wondrous fantasy world in which his own imagination joyously took flight from the mythological shoulders of skeletons, cyclopian monsters and fire breathing dragons.

http://www.bernardherrmann.org/articles/misc/torncurtain/

Herrmann stated that Hitchcock would invite him on to the production of a film and depending on his decision of the length of the music, would either expand or contract the scene. It was Hitchcock who asked Herrmann for the “recognition scene” near the end of Vertigo (the scene where Jimmy Stewart’s character suddenly realizes Kim Novak’s identity) to be played with music.

Herrmann’s collaboration with Hitchcock

hitchcock and bernard herrmann

Hitchcock listened to only the prelude of the score before turning off a recording of the music and angrily confronting Herrmann about the pop score he had promised. Herrmann, equally frustrated, bellowed;

“Look, Hitch, you can’t outjump your own shadow. And you don’t make pop pictures. What do you want with me? I don’t write pop music.” Hitchcock unrelentingly insisted that Herrmann change the score, violating Herrmann’s general claim for creative control that he had always been maintained in their previous films. Herrmann then said, “Hitch, what’s the use of my doing more with you? I had a career before you, and I will afterwards.”

According to McGilligan, Herrmann later tried to patch up and repair the damage with Hitchcock, but Hitchcock refused to see him. Herrmann’s unused score was later commercially recorded, initially by Elmer Bernstein  for his Film Music Collection subscription record label (reissued by Warner Bros. Records), and later, in a concert suite adapted by Christopher Palmer, by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for Sony. Some of Herrmann’s cues for Torn Curtain were later post-synched to the final cut, where they showed how remarkably attuned the composer was to the action, and how, arguably, more effective his score could have been.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Herrmann)

Hours after finishing recording sessions for his last film, Taxi Driver (1976), he collapsed and died, and director Martin Scorsese responded by dedicating the film film to him.

Questions:

1.Would had been as famous the Psycho or Vertigo as they are without Bernard Hermann’s music?

2. Who is ‘the new Bernard Herrmann’?

3. Who is/was Ray Harryhausen?

Resources:

Vertigo DVD

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Herrmann)

http://www.bernardherrmann.org/articles/misc/torncurtain/

http://www.greenwood.com/images/coverImage.aspx?sku=GR1490


Hitchcock Women

November 3, 2009

Hitchcock traced his widely acknowledged interest in blonde leading ladies, which became the best known fetish of his later career…

Even before he began his work in the cinema, Hitchcock evidently associated the sexual reticence of the “cool blonde”, a British or northern European type, with hidden sexuality, as against the obvious glamour of women from France, Italy, and the United States.

Hitchcock Women

“Anything could happen with a woman like that in the back of the taxi” –Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s ideal woman, at least in his films, was willowy, blonde and cool.  What intrigued him was the hint of uninhibited passion behind the cool facade; in his own words, “the drawing-room type, the real ladies, who become whores once they’re in the bedroom …”

Hitchcock himself favoured blonde actresses, and more than one was obliged to bleach her hair for a role. Several actresses complained that Hitchcock could be brutal on set, and he often seems to enjoy watching his female characters suffer.

He liked to quote nineteenth century French playwright Victorien Sardou’s advice, “Torture the women!” though he added “The trouble today is we don’t torture the women enough”

Hitchcock saw female sexual vulnerability as a powerful dramatic device, which he exploited ruthlessly.

He is often thought of as a director who felt uncomfortable with, and even hostile to women. There is plenty of evidence to support this view, in his life and in his films, but there is also evidence that he admired strong, independent women, at a time when these characteristics where often considered undesirable.

‘Women in peril’ were a feature of many Hitchcock films, as they had been in cinema since its early days. (Hitchcock’s first film, The Pleasure Garden (1926), features a woman who falls victim to a deceitful and violent husband, while the victims of the killer in The Lodger are blonde women.)

Hitchcock’s women also fight back.

Eva Marie Saint Grace Kelly Ingrid Bergman Tippi Hedren Janet Leigh Kim Novak Joan Fontaine

Hitchcock’s leading favorites Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren, whom he used in multiple films.  Additionally, this idea of the “cool blonde” is epitomized in Hitchcock’s Vertigo through Kim Novak. Novak, having seemingly died as the elegant, fair-haired Madeleine Elster, is resurrected as Judy Barton, a brunette made to look as “tarty” as possible.  This overt carnality, however, is rejected by the male figure of the movie, played by James Stewart.  Judy must dye her hair, change her clothes, and virtually become Madeleine again before Stewart will accept and love her.

In addition, some argue that the women of Hitchcock’s films are inevitably “made into passive objects of male voyeuristic and sadistic impulses, [intended] to fulfill the desires and express the anxieties of men in the audience”

Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that Hitchcock was able to “register women’s vulnerability powerfully because he identified so strongly with women, not men.”  In fact, his interviews are “filled with prideful boasts about knowing and understanding his actresses better than the actresses themselves did”

Also, countering the idea that Hitchcock’s films are intended “to fulfill the desires and express the anxieties of men in the audience,”  Fawell suggests that Hitchcock was more conscious of the female audience than the male – particularly by keeping the spotlight on the leading woman’s emotions.  And, as Hitchcock suggested, “the chief point [he] kept in mind when selecting [his] heroine [was] that she must be fashioned to please women rather than men … no actress can be a good commercial proposition as a film heroine unless she pleases her own sex”

Our sense of Hitchcock as a dark misogynist has been perpetuated by Donald Spoto’s biography of Hitchcock, The Dark Side of Genius, which concentrated, in obsessive detail, on Hitchcock’s infatuations with his actresses towards the end of his career, particularly with Tippi Hedren during the filming of Birds and Marnie. The book underplays the healthy relationship with actresses that characterizes the majority of Hitchcock’s career, and more importantly, underplays a tendency in Hitchcock’s films to be deeply empathetic to women and often hostile to men and critical of their treatment of women.

Scotty, in Vertigo, is cruelly indifferent to Judy’s love and her merits (as he had been to Midge’s) as he uses her body to rebuild a fantasy image of Madeleine.
What is interesting is that these four films (Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest) represent four of Hitchcock’s very greatest works. The theme of a man who underestimates a woman, who is too sure of himself and often very cruel to the woman, who through his own callousness to the woman’s feelings places her in a dangerous situation, and only once saving her from that situation realizes the full measure of her worth and his blame–this was a theme Hitchcock felt with enough depth that it gives these films an emotional resonance films do not always have. And the theme cuts across a variety of screenwriters–Hecht, Hayes, Lehman, and Taylor. It seems to have been his own theme and one he could convey with depth and sincerity.

I would like to debate. In the clip from Vertigo, It’s not the woman who suffers: it is Jimmy Stewart. He gives his heart entirely to Kim Novak, then he tries his best to stop her in the church fighting against his biggest problem: vertigo.

The characters almost swap, Kim Novak stay faithfully on her mission, Jimmy Stewart could do anything for his love.

The “cool blonde” underestimates the man, she is sure of herself and very cruel to the man.

Feminism in nutshell:

The women who knew too much

1990 Hitchcock`s work had become a testing ground for feminist theory. In response to critics who attacked or defended Hitchcock on the rounds of his alleged misogyny or the violence his films meted out to women (charges that were galvanized by the graphic rape and murder of Brenda Blaney in Frenzy), Tania MODLESKI traced the conflict between Hitchcock`s sympathetic identification with female characters, on the one hand, and the patriarchal claims of his controlling male voyeurs and the director himself, on the other. Robin Wood responded in turn soon after the publication of Modleski`s The Woman Who Knew Too Much by noting admiringly that “the question that haunts contemporary Hitchcock criticism” was: “Can Hitchcock be saved for feminism?” The answer since then has been resoundingly affirmative, though not exactly in the terms Wood envisioned. Hitchcock has been saved for feminism not by being vindicated as a feminist, certainly not by the proto-feminist view that have been ascribed to his films, but in the same way other filmmakers and popular genres have been saved for feminism: by formal or historical analyses that have mined his films for archeological evidence of conflicts that are either gender driven (typically, conflicts that are rationalized and resolved in the romantic couple) or gender inflected (the larger cultural conflicts psychoanalytically minded theorists see as both driven by male anxiety and responsible for the formation of all individual identity and cultural institutions). Continuing feminist critique of Hitchcock`s films seems guaranteed by three features that set them apart from most others> the unusual prominence of women as both agents and objects in what appear in outline to be stories of masculine desire and masculine action: Hitchcock`s continued fascination with women, both as a story-teller and in his position as director:  and the unquestioned range of misogynistic behaviour in so many of his films – a set of conflicts figured most economically by the ambiguous status of the Hitchcock Blonde. If an earlier generation of feminist critics asked to what extent the films approved, for example, of the voyeuristic behaviour of two male heroes insulated from intimacy by lacking even first names – Devlin in Notorious and Jefferies in Rear Window –latter-day feminists seem more likely to return to Bellour`s project by pressing questions that have less to do with the representation of particular characters and conflicts and more to do with issues of representation generally.

Personally, I agree with Tania Modelsky, but a I have to attach: the cinema is cinema. There is no doubt that Hitchcock movies are violent against women, but that is the action! If there is no action, logically no reaction which leads to a boring story. I think if Hitchcock lived with us today, nobody would attack him. But maybe I cannot fully understand the difference between that age and nowadays. Probably that time watching a tortured a woman on big screen meant something else.

Questions:

1. Who was Tania Modelski?

2. What The Women Who Knew Too Much is about?

Resources

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zI0OAAAAQAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP13&dq=tania+modleski+hitchcock&ots=cGOpOkztiq&sig=HXrxG8hiUYt-lPGq6OUPXrku7R4#v=onepage&q=&f=false

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tours/hitch/tour8.html

http://history.sandiego.edu/GEN/st/~emily2/women_of_hitchcock.html

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-2684408_ITM

Thomas Leitch- The Encyclopedia of Albert Hitchcock page: 37, 104

http://crea.u-paris10.fr/faaam/IMG/pdf/FAAAM_Modleski_sur_Hitchcock_handout_.pdf

Edith Head- Kim Novak Style in Vertigo

November 3, 2009

If we are talking about cinema we are talking about everything we see, hear and feel. A good director has a sense to make all these three categories equally good. 

In this blog entry I would like to talk about the importance of Kim Novak`s appearance in Vertigo!

Edith Head was the costume designer in Vertigo who had a long career in Hollywood more than any other woman in history. (Her 35 Oscar nominations and 8 awards make her both the most honored costume designer and woman in Academy Award)

 

Edith Head in 1976

(The character Edna Mode in Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004)  was modeled on her.)

“She shared Hitchcock’s fondness for the use of color to heighten the emotion.”

June Van Dyke – Edith Head Collection (Vertigo DVD)

 

Kim Novak wears 3 different type of dresses as Madeleine.

Kim Novak`s first entry:

Kim Novak entry

Edith Head and Hitchcock wanted to be very, very dramatic gown when she’s seen at Ernie’s. Even the red background stresses the danger of looking.

Jimmy Stewart’s  apartment and the beach:

scarf

White coat and a black chiffon scarf that drapes down the back. (The wind can catch this and mysteriously whip around her)

She designed Kim Novak`s gray dress. What the scene shows us is :a gray semi-long dress, gloves and black shoes. Everything she wears is common, nothing individual. The dress expresses elegance, secrecy, beauty, a touch of aging but just one color. Black shoes is always a smart choice: it matches to everything. The gloves also have a meaning for secrecy and mystery.

Grey dress


Interview with Kim Novak

Costume designer Edith Head was quoted as saying that you arrived on the set with all sorts of preconceived notions about what you would and wouldn’t wear.

KN:  I was always opinionated.  Once we were making Vertigo, Hitchcock never questioned anything about what I was doing character-wise.  Before shooting started, he sent me over to Edith Head, who showed me a set of drawings.  When I saw them, the very first thing I said was, ‘I’m sorry.  I don’t wear black shoes.’  When she said, ‘Alfred Hitchcock wants you to wear these shoes,’ I said, ‘I’m sure he doesn’t mind.’  I didn’t think it would matter to him what kind of shoes I wore.  I had never had a director who was particular about the costumes, the way they were designed, the specific colors.  The two things he wanted the most were those shoes and that gray suit.  When Edith Head showed me that gray suit, I said, “Oh, my god, that looks like it would be very hard to act in.  It’s very confining.’  Then, when we had the first fitting of the dress, it was even worse and I said, ‘This is so restrictive.’   She said, ‘Well, maybe you’d better talk to Alfred Hitchcock about this.’

How did that conversation go?

KN: I went in and he said, ‘I understand you don’t like these black shoes.’  He asked me why and I said, ‘I tell you, black shoes always sort of make me feel I’m pulled down.  I’ve always felt that your feet should be the same as the top of your head, so that you’re connected.  Wearing the black shoes would make me feel as if I were disconnected.’  He heard me out.  And then he said, ‘Fine.  When you play the role of Judy, you will not have to wear black shoes.  When you are playing Madeleine, you will wear them.’  When he put it like that  — after all, he’s the director – I said, ‘OK.’

How did being opinionated lead to any other disagreements between you and Hitchcock?

KN: I really wanted the chance to express myself and he allowed me that chance.  It felt OK because he had heard me out.  He felt my reasons weren’t good enough, they weren’t right.  I just wanted to be heard as far as what I felt. So, I thought, ‘I’ll live with the grey suit.’  I also thought, ‘I’m going to use this.  I can make this work for me.  Because it bothers me, I’ll use it and it can help me feel like I’m having to be Madeleine, that I’m being forced to be her.  I’ll have it as my energy to play against.’  It worked.  That suit and those shoes were a blessing.  I was constantly reminded that I was not being myself, which made it right for Madeleine.  When I went out of Alfred Hitchcock’s office, I remember his wonderful smile when he said, ‘I’m so glad we had this talk.’  I think he saw that this was going to be good.  He didn’t say to me, ‘Now use that,’ he allowed me to arrive at that myself.

 Was it your idea not to wear a bra when you played Judy?

Judy

KN: That’s right, when I played Judy, I never wore a bra.  It killed me having to wear a bra as Madeleine but you had to because they had built the suit so that you had to stand very erect or you suddenly were not ‘in position.’  They made that suit very stiff.   You constantly had to hold your shoulders back and stand erect.  But, oh that was so perfect.  That suit helped me find the tools for playing the role.  It was wonderful for Judy because then I got to be without a bra and felt so good again.  I just felt natural.  I had on my own beige shoes and that felt good.  Hitchcock said, ‘Does that feel better?’  I said, ‘Oh, yes, thank you so much.’  But then, I had to play ‘Madeleine’ again when Judy had to be made over again by Scottie into what she didn’t want to be.  I could use that, again, totally for me, not just being made over into Madeleine but into Madeleine who wore that ghastly gray suit.  The clothes alone were so perfect, they were everything I could want as an actress.

The short haircut you usually wore in your films was copied by women all around the world.  Why did Hitchcock make you wear wigs in Vertigo?

KN: That’s right, my hair was short at that time in my career and Hitchcock wanted that perfect pulled-back hair.  I already hated that gray suit and then having to go through putting on that wig with a false front — again made me feel so trapped inside this person who was desperately wanting to break out of it but she was so caught up in the web of deception that she couldn’t.  The fear of not being loved if she didn’t have on these clothes or wore her hair in a certain way — oh, god, she had nothing left but to kill herself in the bell tower.


In order for that suit, or any similarly styled grey suit in a curve-accentating classic vintage style to really work on Novak in such a way, Novak had to be a blonde. But not just any blonde. Neither a brassy yellow or a bright and bold platinum would work; Novak’s hair would have to be a lovely ashy-blonde.

Kim Novak's Spiral Coil French Twist

Kim Novak’s Spiral Coil French Twist

makeup

Women could get away with a more dramatic look, particularly for evening. Eyeliner was liquid, making a sharp, highly defined contour. It was used primarily on the upper lid.

http://www.fiftiesweb.com/fashion/makeup.htm

 

Although, in Vertigo DVD/Production Notes Kim Novak said:

“They do your hair and makeup and it was always like I was fighting to show some of my real self. So I related to the resentment of being made over and to the need for approval and the desire to be loved. I really identified with the story because to me it was saying, ‘Please, see who I am. Fall in love with me, not a fantasy.”

 

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Head#The_Paramount_years

http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/kim_novak_c.html

http://www.fiftiesweb.com/fashion/makeup.htm

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0372128/bio

http://www.twolia.com/blogs/heres-looking-like-you-kid/2009/09/24/dizzy-for-kim-novaks-look-in-vertigo/

http://www.twolia.com/blogs/heres-looking-like-you-kid/category/kim-novak/

http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/colorselection/p/gray.htm

“Kim did not want to wear grey, but Hitch was absolutely definite about that. She had to wear grey. Grey is not a blond’s color and there was something off-putting about it, but that was the psychology of the whole thing.”

June Van Dyke – Edith Head Collection (Vertigo DVD)

(Edith Head on Kim Novak) “I don’t usually get into battles, but dressing Kim Novak for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” put to the test all my training in psychology.”

The little grey suit has it’s own story which explains why the ensemble was so suit-ed to Novak’s role as Madeleine Elster. Director Alfred Hitchcock wanted to give Madeleine’s clothing — and therefore herself — an eerie appearance. So costume designer Edith Head selected the grey suit, saying it would be “odd” for a blonde woman to be wearing all grey, as it can tend to wash a fair woman’s complexion. This, along with some other details, would have the desired, “eerie” and haunting effects.

 

Vertigo Effect = Dolly zoom

November 2, 2009

(also called as a Dolly zoom, Back zoom-travelling, Jaws shot, Contra-zoom or even Hitchcock-zoom )

The much-imitated vertigo effect was achieved by a combination of zooming forward and tracking backward simultaneously. After much trial and error, filming on a full-size set proved impossible, so they used a large-scale model of a staircase. Turned on its side, it was filmed by special effects cameraman John Fulton to make the audience feel as dizzy as Jimmy Stewart.

Vertigo DVD

On the other hand, Wikpedia says:

Uncredited second-unit cameraman Irmin Roberts invented the famous “zoom out and track in” shot (now sometimes called “contra-zoom” or “trombone shot”) to convey the sense of vertigo to the audience. The view down the mission stairwell cost $19,000 for just a couple of seconds of screen time.

History

Invention of the dolly zoom is credited to cameraman Irmin Roberts. The technique was made famous by Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo being the best-known example), and was used by Steven Spielberg in Jaws and ET. Many other directors have used the technique, which brings us to an important warning…

The dolly zoom effect is an unsettling in-camera special effect that appears to undermine normal visual perception in film.

The effect is achieved by using the setting of a zoom lens to adjust the angle of view (often referred to as field of view) while the camera dollies (or moves) towards or away from the subject in such a way as to keep the subject the same size in the frame throughout. In its classic form, the camera is pulled away from a subject whilst the lens zooms in, or vice-versa. Thus, during the zoom, there is a continuous perspective distortion, the most directly noticeable feature being that the background appears to change size relative to the subject.

As the human visual system uses both size and perspective cues to judge the relative sizes of objects, seeing a perspective change without a size change is a highly unsettling effect, and the emotional impact of this effect is greater than the description above can suggest. The visual appearance for the viewer is that either the background suddenly grows in size and detail overwhelming the foreground; or the foreground becomes immense and dominates its previous setting, depending on which way the dolly zoom is executed.

The effect was first developed by Irmin Roberts, a Paramount second-unit cameraman, and was famously used by Alfred Hitchcock in his film Vertigo.

Mathematics

To achieve the effect the camera needs to be positioned at a certain distance from the object that is supposed to remain still during the dolly zoom. The distance depends on how wide the scene is to be filmed, and on the field of view (FOV) of the camera lens. Before calculating the distances needed at the different field of views, the constant width of the scene has to be calculated. For example, a FOV of 90° and a distance of two meters yield a constant width of four meters, allowing a four-meter-wide object to remain still inside the frame during the effect.

 \mathit{distance} = \frac{\mathit{width}}{2\cdot \tan(\frac{\mathit{fov}}{2})}

Dolly Zoom

Different angles in a dolly zoomA dolly zoom is a cinematic technique in which the camera moves closer or further from the subject while simultaneously adjusting the zoom angle to keep the subject the same size in the frame. The effect is that the subject appears stationary while the background size changes (this is called perspective distortion).

In the first example pictured, the camera is positioned close to the subject and the lens is zoomed out. In the second shot, the camera is several metres further back and the lens is zoomed in.

The Effect

Dolly zooms create an unnatural effect — this is something your eyes would never normally see. Many people comment on the shot after seeing it for the first time, e.g. “That was weird” or “What just happened there?”.

The exact effect depends on the direction of camera movement. If the camera moves closer, the background seems to grow and become dominant. If the camera moves further away, the foreground subject is emphasized and becomes dominant.

The effect is quite emotional and is often used to convey sudden realisation, reaction to a dramatic event, etc.

http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/dolly-zoom.html

The vertigo effect has influenced lot of directors and films.  Dolly Zoom shot examples: Jaws, Poltergeist, Goodfellas, and The Fellowship of the Ring.

Short Video:

(Hitchcock’s vertigo effect inspired: Steven Spielberg, Tobe Hooper, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson)

Questions arises:

1. What was the audience first respond to the vertigo effect?

2. Is the vertigo effect similar to the vertigo disease?

References:

http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/dolly-zoom.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_zoom

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052357/trivia

KIM NOVAK (vs Vera Miles)

November 2, 2009

We could say: Kim Novak had a 2 in 1 role in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. At the first half in the film she plays  Madeleine, and at the second part she plays Judy.

But surprisingly Kim Novak almost played a (let’s say) 0 in 1 = no role at all in Vertigo because Hitchcock wanted someone else for the part.

 

Kim Novak, a former model groomed by Columbia as the  studio’s answer  to Marilyn Monroe, she made promising appearances in Phffft! (1954), Picnic (1955) The Man with the Golden Arm(1956), Pal Joey (1957) and by the time Vera Miles’s pregnancy sidelined  her from Vertigo, her classic profile and blonde beauty had made her the highest-paid actress in Hollywood.

(Thomas Leitch: The Encyclopedia of Alfred Hitchcock (2002) page: 237.)

Kim Novak:

Kim Novak

Hitchcock originally wanted Vera miles to play Madeleine, but she got pregnant and was therefore unavailable.

Vera Miles:
vera miles

Hitchcock was enthralled with the young actress Vera Miles. He planned to use Vertigo to build her into a major star. In early 1957, she posed for these hair & costume tests as Madeleine.  Also modeled for early version of the painting that features prominently in the story: the portrait of Carlotta.

Vertigo DVD

In an interview Alfred Hitchcock said he believed Kim Novak was miscast and the wrong actress for the part.

 

Hitchcock was also frustrated at not being able to persuade Vera Miles to do the film and had reluctantly cast Kim Novak, under contract to Columbia, in her place. Jimmy Stewart had been forced to accept a film for Columbia, Bell, Book and Candle, in exchange for  the studio loaning Novak to Paramount. Consequently, nothing Novak did satisfied Hitchcock, and the director seemed to blame Jim for having to settle for Novak in the part. Kim Novak told me:

Hitchcock didn’t like having me in his picture and he felt I was ruining it. It was only after the film was finished that I heard how much he thought I’d wrecked his picture. I felt I did a lot of good work in that movie,  and I got some of the best notices of my career. But Hitchcock couldn’t blame himself, so he blamed me.

Michael Munn: Jimmy Stewart The Truth Behind The Legend (1988) pages: 236-237

James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo

Interview with Kim Novak

( Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel)

When the script for Vertigo came to you, you were under contract to Columbia and its president, the legendarily crass Harry Cohn.  You were also the number one box-office attraction at the time.
KN: That’s right.

How did doing Vertigo come about for you?
KN:  Harry Cohn told me, ‘I got this awful script that Alfred Hitchcock wants you to do.  If it weren’t for Hitchcock, I’d never let you do it.’

How did you respond to the screenplay?
KN: The script was always the most important thing to me and I loved the script.  For one thing, I’ve always admired trees.  I just worship them.  Think what trees have witnessed, what history, such as living through the Civil War, yet they still survive.  I’ve always felt that part of why they survive is because they don’t try to intercede, to advise ‘No, that’s the wrong way,’ or to try and wipe out an army.  They stood and observed. When I read that part of the Hitchcock script where Madeleine and Scottie are among the redwoods, she touches the tree rings and says, “Here I was born and here I died.  It was only a moment.  You took no notice,’ I got goose-bumps.  When it came to shoot that scene, I had goose-bumps.   Just touching that old tree was truly moving to me because when you touch these trees, you have such a sense of the passage of time, of history.  It’s like you’re touching the essence, the very substance of life.  I remember taking my father to see the redwood forest once.  He wept and so did I.  He ‘got’ it in the same way as I do.  We never talked about it.  That scene in Vertigo I felt more than any other, except the one in which Judy says to Jimmy’s character that if she lets him change her, will he love her?  And she says she’ll do it, she doesn’t care any more about herself.  That scene was so important to me.  I was so naked there, so willing to be anything he wanted, just to be loved.

Did Hitchcock make you feel valued as a performer and collaborator?
KN: He didn’t necessarily, but, on the other hand, he didn’t make me feel ’less than.’  He never said, ‘Do it a different way,’ or ‘You’re not doing it right.’  We only did probably two, three takes on every scene we did, at the most.  I knew that he was a person who wanted what he wanted.   I grew up in a family that never expressed when I did something right, but you knew when you did something wrong.  So, I understood.  What I would do after a take is to look in Jimmy Stewart’s eyes.  He would nod his head, as if to say, ‘That was it.’  I used Jimmy to give me what I needed to keep going and to know that I was on the right path with it. I thought I saw Jimmy’s soul all the time we worked.  He never covered his soul and I never covered mine.  We saw into each other’s souls, very definitely.   So, Hitchcock wouldn’t say anything about my work in the movie but, on the other hand, he wouldn’t complain, either.

Vertigo is, thematically, about so many things, including obsession.  From your viewpoint, what did Hitchcock seem obsessed by?
KN: Technical points were his main thing.  He’d always look through the lens to watch your performance, unlike directors who sit off to the side. You’d never have a sense looking at his face how he thought it was going.  He was the camera and I always felt comfortable with the camera.  It was always difficult to have a director off to the side. Why I loved working with Hitchcock was that he allowed me that creativity and input.  I always painted when I’d go home from a day on the sets of my movies.  I love to paint but, back then, I was largely painting out of frustration.  I don’t think I painted at all while I worked on Vertigo.  I didn’t have the need to.  I was so into doing what I was doing and I felt good about what I was doing.  No one was telling me, ‘Do it this way.’  Hitchcock wouldn’t tell me how to think.  Bad directors love to tell you how to think.  I mean, why do they hire you?  Today, they could just computerize you.

How did you react to the mixed-to-negative notices and the disappointing box-office for Vertigo?
KN: It lessened my self-confidence.  I always have this feeling that I’m supposed to do something, to mean something.  My sense of that started to weaken, as if, ‘Oh, I thought this was a medium that I was supposed to touch people in and I’m not having an impact.’  As time went by, I thought, ‘This is not the right medium.’  It’s a wonderful medium and I enjoyed working in it but I started to think that this must have been a detour.  This must not be my medium for doing something important and to touch people.  I loved acting, which was never about money, the fame.  It was about a search for meaning.  It was painful.

Even under contract, with such films as Middle of The Night (1959), Jeanne Eagels (1957), and, especially, Vertigo you seemed determined to wriggle out of the straitjacket of the ‘new Marilyn Monroe’ and the ‘lavender blonde’ publicity gambits Columbia foisted on you.
KN: Oh, yes.  I tried so hard with movies like Vertigo and Middle of the Night and others.  I felt those would show me that it’s only a matter of time before I’d find the right one to reach out and touch people.  Harry Cohn said after Vertigo, ‘Now, let’s get back and do some scripts we can make money with.’  My security comes from my senses, my sensing the direction I should go and suddenly I felt out of tune, out of step with what other people wanted or what other people expected of me.  The work I did in Vertigo meant nothing if no one cared about the movie.  Luckily, Vertigo had a revival and people had begun to recognize there was something special and it gained in reputation.  But it just as well could have ended up rotting in film cans somewhere.  It means nothing if the movie doesn’t get out there.

© 2004, by Kim Novak and Stephen Rebello

http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/kim_novak_c.html

 

The information that can be taken form interview is that Kim Novak felt quite comfortable with her role in Vertigo as opposed to the previously mentioned quote of hers. Though the film didn’t do well at the time, it was later hailed as Hitchcock’s masterpiece, and became Novak’s signature role. We can assume, she became more famous as the film got more acclaim.


Questions arise:

1. Would the film become more famous with Vera Miles?

2. How has Hitchcock inspired his actors?

Resources:

http://www.imbd.com/title/ttoo52357/trivia

http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/kim_novak_c.html

Michael Munn: Jimmy Stewart The Truth Behind The Legend (1988) pages: 236-237
Thomas Leitch: The Encyclopedia of Alfred Hitchcock (2002) page: 237.

http://hitchcock.tv/mov/vertigo/vertigo.html

“Actors are cattle!”

November 2, 2009

Hitchcock’s ideal actor was someone who could hit the marks, deliver the lines, and do the job without much feedback from him. Actors were hired because he believed they could play the role. Sometimes this reticence worried actors used to receiving positive as well as negative reinforcement from their directors, but almost all of his actors came to realize that this lack of feedback was actually a supreme expression of confidence.

I never said all actors are cattle, what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.

Jimmy Stewart: “Mr. Hitchcock did not say actors are cattle. He said they should be treated like cattle.”

Patricia Hitchcock O’Connel

The daughter of Alfred Hitchcock recently spoke about the restoration of Vertigo and about her father to HBO Entertainment News in New York:

We’re always asked the same old question – why did he say actors are cattle? He said, “I didn’t say actors are cattle, I said actors should be treated as cattle”! This thing about, is he really sadistic on the set? His sets were wonderful. Because he’d already made that movie. He knew what that movie was going to look like. He took a finished script, then drew every shot. So that when he stepped on that set, he knew exactly what that was going to look like. He never looked through a camera.

Kim Novak

The star of Vertigo also spoke to HBO Entertainment News at the New York premiere of restored film in early October:

(…)I feel that it showed more of me than anything. I feel I was also allowed the most freedom I’ve ever had, by Alfred Hitchcock, who supposedly treats actors like cattle. It was a great experience to have someone who really knew about the technical part, and allow me the freedom to bring something to it. So I feel I was allowed to do my best work in some way. (…)

It seems the Master of Suspense whether really treated his actors like cattle or not, they liked to work for him and with him.


Questions arise:

1. Why did Hitchcock say that?

2. Why did he change the sentence? Did he mean to hurt someone?

3. What are actors opinion about Hitchcock’s quote?

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hitchcockhttp://94dockingbay.blogspot.com/2005/08/actors-are-cattle-alfred-hitchcock.html

http://www.bernardherrmann.org/articles/smith/vertigo/

Alfred Hitchcock

November 2, 2009

There is uncountable information about Alfred Hitchcock. To begin with he is still one of the most beloved director, the Master of Suspense. The BFI’s survey shows that Alfred Hitchcock’s name is always in the Top 10. He is the second on the Critics’ and fifth on the Directors’ Top Ten Directors side.

Although he never won an Oscar, Hitchcock is universally regarded as perhaps the most influential director in the history of world cinema.

Born As: Alfred Joseph Hitchcock
Born: August 13, 1899, Leytonstone, England
Died
: April 28, 1980 from Liver Failure and Heart Problems
Education
: St. Ignatius College, London; School of Engineering and Navigation
(mechanics, electricity, acoustics, navigation); University of London (art)

By Charles Ramirez Berg

The acknowledged master of the thriller genre he virtually invented, Alfred Hitchcock was also a brilliant technician who deftly blended sex, suspense and humor. He began his filmmaking career in 1919 illustrating title cards for silent films at Paramount’s Famous Players-Lasky studio in London. There he learned scripting, editing and art direction, and rose to assistant director in 1922. That year he directed an unfinished film, No. 13 or Mrs. Peabody . His first completed film as director was The Pleasure Garden (1925), an Anglo-German production filmed in Munich. This experience, plus a stint at Germany’s UFA studios as an assistant director, help account for the Expressionistic character of his films, both in their visual schemes and thematic concerns. The Lodger (1926), his breakthrough film, was a prototypical example of the classic Hitchcock plot: an innocent protagonist is falsely accused of a crime and becomes involved in a web of intrigue.

An early example of Hitchcock’s technical virtuosity was his creation of “subjective sound” for Blackmail (1929), his first sound film. In this story of a woman who stabs an artist to death when he tries to seduce her, Hitchcock emphasized the young woman’s anxiety by gradually distorting all but one word “knife” of a neighbor’s dialogue the morning after the killing. Here and in Murder! (1930), Hitchcock first made explicit the link between sex and violence.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), a commercial and critical success, established a favorite pattern: an investigation of family relationships within a suspenseful story. The 39 Steps (1935) showcases a mature Hitchcock; it is a stylish and efficiently told chase film brimming with exciting incidents and memorable characters. Despite their merits, both Secret Agent (1936) and Sabotage (1936) exhibited flaws Hitchcock later acknowledged and learned from. According to his theory, suspense is developed by providing the audience with information denied endangered characters. But to be most effective and cathartic, no harm should come to the innocent as it does in both of those films. The Lady Vanishes (1938), on the other hand, is sleek, exemplary Hitchcock: fast-paced, witty, and magnificently entertaining.

Hitchcock’s last British film, Jamaica Inn (1939), and his first Hollywood effort, Rebecca (1940), were both handsomely mounted though somewhat uncharacteristic works based on novels by Daphne du Maurier. Despite its somewhat muddled narrative, Foreign Correspondent (1940) was the first Hollywood film in his recognizable style. Suspicion (1941), the story of a woman who thinks her husband is a murderer about to make her his next victim, was an exploration of family dynamics; its introduction of evil into the domestic arena foreshadowed Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Hitchcock’s early Hollywood masterwork. One of his most disturbing films, Shadow was nominally the story of a young woman who learns that a favorite uncle is a murderer, but at heart it is a sobering look at the dark underpinnings of American middle-class life. Fully as horrifying as Uncle Charlie’s attempts to murder his niece was her mother’s tearful acknowledgment of her loss of identity in becoming a wife and mother. “You know how it is,” she says, “you sort of forget you’re you. You’re your husband’s wife.” In Hitchcock, evil manifests itself not only in acts of physical violence, but also in the form of psychological, institutionalized and systemic cruelty.

Hitchcock would return to the feminine sacrifice-of-identity theme several times, most immediately with the masterful Notorious (1946), a perverse love story about an FBI agent who must send the woman he loves into the arms of a Nazi in order to uncover an espionage ring. Other psychological dramas of the late 1940s were Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1948), and Under Capricorn (1949). Both Lifeboat (1944) and Rope (1948) were interesting technical exercises: in the former, the object was to tell a film story within the confines of a small boat; in Rope, Hitchcock sought to make a film that appeared to be a single, unedited shot. Rope shared with the more effective Strangers on a Train (1951) a villain intent on committing the perfect murder as well as a strong homoerotic undercurrent.

During his most inspired period, from 1950 to 1960, Hitchcock produced a cycle of memorable films which included minor works such as I Confess (1953), the sophisticated thrillers Dial M for Murder (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955), a remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and the black comedy The Trouble with Harry (1955). He also directed several top-drawer films like Strangers on a Train and the troubling early docudrama (1956), a searing critique of the American justice system.

His three unalloyed masterpieces of the period were investigations into the very nature of watching cinema. Rear Window (1954) made viewers voyeurs, then had them pay for their pleasure. In its story of a photographer who happens to witness a murder, Hitchcock provocatively probed the relationship between the watcher and the watched, involving, by extension, the viewer of the film. Vertigo (1958), as haunting a movie as Hollywood has ever produced, took the lost-feminine-identity theme of Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious and identified its cause as male fetishism.

North by Northwest (1959) is perhaps Hitchcock’s most fully realized film. From a script by Ernest Lehman, with a score (as usual) by Bernard Herrmann, and starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, this quintessential chase movie is full of all the things for which we remember Alfred Hitchcock: ingenious shots, subtle male-female relationships, dramatic score, bright technicolor, inside jokes, witty symbolism and above all masterfully orchestrated suspense.

Psycho (1960) is famed for its shower murder sequence a classic model of shot selection and editing which was startling for its (apparent) nudity, graphic violence and its violation of the narrative convention that makes a protagonist invulnerable. Moreover, the progressive shots of eyes, beginning with an extreme close-up of the killer’s peeping eye and ending with the open eye of the murder victim, subtly implied the presence of a third eye the viewer’s.

Later films offered intriguing amplifications of his main themes. The Birds (1963) presented evil as an environmental fact of life. Marnie (1964), a psychoanalytical thriller along the lines of Spellbound showed how a violent, sexually tinged childhood episode turns a woman into a thief, once again associating criminality with violence and sex. Most notable about Torn Curtain (1966), an espionage story played against a cold war backdrop, was its extended fight-to-the death scene between the protagonist and a Communist agent in the kitchen of a farm house. In it Hitchcock reversed the movie convention of quick, easy deaths and showed how difficult and how momentous the act of killing really is.

Hitchcock’s disappointing Topaz (1969), an unwieldy, unfocused story set during the Cuban missile crisis, was devoid of his typical narrative economy and wit. He returned to England to produce Frenzy (1972), a tale much more in the Hitchcock vein, about an innocent man suspected of being a serial killer. His final film, Family Plot (1976), pitted two couples against one another: a pair of professional thieves versus a female psychic and her working-class lover. It was a fitting end to a body of work that demonstrated the eternal symmetry of good and evil.

Mini Biography

Alfred Hitchcock was the son of East End greengrocer William Hitchcock and his wife Emma. Raised as a strict Catholic and attending Saint Ignatius College, a school run by Jesuits, Hitch had very much of a regular upbringing. His first job outside of the family business was in 1915 as an estimator for the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company. His interest in movies began at around this time, frequently visiting the cinema and reading US trade journals.

In 1920, Hitch learned that Lasky were to open a studio in London and managed to secure a job as a title designer. He designed the titles for all the movies made at the studio for the next two years. In 1923, he got his first chance at directing when the director of Always Tell Your Wife (1923) fell ill and Hitch completed the movie. Impressed by his work, studio chiefs gave him his first directing assignment on Number 13 (1922); however, before it could be finished, the studio closed its British operation. Hitch was then hired by Michael Balcon to work as an assistant director for the company later to be known as Gainsborough Pictures. In reality, Hitch did more than this — working as a writer, title designer and art director. After several films for the company, Hitch was given the chance to direct a British/German co-production called The Pleasure Garden (1925). Hitchcock’s career as a director finally began. Hitchcock went on to become the most widely known and influential director in the history of world cinema with a significant body of work produced over 50 years.

METRO Friday, August 14, 2009

Milla Jovovich stars in new thriller A Perfect Getaway

Milla Jovovich has said she signed up for new thriller A Perfect Getaway because it reminded her of Hitchcock’s old movies.

Milla said: “It was like a throwback to the old ‘Hitchcockian’ psychological thrillers.”

Milla Jovovich stars in new thriller A Perfect Getaway

From Brian De Palma to Danny DeVito, every director who has tried a crane shot has been labeled ”Hitchcockian” — and it’s true, Alfred Hitchcock was certainly one of the movies’ most influential innovators. What nobody points out, though, is that even Hitch was influenced by other directors. Notably:

F.W. MURNAU His purely visual storytelling approach inspired Hitchcock, beginning with the 1926 thriller,The Lodger.

D.W. GRIFFITH Hitch appropriated chase and last-minute rescue motifs for many films, from Blackmail(1929) to Family Plot (1976).

LUIS BUNUEL Hitch’s penchant for dream sequences came from surrealism, particularly Bunuel’s 1928 Un Chien Andalou (made with Salvador Dalí, a collaborator on 1945’s Spellbound).

SERGEI EISENSTEIN To Catch a Thief‘s (1955) crosscuts between amorous couple (Grace Kelly and Cary Grant) and fireworks pay homage to Eisenstein’s use of montage.

HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT Reportedly envious of Clouzot’s 1955 thriller, Diabolique, Hitchcock fashioned Psycho (1960) as a similarly bleak black-and-white film.

MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI Blown away by Blow Up in 1966, the aging master of suspense began regularly screening current films. Discovering a new freedom, Hitch included nudity and a graphic strangulation in 1972’s Frenzy.

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20217339,00.html

Questions arises:

1. Is Alfred Hitchcock’s name equals quality?

2. What are Alfred Hitchcock’s techniques?

3. Which directors were influenced by Alfred Hitchcock?

References:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/bio

http://hitchcock.tv/bio/bio.html

http://www.metro.co.uk/fame/article.html?Milla_Jovovichs_Hitchcockian_movie&in_article_id=720141&in_page_id=7

http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/topten/poll/voted.php?film=Vertigo+(Hitchcock)

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20217339,00.html

Jimmy Stewart… the everyman

November 1, 2009

Jimmy Stewart

Vertigo is arguably one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best and most memorable films. Hitchcock puts his star, James Stewart, in one of his favorite roles, as an “everyman” who is forced to deal with extraordinary circumstances beyond his control. In Vertigo, Stewart’s character is challenged with murder, love, and an uncontrollable fear of heights which all but paralyzes his life. Veritgo is a brilliant story of suspense and murder in which Hitchcock furthers the development of story-telling through the medium of film in a style that remains original and highly entertaining.

(Klaus Ming June 2009)

http://klausming.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/vertigo-1964/

Biography for

Date of Birth 20 May 1908, Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 2 July 1997, Los Angeles, California, USA (cardiac arrest and pulmonary embolism following respiratory problems)
Mini Biography

His “aw shucks” demeanor has served him well as the good guy, the shy guy or the nice guy in films like Harvey (1950) and You Can’t Take It with You (1938). Alfred Hitchcock turned him into a dramatic leading man in films like Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). Stewart also starred in his share of westerns, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The Naked Spur (1953) and The Man from Laramie (1955).

Spouse

 

Gloria Stewart (9 August 194916 February 1994) (her death) 2 children

 

Whether he was a good guy or a dramatic leader James or “Jimmy” Stewart`s name interlocks with Alfred Hitchcock. His name also shows up in the Empire magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of all time” list. Surprisingly He never took an acting lesson, but he became one of the most famous actor at all times.

Never took an acting lesson, and felt that people could learn more when actually working rather than studying the craft. “I don’t act. I react.”– Jimmy Stewart

I am James Stewart playing James Stewart. I couldn’t mess around with the characterizations. I play variations on myself.”– Jimmy Stewart

In Michael Munn’s book Jimmy Stewart The Truth Behind The Legend (1988) The chapter when he writes about Vertigo, the title is: ‘Times of depression’. But even if he had a hard time that time, he stayed true of his quality of work. His college Kim Novak said about him:

“Thank God I had Jimmy Stewart with me in that picture. He treated me so well. I learned a lot about acting from him. When we had emotional scenes, he’d prepared himself. He wasn’t like a lot of actors who could just get in front of the camera and do it all when the director yelled “ACTION!” And he couldn’t just stop when the director yelled “CUT!” He had to prepare himself first by somehow going deep inside of himself, and you knew to leave him alone when he was like that. Than he’d say he was ready, and we’d do the scene. And when it was over, he wouldn’t just walk away. He allowed himself to slowly come out of it. He’d hold my hand and I would squeeze his hand so that we both had time to come down from emotion.”

His final Hitchcock role, the acrophobic ex-cop Scottie Ferguson in Vertigo, is the richest of all, drawing on virtually every acpect of the star`s persona: innocence, idealism, independence, compassion, stubbornness, romantic diffidence, emotional vulnerability, and the capacity for volcanically destructive emotions.

(The Hitchcock Encyclopedia)

His performance as James “Scottie” Ferguson in Vertigo is ranked #30 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).

He was the first movie star to enter the service for World War II, joining a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5 pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test. He eventually became a Colonel, and earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre and 7 battle stars. In 1959, he served in the Air Force Reserve, before retiring as a brigadier general. (Walter Matthau was a sergeant in his unit).

He once said the public was his biggest critic, and if they didn’t like his performance, neither did he.

Medals awarded: Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, American Defense Service Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Presidential Medal of Freedom.

elder

He married his wife in 1949 at the age of 41 and lived with her until her death in 1994. He died in 1997.

Over 3,000 people, mostly Hollywood celebrities, attended his funeral to pay their respects.


Questions:

1. What is the: innocence, idealism, independence, compassion, stubbornness, romantic diffidence, emotional vulnerability?

2. What is the Philadelphia Story about?

 

References:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000071/awards

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000071/bio

http://www.jimmy.org/

Michael Munn: Jimmy Stewart The Truth Behind The Legend (1988) pages: 237

Thomas Leitch: The Encyclopedia of Alfred HItchcock

What is vertigo?

November 1, 2009

VERTIGO: ver`-ti-go a feeling of dizzyness… a swimming in the head… figuratively a state in which all things seem to be engulfed in a whirlpool of terror.

The central metaphor of Vertigo was graphically rendered in Henry Bumstead’s expressionistic set for the bell tower. Seventy feet high, the set gave Hitchcock’s stars a real feeling of vertigo.

Vertigo DVD

Vertigo is the sensation that you or the environment around you is moving or spinning. It is commonly caused by a problem with the balance mechanisms within the inner ear.

If you have vertigo, you may experience the sensation of movement even when you are standing completely still.

Vertigo is not a fear of heights!!!!

Vertigo is often confused with a fear of heights. However, the dizzy feeling that is often experienced when looking down from a high place is not the same as vertigo, which can occur at any time and may last for many months or even years.

Mild vertigo is very common, and the symptoms are not usually serious. However, vertigo that reoccurs or persists may be caused by an underlying health condition, such as Ménière’s disease (a rare disorder that affects the inner ear).

Vertigo (from the Latin vertigin-, vertigo, “dizziness,” originally “a whirling or spinning movement) is a specific type of dizziness dizziness, a major symptom of a balance disorder. It is the sensation of spinning or swaying while the body is actually stationary with respect to the surroundings.

The effects of vertigo may be slight. It can cause nausea and vomiting and, in severe cases, it may give rise to difficulties with standing and walking.

Vertigo is qualified as height vertigo when referring to dizziness triggered by heights. “Vertigo” is often used, incorrectly, to describe the fear of heights, but the correct term for this is acrophobia.

Vertigo, or dizziness, refers to the sensation of spinning (subjective vertigo) or the perception that surrounding objects are moving or spinning (objective vertigo). Some patients describe a feeling of being pulled toward the floor or toward one side of the room. Moving the head, changing position, and turning while lying down often worsen vertigo.

http://www.neurologychannel.com/vertigo/symptoms.shtml
Vertigo is typically classified into one of two categories depending on the location of the damaged vestibular pathway. These are peripheral or central vertigo. Each category has a distinct set of characteristics and associated findings.

Other/ungrouped

Vertigo can also occur after long flights or boat journeys where the mind gets used to turbulence, resulting in a person’s feeling as if he or she is moving up and down. This usually subsides after a few days. Another source of vertigo is through exposure to high levels of sound pressure, rattling the inner ear and causing a loss of balance.

Questions arise:

1. Who was Henry Bumstead?

2. What is the connection between Vertigo and expressionism?

Reference:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Vertigo/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertigo_%28medical%29

Vertigo DVD