Author Archives: Alex

North by Northwest

This is a film, which received favorable reviews at the time that it was produced in 1959 by Alfred Hitchcock using VistaVision , starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason.  It’s a suspenseful, spy thriller that has an innocent man is wrongfully accused of crimes who then becomes an everyday hero, and that has many elements commonly seen in Hitchcock films.  This paper will address some of these themes, character usage and filming techniques which enhance the film to make North by Northwest the masterpiece that it is. Some of the common elements we see are the usage of phobias, the usage of clothing to shape our perception of characters, an untrustworthy female, and a dysfunctional mother-son relationship.  All of these elements can be seen in other Hitchcock films such as Psycho or Vertigo, so that will also be addressed in this paper.  In addition to this, it will look at the way certain aspects of the film were shot, including a specific scene (the famous crop-dusting plane scene) and the scenes where famous American sites are filmed.  The paper will talk about all these elements that come together to make the film so excellent.

The Bridge (1984)

Victor Burgin’s The Bridge was made in 1984 it is a painting featuring the Golden Gate Bridge and a dead/dying girl.  It references Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia but more importantly for this course, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  The Bridge is a painting that resembles the scene where Madeleine tries to kill herself by the Golden Gate Bridge. We also see the resemblance of Madeleine in the water to the girl in the painting.

Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo is ranked number one on the list of the “50 Greatest Films of All Time,” as I believe it deserves to be.  Hitchcock planned the entire film out, making  very intentional decisions about how to put the movie together.  Overall, from the opening credits to the closing, the film was affective.  The camera shots are well put together, especially the ones that portray Scottie’s acrophobia to the audience.  Just as we are made to feel and understand Scottie’s fear of heights, we also feel uncomfortable like Judy when Scottie is changing her.  In addition to the good camera technique and making the audience connect to the characters, the storyline, while somewhat slow at times, I found to be very intriguing. I didn’t expect many of the events that took place throughout the movie, which kept me alert and eager to find out how the movie was going to conclude.  Lastly, the film is still enjoyable after a second viewing, because you can pick up on cinematographic and plot details that you originally missed, making you understand even more why Vertigo has received so much praise.

Shadow of a Doubt

In Shadow of Doubt, there is evidence of the Electra Complex, which is basically the female version of Freud’s Oedipus Complex, between Charlie and Uncle Charlie.  At the very beginning of the film, Charlie and Uncle Charlie are introduced together lying in there beds in Santa Rosa and Philadelphia respectively, which can be read that they are lying in bed together.   It is also implied that they are thinking of each other (Charlie is thinking of her Uncle and decides to send him a telegram and the uncle decides to go visit the family in Santa Rosa), suggesting an incestuous relationship.

Charlie always talks about how similar they are and says that her and her uncle are like twins, indicating that their closeness is odd which adds to the audience’s discomfort viewing this relationship.  In addition to this, Uncle Charlie gives Charlie a ring and places it on her hand in a way that the audience can’t help but think of as a wedding or engagement ring.  As said in A Hitchcock Reader, in James McLaughlin’s “All in the Family,” Charlie emphasizes that her Uncle “heard” her and that there was a type of mental telepathy between the two (147).  Lastly, throughout the film the two characters always seem to be touching, again adding to the sense of an incestuous relationship.

McLaughlin, James. “All in the Family: Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.” A Hitchcock Reader, 145-155. 2nd ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2009.