Author Archives: hhautz

Subject to a Film: Marnie by Stan Douglas

Stan Douglas is an artist who is famously known for reworking films.  He reworked the robbery scene in Hitchcock’s 1964 film, Marnie, in his short film work, Subject to a Film: Marnie.  Douglas in this work did a loop of the scene where Marnie robs the office where she is employed, but he modernizes the set.  For example, he changes out the typewriters with computers.  However, he does make this short film in black and white, instead of color.  The film actually slows down during the action sequences and the loop ends right as Marnie is about to leave which symbolizes that she can never escape her crimes.  In his 1995 review,  Tom Eccles describes the work as “creating the effect of a recurring nightmare” as the character, rather than escaping is “caught in the film loop, forever trapped within the confines of the office.”  The whole work is not online, however there are images of it.

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Marnie

Hitchcock’s 1964 film, Marnie, is quite different from his other films in that it focuses more on psychology and Freud’s psychoanalytical theory, like Hitchcock’s other film, Spellbound.  This paper argues that in this film Hitchcock uses the character of Marnie, the character of Bernice(Marnie’s mother), and the process of “curing” Marnie to convey different aspects of psychology and Freudian psychoanalytical theory.  Hitchcock in this film uses the character of Marnie to show Freud’s theory that traumatic early childhood memories can indeed impact a person’s development and their adult mental state. Hitchcock uses the character of her mother, Bernice, to show the effect a mother can have on her child and how she added to Marnie’s condition.  Keeping the incident hidden for most of her life, teaching her daughter to hate men, and not being able to show her daughter compassion all attributed to Marnie’s disturbed mental state as an adult.  Lastly, I will show how Hitchcock used two integral scenes to show how psychotherapy works and how to cure a person who has a repressed memory.  This paper argues that all these things together show the different ways Hitchcock tried to convey different aspects of psychoanalytical theory and psychology in his films.

Vertigo: The Masterpiece??

Vertigo

My views on the film Vertigo are slightly mixed. The first time I watched the film I was very disappointed. I knew that this film was supposed to be Hitchcock’s masterpiece and I was supremely let down when I viewed the film. I didn’t really understand the plot and didn’t care for the main character, Scottie which was played by James Stewart. I agree that Hitchcock’s cinematography and tricks with the camera were masterfully done, but that did not help with the plot of the film. I was not surprised to hear, in our first discussion of the film, that it did not do well in the box-office. However, when we discussed the film further and what it meant, I understood everything a lot better. The main character, Scottie, trying to transform a new woman into the woman he lost was basically the story of Hitchcock trying to find his perfect “Hitchcock blonde”. After this thought ruminated in my mind and I thought about how this story was about Hitchcock himself and it was also the first time he showed any sympathy towards women in his films, I thought that I may want to watch the film again with this new perspective. I have to say, after watching it again I felt a much greater appreciation for the film, itself. After discussing, in the class, the meaning behind the film I could better understand the “masterpiece”, however this also made me dislike the film. A “masterpiece” to me and to be number one on the list of “Best Films of All Time” should be a film that has a message all audiences can understand. To me, the message in Vertigo is better understood by people of an earlier generation. To audiences of this generation, the film does not have as much of an appeal as it would to people of an older generation. In Robert Egbert’s review of the film, he describes it as, “one of the two or three best films Hitchcock ever made, and is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art” (Egbert). Throughout his review, Egbert defends and congratulates Hitchcock on his work. However, to me, this film is great, but it does not deserve to be above Citizen Kane on the list of “Best Films of All Time”.

Ebert, Roger. “Vertigo Movie Review & Film Summary (1958) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. N.p., 13 Oct. 1996. Web. 07 Nov. 2014. <http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-vertigo-1958>.

Family in Shadow of A Doubt

Hitchcock loves to show and comment on families in his films.  But, Hitchcock in his film, Shadow of A Doubt,  also focuses on the “idea of disgust” in families(McLaughlin).  The relationship between the main character Charlie and her Uncle Charlie is very unnatural and almost sexual. This is not like the typical relationship between an uncle and a niece.  At one point in the film, Charlie says “We’re more than an uncle and niece, we’re sort of like twins”(McLaughlin).  Charlie, in fact, does not actually find anything wrong with her almost incestual relationship with her uncle until she starts to figure out that he is a murderer.  This shows that Hitchcock gravitated towards more dysfunctional families in his films. The kind of relationship we see in Shadow of a Doubt would never be deemed normal in our society.  Throughout many of his films, Hitchcock showed destructive and abnormal families that have haunted and intrigued audiences decades later.

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Also, later in the film we see how Charlie’s father is not a strong family leader as is expected of most men.  No one really respects Joseph(the father) and everyone really not noticing or paying attention to him shows “the father’s inadequacy”.   When Uncle Charlie comes into town, he takes the father’s place and becomes head of the family, as shown in the dinner scene when Uncle Charlie is at the head of the table and Joseph is sitting with the other children.    Young Charlie,throughout this film, feels a need to cure her family, which tells the audience along with the actions of the characters themselves that this family is anything, but normal.  However, in the end Charlie does choose to stay with her family and try to have a normal/domestic life.  I believe that Hitchcock is trying to show here that no family is  perfect.  At that time, families in movies and in television seemed almost too perfect and “cookie-cutter”.  Hitchcock, I think, wanted to show that families in real life are not like this.  For example,  your father may not be the typical strong head of the family .  Families can have their own problems, but just because they aren’t perfect does not mean that they are dysfunctional.

 

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

Hitchcock’s Classic Blonde

In both The Lodger and Blackmail Hitchcock casts a young blonde woman as his main female role.  In many more of his movies to come, he will often use a famous blonde actress in his leading female roles including greats like Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren.

In his first film, The Lodger, Hitchcock casts a young woman named June Tripp in the role of Daisy Bunting.  Daisy is a young model who is at risk of being hunted by a serial killer called The Avenger who pursues young women with fair curly hair.  Another thing we see with this classic Hitchcock motif is that not only are these women beautiful, but they also start as sort of a naïve girl, but then by the end of the film they show a stronger or more mature attitude.  Daisy at the beginning of the film flirts and plays around with the Lodger, but by the end she seems to have matured and becomes a caring wife figure.  She also shows a hint of defiance because even though her father and mother warn her not to be with The Lodger, she does so anyway.  She also helps him to get away from the police when he is first accused of the murder.  These actions help to convey a sense of maturity and fight in this female character. Lodger1Lodger2

In Blackmail, Hitchcock casts Anny Ondra as his leading lady and she plays the role of Alice White.  Alice, like Daisy in The Lodger,  in the beginning of the film is a naïve and almost immature girl who in trying to get back at the man she is dating at the time ends up going to a weird and mysterious man’s home.  When she is in the man or artist’s home he makes inappropriate advances toward her and at first she is playful as well, but then when he kisses her without her permission and then tries to rape her we see that she defends herself and in doing so kills the artist.  In this first big sequence of the film we see a drastic change in Alice.  She goes from a flirty girl to someone who has to fight to defend herself.  And we see throughout the rest of the film how she struggles with the choice to let Frank(the man she was dating who cares for her) cover it up and help her get away clean or to turn herself in.  This to me, shows a maturity that is way beyond the Alice the audience meets in the beginning of the film.

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Blackmail1

Both of these leading ladies were both beautiful blonde women who played characters that could sometimes seem fragile on the outside, but when put to the test could change and fight for themselves and what they want.  In many of his other films, Hitchcock leading ladies were not only beautiful blondes, but they also seemed to have a little spunk or strong attitude that we sometimes would not expect.