Blogathons

Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon 2017: The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Hitchcock blogathon EvaEva, over at Classicsandcraziness, is hosting this blogathon all about Alfred Hitchcock. Be sure to visit her site to read all the other entries. I can’t wait to read them all myself.

I’ve recently just finished hosting my own Hitchcock blogathon, and when I saw that Eva was also hosting one I just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to carry on writing about Hitch’s films. I’m writing this time about The Lady Vanishes, which is one of Hitch’s British films, and was actually the last film he made here in the UK, until he returned here in the 1970’s to make Frenzy.

The Lady Vanishes is a Hitch film that I love a great deal. It is an excellent mystery thriller, has a nice blend of genres, and has lots of humour thrown into the mix as well. There’s also lots of fun to be had in watching a romantic relationship slowly develop between a couple who at first can’t stand each other one bit. This is also a film in which you should never take the characters at face value, more than a few of them will surprise you as the film goes on.

Fans of the comic, cricket obsessed characters Charters and Caldicott are also in for a treat. The duo feature here in fairly major roles ,in what was to be the first screen outing for them. These characters popped up in many British films throughout the 1940’s. 

I also really like how this film doesn’t waste a single moment, and it really manages to pack quite a bit into an hour and a half of running time.

The lead actors of the film are Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave, they would both soon go on to become very popular stars in British cinema. Here though they are both in the very early stages of their respective careers, you’d never guess that this was only Michael’s first screen appearance, or that Margaret had only been acting on screen herself for only around five years. They are both excellent and come across very natural in their performances.

Iris (Margaret Lockwood)is on a walking holiday in Europe with two of her friends. Iris is returning home to the UK before her friends do. When she gets home she will soon be getting married. About to board her homebound train, Iris is hit on the head by a heavy plant pot that falls from a window above her. Iris has a very sore head but seems to be fine otherwise.

Iris is befriended by Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty), an elderly governess who is also returning home to the UK. During the journey Miss Froy looks after the injured Iris, who falls asleep and when she wakes up Miss Froy is missing. Fellow passengers and train staff claim she was never on the train!

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Fellow passenger, Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas)is concerned that Iris’s head injury could be causing her to hallucinate, but Iris is adamant that she is telling the truth and that Miss Froy was no hallucination. The only one who believes her is the witty musician, Gilbert (Michael Redgrave)who had met and annoyed Iris the night before at her hotel (he was playing music loudly and disturbed her.) Can Gilbert and Iris stop bickering long enough to get to the bottom of what is going on? Just what has happened to the little old lady dressed all in tweed?

Margaret is excellent as the woman who is thrown into danger and adventure, but who won’t back down in her search for her friend. She makes you really feel her mounting confusion and desperation, particularly as it seems more and more likely that she imagined the missing old lady.

Michael steals every scene he is in as the dashing, heroic and witty Gilbert. I love how he conveys to us by the way he looks at Iris that he is falling hard for her. Michael looks at Margaret with such tenderness (I’m swooning just writing this 🙂 ) and you just know these two should get together. I’m really impressed by how good Michael is here considering this is his film debut. He acts like he has been in front of a camera for years before this.

Paul Lukas is excellent as the respectable surgeon who may or may not be hiding a secret. Paul has your attention in every scene he is in. Is his character one to be trusted?

Dame May Whitty is perfect casting as the little old lady, who as it later turns out has quite a few surprises up her sleeve.

Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford are hysterical as the friends to whom nothing else matters apart from getting home to watch a cricket match. They are a riot, and it’s not difficult to see why they went on to appear in many films over the next few years.

Cecil Parker and Linden Travers are also both excellent as a couple who are having an affair. They may have seen Miss Froy, but refuse to get involved as they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.

Googie Withers who(like Margaret Lockwood)would soon go on to become a popular leading lady of British cinema, has a small role as one of Iris’s friends.

My favourite scenes are the following. Gilbert and Iris’s first meeting at the hotel. Gilbert climbing out of the train window as another train comes by on the opposite track. Gilbert and Iris meeting again on the train. All the scenes featuring Charters and Caldicott. The shootout finale. Gilbert and Iris finding the magicians box in the luggage compartment. Gilbert getting all worried about Iris after she faints.

In this film, a whistled tune turns out to be of vital international importance, major head trauma is somehow avoided when a heavy plant pot falls on a human head, and a packet of tea proves to be a vital clue to the whereabouts of a missing woman. There’s romance, arguments, secrets and dangers galore. You really don’t want to avoid boarding this train!

Any other fans of this film? Please leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

Blogathons

Announcing The Horrorathon: 26th and 27th Of October, 2017

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In a couple of months time it will be Halloween; cue the scary music, flickering candles, screams, and people banging at your door thinking it’s fine to demand sweets. A perfect opportunity then for us to discuss those films that scare us.

You can discuss anything related to horror films. For example you could discuss your favourite scary film. The Universal Monster Movies (Dracula, The Invisible Man etc.) The Hammer Horror films. The films of Val Lewton. The Horror directors. The Horror stars, such as Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Sr, Peter Cushing etc. It’s entirely up to you.

As usual, I will only be accepting two duplicate posts about the same film, actor etc. There are so many films and stars out there for this genre, that we shouldn’t all need to write about the same ones. Check the participant list below to see who is writing about what. You are welcome to write more than one post.

I’ll put up a new post on each of the days for you to leave me your live links. It’s up to you on which of the days you make your entry live. All I ask is that nobody posts late, you can post early if you like, let me know and I will add your link in on one of the days.

Grab one of the banners below to help spread the word, and put it up on your site somewhere. Have fun writing, and please don’t scare yourselves too much!

 

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Participation List

Maddylovesherclassicfilms – Dead Of Night

Cinematic ScribblingsSpirits of the Dead

LifesdailylessonsblogThe Haunting      13 Ghosts

Thoughts All SortsMy Reaction To Horror Films.

                                   VinniehCat People

Sparksfromacombustiblemind –  Post on Jamie Lee Curtis       Halloween (1978)

Bonnywood ManorDon’t Look Now      The Haunting of Julia

RealweegiemidgetHalloween (1978)

 

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Day 3

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For the final day of our get together, we are in a posh hotel in New York. Our guest speaker is one Mr. Roger Thornhill. Unfortunately he is running late, this is due to a serious case of mistaken identity. 

We better make a start without him. Let our third and final day of Hitchcock discussion commence.

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Day 3 Entries

Lifesdailylessonsblog takes a look at Hitchcock’s Suspicion.

dbmoviesblog writes about Rope.

The Humpo Show boards a train to write about Strangers on a Train.

Taking Up Room peeks through the curtains to take a look at Rear Window.

One Mann’s Movies Special takes a look through the binoculars at Rear Window.

Anybody Got A Match? Takes a look at   To Catch A Thief .

 

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Day 2

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We are now meeting in the conference room of the Bodega Bay hotel. This is a lovely little town, unfortunately it appears that they are having some trouble with birds. Best stay inside when taking a break!

Let our second day of Hitchcock discussion commence.

Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Day 2 Entries

Bonnywood Manor takes to the high seas to discuss Lifeboat.

Sparksfromacombustablemind braves the scariest bathroom in film history to discuss Psycho.

Cracked Rear Viewer braves the heights of a windmill to take a look at Foreign Correspondent.    

Realweegiemidget takes a look at the man himself in Hitchcock.

Review Donkey   boards the train to discuss The Lady Vanishes.

Check back tomorrow for day 3!

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Day 1

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The time has come for us to discuss the work of the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. (1899-1980)

The Bates Motel conference room is now open for all the participants to gather together to discuss the work of Mr. Hitchcock. Whatever you do though, do not ask Mr. Bates about his mother!

I will put up a new post on the 5th and 6th of August. If you are taking part on those days, just leave me your links when the blogathon post for each of those days goes live.

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon Entries: Day 1

I Found it at the Movies takes a look at the macabre Rope.

Silver Screenings discusses the silent classic The Lodger .

Cinema Essentials looks at one of the greatest of Hitch’s films The 39 Steps.

Critica Retro looks at the Masters of Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock book.

I take a look at  Sabotage. Marnie. Shadow of a Doubt.

 

 

 

 

See you tomorrow for Day 2!

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)

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This is my third and final entry for my Hitchcock Blogathon. This time I’m writing about the film that Hitch called his personal favourite from amongst his own films.  It’s really not hard to see why he loved this one so much.

Long before David Lynch showed us that small towns hid secrets, and that all was not well behind closed doors; Hitch gave us all of that in just one film. That film is Shadow Of A Doubt, and it is a nightmare depiction of discovering someone you love is not who you thought them to be. This film also shows innocence being lost, and horror and disruption landing in a small American town.

There is also some terrific Hitchcock black humour to be found in this film. Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn play two best friends who meet regularly to discuss (in minute detail) ways in which they could kill one another and not get detected. These bizarre conversations appear throughout the film, at one point even carrying on at the dinner table!

The film is set (and filmed out on location)in Santa Rosa, California. We are shown the positive sides of small town life in this film. You (usually)get good and supportive neighbours, have a strong sense of community, and you feel that your town is the safest place you could be.

Hitch also shows us that living in a place like this shelters the inhabitants from the violence etc that you will be (unfortunately)almost certain to encounter in the big city. The trouble with being sheltered from it is that you never believe anything bad will ever happen to you, or to those living in your community.

This film sees the eyes of the small town community being opened to evil. This evil comes in the form of Charles Oakley (Joseph Cotten).  Known to all as Charlie, he is a smooth talking, charming and elegant man. He is also a serial killer, who targets wealthy widows and is dubbed by the Police and media as ‘The Merry Widow Killer’. Charlie’s identity is as yet unknown, but the Police have gathered many leads and are beginning to suspect him.

Charlie gets on a train and travels to Santa Rosa. He goes to stay with his beloved elder sister, Emma (Patricia Collinge), and her husband Joseph ( Henry Travers). Charlie is happy to see them, and they are happy to see him. Charlie is overjoyed to be reunited with his teenage nice (and namesake)Charlie (Teresa Wright). These two have a fascinating relationship. They have an almost telepathic bond with each other and can read each other like a book. Young Charlie looks up to her uncle and sees him as a breath of fresh air in her life.

When Detective Jack Graham (MacDonald Carey) speaks to young Charlie about her uncle, she soon begins to suspect that her Uncle may well be hiding a dark secret. As she begins to investigate him he become suspicious and soon their relationship becomes one of cat and mouse.

When I first saw this film I was in my mid teens, and I picked up then a strong hint of something that almost seems like sexual tension to me between the two Charlie’s. The more I’ve watched this as I’ve grown older, I can still detect this weird tension between them. The way young Charlie behaves around Uncle Charlie, it is almost like she has a strong crush on him. 

There are also several scenes where they seem to act out things like a couple who’ve had a spat would (such as her acting weird around him, or running off and him chasing her and taking her to the bar.) Am I alone in noticing this tension? I find it hard to believe that something like this would be in this by accident. Everything Hitch included (even the smallest things)were included intentionally.

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Joseph Cotten is excellent here as a man with a very dark secret indeed, who presents a likeable front to the world.  This role showed what a good dramatic actor Cotten could be, it’s a shame he never again got a role quite like this. His famous speech about pulling back the fronts of houses to find swine is unforgettable. That speech (although chilling)is correct because behind closed doors many unpleasant things go on all the time that we are never privy too. In most cases neighbours, friends, family etc wouldn’t believe or accept those things as true if they were told, as the people involved come across as nice when they are out and about in public.

The film also focuses on the dual nature of Charlie and on why he is the way he is. It is revealed later that after a childhood head injury his personality changed. That to me suggests that his actions as an adult are down to his personality change caused by this injury. In regards to this I think Hitch was quite ahead of his time looking at psychology and other issues causing someone to do something unpleasant. He goes through life with two faces and personalities and switches between them as when it becomes neccesary.

Duality as a theme continues in the film with the nature of Charlie and young Charlie. She represents the innocence and joy he had as a child. He represents the reality of adulthood, innocence dies, and with pressures and responsibilities there is less joy to be had when you are grown, than when you are younger. Their characters are also almost like twins, and although they are separate they have this connection and outlook that makes them almost like one person.

Teresa Wright is excellent as the young woman who loses her innocence and sheltered nature quicker than she should have done. She captures the horror and disbelief of discovering an unpleasant truth about someone you love. Teresa is a very expressive actress, and in many scenes in this she doesn’t need dialogue as everything we need to know can be seen in her face.

Patricia Collinge is very moving as the devoted elder sister to Uncle Charlie. Emma clearly adores him and worships the ground he walks on, almost to the point of self delusion. You almost don’t want him to get caught for her sake. You know she would break when told the horrific truth.

An excellent film that is one of Hitch’s best in my opinion. It is also a good one to watch if you are after strong performances.

My favourite scenes are the following. The finale on the train. Uncle Charlie chasing Charlie into town and taking her to the bar. Young Charlie trying to get in the Library at closing time.

What are your thoughts on this film? Please share your comments below.

 

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Marnie (1964)

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This is my second entry for my Hitchcock blogathon. This time I’m writing about Marnie. This is one of Hitch’s later films, and it is one which I think really deserves to be better known and appreciated by audiences today.

This one hasn’t been as well received by audiences as the vast majority of Hitch’s other films were. I think that was because this isn’t really your typical Hitchcock film. Marnie explores problems of the mind, and it’s far from the usual suspense/thriller films audiences had come to expect. 

This is the second and final Hitchcock film to star Tippi Hedren. She was excellent in The Birds, but I really think she outdoes herself in Marnie. Tippi lets us see that this woman is truly messed up (both emotionally and psychologically)she really makes you feel and believe that Marnie has some major issues in her life that have left her emotionally scarred. In the scenes where Marnie is scared of something, Tippi looks truly petrified and traumatised.

This is an interesting film as most of the suspense lies in unlocking the secrets hidden within Marnie herself. There are some other suspenseful moments (such as the shoe dropping on the floor etc)but it is mainly Marnie’s psychological issues which keep us on the edge of our seats throughout.

This film has become famous for the scene where it is strongly implied that Mark rapes Marnie on their wedding night onboard the passenger ship. This sequence caused friction between Hitch and the original scriptwriter Evan Hunter . When Hunter left the project, the script was written again, and this time around by a woman! Jay Presson Allen, who had no trouble in writing that scene, or in writing it the way Hitch wanted it to be.

The sequence as it stands is shocking, but we don’t actually see the act of rape take place, so to be fair we don’t actually know for sure if that is what happens to her as we don’t see anything. The way it’s cut together though does strongly suggest that was what took place. I’ll come back to this sequence later.

Margaret “Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren)is a compulsive thief who is on the run after robbing her employer of $10,000. Getting another job as a secretary at Rutland’s Publishing Company, Marnie attracts the attention of its widower owner Mark Rutland (Sean Connery). Unbeknown to Marnie, Mark saw her at the previous company she just robbed and keeps a close eye on her.

Marnie robs Mark’s firm. This time though she is caught by him. Mark blackmails her into marrying him in return for his silence. Marnie agrees and Mark tries to unlock the many mysteries that surround this woman.

Marnie hates being touched, is repulsed by the idea of sex, has panic attacks when she sees the colour red, and freaks out during thunderstorms. Mark slowly begins to uncover the horrific events in Marnie’s past that have caused her to become the woman she is now.

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Sean plays a pretty unique character for a Hitchcock film, in that he appears to be pretty much unlikable. At first glance there is an air about him that makes it appear that he is studying Marnie, and at times it looks like he gets a kick out of forcing her to work on her issues. Marnie herself says to him “I’m just something you’ve caught!”

Having said that though, I’ve often wondered if he appears like that to us because we see him from Marnie’s point of view? Her perception of him may well be warped by her issues and how she is so wary of men and sees them all as things to be avoided and not trusted. Going back and viewing the film with that possibility in mind makes it more interesting I think.

It even makes you go back and think again about that suggested rape sequence, should that sequence actually be taken at face value? Was Mark actually doing nothing more than being a husband making love to his new wife, but due to how damaged she is, to her the act of making love seemed like rape to her? It also makes you think if he was a genuinely horrible person, why is he even trying to help Marnie at all with her issues? If he was so bad why would he care about her at all? Towards the end we see that he does care about her and she comes to trust him and values his help.

Mark also seems to care more for animals than he does people, and he talks about slowly gaining an animals trust. Throughout the film he uses the same techniques with Marnie, he is patient with her and allows her to come to him over time.

Tippi and Sean are both excellent.  There’s strong support from Diane Baker as Mark’s trouble making sister in law, Lil. She openly flirts with Mark, and it’s obvious she is jealous of Marnie when Mark brings her home.

Louise Latham plays Marnie’s mother. At first she is a typical Hitch mother, cold, distant, seemingly responsible for messing up her child etc. As the film goes on though we see her in a very different light. Louise is excellent particularly in the scenes when the truth about what happened to Marnie is revealed.  

Mariette Hartley plays Susan, a fellow secretary at Rutland’s who befriends Marnie. She is only in a few scenes but steals each one she is in. I love her amusement over her boss constantly forgetting the safe combination.

There’s also a small appearance by Bruce Dern, as a violent sailor who causes problems for Marnie and her mother.

Those watching this and expecting a typical Hitch film will be surprised. This film is quite unlike his others. I think the negative response to this one is a real shame, as the film is very good and has many memorable moments. The performances from the entire cast are also solid throughout.

My favourite scenes are the following. Marnie and Mark playing the word association game. Marnie dropping the shoe. Marnie freaking out over the red ink. Marnie and Lil meeting for the first time over tea. Mark telling Marnie he trained Sophie (a wild animal)to trust him. Marnie trying to get the gun off Mark. The final sequence when we learn all about what happened to Marnie.

What are your thoughts on this film? Please leave your comments below.

 

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Sabotage (1936)

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This is my first entry for my Hitchcock blogathon which begins this Friday.

In this first post I’m writing about one of Hitchcock’s early British films. That film is his 1936 espionage thriller Sabotage.The film is based on the novel The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.

Hitch always liked to ensure he kept his audiences squirming in their seats in suspense and fear. This film features a sequence aboard a bus that has us doing both of those things, and it also has us getting very angry at Hitch.

The infamous bus sequence of which I speak is rivalled only (for me) by the Statue of Liberty sequence in Saboteur, and by the shocking shower murder in Psycho. The Sabotage bus sequence is also note worthy for being very realistic, it is utterly shocking, horrific and brutal when viewed today; so I can only imagine how audiences in the thirties must have responded to witnessing this sequence upon the films original release.

The sequence of which I speak sees a boy board a bus in London. He is unknowingly carrying a bomb, which is hidden inside a package he has been asked to deliver. We know the time it will detonate. As the boy carries it around town, the clock is counting down to the time of detonation. It makes us feel angry at Hitch because there’s no happy end to that bus sequence and also because a child is killed and was powerless to escape their horrific end.

The film is set in London in the 1930’s. Many scenes take place in a family flat above a cinema. The family who live there are the Verloc’s, and they both own and run this popular cinema. The Verloc family consists of Karl Verloc(Oscar Homolka), his much younger wife (Sylvia Sidney)and her younger brother, Stevie (Desmond Tester).

Unbeknown to his wife, Karl is a member of a group of saboteurs. The group have already done several things to cause problems (such as shutting down the electricity to the city.) They now want to go a step further and create sheer terror, they want to set off a bomb in central London.

Scotland Yard’s investigations have led them to the Verloc’s cinema and they put an undercover officer to work in the shop next door to keep an eye on what’s going on. That officer is Ted Spencer (John Loder) and he befriends Mrs. Verloc and her brother. His feelings for them are genuine, but he tries to keep in mind that Mrs. Verloc could also be a part of the group too.

Karl has to collect a bomb and he is tasked with setting it off. The race is on to try and gather proof against him and to stop him before he does fatal damage.

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This is a very bleak and serious film and there is precious little Hitchcock humour to be found here. The subject matter of this film is even more relevant today, given the world we are currently living in. I think that our own experiences with these horrors make us realise that this film is sadly far from being just a frightening fiction. There are plenty of Verloc’s roaming around our communities today, and that is truly a chilling thought indeed.

Mr. Karl Verloc is one of Hitch’s coldest and nastiest villains. Homolka does a very good job in portraying this horrible man. Right from the start it’s pretty clear to us that he is a chap to steer clear of, there is no soul to be found within him. His personality did make me wonder why his wife stayed with for so long? There must have been something about him that made her want to be with him, or maybe she just couldn’t accept the unpleasant truth staring her in the face and denied his true nature to herself? As the film goes on Verloc becomes more and more loathsome. What happens to him in the end is more than justified I’d say. If ever anyone had that end coming to them it was certainly him.

This film also does a good job of capturing a loved ones inability to accept that a family member could be capable of murder or of a serious criminal act. Mrs. Verloc (who as it turns out is not involved with the saboteurs in any way) won’t accept the truth about her husband until his actions cause her to lose someone very dear to her.

Sidney is excellent as the woman who has her whole life destroyed. Her perceived image of her husband is shattered and her innocence comes to an end too. Your heart goes out to this woman and you pity her for the terrible situation she finds herself in.

My favourite scenes are the following. Mrs. Verloc struggling against her desire to pick up the knife and use it to hurt her husband. Mr. Verloc meeting a fellow saboteur at the London zoo aquarium. Stevie showing Ted behind the back of the cinema screen and the window into the flat where Ted can spy on the saboteurs meeting there. The bus explosion. Mrs. Verloc watching an animated film and laughing, her uncontrollable laughter soon turns to tears.

Good performances all round, a tense and shocking story and many memorable sequences help to make this one of Hitch’s best films. I like how many scenes in this could almost be from a Silent film; the famous sequence with the knife for example plays out with no dialogue, the power of it comes from Homolka and Sidney’s expressions in that moment. Hitch knew full well the power of actors faces in key moments, this film is very much an actors film and he uses them to full effect.

What are your thoughts on this film? Please leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

Blogathons

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon Will Soon Be Here

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Just a reminder that we will be discussing all things Alfred Hitchcock next week. Beginning on Friday the 4th of August and continuing until the 6th. You can post your entry on any of those three days. I will be putting up a new Hitchcock Blogathon post on each of the three days. I can’t wait to read what everyone has written.

If you would like to join in with this there is still time. Click here to sign up and learn more about the Blogathon.