❝When we were kids, we had cardboard-tube periscopes and plastic 007 briefcases; today’s children grew up playing with working, pint-sized surveillance equipment right out of “The Conversation.” But although they’ll understand the appeal of Jeff’s spying, they’ll also know that he’s doing something he shouldn’t — and will hold their breath waiting to see just how he’s going to get caught.❞
from Stephen Whitty’s Family Viewing: ‘Rear Window’
☞ We are now familiar with being able to watch a 3D movie either in 3D or 2D (the ticket for the latter is of course cheaper). Not many of us realise that, during the transition from silent to sound cinema, movie viewers were given a related choice: between the silent and sound versions of some movies. The following short article deals with how Hitchcock deals with the transition. Sound, of course, brought a change in the careers of some silent actors, such as the case of the Czechoslovakian Anny Ondra below, whose career in England did not survive her first movie that also had a sound version in English, Hitchcock’s Blackmail (her speech for the movie had to be dubbed, as her pronunciation was considered to be unacceptable to an English audience).
“Most theaters in America seem by now to have equipped themselves for digital projection. But just a year or two ago, distributors had to send out digital copies of their movies to some venues and celluloid prints to others. As it hasn’t proven quite the revelation its boosters had hoped, the latest wave of 3D pictures still has to deal with the fact that certain theaters accept a higher-tech version, but most need a lower-tech one. In 1929, cinema found itself in much the same technical situation, but regarding sound. Even as Alfred Hitchcock began shooting his tenth film, Blackmail, as a traditional silent, British International Pictures decided he should join the popular “talkies” just then opening in England. This required Hitchcock to deliver both a sound and a silent version of the picture — and to incorporate sound recording on the fly.”
☞ Since my previous post was a quotation from Toby Jones, on the challenge of acting as Hitchcock in The Girl, I thought I should quote from one of the favourable reviews of the television movie. Not everyone views the movie positively: some other reviewers, television viewers or friends of Hitchcock view the movie as a false portrayal of the director, and would question Crace’s assertion below that “it’s a fairly accurate account.” Again, the question of authenticity, although from a different angle, crops up.
Beauty and the beastly Hitchcock: a peerless study of sexual obsession
“”Blondes make the best victims,” Alfred Hitchcock once said. The Girl (BBC2) was Tippi Hedren, the blonde who ultimately refused to be his victim and, as this HBO film was largely based on Hedren’s own interviews and Donald Spoto‘s Hitchcock biography, it is reasonable to assume it’s a fairly accurate account.
Directed by Julian Jarrold and written by Gwyneth Hughes, it began with Hitchcock choosing Hedren, an unknown New York model, to star in two of his finest films, The Birds and Marnie. It ended with her frozen out of Hollywood for five years after a stand-off in which she refused to work for him and he refused to release her from her contract. As a study of Hitchcock’s peculiar and demanding directorial methods, together with some eye-catching early 60s Hollywood period detail, The Girl was a class act: as a study in sexual obsession it was peerless.”
There’s always panic when you’re playing someone as iconic as Hitchcock,… There’s that suspicion you might not have done that bit of research that would be crucial. I’m trying to make myself enough like that person so that it doesn’t become distracting.
Toby Jones on playing Hitchcock, in HBO’s The Girl
From its opening shot of a dimming light bulb, the film defies expectations. According to 1930’s film grammar, a dimming light bulb signified only one thing: an execution. In the case of Sabotage, however, the bulb announces a widespread London blackout caused by the introduction of sand into a power station generator.
John Seal on Hitchcock’s Sabotage
BTW, Don’t ask me what film “grammar” is. But from the quotation above, I think I can figure out what is being said here: some convention that existed during that time. Anyway (just in case you’ve been away with John Carter on Mars for the past few months), the light bulb does not reveal that the guy on the left is not Hitchcock (just someone pretending to be him; see also, below).