Reema Sengupta's Study Blog for RCP

BRAND HITCHCOCK AND VERTIGO

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 9, 2009

Illustrated above is one of the posters designed for Vertigo when it was first released.

It obviously is promoting the film as one made by Hitchcock, thereby promoting Brand Hitchcock.

  • Hitchcock’s face is more prominent than any of the actors’, even though the actors are supposed to build the ‘face value’ of the film.
  • The word ‘Hitchcock’ appears four times in the poster.
  • Hitchcock’s name is strategically placed on top, in the centre and at the bottom of the poster.
  • The words terror , tension and thriller are used with Hitchcock’s name and face in the poster. With Hitchcock’s face being cherubic if anything, repeated use of these words was probably aimed at conditioning the masses to associate those words with his face.
  • The film is called Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Another attempt at conditioning the masses, making them look at the film as a masterpiece.

REFERENCES:

This is a primary research entry.

MAKING OF ‘BRAND HITCHCOCK’

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 9, 2009

The screen-shot illustrated above is from the book Directed by Allen Smithee, by Jeremy Braddock and Stephen Hock. The above excerpt outlines how Hitchcock’s reputation developed over the years and points out that it was Hitchcock’s own efforts that catalysed the process. This “concerted effort to reshape his reputation” was nothing but the building of a brand image for himself by Hitchcock. Hitchcock is today essentially a ‘brand’. In lay-man terms, if you know the movie has been directed by Alfred Hitchcock, you’ll expect it to be a suspense thriller, and be entertaining. The association of his name with a film lends the film a certain quality and allows the audience to have certain expectations from it. This brand name of a ‘Hitchcock film’ developed over the years, as is indicated in the excerpt given above.

ELEMENTS CONTRIBUTING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ‘BRAND HITCHCOCK’:

1. Hitchcock’s sustained efforts to establish “directorial preeminence” (Kapsis 1992: 16) and to publicize himself.

Hitchcock-The Making Of A Reputation by Robert Kapsis, pg-16

Screenshot from: http://books.google.com/books?id=mfx4PaeL1nUC&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=robert+kapsis+
hitchcock&source=bl&ots=hLsht40dE5&sig=Dhkddp99LL_-EOaZ-E_hKY0gLpY&hl=en&ei=AkP4StWiBpOh4Qa8j93SAw&sa=X&oi=book_result
&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=prior%20to%20
the%201960s&f=false

 The above screen-shot is from the book Hitchcock: The Making Of A Reputation by Robert Kapsis (The University of Chicago Press, 1992).

Even before he started directing films, Hitchcock had started propagating the view that the director should be given credit for the film’s creative content. From the very beginning of his directorial career, the reviews his movies got acknowledged his role as director, as is indicated by the following source:

Hitchcock: The Making Of A Reutation, by Robert Kapsis, pg 19-20

Screenshot from: http://books.google.com/books?id=mfx4PaeL1nUC&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=robert+kapsis+hitchcock
&source=bl&ots=hLsht40dE5&sig=Dhkddp99LL_-EOaZ-E_hKY0gLpY&hl=en&ei=AkP4StWiBpOh4Qa8j93SAw&sa=X&oi
=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage
&q=prior%20to%20the%201960s&f=false

Even in the above given excerpt, Kapsis clearly states Hitchcock’s conscious “cultivation of new strategies for self-publicity”. 

When he moved to Hollywood in the 1940s, he entered a world where the producers ruled. However, even there, he did not fail to establish a mark of his own. The following excerpt speaks about the self-marketing techniques Hitchcock undertook in the 1950s, which was also the time Vertigo was made.

Objectively speakiing, when it came to his films, Hitchcock’s role as director was highlighted, and the contribution of others was understated, as happened in the case of Saul Bass, who designed the titles for Vertigo (Emily King 1993, http://www.typotheque.com/articles/taking_credit_film_title_sequences_1955-1965_5_spiralling_aspirations_vertigo_1958).

In the Studio-era-Hollywood,

  • Hitchcock was actively involved in the scripting and visualising process, which was unusual for directors of that time.
  • He meticulously pre-planned the picture and shot it exactly as he had planned it, reducing the scope for the producer to make changes once the shooting is done, and for the editor to exercize his own discretion.
  • He used actors pretty much as props, by choosing actors that were naturally conditioned for the part, and did not need to resort to their acting calibre to play the part. (Hitchcock 1995: pg 264-265)
  • The titles of his films gave prominence to his name.
  • He made cameo appearances in his film, which gave him familiarity with the audience and novelty.

2. The role of the critics:

Hitchcock beind considered a proponent of serious cinema, came about with the advent of the Auteur Theory, which was propounded by critics like Andrew Sarris and Francois Truffaut, writing for Cahiers Du Cinema. Hitchcock was now being considered among the top directors. Satyajit Ray writes about Hitchcock’s initial reaction to this opinion of the critics in the following excerpt from his book Our Films Their Films (Ray 1976: pg 194).

Despite shrugging off the adulation he received from the cahiers critics in the initial years, in an exhibit of rather obvious marketing, he started using the positive critical reviews to further publicize himself and his films. Take for example, the book of his interviews with Francois Truffaut. According to Kapsis, “Hitchcock envisioned the book as a vehicle to promote not only himself but also The Birds” (Kapsis 1992: 142)  

Propagation of the notion of Alfred Hitchcock as an Auteur brought him a lot of recognition.

In the above excerpt from Directed by Allen Smithee, by Jeremy Braddock and Stephen Hock, Michel Foucault answers some of the questions I had when I was analysing the Auteur theory with respect to Hitchcock. I agree with him in saying that propagation of a certain director as an Auteur conditions the audiences to look at him as an auteur, and in doing so lets them make connections and omit discrepancies in the director’s work, in order to sustain that image of  him being an Auteur.

The Auteurist critics played a vital role in developing the ‘Hitchcock brand’ and sustaining it’s reputation. This is illustrated in the following excerpt from the book Directed by Allen Smithee, by Jeremy Braddock and Stephen Hock, 2001.

Not only did the critics build Hitchcock’s image, the fiercely guardeed it against any criticism.

3. Hitchcock’s branding strategies:

Shown, in the screen-shot below, is a simplified view of the branding techniques Hitchcock used.

 REFERENCES:

1. Jeremy Braddock and Stephen Hock, Directed by Allen Smithee, University of Minnesota Press, 2001 : pgs- 178, 179, 182, 194

2. Robert Kapsis, Hitchcock: The Making of A Reputation, University of Chicago Press, 1992: pgs- 16, 19-20

3. Emily King, Taking credit: Film Titling Sequences 1955-1965/ 5 Spiralling Aspirations: Vertigo 1958, 1993 (essay), http://www.typotheque.com/articles/taking_credit_film_title_sequences_1955-1965_5_spiralling_aspirations_vertigo_1958 accessed on 09.11.2009

4. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Some Aspects Of Direction’ (1938), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

5. Satyajit Ray, Our Films Their Films, Orient Longman Private limited, (first edition:1976) 1993: pg-194 

6. The “Alfred Hitchcock” guide to branding, http://freelancefolder.com/the-alfred-hitchcock-guide-to-branding/ accessed on 09.11.2009

DIRECTING UNDER THE PRODUCER (STUDIO) SYSTEM

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 9, 2009

When I arrived in America somewhat over 30 years ago to make Rebecca, my first English picture in America, I found myself a minor figure in a vast film industry made up of entrepreneurs who headed the studios, and I became involved in the making of a picture under the producer system. (Hitchcock 1995: 227)

Hitchcock does not use the widely used term-‘Studio system’, but instead says- “producer system”. To further highlight the central role of the producer, Hitchcock goes on to say:

In those days the individual producer was the man who made the pictures. He was king. The directors, the writers, actors. designers, and the like were all subject to his taste and approval. (ibid.)

HOW THINGS WORKED: (Hitchcock 1995: 227-232)

  • The producer buys, or is given, by the studio-head, the material for a project.
  • He casts a writer to make a working script out of the story.
  • Lack of visualization: “There is not enough visualizing done in studios, and instead far too much writing. People take a sheet of paper and scrawl down a lot of dialogue and instructions and call that a day’s work. It leads them nowhere. There is also a growing habit of reading a film script by the dialogues alone. I deplore this method, this lazy neglect of the action, his lack of reading action in a film story, or, if you like it, this inability to visualize.” (Hitchcock 1995: 247)
  • The director is chosen.
  • The stars and the rest of the cast and crew is put together by the producer.
  • The directors isn’t usually given the chance to participate in the scripting process.
  • There is a high involvement of the producer on the sets, once the shooting begins. Often, as in the case of Selznick, the producer would want to see the rehearsal of every scene before it is shot.
  • It was an important instruction from the producer that no retakes must be attempted during the shooting of the picture. This was because sequences could be entirely omitted or altered even after being shot.
  • After the shooting, the producer would perform his most important function: “the reconstruction, the editing, the rewriting, if necessary, the recasting of some minor roles. This was a function in which the director did not play any part whatsoever.”
  • Genres: “Tradition has begun to bind American directors…there are signs that some movie makers are becoming too conventional, doing things simply because such action has proved successful in the past.” (Hitchcock 1995: 203)

Things were not very stringent in Hitchcock’s case. Selznick gave him considerable involvement in the scripting process and relatively more autonomy on the sets. The 1950s saw the fall of the studio system. The surviviors, as Hitchcock put it were the “purely creative people: the producer-directors, writers-directors, producer-writers, and so on.” (Hitchcock 1995: 230) Hitchcock himself went on to become a producer-director, and produced as well as directed Vertigo.

REFERENCES:

1. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘In The Hall of Mogul Kings’ (1969), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

2. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Close Your Eyes and Visualize’ (1936), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

3. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Old ruts Are New Ruts’ (1939), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

FURTHER INSIGHTS

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 9, 2009

WHY DID HITCHCOCK REVEAL THE SUSPENSE OF THE MOVIE TO THE AUDIENCE BEFORE REVEALING IT TO THE PROTAGONIST?

The earlier blog-post was a primary research entry. Here is what Hitchcock himself has said on revealing the suspense to the audience:

As far as I’m concerned you have suspense when you let the audience play God…If the audience does know, if they have been told all the secrets that the characters do not know, they’ll work like the devil for you because they know what fate is facing the poor actors. That is what is known as “playing God”. That is suspense. (Hitchcock 1995: 113)

TYPE-CASTING

Hitchcock is looked upon when it comes to a particular type of cinema- mystery, suspense, thrillers.

The question is often asked- Do I mind being typed as a mystery maker? Not at all. Most professional men have their trademarks. (Hitchcock 1995: 115)

REFERENCES:

1. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Let ‘Em Play God’ (1948), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

HITCHCOCK’S REALISM

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 9, 2009

Hitchcock has always emphasized on realism. He has maintained that creating a life-like scenario makes the audience relate to film much more strongly. He says he tries to keep in his films essentially:

…a perfectly unbelievable story recounted to readers with such a hallucinatory logic that one has the impression that this same story can happen to you tomorrow. And that’s the rule of the game if one wants the reader or the spectator to subconsciously substitute himself for the hero, because, in truth, people are only interested in themselves or in stories which could affect them. (Hitchcock 1995: 143)

However, Hitchcock maintains that he never tries to give the audience a “slice of life” because “people can get all the slices of life they want on the pavement in front of the cinemas and they don’t have to pay for them”. He doesn’t mean to advocate total fantasy either. Hitchcock says the stories for his films must be “believable, and yet not ordinary. It must be dramatic, and not lifelike. Drama, someone once said, is life with the dull spots removed.” (Hitchcock 1995: 205)

His characters are life-like and ordinary. Even in Vertigo, Madeleine is very glamorous but it is revealed that she never existed, she was never real. Who was real was Judy, just a crude shadow of Madeleine.  Of glamour, Hitchcock says:

Glamour…has nothing to do with reality, and I maintain that reality is the most important factor in the making of a successful film. The very beautiful woman who just walks around avoiding the furniture, wearing fluffy negligees and looking very seductive, may be an ornament, but she doesn’t help the film any. (Hitchcock 1995: 79)

Not only did he develop his characters to be life-like, he also chose actors who lent themselves naturally to the character, i.e. whose personal experiences in life had raised them to play the part. This facilitates understatement, and avoiding cheap mannerisms and unnatural movements.

The best actors are those who can be effective even when they are not doing anything. (Hitchcock 1995: 264-265)

One can relate this to what Barbara Bel Geddes said in the documentary “Obsessed with Vertigo” (Engle, 1997). She said that there were times when Hitchcock would simply ask her to look here or look there, and say it was a very good shot.

With respect to the role of dialogues in a film, Hitchcock says:

The answer to that the introduction of dialogues was an added touch of realism- the final touch. With dialogue, that last unreality of the silent film, the mouth opens and says nothing audible disappeared. Thus, in pure cinema, dialogue is a complementary thing. (Hitchcock 1995: 219)

This is evident especially in the sequence in Vertigo where Scottie is following Madeleine and there are absolutely no dialogues. In the given scene, there are dialogues as the scene begins, but they serve the purpose of arousing curiosity as neither Scottie nor the audience can really make sense of what Madeleine, or Judy, is trying to say.

Hitchcock also said that he believes that there should be sound effects in the film, which should be as natural as possible. He never tones down the sound to convenience the story as it is not natural. (Hitchcock 1995: 265)

To underline realism as an important tool for audience involvement, Hitchcock says:

Technique that calls itself to the audience’s attention is poor technique. The mark of good technique is that it is unnoticed. (Hitchcock 1995: 208)

REFERENCES:

1. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Why I Am Afraid Of The Dark’ (1960), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

2. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Production Methods Compared’ (1949), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

3. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Women are a nuisance’ (1935), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

4. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Some Aspects Of Direction’ (1938), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

5. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Film Production’ (1965), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

6. Documentary: ‘Obsessed with vertigo‘, directed by Harrison Engle, 1997

THE PRODUCER AND THE DIRECTOR, according to Hitchcock

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 8, 2009

A lot of people have criticized my recent declaration that the director was becoming less important and that the producer was really the man on whom pictures relied…What of the director? I seem to have been pretty hard on him. I want to make it clear that there are exceptions to every rule. There are a good many directors who are as important as the producer. In fact they are almost producers themselves. I am thinking more of the future than anything else. These brilliant directors of today are the producers of tomorrow; and the directors of tomorrow will be their stooges. (Hitchcock, 1995: 183)

Hitchcock’s statement about the changing roles of the producer and director in the making of a film outlines the onset of the studio-era in Hollywood, where the producer was in command.

THE PRODUCER:

The producer is the man who should watch everything and make sure that the story is right and the casting is right. He goes everyday and sees the “rushes” and it is up to him to say, as a critic, how it is turned out. That is the value of a producer. In other words, his is the job of watching the film from the point of view of the audience. (Hitchcock, 1995: 187)

In the above quote, Hitchcock outlines the role of a producer. He has always emphasized the importance of the producer having an understanding of writing.

To me, the producer of the future is the writer, because I feel the control of a film should come from its original creator… The producer should be a writer. Or if not, he should be able to employ writers and understand writing himself. Because that’s the root of the whole business. (Hitchcock, 1995: 187)

THE DIRECTOR:

Direction, of course, is a matter of decisions. If it were possible to lay down a hard and fast rule that would cover all decisions, all directors would be out of work…The important thing is that the director makes his decisions when the need for them arises, and operates with as few rules as possible. (Hitchcock, 1995: 209)

…; they (the audience) are intersted in what the characters on the screen are doing, and it’s a director’s job to keep the audience interested in that. (Hitchcock, 1995: 208)

Hitchcock underlines the importance of the pre-production process an the dynamic nature of direction when he says:

The essence of good direction then is to be aware of all these possibilities and to use them to show what people are doing and thinking and, secondarily, what they are saying. Half the work of direction should be accomplished in the script, which then becomes not merely a statement of what is to be put before the camera but in addition a record of what the writer and director have already seen as completed on the screen in terms of fast-moving rhythm…He must always be searching for some new way of making his statement, and above all, he must make it with the greatest economy and in particular, the economy of cutting; that is to say, in the minimum of shots. Each shot must be as comprehensive a statement as possible, reserving cutting for dramatic purposes. (Hitchcock, 1995: 215-216)

He also states that the director leads the audience wherever he wants, and the audience has ” no alternative but to accept what is set before them”.

With reference to his signature cameo appearances in his films, he says:

A director should see how the other half lives. I manage that by shifting to the front of the camera and letting my company shoot me, so I can see what it is like to be shot by my company. (Hitchcock 1995: 122)

REFERENCES:

1.  Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Directors Are Dead’ (1937), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

2. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Director’s Problems’ (1938), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

3. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Production Methods Compared’ (1949), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

4. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Film Production’ (1965), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

5. Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Master Of Suspense- Being a Self-Analysis by Alfred Hitchcock’ (1950), Hitchcock on Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1995

THE AUTEUR

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 7, 2009

What is the Auteur theory?

The dolly zoom, which was devised by Irmin Roberts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_zoom) is also called the “Hitchcock zoom”, and not the Roberts zoom. Is this because of Hitchcock’s brand name? Are the so-called Auteuristic filmmakers often given too much credit for their work, or accredited with being the genius behind something they didn’t quite develop but only use?

How does one know if something was incorporated in the film intentionally or unintentionally?

What makes a director an “auteur”?

Isn’t the definition of ‘Auteur’ rather ambiguous and highly subjective?

Who has the authority to determine who is an ‘Auteur’?- the audience? -the critics, as did those from Cahiers du cinema, who actually propounded the theory? How credible can the critic’s verdict be considered?

Can Hitchcock be regarded as the ‘auteur’ of Vertigo?

  • Vertigo is based on the novel: d’Entre les morts, by Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud aka Thomas Narcejac. The concept, therefore wasn’t conceived by Hitchcock. However, it is said that Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac actually wrote the novel keeping Hitchcock in mind, in the hope that the latter would get interested and make a film out of it. Besides, Hitchcock adapted the novel to his own style, redesigning the characters to suit his tastes.
  • The final script wasn’t written by one person, it was the result of a number to writers rewourking the script under Hitchcock’s supervision.
  • The titles say “…in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo”, selling the director as a brand name.
  • The title: “… in Alfred Hitchcock’s…” comes against the close-up shot of an eye, pointing out, in addition to the fact that the director’s approach is rather voyeuristic, that the film is the director’s vision.
  • Hitchcock is supposed to have extracted one of Kim Novak’s finest performances.
  • As discussed in the blog post: Suspense as Hitchcock treats it, all of the director’s characteristic techniques of creating and maintaining suspense are evident in the film.
  • The theme of women being punished, innocent individuals getting caught in unfortunate situations, respectable people having a dark side, two very contrasting and particular female characters, etc that are present in almost all his movies, are seen in Vertigo as well.
  • Hitchcock was the producer of the film as well (uncredited).
  • Hitchcock insisted on keeping the acting minimal. He would often ask his actors to simply look here or there, and not “act”.
  • The film ends on a very unsettling note. Even though the censor board insisted on the addition of a scene depicting Elster’s arrest, it wasn’t added in the released version of the film.
  • There are strong psychoanalytic undercurrents in the film.

The above screen-shot talks about Hitchcock’s pre-production process facilitating his development as an Auteur. For him, his film was made when he could it all in his head. Since he was so clear about his vision, he could direct things to be exactly the way he wanted them to be. Moreover, it really restricted the influence the producer or the editor could exert on the final film.

REFERENCES:

1. Virginia Wright Wexman, Introduction, Film and Authorship, Rutgers University Press, 2003

2. Thomas Schatz, “The Whole equation of Pictures”, Film and Authorship, Rutgers University Press, 2003, pg 91

3. Timothy Corrigan, The Commerce of Auteurism, Film and Authorship, Rutgers University Press, 2003, pg 97-98

4. http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/staffhome/siryan/Screen/Auteur%20Theory.htm : accessed on 05.11.2009

5. http://www.britishfilm.org.uk/lynch/eraserhead.html : accessed on 05.11.2009

6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22928772 : accessed on 05.11.2009

7. http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/firstrelease/fr0301/dpfr12a.htm : accessed on 05.11.2009

8. http://www89.homepage.villanova.edu/elana.starr/pages/genesis_and_formulation_of_the_a.htm : accessed on 05.11.2009

9. http://www89.homepage.villanova.edu/elana.starr/pages/alfred_hitchcock_and_shadow_of_a.htm : accessed on 05.11.2009

10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_zoom : accessed on 06.11.2009

THE VERTIGO SPIRAL

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 4, 2009

THE SPIRAL SYMBOL (as seen in the poster below)

It was designed by Saul Bass, who did the titles for the film. (documentary: Obsessed with Vertigo, 1997)

Observations:

  • The design provides the same sense of psychic vertigo. It looks as if the lines are going towards the centre and coming outwards at the same time.
  • It looks hypnotic, hinting at Scottie being hypnotized by Madeleine into falling for Elster’s lan.
  • It has a point of fixation, much like the vertigo effect in the bell tower. In the first vertigo effect shown in the film, however, there is no point of fixation. This point signifies Madeleine, on whom Scottie was fixated to the point of obsession. Scottie’s vertigo gets cured when he comes to know that Madeleine never existed; his fixation becomes non-existent.

How does it visually recur in the scene being discussed?

  • Madeleine’s chignon
  • Spiral staircase in the bell tower

REFERENCES:

1. Documentary: Obsessed with Vertigo, directed by Harrison Engle, 1997


THE MANIPULATED MAN

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 4, 2009

SCOTTIE’S MASCULINITY AS PORTRAYED THROUGH THE FILM

(primary research)

The opening sequence of the film shows Scottie slipping on a roof top and falling. The image of him being in a position to be rescued goes against the conventional idea of masculinity. The princess locked up in the tower waiting to be rescued embodies femininity, while the masculine knight risks his life to rescue her. In this sequence, Scottie became the ‘damsel in distress’ and his colleague became the valiant ‘knight in shining armour’, falling to his death in his attempt to rescue the former. In that very first scene, Scottie’s masculinity is injured. Secondly, he has vertigo, which limits his physical capabilities, a further blow so his masculine image.

Scottie rescues Madeleine at San Francisco Bay

Screenshot from: http://generationfilm.files.wordpress.com/2009
/06/vertigo21.jpg

As he investigates Madeleine’s strange behaviour Scottie regains some of his masculine pride in saving her when she tries to drown herself, only to lose it again, rather dramatically, at the Mission House. When he registers the fact that Madeleine is dead, he runs away, an exhibition of cowardice as opposed to the valiance expected of the masculine hero.

Scottie coming out of the church as the priest and nuns run to Madeleine's body

Screenshot from the YouTube video of the excerpt

The Court’s emphasis on Scottie’s inability to save Madeleine further weakened his image of his masculinity. To the world, as to the audience, he was weak and incapable. What followed was his period of acute melancholia and withdrawal from the world. He was seen wandering the streets looking for his lost love, in a show of extreme sentimentality not expected of the strongly masculine. And then he spotted Judy. Judy was a crude form of Madeleine. Her being in love with Scottie made her rather condescending with respect to him. Here was someone he could exert his power on, and he did. He painfully tried to transform her into Madeleine, subconsciously redeeming his masculine self-image. However, what he was still unaware about, the audience knew already. He was the naive victim. The manipulative of the two sexes had been manipulated through the supposedly weaker sex.

SECONDARY RESEARCH:

Masculinity in 1950s American Film

Screenshot from: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Lz8VTqCy4RwC&pg=PA267&lpg=PA267&dq=vertigo+masculinity
&source=bl&ots=9SKplPc7Ha&sig=hKeiP2Ic9bU2ae8g1UgCYJ6dvCw&hl=en&ei=9KbxSujLJMu6jAf8942WAQ&sa=X&
oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAsQ6AEwADgU#v=onepage&q=vertigo%20masculinity&f=false

above: pg 257, America on film: representing race, class, gender and sexuality in the movies, by Harry M. Benshoff, Sean Griffin

In a time where stereotypical and largely conventional masculinity was rather ‘hegemonic’ and conformed to the idea of the ‘tough guy’ image (Gilbert, 2005), Hitchcock made a film where, as is mentioned in the above excerpt- the protagonist tries too hard to gain control of his life, and is psychologically scarred.

Did Hitchcock’s portrayal of Scottie’s masculinity have anything to do with his own insecurities and feelings?

Does Scottie actually reach peace and finality in his life after Judy’s death?

This was the third death where Scottie was present. Wouldnt his credibility be questioned in court?

REFERENCES:

1. Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin, America on film: representing race, class, gender and sexuality in the movies, pg 257, Blackwell publishing, 2004; as found on http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Lz8VTqCy4RwC&pg=PA267&lpg=PA267&dq=vertigo+masculinity&source=bl&ots=9SKplPc7Ha&sig=hKeiP2Ic9bU2ae8g1UgCYJ6dvCw&hl=en&ei=9KbxSujLJMu6jAf8942WAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAsQ6AEwADgU#v=onepage&q=vertigo%20masculinity&f=false

: accessed on 04.11.2009

2. (PDF) Clinton Adas, The representation of gender in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo,http://sun025.sun.ac.za/portal/page/portal/Arts/Departments/english/Documents/Clinton%20Adas.pdf

: accessed on 04.11.2009

3. James Gilbert, Men in the middle: searching for masculinity in the 1950s, The University of Chicago press, 2005; as read on http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zguAa_OfXJgC&pg=PP1&dq=men+in+the+middle+james+gilbert#v=onepage&q=&f=false

: accessed on 04.11.2009

4. R.W. Connell, Masculinities, Polity Press, 2005; as read on http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=W8h1h8wa2yQC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=vertigo+masculinity&source=bl&ots=K10n9W-J_r&sig=uJT6kfEtqSCsorTmZ5fTeyBYYic&hl=en&ei=BpXxSuS0DJeNjAeilZSWAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CCMQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=gender%20vertigo&f=false

: accessed on 04.11.2009

References for images:

1. http://www.soundonsight.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/jimmystewart.gif : accessed on 04.11.2009

2. http://generationfilm.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/vertigo21.jpg : accessed on 04.11.2009

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnpZN2HQ3OQ : accessed on 04.11.2009

WHY DID HITCHCOCK REVEAL THE SUSPENSE OF THE MOVIE TO THE AUDIENCE BEFORE REVEALING IT TO THE PROTAGONIST?

Posted in Research Entries by reemasenguptacmp on November 4, 2009

Throughout the film, the audience watches the course of events from Scottie’s point of view, to the extent of getting fooled with him when Elster plays his game. However, when Judy’s character is brought forward, a flashback sequence reveals the mystery to the audience much before Scottie comes to know. In my opinion this has been done to do justice to Judy’s character, as well as to highlight Scottie’s injured masculinity. By confiding the secret in the audience, the director provides scope for them to understand the dilemma Judy is going through and to empathise with her. On one hand, she is just a pawn in Elster’s shrewd connivance, and should run away from Scottie to ensure her safety; on the other, she is deeply in love with Scottie, the one place where Elster’s plan went wrong. To top that is the realisation that the man she is in love with, and who is actually in love with her, believes he is in love with another woman. The irony of the situation is heart wrenching. All Judy wants is to be loved by Scottie, even if in the image of the woman she once pretended to be. All Scottie wants is the woman he loves. He wants to bring her back from the dead, to negate her death so he can be rid of guilt. But, the death he wants to negate, never happened; and the woman he is trying so desperately to transform into Madeleine is actually the woman he fell in love with when she was pretending to be Madeleine. One cant help feeling bad for Scottie, and in doing so, sympathise with his injured masculinity which appears all the more weakened now.

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This post is based on primary source research.