Term Paper: Production: Gaumont-British Producer: Michael Balcon

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[. . .] Hitchcock manipulates the audience into sympathizing for a man that he has already shown as reprehensible. Clues are provided in advance: the audience knows that Uncle Charlie is the man who robs and kills rich widows because the tune "Merry Widow Waltz" and couples dancing to it are hauntingly ubiquitous. In one of the final sequences, when young Charlie is trapped in the garage -- in one of the attempts on her life by Cokely, the audience knows more than the family members, who are blissfully unaware of Charlie's predicament.

There is a close relation between Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt and Orson Welles masterpiece "Citizen Kane." There is a deliberate use of over lapping dialogs where actors do not wait before hearing out another's line before commencing their own -- a technique that Welles used to great effect. In 1959, Shadow of a Doubt was remade as with the title "Step Down to Terror." Unfortunately, it was a significant loss in quality compared to the original.

Notorious - 1946

Production R.K.O. Studios; Producer: Alfred Hitchcock; Screenplay: Ben Hecht from a theme from Alfred Hitchcock; Principal Actors: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Rains.

The film was produced on a budget of two million dollars. Like all Hitchcock movies, it premiered at Radio City Music Hall. It was an instant hit and did just as well in the rest of the country. Notorious grossed over nine million dollars. Ben Hecht's Screenplay was a brilliant combination of a melodramatic love story and a taut thriller. In the movie, Hitchcock toyed with his audience's sensibilities. He causes the villain Claude Rains to fall in love with Ingrid Bergman's character; and, it is this love that, in the movie, is used against him.

Notorious is about love and war. At the end of the war a Nazi agent is sentenced to prison. His daughter, Alicia Huberman who was never involved in the nefarious deeds leads a high-flying life society is then approached by an FBI agent named Devlin, played by Cary Grant. Devlin requests that Alicia undertakes a secret mission. She accepts, and they both travel together. They fall in love, but Devlin has to be ever watchful because of Alicia's past. The love remains unrequited because of the importance of Devlin's job. Alicia's assignment is to contact the character Sebastian played by Claude Rains, a former associate of her fathers who is sheltering former Nazis. Rains falls head over heels in love with Alicia -- he trusts Alicia initially because she is the daughter of his colleagues. To keep up the charade, Alicia is forced to marry the man she despises. She invariably learns about the secret activities -- that the wine cellar contains some bottles of uranium ore that would be used for weapons. Sebastian eventually discovers that Alicia is a double agent. He attempts to poison her slowly using arsenic. Devlin finally saves her. Sebastian and his Nazi accomplices are forced to flee to Africa where they are finally brought to justice.

With Notorious, Hitchcock was ahead of his times. Ben Hecht and Hitchcock use the word "uranium" while it was not well-known as an agent for atomic fission. The film was produced before the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that effectively ended World War II. Since the Manhattan Project (to create the atom bomb) was top secret, the FBI followed Hitchcock for three months. The film also introduced to the movie-going audience the magnetism of the leading pair: Grant and Bergman that was enthralling. Notorious was the second film in which Cary Grant and Hitchcock partnered. The role was one of a lifetime and especially challenging. Grant had to vacillate between the character of a man torn between love for a woman and his duty as a law enforcement officer.

A novel photographic technique was to start with a wide-angle shot and then focus tightly onto a single subject. The scene is at a party when Alicia gets access to the key of the cellar that contains the uranium. The camera pans over the whole party in progress and then focuses on the key to the cellar in Alicia's hands. Notorious was a lush, romantic thriller.

It starred well-known glamorous movie stars. The element of surprise hinged on the romantic interests, not on motives of espionage.

Strangers On a Train - 1951

Production: Warner Brothers; Producer: Alfred Hitchcock; Screenplay: Raymond Chandler ad Czenzi Ormonde from the novel by Patricia Highsmith; Principal Actors: Farley Grainger, Ruth Roman and Robert Walker.

Strangers on a Train is a movie whose quality is left to the viewer and critic. While the movie remains among Hitchcock's best thrillers. In the director's opinion, it as not his best effort: the writing as a screenplay and adaptation left much to be desired. The characters were not as well developed as they ought to have been, and in some cases, the acting was contrived and studied. The movie was a very faithful adaptation of Patricia HighSmith's novel.

There was however, a serious disagreement between the writers who could not match Hitchcock's vision. Many writers were changed -- some refused to work on the script for several reason.

The plot of the movie had ample potential, though most critics found the story unconvincing. The story develops as follows: Two men meet on a train. One is a playboy socialite; the other is a celebrity -- a tennis player. The playboy, Bruno Anthony, hates his father, while Guy, the tennis player, cannot get a divorce from his estranged wife. Bruno comments how much he hates his father and suggests that he kill Guy's wife if Guy would kill his father. A motiveless crime would provide the best defense. Naturally, Guy is not willing to even to consider this ridiculous suggestion. Bruno however, decides to press the issue; he murder Guy's wife and presents her broken glasses as evidence of her death. He now asks that Guy keeps his end of the bargain -- and threatens him. The police are suspicious of Guy in his wife's murder and he is kept under surveillance. Bruno then sets out to frame Guy by planting Guy's lighter at the scene of his wife's murder. A cat and mouse chase ends up at an amusement park. Where the finale fight takes place on a merry-go-round. During the fight, the carousel malfunctions and Bruno get crushed to death. Fortunately, an eyewitness to Miriam's murder testifies that it was Bruno that killed her. Thus, Guy gets absolved of two possible murder convictions.

Once again, Hitchcock increases the suspense with a different twist. Prior to the meeting of Bruno and Guy, on the train, he develops each man's character by filming only their shoes independently until the two actually run into each other. One wears plain shoes and the other wears gaudy shoes. The character development of each man takes place by their walking -- the stride and the gait. While no strong women-characters were part of the movie in the lead role, women played important supporting roles. Bruno's mother, the most important woman in his life, is as disturbed as the son. Guy, meanwhile, likes a woman -- the daughter of a senator who idolizes him. An example of Bruno's nature is evident in one scene in the film: another daughter of the senator comes to party that Bruno has crashed. Bruno comes unhinged because he sees a strong resemblance to Miriam -- the woman he murdered. He momentarily loses control and almost strangles the woman he has been courting at that time

The film suffers from a lack of good screenplay adaptation, but is rescued by the story line, which holds the audience spellbound. Robert Walker, for the first time in his career plays the anti-hero to great effect. Unfortunately, he met his untimely death, after having completed only one more film. The character actors played very strong roles. Farley Grainger gives a very believable performance.

The film was re-released in 1957 and did as well as the first time.

The Trouble With Harry - 1956

Production: Paramount; Producer: Alfred Hitchcock; Screenplay: John Michael Hayes from the novel by John Trevor; Principal Actors: Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, and Mildred Natwick

The real trouble with Harry is that he is really in not any trouble. The fact is: Harry is dead. In the lush surroundings of Vermont, almost everybody in the town feels responsible for Harry's death. In a twist of macabre humor -- the townspeople bury and dig up Harry's corpse four times. Hitchcock stayed loyal to the John Trevor's novel.

The novel begins with three gunshots reverberating through the woods. A little boy finds the body -- it belongs to Harry, Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine)'s former husband. She had once hit him rather hard with a body, so she feels responsible for Harry's death. At the same time, Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) thinks that he shot Harry on a rabbit-hunting trip,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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