Alfred Hitchcock – Under Capricorn (1949)

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Although John Colton’s and Margaret Linden’s onscreen credit reads “by”, they had actually written an unproduced and unpublished play based on Helen Simpson’s novel. The novel was adapted for the screen by Hume Cronyn and was the basis for the screenplay. In this film, Alfred Hitchcock continued to experiment with long takes, a technique that he began in Rope, which was also adapted by Cronyn. Ingrid Bergman’s monologue, during which she relates the story of her marriage to “Flusky,” the subsequent shooting of her brother and their experiences in Australia, lasts nine and one-half minutes and was shot in one take. A dinner table sequence runs more than seven minutes without a cut. Most of the picture was filmed in London and the English countryside, according to an October 11, 1948 news item in Hollywood Reporter, but some scenes were shot on the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. On August 26, 1948, Hollywood Reporter reported that Hugh Reticker would be the art director on the film when the production returned to the United States, but the extent of his contribution is undetermined. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith represented a change of pace for director Alfred Hitchcock. Out of his 50+ films, this one was his only comedy. Sure, The Master of Suspense usually added humorous touches to all of his films, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith was his only out and out farce.

The plot revolves around the Smiths, an otherwise happily married couple (Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery) who have a shocking conversation over breakfast in which Mr. Smith reveals that if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t get married. This sends Mrs. Smith into a huff and she starts PMSing on him. Then the Smiths learn through some contrivance that their marriage isn’t legal and after Mr. Smith doesn’t propose right away, Mrs. Smith goes into a snit and starts seeing other people. From there, the couple vie for each other’s affections by making the other one jealous until they finally realize they’re still in love. Continue reading

Charles Bennett – Hitchcock’s Partner in Suspense: The Life of Screenwriter Charles Bennett (2014)

Series: Screen Classics
Ebook: 328 pages
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; 1st edition (March 26, 2014)
Language: English
eISBN: 978-0-8131-4480-1

With a career that spanned from the silent era to the 1990s, British screenwriter Charles Bennett (1899–1995) lived an extraordinary life. His experiences as an actor, director, playwright, film and television writer, and novelist in both England and Hollywood left him with many amusing anecdotes, opinions about his craft, and impressions of the many famous people he knew. Among other things, Bennett was a decorated WWI hero, an eminent Shakespearean actor, and an Allied spy and propagandist during WWII, but he is best remembered for his commercially and critically acclaimed collaborations with directors Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B. DeMille. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Blackmail (talkie version) (1929)

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Alice White is the daughter of a shopkeeper in 1920’s London. Her boyfriend, Frank Webber is a Scotland Yard detective who seems more interested in police work than in her. Frank takes Alice out one night, but she has secretly arranged to meet another man. Later that night Alice agrees to go back to his flat to see his studio. The man has other ideas and as he tries to rape Alice, she defends herself and kills him with a bread knife. When the body is discovered, Frank is assigned to the case, he quickly determines that Alice is the killer, but so has someone else and blackmail is threatened. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Marnie (1964)

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Marnie Edgar is a habitual liar and a thief who gets jobs as a secretary and after a few months robs the firms in question, usually of several thousand dollars. When she gets a job at Rutland’s, she also catches the eye of the handsome owner, Mark Rutland. He prevents her from stealing and running off, as is her usual pattern, but also forces her to marry him. Their honeymoon is a disaster and she cannot stand to have a man touch her and on their return home, Mark has a private detective look into her past. When he has the details of what happened in her childhood to make her what she is, he arranges a confrontation with her mother realizing that reliving the terrible events that occurred in her childhood and bringing out those repressed memories is the only way to save her. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Blackmail [Silent Version] (1929)

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about the production
The film began production as a silent film. To cash in on the new found popularity of talkies the film’s producers, British International Pictures, gave Hitchcock the go-ahead to film a portion of the movie in sound. Hitchcock thought the idea absurd and surreptitiously filmed almost the entire feature in sound along with a silent version for theatres not yet equipped for talking pictures.

Lead actress Anny Ondra was raised in Prague and had a heavy Polish accent that was felt unsuitable for the film. Sound was in its infancy at the time and it was impossible to post dub Anny’s voice. Rather than replace Anny and re-shoot her portions of the film actress Joan Barry was hired to actually speak the dialogue while Anny lip-synched them for the film. This makes Ondra’s performance seem slightly awkward. Continue reading