Alfred Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden [+Extras] (1925)

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The Pleasure Garden is the first film that Alfred Hitchcock directed to completion. It’s a nice look into the earliest directorial thoughts and techniques of the master. Even in this earliest film, we can see signs of what would become some of his signature trademarks. I enjoyed some of the point of view shots early in the film with the blurred view of the man looking through his monocle as well as the gentleman looking through the binoculars at the show girls legs. There is also a spiral staircase in the opening of this movie. Not that it was used like the staircase in Vertigo, but it made me smile thinking of how important that would be in his later film. The story deals with the idea of infidelity. Jill (Carmelita Geraghty) is an aspiring dancer who gets engaged to Hugh (John Stuart) who has to leave for work overseas. Patsy (Virginia Valli), who has helped Jill get her start, starts to worry about Jill keeping her promise to wait for Hugh. Jill’s career is taking off and she begins to fool around with other guys. Patsy marries Levett (Miles Mander), Hugh’s friend who also goes overseas to work with Hugh. Unlike Jill, Patsy remains true to her husband, thinking only of being with him. She receives a letter that her husband has taken ill and scrapes up the money to go be with her husband in his time of need. When she arrives, she finds that he has taken to drinking and island women. That’s when the trouble ensues. I enjoyed Hitch’s first film. It’s a little slow starting, but picks up pace as it goes along. I liked seeing Cuddles, the dog, thrown in for a little comic relief to contrast the seriousness of the film, which of course is another of Hitchcock’s trademarks. There was also a nice, subtle score by Lee Erwin, that fit the film well. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden [+Extras] (1925)

Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – The Vietnam War (2017)

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The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part 18-hour documentary series THE VIETNAM WAR tells the epic story of one of the most consequential divisive and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides — Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. THE VIETNAM WAR features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era, and haunting original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Yo-Yo Ma. Continue reading Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – The Vietnam War (2017)

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 – Under Capricorn (1949)

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

Alfred Hitchcock – Secret Agent (1936)

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During the first world war, novelist Edgar Brodie is sent to Switzerland by the Intelligence Service. He has to kill a German agent. During the mission he meets a fake general first and then Elsa Carrington who helps him in his duty. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Secret Agent (1936)

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