Alfred Hitchcock – Waltzes from Vienna (1934)

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A bizarre entry in Alfred Hitchcock´s filmography: Johann Strauss Jr. is the son of the famous conductor and composer, and plays the violin in his father’s orchestra. He hasn’t had any of his own compositions performed or published because Strauss Sr. sternly discourages it. Not dismayed, Strauss Jr gives singing lessons to his gifted sweetheart Resi, the daughter of a pastry chef, and dedicates all his songs to her. Then he meets a Countess who has written some verses and asks his help in setting them to music. When her husband hears from a servant that a young man is upstairs with his wife, he storms into the music room, but the name of Strauss placates him. Later, Resi isn’t so easily placated, for she senses a rival. However, the Countess essentially has Strauss Jr’s best interests at heart. With a publisher friend, she successfully plots to have the elder Strauss delayed one night so that Jr’s new composition, “The Blue Danube” may receive a performance. Strauss Jr. conducts the waltz himself, becoming the sensation of Vienna. Soon afterwards, though the Prince’s suspicions have briefly been aroused again, everyone is finally reconciled.
In his interview with François Truffaut in 1964 and in many other interviews, Alfred Hitchcock referred to this film as “the lowest ebb of my career”. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – The Ring (1927)

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Alfred Hitchcock’s silent The Ring is a traditional prizefighting melodrama, elevated by the richness of the characterizations and the stylish, Germanic use of the camera. Carl Brisson plays “Round One,” a cocky young boxer who matriculates from sideshow bouts to the big time. Round One’s marriage to Lilian Hall-Davis goes sour when she throws him over for the champ. During the climactic big fight, Hall-Davis realizes that she’s still in love with Round One when she witnesses the brutal beating he’s getting. As in Hitchcock’s later suspense films, sparks ignite between hero and heroine only when there’s an element of danger involved. Alfred Hitchcock collaborated on the script of The Ring with his wife Alma Reville. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Juno and the Paycock (1930)

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From Channel 4 Film:

Early British Hitchcock which has the future master of suspense trying to make a living with this faithful adaptation of O’Casey’s classic play, chronicling the ups and downs of an Irish family in the Dublin of the 1920s. Most of it is a straight filming of the play – and was acknowledged as such by Hitchcock – even though handsomely photographed and acted. When the action opens up towards the end, Hitch gets a chance to flex his cinematic muscle with a predictably dramatic ending.

Chris Hughes says this:

By 1929 Alfred Hitchcock had established himself as a significant rising star in British cinema. Hitchcock was in the formative stage of his career and though he was gaining new respect with every project, he didn’t yet wield the clout necessary to choose his own scripts, actors and crew. Still, the ‘Hitchcock touch’ was apparent in many of his early films and they bear viewing today as important milestones in a soon to be legendary career. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Easy Virtue (1927)

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Plot Synopsis by Brian Whitener

In the early stages of his directing career, Alfred Hitchcock made a number of hackneyed studio films which barely resemble the works he would go on to direct. The society drama Easy Virtue is one of the nine silent movies Hitchcock directed. The film opens with Larita Filton posing for her portrait in an artist’s studio. The behavior of her boorish, philandering husband, Aubrey Filton, drives her into the artist’s arms where her husband discovers her. In the melee that follows, the artist shoots the husband, wounding but not killing him. Aubrey sues for divorce and Larita falls from grace in the courtroom while journalists feed the public a salaciously inflated account. Ruined, Larita flees to the south of France and meets John Whittaker, a young, upstanding British man. They fall in love, marry, and the happy couple returns to England to mummy. Mother Whittaker, a Victorian in the modern age, strenuously opposes the union and upbraids John for bringing scandal upon the family name. Neither John nor his father has the strength to withstand Mother Whittaker’s onslaught, and the film, and Larita, end miserably. Hitchcock does one of his wordless cameos in the film. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – The Lodger (1927)

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (often just called The Lodger) was a 1927 silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is based on a story of the same name by Marie Adelaide Lowndes about a fictional version of the Jack The Ripper killings. The book itself was allegedly based on an anecdote told to the painter Walter Sickert by his landlady when renting a room; she said that the previous tenant had been Jack the Ripper. This was the third film Hitchcock directed and the first he made a cameo in. It is also the prototypical “Hitchcockian” film.

Despite all the effort that Hitchcock put into the film, producer Michael Balcon was furious with the end result and nearly shelved the film – and Hitchcock’s career as well. After considerable bickering, a compromise was reached and film critic Ivor Montagu was hired to salvage the film. Hitchcock was initially resentful of the intrusion, but Montagu recognized the director’s technical skill and artistry and made only minor suggestions, mostly concerning the title cards and the reshooting of a few minor scenes.

The result, described by Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto, is “the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death.” It would pave the way for his later work. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden (1925)

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From IMDb:
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. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – The Lady Vanishes (1938)

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In Alfred Hitchcock’s most quick-witted and devilish comic thriller, the beautiful Margaret Lockwood, traveling across Europe by train, meets Dame May Whitty’s charming old spinster, who seemingly disappears into thin air. The young woman then turns investigator and finds herself drawn into a complex web of mystery and high adventure. The Lady Vanishes, now in an all-new digital transfer, remains one of the master filmmaker’s purest delights. Continue reading