Alfred Hitchcock

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Yojimbo
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#101 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:06 am

Mr_sausage wrote:The only part of Topaz I even remember, and which made me take any interest, was this one part where someone shoots a woman and, as she falls, the hem of her red dress spreading out on the floor resembles a pool of blood. Marvelous. Otherwise, a very dull movie.

Anyone else noticed how Hitchcock, in Stage Fright, manipulates his audience by manipulating their knowledge of Hitchcock movies? Spoiler: it's the only one of his films in which the wrong man is in fact the right man all along. Hitchcock at his most self-conscious.
Yep, and anyone else notice the connection between 'Stage Fright' and Mel Brooks' 'Blazing Saddles'?

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zedz
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#102 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:45 pm

Oh, why not (but, furthermore, why not the British films too?)

MOUNT RUSHMORE:
Psycho
Rear Window
Shadow of a Doubt

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY:
Notorious
The Trouble with Harry
The Wrong Man
Strangers on a Train

BELLTOWER:
Suspicion
Foreign Correspondent
North by Northwest
Marnie
Vertigo
To Catch a Thief
Rebecca

PSYCHO HOUSE:
Under Capricorn
The Birds
Rope
Lifeboat
Frenzy
Saboteur
Spellbound
I Confess

BODEGA BAY:
Stage Fright
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Dial M for Murder

THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE:
Torn Curtain
Family Plot
Topaz

Haven't Seen: The Paradine Case

I'm oddly fond of Suspicion because of its compromised ending rather than despite it. For me, it's so unconvincing that the only rational interpretation is that Cary Grant is every bit as bad as Joan Fontaine suspected, but she's suffering from Battered Wife Syndrome and is submissively returning to a nightmare marriage of torture and abuse. Much creepier and arguably more realistic than even Hitch's original ending. Arguably more Hitchockian as well, given the dark subtexts of so many of the marriages in his films.

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domino harvey
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#103 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:47 pm

zedz wrote:I'm oddly fond of Suspicion because of its compromised ending rather than despite it.
Absolutely

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fiddlesticks
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#104 Post by fiddlesticks » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:52 pm

Bodega Bay is actually a nice little town in a very beautiful setting. I'd much rather go there than visit Mt. Rushmore, but not if it means I have to watch The Man Who Knew Too Much again!

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Yojimbo
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#105 Post by Yojimbo » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:55 am

zedz wrote:Oh, why not (but, furthermore, why not the British films too?)

MOUNT RUSHMORE:
Psycho
Rear Window
Shadow of a Doubt

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY:
Notorious
The Trouble with Harry
The Wrong Man
Strangers on a Train

BELLTOWER:
Suspicion
Foreign Correspondent
North by Northwest
Marnie
Vertigo
To Catch a Thief
Rebecca

PSYCHO HOUSE:
Under Capricorn
The Birds
Rope
Lifeboat
Frenzy
Saboteur
Spellbound
I Confess

BODEGA BAY:
Stage Fright
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Dial M for Murder

THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE:
Torn Curtain
Family Plot
Topaz

Haven't Seen: The Paradine Case

I'm oddly fond of Suspicion because of its compromised ending rather than despite it. For me, it's so unconvincing that the only rational interpretation is that Cary Grant is every bit as bad as Joan Fontaine suspected, but she's suffering from Battered Wife Syndrome and is submissively returning to a nightmare marriage of torture and abuse. Much creepier and arguably more realistic than even Hitch's original ending. Arguably more Hitchockian as well, given the dark subtexts of so many of the marriages in his films.
No sign of 'The Lady Vanishes'

and no love for 'Family Plot'??
(great fun, with 4 great performances, plus Ed Lauter: can't fail!)

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#106 Post by karmajuice » Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:04 am

Mr_sausage wrote:The only part of Topaz I even remember, and which made me take any interest, was this one part where someone shoots a woman and, as she falls, the hem of her red dress spreading out on the floor resembles a pool of blood. Marvelous. Otherwise, a very dull movie.
My god, me too. The same moment exactly, and absolutely nothing else. Although I remember it as a bluish dress, for whatever reason.

I call Shadow of a Doubt my favorite Hitchcock, though I've only seen it once and may need to re-evaluate it.
I may compose one of these lists, if I can devise enough provocative placements to justify a new list. For one, I like Spellbound, even if it is an absolute mess. I tend to like messy movies.

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zedz
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#107 Post by zedz » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:11 pm

Yojimbo wrote:No sign of 'The Lady Vanishes'
This was US only, I believe, but I don't know why (I was just following orders). I'm unfashionably fond of the British Hitchocks, and The Lady Vanishes would probably crash that top group for me, even if the arbitrary double-twist ending is really annoying.
Yojimbo wrote:and no love for 'Family Plot'??
I just find it really lame, and the runaway car sequence is my most loathed Hitch set-piece (that stupid woman deserves to crash!)
fiddlesticks wrote:Bodega Bay is actually a nice little town in a very beautiful setting. I'd much rather go there than visit Mt. Rushmore, but not if it means I have to watch The Man Who Knew Too Much again!
No value judgement was implied - the locations were strictly organised by presumed height above sea level. (They're all deathtraps as far as Hitch is concerned.)

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Yojimbo
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#108 Post by Yojimbo » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:43 pm

zedz wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:No sign of 'The Lady Vanishes'
This was US only, I believe, but I don't know why (I was just following orders). I'm unfashionably fond of the British Hitchocks, and The Lady Vanishes would probably crash that top group for me, even if the arbitrary double-twist ending is really annoying.
Yojimbo wrote:and no love for 'Family Plot'??
I just find it really lame, and the runaway car sequence is my most loathed Hitch set-piece (that stupid woman deserves to crash!)
fiddlesticks wrote:Bodega Bay is actually a nice little town in a very beautiful setting. I'd much rather go there than visit Mt. Rushmore, but not if it means I have to watch The Man Who Knew Too Much again!
No value judgement was implied - the locations were strictly organised by presumed height above sea level. (They're all deathtraps as far as Hitch is concerned.)
is 'Saboteur' in your list not British?
and 'Stage Fright' is a return to British, settings and style

agreed the runaway car sequence probably belongs more to 'The Rockford Files', although the kidnapping of a cleric isn't, and that cast is a great one
surely you must have been dazzled by William Devane's teeth, at least?

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zedz
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#109 Post by zedz » Tue Dec 09, 2008 9:45 pm

Yojimbo wrote: is 'Saboteur' in your list not British?
and 'Stage Fright' is a return to British, settings and style
To be honest, I just cut and pasted Domino's original list and reshuffled them, and just assumed it was complete. Saboteur is the Robert Cummings on the freak train one, not the exploding poppet one (Sabotage).

But let's do the British as well (ranking theme this time is 'happy couples'):

CHARTERS & CALDICOTT:
The Lady Vanishes
The 39 Steps
The Lodger

SAMUEL & AMARINTHA SWEETLAND:
Sabotage
Blackmail (silent)
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Rich and Strange

BOB & JILL LAWRENCE:
The Ring
Young and Innocent
The Farmer’s Wife
Blackmail (sound)
The Manxman

FRED & EMILY HILL:
Secret Agent
The Pleasure Garden
Downhill
Champagne

JOHN & MARGARET:
Jamaica Inn
Murder!
Number Seventeen

MR & MRS VERLOC:
The Skin Game
Juno and the Paycock

Haven’t Seen:
The Mountain Eagle
Easy Virtue
Waltzes from Vienna

Props55
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#110 Post by Props55 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:49 pm

Amen to mr. sausage and karmajuice on the overhead death shot (and I remember the dress as purple!) of lovely Euro-star Karin Dor (THE INVISABLE DR. MABUSE, CASTLE OF THE WALKING DEAD) in TOPAZ. It made quite an impression on me as well. But no love for the best sequences (and acting) in the film: the subplot where Roscoe Lee Brown's federal agent goes undercover to the Harlem hotel where the Cuban delegation are staying to steal the MacGuffin (documents related to "Topaz") from under the nose of John Vernon's Castro figure? Brown just oozes charm and cunning and Vernon cuts a fine menacing figure in what may be his first big screen part. (OK maybe POINT BLANK came first!) The ambience is quite convincing as the Cubans hunker down in an old decrepit, un-airconditioned hotel (guess it makes them feel like they never left Havana!) and brush elbows with sympathetic (and not so) Harlemites and members of the Afro-American press. Very unlikely milieu for Hitch and the usually clumsy art direction provided by the cheap-ass bean counters at Big U gives way to more urban realism than one would have thought possible.

On the other hand I haven't seen this in 35mm since 1968 and last on cable about ten years ago on AMC so maybe I'm kidding myself about the conviction of the images. The suspense element I'm certain about. The tension generated by whether Brown would succeed or be caught is the best such element in the film IMHO.

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Yojimbo
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#111 Post by Yojimbo » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:12 pm

zedz wrote:
Yojimbo wrote: is 'Saboteur' in your list not British?
and 'Stage Fright' is a return to British, settings and style
To be honest, I just cut and pasted Domino's original list and reshuffled them, and just assumed it was complete. Saboteur is the Robert Cummings on the freak train one, not the exploding poppet one (Sabotage).

But let's do the British as well (ranking theme this time is 'happy couples'):

CHARTERS & CALDICOTT:
The Lady Vanishes
The 39 Steps
The Lodger

SAMUEL & AMARINTHA SWEETLAND:
Sabotage
Blackmail (silent)
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Rich and Strange

BOB & JILL LAWRENCE:
The Ring
Young and Innocent
The Farmer’s Wife
Blackmail (sound)
The Manxman

FRED & EMILY HILL:
Secret Agent
The Pleasure Garden
Downhill
Champagne

JOHN & MARGARET:
Jamaica Inn
Murder!
Number Seventeen

MR & MRS VERLOC:
The Skin Game
Juno and the Paycock

Haven’t Seen:
The Mountain Eagle
Easy Virtue
Waltzes from Vienna
you're way ahead of me on the British films, zedz.
btw, did you notice any particular Lang, or other Germanic influence in any of those early films.
I remember watching the MoC version of Lang's 'Spionen' and thinking how much Hitchcock had lifted from it.
(and then, of course, there's the ending of 'The Testament of Dr Mabuse')

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domino harvey
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#112 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:42 pm

Props55 wrote: But no love for the best sequences (and acting) in the film: the subplot where Roscoe Lee Brown's federal agent goes undercover to the Harlem hotel where the Cuban delegation are staying to steal the MacGuffin (documents related to "Topaz") from under the nose of John Vernon's Castro figure? Brown just oozes charm and cunning...
He's so much better in the Comedians that it's not even worth bothering with Topaz for him

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#113 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:00 am

Why is it Hitchcock's Sabotage is an adaptation of Conrad's The Secret Agent, but his film The Secret Agent has nothing to do with Conrad? It's lunacy.

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#114 Post by Grand Illusion » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:28 am

There are very few films that portray the sheer terror, scope, unpredictability, and inevitability of death, humanity's universal fear and weakness. Spy, train, and psychosexual films are fun, but nothing compares to the power of The Birds for me.

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#115 Post by Poncho Punch » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:28 am

Grand Illusion wrote:There are very few films that portray the sheer terror, scope, unpredictability, and inevitability of death, humanity's universal fear and weakness. Spy, train, and psychosexual films are fun, but nothing compares to the power of The Birds for me.
If you think that The Birds isn't psychosexual, then you don't know Žižek.

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domino harvey
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#116 Post by domino harvey » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:37 am

You can actually watch the Birds clip from that here

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zedz
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#117 Post by zedz » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:14 pm

Yojimbo wrote: you're way ahead of me on the British films, zedz.
Several of these I caught up with only recently, thanks to those two British sets. Hitch is now one of the best documented silent directors, up there with Lang / Chaplin / Keaton.
Yojimbo wrote:btw, did you notice any particular Lang, or other Germanic influence in any of those early films.
Those transplanted fingerprints are all over the silents, but Hitchcock is already aggressively setting himself his own problems and finding ingenious solutions for them - something he'd do throughout his career (which is why even the worst films generally have some spark of innovation in them, like that dress shot in Topaz). But he's also an inveterate magpie, borrowing licks from the Impressionists (various montage set-pieces and point-of-view shots, such as placing the camera upside-down to reflect the vision of an inverted character), the Scandinavians (the use of landscape in The Manxman), Lubitsch (The Farmer's Wife is a charming social comedy that establishes various attitudes and character details that Hitch would continue to mine for the comic background of many of his later dramas) - any and everybody.

One of the things I love about Hitchcock's best silents is how much sweat he's clearly put into them - he's just determined to succeed through sheer force of brilliance. In The Lodger and Blackmail he's amassed and invented an incredibly diverse bag of tricks and then meticulously fashioned them into shots, sequences, acts so you don't notice the joins, all building to deliver a precise vision. They're dazzling examples of his pre-vis technique at its most ambitious and effective. The lesser-known The Ring is similarly highly crafted, the whole thing structured around rhyming shots, symbols and segues.
Mr Sausage wrote:Why is it Hitchcock's Sabotage is an adaptation of Conrad's The Secret Agent, but his film The Secret Agent has nothing to do with Conrad? It's lunacy.
Just a fluke I believe: the Maugham adaptation had already been renamed (on completely reasonable grounds) before anybody knew that Hitchcock would be doing the Conrad. (And was Saboteur originally called Sabotage? How far does this particular domino-topple go?)

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#118 Post by George Kaplan » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:57 pm

Yojimbo wrote: No sign of 'The Lady Vanishes'
and no love for 'Family Plot'??
Correction regarding a couple of oversights:
3rd Tier:
THE LADY VANISHES
4th Tier:
MR. AND MRS. SMITH

As for FAMILY PLOT, I've tried and tried ever since its first release and can never quite get with it.

As an explanation, this color sorting system roughly equates to, on a scale of 0 to 10, Red: 10, Orange: 9, Yellow: 8 and so on. So anything Blue is, for me, a far better than average film.
Mr_sausage wrote:The only part of Topaz I even remember, and which made me take any interest, was this one part where someone shoots a woman and, as she falls, the hem of her red dress spreading out on the floor resembles a pool of blood. Marvelous. Otherwise, a very dull movie.
Yes this is the highlight of the film, though its 'innovative' nature is somewhat questionable as Hitchcock was basically re-staging a moment from SUSPICION, that he presumably wanted to perfect (or stage more grandly and in color.)

For the MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH 1956 version non-enthusiasts, I would suggest that the film is the best script that Hayes ever wrote (no, I'm not forgetting REAR WINDOW) and ask that you consider the multi-valent nature of virtually everything within the film. The "clash of cymbals" (symbols?) reverberates in the confusion over Ambrose Chapel most evidently, but also in so much of the conversation, revealing layers of meaning in the confusions about culture, customs, race, and sex. (Sunny Africa is "the dark continent"; "Jo" is the woman and not the boy; Jo: "This eases the pain" Hank: "What pain Mommy?" Jo: "It's just an expression.") This opens out to a whole economy within the marriage and Stewart's profession where things of one system of values are transmuted to another system entirely. The McKenna's walk through the Moroccan marketplace is a key scene, as they discuss how various medical procedures can be understood to have paid the expenses for the trip. Culminating in Jo revealing her desire to have another child - precisely at the time that their child has been placed with the surrogate Draytons. One of my half-dozen or so favorite moments in all of Hitchcock is during the chase in the marketplace: the reverse dolly away form the five leads as Hank rushes toward the camera to follow the action of the chase, and Mrs. Drayton (the peerless Brenda DeBanzie) propelled by maternal concern (?) hurries after the boy while his actual mother stands still. Even after many, many viewings it continues to be thrilling and heartbreaking simultaneously.

Consider too the multi-valent nature of the lyrics to Que Sera Sera which is either cheerful and Pollyanna-ish (as in the first performance) or grim with Zen-like resignation (the second). TO CATCH A THIEF is soufflé-like in its casual charm, but MAN WHO KNEW (56) only appears to be a soufflé, that conceals one of Hitchcock's most articulate and precise looks at the perilous nature of existence and the traps that lie among the (seemingly concrete yet deviously mutable) signs and signifiers that we cling to to make sense of the world.

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#119 Post by AWA » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:51 pm

George Kaplan wrote:
Yojimbo wrote: No sign of 'The Lady Vanishes'
and no love for 'Family Plot'??
Correction regarding a couple of oversights:
3rd Tier:
THE LADY VANISHES
4th Tier:
MR. AND MRS. SMITH

As for FAMILY PLOT, I've tried and tried ever since its first release and can never quite get with it.

As an explanation, this color sorting system roughly equates to, on a scale of 0 to 10, Red: 10, Orange: 9, Yellow: 8 and so on. So anything Blue is, for me, a far better than average film.
Mr_sausage wrote:The only part of Topaz I even remember, and which made me take any interest, was this one part where someone shoots a woman and, as she falls, the hem of her red dress spreading out on the floor resembles a pool of blood. Marvelous. Otherwise, a very dull movie.
Yes this is the highlight of the film, though its 'innovative' nature is somewhat questionable as Hitchcock was basically re-staging a moment from SUSPICION, that he presumably wanted to perfect (or stage more grandly and in color.)

For the MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH 1956 version non-enthusiasts, I would suggest that the film is the best script that Hayes ever wrote (no, I'm not forgetting REAR WINDOW) and ask that you consider the multi-valent nature of virtually everything within the film. The "clash of cymbals" (symbols?) reverberates in the confusion over Ambrose Chapel most evidently, but also in so much of the conversation, revealing layers of meaning in the confusions about culture, customs, race, and sex. (Sunny Africa is "the dark continent"; "Jo" is the woman and not the boy; Jo: "This eases the pain" Hank: "What pain Mommy?" Jo: "It's just an expression.") This opens out to a whole economy within the marriage and Stewart's profession where things of one system of values are transmuted to another system entirely. The McKenna's walk through the Moroccan marketplace is a key scene, as they discuss how various medical procedures can be understood to have paid the expenses for the trip. Culminating in Jo revealing her desire to have another child - precisely at the time that their child has been placed with the surrogate Draytons. One of my half-dozen or so favorite moments in all of Hitchcock is during the chase in the marketplace: the reverse dolly away form the five leads as Hank rushes toward the camera to follow the action of the chase, and Mrs. Drayton (the peerless Brenda DeBanzie) propelled by maternal concern (?) hurries after the boy while his actual mother stands still. Even after many, many viewings it continues to be thrilling and heartbreaking simultaneously.

Consider too the multi-valent nature of the lyrics to Que Sera Sera which is either cheerful and Pollyanna-ish (as in the first performance) or grim with Zen-like resignation (the second). TO CATCH A THIEF is soufflé-like in its casual charm, but MAN WHO KNEW (56) only appears to be a soufflé, that conceals one of Hitchcock's most articulate and precise looks at the perilous nature of existence and the traps that lie among the (seemingly concrete yet deviously mutable) signs and signifiers that we cling to to make sense of the world.

It also features one of the worst endings ever to any film I've ever seen.

Otherwise, I agree.

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Tom Hagen
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#120 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:39 pm

At the risk of veering dangerously into the realm of polls and lists, is anyone (preferably better with basic stats than I am)interested in averaging out the various rankings in the thread to arrive at the Forum's consensus?

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domino harvey
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#121 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:50 pm

The only reasonable way to do that would be to only count lists where all of Hitchcock's films are ranked, and so few people have submitted ranking lists containing all the titles that it would be the whims of a minority. And letting in people who've seen less or only seen the canonical works would just bolster the canon and neglect the already overlooked titles rather than provide interesting results. So, not really.

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#122 Post by swo17 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:30 pm

It could make for an interesting lists project though, and not just for Hitch.

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zedz
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#123 Post by zedz » Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:42 pm

swo17 wrote:It could make for an interesting lists project though, and not just for Hitch.
Maybe. It's a 'viewing project' that's manageable and possible (in that just about everything's now available). Despite some initial intrigue, I don't think I could bear doing the 'alternative Oscars' one properly.

I can't think of many other directors with a large enough filmography that's also available this would work for, though.

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domino harvey
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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#124 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:00 pm

zedz wrote: Despite some initial intrigue, I don't think I could bear doing the 'alternative Oscars' one properly.
Oh c'mon, think of it as also working towards the completion of a future Fred Zinnemann Project

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Re: Alfred Hitchcock

#125 Post by denti alligator » Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:16 pm

zedz wrote:
swo17 wrote:It could make for an interesting lists project though, and not just for Hitch.
Maybe. It's a 'viewing project' that's manageable and possible (in that just about everything's now available). Despite some initial intrigue, I don't think I could bear doing the 'alternative Oscars' one properly.

I can't think of many other directors with a large enough filmography that's also available this would work for, though.
I've been meaning to watch all of Hitch chronologically for years now, partly to marvel at the films I know, but also to watch those couple few I haven't yet seen. I even started with The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger (zedz, The Mountain Eagle does not survive, so there are really only three Hitch flix you haven't seen), but then got sidetracked. I'm up for revisiting these and doing some kind of vote (my ranking above was hastily put together and probably not fair).

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