Week 11 Lecture: Reading Hitchcock’s North by North West and the Birds
Screening/Readings Screening: North by Northwest (1959); and clips The Birds (1963) Reading: Cohen; Volume 2Part IV. The Black Sun9.Upping the Ante: A Deauratic Cinema (pp 191- 196)
Recommended Readings Recommended Readings: Sloan, J., Hitchcock: The Definitive Bibliography (pp. 295-300) and (pp 305- 311) Raymond Bellour "Symbolic Blockage" (on North by Northwest) (reader) Jameson, F "Spatial Systems in North by Northwest" (Reader) Assignment #3 Library researchessay (due 30%) Take Home examination handout
1950’s Stage Fright,Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief , The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest.
Origins: Ernest Lehman The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, who purportedly wanted to write “the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures.” John Russell Taylor's official biography of Hitchcock, Hitch (1978), suggests that the story originated after a spell of writer's block during the scripting of another movie project.
The title The title, North by Northwest, is taken from a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Hitchcock interview with Peter Bogdanovich 1963). The play is also concerned with the difference between reality and appearance-- an old Platonic problem. “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly / I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (Hamlet Act II, Scene ii). Hamlet thus hints to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, his friends, that his madness is only an act to protect himself while he gathers information on his father's murder.
N by NW ? North by Northwest is a non-existent coordinate that “refers in part to the directionless, surrealistic search of the befuddled hero/common man around the country for a fictional character.”
Cast Cary Grant... Roger O. ThornhillEva Marie Saint... Eve KendallJames Mason... Phillip Vandamm Jessie Royce Landis .Clara Thornhill Leo G. Carroll..The Professor Josephine Hutchinson...Mrs. Townsend Philip Ober...Lester Townsend Martin Landau...Leonard AdamWilliams
Cary Grant Archibald Alec Leach Born: January 18 1904 Bristol, England, UK Died:November 29, 1986 (aged 82), Davenport, Iowa United States. Years active:1932–1966 Spouse(s):Virginia Cherrill (1934-1935);Barbara Hutton (1942-1945);Betsy Drake (1949-1962)Dyan Cannon (1965-1968); Barbara Harris (1981-1986)Partner(s)Maureen Donaldson (1973-1977. Children:Jennifer Grant (b. 1966)
Grant and Hitch Cary Grant was a favorite actor of Alfred Hitchcock, notorious for disliking actors, who said that Grant was “the only actor I ever loved in my whole life” Nelson, Nancy, and Cary Grant. Evenings With Cary Grant: Recollections In His Own Words and By Those Who Loved Him Best. Thorndike, Maine: Thorndike Press. 1992. p.325.
Eva Marie Saint American. Born: Newark, New Jersey, 4 July 1924. Education: Attended Delmar High School, New Jersey; Bowling Green State University, Ohio, B.A. 1946; Actors Studio, New York. Family: Married the director Jeffrey Hayden, 1951, son: Darrell, daughter: Laurette.
Career: Acted on radio in New York, including the serial One Man's Family, and later in TV version, 1950–52; 1953—role in the Broadway play The Trip to Bountiful; 1954—film debut in On the Waterfront; later worked on stage and television, sometimes directed by Hayden; 1986—in TV mini-series A Year in the Life; 1987–88—appeared in TV series Moonlighting; 1990—in TV mini-series Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair and People Like Us. Awards: Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, for On the Waterfront, 1954; Emmy Award, for People Like Us, 1990.
Cary Grant Films (Selected 1940-) His Girl Friday (1940) My Favorite Wife (1940) The Howards of Virginia (1940) The Philadelphia Story (1940) Penny Serenade (1941) Suspicion (1941) The Talk of the Town (1942) Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)
Cary Grant films cont. Mr. Lucky (1943) Destination Tokyo (1943) Once Upon a Time (1944) Road to Victory (1944) (short subject) None But the Lonely Heart(1944) Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Notorious (1946) North by Northwest(1959)
Eva Marie Saint Films 1954 On the Waterfront (Kazan) (as Edie Doyle) 1956 That Certain Feeling (Panama and Frank) (as Dunreath Henry) 1957 A Hatful of Rain (Zinnemann) (as Celia Pope); Raintree Country (Dmytryk) (as Nell Gaither) 1959 North by Northwest (Hitchcock) (as Eve Kendall) 1960 Exodus (Preminger) (as Kitty Fremont) 1962 All Fall Down (Frankenheimer) (as Echo O'Brien1964 36 Hours (Seaton) (as Anna Hedler); A Carol for Another Christmas (Mankiewicz—for TV) (as Wave)
The Vandamm house The set designers on North by Northwest were Robert Boyle, William A. Horning, Merrill Pye, Henry Grace, and Frank McKelvey. It has not been possible to sort out exactly which of these men was responsible for the house design, but whoever did it did his homework. The final design was of a hilltop house of limestone dressed and laid in the manner made famous by Wright, along with a concrete cantilever under the living room area.
Key Locations • The United Nations Building (New York City) (a hidden camera filmed the hero's entrance up the steps into the building, but the UN lobby was a recreation) • Grand Central Station (New York City) • Mount Rushmore (in South Dakota) (there are shots of the exterior of the park's monument, but the actors crawled next to a reproduction of the Presidential faces)
Set Pieces Exciting set-pieces include Thornhill’s thrilling drunk driving scene, travelling seduction scenes with steamy double entendres during a cross-country train ride, the seven-minute bi-plane crop-duster attack scene near a Midwest cornfield, the art auction scene, and the dangling (hanging) finale at Mount Rushmore.
MacGuffin TheMacGuffin in this film (the device or plot element that catches the viewer's attention or drives the logic of the plot) is the secret information sought by the spies (contained in a figurine), and secondarily, the mistaken identity at the beginning of the film.
Themes North by Northwest ,is considered to be a masterpiece for its themes of deception, mistaken identity, and moral relativism in the Cold War era. The central theme is that of theater and play-acting, wherein everyone is playing a part, no one is who they seem, and identity is in flux. This is reflected by Thornhill's line: “The only performance that will satisfy you is when I play dead.”
Award Nominations Academy Award nominations, but no Oscars. This film was nominated for three awards: Best Story and Screenplay (Ernest Lehman), Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing (George Tomasini). [Some believe that the film's premise was based on the famous 1956 international espionage case titled: "The Galindez Affair."] The film also included a superb score by Bernard Herrmann. However, there were no nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, or Best Score, to name only a few.
The Birds (1963) The short story The Birds by Daphne du Maurier. The film's innovative special effects, soundtrack, and apocalyptic theme influenced later “revenge of nature” disaster and ecology films. Screenplay: Evan Hunter
Cast Tippi Hedren… Melanie Daniels Rod Taylor… Mitch Brenner Jessica Tandy.. Lydia Mitch’s mother Suzanne Pleshette…Annie Hayworth Veronica CartwrightCharles McGrawEthel Griffies
Audio track Instead of a typical film soundtrack, Hitchcock had Oskar Sala painstakingly create bird sounds on his trautonium, which were then scored to the movie by Bernard Herrmann. No natural bird sounds were used. There is a very high-pitched soundtrack of electronic noise through the film which subconsciously adds to the tension experienced by the viewer. Just prior to the attack on the school children, as they run from the historic school, they sing an unaccompanied song.
Origins The Du Maurier story suggested a myriad of cinematic possibilities that stirred Hitchcock’s creative instincts. Financed by the success of his television show, and filmed with equipment borrowed from the Revue Studio, “The Birds” became Hitchcock’s first horror/fantasy film.
Locations All of the inside scenes were recreated very specifically from the original buildings and shot within the studios. Only outside shots were filmed on location. Many of the aerial and far away shots were painted mattes amplifying the size of the town.