THE PAVILION ANNEX

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Thu May 22, 2014 8:48 pm

A little postscript, re: MARNIE

One of his more flawed movies, but which I'd come to enjoy a bit as I looked at it more and more, he WOULD have shown the rape scene more explicitly had he been able to, I admit that. Hitchcock said so himself. So - who knows?

That said, FRENZY in some brief instances goes too far. Nuff said.

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Robert Nason » Thu May 22, 2014 9:21 pm

Hitchcock certainly had his issues -- he used to tell people when they first met him, "Call me Hitch, without the cock." As great artists go, he was remarkably sane by comparison. But I think it's revealing that despite being a producer/director of enormous power in Hollywood for decades, he never used his power, to my knowledge, to get any of the countless would-be starlets (or secretaries, script girls, etc.) who would have been more than happy to accomodate him. His one lapse was with Tippi Hedren, and I admit that was egregious. But an actress who knew Hitchcock (it may have been Hedren herself) said, "If a woman had actually said yes to his advances, he would have run like hell. It was all fantasy with him."

Apropos MARNIE: It's interesting how feminist critics have taken up this film and celebrated it as one of Hitchcock's best -- even his very best. They see it as an exemplary attack on patriarchy or some such foolishness. I think they've let their ideology blind them to its serious aesthetic flaws.. An interesting film, but not really a triumph, to put it mildly.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Thu May 22, 2014 9:38 pm

And didn't notice till now I'd spelled her name with an 'o'! That's supposed to be HEDREN!

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Robert Nason » Fri May 23, 2014 12:25 am

That's okay -- it's an understandable mistake when you consider how significant o is in Hitchcock's work. PYSYCHO, VERTIGO, TOPAZ, SABOTAGE, SABOTEUR, ROPE...

His fascination with o's -- a Freudian could have a field day. And Hitchcock is famous for hating eggs and showing them in an unattractive light in his films (i.e., the rich mother putting out her cigarette in a sunnyside-up egg, in close-up, in TO CATCH A THIEF). Was Hitchcock secretly telling us "I CONFESS"?
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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FrankChurch
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby FrankChurch » Fri May 23, 2014 12:32 pm

I will say that Hitchcock movie was boring as fuck.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Ezra Lb. » Fri May 23, 2014 8:58 pm

Ever encountered an artist whose genius was undeniable towards whose work you were nevertheless unsympathetic? For me that would be Hitchcock. (And Miles Davis but that's another post.) His virtues are obvious and yet there is some connection I haven't made. Not to say I haven't enjoyed aspects of some of his films but they tend not to be the ones for which he is most famous. Anybody seen UNDER CAPRICORN? It starred Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman and was one of Hitchcock's few historical pieces. It followed ROPE and was filmed in the same manner, with ten minute long takes. Not a typical Hitchcock movie I think. It was one of his box office bombs. What makes the movie though is the performance by Margaret McCreighton (sp?) as Cotten's housekeeper. One of the great cinematic portrayals of pure evil!

I do admire NOTORIOUS somewhat but I suspect that's because I am a total Claude Rains fan and I am madly in love with Ingrid Bergman. I liked the downer ending of VERTIGO and I do like THE BIRDS although why you would prefer an ice queen like Tipi Hedren to the hot hot hot Suzanne Pleshette I'll never know.
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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Fri May 23, 2014 9:38 pm

I say Hitchcock's best came from his days before he was imported to the States. BLACKMAIL, 39 STEPS, and THE LADY VANISHES are masterpieces, nakedly baroque spared the Hollywood lustre, funnier, and more suggestive and inspired by Magic Realist painters like de Chirico. It's my favorite phase of his career. I also like SECRET AGENT, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, SABOTAGE (not to be confused with his film a few years later, SABOTEUR; this one was based on Joseph Conrad's story 'Secret Agent') as well; not at the level of the other 3, but no less eccentric.

Y'know, I once had a film mag that featured some of Hitchcock's own storyboards for one of those films! I fuckin' lost it some years ago, and I'm still pissed about it!

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Fri May 23, 2014 9:39 pm

I meant 'luster'!

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Robert Nason » Fri May 23, 2014 10:15 pm

There's a whole school of thought that believes Hitchcock's best films were made in England and that Hollywwod ruined him. Hitch's own view is that his English films were the work of a talented amateur still learning his craft. I happen to think both periods contain masterpieces and duds. I must confess that I find UNDER CAPRICORN one of the duds -- I could never get into its intricate plot or quite figure out the confusing backstory, and never felt anything for the characters (though Bergman does an impressive monologue in one of those ten-minute takes). Hitchcock himself felt the film didn't quite work, adding that he "always got into trouble with costume pictures -- I have to be able to imagine how the people go to the bathroom." No wonder his other costume pictures like WALTZES FROM VIENNA and JAMAICA INN are among his worst.

And there's another school of thought that, like Ezra, feels little connection with Hitchcock's work, finding it cold, manipulative, even sadistic. This group includes such luminaries as critic David Thomson and fellow director Orson Welles. I can understand this view though I don't share it. But as much as I love Hitchcock, I don't think he ever made a film as rich and multidimensional as CITIZEN KANE. I was naturally disappointed to see KANE lose its #1 spot on Sight & Sound's list of the Ten Greatest Films of All Time, replaced by VERTIGO. But since I love VERTIGO, I wasn't inordinately disappointed.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Fri May 23, 2014 10:58 pm

Hitchcock is too funny to be cold, but it depends on how we're all wired. Nobody gets the charge worse than Kubrick, of course. I find some of Orson Welles cold and aloof (especially instances in his preoccupation with lone, wealthy eccentrics)...studio cuts or not!: MR. ARKADIN, THE TRIAL, MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, and even LADY FROM SHANGHAI.

It all depends on how it's connecting with us individually.

UNDER CAPRICORN: Hitch himself did, indeed, trash this one. He hated doing costume dramas. I never bothered sitting through the whole thing, and that's even in the days I studied his work in detail! And, naturally, there are others more negligible: JAMAICA INN was a bore. But I didn't have much patience for CHAMPAGNE or MURDER!, either.

Yet, my LEAST favorite phase is when he worked with Selznick. Immediately the 2 were at odds because of divergent approaches to filmmaking. They were TOTAL opposites. Thus, for the most part, I don't see Hitchcock himself much in those movies. (He FORCED himself to complete THE PARADINE CASE, his final obligation to Selznick; he hated the movie, the script, everything. I think he even left the editing to Selznick because he wanted out so bad!) Then he went independent and continued with experimentation (like ROPE; and even PSYCHO was an experiment of a sort!)

I DO have to say, despite my devotion to his early work, I can't find enough praise for great stuff like SHADOW OF A DOUBT and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN! Those are fucking GREAT! Our early exposure to Hitchcock's weird "thing" about mothers! And his fondness for nerdy, precocious kids. As well as the amusing "dumb" small-talk between gentlemen and/or ladies about 'how to get away with a murder'. Among my favorite moments, man.

But, what the hell! I keep to the films I'd long grown attached to. The ones I learn something a little new from with almost every viewing.

But a final note, another one of his losers - a later one - TORN CURTAIN. For all its lag and its flaws, its highpoints - the coolest to me being the "duel of math" scene between Paul Newman and 'Professor Lindt' - cause me to revisit the movie fairly often. It's NOT a very good movie, especially for Hitchcock. But - damn! - it has those moments. A shame. It SHOULD have been a winner!



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Robert Nason
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Robert Nason » Fri May 23, 2014 11:59 pm

Fotunately Selznick loaned Hitchcock out to other studios while he was under contract to him, so Hitch got to make some fine films (in my estimation) like FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, the aforementioned SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and the very underrated SABOTEUR. NOTORIOUS was made for Selznick but it's so good because Selznick was too preoccupied with his "new" GONE WITH THE WIND, the very strange DUEL IN THE SUN (with narration by Welles, interestingly enough).

In truth, I find brilliant scenes, shots, maybe only a moment or two, in even the least of Hitchcock's films. Maybe that's just because, like you, I've studied them so much. But you're right that Kubrick is also tagged with the "cold" label -- and he's another of my favorite directors. Yet I also love Frank Capra -- his best work, at least -- and his films are anything but cold.

The trouble with too many films is that they're not."cold" enough.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Sat May 24, 2014 12:25 am

I discovered the satirist Robert Benchley because of FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT.

I direct your attention, now, to no better than the "malicious and criminal intent of inanimate objects"!

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Robert Nason » Sat May 24, 2014 12:39 am

I wonder if that's where Woody Allen got the idea for his his humor piece, "My War with the Machines"?
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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Chuck Messer
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Chuck Messer » Sat May 24, 2014 8:51 am

I wonder if Allen might have also been influenced by the Twilight Zone episode, A Thing About Machines?

Chuck
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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Sat May 24, 2014 1:39 pm

I know in general Chaplin was among his inspirations (most obvious in LOVE AND DEATH, nearly my top favorite of his), so he may well have been referencing MODERN TIMES. He most likely drew on a FEW sources.


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