Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'Michael Balcon'.
Found 2 results
After viewing the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I decided to watch the 1934 film by the same name, also directed by Hitchcock. Not satisfied with his earlier work, Hitchcock decided to remake the film. While the basic plot remains the same, I was surprised at just how different the two films are. I liked parts of both films, but loved neither. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are endearing in the 1956 version in their roles as a Midwestern doctor and his wife on a Moroccan holiday. But the film felt too long as it went on-and-on beyond what I considered the climax of the movie. *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The 1934 version felt too long as well, with an unsatisfying shootout scene near the end that felt oddly out of place in the film. There was more humor in this version (the dental office scene in this film being more entertaining than the taxidermist scene in the 1956 version), but there were a lot of flaws throughout the film which made me understand why Hitchcock would want a mulligan.
"The Lodger - a Story of the London Fog" (1927) is the first silent Hitchcock I've seen - I saw it because I heard him describing some of his techniques in an interview. I've read that Hitchcock had a "thing" for blondes, and was sort of (I don't want to misquote, because I don't exactly remember) "kinky-dominant" - if true, that trait comes right out at the beginning of "The Lodger," as a murderer known as "The Avenger" kills only young blondes, and only on Tuesday evenings. At around the 4:27 mark, when the word "MUR DER" is alternating in color between blue and white (I'm watching the film on YouTube, as shown below), the piercing music sounds very related to the opening theme of "Psycho" - clearly it was influenced by this, at least partially, although I have *no* idea if this is the original score - it sounds awfully modern. As a side note, it's remarkable how modern silent films can seem when they've been digitally renovated - with the use of color filters, and modern music (this may or may not be modern music), it's not much more of a "foreign experience" than watching a "foreign film with subtitles," and (as you'll see if you watch the film below) really feels almost contemporary to today. If this is the original score, then it's really compelling - the part where the lodger asks to have the photos removed is accompanied by a sort-of hybrid between Ravel's Bolero and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scherazade - it's definitely an "Arabian" theme, and seems to get more intense as time goes by. However, at the 23-minute mark, it becomes acutely, painfully obvious that this is a modern score, and while this score may appeal to a younger generation, opening up access to this classic suspense-thriller to a certain segment of a younger audience who might not finish it otherwise, it probably repels more viewers than it reels in. The comments in the YouTube video (below) reveal a depth of scorn for this particular moment that is almost universal. The score was okay, even powerful and very good, up until this point; but this is where it really jumped the shark. And my goodness, 27-minutes into the movie, and we're suffering through the same music. Let it end, please. One night, near midnight, the landlord, Mrs Bunting, is awakened by the sound of the lodger descending the stairs, and it's a Tuesday night. I saw an interview with Hitchcock where he said he used the lodger's hand on the rail to show that he was descending the staircase (it's shot from a high, top angle), and with sound, he would have probably chosen to use the sounds of footsteps instead. He went on to say that he favored color over black and white - this was a confident director who did not resist change; he embraced it, and went with it. There was one scene, lasting only a few seconds, that showed the lodger pacing back-and-forth, and the landlords down below, looking up at the ceiling, hearing the pacing. Hitchcock had a glass floor constructed so the viewer can "see" what they were "hearing." This near-obsessive level to detail is the difference between good and great. The landlord family begins to strongly suspect - and for good reason - that the lodger is The Avenger, and is terrified that he is forming a romance with their daughter, Daisy. The next Tuesday night, the lodger and Daisy sneak away on an unannounced date - of course, this *had* to be on a Tuesday. The entire family is thrown into a panic. Joe, Daisy's ex-boyfriend who cared for her *much* more than she cared for him, hunted them down, and confronted the lodger. This backfired in more ways than one, as we would soon find out. Joe, officially assigned to investigate The Avenger, shows up with two police officers and a search warrant, and goes through the lodger's room, including a locked cabinet. When they find a bag, filled with incriminating evidence, things go from bad to worse, and the lodger escapes, with handcuffs on. He ominously tells Daisy to meet him under "the lamp." Several minutes later, Daisy sneaks out to meet him, and the terrified family realizes she's gone. The lodger had an alibi, but people refused to believe it, and he was in big, big trouble - especially as a mob of people went after him, and he became stuck on an iron fence in his handcuffs, getting beaten. For the proper ending, it's best if you watch the film for yourself. I loved this movie, and in many ways it showed an immature Hitchcock, who, in my eyes, is an immature genius. Why this film isn't more famous is beyond me, and I'm *so* glad I saw it. Yes, it's somewhat straightforward, in Hitchcock terms, but it's still a great movie. I would *love* to hear some opinions of others who have seen this film. It's probably available with the original score, but if you can tolerate the periods of modern music, this version is not bad at all. And it's free!