Friday, July 13, 2018

Summer Movie Project--Classics--Gentleman Prefer Blondes

8. In mythology, Lorelei is the name of a water spirit (like a siren) who sings a beautiful song to lure sailors to their deaths on the rocks. Do you think Lorelei Lee is appropriately named? Explain.
Penelope: I think she is appropriately named because she marries men for their money. That’s not the big point of why she marries them, but she likes the money.

Mommy: Do you think it harms men to be married for their money?

Penelope: Yeah, because crazy women could steal all their money and murder them. That’s how crazos get money. First they marry them. Then a year later, they murder them and get all the money.

Mommy: So you’re comparing her more to a black widow than the Lorelei?

Penelope: I’m not comparing her. I’m just saying it can be dangerous to men if someone dangerous should come along.

Daddy: I would think so, not that they’re being lured to their deaths. I think it’s similar because she does lure men in. I think she wants access to their livelihood. I don’t think it would necessarily harm them. If she’s faithful, there’s no harm. In today’s time, there could potentially be more harm because without some sort of prenup, she could take a huge amount of their money.

Penelope: I think that she could take all their money and use it all up and dry up their bank accounts.
Mommy: May I present a theory I’m developing at this instant?

Daddy: Absolutely.

Mommy: Lorelei Lee is a show girl, so it seems at least possible that she has named herself Lorelei wanting to wink at that idea, and perhaps the men find that sort of enchanting, the idea that they’re being swept away by her, but will they be strong enough to escape? I think there’s some romance in the name. Like the name itself pulls people in, and it becomes a winking joke. But the fact that she calls herself that might make it easier to pull them in because a monster wouldn’t call herself a monster. But she definitely uses her sexuality to lure men.

6. Have you noticed the way all the men react to Lorelei and Dorothy? Does this seem realistic to you? Why do you think they act that way?

Penelope: I don’t think it seems realistic because they are very pretty, but if you saw a pretty girl walking down the street, you wouldn’t like fall over and knock yourself out. You’d be like, “Wow, she’s pretty,” in your brain, or whisper it to your friend or something. I think what you were saying is very similar to this, but the Lorelei in the myths lures them in with her song, but she lures them in with her prettiness even if she doesn’t want them. It’s like she’s catching them, then throwing them out.

Mommy: Yeah Lorelei is absolutely aware that her sexuality is luring people in because she goes to the headwaiter and says she’ll eat all her meals in her room, so it’s not like she’s not aware she’s turning heads.

Daddy: I think it’s somewhat realistic, but it’s kind of exaggerated in some ways. The reason I think it’s realistic is because when Nanny was in labor with Uncle Jason, and she and Papa were headed to the hospital, they were rear ended by these two guys who were distracted, staring at a woman filling up her car. But I also think that at the time it was more realistic for men to be more vocal in their appreciation for attractive women. I do think it’s an exaggeration, though. But I one hundred percent believe that men were more wiling to whistle and cat call.
Mommy: 1950s America was just a big construction site?

Daddy: Unfortunately some of that mentality is there today in very prominent figures, although maybe I misunderstood, and it was just good old locker room talk that was completely innocent because everyone knows no athlete has ever done anything to harm a woman.

Mommy: I’ve always found it very strange that the violinist leans over and starts playing the cello or whatever because those people work on a cruise ship for the wealthy and probably see well-dressed, beautiful women all the time.

Daddy: Because playing the instrument is only half your job. You need to be unobtrusive.  The best servants are never seen.

Mommy: I do think in many 1950s movies, there’s this weird tendency to oversexualize…like everything is so repressed, so only some people get to be the sexy ones, so they’re really sexy, “Woo woo!” It almost seems childish. But it’s like a "Victorian London has a brothel on every corner so lock up your daughters" kind of thing. I always thought it was funny when I was a kid the, “Those girls couldn’t drown,” like they’re the only women in the world with breasts.  But it just occurred to me that those men may act that way around everyone with big boobs, and those are just the girls we know.

Daddy: It isn’t just them. They represent a segment of society those men would make comments about.
Mommy: But it’s like safe to talk about them. It’s a safe outlet for sexuality. It is very cartoonish. But I did notice something else this time. They are ridiculously playing up the sexuality of the women like the men have no other focus in their lives. But Dorothy does the same thing to the Olympic team. She makes sex objects of the men and thinks nothing of it. She woo-woos at the Olympic team and plays with their muscles and does a dance routine through their exercises.

I was thinking about how Lorelei thinks Dorothy is foolish for not picking a wealthy man and playing around instead. I think she is just giving voice to the reality of her time. It looks gauche on her because dares to say it, but that’s the unspoken principle everyone is living by. The men want someone pretty, and the women want someone rich. And if you don’t do it that way, you’re either a gay man or a dumb floozie. I mean, that’s what the culture is saying.  Those are the values of the culture, and Lorelei’s just saying them out loud which is kind of forbidden, too. The woman is supposed to want stability, not sex. The man is supposed to want a sexy woman if he's a red-blooded American male.

16. Why do you think that the Olympic team is on the boat with them? (Within the story, they just are. But I mean, why did the writers include this? What does their presence add to the movie?)

Penelope: I think you know what I’m going to say.

Mommy: You’ve discovered my secret? That I read minds?

Penelope: I think the writers included them because--I’m used to answering in full sentences--because there gets to be a big, funny dance scene, and they’re editing the movie, and they’re like, “Something needs to be funnier…the movie also needs to be longer and funnier…” So they added in the Olympic team.

Mommy: You mean they’re editing the script, right? That’s funny you say that because Hoagy Carmichael added “Anyone Here for Love” for the movie.  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a Broadway show at the time starring Carol Channing, but they added some songs for the movie. What do you think, Derrick?

Daddy: I think it goes back to what you said. It illustrates the flip side. Lorelei wants security and safety and money, and Dorothy is “crazy” going after those guys who can’t give the same sense of security.

Mommy: I also think they take up room on the boat. Dorothy and Lorelei are more receptive to Ernie Malone and Piggie since all the Olympic team guys have to go to bed at 9:00, and nobody else is there.

Daddy: I think we should pick who will be in the movie today.

Mommy: Well Nellie gets to pick the questions we answer.

Penelope: Okay, I pick…

Daddy: Scarlett Johannsson and Anne Hathaway.

15. Do you think Lorelei is smart or dumb (or some combination)? Explain.

Penelope: I have something really good to say. You know how she’s always acting dumb? I’m not sugar coating it. She’s just acting dumb a lot. I think it’s just like a personality that she puts on, kind of like how we talked about Tracy and Mike in The Philadelphia Story. I think she doesn’t want to be judged because it’s like part of their culture.

Mommy: You think she’s putting on a lot of that?  That it’s an act?

Penelope: The fact that she’s a pretty girl, and a show girl and can sing. Guys like dumb women who are pretty. Daddy’s asleep. We can do the rest tomorrow. (Touches her phone, giggles) I tried to pause the questions like it was Youtube.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer Movie Project--Classics--The Philadelphia Story, Part Two

13. What do you think of Tracy’s dad?


Penelope: I think her dad is a jerk.

Mommy: And why is that?

Penelope: Because he was being really mean to her because he had his own problems. Don’t take it out on your daughter.

Mommy: I agree.

Penelope: He should handle it on his own.

Mommy: I think if you cheat on your wife, blaming it on your daughter for not being warm enough is the height of nerve.

Daddy: Especially with the mother sitting right there.

Mommy: I find that whole aspect of the movie very off-putting. It’s a way you can see that a lot of years have passed between now and then, the way women are treated.

Daddy: I don’t think there are that many who would blame their family for being cheaters.

Mommy: You know her mother reprimands her, and she’s going to say, “If it’s anybody’s business it’s mine,” but she cuts herself off and says, “I don’t know that it concerns anybody but your father.” He says, “That’s very wise, Margaret.” That part really gets under my skin. I mean, I do consider myself a feminist, but I’m a very meek person, but that really bothers me. I would never let a man talk to me that way. I think Tracy’s right. Perhaps she’s not right to be rude to her father, but I think she’s right that her mother needs to stop being such a milquetoast. Well, Nellie, can you imagine that happening with me and Daddy?

Penelope: No. If it happened with you and Daddy, just to be honest, I think there would be more talking about it, and probably more yelling about it, and more people than Spy magazine would know.

Mommy: So you wouldn’t have to spy to find out. I actually don’t find fault with the mother for looking the other way because she wants to keep her husband. That’s her choice. But the way he speaks to her is so patronizing. It’s not what’s done. It’s the way it’s done. I do think if you want to make your marriage work, you shouldn’t reproach your husband constantly in front of other people, no matter what he’s done. But the father’s high-handed tone gets under my skin, especially because it’s not like he’s been carrying on in secret. His actions have brought scandal to the entire family.

Penelope: He’s the one who’s being childish, him. Not the daughter. He abandoned his family to cheat on his wife, and he’s too much of a coward to take the blame for it.

Mommy: Now perhaps Tracy was wrong not to invite him to her wedding, but that’s hard to say.

Daddy: I’m in agreement. I don’t know how you can cheat on someone and blame someone else.

Penelope: Who didn’t even have anything to do with it.

Mommy: Yeah, I could see how he could blame his wife, but he blames his daughter and takes it as an opportunity to attack her character.



7. Did any messages of the movie stand out to you? What do you think the movie was trying to say? (It doesn't have to be just one thing.)

Penelope: I think it had a lot of messages. I think there was a message with a lot of the scenes, really.

Mommy: What did the movie say to you?

Penelope: I think when the father was being mean to Tracy, I don’t know if it was supposed to stand out then, but it stands out now. Some people treat women like this, like how the father was treating Tracy and her mother, and some people don’t even think it’s a problem, a lot of people do, but some people don’t even realize. And I think these people just need to stop.

Me: Hashtag Time’s Up.

Penelope: Shut up.

Mommy: Hashtag Me Too. I think that’s in the movie so we see everybody beat up Katharine Hepburn, so she becomes more sympathetic to audiences. I think that’s why it was done. The Philadelphia Story was a way for her to rehabilitate her floundering career. People thought she was too haughty. They called her Katharine of Arrogance. Derrick, how do you think audiences of the time were supposed to take that?

Daddy: I think it’s supposed to draw attention to how unusual that explanation is. Behavior like that may have been acceptable at the time, and this may be trying to draw attention to what it really looks like, to call it into question.

Penelope: I thought of another message. Tracy is being treated so horribly, but when people treat her horribly, something bad was happening to them.

Mommy: Like what?

Penelope: Well, Dexter got mad at her, but things really didn’t get better for him until he married her again.

Mommy: I think a big lesson is you can’t judge a book by its cover. You talked about that last time when we talked about Mike.

Penelope: Daddy’s asleep!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Summer Movie Project--Classics--The Philadelphia Story, Part One

4. Which guy--George, Dexter, or Mike--do you think is the best match for Tracy? Explain why.

Penelope: I would want her to end up with Mike just because I like Mike, but I think she’s probably better with Dexter because even though they got divorced, it seems like they’re still in love.

Mommy: Can I ask, what do you like about Mike? I think he’s likable. He’s the one who won the Oscar, so I’m not judging your liking of him, just wanting you to say more.

Penelope: I like him because if you didn’t know him, and you knew he was part of Spy magazine, you would think he’s a weird creep dude, but he’s not like that at all. But he comes off, like, he’s not showing his true self. When he’s talking to Tracy, it’s like he’s not acting like himself.

Mommy: Like he has a persona he puts on, like an act he puts on?

Penelope: Yeah, but when he’s like drunk, his true personality comes out.

Mommy: Why do you think that is?

Penelope: Because when you get drunk, people just say what they think.

Mommy: In vino veritas.

Penelope: What?

Mommy: That’s an old Latin proverb. It means, “Truth in wine.” So you like Mike because of who he is underneath? Why do you think he puts on the façade?

Penelope: Because, one, he’s working for Spy magazine, so he needs to act different than his actual self. And two, maybe he doesn’t want to be judged for who he really is. Maybe he’s worried that people won’t like him.

Mommy: It reminds me of the story you were writing about the kid with two identities, one was the school self, and one was the home self. Can you relate to that at all? Acting one way so people won’t know what you’re really like?

Penelope: I have actually done that before, but I don’t do that anymore.

Mommy: I think all of us are guarded in certain situations. Can I ask you, that stuff you’re saying about Mike, do you think it’s also true of Tracy?

Penelope: Yeah. What I was saying about how they’re putting off a different personality, so they don’t get judged, that reminds me of Melanie Daniels.

Mommy: Yeah! Great! In The Birds! I think that’s an absolutely great association. It’s even funny that they end up going swimming, and she jumps naked into a fountain, supposedly. I actually think that Mike thinks Tracy is like that fake Melanie Daniels, too, just because she’s a society person. But you actually feel she should wind up with Dexter? Why is that?

Penelope: Because even though they probably had a fight and felt like it wasn’t working out, they were still in love, but they didn’t realize it until she was going to marry somebody else. She thought that the guy, C.K. Dexter Haven, didn’t really love her, but she’s supposed to marry a guy who really loves her, but George didn’t really love her.  She did something, and it was a mistake, but maybe it was who she really was. She made a mistake while she was drunk, and George didn’t really love her for who she really was. But Dexter loved her for who she really was. That might have been because he knew her, but it was also because they were really in love.

Derrick: I agree. It’s Dexter. The difference is, Mike kind of falls in love with her, but I think he’s infatuated with her because she kind of gets his writing, and that’s new for him. Outside of Liz. It’s somebody in high society who gets his writing, and it flatters and affirms him. But I think she should end up with Dexter because he knows who she is. He’s trying to make her a better person, for herself. He sees her flaws, but he still loves her. And they are from the same world, so class is not a factor.  Dexter is the better match because he matches up better.

Mommy: Nobody picked George, I notice.

Daddy: George is absolutely the wrong person.

Mommy: He’s a snob who just doesn’t have his money yet. He’s a social climber. He doesn’t love Tracy. He loves what she represents to him.

Daddy: Right, he wants to be part of that society.

Mommy: I personally think that Mike and Tracy are too much alike to be paired. Mike is like another version of Tracy. They’re very similar souls, and they learn more about themselves by meeting and engaging with the other person. Dexter obviously loves Tracy even in the beginning.

Daddy: He never stopped loving her. He may have gotten mad at her. But I don’t think he ever stopped loving her. It think it’s pretty clear that he didn’t.

Mommy: I don’t think she ever stopped loving him either because she’s so influenced by his criticism. She gets drunk deliberately after their discussion. And apparently Dexter had a drinking problem. That’s something I didn’t notice until I was an adult. He’s a recovering alcoholic.

6. This movie is not directed by Alfred Hitchcock. How can you tell? How would the movie be different if Hitchcock had directed it?

Penelope: The romance. The romances in Hitchcock movies are like, “I just met you, and now we’re going to make out.”

Me: We’re going to roll our faces over and over down the side of the train compartment.

Penelope: And it wasn’t creepy. It was funny.

Mommy: Based on what you said earlier, it made me think, if Hitchcock had made The Philadelphia Story, it would have been The Birds. It has similar themes.

Penelope: If Hitchcock had made it, it wouldn’t have been as funny and more scary.

Mommy: I bet it would be very similar up until they get drunk at the party. Because then what would have happened would have been very different. It could still have the same set up. The woman getting attacked by everyone in the movie.

Daddy: That is kind of definitive Hitchcock.

Mommy: That moment of crisis, the climax. Okay, Tracy and Mike are drunk. Mike and Dexter are planning to blackmail someone. Meanwhile, Tracy and Mike end up drunk together by the pool. I mean, in a Hitchcock movie, somebody’s going to die or something. Maybe Mike and Tracy end up killing George. Or George ends up dead, or Mike ends up dead, and we’re like, "Did Tracy do it?" Which one believes her?  But the "it" is now murder.

Penelope: Or maybe Dexter would kill George and blame it on Mike?

Mommy: I think better, kill Mike and blame it on George? Or maybe Tracy thinks one of them is the murderer, so she marries the other, but it turns out she was wrong. It would be very strange to have Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant in the same movie. Oh and Dinah wouldn’t have been able to act, because either Hitchcock can’t direct kids or the casting directors are playing a cruel joke at his expense.

11. Imagine you were a character in the movie. Who would you want to be? Why? 

Penelope: Dinah. Because she’s funny. And, actually…Yeah, just she’s funny.

Me: I’d also pick Dinah because she has kind of a sweet set up. Her sister’s marriage is not a crisis for her, and she’s young enough that the scandal with her father isn’t really hurting her either. When I was a kid, the first time I saw the movie when I was about seven, Dinah was definitely my favorite character. She’s so funny, especially that “Lydia” part, and when she comes in her crazy pony carriage for Uncle Willie.

Definitely not Liz. She’s so cool, but she’s got to stand back like, “I’m so mature that I’m waiting for my immature boyfriend grow up and propose…to me.”

Penelope: Daddy’s already asleep, so let’s finish tomorrow because I found some more things I’d like to talk about.



Saturday, July 7, 2018

Summer Movie Project--Hitchcock--The Man Who Knew Too Much

We decided to change our discussion format a little to make it easier for Penelope to express her thoughts.  Now I make up a list of questions about each movie we watch, and she gets to choose which ones she'd like to answer.

The Man Who Knew Too Much
5. What moment in the movie made you the most excited?

Penelope: Where they were in the church, and all the people were there, and the main character started looking around. I liked it because it was so suspenseful, and it made me excited to see what happened. They were singing, but they were always constantly looking around, and nobody knew what was going to happen.

Mommy: You know something is going to happen there because they’re finally facing the people who kidnapped their son again.

Daddy: For the first time, yeah. The part that made me the most excited/tense is directly after that when they were at the orchestra concert because she’s sitting there looking, and she’s weighing the risk to her child and what they feel like is the immediate saving of a human life. Actually that sequence starting at the church to the end, obviously, is the climax of the movie.

The second part that’s incredibly tense is how are they going to get their child?  She’s singing. And you think how are they going to get the child, and the woman, of course, never intending to hurt the child goes with her conscience and is like, “Sing. Whistle."

Mommy: I guess that I got excited at that part of the movie, too, because I was up running around, I remember. Actually I thought it was really cool and funny, the way Ben comes and starts yelling at everybody trying to explain what’s going on, and you don’t hear any of that. He’s just wildly gesticulating.

Daddy: Yes, and it’s cool because you already know all that. And it’s the same way they handle him just showing up. With one line of dialogue that comes later, you explain how he knew to go there. It’s a clever use of time saving in the film.

Mommy: I actually love the way he climbs out of the church, out of the bell tower. The momentum starts in that church during the dirge-like hymn. And the music just continues.

Daddy: And the tension continues to ratchet up. It doesn’t let you down.


17. Do you agree with Ben’s decision to give Jo sedatives? Was it prudent?  Was it right?

Mommy: Oh yeah, that’s my favorite part of the movie.

Penelope: I don’t think it was a bad decision. But I think he could have told her in a better way. He didn’t need to trick her to think she needed this medication.

Daddy: I think that’s a valid statement.

Mommy: That scene was easily my favorite part of the movie, and I liked a lot of the movie.

Daddy: Yeah, that movie is now one of my favorite of his. It ranks up there with Rear Window and The Birds.

Mommy: I absolutely loved that scene. First because of the ethical ambiguity, like, “Is that okay for him to do that?”

Daddy: So, Nellie, you agree with the decision, but you disagree with the manner in which he did it.

Penelope: Yes, that is correct.

Daddy: I agree. I actually do agree with his decision. I realized at the time what he was doing, but when you see her reaction, you think, “Okay, he knows his wife.” I’m with Nellie, wondering, “Was there a better way he could do that?” But also, even if there was a better way, was he capable of delivering it in the state he was in? There might have been a better way. But if I was in his position and knew what he knew, I’d honestly do the same thing. I think Nellie’s spot on there.

Mommy: The entire vibe of, “I’m the man, so I’m in charge,” in that movie was kind of overwhelming to me. I don’t necessarily mean that as a negative. It’s just that things are so different now. I think Jimmy Stewart in that movie is so much like what the rest of the world must think Americans are like. He’s just like yelling at the police, like, “Wait a minute. You look here.” He thinks the world is his.

Daddy: He thinks he’s important, but they end up saving someone even more important. And she saves him.

Mommy: Yes, with her voice. Her famous voice. But yeah, I love the moment of moral ambiguity. You know what he’s doing right away, and you think, “Is he right?”

Daddy: That’s probably my favorite part of the movie.

Mommy: That’s definitely my favorite part of the movie. I had no idea Doris Day could act like that. I’d only seen her in comedies. That scene literally, actually made me cry. I was tearing up. I usually don’t have that much of a reaction to Hitchcock movies emotionally. But their child is stolen, and she’s just so helpless.

Daddy: I feel like if something were to happen like that, I’d be in the similar situation he was as how to break the news to you. So I can relate to that a lot.

Mommy: The difference is, you would encourage me to take a sedative, but you wouldn’t give it to me. Even though it’s squicky to me, I think he’s right, too, given the situation he’s in. He doesn’t have a good choice. And whether or not it’s morally right to do to her, it’s necessary for him to do for him.

Daddy: Yes, he’s trying to gather his thoughts about what to do, and her panic wouldn’t allow for that to happen.

Mommy: There’s nothing she can do, anyway.

Daddy: And I think a lot of his questionable decisions do end up working out for them in the end.

6. Did anything that happened really surprise you? Explain.


Penelope: What really surprised me was that the woman was trying to help the boy.

Mommy: Mrs. Drayton, right? And why did that surprise you?

Penelope: Because she was a bad guy.

Mommy: A lot people aren’t bad all the way to child murder, though. But it is surprising.

Penelope: Because they went all the way to kidnap their child. If they’re bad enough to kidnap a child, why shouldn’t they just kill him?

Mommy: Honestly I thought that when Mrs. Drayton told the lady playing checkers with him, “A little kindness never hurt," and she said, “He doesn’t need to be sedated tonight. I know he’ll be quiet tonight, won't you,” I thought she was being kind because the plan was to murder him that night. So you might as well give him nice final hours and also not panic him. I was also legitimately surprised when it turned out she was trying to help the boy.

Daddy: Interestingly enough, I was surprised that the man, Mr. Drayton, was willing to kill him because they both seemed like anti-government dissidents. They had a higher cause and were using him to their advantage, but they didn’t seem like child killers. Of course, they were arranging to have a man murdered. Of course, they were arranging to have a man assassinated, but regardless of the semantics, I guess they were capable of killing.

Mommy: That is something I thought about when I was wondering what Doris Day should do. Maybe the prime minister has it coming, but the boy is your innocent little boy. Not only is he an innocent little boy, but he’s her little boy. The prime minister probably has a body guard. The boy only has his mom and dad. But it does go along with movies like Annie and Oliver!. It’s one thing to use a child, another to kill one. I guess in musicals about orphans, women won’t commit child murder, except maybe Sweeney Todd.

Daddy: I do have a question about the movie. What did the prime minister do that they wanted to have him assassinated so much? Because they aren’t just nobodies. They’re British.

Mommy: Doesn’t the ambassador call them, “You British idealists…or…”

Daddy: Intellectuals.

Mommy: Implying that it doesn’t affect their lives. They’re in it for the cause. Maybe they’re communists or something.

Daddy: It doesn’t explain that, though.

Mommy: I think that’s an example of Hitchcock’s MacGuffin. It doesn’t matter what country they’re from or what the politics are. It’s just a plot device.

Mommy: There’s something I want to say, too. I’ve never seen another Hitchcock movie, except the shower scene in Psycho, where the music was so important. And yet even with all that emphasis on music, there are such a lot of amazingly memorable visual scenes. I feel like this movie just goes from set piece to set piece of these bizarre images, especially that taxidermist scene. That was another one of my favorite parts. I’m surprised the movie is not more famous because it’s so engaging, and I love the joke at the end, how her friends are still waiting.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer Movie Project--Hitchcock--Strangers on a Train


Movie Name:

Strangers on a Train

Favorite Part:

Daddy:  The merry-go-round.

Penelope: (as if it’s obvious) When he goes under the merry-go-round.

Daddy: It’s just so absurd.

Mommy: Yes, that’s actually what I love most about the movie, the merry-go-round scene.  There are just not many movies with a big merry-go-round in the climax.  Actually the movie The Crush with Alicia Silverstone and Cary Elwes also has a carousel involved in the end, but I can’t quite remember what happens.  That movie’s not very good, but I saw it in Italy once dubbed into Italian, and it was much better that way.

Penelope: Why?

Mommy: I think the voice actress had a deeper voice and was better for the part.  Also I was very tired.  While I was watching that, my friends were at a pub called The Jefferson Club, and on its sign was a picture of Benjamin Franklin.  So the carousel part is the best.

Penelope: Obviously.

Mommy:  I’ve read that the old man who crawls under the carousel to stop it really did that, like that was an actual stunt done, and Hitchcock later said that was far too dangerous, and he wouldn’t do it again.  I think the movie’s worth seeing just for that.  That’s kind of a metaphor for the movie, too, in a way.  Because Guy thinks the other guy is just playing a game at first, just making a weird argument, but Bruno really does go through with it, and then Guy’s life just goes spinning out of control. 

Here's another thing about the fairground setting aspect.  I’m sure you see it in other movies, but in that time period, you don’t usually see the girl with the glasses being the big slutty party girl.  Usually if a girl wears thick glasses like that, she’s…

Daddy: Bookish.

Mommy:  Yeah, she’s bookish, shy.  She’s unattractive to men.  An exception would be Marilyn Monroe’s character in How to Marry a Millionaire, but that’s deliberately playing with the whole idea.  Do you think she wears the glasses just so they can break them and have that cool shot of the murder in the glasses?

Daddy: Absolutely.

Mommy:  The other glasses wearer, the Patricia Hitchcock character, is much more like the usual glasses wearing type girl in old movies.

Most Memorable Scene:

Penelope: The merry-go-round.

Daddy:  The merry-go-round’s hard to forget.  Also when he’s stalking the woman through the amusement park for the original murder, or when he chokes the woman at the party.

Mommy:  I always forget how much I like Strangers on a Train until I watch it again.  I also kind of like the tennis match because everybody’s just looking back and forth, and normally watching people watch a tennis match is very boring, but this is oddly suspenseful because Guy is waiting to make his move, and they’re waiting to arrest him, and they’re trying to help him escape.

Image that sticks with you:

Daddy: Those glasses.

Penelope: The big house, but I don’t remember whose house.

Mommy: Bruno is the one with the rich parents.  One part I always laugh at is when Bruno’s mother who’s played by Marion Lorne who was Aunt Clara in Bewitched is painting that painting and Bruno is like, “Mother you’re a genius!  There’s Father,” and it’s like this crazy, twisted, absurdist looking demon torment dude, and she’s like, “I thought it was St. Francis.”  That’s such a moment, and it doesn’t even need to be in there.

Why I Liked It:

Penelope: It was so suspenseful, but in a good way, and it seemed like there was always more plot development.  Things were always happening.  Even when not much was happening, it was still exciting.

Mommy: It really is funny to have stationary chase scene.  Like they’re having a chase on horseback, but the horses are actually fixed.

Penelope: Like moving but not actually moving.

Mommy:  That’s one of the best scenes I’ve seen in any movie, especially the way the lady keeps screaming, “My baby!” and the kid’s like, “Yea! Hooray!” as the whole thing spins out of control.

Daddy:  It’s such a crazy story.  It’s actually a really good point.  If they each switch murders, it’s really hard to find a motive, and if they’re complete strangers, there’s no way to connect them.

Mommy:  It always makes me think of Billy Crystal/Danny DeVito movie Throw Momma From The Train.
Penelope: I remember that one, and then they both write their books in the end.

Daddy: It also teaches you the dangers of agreeing with something just to get rid of someone.
Mommy: I don’t think he ever does agree with him, does he?

Daddy: He’s like yeah, sure, whatever.

Mommy: I’ve heard that in the novel, Guy does kill Bruno’s father.

Daddy: Oh wow.  Interesting.

Mommy: I would have liked to have seen that version.

Daddy: Did he doing it willingly or out of desperation?

Mommy: Probably desperation.  I'd like to read the book One thing I like is that Patricia Hitchcock has a huge part in this, and that’s just cool.  I mean, she’s also in Psycho, but she has a huge part in this. 

Penelope: In the chase scene, they’re not really going anywhere, but it’s a chase scene, but when Guy tries to get out of it in any way, nothing is happening to fix his problem.  When he’s like, “All right.  I’ll kill his father,” that should have been a progression, but instead, it was a lie.  Instead, it was all fake, nothing happened.  And when he tried to do any other things, it was like the chase scene.

Daddy:  Interestingly enough, the merry-go-round also represents Guy’s argument with Bruno.  It keeps going around and around, like, “No one will catch us.”

Mommy:  That’s interesting.  Another metaphor for that is the tennis match.

Daddy: And what’s also funny is if that professor hadn’t been drunk, he had an alibi, and none of the rest of it would have mattered.

Mommy:  So Guy has bad luck on trains.

Daddy:  Yeah, Guy needs to take a cab next time.

Mommy: But this is interesting.  Guy’s trying to give his escort the slip so he can prevent Bruno from planting the lighter.  So he’s trying to play the match as fast as he can, to beat Bruno there before dark, but it’s taking longer than he wants.  But if he’s really in a hurry, he could just lose the match.  That would be much quicker.  But he’s still trying to win.  It’s like Guy is used to playing tennis that plays by fair rules, but Bruno is on the merry-go-round.  They’re playing different games.  They’re at cross purposes.  Criss cross.  So Guy almost ends up the loser because he doesn’t realize what game they’re playing. 

Mommy: So I have a question.  When Bruno is with Guy in the train in the first place, doesn’t he seem sort of seductive, like he leans into him, and with the lighter.  I think his manner is seductive.  So are we supposed to assume that Bruno is gay?

Daddy: I guess there’s something seductive about danger and mystery.

Mommy:  I mean, I think there’s also something disordered about Bruno.  I mean, he practically has his mother eating out of his hand, but he hates his father.  And he loves chatting with old ladies.  I’m wondering if we’re supposed to think that he is gay and if that is part of his being a sinister, creepo.  It seems like latent homosexual tendencies, but it’s certainly not a positive depiction.

Daddy:  Which explains why he hates his father.

Penelope: Wait that doesn’t make sense to me. 

Daddy:  Because his father doesn't approve of him.

Mommy: I feel like that’s an implication in Rope, too.  Well, I know it is, an implication in Rope, this idea that if you’ll transgress any norm, you’ll transgress all of them.  Like he’s already got one foot in the taboo, so why not just murder everybody if he wants to.  I think Bruno’s the most interesting character.  Who disagrees?

Daddy:  He’s definitely the craziest.  The woman who gets killed is just crazy.  She’s such a manipulative…you know.  She hates her husband, but as soon as she finds out there’s another woman…It seems like such a vindictive thing to do.

Mommy: And Bruno gets the pleasure of killing her.  It’s all those other guys’ pleasure to flirt around with her at the amusement park, but it’s Bruno’s pleasure to kill her.  I think there’s definitely the implication that he’s gay, or at least deviant in his make-up…which…I don’t know what to think about that.  I think it’s funny that the guy’s name is Guy.

Daddy: Well if Bruno is gay…

Mommy: “But I like you, Guy.”

Daddy: He wants to be his G-U-Y.

Mommy:  I like the way Farley Granger says “Bruno.”  I just like how that sounds in his voice. I just thought, when you were talking about the drunk professor, he’s also a stranger on the train.

What I Didn’t Like (Criticism):

Penelope:  I can’t think of anything.

Daddy: I don’t have anything specific.

Mommy: Do you have anything, Gideon?

Penelope: Mom, he’s asleep!

Mommy: I think when Giddy is asleep he looks like Alfred Hitchcock.

Daddy:  I can’t think of anything I didn’t like, but it’s not my favorite.

Mommy:  I’ll agree with Hitchcock that Ruth Roman is not very compelling as a lead, but it may be that he hates her.

Penelope: Who is Ruth Roman?

Mommy: Anne, his fiancée.

Penelope: Wait, what is the wife’s name?

Mommy: Miriam?

Daddy:  As in Webster?  That’s just a little pun for you.  I like to give the definition of humor.

Mommy: I will say that the whole premise is completely ludicrous.  If I were Guy, I would have gone to the police the moment I got off the train because Bruno is acting creepy, and he’s a famous person.

 Observations:

Mommy:  When we watched that Hitchcock interview, he said when he hated a particular actress, he just told her, “Look up, look down, look this way, look that way, you’re done.”  I wondered if that was Ruth Roman since there’s a scene like that, but then I noticed Tippi Hedren does that a lot, too, in both the movies she’s in.  He seems to enjoy women looking.

Daddy:  And looking at women.

Questions:

Mommy: I wonder if Guy is the first person Bruno has approached, or the first person he’s considered.  He’s clearly found out everything about him.  It could just be that he’s obsessed with him and happens to meet him and comes up with the plan on the spot to be closer to him.  Or he could have researched several candidates and gotten on Guy’s train deliberately.

Penelope: Why Guy?  If he was choosing people, what would he be looking for, a celebrity to ruin their career in case they got caught.  And I have another question.  Why in world…well, how…Actually, I have a lot of questions about this one, though.

Mommy: Actually, Nellie, that gives me an idea for a book.

Penelope: Like the title, “Why Guy?”

Mommy: No, actually that’s a great title.

Daddy:  The whole book is about somebody trying to explain something, but never finishing their sentences.

Mommy:  I’m typing, too!

Daddy: It’s a very suspenseful book.  I feel like I’ve read it.

Mommy: I was just thinking how funny it would be if he researched someone, but it ended up backfiring and the person fell in love with him and wouldn’t leave him alone.  Or what if someone was setting up Bruno, and let him commit the murder, but was really a mastermind and had no intention of committing his murder, and framed him?

Daddy: What if Guy had researched Bruno?

Mommy: Wouldn’t that be a great twist?  Bruno thinks he’s the mastermind, but it’s really Guy.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Summer Movie Project--Hitchcock--Rear Window


Movie Name:

Rear Window

Favorite Part:

Daddy:  My favorite!  I love the whole set up.  I love the idea of it.  The guy’s got a broken leg.  He’s just bored.  He sees something sort of suspicious and it could be a murder, but it really could be a misunderstanding.  Learning it’s all on one set is amazing.  You only see from his view.  It’s incredible.  And the girl.  Who is that?

Mommy:  Grace Kelly.

Daddy: I actually kind of like her in that.  He’s like, “You don’t want this life,” and she’s like, “Who are you to choose?”  He’s like, “I couldn’t ask you to do that.”  She’s like, “I’ll do whatever it takes.”  She’s a strong female character which is interesting because Hitchcock likes to beat up his women.  She’s the one who goes over and searches his house.  That’s ballsy, man!  And the build up of the suspense is really great, when she’s over there, and the guy’s coming back, and you’re like, “Oh my God!  She’s going to get caught!”  How will they resolve that?  The build up of the suspense is really great.

Mommy:  For a long time, this and Dial M for Murder were the only movies I’d seen Grace Kelly in.  And now I’ve seen To Catch a Thief.  I’ve never watched any of her other movies.  My mom and my grandma didn’t like her.  So you like the entire movie.  But what is your favorite part?

Daddy: When she goes over to investigate his house.  It’s such a payoff.  There’s so much tension.  The payoff is just unbelievable at that point.

Mommy: I actually really like that part, too.  I also love that as they’re watching Lisa, Miss Lonelyhearts almost kill herself, and they have to decide if they’re going to call someone for her, and the music saves her, but it’s like a moral dilemma for a second.  It’s interesting because he’s really not necessarily going to do anything.  He’s so caught up in his murder game.  But Thelma Ritter finally can’t take it, and she’s going to call the police, for the suicide woman.  I also love the part where the dog is murdered, and woman screams at all the neighbors.  For one thing, it’s a nice moment for that woman.

Daddy: Yeah, a very visceral moment.  And it’s calling everybody out.  You’re so wrapped up in yourselves.

Mommy:  It’s also a turning point in the story because you realize, "Why would someone kill the dog?"

Daddy:  At that point, you start realizing maybe he’s right.  You start believing him.

Penelope: I’ve had one this whole time.  No one ever let me talk.

Daddy: Well, go ahead.

Penelope: I like the end, how they just decide to have to have a normal life, and how he’s like, “I’d never accept you as my wife.  You could never do any of this.”  And then she like climbs into the man’s house, and he’s like, “I guess so.  Maybe we could just settle down.”

Daddy: Yeah, he changes his estimation of her through her actions instead of just making decisions for her.

Mommy:  Also if you like fashion, Grace Kelly changes her clothes every time she leaves the room in this movie.  The first time I saw Rear Window, I missed the beginning.  I just came in while they were watching it, and I was like, “What is up with this woman?  She’s changing her clothes every fifteen seconds.”  But then that is legitimately part of the character.

Most Memorable Scene:

Daddy: For me it would be a toss up between when the woman’s dog is killed and when Grace Kelly is infiltrating the house.  For me those are the two best moments in the movie.  Another thing I liked about it is the end where he confronts the killer and uses the flash.  He’s using his skill set to protect himself.  He’s the one who needs the help more than the woman because of his situation.

Mommy:  Another scene I really like is the moment when Thorwald’s eyes dart up and look him right in the eye.  And then you’re like, “Uh oh.”  When he realizes who’s messing with him.

Penelope: I think the most memorable scene is when she’s climbing up into his window, just the fact that he thought no one could ever be as good as him, and then she climbs up the window and gets into his house.  And then she can get out of there, but she had to go to jail, right?

Mommy: Yeah, she lets herself get arrested to escape safely, and she steals the wedding ring for evidence.

Daddy: Yeah, she shows it off behind her back.

Mommy:  But when she does that, he suddenly knows there’s someone over there watching.

Daddy: Yeah, it kind of reveals him.

Image that sticks with you:

Daddy: The image of the guy sitting in the dark smoking the cigarette, and all you see is the flame.

Penelope: The flash thing, going off. 

Daddy:  Actually yeah, that’s good.  The flash going off is kind of a strobe light effect.

Mommy: The image for me that I always think of is how he has a cast on both legs at the end, which is funny to me because there’s much suspense and tension as he’s falling out the window, but it kind of turns into comedy.  What do you call a man with two broken legs?  Happy.  I don’t know.  The other image that sticks with me is just the set because you constantly see out the window into those windows.  That’s what you look at the whole movie is out at the rest of the set, and it was cool to learn that Hitchcock actually had the camera in the apartment.

Daddy:  And didn’t go anywhere else with it.  One thing Hitchcock was fantastic at is knowing exactly the shots he wanted.

Why I Liked It:

Daddy: I think I kind of covered mine.

Penelope: It was so suspenseful and funny.

Mommy:  One thing I like is the bit with Miss Lonelyhearts where she almost kills herself because it kind of makes you think, he’s been looking and looking out these windows, but he’s only doing it for entertainment.

Daddy: And these are lives, yeah.

Mommy:  Yeah, he notices and engages with what he thinks might be a murder.

Daddy: Because that’s what’s exciting to him.

Mommy:  But in the meantime, he’s seen this lonely woman become more and more unhappy.  He’s watched her.  But he hasn’t let that become a story that interests him.  And that’s interesting because he’s a photographer, he’s a journalist.  And he travels the world, and he’s always looking for the big scoop.  I mean it’s only when Lisa is in terrible, real danger that he suddenly realizes that finding the story is not the most important thing.

Daddy: Yeah, there’s not that camera between him and the story.  The story is a part of his life.

Mommy:  It’s funny because Lisa jumps through all these hoops to show she can do all these challenges, but he’s the one who grows and changes.  And the movie is such a lovely metaphor for our life even now, how we’re always looking at screens.

Daddy: Right, we look at phones at social media, and that becomes our world.  I wonder if that’s what that John Cho YouTube movie is going to be about.

Mommy:  Hitchcock is probably thinking of television and movies.

Daddy: Right, but we’re even further into what he was seeing.

Mommy:  It’s cool.  In real life, I take a lot of pictures because I use the camera to help me narrow my focus.  But he can’t go take his pictures, so now he’s looking for another way to do the same thing.  I think Thelma Ritter has some great lines in the beginning, too.

What I Didn’t Like (Criticism):

Daddy: What did I not like?  It’s more the aspect of the character of him.  The other half of why I like the female character so much is that he’s like, “This is the life I live.  You can’t have this.”  And it’s like, why can’t she make that choice? 

Mommy:  Yeah, Jeff Jeffries or something.  He’s kind of annoying in that he’s not happy with anything.  He’s got this fabulously dressed, beautiful young woman…

Daddy: Throwing herself at him.  I mean, she’s the eligible one.  She’s the one everybody wants because she has money and family and prestige.

Mommy:  And youth, and looks.  And he also has a nurse taking care of him.  And Thorwald had some problem with his wife.  He doesn’t seem to have much.  He doesn’t gain much by the murder.  He’s like, “You want money.  I don’t have money.”  It’s funny to me how this guy who has everything is relentlessly hunting down this guy who did nothing directly to him.

Penelope: I didn't like the fact that the main character wouldn’t accept anything.

Comments (Observations):

Daddy: I think what I’ve already said covered all that.

Mommy:  This is not important, but I also like when the sexy girl's true love comes home from the war, and he's this dorky little guy.  I also love all the many, many, many Rear Window spoofs out there.  So many shows have a Rear Window inspired episode.

Questions:

Daddy: Did he ever say why he killed his wife?

Me: I don’t think so.  We know so little about Thorwald.