Friday, June 25, 2010

More Hitchcock

It has been said that Alfred Hitchcock always brought in his films on time and under budget.  Also, when you look at individual frames from any Hitchcock film, each can stand alone as a still photo.  Since I have a photographic background, I do watch his films to see those perfect frames that would look good hanging on the wall.

The next time you get to watch one of his films, keep an eye out to see the composition of the images.  He will always try to frame a face with an interesting background, holding the face just off center.  In still photos you should try to remember the "rule of thirds."  Never put the main subject in the center, but put it one third from the top or bottom, and one third from the left or right.  The horizon should never split a picture in half, and a flag pole or tall building should never be in the center.

The budget for any film is important.  James Cameron seems to have a problem with this, having just released Avatar, the most expensive film ever made, after releasing Titanic, which previously held that distinction. 

Now take a look at Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry from 1955.  This is as good a movie as you can find.  It is funny, suspenseful, and the story is so twisted, you don't know how it will end.  Maybe that's the problem with Hitch's can only be surprised the first time you see it.

Trouble had a great cast with John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn and of course, Jerry Mathers.  Everybody else could only be classified as bit players.  And many of them went on to "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on TV. 

  • Mildred Dunnock (1901 - 1991) played over 70 parts, including BUtterfield 8 in 1960 with Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Royal Dano (1922 - 1994) was a character actor who did a lot of westerns, including a bit part in Cahill US Marshal (1973) with The Duke, and a bigger part in The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976 with Clint Eastwood.
  • Mildred Natwick ( 1905 - 1994) had over 80 roles in film and on TV.  Perhaps her most famous film was her last, Dangerous Liaisons in 1988 with Glenn Close.

The entire cast of The Trouble with Harry is only 14 long.  The rest, whom I didn't mention above, had fewer than 40 roles total, with several only acting in one to five parts.  Fittingly, this was Phillip Truex's last role.  He played Harry, who was dead in the entire film.

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