Saturday, October 1, 2005

This is the only blog where you'll see Shirley Temple compared to Hitchcock.

May I suggest a viewing of Shirley Temple's Curly Top (1935)? The opening montage -- shorn of all "natural" sounds and replaced by underscoring -- is very Alfred Hitchcockian. This sequence ends in the cavernous bed chamber of an orphanage. The dim light falling on the twin rows of beds in the foreground, framed by two foster mothers in the rear standing in an enormous, brightly lit doorway lends a religious, almost sepulcheral feel to the scene. Very expressionistic. The shot might have inspired a similar picture that appears in the first "Madeleine" picture book -- it's almost identical. The look and feel of the scene also reminds me of the final scene in Notorious, where the two Nazis stand framed in the doorway as Grant and Bergman leave, and Claude Rains remains behind, to face the two men as executioners. In Notorious, those two Nazis have a cherubic quality, as if they are a pair of executioner's angels. Likewise, the two foster mothers -- dressed as nuns -- have a similar cherubic, judging quality.

Anyway, if you're wondering if it's possible to conduct scholarly film studies while cuddling with your 5-year-old daughter, the answer is yes.

Could any nightmare be worse than Bradd Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mrs. and Mrs. Smith?

Joel Gunz

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