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Hi im new to this forum and I have a paer due it's a compare/contrast on alfred hitcocks two films notrious and vertigo..would someone please give it a read and let me know what you think.. I have really struggled in this class thanks in advance....
Dizzy or Infamous???
Recently while watching two old film classics, Vertigo and Notorious, I found myself thinking of other movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Most of his movies have many things in common, while remaining completely independent of each other. These two films have different plots, actors, and most obvious one is filmed in color the other black and white. Which leads me to believe that Alfred Hitchcock really knew what he was about; as a result his films all a have a distinctive theme about them. Both films keep you in a state of anticipation as the stories unfold and reveal the twist and turns that Alfred Hitchcock was famous for. Notorious was written in 1946 a year after World War II came to an end and the red-scare was sweeping the nation, yet Vertigo was written twelve years later in a completely different climate. Meaning the McCarthy era had come to an end and the United States was a different country then. Taking that into consideration it’s interesting the parallelisms these two films have.
Each movie has a theme or a genre we could place them in, Notorious is a spy thriller similar to a James Bond film, and Vertigo is a mystery thriller with a twist like The Sixth Sense. In Vertigo you don’t see what’s coming in the end, you are taken by surprise and the same can be said for Notorious. There isn’t much dialogue in either film; instead the music and camera angles guide the movies to create the plot. Vertigo is shot in color and not just plain colors, the colors are enhanced to be bold, and to stand out so that you notice them and the people surrounded by them. Alfred Hitchcock uses color to make a point, to show fear, tension, anxiety and love. In this movie the color of Madeline’s green dress in the restaurant scene stands out against the red of the walls. It is what I noticed first. In Notorious he uses black and white; the shadows create a sinister effect surrounding the theme of the movie, which is communism, good guy/bad guy. The white of Alicia Huberman’s dress as she attends a dinner at Alex’s house is in stark contrast to the black of the tuxedos, the car and the dark of night. The cinematography of each film was thought out and tells us the story. So dialogue was not really needed, you could read the movies by listening to the music and watching the shifting patterns of light and shadow. Alfred Hitchcock was famous for using point-of-view shot, it is most noticeable in Notorious where Alicia in lying in bed after a night of drinking and the camera follows her upside down, so you feel a little unbalanced yourself while the scene is taking place. During the movie Vertigo the way the camera angles, scenes, point-of-view shots and the story itself creates the effect of the viewer having vertigo themselves.
The music tells the story in Vertigo, you know when something new happens or is about to, it was well timed and must have taken awhile to get it right, timing must have been everything. In Notorious the camera tells the story, the anticipation, you can feel the anxiety mount in the scene where Alicia and Alex have a party, they invite T.R.Devlin (played by Cary Grant) to attend. Before the party Alicia steals the key to the wine cellar where the secret the German’s are hiding is purported to be. The scene where she is holding the key clutched in her hand, the camera zooms in, you can almost see the sweat building in her palm as her body head heat sup the key and I am sure the anxiety building in her heightens her awareness of that key. The camera zooms totally into her hand, it’s an amazing scene. I had to fast-forward my dvd through most of this because I couldn’t handle the anticipation. Alicia is aware of the butler needing more champagne so he will need to get the key from Alex to enter the cellar, all the while knowing that she has it and can’t return it until her and Devlin have had a chance to inspect the cellar. It is a most brilliant display of cinematography, the camera going back and forth between her hand and the champagne on ice. There are numerous scenes where the music and camera angles tell the story of what is happening or about to take place, and if you didn’t know that these were both directed by Alfred Hitchcock, if you anything about him at all you could figure out. Even though these two were directed with much time in-between them his style never really altered. Maybe this is the reason they are a good comparison for his work. Notorious and Vertigo, two different movies with two very similar themes. Music and camera shots.
Each film has big name stars for that era, Cary Grant plays the debonair, charming T.R. Devlin, who is and agent for the U.S., and he talks Alicia into taking on the position of an agent herself. She ends up falling in love with Devlin and looks to him to help her make her decisions, in essence leaning against him for support; likewise Kim Novak looks to Jimmy Stewarts character Johnnie “Scottie” Ferguson for support . Each of the female characters is portrayed as women with loose morals and seeming to have little or no self-respect or confidence. This is how Alfred Hitchcock portrayed many of his leading ladies, leading me to believe he was a masochist. Which strikes me as interesting because during this period of time women were viewed as pure, innocent, the homemakers? So why is it that he portrayed these women as tramps that could be bought? So while these two women are alone and independent they were still treated as property. Another interesting fact is that each character is playing someone other than who they are. Alicia Huberman goes undercover in Notorious for the sake and good of her country, she even marries a man she despises to fulfill that duty. Madeline/Judy acts out as Madeline through most of the movie until she commits “suicide” then she resumes being Judy(her true-self), until Johnnie finds her and makes her turn into Madeline , because he was so taken with Madeline. In most of Hitchcock’s movies the female role is always playing another role inside of her role. Being someone else, probably for the sake of a man. Manipulation is a motif in these two films, a man using a woman to further his own wants and needs. Of course each lady has a choice to be made , but back in this time most women did what men told them. Now our leading ladies kick butt just as much as the men, take Angelina Jolie’s character in Tomb Raider, or a spy thriller Mr. and Mrs. Smith , the leading ladies today are nothing like the two ladies in these movies. I wonder what Alfred Hitchcock would think of the modern film world? Probably would think the art of film-making has been lost in the sea of reality television that so many people enjoy.
I truly enjoyed both films and appreciate the work that went into each one, it must have been challenging to make such a film as Notorious during World War II, and to have it released the year after the war ended. I probably never would have watched either of these films on my own, and I would have missed out on a huge piece of American cinematography.