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The Films Of Alfred Hitchcock Essay

667 words - 3 pages

The films of Alfred Hitchcock, as even the most casual cinephile knows, manage to blend the comic, romantic, tragic, and political, all with a captivating thriller plot. The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, two works from the 1930s, are no exception. In the former, a Canadian man is charged with the task of carrying a secret into Scotland while on the run from the police; in the latter, an older woman disappears, leaving a bewildered young lady who uncovers a foreign spy ring while trying to find her. However, despite the fact that both of these plots contain dominant thriller elements, and stem from the same part of Hitchcock’s career, they are by no means interchangeable. From visuals to characters, these are entirely different works. As such, one of the best places to compare and contrast is in the films’ opening sequences, where Hitchcock sets up for the intense action to follow. In The 39 Steps and Lady Vanishes, both introductory sequences work to capture the viewer’s attention before the thrills begin; however, close analysis reveals that Hitchcock handles them quite differently.
To get an idea of these opening sequences as a whole, let us start by looking, at a basic level, at how the viewer is pulled into the world of the story. In The 39 Steps, our first image is the marquee of the music hall, followed by a man entering (Hannay, not yet identified), and people taking their seats inside. We become part of an audience that pokes fun at Mr. Memory, then quickly grows fascinated by him. Finally, humor and fascination turn to panic when a fight breaks out, and as rapidly as we were drawn in to the music hall, we are pulled back out. In sum, we have been thrown into the unstable social atmosphere of the theater, reminiscent even of what we saw in The Blue Angel. One moment we are amid shuffling feet, and the next we are facing the stage; one second we are...

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