Saturday, December 19, 2009

Robin Wood on Howard Hawks's "El Dorado"

Robin Wood, the author of two great books on Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, has passed away.

Wood didn't like Hawks's El Dorado as much as I do but he had great things to say about it:
"Yet there is a way in which it all makes artistic sense-though it is not quite the sense of a self-sufficient work. Hawks is now in his seventies. W. B. Yeats was a few years younger when he wrote
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal stress.
The words and imagery suggest at once the need to recapture a childlike, unselfconscious spontaneity, and the contradictory fact that with advancing age attempts to do so will have to be more and more deliberate. In El Dorado Hawks is 'singing louder'; there is exactly that balance of recaptured spontaneity and the contradictory sense of deliberateness that Yeats's lines define. And when one realises this, one realises the real subject of the film - a subject virtually all-pervading, yet never stated explicitly: age."

Keith Uhlich wrote a short post about Robin Wood, with some links. You can find more info on Robin Wood here.

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I started using Twitter. It's very useful for sharing links & small bits of information.

I've recently posted a link to Orson Welles' last interview (2 hours before he died), and to a video of Alfred Hitchcock working on the set. If you'd like to check my page, click here.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" (1959)

In North by Northwest, both space and identities are deconstructed, broken down to pieces, and then rearranged.

In Hitchcock's films, fantasies and nightmares are all intertwined. And characters very often talk about this very openly. Here are some dialogues from North by Northwest, interveawing sex and death:

Roger O. Thornhill: Tell me... How does a girl like you get to be a girl like you?
Eve Kendall: Lucky, I guess?
Roger O. Thornhill: Oh, not lucky. Naughty. Wicked, up to no good. Ever kill anyone? Because I bet you could tease a man to death without half trying. So stop trying, ha?

Roger O. Thornhill: I wonder what subtle form of manslaughter is next on the program. Am I to be dropped into a vat of molten steel and become part of a new skyscraper? Or are you going to ask this female to kiss me again and poison me to death?

The Professor: If I thought there was any chance of changing your mind, I'd talk about Miss Kendall, of whom you so obviously disapprove.
Roger O. Thornhill: Yes, for using sex like some people use a flyswatter.

By the way, she does kill him in the film, but it is an illusion.

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