directed by: Alfred Hitchcock


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Submitted by Charles O'Brien on 2006-06-14

Charles O'Brien's comment:
This rather dark and bitter film was among the some nine feature films directed by Alfred Hitchcock at British International Pictures at Elstree, near London, during the late 1920s/early 1930s. The film was adapted by Hitchcock from a stage production and features a great deal of dialogue. The latter is presented mainly in long takes (e.g., 90 seconds), although Hitchcock often picks up the cutting pace during transitions from scene to scene. The lengthy auction scene, occurring roughly one-third of the way into the film, features some remarkable subjective camera work, as well as montage-like cutting. Here's a selective rendition of the film's narrative action. 0.00: a series of scenes contrasting the gentle, aristocratic Hilcrest family and the crude, arriviste Hornblowers; 10.30: Mr. Hornblower visits Hilcreast family, proclaiming his intent to industrialize the land around their home, and informing them that they had better sell their house to him; 25.40: distorted point-of-view sequence, revealing the response of Chloe (Charlie Hornblower's wife, and daughter-in-law of Mr. Hornblower) to threat from Dawson (an agent for the Hilcrests) that her past life as a prostitute will be revealed; 28.40: part of the way into the auction scene, a 85 second long take of the auctioneer's point of view (I mistakenly counted this as two shots); 32.40: rapid-cut series of faces during climactic moment of auction; 34.10: auction ends; Mr. Hornblower confronts Hilcrests in their car outside, reveals that he now owns their house; 40.05: insert of letter to Mr. Hornblower, threatening to reveal Chloe's secret; Mr. H. reacts angrily and questions Chloe about the letter; 44.10: Chloe meets secretly with Dawkins, depicted in a stationary medium-close two-shot (168-second take); Charlie Hornblower finds her and brings her home; 54.40: Mr. Hornblower barges into Hilcrest home, challenges Mrs. Hilcrest for having sent the threatening note; Chloe arrives and confesses that the allegations implied in the note are true; 63.40: later, in the evening, Chloe sneaks into the Hilcrest home and meets with Mr. Hilcrest and daughter Mary; 73.00: Chloe is pulled out of swimming pool, a case of suicide; Mr. Hornblower confronts Hilcrests yet again, and swears he will somehow, someday avenge his family.


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Author: Yuri Tsivian Date: 2006-06-14

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