For The Candlewood Isle Film Fest Newsletter, an essay following the dogma,
“Some people write about that which they know. We write about what we want to find out about.”
Last month the Candlewood Isle Film Fest screened "Les Diaboliques," the movie of a script Alfred Hitchcock lost to French director Henri Clouzot, forcing him to make "Psycho" instead.
"Les Diaboliques" preserves the screen acting of Jeanne Moreau and Vera, Clouzot’s Brazilian wife who some years later passed away from a heart attack… just like in the…
This month we saw Sir Alfred’s “Under Capricorn,” a title descriptive of its 1800 setting; near Sydney, on the then prison island (an island the size of the 48 States) of the British Empire, Australia, below the Tropic of Capricorn. Yes, Glenn Moore knew … The Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn are on our earth’s 23rd parallel.
As with all Hitchcock possessives, “Under Capricorn” is collaborative. His Hollywood power was off the charts but look at the credits:
Writer, Alma Reville, was his wife since his movie career began in 1926.
In later decades, the blondness of his starlets distracted, or rather, inspired him, but in the 1940’s he focused on the project assigned.
After his off-the-charts British success (What are the “39 Steps”?) David O. Selznik brought him to the States and exerted over him some control.
Efforts to control Hitchcock inspired him; his greatest US inspiration: the Motion Picture Production Code.
Collaboration highlights through the 1940’s include:
-- with Joseph Cotton and Theresa White in "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943), featuring "Our Town" ambiance purchased from Thornton Wilder.
-- with composer Miklos Rosa, painter Salvador Dali and Ingrid Bergman in "Spellbound,"
-- again with Ms. Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Reins in "Notorious,"
-- and with Cary Grant and again Joan Fontaine (of Rebecca) in "Suspicion."
The efforts of Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton combined (with help from Mr. Cotton’s friend Michael Wilding) in “Under Capricorn,” made in England in 1949 during Hitchock’s Transatlantic Studio movies, preceded by “Rope,” the movie that implemented the dogma of real-time single shot continuous camera continuity.
Did the box office for “Rope” (with script credit including Arthur Laurent, inspired by the case of Leopold and Loeb) suffer from a simplified perception of the relationship between its two murderers?
Did "Under Capricorn" suffer from its Ingrid-Bergman-has-a-baby-with-Roberto-Rosselini synchronicity?
Both Technicolor films disappeared for a time after their release. Today, for us to see “Under Capricorn,” we watched a Korean DVD.
Hitchcock did not again go Technicolor until "Dial M for Murder" which made everything all right again and opened the gate for Hitchcock's traipse down the stony end of blondness.
Like “Rope,” “Under Capricorn” uses continuous shooting, but not “real time.” Also here Hitchcock permits himself cutting between cameras when needed.
This means more amazing tracking shots. Hitchcock’s single-shot tracking journeys date back to his focus on the No-One-Can-Drum-Like-the-Drummer-Man drummer in his British film, “Young and Innocent” and can be dated forward to Brian DePalma’s focus on the bucket above the prom stage in “Carrie.”
“Under Capricorn” writing credits include John Colton, the “Shanghai Gesture” Playwright, Jessica Tandy’s husband, Hume Cronyn, and Warsaw Concerto Composer Richard Addinsell.
There are love lessons and life enhancements obtainable from directing one's attention to the two hours of "Under Capricorn" screen time. See it when you can. Peter