11
PLOT FORMATIONS

One of the clearest ways to demonstrate, simultaneously, the validity of the auteur theory and the necessary qualifications to it, is to examine the relationship between Hitchcock's British and American films, a relationship of both rupture and continuity. When one passes from the British films to Rebecca, one feels at once in -- on certain levels -- a different cinematic world: the film, quite simply, looks different. The reasons for this are obvious enough: the availability of a higher budget; the dominating presence of Selznick (a rival auteur), his preoccupation with prestige, expensiveness, "finish," but also his own authorial inclinations and obsessions; the availability not only of Hollywood technicians with their highly developed and sophisticated professionalism, but of "the Hollywood way of doing things." My sense of the tangible difference is impressionistic: I have not gone into the laborious statistics of shot counts, shot lengths, number of times the camera moves, types of camera movement, ratio of close-ups to long shots, etc., regarding statistics with a certain suspicion. My impression is, then, of far greater technical fluency or fluidity (which is not to be taken as necessarily an evaluative judgment), and of greater (or more pervasive) depth to the images. The lean economy and wry humor of the British films have gone, replaced by Hollywood's luxury and Selznick's melodramatic romanticism. One caveat is instantly necessary: this cannot be taken, without heavy qualification, as a straight Britain/ Hollywood opposition. Selznick's presence is clearly crucial: the shooting/editing practices of many of Hitchcock's later masterpieces are actually closer to the austerity of the British films than to the luxuriance of Rebecca ( The Paradine Case, to which Selznick can again lay some authorial claim, can be taken as confirmatory evidence). Hitchcock was able, after Rebecca, to make movies in Hollywood that are "British" not only in setting but in "look" (Suspicion).

-239-

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Hitchcock's Films Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - (1988) 1
  • Book One - Hitchcock's Films 53
  • 1 - Introduction (1965) 55
  • 2 - Strangers on a Train 86
  • 3 - Rear Window 100
  • 4 - Vertigo 108
  • 5 - North by Northwest 131
  • 6 - Psycho 142
  • 7 - The Birds 152
  • 8 - Marnie 173
  • 9 - Torn Curtain 198
  • 10 - Retrospective (1977) 206
  • Endnotes for Earlier Editions 229
  • Book Two - Hitchcock's Films Revisited 237
  • 11 - Plot Formations 239
  • 12 - Symmetry, Closure, Disruption: the Ambiguity of Blackmail 249
  • 13 - Norms and Variations: the 39 Steps and Young and Innocent 275
  • 14 - Ideology, Genre, Auteur (1976) 288
  • 15 - Star and Auteur: Hitchcock's Films with Bergman 303
  • 16 - The Murderous Gays: Hitchcock's Homophobia 336
  • 17 - The Men Who Knew Too Much (and the Women Who Knew Much Better) 358
  • 18 - Male Desire, Male Anxiety: the Essential Hitchcock 371
  • Bibliography 389
  • Index 391
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