American Cinema

October Film: Carnival of Souls Analysis

Herk Harvey – the professional name of Harold Arnold Harvey, born 3 June 1924 – was a student of the theatre, first as an undergraduate then as a graduate at the University of Kansas, acting and directing and afterwards remaining at the university to teach. In 1952 he was hired by the Centron Corporation, an industrial and educational film production…

October Film: Carnival of Souls (1962)

  Carnival of Souls 83 minutes | 26 September 1962 | United States ‘Atmospheric 60s B-horror film with a cult following. Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around with two friends but everything goes wrong when challenged to a drag race and their car gets forced off of a bridge. The car sinks into the murky depths, and all three women…

September Film: The Stranger Analysis

The Stranger was the third Orson Welles directorial effort to see the light of day and the dark of cinema screens, following Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Production lasted from late September until 21 November 1945, with the picture released the following July. Welles’ earliest take on film noir – preceding The Lady from Shanghai (1947), and Touch of Evil…

September Film: The Stranger (1946)

  The Stranger 95 minutes | 2 July 1946 | United States ‘Set in Connecticut after World War II, The Stranger is a cat and mouse game between Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), a member of the Allied War Crimes Commission and Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi who has assumed the false identity of Dr. Charles Rankin. To complete his new intelligentsia disguise,…

The Birds (1963): ‘Risseldy Rosseldy’

A couple of early incidents featuring agitated lone gulls – a swift strike as Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) prepares to dock her motorboat, and another which annihilates itself in the Brenner front door – progress into a fully-fledged attack on Cathy Brenner’s (Veronica Cartwright) birthday party, as the youngster celebrates turning twelve. Later that evening a swarm of sparrows invade the Brenner home through…

August Film: Detour Analysis

The production of Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1945 film noir classic Detour is as fabled as the picture itself: reportedly shot over anything from two days up to four six-day weeks, on a small budget costing somewhere between $20,000 and $100,000. Ulmer himself, in an interview given in 1972, asserted that the film took six days to shoot. Yet it subsequently spent more than six…

August Film: Detour (1945)

  Detour 68 minutes | 30 November 1945 | United States ‘Man is involved in two freakish accidents that make him look like a murderer. Poverty row masterwork that is the most precise elucidation of the noir theme of explicit fatalism.’ – Spencer Selby Director: Edgar G. Ulmer Producer: Leon Fromkess Screenplay: Martin Goldsmith Based On: Martin Goldsmith’s 1939 novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale Starring: Tom…

The Birds (1963): Storyboarding the Scene at the Schoolhouse

One of the myths to have built up around the career of Alfred Hitchcock maintains that, after planning and storyboarding his films so thoroughly, once on set he never so much as peeked through the camera viewfinder, bearing each scene from start to finish precisely in his head. This sounds barely sensible, an uncharacteristic relinquishing of control and disavowal of prospective…

The Birds (1963) and Its San Francisco Pet Shop Opening

Analyses of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds have typically tended in two directions. There is the film’s at-the-time innovate use of special effects, which were added by Lewis Hampton and Ub Iwerks, but which required much in the way of planning and shooting: careful storyboarding, trained gulls, numerous camera angles, and then plenty of editing to bring together different shots. And there…