American Cinema

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…

Notes on the 20th Anniversary of Clueless

This month Clueless turned twenty. Amy Heckerling’s film, starring a cast led by Alicia Silverstone, was released in American cinemas from 19 July 1995. It would not appear on movie screens in Europe until the autumn: crossing the Atlantic to arrive in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 20 October, it spent the next six months working its way across the…

Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971)

Henry Graham in A New Leaf is an artist in shades of green: his palette is of money, which he spends not judiciously, but with grace and flair and a firm creative hand. Born into great wealth, his spending is an act of pure self-expression. The trouble is that Henry Graham has overspent, and the cheques which he has passed…