July 12, 2009

W-T-Fuck Youtube: Thoughts on Hitchcock and the Princess of Monaco

A reminder of why Grace Kelly was a movie star. And how good Hitchcock could be.

I couldn't find a good clip of the scene online, so this is what we have to work with--all climax and no buildup to the scene. As a bit of introduction, the sequence with which this clip begins, comes after a 5 minute act of charm by Cary Grant as he studiously ignores Grace Kelly and butters up her mother. Grace Kelly is never given an "introduction," either in the movie, or visually, except as a figure at the edge of the frame, facing away from the camera, and described as a daughter while she's offscreen. She spends the entirety of this buildup trying to leave. The 2 of them walk down the hall rather accidentally, as Cary Grant assumes she'll go with her mother. They pull slightly together as they reach the door, and the camera angle rather abruptly (kind of jarring really) shifts angles to the one that opens the above clip.

In that opening 30 second scene from this clip from To Catch a Thief, the way Grace Kelly's arm moves with such a deliberateness, mixed with the cut to a head-on view of Ms. Kelly's face (for the first time in the movie mind you), is intoxicating. The scene is structured like the traditional way of cutting, in that each move pushes the viewer along just enough to hide the cuts*, or in this case the narrative liberties. The unexpected tumbles the viewer into something that comes close to infatuation with 'ol princess Grace. This is one of those times where Hitchcock's fixation on icy cold blondes works wonders.

*the analogy breaks down a bit because the cutting in this scene is a little clumsy, but regardless.

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