Saturday, August 08, 2009

David Deavel--Chesterton and Alfred Hitchcock

After posting all of David's helpful conference notes, I am now happy to report live on David's talk on Hitchcock.

Deavel first mentioned a series of commonalities between Chesterton and Hitchcock. The character parallels are interesting, and I suggest you purchase the CDs if you are interested in hearing a very interesting comparison.

The differences between the two artists was vast. Hitchcock was stingy, Chesterton generous. Hitchcock insecure about his looks, Chesterton couldn't care less about his appearance. Yes, they were both rotund, but Hitchcock wished he could have purchased a suit off the rack. Chesterton relied on Frances to dress him up and keep him from appearing messy.

Both were Catholic, but in completely different ways.

What did Hitchcock take from his Catholic history and put into his work? What influence did Chesterton have on Hitchcock? Hitchcock identified Chesterton as an early influence. He borrowed the title of his book in the Man Who Knew Too Much.

Hitchcock read Chesterton's Defense of Penny Dreadfuls, which Hitchcock considered important.

Chesterton was a member of a Picture Theater Group that met to discuss film, starting in 1919. Chesterton was in the film The Rosy Rapture in 1916 as a cowboy filmed by Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie.

Chesterton critiqued film, in much the same way he critiqued literature, defending film as cheap detective novels were defended. He wanted morals and consequences in film as much as in books.

Chesterton stated that films ruined good books, making them think they'd read the book. He said he also felt the same way about plays adapted from books.

Hitchcock films follow a Catholic pattern of guilt, confession, penance and redemption.

Hitchcock and Chesterton share an image during the penance phase of something hanging, usually a person, perilously from a precipice, a cliff, or a tower. Remember Michael in The Ball and the Cross, hanging from the top of the church.

It is known that Hitchcock read the Father Brown mysteries.

The guilt doesn't have to be personal, at times, the wrong man is identified as the criminal, as in his film The Wrong Man.

There is a wide divergence between Chesterton and Hitchcock when it comes to endings. Both use color and the chase. Hitchcock said the chase was 60% of the film in terms of importance. And Chesterton has great chase scenes, remember The Man Who Was Thursday, The Ball and the Cross and the Flying Inn.

Overall, a quite interesting talk, and worth listening to the CD.

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