Movie Diary 3/29/2023

The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935). I am teaching again this quarter. Final shots: Hitchcock will do what it takes to get the effect he wants, so Mr. Memory must wave away a chair in order to slump to the ground, which allows Hitch to set up a shot that includes figures crowded around the frame, Memory at the center, and space for the dancing girls on stage in the background, a strange touch that brings up the film’s shifting tones of irony and humor; and after Memory’s speech, a pair of hands closes in the foreground. Nobody does it better.

Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983). A trick film and a mockumentary that seems to have been gradually forgotten over the years, like Leonard Zelig himself. Why didn’t Allen take on more projects like this?


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