Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alfred Hitchcock's oversized props

TCM is showing Dial M For Murder tonight at 8:00 PM ET as part of the salute to Star of the Month Grace Kelly. Most of the movie is set in the London apartment of Kelly and her husband (Ray Milland), who's trying to have her killed. However, there's one scene set at a club, in which Milland tries to phone home. The most interesting thing about this scene is that Hitchcock had to use a mockup of a hand and a telephone because apparently he couldn't get the right close-up of a real hand dialing a telephone with the sort of movie cameras in use back in the 1950s. It wasn't by any means the first such prop Hitchcock had to resort to.

In Spellbound, the scene at the end in which Leo G. Carroll is holding the gun is a prop set against rear-projection. Some of the prints also have a small number of frames that have been tinted red to show the blood.

There's a coffee cup in Notorious that's oversized. The famous key, however, was apparently not an oversized prop. The legend goes that Ingrid Bergman kept the key from the shooting, and gave it to Hitchcock when he was honored by the AFI in the 1970s.

As for the shower head in Psycho, how exactly did Hitchcock do that? The side shots are trivial, but filming the head when Janet Leigh turns the shower on, with the water coming out and the camera looking up at the shower head, seems much more problematic.

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