Six Damn Fine Degrees #115: Chronicle of a death foretold

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

“Somewhere in here I was born… and here I died. It was only a moment for you… You took no notice.”

Even just reading those words gives me goose bumps. In Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, a film that’s not light on ominous, eerie moments, it is probably the one scene that most gets under my skin, even after I’ve seen the film a half-dozen times. It is strange and uncanny (even if it is actually part of an extended con), but also, and perhaps most of all, it is sad, as many of my favourite ghost stories are. The woman in front of you pointing at the tree rings, pointing out where she was born, first, and then where she died.

Died. Past tense.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: No country for cold men

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

Matt finally caught up (at least somewhat) with Alan and Julie, watching the Criterion release of Ernst Lubitsch’s comedy Design for Living almost two years after their podcast on the complicated women of pre-Code cinema. Even for someone not much versed in the films of the era preceding the Hays Code, Design for Living more than delivers with its wit and its wonderful trio of protagonists.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #114: Vertigo Restored (my first DVD)

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Do you still remember the first DVD you ever purchased? I will certainly never forget mine: the restored version of Alfred Hitchcock’s ultimate classic, Vertigo. Not because of the 70+ Swiss francs I paid for it – a fortune for a 17-year old back then and yet a pittance for the movie-hungry teenager that I was – but how it increased my love affair with Hitchcock and this particular movie. And how it left me in awe at the restoration process that brought this masterpiece back to life on the then-state-of-the-art DVD format – a process that back then topped everything that had gone into salvaging film stock before (thanks to Julie’s post from last week for reminding me of it).

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Only you can prevent forest fires!

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

Matt’s been spending some more time in virtual worlds, in particular a digital version of 1980s Wyoming, spotting fires. He wrote about his experience here – which should go well with the Firewatch trailer.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #91: The Hitchcock That Wasn’t There

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

The sausage that was too much: Just like this moment from Torn Curtain (1966), many fascinating Hitchcock ideas, scenes and projects were cut.

I must admit I have not (yet) become as much of a connoisseur of the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre as Matt has revealed himself to be in last week’s insightful post on a number of standout scenes from their lesser-liked films. However, I immediately thought of directors I know somewhat better, particularly how Hitchcock’s over fifty feature films would lend themselves to a ranking of standout scenes of even his less-appreciated films. Beyond obvious scenes in showers, on top of towers and gazing out rear windows, one could probably run a blog or a series of podcasts just on the one standout scene from every one of his movies. After all, Hitchcock was particularly masterful at making scenes, even single objects stand out and in creating masterful compositions, but also making them so memorable as unique scenes that work outside of the film itself.

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Footnotes: The Music Makers

We thought long and hard about whether we wanted to put musical excerpts in our podcast episode on movie soundtracks, but in the end we decided against it – not least because these pieces should be heard in their entirety, and they tend to work best when you listen to them along to the respective scenes from the films they’re from. So, below you’ll find our picks and some more of our thoughts about these wonderful tunes and composers.

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The Rear-View Mirror: James Stewart (1908)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

When I think of James Stewart, I think of his everyman persona, not too dissimilar to that of, say, Tom Hanks. I think of him as the perennial regular Joe, the guy next door. A decent man. Exasperated, perhaps, but fundamentally good. So it always comes as something of a surprise when I watch one of his films – Vertigo, obviously, but even Frank Capra’s Christmas evergreen It’s a Wonderful Life – and find something more interesting, more complicated.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Bernard Herrmann (1911)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

You don’t have to be into movies all that much to have been scared by Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975). He started composing when still a teenager and also worked as an orchestrator and conductor later on. One of his first notable contributions was for Orson Welles’ original 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds. Hermann’s music must have had a hand in the fact that so many listeners thought that the Martians were really coming.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Writers, directors, psychos and other criminals

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest installment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #33: The Good, the Bad and Alfred Hitchcock

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3We have had a certain Norman Bates over for a fresh, hot cup of culture before, but this is the first time we’re dedicating an entire episode to the Master of Suspense himself – and, more specifically, to good gals, good guys and villains in three films by Hitchcock. From Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Claude Rains and the ambivalent love triangle of Notorious to the wild ride and camp masculinities of North by Northwest and the shattered allegiances and mummy issues of Psycho (but then, it’s mother issues all the way down in Hitchcock, isn’t it?), join us – and our guest for June, Sam – for a chat about the good, the bad and Alfred Hitchcock!

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d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3We have had a certain Norman Bates over for a fresh, hot cup of culture before, but this is the first time we’re dedicating an entire episode to the Master of Suspense himself – and, more specifically, to good gals, good guys and villains in three films by Hitchcock. From Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Claude Rains and the ambivalent love triangle of Notorious to the wild ride and camp masculinities of North by Northwest and the shattered allegiances and mummy issues of Psycho (but then, it’s mother issues all the way down in Hitchcock, isn’t it?), join us – and our guest for June, Sam – for a chat about the good, the bad and Alfred Hitchcock!

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