Monday, May 26, 2008

Hitchcock and Stewart on Rope

One of my favorite Hitchcock films is a lesser known film called Rope. Rope is filmed in real time about a murder done by some young guys who do it just for the experience of performing the murder. Hitchcock was experimenting with ten minute long takes that he believed would save a lot of money. Ultimately, it ended up having the opposite effect because whenever they made a mistake, they had to do the entire ten minutes over again. Not only was this expensive, but it frustrated the actors who had nailed their scenes several times but had to do them over and over again ... all ten minutes not just a few seconds like they usually do. But this technique did give the film a much different quality than a lot of his films with the long scenes and I don't think they ever leave the one room that the film starts in with the murder since it was based on a play.

Rope was also the first time that Hitchcock worked with Jimmy Stewart. Stewart was so frustrated with the filming process that he vowed to never work with Hitchcock again. Obvisiously he changed his mind and starred in the classics Rear Window and Vertigo (which turned 50 this week). A lot of actors including Montgomery Clift and Cary Grant turned down offers to appear in Rope due to the homo-erotic imagery throughout the film. They were still in the closet and didn't want this to give anyone any ideas.

Monday, May 5, 2008

No Cinco de Mayo in Mexico

I have been told that the Irish don't celebrate St. Patrick's day like the US does. They celebrate it, but it is just not that big of a day for them. It is a quieter celebration. I learned today that Cinco De Mayo isn't even celebrated in Mexico.

On May 5th, 1862, France attacked the Mexican city of Pueblo. Mexico owed France, England and Spain a lot of money but France is the only one that didn't come up with a peaceful resolution to the problem. Mexico's victory on this day became a symbol of Mexican unity. A year later, the people of California (that seceded from Mexico sixteen years earlier) celebrated Cinco De Mayo to to acknowledge Mexican independence. The tradition spread throughout the states.

September 16th, the day that they declared indepedence from Spain in 1810, is the Mexican Independence Day that is celebrated today.

Check out this excellent aritcle from the Huffington Post: Huffington Post link

Friday, May 2, 2008

Harper Lee's gift

In 1954, writer Harper Lee received one of the coolest Christmas presents I have ever heard of. A couple of her friend got together and gave her money ... an entire year's salary with this note attached: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas." Within a year, she had written a working manuscript of her wonderful Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. It is even considered by some to be the best English language novel of the 20th century. Before becoming a famous novelist, she was a clerk for a law firm. After the novel was published in 1960, she expected it to be panned by the critics. She only hoped that someone would give her some encouragement so that she could make a career out of it. She was overwhelmed with the response and terrified of her fame. She never wrote another novel.