Homage or Theft? The Artist, and the Sound of Vertigo

By Jason Haggstrom, February 26, 2012

There's been a lot of buzz lately about The Artist, especially with tonight's Academy Awards looming. But the conversation hasn't just been about the merits of the film on the whole, but also about its appropriation of one of the most famous musical cues to ever be attached to a film. That piece would be Bernard Herrmann's "Scene d'Amour" from Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece, Vertigo. Is its use in The Artist intended as a loving homage as The Artist's director, Michel Hazanavicius, claims? And if The Artist takes home an Oscar for Best Original Score, can we really say that at least some of the credit doesn't belong to the now-deceased Bernard Herrmann for the music he created for a different film entirely? [Update: The Artist just won for Best Original Score.]

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Viewing Toy Story 2 Through a Vertigo Lens

By Jason Haggstrom, February 25, 2012

The films of Pixar are heavily populated with references to movies of the past, to the films most beloved by the studio's many writer/directors. Consider WALL-E's villainous robot AUTO whose devilish red-eye brings to mind HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey; or The Incredibles' hilarious Edna as a doppelganger for real life costume designer Edith Head; or even A Bug's Life whose entire plot—a defenseless village hires warriors to protect itself from bandits—is lifted right out of Seven Samurai. Most of these homages are created as comedy. They're cinematic in-jokes for the initiated, connections that simply make one smile. But Pixar's films are far greater than the sum of their homages. Most often they are great films, the kind that reveal hidden nuances with each additional viewing. Toy Story 2 is one such film.

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Original Ending to be Inserted Back Into Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest

By Jason Haggstrom, April 1, 2011

Future generations, please note the date of publication on this article

In a surprise announcement, Warner Bros. pictures has revealed that the original edit of the climactic scene of Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest has turned up in the studio's archives. This newly found footage, a far less subtle—and far more vulgar—version of the film's classic "train entering the tunnel" joke (a visual pun referring to the couple's sexual activity) existed mostly in film circles as a rumor of mythic proportions. Few have heard of the original ending because it has not only been long lost in the Warner archives, but because the only reference to the footage exists in the first editions of the interview book, Hitchcock/Truffaut (later editions of the book omitted the reference to the original North By Northwest ending because of Hitchcock's disparaging words about the film's star, Cary Grant). Because of this, first editions of the book have become a hard-to-find collector's item. The following exchange regarding the original ending occurs on page 257:

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Marion, Norman, and the Collision of Narratives in Psycho

By Jason Haggstrom, June 16, 2010

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Psycho, one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films in a career that fostered the creation of many. As with all of Hitchcock's great films, Psycho can be seen as simple, face value entertainment or as a film worthy of great study and analysis. I've seen Psycho many times over the course of my 34 years of existence, but what keeps me coming back is the way that Hitchcock uses multiple narratives to toy with audience perspective. The film begins with an objective narrative before switching to a subjective one only to see that narrative destroyed when it collides with another. This is an analysis of those narratives and how they shape (and re-shape) the way that we view the lead characters and their actions.

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