All Movie Talk, Episode 44

Posted in Episodes at 5:00 am by Sam

Show contents, with start times:

  • Director Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock, Part 1 (1:36)
  • Trivia Question: Smallest Movie Set (19:16)
  • Film Buff’s Dictionary: Frame Rate, Undercranking, Overcranking (19:41)
  • Top 6: Great Remakes (25:51)
  • Pitch: Harry Potter 7 (46:39)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (55:00)

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Show Notes:

Director Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock, Part 1

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

Alfred Hitchcock, one of the greatest directors, is also one of the most accessible. The master of the macabre is the rare great artist who was always a commercial success, in no small part because he was always able to use his technical mastery to serve compelling stories.

He was drawn to dark stories in which (mostly) innocent people were tormented in equal parts by sinister forces and their own consciences. Hitchcock never shied away from exploring his own neuroses within his films — his style led to the development of the auteur theory of cinema — which makes it even more surprising just how commercial his films were.

As a filmmaker, he was often as exacting and precise as the elaborate suspense stories he told. Hitch carefully planned his shoots and films, but they rarely feel cold or overly technical. First and foremost he always made great entertainments, films that are often as enjoyable today as they were on their first releases.

In the coming weeks, we will take an in-depth look at his complete filmography.

Trivia Question: Smallest Movie Set

The smallest movie set ever isn’t quite Fantastic Voyage, but it is this great movie about a cramped space.

Film Buff’s Dictionary: Frame Rate, Undercranking, Overcranking

The frame rate, usually expressed in “frames per second,” is the speed at which film moves through a camera or projector. Film has been standardized at 24 frames per second since the early sound era; previously it had varied from around 18 fps through the mid 20s. The need to synchronize picture and sound required that there be a standard projection speed, and 24 fps was decided.

Because filmmakers know the speed at which a film is projected, they can achieve interesting effects by capturing film at different speeds. Undercranking the camera means running film through the camera at less than 24 fps. When the film is projected at 24 fps, it is sped up, creating faster than normal motion.

Likewise, overcranking refers to filming at a rate faster than 24 fps, causing motion to appear to slower when projected. The word “cranking” dates back to the early days of cinema, when film was hand-cranked through the camera. Camera operators had to have steady cranking speeds or else things would appear too fast or too slow.

Top 6: Great Remakes

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Pitch: Harry Potter 7

Note: This segment was recorded before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released and before either of us knew the plot. The segment is therefore free of spoilers, and any similarity with plot twists revealed in the book are purely accidental.

Trouble brews at Harry Potter’s funeral when his archenemies show up to gloat over his death and attack the gathered mourners. But not all is as it seems in the exciting conclusion (or is it!?) to the beloved film series.

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  1. wintermute (157) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 8:42 am

    I was convinced I knew the answer to this trivia question.

    Curse you, Mr Stoddard.

  2. Grishny (156) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 11:23 am

    I’m sure that Sam and Stephen have noticed that Peter Jackson has the same habit as Alfred Hitchcock of making very brief cameo appearances in his films. I haven’t seen all of his films yet, so I can’t say for certain whether he’s done it in every one, but so far I’ve been able to spot him in every one that I’ve seen except King Kong, which I only watched once. He also throws his children in, too!

    I wonder if it’s an idea he got from Hitchcock, or if he just decided to do it all on his own.

  3. wintermute (157) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 11:48 am

    M Night Shaylaman has also had an appearance in all his movies so far, I think. Though several of these are perhaps too large to be considered cameos

    Stan Lee has had a cameo in every movie based on a Marvel comic other than Ghost Rider.

    Eli Roth has a cameo in almost all his movies (as a severed head in one of the Hostel movies, for example).

    It doesn’t seem uncommon for directors to do this, though Hitchcock was probably the first to do it on a regular basis.

  4. Grishny (156) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Where did Stan Lee pop up in X-Men, X2 and X3? I don’t recall seeing him in any of those, and I’ve definitely looked for him.

  5. Aaron (35) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I loved all the subtle details in the Pitch segment, like how there’s “claws and stuff” in a battle with a snake. And man, what is it with the villain turning into a snake? Why is that so dang common anyway? It seems just sort of a random thing to become a cliche.

  6. wintermute (157) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    In X-Men, Stan was a man near a hot dog stand on the beach when Senator Kelly comes out of the water. In X-Men: The Last Stand, he’s holding a water hose, near the beginning of the movie.

    According to IMDb, he doesn’t appear in X2. So it seems I was wrong about that. Sorry.

  7. joem18b (231) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    There’s something strange to me about the fact that a lifeboat is the smallest set, but jump out of it, so there is not even a lifeboat, and you’ve got Open Water (2003), where the set is the whole ocean.

    Stephen guessed Fantastic Voyage (1966) but was disqualified because the necessary minaturization technology was not developed until the early 80s. Perhaps he should have gone with Innerspace (1987).

    Speaking of directors who put family members in their movies, Hitchcock did it with his daughter in Strangers on a Train and Psycho, as well as 4 or 5 episodes of his TV show. A bit of trivia: her daughter works for the TV station in Phoenix that lost one of its helicopters in that collision last week.

  8. joem18b (231) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    I think undercranking is also used quite a bit in sports movies.

    Uma Thurman in her coffin in Kill Bill II - there was a snug set.

  9. Stephen (221) said,

    July 31, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    This makes me think an interesting Top 6 list would be performances by directors in their own movies. Obviously you have people like Woody Allen or Orson Welles — famous directors also known very well for their acting — and actors turned directors, but then also directors who are not primarily actors but still give themselves beefy roles…

  10. joem18b (231) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 1:38 am

    Along with Welles and Allen, I could live with

    1. John Sayles
    2. Clint Eastwood
    3. Steve Buscemi
    4. Peter Bogdanovich
    5. Quintin Tarantino
    6. Mel Brooks

  11. joem18b (231) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 3:24 am

    Well, maybe Bogdanovich isn’t such a good pick here. Maybe replace him with Jodie Foster… or DiNiro for A Bronx Tale, The Score, and The Good Shepard.

  12. Rifty (64) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Maybe I just missed something, but somewhere in this particular episode, Stephen (I think) mentioned the top 6 Maligned Movies, or something like that. I don’t exactly remember. It might have been unfairly maligned movies.

    Anyway, I dont’ remember that ever popping up as a top six list, and a quick search through the search function returns no hits. So, I’m just curious, what was that a reference to?


  13. wintermute (157) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Joel: You forgot Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith.

    Rifty: Yeah, I noticed that, too. In the Hitchcock segment. I think it was about Rebecca? I was going to comment, and then forgot the details by the time I got to work.

    Oh, and as a good example of overcranking, the flight of the arrow in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was apparently filmed at 300fps.

  14. wintermute (157) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Addendum to previous:

    I’m guessing the top6 list mentioned was one that had been recorded before the Hitchcock spotlight, but not yet broadcast.

  15. Sam (405) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Rifty: How short your memory is. Stephen was speaking of the Top 6 segment in Episode 48, of course, which aired such a short time ago it might as well be a negative period of time. Are you normally this forgetful?

  16. Rifty (64) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Oh, right right. Silly of me.

    Stupid Time Travel. By the way, Sam, I offer you praise for the work of art that is FQ3.



  17. Sam (405) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I think you mean EF3.

  18. joem18b (231) said,

    August 1, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    6 Small Movie Sets

    1. Kon-Tiki (1950) - Raft. Or does a set have to be fake?
    2. The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) - Cockpit
    3. Apollo 13 (1995) - Capsule
    4. Panic Room (2002) - Also, the shelters in Twister (1996) and Blast from the Past (1999)
    5. Whale Rider (2002) - Back of a whale
    6. Bubble Boy (2001) - A costume or a set?

  19. Nyperold (116) said,

    August 2, 2007 at 2:50 am

    I’d like to give kudos for those awesome pencil sketches that show us what’s at our current location. The hag is real… haggy, the ogres are real… orge-y, and the unicorn is real… unicorny?

    Anyway, nice pitch. I can’t wait to see it on the big screen.

  20. LaZorra (60) said,

    August 3, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Love, death, and food? Now I know where the inspiration of RW came from.

    I’m with Stephen on Homeward Bound. Sorry, Sam.

    Who’s afraid of a guy in a bathrobe, a guy in a bathrobe, a guy in a bathrobe . . .

  21. joem18b (231) said,

    August 7, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Was watching “Death Race 2000″ last night. Seems like at least half of it is undercranked. Plus a little overcranking for the T&A.

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