Hitchcock at War

Bachelor Thesis, 1999

13 Pages

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Table of Contents


2.1 About the Film
2.2 John Dugall (Scottish RAF pilot)
2.3 Stefan Godowski (The Gestapo spy)
2.4 Propaganda Aspects

3.1 About the Film
3.2 Jean Michel, Chief of the Police
3.3 Paul Clarousse, Resistance Leader
3.4 Propaganda Aspect

2.1 About the Film
2.2 John Dugall (Scottish RAF Pilot)
2.3 Stefan Godowski (The Gestapo Spy)
2.4 Propaganda Aspects

3.1 About the Film
3.2 Jean Michel, Chief of the Police
3.3 Paul Clarousse, Resistance Leader
3.4 Propaganda Aspects


" The Master of Suspense "

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13th, 1899, in Leytonstone, East London. He was the youngest son of William and Emma Whelan Hitchcock. His father died when Hitchcock was only 14 years old. Raised in a strict, Irish Catholic family and educated at the Jesuits' St. Ignatius College, he left to study engineering and navigation at the University of London at only 16 years of age. Three years later he was hired as an estimator at Henley Telegraph Company. Hitchcock soon developed an interest in art and studied it in the evenings. From his cleric engineering position he moved to the advertising company to work as a layout artist.

Hitchcock always had a keen interest in cinema and followed industry news closely. After Paramount opened a studio in London in 1920, he applied for a job and was hired as a title designer for silent films. The young man designed the titles for all the movies made at the studio for the next two years. He would eventually work his way up to assistant director, where he got some much needed experience in the art of film making.

While working there Hitchcock met Alma Reville in 1921, and began an engagement - his first romantic attachment of any kind - that led to marriage only in 1926. They had one child, a daughter, born in 1928, and remained married until Hitchcock's death in 1980. Reville was herself a respected film editor and screenwriter, although after marrying Hitchcock she devoted herself professionally and personally to her husband's work and career. She would work with him on all of his future projects, in the pre- and post-production phases of his films.

In 1923 Hitchcock got his first chance at directing when the director of "Always Tell Your Wife" fell ill and he completed the movie. Impressed by his work, studio chiefs gave him his first directing assignment on "Number 13". Before it could be finished, the studio closed its British operation company, but it wasn't all bad news for Hitchcock. He made his full directorial debut with "The Pleasure Garden" in 1925. It would touch off a long and much lauded career. In his break-out success "The Lodger" he broke conventional rules of film reality. The film would set up what would become the classic Hitchcock plot line : An innocent man is falsely suspected of a crime and must fight his way through the intrigue and suspicion in order to prove his innocence. He had an actor pace back and forth on top of a sheet of glass so that when the heroine hears him pacing upstairs, the footsteps are seen by the audience. The film also starred an attractive young blond woman, another feature which would predominate in Hitch`s movies. It was only later, in "Murder!" (1930), that he would bring the two story lines together and make an obvious connection between sex and violence.

Hitchcock was one of the most creative and innovative directors to ever come onto the scene. In "Blackmail" (1929), his first film with sound, he created "subjective sound". In the story, a woman stabs and murders a young man, and, in a conversation with her neighbor the next morning, Hitch gradually distorted every word of the neighbor's speech except "knife" in order to show the murderers anxiety and train of thought.

After this success Hitchcock was on a roll. It was "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1934) that really brought Hitch his first wide commercial success. The film dealt with the investigation of a family, and the suspense and intrigue that lies within the most basic unit of society. This theme would occur throughout Hitchcock's work. He was always one to admit his mistakes, and he said that during this period he made a few errors, specifically "Secret Agent" (1936) and "Sabotage" (1936). After these films, he realized that in harming innocent characters in the story, he undermined the bond between the audience and the characters. Hitchcock believed that suspense was developed by letting the audience in on the secret, allowing them to know more than the characters who are endangered. So long as the characters, whose lives the audience fears for, survive the experience, the film is enjoyable, but change that, and the audience feels betrayed. After wrapping up his last British film, "Jamaica Inn" (1939), Hitchcock moved to America and began his work in Hollywood.

He was welcomed by America with open arms, and his first film "Rebecca" (1940) won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year. It would be the only Oscar the famous director would ever win. Hitch would soon return to his trademark suspense in "Foreign Correspondent" (1940) and "Suspicion" (1941), which also brought back the family dynamic.

After these successes, and many others not mentioned, Hitchcock was ready to embark on his most successful filmic journey yet. The 1950's are widely considered to be Hitchcock's most prolific and highly commendable period. The first notable film in this period was "Dial M, For Murder" (1954). An utterly charming comedy was "To Catch a Thief" (1955) which still managed to remain suspenseful and intriguing despite the laughs available. However, the four films which always stand apart when discussing Hitchcock are "Rear Window" (1954), "Vertigo" (1958), "North by Northwest" (1959) and "Psycho" (1960). These four films explore matters of upmost interest to Hitchcock: obsession, fetishism and psychological disturbances. They are also known for experimentation with shots, settings and music.

Hitchcock continued to produce strong work throughout the 1960s. His most famous work of this period was "The Birds" (1963), and the most notorious is "Marnie" (1964). It was initially called a failure, lacking the suspense they came to expect from the director. However, the film has since been revalued as an intriguing psychological character study. After his success in the 1950s, the "Master of Suspense" was having trouble living up to the very standards he'd set for himself, and the expectations American audiences had of his work.

In the 1970s he returned to England and finished up his long career back where he started. His return to his roots reflected in his films. "Frenzy" (1972) contained some of Hitchcock's darkest humor ever. His last film was "Family Plot" (1976) and celebrated Hitchcock's 50th year in movies.

When Hitchcock was in his seventies, Alma Reville became ill and friction appeared in what those who knew the couple considered an idyllic relationship. Hitchcock's periodically heavy drinking worsened, leading on one occasion to his hospitalization for alcoholism. The director found himself increasingly alone, in part because he alienated his current co-workers, and in part because he had never established intimate relationships outside his marriage. His last efforts at work - which continued up to the month he died -were fragmented and often involved recalling episodes from his life to his captive screenwriters. In his final business arrangements he set adrift two women assistants who had served him faithfully for decades without considering pensions for them or the possibilities of their future employment. He frequently cried out to former associates about his loneliness and his fear of death, even as he was being feted in the waning moments of his life as one of Hollywood's greatest directors. Alfred Hitchcock died on April, 29th 1980 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Bon Voyage

2.1 About the Film

The young Scottish Royal Air Force pilot (RAF), John Dugall, escapes from German imprisonment with a Polish prisoner of war who calls himself Stefan Godowski. Through France they try to get to England. Not knowing that his companion is a Gestapo spy who is on a mission with another spy involved, named Oskar Emberg, Dugall trusts "Godowski" faithfully. After getting to London the young RAF pilot is questioned by a French Intelligence Officer about their escape. While the young Scotsman takes Godowski as a friend ("He's a wonderful chap.") the French Colonel does not share his point of view. Also, Dugall admits that their escape was "...too good to be true..." and "...everything worked like clockwork." and "...just like Combined Ops.", he does not mistrust Godowski. Still, when the French Intelligence Officer tells him that he was lead by a Gestapo spy, he does not believe him. He does not even want to show him the letter he got from his companion, because Dugall gave his word of honor. After this scene the journey is shown again and all those little details which the RAF agent could not see are shown.

It all starts in a French town called Reims. The two prisoners get off a cab and hide behind the walls of a bombed house. Dugall is convinced by Godowski that his French accent is too bad to go into town, so the spy goes to meet the Resistance people for further instructions. What Dugall does not know by then is that Godowski meets his boss Emberg first and Emberg tells him to go on pretending to be a polish prisoner of war. In the Cafe de Commerce he has to meet the Resistance people, but the two Germans have been identified by the Resistance so it would be too dangerous to show up. That's why they go to the Cafe de Marrioniers. To get the trust of a Resistance couple, Godowski kills a Vichy spy who follows him out of the Cafe into a wine cellar. The plan works, but when fighting with the Vichy spy he injures his arm. When Dugall and Godowski get back into the cellar to take care of the dead spy, they meet the Resistance couple.

The other thing Dugall can not know, is that Emberg is staying in the same hotel as they are. In the morning two police men want to see their passports. The Gestapo spy shows them a faked one were he has the identity of Monsieur Le Blanc and tells them to go to room 8 and that they would know what to do. Dugall does not know about all this and lies to them about his identity like Godowski alias Monsieur Le Blanc told him to. He gets away with pretending to be an Irish mechanic who worked in Reims and whose factory burned down.

The next scene is on the train where the Scottish pilot meets Emberg for the first time - but again, he does not know what is going on. Godowski is sitting between Emberg and Jeanne, the Resistance girl. When the two `prisoners` are taken out of the train by the girl, Emberg wants to follow but is arrested by the rest of the travelers, because they are all French Intelligence members...

The last station of their journey together is the farmhouse where Dugall waits for a car to take him to the plane. Jeanne takes care of Godowskie´s injured arm and he thanks her for it. Again Dugall can not know that the Gestapo spy planed pretending to be tired and to go upstairs, because he knew that the RAF agent would insist on saying goodbye and come upstairs. So when Dugall does so, it is his chance to give him a secret message for someone in London. The thing Godowski does not know by then, is that Emberg is arrested and serves as a trap for him. Jeanne, the French Resistance girl, is killed by him after Dugall and her father left for the plane to London. He shots her, because she is trying to find out about his real identity. Afterwards he calls Emberg, who is in London, accompanied by French Intelligence Officers.

The young RAF man first learns about this in the office of the French Intelligence Colonel.

He can not believe it and is dismayed about him being only a cover for two Gestapo spies and that his escape was also faked.

2.2 John Dugall (Scottish RAF Pilot)

In some way the character of John Dugall is very naive. He believes everything Godowski tells him. For example, in the first scene of their journey when they hide in Reims and read the message that one of them should come to the "Cafe de Commerce" to meet the Resistance people, Godowski tells Dugall that slang makes his accent worse and Dugall´s reaction is : "I can't go if my accent is as bad as you say...". Another important hint is given in the office of the French Intelligence. The young man does not mistrust Godowski at all. He admits that "...everything worked like clockwork...", "...just like Combined Ops." but for him it has nothing to do with Godowski. He just can not image that something could be wrong with him. Even when the Colonel asks him if he would believe it, if he told him that his companion was a German spy, he tells him "I'm sorry you got it all wrong, sir." and before he even called Godowski "...a wonderful chap...".

Dugall just wants to get home, is friendly to others (scene were they meet the Resistance couple and the English thanks again for the food "You say there'll be a small bag of food.") and feels sorry for the French girl when he hears about her death, because he hoped to meet her after the war ( English - French relationship).

2.3 Stefan Godowski (The Gestapo Spy)

The German spy knows about Dugall´s naivness and uses it for his own plans. He tries to manipulate where he can, because he has to keep in contact with his boss, Emberg, during their escape. The character is shown as a mean person with blonde hair, a sharp face and a thin figure and he does not talk a lot. He always listens silently to what is being said and tries to stay in the background like in the wine cellar. In the scene where the two hide in Reims, the audience gets the first hint that something is wrong with him. When Dugall wants to share a cigarette and tells Godowski that there is no danger, he answers, "An English cigarette is always dangerous...".

The meanness of his character is shown in the farmhouse when Jeanne and he are alone. Jeanne calls the Cafe de Commerce. She mistrusts them, because her father told her that a Gestapo spy has been around. She wonders "Strange...usually they work in pairs..." and tries to call the Cafe in Reims. But she does not get to call, because the Gestapo agent is already waiting for her. His last words are : "I won't keep you. We'll just wait until the car goes...". His appearance is very cold (the audience can take a look at him shortly when he grabs for the telephone and then only the face of the girl holding the telephone is shown). Jeanne is killed and while she is falling on the floor his face shows hate and satisfaction, because everything worked like Emberg and he planed (he thinks...). But by this time, Emberg has already been arrested right after they met the Resistant girl in the train. So when the murderer calls and tells him that "...the homing pigeon is on its way..." he does not know that their plan failed.

The whole appearance of the Gestapo spy is designed in a mean manner. The audience just can not like him because of his outward appearance. He is quiet, nobody can read his thoughts and the only thing he is interested in is fulfilling his mission.

2.4 Propaganda Aspects

Hitchcock made sure to draw no good impression of a German in this film. There are a number of quotations that let the audience know that Germans can not be nice. First of all, the Gestapo agent quotes in the first scene at Reims that "...an English cigarette is always dangerous...". Then there is a quotation of the French Colonel almost at the end of the film which makes it real clear. He tells Dugall "...I can't force you to tell me against your will, we're not the Gestapo..." and Jeanne wonders in the farmhouse "Strange...they usually work in pairs...". So what is the conclusion of all this ? Germans are mean, force people do things against their will, but they can not survive all alone. They are only strong if they are two or more. The agent would do almost everything for his fatherland. He travels with a RAF pilot, smokes English cigarettes (although they are dangerous...) and kills human beings, even Vichy spies. But the Germans are selfish, too : Emberg does not warn Godowski on the telephone, because he wants to save his own life. The RAF pilot can not interpret all this right, because he does not know about the background, but the audience does.

Hitchcock got some help from people of the Free French Army when writing the script.

Claude Dauphin, an actor, assisted him in writing the dialogues and there were a lot of other French majors and officials, too. The script was written in the Hotel Claridge in France. While writing Hitchcock and Dauphin realized that the others did not always have the same point of view and this aspect turned out to be the idea for the next film "Aventure Malgache".

Aventure Malgache

"It may not help you to share these heroic times with the French people... but it shows how the same spirit animated even the furthest colonies..."

3.1 About the Film

The plot takes place in London, 1944, when the French military authorities assigned actors to form a company presenting plays for soldiers, civilians and "the many Britains, who love France"... Three actors are getting ready for the show when one named Paul Clarousse starts to tell a story about a guy he once knew called Jean Michel, because he is reminded of this person by and actor colleague. Clarousse was a member of the Resistance back in 1940 in Tananarive, Madagascar and that is were his story takes place. This was the time when

Hitler's army invaded into France, captured the French army and exploited the country. Still he believed that with Marshall Pétain's help he could invade into Britain, too.

The first scene takes place in a courtroom. Two characters are introduced: Clarousse, who works as a lawyer, and Jean Michel, the chief of the police of Madagascar. Jean Michel is suspected by Clarousse of having taken a large amount of tax money for himself. Jean Michel is shown in a white uniform as if he were wearing a "white vest". Clarousse is the lawyer of another client and tries to convince the judge that perhaps the police had committed the crime... This is the introduction scene for the audience, were it is made clear that the two men are opportunists. Clarousses's statement ("...You're a gangster, Michel, and nothing can stop me saying so...") draws a clear impression for the audience as to who is the bad guy and who is the good guy.

In the following scene the ex-servicemen of Madagascar hear a radio broadcast stating that Japan is going to enter the war. They are afraid and want to defend their island. The General, Jean Michel and Clarousse get together. Clarousse, the Resistance leader, some other men and a woman represent all the former rival ex-servicemen organizations. When asked for their intention they declare to want to fight on like England, to save Madagascar for France and help the Allies. The three men get into a discussion. Clarousse wants to go on fighting and the chief, Michel, is pessimistic about the plan, because he is a Vichy. Clarousse's opinion of the Gerneral is made clear in the next scene, back in the dressing room ("A good fellow, that General, but none too bright...").

Michel, the Governor and Clarousse get together in the Governor's office ("...We must use every means to combat this insidious Gaullist propaganda..."). After Clarousse leaves, they receive a report about people again escaping from Madagascar. No one is allowed to leave Madagascar, but the Resistance is organized and they find ways to get people out. Michel suspects Clarousse of knowing what's going on and of knowing everything about the Resistance or even of being their leader. The chief has Clarousse followed by Guyot, the man who brought the message. All his movements have to be reported to get the final proof of his connection to the Resistance, but Guyot is also a Resistance member and Clarousse's friend. Instead, Clarousse and Guyot arrange an escape for 5 men at midnight. One of them, named Pierrot, wants to say goodbye to his fiancé. He does not know that this will change the whole event... Pierrot tells his future wife that he has to escape to the Allies and that Clarousse arranges everything. He believes that "a nations greatness depends on its peoples' spirit" and leaves. The young man is hoping for peace and happiness when he returns. She is hurt and calls the police... Two hours later Clarousse is arrested.

After a few weeks Michel sends a lawyer and spy named Panisse to visit Clarousse in prison hoping to get the final proof. Pretending to be glad to see anyone ("If only you knew how grateful I am, you're the first contact with the world of the living...") the two colleagues start talking about the charge. The spy offers his help and wants to know why Clarousse was arrested, but Clarousse pretends to do not know. Panisse tries to find out if Clarousse has written letters, telegrams or any kind of documents which could identify him as a Resistance member, arranging escapes... But Clarousse is too clever. When the spy has left he swears at him: " Bastard! Stool pigeon! Filthy spy!". At the same time Michel finds out about the telegrams Clarousse sent. He tries to interpret it while he is having his nails done by a black woman, who looks like a slave.

In court Clarousse is condemned to the death penalty. But first of all he has to work on Madagascar as a prisoner. Michel wants to talk to him again and tells him that he is leaving "...for the penal colony, the road to nowhere... It's a great pity, Clarousse. A man like yourself...". He offers him a second chance; to see his family, get the news and make his work more tolerable. In turn the Resistance man must tell him were his secret transmitter is and name the operator and code. Clarousse has an alarm clock disguised as a radio in his cell and his answer is clear : "The condemned man's last drink! Your health, you rotten hypocrite!".

But in the end the Allies rescue Clarousse and let him work for the radio broadcasting station to win Madagascar over to their side. "Free Madagascar" addresses Indian, Chinese, Malagasy and French speakers.

When the British land, Michel tries to hide his connection to the Vichy and to look like he wants to alley with the British. But he does not get away with it. He is arrested and back in London, 1944, the actors get on stage...

3.2 Jean Michel, Chief of the Police

Michel and Clarousse are both French but they have very different characters. Jean Michel is the chief of the police of Madagascar and a hypocrite, who wants to lead an easy life. For example, the scene when Clarousse's telegrams are brought in and Jean Michel is having his nails done by a black woman who looks like a slave. He only cares for himself and always thinks of his advantage of the business he is involved in. The white uniform he is wearing seems to symbolize a white vest. No one can prove that he committed any crime, although they all seem to think like Clarousse ("...You're a gangster, Michel, and nothing can stop me saying so..."). The last scene shows Jean Michel wearing his white uniform and a mustache almost like Hitler. When hearing that the Britains are coming he puts away the picture of Marshall Pétain and the Vichy wine. Instead, he hangs up a picture of the Queen and puts

English wine on the table. For the audience this is the final proof that Clarousse's opinion has always been right. Michel's character is described by Clarousse as "a jolly, fat man - a hardhead" in the beginning of the film. But this description only seems to be intended for his actor colleague to help him understand the character he is supposed to play.

3.3 Paul Clarousse, Resistance Leader

Clarousse is a more likeable character in the story. He is the Resistance leader on Madagascar and has a big influence on the public. Arranging escapes belongs to his job and he believes in what he is doing. After he is condemned to death and Michel talks to him, Clarousses strong beliefs are made clear : "The condemned man's last drink! Your health, you rotten hypocrite!". He does not betray his companions in the Resistance - even not for his life. Clarousse hates the Vichys so badly that he has to send a personal message to Michel on his radio broadcast ("...you filthy hypocrite, you Vichyite lackey...born of Pétain and of criminal instincts..."). Clarousse is fighting for a free Madagascar (which includes the French people) and he has a very strong will to reach that goal.

3.4 Propaganda Aspects

Aventure Malgache is not one of Hitchcock's successful works, but a contribution to World War II, like Bon Voyage. In Aventure Malgache the character of Jean Michel is full of propagandistic aspects. He represents the whole Vichy government in one person. His whole outward appearance is unpleasant. The white uniform seems to symbolize purity, which of course he has not! Michel is a heavy person with a mustache like Hitler and Clarousse calls him a rotten hypocrite. In both movies Hitchcock designed mean characters who are quiet, as if they are always thinking about their next act of sabotage. The scene where the chief is having his nails done by a black woman is also a very interesting one. It reminds of slavery in southern USA and helps the audience to dislike the Vichy.

The other character, Paul Clarousse, stands for the Allies. His radio program has a clear and understandable message. Clarousse has been sentenced to death for his anti French radio propaganda. His message is the most legible propaganda within the movie ("Vichy will let the Japanese take over Madagascar as they did Indo-China. The Allies, I hope, will forestall them. When the Allies come greet them as liberators, not as enemies. Do not obey orders from the Vichy traitors to fight them.").

His personal message to Jean Michel ("...you filthy hypocrit, you Vichyite lackey...born of Pétain and of criminal instincts...") defines the good guy and the bad guy. Marshall Pétain was the one who subjugated his army to Germany and did not fight for his country.

The name of the radio program, "Free Madagascar", also includes a clear message: free Madagascar from the Vichy or the Japanese, because it belongs to France. Clarousse trusts the British that they won't take Madagascar from France when they land.


- Internet
- Black / white movies "Bon Voyage" & "Aventure Malgache"

13 of 13 pages


Hitchcock at War
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ISBN (eBook)
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Jenny Wetzel (Author), 1999, Hitchcock at War, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/100528


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