Robert Martin Hitchcock
Mid-Term March 27, 1999
Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, this is the basis for many films. Society is wholeheartedly wrapped up in their lives so that to come to a dark theater for an hour or two is the closest thing to adventure or excitement that most individuals will incur. We long so terribly for an outlet to our sometimes dismal routines that our on screen relationships are enough to satisfy many of our desires. Alfred Hitchcock understood this desire and nourished on many occasions.
Hitchcock’s intent was to grasp the audience in a way so too cause them to think and react with the same courage as the hero. Whether it be a exciting escape or a quirky relationship our concerns were placed with the main character. Without our compassion there is no conflict. If we have no caring for the character the his actions are lost on us.
Such scenarios are never more evident than in “The 39 steps” and “The Lady Vanishes”. Both provide us with a male hero who is no different than us and places him in a domino of events that transform him into a hero. The idea behind this is that these men are not secret agents or military individuals. They have no formal training in such situations so that there endeavors are purely instinctual. This is the major cause for Hitchcock’s wrong man scenario being so enthralling, it is thought that this could be me.
Richard Hanny is simply a man who happened along a woman who was involved in a serious criminal syndicate. His thoughts when meeting her are only that she was a beautiful woman whom he could spend some time with. Even after her disclosure of true self he is unfazed and simply brushes it aside. It is not until her untimely death that he makes the conscious decision to leap with both feet into the game.
Hitchcock shows on the early scene on the train that Hanny has not quite realized what he has fell into. His reaction to the police bulletins and his hesitation getting back on the train are examples of his knowledge that he is in serious danger. As he makes his way avoiding the police and eventually finds his way into the train car of Pamela Hitchcock takes our first instinct of the introduction of the female lead and twists it around by having her turn him in. Hannay then of course makes his first gallant escape and has made his transition into a fugitive hero by performing an act of desperation.
As Hannay makes his way to the Scottish countryside Hitchcock shows that the character has become quite aware of his situation and also grown clever by lying to the farmer to receive lodging. He performs another daring escape yet not before kissing his savior the farmers wife in gratitude. This shows how he has become a symbol of bravery, evoking a married woman to betray her husband to help a complete criminal stranger.
When Hannay finally meets with Pamela again he has made his most spectacular escape yet, crashing through the police window with his handcuffs hanging off one hand as if not complete. It is in her belief that he is a criminal and enlists the help of two whom she supposes police officers who are actually the criminal Jordan’s henchmen. As Hannay is taken into custody by the men they decide to take her along as well and imminently hand cuffs them together completing Hannay’s need for a counterpart.
As Hannay and Pamela make their escape Hannay is constantly trying to convince her of his innocence to no avail, and he time and again must physically restrain her from alerting their pursuers. This action is an example of Hitchcock’s attempt to convey the brewing tension between the two. Fittingly when they reach a lodging house they pose as newlyweds and eventually adulterous lovers. When they reach their room Hitchcock hilariously blocks the two into an array of embarrassing sexual quips. They are both trying to relax and make the best of their situation but are constantly touching each other in a comical way.
Pamela finally escapes her handcuffs by simply sliding her hand out, and one must inquire why she did not observe that option initially. It is obviously du to the fact that Hitchcock wants us to see that she was in many ways enjoying her stay with this strange man. Finally she over hears the henchmen foolishly revealing their plan and is completely enthralled that her perspective interest is not a criminal and their romantic relationship continues on from their.
Gilbert’s initial meeting with Iris is of sound masculine description. He barges into her room and demands she arrange for another room for him or he shall be spending the night with her. Hitchcock originally introduces Iris and her girlfriends as ver self-reliant and confident women. They wear their under garments as the bell boy services them and do not seem like the usual passive Hitchcock females. Yet when Gilbert arrives it is as if Hitchcock has knocked her off her pedestal to a more submissive woman.
As Iris has her trauma with the loss of Ms.Froy she eventually comes upon Gilbert and he with his obvious small attraction decides to assist her in her search, she so desperate for anyone accept his help with a tad of delight. Gilbert has not much care initially for Iris’ conflict yet as he observes more and more he begins to suspect something is strange and starts his transformation into the hero. When the tea label ludicrously flies onto his window he immediately rushes to Iris to reassure her of his definitive belief in her and his desire to find Ms.Froy.
As the search ensues they find themselves in the baggage car and eventually in a physical confrontation with the magician. As Gilbert battles Iris helplessly slaps the attacker in a perfect example of Hitchcock displaying her weakness. After Gilbert’s victory he is incredibly enthralled and wishes to continue the quest.
It would seem as though Hitchcock’s treatment of the female lead goes through as many physical and emotional changes as the male. As the male becomes stronger the women become more dependant on them. Iris begins as a strong woman who would engage in marriage simply for experience, and Pamela a strong seemingly political rallyist both end up head over heals mad in love with men whom they originally despised. It would appear that we are meant to believe that their previous lifestyles were wrong and happiness can only be accomplished when they realize their reliance on the men.
The mans development in entirely positive in that he was able to perform under such extraordinary circumstances. The most important part of the males progress is his ability to remember. Hannay had to remember his innocence, his choice to carry out Ms.Smith’s mission and his intended goal in Scotland. All of which lead to his imminent success. Gilbert also must maintain the awareness of Iris’ truth and in the end his promise to Ms. Froy to deliver her message.
The individuals ability to function under pressure is one of the most enviable of all traits. The question that we pose to ourselves as to if we could prosper in the same manner is the one that keep us entertained.