Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Fireplace Gremlin

Humphrey Bogart in The Big Shot (1942)
Francois Truffaut asked Alfred Hitchcock:
. . . [T]he British director who wanted to do a picture in your style – an imitation of your style – Lee Thompson had his character go to fetch something from the refrigerator and the camera was in the refrigerator. And that’s the sort of thing you would never do.
Hitchcock responded, "Never do. That’s like shooting through the fireplace." 

Here are other examples of shots through a fireplace. 

Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929) 


Little Caesar (1931)


The Old Dark House (1932)


Mystery of Edwin Druid (1935)




 A Man Betrayed (1941)


Invisible Ghost (1941)

Since You Went Away (1944) 


Gone To Earth (1950)


The Oregon Trail (1959)


The City of The Dead (1960)



The Haunted Palace (1963)


Deathtrap
 (1982)

 
Hitchcock said plainly in another interview, "I always wonder who's in the fireplace." 

Billy Wilder, too, scoffed at the idea of shooting a scene through a fireplace.  This was a perspective that made absolutely no sense to him.  "From the point of view of who?" he asked.  "Who is there?  Santa Claus, maybe, he is looking at that thing."

Similarly, filmmakers shot scenes through furnaces. . .


Pengar (1946)


Suspense (1946)


Crime School (1938)


. . . and safes.

Goupi mains rouges (1943) 

For his 1957 film Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), director J. Lee Thompson set up shots inside a closet, behind a headboard, inside a shelf, and outside windows. 





Who is looking up from the bottom of this bobbing-for-apples basin?

The scene is from The Lady Consents (1936).

Reference source 

John Graham, "Hitchcock/Truffaut : A Film Review," John Graham Blog (March 2, 2016). https://johngrahamblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/hitchcocktruffaut-a-film-review/.

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