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 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 12:39 AM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

"And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here..." -- SHAKESPEARE


I just got home from "The Big Picture: Hitchcock!" at the Hollywood Bowl. Were any of you there also? I'm thinking this has got to have been one of the greatest evenings in the Bowl's history, certainly in my own memory from decades of Bowl concerts.

David Newman conducted the Hollywood Bowl orchestra in accompaniment to clips from Hitch's films, hosted by the lady in Lincoln's nose, the beautiful and charming Miss Eva Marie Saint. But in a sense, the master of ceremonies was Hitchcock, because the first sounds heard after the National Anthem were the welcoming words of the director himself, originally recorded for the LP, "Music to be Murdered By." (Hitch made another cameo at the evening's conclusion, with his closing remarks from that same record.)

This genius masterstroke to begin the event was immediately followed by Newman and company playing a medley of Gounod and Herrmann to accompany an absolutely breathtaking, brilliantly edited montage of images -- alternately sinister, hilarious or horrifying -- from Hitchcock's work of a lifetime. (For those of you who haven't been to the Bowl, there are massive video screens left, right and center. In between clips, we saw the famous Hitchcock silhouetted self portrait.) From these opening moments to the final encore -- you can guess which scene/score it was, and you'll probably be right -- everything was top notch, from the selection of scores and movies, and the quality of the prints, to the impeccable performances by conductor and musicians, right down to the typically learned program notes by our own Jon Burlingame.

Even the one major mistake provided a glorious moment, when Miss Saint introduced TO CATCH A THIEF, "Starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint." She instantly heard and apologized for her Freudian slip, much to the audience's delighted laughter. And she subsequently made a modest running gag out of the goof. In fact, she got off several funny ad libs throughout the concert, at one point chiding -- and identifying -- a section of the audience which was getting too boisterous.

It's a major accomplishment for a conductor and orchestra to present such impeccable performances of this music, but the expertise with which their live playing synchronized perfectly with the unyieldingly locked-down screen scenes strikes me as superhuman. For the record, here is the program that proceeded from the montage/medley, (many of them first time concert performances in any venue):

Tiomkin STRANGERS ON A TRAIN

Anon. THE LODGER
Levy THE 39 STEPS
Skinner SABOTEUR

Waxman REBECCA

Newman FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

Herrmann PSYCHO

INTERMISSIION

Herrmann VERTIGO

Tiomkin DIAL M FOR MURDER

Rozsa SPELLBOUND
Murray TO CATCH A THIEF

Herrmann NORTH BY NORTHWEST

The PSYCHO clips featured the murder of Detective Arbogast and the cellar climax, followed by Mrs. Bates' closing monologue and End Title. For their encore, Maestro Newman and his musicians gave us their accompaniment to the shower scene from PSYCHO. (See? I told you you'd guess right.)

Personally, I particularly loved hearing a concert performance of a piece by Frank Skinner, perhaps his first ever offered at the Bowl, and probably one of the evening's world premieres. I also was thrilled at the sense of discovery -- dare I say, revelation -- in seeing pristine clips from these great movies on a big screen with an audience, with the sound of the underscoring clearer than it could ever be on even the finest soundtrack. Much as I love Hitchcock, Alfred Newman and FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, somehow I had never really heard the beauty of the Hollandesque music for the opening street scene which precedes the assassination, nor had I realized how much music Newman had provided for the subsequent car chase leading to the windmills.

If Miss Saint's re-casting of TO CATCH A THIEF was this night's one big mistake, the one little mistake occurred in the FOREGN CORRESPONDENT sequence, when the sound of one of the fleeing assassin's gunshots was silent. Overall, although the music, as it should be, always could be heard perfectly, occasionally the amplified dialogue coming out of those giant speakers was a little muffled. But these are minor quibbles, like the deliberate scratch on the perfection of the Faberge egg.

I do, however, think it a shame not to have shared credit in the program booklet with whoever was responsible for preparing the clips for this special "Music Minus One" kind of concert, and it was a positive crime that we weren't informed as to the identity of the master(s) of montage who edited that opening collection of clips.

Anyhow, thank God this event was created and produced, and thank God I was there to experience it. (Along with, I'm happy to report, a very large and appreciative crowd.)

And, oh yes, I haven't mentioned that the quality of the musical compositions was outstanding. But then, you already knew that.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 7:36 AM   
 By:   James Corry   (Member)

I wish I could have been there (it's all over FaceBook).....I'm sure it was fabulous.

J.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 10:28 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

May I concur with all that Preston has said. In the long tenure David Newman has had at the Bowl he has now arrived at the point Mauceri had in HIS long tenure there, master of the art of playing to picture. May I praise the Bowl also in their acceding to this particular program. Practically all Big Picture program have had a slant toward some commercial consideration but this was the closest it has ever come to pure art.

All the clips were there to, not just underline the importance of the music, but show how it integrated into Hitchcock's storytelling techniques. The clips were masterfully chosen.

For me the usual suspects of PSYCHO, VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST were just the cream in a much more fascinating brew of coffee. The list Preston provides reveals the variety and range of clips that illuminated Hitchcock's skills in celluloid. More people walked away saying "I have to watch some more Hitchcock" than from any such tribute I have ever been to.

Special thanks to Marshal Harvey (Clafong here) for providing his usual backstage passes. He could not make it this year being at a special tribute to his late wife Annie back east.

Eva Marie Saint was certainly one this night. At 90 she provided one of the most comfortable, fluid and charming hosting jobs I have ever seen at the Bowl.

BTW the mastermind of clips at the Bowl has always been the Laura Gibson (credited on the program as video producer) who, along with her editor Scott Draper and music editor Michael Farnen, the longest running series of sublime clips and montages I have ever seen for a single limited event (18,000 people). All praise to her efforts that made Hitchcock shine like never before.

Special mention to Guy Haines for actually showing up at an event.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 12:10 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Henry, you beat me to it. Jon Burlingame, who, it turns out, also wrote Miss Saint's script, just shared this with me:


The clips were all edited by the amazing duo of Laura GIbson and Scott Draper, who do that job for many movie-clip evenings at the Bowl (including the recent DreamWorks Animation concert and this week's Black Movie Soundtrack concert). They are geniuses who know the films extremely well.

UNQUOTE

I now see how I missed the credit for this remarkable duo: the booklet hides the information in the back page where they name the Orchestra players. I still think it's a crime they didn't get their due on the pertinent page for the Hitchcock concert credits.

In light of what you said about the Bowl bean counters, isn't it wonderful that this event got such a big turnout? Let's hope the powers that be sit up and take notice...

(Gad, did you say Miss Saint is 90? She looked and sounded as lovely as ever. What a natural beauty, and what a class act. And what a rebuke it is to the sickness of contemporary Hollywood which scares young performers barely out of their teens into a plastic surgeon's office, from whence they often emerge not even looking like themselves but like some other person, shorn of their beauty and indovidual personality. CUE TO: Herrmann's nightmare music from VERTIGO.)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 12:34 PM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

Henry, you beat me to it. Jon Burlingame, who, it turns out, also wrote Miss Saint's script, just shared this with me:


The clips were all edited by the amazing duo of Laura GIbson and Scott Draper, who do that job for many movie-clip evenings at the Bowl (including the recent DreamWorks Animation concert and this week's Black Movie Soundtrack concert). They are geniuses who know the films extremely well.

UNQUOTE

I now see how I missed the credit for this remarkable duo: the booklet hides the information in the back page where they name the Orchestra players. I still think it's a crime they didn't get their due on the pertinent page for the Hitchcock concert credits.

In light of what you said about the Bowl bean counters, isn't it wonderful that this event got such a big turnout? Let's hope the powers that be sit up and take notice...


I really thought the turnout was going to be terrible, but a huge number of folks showed up literally five minutes before the show - weird. But there were not 18,000 people there - the Bowl tote board showed a little over 12,000 - still pretty good. I thought it was a terrific concert straight down the line, with only the sound emanating from the clips occasionally being problematic, especially with some of the sound effects, but it must be a nightmare coordinating all this and the live orchestra. The orchestra, BTW, was superb and my only minor tiny quibble for the whole evening was the attack on the first of the Psycho murder clips, which was the Martin Balsam murder - just not enough "stab" but everything else was fantastic and Miss Saint was her eternally beautiful self. Glad Henry finally got backstage - there was some screw-up there and I can't say the Bowl security works very well in trying to fix things. I got bored, in fact, and went home.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 1:03 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Gimp that I am, I too had reason to lament some of the lapses in customer service I encountered, but I'll spare you all the long story.

Whatever the actual number, 12,000, 18,00, or something in between, I can truthfully report that even some of the support staff were heard to remark on how impressed they were by the size of the crowd. As I said, let's hope that bodes well for our future.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 1:04 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

SNAFU

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 5:26 PM   
 By:   films1   (Member)

I wish these concerts were broadcast as not everyone live in LA ... ;-(

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 5:37 PM   
 By:   MMM   (Member)

I don't know -- based on rush-hour traffic, I tend to think that everybody DOES live in LA.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 7:32 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Even worse -- they all live right by the Bowl. I live in the neighborhood, and I'm here to tell you, there's no point trying to leave your house or apartment whenever the Bowl lets out. You may as well go to sleep and try to get a fresh start in the morning.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 7:32 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

SNAFU II

(I hate computers)

 
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