Hollywood Snoops


Since its inception the Hollywood studio system has been noted for its mass market, genre-driven product that largely concurs, by market necessity, with conventional Realist principles in both film form and narrative structure.Occasionally, rebel elements have flourished within the system, some (Hitchcock) lasting longer and more successfully than others (Welles).Their playful, ironic, deconstructionist tendencies, ie, `Rear Window` (1954), Vertigo (1958), Citizen Kane (1941), F for Fake (1975) amounts to an unrelenting refutation and challenge to the given Realist aesthetic which, for Hitchcock, was “mere photography” yet upon which `Hollywood` aesthetic is founded.Hollywood Snoops is intended to align the work of Hitchcock and Welles with that of former newspaper journalist and rogue director Samuel Fuller (`Shock Corridor`, 1963) and the recent visual enquiries of former private eye – and now celebrated documentary Oscar winner – Errol Morris (`The Thin Blue Line`, `Fog of War`). His `Standard Operating Procedure` of 2008 won the Silver Bear/ Grand Jury Prize at that year’s Berlinale.Irony, paradox, self-reflexive enquiry: as such, the course is intended for BA Advanced students with a familiar grounding in Hollywood histories and who, like the four directors under study, wish to advance their own level of critical questioning of American culture by exploring, analysing, and writing on those who have and continue to challenge its most popular art form.


Core films


Citizen Kane (1941) by Orson Welles

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance – Rosebud!


Orson on wiki

Orson on Senses of Cinema

Citizen Kane trivia on imbd

wellesnet.com – The Orson Welles Web Resource

Orsons Welles’s memo re the re-cut of Touch of Evil done without him (do watch the restored version)

And of course you can watch it on YouTube, if you like small screens.


Rear Window (1954) by Alfred Hitchcock

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

essay on Rear Window/Structuralism: Reading Rear Window


Hitch on wiki

Hitch on Senses of Cinema

Rear Window trivia on imdb

The Hitchcock/Truffaut tapes on If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger… blog


awful – Rear Window from 1998

black comedy –  The ‘burbs from 1989

blatant rip-off – Disturbia from 2007

Quoting/appropriating the auteur:

Marty does Hitch for a Freixenet commercial.
“I obviously can’t shoot them as I want. But, can I shoot them as Hitchcock? I don’t think so. So, who will I shoot them as?  [pregnant pause and zoom in on Marty] This is the question.”


Shock Corridor (1963) by Sam Fuller

Bent on winning a Pulitzer Prize, a journalist commits himself to a mental institution to solve a strange and unclear murder.


Fuller on wiki

Fuller docu:

The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera



The beginning of the “prosumer”? The Century of the Self, docu about the beginning of PR and applying Freud to US consumer culture in the 20s by his nephew – here.


Standard Operating Procedure (2008) by Errol Morris

The War on Terror will be photographed  –  Errol Morris examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison.


Morris on wiki

Interview about Fog of War on Senses of Cinema

His own website

Explanation of the Interrotron by Steve Hardie, the Production Designer

Random stuff:

Werner Herzog eats a shoe (bet with Morris about the latter finishing his first docu, Gates of Heaven – part 2 on good ol’ YouTube):

Just for fun about Herzog – Rain of Madness, the fake docu about the fake film in Tropic Thunder lampooning Herzog’s docus as well as Hearts of Darkness about Apocalypse Now. Tropic Thunder was a good try but watching the film is worth it just for this mockumentary. Talk about film representing reality.


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