Brody, Alan. "The Gift of Realism: Hitchcock and Pinter." Journal of Modern Literature 3, no. 2 (April 1973): 149-172. http://jstor.org (accessed
November 24, 2008).
This is an extremely interesting journal article that compares and contrasts film and theatre. Brody uses Harold Pinter’s play The Birthday Party and Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt as the vehicles for this comparison. Brody focuses mostly on the differences between the two mediums and what each can accomplish. He reflects on film’s flexibility with time and location, its ability to direct the audience’s attention, focus in on minute gestures and the control it gives a director. Theatre, on the other hand, has much less flexibility with time and location, as everything must appear on one stage. The actors have to work on their motions, facial expressions and intonations in order to direct an audience’s attention, as audiences always have a huge picture infront of them- there are no close-ups or long shots. Additionally, while the director has some control over theatre the job of creating “shots” lies in the eyes of the audience and the pauses of the actors. Brody discusses how while The Birthday Party and Shadow of a Doubt have similar plots and scenes they are completely different due to their different mediums.
Brody has an interesting view of the dualities within Shadow of a Doubt. Early in the article he points out Hitchcock’s use of tension. Hitchcock juxtaposes actions with dialogue in a way that always forms tension. This is then comparable to themes of tension within his films: “good and evil, innocence and experience, external and internal reality, faith and despair.” Brody then applies this theory to Shadow of a Doubt by completing a thurough scene analysis. It is the scene in which Emma brings Uncle Charlie his breakfast and tells him of the two reporters coming to write about the Newtons. While Emma is talking all this simple nonsense, the camera focuses is on Charlie’s hands. As soon as she mentions the two men, Charlies hands tense up and begin tearing toast. This image is specifically paired with the dialogue to create and show tension. Furthermore, he believes the duality between Uncle Charlie and young Charlie lies within the tension of Uncle Charlie yearning to re-possess his innocence, the innocence his neice displays, and his drive to kill her as she represents what he can never have back. Brody goes on to prove that the tension between the Charlies is a perfect example of the issues between film and theatre.
This is a much more unique take on the dualities between the characters. It is unlike those of other sources. I completely agree with Brody and his analysis. It is wonderful how he is able to delve so far into the depths of a play and a film as well as address the issues between the two. I completely buy into this idea of tension within Shadow of a Doubt. However, I do not believe that this idea can be applied to all the dualities within the film, especially the repetition of scenes.