- article: Hospitality and the Unsettle Viewer: Hitchcock's Shadow Scenes
- author(s): Ned Schantz
- journal: Camera Obscura (2010)
- issue: volume 25, issue 1, pages 1-27
- journal ISSN: 0270-5346
- publisher: Duke University Press
- keywords: "Hitchcock's Motifs" - by Michael Walker, "Hitchcock: Past and Future" - by Richard Allen, "The Women Who Knew Too Much" - by Tania Modleski, Alfred Hitchcock, American cinema, Amy Lawrence, British Film Institute, Cary Grant, Cinematography, Daphne du Maurier, David Bordwell, David O Selznick, Dick Hogan, Farley Granger, Feature films, Film (Productions), Film (USA), Film criticism, Film directors, Film theory, Film viewing, François Truffaut, Gender theory, George Sanders, George Toles, Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Joan Fontaine, John Bruns, John Dall, John Orr, Judith Anderson, Kasey Rogers, Laurence Olivier, Michael Walker, Narrative techniques, Ned Schantz, New York City, North by Northwest (1959), Notorious (1946), Patricia Highsmith, Patricia Hitchcock, Phillip Vandamm, Psycho (1960), Rear Window (1954), Rebecca (1940), Reginald Denny, Representations (1990) - Anal Rope, Richard Allen, Robert Walker, Robin Wood, Rope (1948), Sabrina Barton, Scenes, Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Slavoj Žižek, Spectator, Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), Susan Smith, Suspicion (1941), Tania Modleski, The 39 Steps (1935), Tom Cohen, Under Capricorn (1949), Vertigo (1958)
This essay considers the recurring problem of plot alternatives in Alfred Hitchcock, of powerful shadow scenes that overwhelm the manifest plot and demand a critical account of their own. Confronting such shadow scenes, the viewer takes up a social position in a long chain of failed hospitality, a position that unleashes fully the uncanny effects of intellectual uncertainty, as can be seen in a reading of the bedroom scene in Strangers on a Train. But it is when Hitchcock's moving camera seeks hospitality in its own right that the full implications of this viewing position start to become apparent. When, for instance, a recurring ghostly tracking shot insistently links Rebecca and Rope in defiance of a general critical segregation, it becomes necessary to retest the boundaries of character and diegesis on which criticism habitually relies. Taking up residence between and beyond his films, Hitchcock's most powerful ghosts haunt our very procedures for securing intelligibility.