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Breckenridge American (05/Apr/1948) - Hollywood Film Shop




Hollywood Film Shop

Alfred Hitchcock's $5 investment in a schoolboy's blackboard is saving thousands of dollars in movie making.

Realizing that movie costs must be cut, Hitchcock ordered the blackboard before work ever started on "The Rope." He sat down with it for days and mapped out every move of every actor.

Then he called in his set designer, Perry Ferguson, and had a set built to fit the action.

Most movies are shot in short "takes," each only a segment of scene. But Hitchcock is shooting "The Rope" in nine-minute takes that gobble up a complete reel of film and cover up 11 pages of dialogue.

They save money and add realism. But they also call for a new movie making technique to permit the camera to follow the actors through 11 pages of action.

That's when Hitchcock's blackboard comes in. He's figured out ahead of time just where the camera has to go. And as the lens follows the actors through the set, workmen out of its range silently move away the walls to let it through.

The new technique brought dozens of new problems. The whole set had to be spic and span for the moments during the long scenes when the camera passed through it. Actors who went out of camera range couldn't light up a cigarette because they'd soon be back in view.

Prop men tiptoeing like mice moved furniture to miss the camera as it traveled and to get back in place when it returned. Lights had to he dimmed in one corner of the set, upped in another. Silent signals between script supervisors prop men, electricians, camera crew and actors co-ordinated every move while the camera turned.

The only person who stood by uninterested was Hitchcock.

"My work stopped when the picture started," he said.

"The Rope," being made by Transatlantic Pictures, will be released by Warner Bros. It stars Jimmy Stewart.