Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yesterday I saw a refrigerator in the back of a truck. I'm sure it's the same for you, but whenever I see a refrigerator in the back of a truck I think of this:

(Note: It will take nine minutes out of your day to watch this, but it's a good nine minutes.)

It's from Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, one of the greatest films ever made. (No, seriously.) At USC film school this scene was studied at great length. Did we discuss the pace of the editing? The composition of the shots? The juxtaposition of subjects on the screen? The use of sound to build tension? No. We discussed the refrigerator in the back of the truck. (I know it was bothering you, wasn't it?)

You see, Alfred Hitchcock liked to eat. Known to close friends as an often insecure and sensitive guy, whenever Hitch got bothered by something in life, he would eat. Food always saved the day for him, and, as we all know, he was not a skinny man. In the end of that scene you just watched from North by Northwest, how did Cary Grant escape? Well, (YouTube cuts off the last few seconds of the scene), in a sweeping symbolic gesture, he steals the truck with the refrigerator in the back of it. There. I just saved you an hour and a half of a boring cinema discussion period.

The truck never reappears in the film.

This is one of the reasons I left film school for the desert. Do I think Hitchcock put that refrigerator in the back of the truck on purpose? Well, yes, but I don't think that was the point of the scene. I believe I actually raised my hand and suggested that though Hitchcock may have purposely put that fridge in the back of that truck, it's possible that he did it more to entertain himself than to make some philosophical statement about food and the eating thereof. A film set can get pretty boring, you know.

The professor, and some classmates, just scoffed when I mentioned it. They went on to discuss other significant scenes with food from the Hitchcock filmography. I'm sure you remember every one of them, so I won't bore you by re-listing them here.

Funny, I thought the point of it all was to arouse and entertain. How exactly did he do that? Man, we could really discuss that for a few hours. College. It's when they started saying that movies don't have to entertain, that music doesn't have to have rhythm and melody, and that art doesn't have to be beautiful that they lost me. I'm just an unsophisticated heathen, I guess.

One day we discussed the distinct homosexual undertones of Casablanca for a few hours. It's funny, but now whenever I see a refrigerator in the back of a truck, it's symbolic of me dropping out of film school.