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Vanity Fair's Hitchcock Recreations Compared To The Movie Originals

I'm such a big Hitchcock fan I was giddy with excitement when I saw that Vanity Fair magazine opted to recreate some of his most famous and iconic scenes from 11 of his movies in their Hollywood Portfolio issue a few months ago.

above: I spliced together the VF recreation from Rear Window with Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem on the left and the original still featuring Jimmy Stewart on the right.

The March issue of the magazine, who has a tradition of doing some fabulous photo editorials, continued to impress with their recreation of 11 of Hitchcock's most famous scenes in which 21 hottest Hollywood actors are shot by four regular Vanity Fair photographers. The results are fabulous, and you can see them for yourself compared with the original Hollywood stills of the Hitchcock movies that I located for both your entertainment and education.

Dial M for Murder, 1954

Above: Charlize Theron. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.

The scene in which Charles Alexander Swann (Dawson) attempts to strangle Margot Mary Wendice (Kelly), only to be himself stabbed with a pair of scissors, caused Hitchcock great anxiety. Although the entire film was shot in just 36 days, this single scene required a full week of rehearsals and multiple takes to get the choreography and timing right.

Above: The original still of Anthony Dawson and Grace Kelly. ©Warner Brothers.

Rear Window, 1954

Above: Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.

The film has been called a superb commentary on watching films, on loneliness, and on obsession, as well as a sharp critique of the male psyche. But at its essence, Rear Window is a paean to old-fashioned snooping. "Sure he's a snooper, but aren't we all?”said Hitchcock.“I'll bet you that nine out of ten people, if they see a woman across the courtyard undressing for bed, or even a man puttering around in his room, will stay and look; no one turns away and says,‘It's none of my business.”

Above: The original still of Grace Kelly and James Stewart. Paramount/Neal Peters Collection.

Marnie, 1964

Above: Naomi Watts. Photograph by Julian Broad.

It seemed to many on the set that Hitchcock was concerned less with the production of Marnie than with his efforts to woo its star. He sent champagne to her dressing room every day, and freely confessed his love. After Hedren finally rejected him, he dropped her, and refused ever to utter her name again. Did we mention that Marnie is a psychodrama about frigidity?

Above: The original still of Tippi Hedren. Universal/Photofest.

Rebecca, 1940

Above: Keira Knightley and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Photograph by Julian Broad.

Rebecca was the first film Hitchcock made after producer David O. Selznick lured him to Hollywood with promises of a large budget and a high salary. Hitchcock proposed several alterations to the ghost story, adding elements of irony and dark humor. Selznick demanded a re-write faithful to the novel. Although Hitchcock later dismissed the film as “not a Hitchcock picture,” it was one of his most successful, and the only one to win best picture at the Academy Awards.

Above: The original still of Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson. © United Artists.

Strangers on a Train, 1951

Above: Emile Hirsch and James McAvoy. Photograph by Art Streiber.

Hitchcock may have exaggerated when he called “the ineffectiveness of the two main actors”one of the film's main flaws, but had Guy (Granger) been played by a stronger figure (Hitchcock's first choice was William Holden), he might have been more sympathetic as a hero. It's hard not to root for the villain (Walker), especially when he has his hands around the neck of Guy's fat, loathsome, unfaithful wife, and begins to squeeze. Then again, that may have been Hitchcock's intent all along.

Above: The original still of Farley Granger and Robert Walker. Warner Brothers/Photofest.

Vertigo, 1958

Above: Renée Zellweger. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.

Hitchcock's blackhearted valentine to San Francisco is perhaps his most fully realized portrayal of the themes that haunted his films—obsession, paranoia, the transference of guilt, spurned love. And, of course, necrophilia: “I was intrigued by the hero’s attempts to re-create the image of a dead woman through another one who's alive,” said Hitchcock when asked to describe the plot.

Above: The original still of Kim Novak. © Paramount Pictures.

To Catch a Thief, 1955

Above: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.

Grace Kelly was the quintessential cold Hitchcock blonde. Hitchcock called her sexual appeal “indirect.” “Sex should not be advertised,” Hitchcock said. “An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she’ll probably pull a man's pants open.”

Above: The original still of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. Paramount Pictures/Photofest.

Lifeboat, 1944

Above, from left: Tang Wei, Josh Brolin, Casey Affleck, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Foster, Omar Metwally, and Julie Christie. Photograph by Mark Seliger.

Lifeboat presented a difficult challenge to Hitchcock’s determination to appear in a single shot in each of his films. “I thought of being a dead body floating past the lifeboat, but I was afraid I'd sink,” he said. Hitchcock was sincerely worried about his weight at the time, and had undertaken a strenuous diet. His solution to the cameo problem: he appeared in a newspaper read by one of the boat’s passengers, photographed before and after his diet in an advertisement for a fictional weight-loss drug.

Above: The original still: From left: Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, Hume Cronyn, Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, William Bendix, Canada Lee. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp./Photofest.

The Birds, 1963

Above: Jodie Foster. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.

Hitchcock said he made the film in order to “scare the hell out of people," but Hedren may have been more scared than any audience member. During the filming of the movie’s climactic bird-attack scene, Hitchcock put Hedren in a giant cage and had two men throw live birds at her face. He shot the scene all day long, every day, for an entire week. It was only when she suffered a gash underneath one of her eyes that filming was stopped. “Really the worst week of my life,” said Hedren.

Above: The original still of Tippi Hedren. © Universal Pictures.

North by Northwest, 1959

Above: Seth Rogen. Photograph by Art Streiber.

The idea for the famous cornfield scene came about when Hitchcock determined to reverse, as dramatically as possible, the clichéd movie trope in which a man is forced to run for his life from some sinister force. “How is this usually done?” asked Hitchcock. “A dark night at a narrow intersection of the city. The waiting victim standing in a pool of light under the street lamp. The cobbles are ‘washed with the recent rains.’?” So Hitchcock instructed his production designer to put his hero in a wide-open expanse in which he couldn't hide—a completely flat cornfield in the middle of nowhere.

Above: The original still of Cary Grant. MGM/Photofest.

Psycho, 1960

Above: Marion Cotillard. Photograph by Mark Seliger.

A lot is made of the influence on Hitchcock’s films of his father, “a rather nervous man” who once locked his six-year-old son in a local jail for misbehavior. Less is known about Hitchcock's mother. We do know that they had a close relationship; so close, in fact, that she accompanied him on holidays with his wife. Older women in Hitchcock’s films are rarely treated with kindness, however, and tend to be scolding, obnoxious, doddering. But it was not until Psycho that a mother was treated as a homicidal maniac, even if by proxy.

Above: The original still of Janet Leigh. Paramount Pictures/Photofest.

By the way, if you haven't seen the above Hitchcock movies, I highly recommend that you do. These, along with many others like The Trouble With Harry, Rope, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Torn Curtain, Notorious, Frenzy, and more are worth a rental movie fest. You won't be sorry.

Throw them in your Netflix cue or buy a boxed set here.

You can see a video of the shoot, worth seeing because the actors get really into character, here.

An in depth course taught on Hitchcock with lots of great links and info here.

And don't forget to pre-order the Hitchcock Birds Barbie Doll, blogged about here.

The fun facts below the recreated photos are courtesy of Vanity Fair.

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Designer Johanna Basford Goes Cuckoo, Punk Peacock, Delirium & Flutterlicious.

Cuckoo, Punk Peacock, Delirium, Flutterlicious and Macbeth are just a few of the fun names Johanna Basford has given to her unique and beautiful wallpapers. The multi-talented Scottish designer has a way with names as well as with flora and fauna. Her hand printed and hand painted wallpapers (both custom and studio collection) are simply fabulous. In addition to those, she makes ceramics, limited edition prints, lampshades and some unusual items all of which incorporate her simultaneously delicate and bold designs.

Talented and super productive, she was the recipient of Elle's Decoration Design Award for the best in bedrooms in 2007. Below are some of her amazing creations, with the descriptions furnished from Johanna.

Bespoke Collection of Wallpaper

Punk Peacock, Bespoke Collection - digitally printed:

Above: Johanna's first exploration into digital printing. A twist on tradition, this interpretation of the classic ‘bird amongst the blossoms" print, features pairs of ornamental peacocks, perched amidst giant, oversized foliage and flowers, in a dramatic black on white, super-wide wallpaper. Not for the fainthearted, this bold, 1.2 meter wide print packs an eye-watering visual punch.

Delirium, Bespoke Collection - hand printed and embellished with Swarovski Crystals:

Above: Richly inked hand printed wallpaper, studded with Swarovski Crystals. This paper features layers of swirling botanics and decorative flourishes, silk screen printed in gloss black, pearly metallics, flashes of crisp silver lacquer and hand embellished with world-famous Swarovski Crystals.

Midnight Butterfly, Bespoke Collection - hand printed:

Above: A truly exquisite wallpaper, perfect for hanging in panels in place of traditional artwork. Delicate, inky layers of black on black floral and butterfly motifs are over printed with gold lacquered detail and further embellished with hand drawing. Paper-cut and gold leaf butterfly silhouettes flutter from the paper at intervals. Each panel is accompanied with 5 gold leaf butterflies, to be sited on install to catch the light or draw attention to a particular feature. Further gold leaf butterflies available on request.

Cuckoo, Bespoke Collection - hand painted:

Above: Delicate gold lacquered cuckoo clock, surrounded by rambling foliage and layered over a glossy black on black silhouette. A unique piece merging ornate decoration with functional design. Battery operated clock mechanism (single AA battery required)

Studio Collection of Wallpapers:

Crazy Botanic, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

Above: Delicate tangles of imagined botanics, a-flutter with butterflies and lady bugs form densely decorative spheres of foliage, each interlinked with a single entwined vine.
Available in the color options shown above.

Flutterlicious, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

Above: A truly sumptuous wallpaper; hundreds of delicately hand drawn butterflies, silk screen printed in rich gold lacquer or pearly hot pink. Stunning in single panels or stretched out across a feature wall.

Bella, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

Above: Simple, yet delicately ornate; topiary-inspired spheres of foliage and blossoms, interlaced with love birds and butterflies, hand printed in pearly hues of aqua green onto spearmint or crisp white. Also available as a print.

Peking, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

Above: Orient-inspired opulence; circular motifs featuring ornamental peacocks and butterflies encircled with exotic blossoms and foliage, each adjoined with a decorative band of flourishes. Available in the color options shown above.

Macbeth, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

Above: A deliciously dark, gothic-inspired wallpaper. In a twist to Johanna's usual style of feminine florals, tangles of botanics and serpents twist their way through skeletons, spider's webs and ram's skulls.

Damask, Studio Collection - Limited Edition:

Above: Elegant flora intricately laced together forming a classicly shaped motif. Printed in limited edition print runs in two colour palettes, Western Isle Stone, a crisp, slate blue on white and Shortbread, warm biscuity beige onto a creamy rice-pudding ground.

Insectiana, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

Above: A wallpaper with hidden depths. On close inspection, this classically styled print reveals a treasure of entomology gems; an inky, Victorian-inspired motif encases intricate drawings of beasties, butterflies and bumble bees. Available in white on black or black on white. Also available as a print.

Parlour, Studio Collection - Hand Printed:

above: Inspired by glamorous 50's show girls, with a hint of art nouveau opulence, this cheeky wallpaper is a must for boudoirs and powder rooms.

Her "glow' wallpaper seems to be a project that I hope becomes a reality:

About Johanna (the following is her bio from her site):

Inspired by her upbringing on a small fish farm in rural Scotland, much of Johanna's work has roots in the flora and fauna that she has grown up with. Her boundless imagination and passion for drawing, took her to Art School in Dundee, where she graduated with a first class honours degree in Printed Textiles in 2005.

Having dabbled with the idea of moving to London to work in a commercial studio, Johanna decided the concrete clad city sapped her creativity. Driven by a passion to create beautiful work of the highest possible calibre, Johanna set up her small Scottish studio creating distinctively different hand drawn motifs in her signature black and white palette.

In addition to creating her own collection of hand printed wallpapers which now adorn the walls of commercial and residential spaces across the globe, Johanna has created work for a variety of clients such as DKNY, Heals and The Crafts Council at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Her products are available at several UK stores and some overseas stores, go here to see stockists.

Or, to purchase online, go to the following links:
Design Supremo
Emma Clanfield Designs
Fresh Interior Solutions
Love the Rain
Not On The High Street
Rockett St George
The Shop Floor Project

Johanna Basford's site.

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