Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Have You Seen Notorious?"

So, while teaching my rewrite class at USC, I was talking to my class about the movie "Notorious," and how the plot device (the Nazi plot involving radioactive powder in wine bottles) isn't what keeps the audience in their seats. All the audience really cares about is whether Grant and Bergman will get back together in the end.

I noticed the class staring back at me blankly, and at first I thought they had heard this worn out example of McGuffins and main tension too many times. Then I realized...

...They thought I was talking about "Notorious B.I.G."  None of them had seen the Hitchcock film.

I don't know what to make of this.  Am I out of touch?


Ike said...

My generation, in the broadest sense of the term, is cinema illiterate before entering their mid twenties. All screenwriting classes I took in my undergrad days, the teachers had to keep pop cultural references within the last five years or run the risknof seriously confusing the class. Hell, my girlfriend is teaching THE MATRIX in a comp class, and only five out of thirty students had heard of it.

Personally, I didn't think anyone actually saw the B.I.G. biopic, but that's just me.

Corey Atad said...

Yeah, that's kind of a depressing story, but I think you've got to admit that Notorious is not one of the more famous Hitchcock films outside of the cinephile world. People have heard of Psycho. They've probably heard of Vertigo and The Birds. They maybe even know the name Rear Window and North by Northwest and Dial M for Murder, but that's usually about it. And even then, most probably have never seen any of those films. They've just heard the names.

But can you blame them? There are so many thousands of films, and there are hundreds released all the time, and the further away you get from the classics the less likely they are to be seen by people. Hell, I didn't even see The Godfather Part II until last year.

Of course, last year I met someone who had never heard the name Charlie Chaplin and I nearly flipped my shit, so I totally understand the frustration.

Anonymous said...

No my friend you are not out of touch.
You shoulda thrown the syllabus at them and assigned them homework to watch Notorious and come back to class with a act/sequence breakdown identifying plot twists, act breaks and climax. Seriously, any serious student of the cinema should know about Notorious no matter if they are from generation Transformers or generation Youtube web series.

Anonymous said...

I know who Charlie Chaplin was but, I had never actually seen any videos/films until my son brought home his 4th grade reading homework. We youtubed his videos,couldn't stop laughing. Dancing forks bit killed. Goes to your point,theres thousands of films out there.

Sean Hood said...

I had the same experience researching Charlie Chaplin films for a clip to include in my short film, Melancholy Baby. Hilarious stuff.

Brian Smith said...

In the 80s they would've thought you meant the Duran Duran video. ;) If memory serves, WPIX in New York once ran a tv spot for Hitchcock's "Notorious" using that song. It was kinda cool actually. (For the record, I still haven't seen either film).