Intertitle of the Week: If You’re Agreeable

Pretty obvious where this is from… more on this movie later this week.

Hitchcock’s third film features some beautifully designed intertitles. While the dialogue exchanges are rendered in a relatively plain fashion, the scene-setters use expressionistic patterns clearly influenced by Hitch’s time in Germany. They are very beautiful. Of particular importance is the intertitle reading “TO-NIGHT GOLDEN CURLS,” the words flashing up one at a time in imitation of a neon sign, a sign which eventually appears in the extreme distance behind our hero and heroine in their final clinch. 

The blinking sign is echoed a few years later, when Hitch will pan across the similarly flashing MUSIC HALL sign at the very start of THE 39 STEPS.

2 Responses to “Intertitle of the Week: If You’re Agreeable”

  1. The intertitles for the silent version of BLACKMAIL are surprisingly dull compared to “The Lodger”. But then the studios put out the silent version as a safety measure for the talking one(which is inferior) even if ironically, the silent “Blackmail” was more successful at the bank. So they didn’t put too much effort in fixing up spiffy titles.

    Hitchcock by the way started out as an intertitle designer at Famous Players Lasky and was trained at technical drawing in Engineering school. So I don’t think UFA had a hand there although obviously Murnau’s use of titles to integrate with the story as in ”Faust” and later ”Sunrise” might have been a point-of-reference.

  2. I’ve just read the Lodger chapter in John Russell Taylor’s Hitch bio, and it makes an interesting story.

    The studio was perplexed by Hitch’s rushes and first cut, simply failing to recognise what he was up to, so they brought in their new university-educated recruit, Ivor Montague — “a gentleman”. He saw at once that the film was brilliant, but then had to suggest changes in order to convince his bosses. His one major alteration was the titles — he cut out many, to make the film more dependant on its visuals. All with Hitch’s happy cooperation. Since the studio was paying Montague good money, they had to accept his judgement. Montague also suggested bringing in a top poster designer to handle the titles design.

    Montague, like Hitch, was familiar thru film society attendance with the latest German and Russian work, so he was able to puch Hitch even further along the path he’d started on.

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