Intertitle of the Week: Shoot to Kill

Hitchcock reckoned this was the worst intertitle he ever wrote ~


It might not be that bad, actually, except that it’s the climax of the film (EASY VIRTUE), and thus quite a lot of pressure is put on the lowly title card, which fairly buckles under the weight of expectation. And since the instruction is delivered to a swarm of proto-paparazzi, it’s a Clever Play on Words, and the emotional climax of a (let’s face it) melodrama is perhaps not the best place for a C.P.o.W.

The movie is certainly minor Hitch — but if the material doesn’t serve his purposes ideally, there are compensations. Read all about it here on Wednesday.


16 Responses to “Intertitle of the Week: Shoot to Kill”

  1. Arthur S. Says:

    Reminds me of that line in THE STEEL HELMET(by Fuller)

    “If you die, I’ll kill you!”

    But then Fuller has a reputation for dialogues that sound like silent-film titles.

  2. That’s true! A lot of folks say tabloid headlines are his influence, which is probably true, but the effect ends up like title cards. Or, of course, cartoon speech bubbles. More on THAT subject later today.

    By a process of mental association it leads me to Mitchum in Out of the Past: “I don’t plan on dying but if I do I’m gonna die last!”

  3. Of course, by the way things play out in the end it’s hard to say whether he was last or next-to-last, after being gut-shot by Greer. But she took a hail of bullets as well, so he may well have left as planned.

  4. Arthur S. Says:

    Another example of talking films with intertitle dialogue…”The Fountainhead” by King Vidor. The dialogue is absurd but it has a vague structure similar to silent film titles.

  5. Arthur S. Says:

    I am just watching MEETIN’ W.A., a short film sit down interview between Godard and Woody Allen and there’s an interesting exchange on intertitles.

  6. ——
    “I don’t plan on dying but if I do I’m gonna die last!”

    My favourite from Out of the Past:
    “I’m sorry he didn’t die. Give him time”

  7. There are so many: “I’ll wear my earrings,” is Fiona’s favourite, I think.

    I’m planning on downloading that JLG, should be an interesting meeting of minds, and I can quote them on intertitles sometime.

    Still to watch The Fountainhead. Have a queasy feeling about Ayn Rand. But I’ll do it for King Vidor Week, this I swear!

  8. “Queasy” doesn’t begin to describe my feelings about Alice Rosenbaum.

    Did you know that Alan Grenspan, former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve (and hubster of pushy NBC meat Puppet Andrea Mitchell) was a former boytoy of the perpetrator of “Atlas Shrugged”?

    Naturally we’ve seen where “Randian economics” pushed by Grrenspan, have led us — TOTAL WORLD ECONOMIC COLLAPSE!!!!!

  9. Oh, you’re being too gentle, in many parts of the world you could call it TOTAL SOCIAL COLLAPSE!!!!

  10. TOTAL SOCIAL COLLAPSE I can live with, being an Anarcho-Syndicalist.

  11. But there’s a difference between anarchy and chaos.

  12. Arthur S. Says:

    THE FOUNTAINHEAD, the film is Vidor more than Rand and it’s full of Vidor’s overheated heady mix of sex drives jutting out into social hysteria. So it’s more complex than Rand certainly. It’s visually stunning, DP by Robert Burks(who of course was picked up by Hitchcock and stayed with him until death did them part) and Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal and especially Raymond Massey is terrific. Vidor liked that film a lot though he had issues with the ending. The final shot of the film, the camera tracking up the building was hommaged in the beginning of LA NOTTE, when the camera tracks down the Pirelli Towers. The film also deals with sexual hysteria’s links to economic imbalance. Vidor was a huge influence for Italian Cinema of that period of course

    I share David E.’s views of Alice Rosenbaum. Her books are monomaniacal tracts, her philosophy is bastardized Nietzche and she knew as much about economics as my metaphorical pet hyena.

  13. Arthur S. Says:

    Well what’s the difference between anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism anyway? Noam Chomsky identifies himself as an A-S, as do some others.

    I don’t know if Social Chaos has a place for the things I hold dear like art, culture, cinema, cuisine, travel, history. I am sticking to good old liberal democracy however banal and imperfect it is.

  14. Anarcho-Syndicalist sounds better.

  15. “Easy Virtue,” which I read years ago, is a rather better play than the Hitchcockians would seem to want to admit. Here’s a review of a recent production:

    (Michael Billington, in another review of the same production, likens Coward-the-playwright to young John Osborne.)

    I’d imagine that the ideal silent film of it would be something like Lubitsch’s “Lady Windermere.” Hitchcock wasn’t Lubitsch, though, and one imagines that a story where a wise “older” woman tells off provincials and then goes off on her own wouldn’t have appealed to Hitchcock in any case.

    Perhaps Coward’s script might be thought of as “Portrait of the Artist as a Demi-Mondaine”?


    As for the intertitle … what it makes *me* think of is Rick in “Casablanca” telling the man with a gun “Go ahead and shoot! You’ll be doing me a favor.”

  16. […] Watch out for: The final intertitle, which Hitchcock described as the worst he ever wrote. […]

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