Tuesday, October 29, 2013

hands away

There is a scene in All About Eve in which Anne Baxter, playing the title role, demands that Addison DeWitt (played by George Sanders) leave her presence.

She sharply pulls open the door to the room and snaps, "Get out!" In that voice, Sanders' DeWitt replies, "You're too short for that gesture." OMG. Best movie burn ever.

On a semi-related note, I have recently become aware that my brain contains a (unintentionally compiled) list of Favourite Gestures in Film. Here they are.

Elaine Miller (played by Frances McDormand) in Almost Famous, pointing to Simon & Garfunkel's pupils as they appear on the cover of their album Bookends - "Honey, they're on pot."

Another one from Almost Famous; Penny Lane's elegant bird flipping

In Marie Antoinette Kirsten Dunst glides her hand outside the window of the carriage taking her home after a night of masked partying:

The gesture feels slightly anachronistic, perhaps because I've seen Dunst pull a similar move in Sofia Coppola's earlier film, The Virgin Suicides:

Donnie Darko is a film I used to love but now seldom think of. One of the few things that has stayed with me is the strangely poignant and funny exchange of waves with which the film ends:



With the exceptions of Shadow of a Doubt and Rebecca, I don't tend to like Alfred Hitchock's heavier psychodramas. And perhaps those two don't fit into the category - I certainly don't find them as draining as Vertigo and, say,  Marnie. There is, however, one little bit in Vertigo that I can't get enough of. 

Scottie and Madeleine visit a Californian Redwood forest and look at a displayed cross-section of one of those ancient trees, the rings of which have been labeled with various corresponding events in human history (anthropo-dendrochronology?):



Madeleine points first to one ring and then to a slightly larger one:

Here I was born... and there I died.

Images stolen from Screen Musings

To be very clear, I totally don't get this movie. In fact until re-watching the clip for this post, I wrongheadedly thought that Madeleine pointed first to a larger ring, and then a smaller one, to indicate some mysterious birth/death reversal.

All I know is that there's something excellent about the way Kim Novak's gloved hand gently points... 

Just for kicks  I'll sometimes reenact the gesture and accompanying lines when faced with a particularly difficult crossword - Here I was born... and there I died.