Category Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

Pride and Prejudice characters: Charlotte and Mr. Collins

Charlotte & Collins

For a woman who came from a family of clergymen — her father, two brothers and four cousins wore a collar — Jane Austen certainly enjoys poking fun at them in her novels. And Pride and Prejudice’s  Mr. Collins is her most ridiculous clerical caricature. How on earth does sensible Charlotte wind up with such a buffoon?

A clergyman was a professional, just like a lawyer or doctor. He made his living in the pulpit, not at the bar or in the examining room, but he still needed to be a well educated man. Add to that a vicar needed have a high moral standard, be a good speaker and have compassion for the poor and needy.

David Bamber is Mr. Collins  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

David Bamber is Mr. Collins in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Instead we get conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly, self important Mr. Collins. He is a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, a social climber with a very good opinion of himself and his patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

He comes to Meryton to visit the Bennets. As closest male relative he is set to inherit the Longbourn estate on Mr. Bennet’s death. That is something, to his credit, that he feels some guilt over. So he decides to marry one of the five Bennet sisters. Jane is all but engaged to Mr. Bingley so he sets his sites on Lizzie.

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Poor Lizzie receives two of the worst proposals  of marriage in literature. The first is from Mr. Collins. He wants to get married because:

  1.  as a clergyman it would set a good example to the parish.
  2.  it will add to his happiness.
  3.  it is “the particular advice “ of Lady Catherine.
  4.  he has a violent affection for Elizabeth

Of course he doesn’t expect a rejected. For one thing he’s SUCH a catch, and for another he’s chosen well. The girls are desperate and he has them in a corner.

He literally can not believe that she declines his offer. Neither can her mother. And for a while Longbourn is long born with strife.

Queue Charlotte.

Charlotte Lucas is plain, pragmatic, good-tempered, funny, sensible, intelligent and unromantic.  She is 27 years old and Lizzie’s intimate friend. She’s such a good friend, in fact, that she comes to the rescue when Lizzie refuses Mr. Collins. She keeps him in good humor by listening to him and, one assumes, diverts him, making sure he’s out of ear shot of the shouting Mrs. Bennet and the giggling Lydia and Kitty.

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lizzie thanks her friend,  but “Charlotte’s kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; — its object was nothing less than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins’s addresses, by engaging them towards herself.” With a little encouragement on her part Mr. Collins transfers his ‘violent affections’ form one lady to the next and…

”In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, every thing was settled between them to the satisfaction of both… he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men… and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.”

Lizzie is surprised that Mr. Collins could so quickly change his mind  and settle on another life partner. But she is astonished that Charlotte could accept his proposal.  Charlotte reminds her however that she is…

”not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

In some ways Charlotte winds up in same situation as Mr. Bennet in the marriage department. Neither of them respect or love their partners. And both do what they can in daily life to avoid interacting with their spouses Mr. Bennet shuts the door to his library, while Charlotte sits in her parlor and encourages Mr. Collins to work with his bees or visit Lady Catherine.

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

At the end of the novel Mr. Bennet writes to Mr. Collins informing him that — despite warning to the contrary by both Collins and Lady Catherine — Lizzie and Darcy are soon to marry. Mr. Bennet advises Mr. Collins to  “Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the nephew. He has more to give.” If Mr. Collins heeds this wise advice he’d shift his alliance to Darcy who would never put up with the vicar’s toady behavior. That, combined with Charlotte’s even handed temper–which (hopefully) would rub off on Collins–MIGHT make him a more tolerable fool.


Here’s a clip of the wonderful Julia Cho and Maxwell Glick in a scene from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries…


thought of the Day 8.13.12 Alfred Hitchcock

“If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.”

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (Photo credit: twm1340)

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on this day in Leytonstone, England in 1899. Today is the 113th anniversary of his birth.

He grew up as the middle child of three siblings in a very strict family. When he was a little boy his father once sent him with a note to the town police station. The note asked the constable to lock Alfred up for a jail term of 10 minutes as punishment for bad behavior. The possibly apocryphal story ended with the policeman putting 5-year-old Alfred in a cell for a few minutes before letting him out with a stern warning that “this is what we do to naughty boys.” It was a bit more fire and brimstone guilt heaped on top the boys already strict Catholic upbringing.

He attended St. Ignatius College and London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation. He was rejected for service in WWI because of his health, but served as a cadet with the Royal Engineers. He worked for a company called Henley’s as a draftsman and advertising designer. The company had an in-house publication, The Henley Telegraph, and Hitchcock became one of its most prolific contributors. His stories were generally suspenseful, funny and usually ended with a twist.

His first foray into films was as a title card designer for the nascent Paramount Pictures (London) where he designed title cards for silent movies. He worked for a number of studios at the start of his career and began to write for the movies in the early 1920’s. He did work in Germany where he observed the expressionistic style at Babelsberg Studios. His directorial debut was a bit of a fizzle as Number 13 (1924) was cancelled before it the film got in the can for financial reasons, The Pleasure Garden was flop, and all prints for The Mountain Eagle  have been lost.

Cover of "The Lodger"

Cover of The Lodger

In 1926 Hitchock had his first directorial success with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. His first talkie was Blackmail, which he made while working with British International Pictures. It was also the first of Hitchcock’s films to use a famous landmark (this time the dome of the British Museum) as a back drop. Other Hitchcock films from the period are The Man Who Knew Too much (1934) and the excellent 39 Steps.  He was the highest-paid director in England and earned the nick name “Alfred the Great.”

In 1939, as the specter of war loomed again in Europe, Hitchcock was lured to Hollywood to work for David O. Selznick. He directed a film based on the Daphne du Maurier  book  Rebecca (the film won an Oscar). He worked steadily and successfully through out the 1940s for a number of Hollywood studios, producing movies like Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious (1946) .

Rope (1948) was the first movie he made in color. It starred Jimmy Stewart (Stewart would star in four Hitchcock films) and featured long tracking shots that ranged from 4.5 to 10 minutes. (10 Minutes was the maximum a camera could hold at one time.) The necessary cuts were “hidden”  as a dark object came in front of the lens. The result was a seamless story.

Cropped screenshot from the trailer for the fi...

Cropped screenshot from the trailer for the film Rear Window (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief  marked a trifecta of 50’s films where the director collaborated with the beautiful Grace Kelly. Hitchcock paired her against Ray Miland (Murder),  Stewart (Window) and Grant (Thief). They were extremely popular. Kelly stopped making films the next year when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco.

English: Doris Day and James Stewart on the of...

English: Doris Day and James Stewart on the of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956. Alfred Hitchcock is in the back (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He rounded out the 1950s with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960).  He also became a US Citizen in 1955 and debuted the television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

In 1963 he adapted another Daphne du Maurier story, The Birds.

He continued to direct, write and produce, but his health problems meant the pacing slowed down. The critics said the quality diminished as well, with the exception of Marne.

He had a cameo in almost all of his movies. Often he is just standing or sitting or walking by a main character, very briefly in a scene. In Lifeboat he appeared in a newspaper advertisement as the before and after client for Reduco weight loss product. The site Alfred Hitchcock The Master of Suspense has a full list of his Cameos.

English: Studio publicity photo of Alfred Hitc...

English: Studio publicity photo of Alfred Hitchcock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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