The Unnamed Lady: An Hitchcockian Story

I created this little story using Hitchcock’s movie titles. Just for fun! ūüôā



The Unnamed Lady

It’s the story of a notorious man who knew too much about the birds. He was spellbound¬†by them. I confess that he was also rich and strange, and that’s because he had found a topaz behind a torn curtain. He decided to give it to Marnie, the farmer’s wife, but she was too young and innocent to appreciate it.

The trouble with Harry (that was his name) is that everybody had a suspicion about him. Who was he really? Was he involved in a skin game? Well, that didn’t really bother him. He knew himself, he wasn’t a psycho! He instead decided to give the stone to Mary, a young lady who lived in Elstree. She was the daughter of Mr and Mrs. Smith. Harry thought she lived at the number 17 of the street, but she lived at the number 13. Bad luck? Sat to her rear window, she saw him coming. His attitude was strange, just like if he didn’t want to be seen. He looked like a secret agent.

Harry had big projects for Mary. He wanted to marry her. He gave her the ring and they celebrated their engagement with champagne. The wedding was celebrated at the Jamaica Inn. When they lived for their honeymoon, everybody told them “Bon voyage!”. None of them had any shadow of a doubt this wouldn’t be the trip they had expected.

They went to Austria. There, they learnt how to dance the waltz from Vienna, but when they were asked to perform in front of an audience, they couldn’t as Harry had the stage fright.When they returned to England¬†by boat, this one sank because a saboteur had caused a sabotage aboard. They had to go back on a lifeboat! What a story!

At the harbour, they were welcomed by Mary’s sister, the beautiful Rebecca. Rebecca was born under Capricorn. The lady was worried. She told them that their cousin, Mr. Paradine, was in court due to the disappearance of a lady. He was a suspect. We could indeed read in the Elstree Calling (that was the local newspaper): “The Lady Vanishes”. The Paradine Case wasn’t an easy one to solve. Was he involved in blackmail? Or worst, Murder!?

Rebecca, Mary and Harry often visited Mr. Paradine in jail. To access to his cell, they had to climb 39 steps. Luckily, none of them had the vertigo. Harry, who had made his own investigation, knew Mr. Paradine was the wrong man. He wasn’t guilty. He gave him a rope so he could escape. Harry had hoped to catch a thief with this rope, but he instead chose to be mixed up to this family plot.

Harry, Mary and Rebecca’s downhill by the stairs seemed longer than the short night. Later, Harry was happy to know that Mr. Paradine had succeeded to escape. He now was on a plane going north by northwest, flying over the country like the mountain eagle. He then took a train and met another man. He thought he knew him, but they turned out to be just two strangers on a train. The stranger was a a French foreign correspondent¬†and was about to go to Malagasy for an “Aventure Malgache” has he was saying.

The vanished lady was later found in a place named “The Pleasure Garden”. It was a true heaven. She had gone there with the lodger of her apartment. She had decided to marry him, but had forgotten to tell her family and friends about it. She wanted to be free and knew what she wanted. She wasn’t an easy virtue either. She was known for having been last seen with Mr. Paradine at an onstage presentation of “Juno and the Paycock”, before she vanishing like a white shadow. So, that’s why the poor man was suspected. But he had nothing to do with it. The lady was madly in love with this lodger who used to be¬†a Manxman. He was born on the Isle of Man.

When investigators found about her weeks later, their frenzy wasn’t very high. Yes, they had solve the case, but that one was a little disappointing. They didn’t have to dial m for murder. Luckily for him, Mr. Paradine was able to come back home and join his friends, Mary, Harry and Rebecca. The lady and the lodger stopped by to apologize. The case was closed for Paradine, but Harry decided to have the last word. He said to the lodger: “Dear man, don’t forget to always tell your wife not to worry us anymore!”




Little Miss Sunshine: A Winning Script!


We’re already at week 3 of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Wow! Time is flying! This week theme’s is “The crafts”. Participants will explore stuff such as costumes, music, special effects cinematography, etc. On my side, as an ex-screenwriting student, I’ve decided to explore this area and write about Little Miss Sunshine‘s screenplay. It won the Oscar in 2007.


I’ve always preferred classics to contemporary movies, but there are some exceptions and Little Miss Sunshine is one of them. This hilarious comedy is not only my 7th favourite film of all times, but also my favourite film of the 21st century. I saw it so many times, but never get tired to. The reason why this is so excellent and entertaining is precisely due to its unbeatable script. This one was written by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Hunger Games: Catching Fire,¬†Star Wars Episode¬†VII: The Force Awakens).¬†

Little Miss Sunshine has a very creative story. Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) has been selected to participate to a beauty pageant contest that will take place at Redondo Beach, California: The Little Miss Sunshine contest. Olive lives in Albuquerque, New-Mexico, with her rather original family: her father, Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) believes “there are two kinds of people in this world: winners and losers”. There are 9 steps to understand that. Her mother, Cheryl (Toni Collett) is overstrained¬†and constantly has arguments with her husband. Cheryl’s son from a previous marriage, Dwayne (Paul Dano), has made a vow of silence: he won’t talk until he’ll reach his dream of being a test pilot. Cheryl’s homosexual brothers, Frank (Steve Carell), is welcomed in the family after having been admitted to the hospital (he tried to commit suicide, but, fortunately, he failed it). Finally, Richard’s father (Alan Arkins) known has “Grandpa”, is an old heroinoman obsessed with sex. This might be ¬†a quite peculiar family, but I swear it’s certainly one of the most entertaining of movie history. The only solution for Olive to participate to this contest is that all the family goes with her. That would be quite an adventure!

Before going further, let me advise you that this article contains spoilers. This is not in my normal habits, but as I’ll discuss the script in its entirety, it’s hard to avoid.

For the sake of this article, I’ve returned to my old student habits and decided to read the original script as well, just to notice what were the difference between it and the final film. There aren’t many, but some details can be noticed: in the original script, it’s the Harvey and not the Hoover, some dialogue were deleted from the original script, some moments were put at different places. In the original script, they live in Maryland, not in New-Mexico. Olive is described as the tallest among the Little Miss Sunshine participants (it’s the opposite in the film). In the original screenplay, there’s a scene when Dwayne and his uncle Frank swim in the ocean at Redondo Beach. Richard Hoover compares the Little Miss Sunshine Official to Eva Braun, but this was deleted in the final product. But these are just some little details and their modifications don’t change a lot to the film. As a matter of fact, I think the final product is better and it’s this that won the Oscar. So, that’s what we’ll focus on today. As a matter of fact, the most important difference between the original screenplay and the final one is the ending: in the original one, the film was supposed to end with a picnic scene after the Hoover had left the contest. This scene has been deleted from the film, but you can see it in the special features on the DVD.

Little Miss Sunshine has every ingredients to be a winning screenplay. We’ll start with the characters. I love how they are introduced to us at the beginning of the film: starting with Olive who is watching a beauty pageant contest on television with a great intensity. We then move to Richard Hoover, who his presenting his “nine steps programs” to a rather small number¬†of people. Then, Dwayne is presented to us. He’s doing some strengthening exercises and crosses a date on a calendar (we’re later discover why). We immediately know that Grandpa is an heroinoman has he is introduced to us inhaling this white powder. Cheryl is introduced to us as a stressed woman and, finally, the title appears “LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE” as we are introduced to a very unhappy uncle Frank. It’s hard to choose who is our favourite character because they all have something unique. The film wouldn’t be the same without one of them.


What’s very interesting to see about those characters are their evolution. In a great screenplay, the characters don’t necessarily have to change, but an evolution has to be considered. They have to “learn something” in a way. The Hoover family has to face many problems, but, in the end, this journey will make them realize that what matters the most is that they can count on each other and they all are stronger together even if some of them can first deny that (Dwayne “hates everyone“…). This is even more important in a road movie, because this type of film doesn’t only present a physical travels, but also a “spiritual” one. ¬†In other words, the evolution of the character becomes even more important in a road movie. All along the film, we learn to know and appreciate each one of these characters. Richard Hoover can annoy us at first, but he’s probably the one who will learn the most out of this adventure. Grandpa seems crazy, but he has a great heart. Frank seems desperate, but, somehow, he’ll learn to have fun in this adventure. Dwayne will have to face a great disappointment, but he’ll learn that giving up isn’t necessarily the best solution. Olive is NEVER ready to give up. She’s a courageous little girl. Cheryl will make understand to her family how they are important to her.

Little Miss Sunshine‘s screenplay also includes a bunch of unforgettable lines: funny, wise, touching, memorable ones, etc. Of course, reading the script was much enjoyable because of these. The dialogues in this films are unique and, added to the originality of its characters, the result is nothing but perfect. As examples, here are some of my favourite lines from the film. There are many, but it’s hard to choose just a few!

1-¬†Grandpa:¬†¬†A real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning he doesn’t even try.

2-¬†Olive: I’d like to dedicate this to my grandpa, who showed me these moves.

 Pageant MC: Aww, that is so sweet.

[Audience applauds]

¬†Pageant MC: Is he here? Where’s your grandpa right now?

Olive: In the trunk of our car.

3- Richard:¬†Oh my God, I’m getting pulled over. Everyone, just… pretend to be normal.

4-  Richard: Sarcasm is the refuge of losers.

Frank : [sarcastically] It is? Really?

Richard : Sarcasm is losers trying to bring winners down to their level.

Frank¬†: [sarcastically] Wow, Richard, you’ve really opened my eyes to what a loser I am. How much do I owe you for those pearls of wisdom?

Richard : Oh, that ones on the house.

5- Grandpa [to Dwayne]: Dwayne? That’s your name right? Dwayne?

6- Richard Hoover: There’s two kinds of people in this world: winners and loosers

7- Frank [after they have pushed the car]: No one gets left behind! No one gets left behind! Outstanding soldier!

8- [ in the Van]:

Frank: [reading Dwayne’s notepad] “Where’s Olive?”…

Sheryl: Oh!

9-  Pageant Assistant Pam: [as Dwayne walks by] Are you authorized to be here?

Dwayne: No.

10- ¬†Officer Martinez: Okay, you’re out. On the condition that you never enter your daughter in a beauty pageant in the state of California, ever again. Ever.

Frank: I think we can live with that.

11- Frank: Good night Dwayne.

Dwayne: [scribbles on notepad] Don’t kill yourself tonight.

Frank: Not on your watch Dwayne. I wouldn’t do that to you.

Dwayne: [on notepad] Welcome to hell.

Frank: Thanks Dwayne. Coming from you that means a lot.

12- Grandpa:¬†¬†Every night it’s the fucking chicken! Holy God Almighty! Is it possible just once we could get something to eat for dinner around here that’s not the goddamned fucking chicken?

13- Olive [takes off her head phones and grandpa suddenly puts a pauses to his ongoing swearing] What are you guys talking about?

Grandpa: Politics.

14- Frank:  Have I mentioned that I am the preeminent Proust scholar in the US?


Of course, a great screenplay doesn’t only need great lines, but also great moments. This mission was perfectly accomplished by¬†Michael Arndt. I’ve already talked about the characters’ introduction at the beginning of the film, but there are many more unforgettable moments in this film. ¬†These one are numerous: the scene when they have to push the van to make it move, when the “kidnap” dead’s grandpa at the hospital (how death can become funny…), this heartbreaking scene when Dwayne learns he’s colourblind, this hilarious scene when they are stopped by the police because the van’s horn is stoked and won’t stop to honk and, of course, Olive’s dancing number who’ll surprise everyone. But there is much more.¬†As a matter of fact, the film itself is one big unforgettable moment.

I think you’ll all agree to watch some of these moments…

Apart from its excellent screenplay, Little Miss Sunshine also won the Best Supporting Actor’s Oscar (for Alan Arkin) and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Abigail Breslin). Too bad it didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar. In my opinion, it deserved it more than The Departed. That could have been another interesting thing to write about for the Oscar Snub week.

I hope that you have all seen the film as it is so wonderful. Next step, I highly encourage you to read the script. It’s a nice read and it doesn’t take too long:

Little Miss Sunshine’s Script

To read more about this week’s Oscar theme (the crafts), I invite you to take a look at the other entries:

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: The Crafts

Also, a big thanks to Once Upon a Screen, Paula’s Cinema Club and Outspoken and Freckled for being our awesome blogathon’s hostess.


Highly Dangerous: The Good Frances Gray


First time I saw Highly Dangerous, I remember really enjoying it. I had to find another good occasion to watch it again, and The Movie Scientist Blogathon seemed to be the one. Hosted by Ruth from Silver Screening and Christina Wehner, this event starts today on February¬†19, 2016 and will end on February 21, 2016. It’s the occasion for us to talk about a movie scientist. The blogathon has three different scientist categories: the good, the mad and the lonely. Of course, my choice was the good, by choosing Frances Gray (Margaret Lockwood) from Highly Dangerous.

Scientist Blogathon Banners

Highly Dangerous, directed by Roy Ward Baker in 1950, is one of the most thrilling British Films I ever saw (please don’t read the silly review on IMDB…). Before exploring its main character, let see what the story is briefly about:

Margaret Lockwood is Frances Gray, a brilliant entomologist (scientist who studies insect) who is approached for a dangerous mission. The British Intelligence has reasons to believe that a country from the Iron Curtain is about to use insects has a biological weapon against their enemies (don’t forget, we’re in time of cold war). Frances is asked to go to this Balkan country to collect some of the specimens. This is of course a “highly dangerous” mission. After few hesitations, Frances finally accepts has she feels the future of humanity is in her hands. She goes there under a false name: Frances Conway and has to pretend she’s there to study tourism business. After her colleague is killed, she meets an American journalist, Bill Casey (Dane Clark) who will help her.


What I especially love about this film is that our hero, the scientist, is a woman. Unfortunately, it was rare in classic films. Yes, there were female scientists, but not as much as men. Or, if a woman had a role in a science-fiction film, it was mainly a victim, or the scientist daughter, or something like this. But here, our hero is a beautiful, courageous and bright lady who makes us all proud to be women. Ok, my objective here is not to write a feminist article, but I consider it quite important to be mentioned. However, I don’t think we can really say Highly Dangerous is a science-fiction film. Yes, the heroin is a scientist, but this film is more¬†a thriller or an action movie. Because indeed, all movies with a scientist aren’t necessarily science-fiction films.


Frances Gray is just a fantastic woman. She’s the opposite of a victim. What I love about her is that she is really annoyed by men who think insects are disgusting. Most of the time it’s the opposite and women are the ones afraid of insects (we all have this image of a lady screaming when she sees a¬†spider or a mouse or whatever). Even when she’s a victim of the circumstances, she manages to get out of it the best she can. We can think of this scene when she’s interrogated by the police who suspects she’s a spy. She is blinded by the very¬†bright lights that are open in her direction and then she receives a drug to be more docile and answers the questions. Fortunately, this doesn’t really work and she still reveals nothing.

Despite this moment of suffering, she doesn’t give up and continues her mission. It’s fascinating to see her work, the decisions she takes, how she handles the insects. It almost makes us want to be an¬†entomologist. Her pairing with¬†Bill Casey also adds an interesting dimension to the film. Among the two, she’s the brain, and he’s the curious one. Two essential ingredients in such a mission.


Frances Gray, whatever the danger is, is never ready to give up. Even when Bill Casey asks her to, even when she’s arrested by the police. She came to the Balkans to do a mission for her country and is ready to accomplish it from A to Z. She has all the reasons to be a hero.

This lady scientist was portrayed by Margaret Lockwood, one of my very favourite actresses. This turned out to be my third favourite film of hers (after The Lady Vanishes and Give Us the Moon). It was her first film after a long absence from the screen. One more time, she had the occasion to prove us how a versatile actress she was. Margaret Lockwood could be bad (The Wicked Lady, The Man in Grey), good (The Lady Vanishes, Bank Holiday, Highly Dangerous), funny ( Give Us the Moon), a victim (Madness of the Heart), etc.


Her acting in Highly Dangerous is fascinating. She’s very natural and doesn’t exaggerate her emotions too much. The interrogation scene must have been a hard one to do and she manages to give us a great result. There’s even is a touch of humour in her character and in the film itself, which is highly appreciated.

I know Highly Dangerous is not a very well know film. I recommend you to see it as soon as possible, hoping my post convinced you to do so. And guess what? You can watch it on YouTube! You won’t be disappointed!

To read more about good, mad or lonely scientists, I invite you to take a look at the other entries:

The Movie Scientist Blogathon

One more time, a big thanks to Silver Screening and Christina Wehner for hosting such a fun blogathon!