NetCliques: Creepy classics from Alfred Hitchcock
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This month seemed like the perfect time to pay tribute to the underappreciated films of one of Hollywood’s great directors, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock set the standard for suspense and alarming plot twists. His philosophy on entertaining is best captured by what he once said: “Give them pleasure—the same pleasure they have when they wake from a nightmare.” This tribute is for some unsung tales in his repertoire.
Our first selection has been kept quiet when compared to heavy Hitchcock hitters like The Birds, but maybe that’s because the film has no quotable dialogue. One of Hitchcock’s early silent films, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927, available on Netflix and Amazon), takes place in London where a serial killer nicknamed “The Avenger” begins to target young women. Around the same time of the first few murders, a nameless man (Ivor Novello) appears at the home of Daisy Bunting (June Tripp), asking about a room she has for rent. The man certainly matches the given description of the wanted man, but is he the feared killer?
As Daisy begins to form a relationship with the elusive stranger and the town becomes increasingly suspicious of his mannerisms, suspense proves to be a powerful weapon in Hitchcock’s skilled hands. He is able to turn silence into a climatic film capable of speaking volumes on its own. Is the lodger really The Avenger?
Turning now to the area of psychotic thrillers normally associated with Sir Alfred, Spellbound (1945, available on Netflix and Amazon), is often overshadowed by more gruesome Hitchcock works such as Psycho. But when a movie is set in a mental asylum and stars the great Ingrid Bergman of Casablanca, that movie deserves your undivided attention.
Bergman stars as a blonde bombshell turned psychoanalyst, Dr. Constance Petersen, who discovers the new director of her hospital (Gregory Peck) is not the doctor he claims to be. The other workers of the asylum theorize that the man is a con artist or possibly a murderer, but Dr. Petersen is determined to figure out what his secret is.
Hitchcock can do no wrong in a film that never pauses for a second and is chock-full of his signature abrupt revelations and races to uncover the truth; but hey, when you have a proven formula to cinematic success, why change it?
You can’t watch or read any thrillers without seeing Hitchcock’s influence, so this month ignore some of the stale Halloween horrors on TV and open your mind to the smorgasbord Hitchcock has provided for you.