Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Marie Belloc Lowndes & Eliot Stannard
First feature film in the Legend Begins marathon takes you way back to the decade of the 1920s. As such it was a silent film and the transfer was kind of shoddy, but that is neither surprising nor a problem. The story takes place within the time frame of just a few weeks. It takes place in London during some sort of fog, which can only be seen in one scene, otherwise it is simply assumed. It opens with a crime scene where the murderer known as “The Avenger” has struck again. He also strikes on Tuesday’s and, go figure, he also strikes “fair-haired”, or blond girls. Then a young man appears and becomes a lodger in a room for let at the apartment of a family that has a daughter, Daisy, who is both blond and a mannequin, as the credits say, which turns out is something like a runway model back in the day. From there the suspense and story unfold.
And the suspense is there as always. Hitchcock knows how to do it, even as a young beginner, he had it all along. There is much to like here. I have seen few silent films, but the ones I have seen are important ones such as Dr. Caligari and Battleship Potemkin, so in that manner I know what a “great” silent film should unfold. Hitch does a great job in forming this silent film, as I can see would be a completely different process than a “talkie” would be. All the details are there to clue in the viewer as to what is taking place and where the story is going. There a few interesting shots here too that, considering they were done in 1927, quite impressed me. One was of the lodger pacing in him room upstairs as seen by the landlady downstairs, yet you could see through the floor and see him pacing seemingly through the air. Another was when the lodger first showed up at the doorstop with the fog in the background. It was both haunting and beautiful at the same time. Near the end of the film there is also some non-linear story telling, which I was surprised to see. The lodger goes back in his memory and the scenes are shown and it really is well done, didn’t expect to see that.
As the story progresses, the lodger and the landlady’s daughter begin to fall in love, a love that is forbidden. This part of the story is done quite well by Hitchcock all the way to the conclusion of the story. It is quite romantic actually. Hitchcock’s ability to mix the romantic with the suspenseful impresses me almost every time I see one of his films. Astounding.
In the end the story actually was quite interesting and involving. There is a policeman, Joe, who is on the case for the Avenger who is also in love with Daisy. His character adds to the plot and the connection between the story and the background story of the Avenger. The relationship between Joe and the lodger is on edge the entire film, all the way up until its conclusion. And a word on the conclusion: I was expecting some type of reveal or twist, but I would have never guessed what happened, it truly was great writing.