Mention Alfred Hitchcock and its even money 1960's "Psycho" comes up! Depending on your tastes, 1951's "Strangers on a Train", Cary Grant's 1955 "To Catch a Thief" and 1959's "North by Northwest" might be added. A Doris Day fan may bring up "Hitch's" own remake of his 1934 "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and if you're into Day's co-star Jimmy Stewart. The speaker could add 1954's "Rear Window" and 1958's "Vertigo". While another brings to the conversation Hitchcock's 1944 "Lifeboat", or the Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman 1945 "Spellbound" and if they really know Peck, 1947's "The Paradine Case" is a must.
None of those features are a part of this article and only one of the five motion pictures I'll be mentioning might be known by the general public. When you speak of Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, the murder itself and the detective work were always the fun for the viewer, so here I go with five of my favorites.
"The Lodger" was the third feature length motion picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Prior to his first feature film he had directed the unfinished 1922 "Number 13", and a short subject, 1923's "Always Tell Your Wife". Hitchcock would follow this picture by directing 1927's "Downhill aka When Boys Leave Home". Below is a publicity still of Hitch and his film crew.
Arthur Chesney portrayed "Mr. Bunting". He had started on-screen acting in a 1931 short and when his last film was released in 1948, Chesney had only appeared on-screen 28 times. However, from a personal perspective, in 1907 Chesney he married actress Estelle Windwood, Walt Disney's 1959 "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" with an unknown Sean Connery and Bert I. Gordon's 1962 "The Magic Sword", but that marriage was dissolved shortly afterwards. Arthur Chesney was the brother of actor Edmund Gwenn and cousin to actor Cecil Kellaway, who retained the family's actual last name.
Malcom Keen portrayed "Joe Chandler-a Police Detective". Keen first appeared on-screen in a 1916 short and in 1951 switched to television with just an occasional motion picture until his retirement in 1962.
There is a classic sequence with "Mr. and Mrs. Bunting" and "Joe" in the "Bunting's" kitchen. Something happening above the kitchen ceiling gets their attention and as they look up that solid ceiling is replaced with a very thick piece of glass to view "The Lodger" pacing around in his room. Next, Hitchcock flips the perspective and the audience is looking down from above "The Lodger" and sees him and those in the kitchen below reacting to his pacing.
The "Bunting's" read a new description of the serial killer who is described as wearing a similar scarf to the one "Drew" wears and carrying a similar medical bag to the one he had the night he arrived. Late one night "Mrs. Bunting" is awakened by "Jonathan Drew" going down the stairs and leaving the house. "Mrs. Bunting" enters his room and attempts to search it, but can't open a small locked cabinet. The next morning the family hears of another murder just around the corner from their house.
"Joe" is now convinced that "Jonathan Drew" is "The Avenger". He returns to the "Bunting's" house the following day with two other police officers and a warrant to search "Drew's" room.
The police find the medical bag and open it. Inside is a gun, a map of London indicating all the locations of the past murders, and a photo "Joe" recognizes as "The Avenger's" first victim. "Daisy" protests his arrest, but the handcuffed "Jonathan" escapes and runs off into the night.
Donald Spoto quotes Hitchcock about the demand from the executives for "Gainsborough Pictures" to completely change the screenplays ending.
They wouldn't let Novello even be considered as a villain. The publicity angle carried the day, and we had to change the script to show that without a doubt he was innocent.
Continuing with the Screenplay:
"Daisy" now catches up to "Jonathan" who explains the woman in the photograph is his sister, a beautiful blonde debutante that was murdered by "The Avenger" on her way home from a dance. "Drew" vowed to their mother that he would bring the murderer to justice and has been following the clues ever since.
"Daisy" takes "Jonathan" to a nearby pub and places a cloak over his handcuffed hands to hide them. The people in the pub become suspicious of the two and "Jonathan" leaves "Daisy" and goes out into the fog now being pursued by what will become a mob.
Several movie critics and reviewers of "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog" point out two scenes that they claim were the prototype for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" 33-years-later. I present them to my reader to decide on your own if you agree.
MURDER released in the United Kingdom on July 31, 1930
Director Alfred Hitchcock had just released a 10-minute short entitled "An Elastic Affair" that featured the winners of the scholarships for the magazine "Film Weekly" in a sketch. He would follow this picture with the 1931 drama "The Skin Game" starring Edmund Gwenn.
The screenplay was based upon the first of series of crime novels by two British authoress. Clemence Dane.
The scenario was written by Alfred Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville.
Norah Baring portrayed "Diana Baring". This was the actresses eighth motion picture out of thirteen.
Her trial is held and the majority of the jury believe "Diana Baring" is guilty of murdering "Edna Druce". A couple may think "Diana" really might have no memory of the murder, but they still think she's should be hanged. One juror, the celebrated actor and manager, "Sir John Menier", believes she is innocent, but the other eleven juror's brow-beat him into making the verdict unanimous.
"Sir John Menier's" conscience keeps telling him he's responsible for "Diana Baring" being accused of murder, because he recommended, she join the touring acting company. Yes, at the time a juror could know the accused in England.
The three go to see "Diana Baring's" landlady who claimed to have heard arguing in her apartment with another woman she believed was "Edna Druce". However, "Sir John" asks if the voice might have been a man speaking in falsetto? The three leave and outside of the house a man and an unseen woman pass by them.
MARY released in the German Weimar Republic on March 2, 1931
There were changes to the names of the characters:
"Diana Baring" became "Mary Baring", "Ted Markham" became "Bobby Brown", "Doucie Markham" became "Bebe Brown", "Gordon Druce" became "Gordon Moore", otherwise the names of "Sir John Menier" and "Handel Fane" remained unchanged. Of note only Miles Mander who spoke German was from the original 1930 cast.
Ten motion pictures followed the release of "Mary" including that original 1934 "The Man Who Knew Too Much" starring Leslie Banks, Edna Best, and Peter Lorre, 1935's "The 39 Steps" starring Robert Donat and Madeline Carroll, and 1936's "Secret Agent" starring John Gielgud, Madeline Carroll, and Robert Young.
Then Alfred Hitchcock turned to his friend Sir Gerald Hubert Edward Busson du Maurier's daughter.
The screenplay was based upon Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning's 1936 novel. Hitchcock would film two more works by the authoress, the just mentioned 1938 novel "Rebecca" and a 1952 short story "The Birds".
Sidney Gilliat was a writer on Hitchcock's 1938 "The Lady Vanishes" and wrote the original storyline for Robert Taylor's 1938 "A Yank at Oxford". Before those pictures, Gilliat wrote the Boris Karloff horror film 1936's "The Man Who Changed His Mind aka The Man Who Lived Again".
J.P, Priestley added additional dialogue. Priestley was a novelist, playwright, broadcaster, and social commentator, and wrote the 1927 novel "Benighted" that became the classic 1932 horror movie "The Old Dark House" directed by James Whale and would be remade by director William Castle in 1963 and as 1964's "The Horror of It All" directed by Terence Fisher.
Leslie Banks portraying "Joss Merlyn". Just prior to the release of "Jamaica Inn", Banks had the title role of "Cyrano de Bergerac" in an early 1938 British television live broadcast with co-stars Constance Cummings and James Mason.
Charles Laughton was originally cast by Hitch as "Joss Merlyn". However, Laughton "recast himself" as "Sir Humphrey Pengallan" described in the original screenplay and by Daphne du Maurier as a villainess preacher.
According to the website, "Brenton Film", Laughton was responsible for casting Maureen O'Hara in the film. He had seen her screen test and on this agreed with Alfred Hitchcock that her acting was "subpar", but he couldn't get her out of his mind and felt she was perfect for motion pictures. In fact, he brought her to Hollywood to co-star in 1939's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", or she might still be in the United Kingdom through her career.
After filming the picture, Alfred Hitchcock also moved to Hollywood to begin his contract with David O. Selznick.
The setting is 1820 during the reign of King George IV. On the outside "Jamaica Inn" is a friendly rural English hostelry, but inside it is the headquarters of a gang of cut-throats and thieves led by the innkeeper "Joss Merlyn". The gang are wreckers, responsible for engineering the wrecks of several merchant ships on the Cornish coast, killing any survivors, and taking the cargo.
She asks the kindly Squire for the loan of a horse so she can ride to the "Jamaica Inn" to reunite with her "Aunt Patience", played by Marie Ney, the wife of "Josh Merlyn". Despite warnings from the squire, "Mary" plans to live at the Inn.
"Josh" and "Mary" reach "Jamaica Inn", but he is shot in the back by one of the gang members. Just as "Patience" is about to reveal that "Squire Pengallan" is the leader of the gang, she is shot, off camera, by "Pengallan" and both husband and wife die from their wounds. The Squire takes "Mary" as a hostage, ties her up, and as she has nobody else, he will keep her for himself. He next has both of them driven to a large ship in the harbor that is going to set sail for France.
Make way for Pengallan!
The motion picture is described by film critic Roger Ebert in a retro review on June 15, 1984, in the "Chicago Sun Times" as:
one of the most interesting experiments ever attempted by a major director working with big box-office names
novelty of the picture is not in the drama itself, it being a plainly deliberate and rather thin exercise in suspense, but merely in the method which Mr. Hitchcock has used to stretch the intended tension for the length of the little stunt" for a "story of meager rangeor,
In addition to the fact that it has little or no movement, 'Rope' is handicapped by some of the most relentlessly arch dialogue you ever heard.
In hindsight, Roger Ebert hit the proverbial nail-on-the-head, "Rope" was an experiment basically on a single set, with long camera shots, without any camera movement for as long as 10-minutes.
Donald Spoto in his biography "The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock", on page 306 quotes James Stewart as saying this about "Rope":
It was worth trying – nobody but Hitch would have tried it. But it really didn't work.
The purpose of my mentioning 1948's "Rope" is to set the stage for one other experiment in film making by Alfred Hitchcock and that was:
DIAL M FOR MURDER premiering in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 19, 1954
English playwright Frederick Knott wrote "Dial M For Murder" for the BBC's Sunday Night Theatre on March 23, 1952, after that live production, the play went to London's West End in June, and the Broadway Stage in October.
Alfred Hitchcock had released "I Confess!", produced by Sidney Bernstein and, starring Montgomery Clift and Anne Baxter on February 12, 1953 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Hitchcock planned to work again with producer Bernstein, the two had also worked on 1948's "Rope" and 1949's "Under Capricorn" that had starred Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, and Michael Wilding, but Bernstein decided to retire. Besides, "Warner Brothers" wasn't interested in a project based upon author David Duncan's "The Bramble Bush" about a disaffected Communist agitator on the run. Not to be confused with the 1960 Richard Burton motion picture of the same name based upon a novel by Charles Mergendahl.
What Jack L. Warner wanted was the director to make a motion picture in 3-D.
Hitchcock contacted Frederick Knott to write the screenplay for the motion picture with the idea that his "Dial M for Murder" was to be shot in the Third Dimension. While Hitchcock went to work on casting the feature.
To make the sequence of Ray Milland dialing the fateful letter "M" and to utilize the full potential of the 3-D process. Alfred Hitchcock had a extremely large prop telephone constructed and a part human hand to be what was supposed to be Milland's finger going into the slot. Below, Hitch with the phone and one of the movie's shots of it.
Ray Milland portrayed "Tony Wendice". His latest release was the 3-D musical comedy, 1953's "Let's Do It Again" co-starring with Jan Wyman and Aldo Ray, and followed this film with the motion picture 1955's "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" co-starring Joan Collins and Farley Granger. While the actor was also appearing on his comedy television series "The Ray Milland Show", that run from 1953 through 1955.
Grace Kelly portrayed "Margot Wendice". Motion picture wise, Kelly had recently been seen in the remake of the Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor 1932 "Red Dust", 1953's "Mogambo", with the location moved from French Indochina to Africa. In the picture Gable was recreating his role, Ava Gardner was in the Harlow role, and Grace Kelly portrayed the Mary Astor role. Kelly was also appearing in episodes of the television anthology series "Kraft Theatre". The actress followed this film with Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 "Rear Window" co-starring with James Stewart, Wendel Corey and Thelma Ritter. The unknown Raymond Burr portrayed the low keyed, white haired, murderer.
Robert Cummings portrayed "Mark Halliday". Cummings had just co-starred with Doris Day, and Phil Silvers in the 1954 musical comedy "Lucky Me", and followed the feature with appearances on five different television anthology series.
John Williams recreated his stage role of "Chief Inspector Hubbard". Williams had recently been in the 1952 motion picture "Thunder in the East" starring Alan Ladd, Deborah Kerr, Charles Boyer, and Corrine Calvert. He would follow this movie with director Billy Wilder's "Sabrina" starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden.
Anthony Dawson recreated his stage role of "Charles Swann". Scottish character actor Dawson had been appearing on American television anthology series since 1951 and returned to them and British television after making this motion picture.
The basic plot is very simple, but it's how Hitchcock filmed it that makes it work so well, or not.
The following night "Margo" is asleep and "Swan" enters the flat and hides near the telephone.
"Margo" and "Tony" now meet with the inspector, who states that "Swann" had to enter through the flats front door.
Months later on the day before "Margo" is to be executed, "Mark" comes to see "Tony" and explains a story he has devised that will allow "Tony" to save "Margo". It revolves around the other having paid "Swann" to kill his wife, but before "Tony" can respond. "Inspector Hubbard" unexpectedly arrives and "Mark" goes into the bedroom to hide.
"Mark" overhears "Hubbard" asking about the large sums of money "Tony's" been spending around town, tricking him into revealing where he keeps his latchkey, and then a question about where is "Tony's" attaché case? "Tony" replies he misplaced the case, but curious "Mark" looking around the bedroom finds it under the bed. When he opens it the case is full of bank notes and "Mark" deduces this was 'Tony's" intended pay off of "Swann". He goes into the other room to confront "Tony" and explains his theory to "Inspector Hubbard".
However, "Tony" claims that was "Margo's" blackmail payoff money to "Swann", but he hid it to protect his wife. "Inspector Hubbard" appears to believe "Tony's" explanation and "Mark" angerly leaves the other two men. "Hubbard" discreetly swaps his raincoat for "Tony's" when the other is not looking, thanks him, and leaves. He waits until "Tony" leaves his flat and the building and returns to the flat letting himself in with "Tony's" latchkey and is followed in by "Mark".
"Inspector Hubbard" had already discovered that the latchkey in "Margo's" handbag was "Swann's" own and he must have replaced the other latchkey back to where it came from before entering the flat. Now, correctly suspecting "Tony" of hiring "Swann" to murder his wife he reveals his elaborate plan to trap "Tony",
Plainclothes policemen bring "Margo" back to the flat. "Hubbard" asks her to unlock the front door with the latchkey in her handbag, as he expected, it does not work. She then goes to the garden to get into the flat, proving she has no knowledge of the hidden key.
Why Jack Warner wanted Alfred Hitchcock to film a motion picture in the Third Dimension at this time was questionable. Director Gordon Douglas had what became the science fiction classic 1954's "THEM!" in post-production having been filmed in 3-D. Warner cancelled release of the picture in that process, because of the declining box office and this was prior to the start of filming "Dial M for Murder".
first audiences proved to be a jury that could not only make up its mind, but could make it up in a hurry. In exhibitors' own terms, "DIAL M" literally died. And after just four performances on Wednesday, some long-distance telephoning to report complaints, the increasing skimpiness of customers—a good many of them making no bones of their dissatisfaction—permission was given to throw away the glasses and hastily switch to the 2-D version. Whereupon business at the Randolph took a turn for the better.
The screenplay was based upon the 1950 novel of the same title by Jack Trevor Story. The screenplay was written by John Michael Hayes. For Alfred Hitchcock, Hayes wrote the screenplays to 1954's "Rear Window", 1955's "To Catch a Thief", 1956's "The Man Who Knew Too Much", and among his now Hitchcock screenplays were, 1957's "Peyton Place", 1960's "Butterfield 8", and 1964's "The Carpetbaggers".
Edmund Gwenn portrayed "Captain Albert Wiles". Gwenn's previous movie was 1954's "THEM!", otherwise he was appearing on television anthologies.
Royal Dano portrayed "Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs". Character actor Dano was mainly appearing on television. His last film appearance was 1954's "The Far Country" starring James Stewart, Ruth Roman, and Corinne Calvert.
During the day the different killers move, hide, bury, unbury, and rebury the body each believes they killed.
It is not a particularly witty or clever script that John Michael Hayes has put together from a novel by Jack Trevor Story, nor does Mr. Hitchcock's direction make it spin. The pace is leisurely, almost sluggish, and the humor frequently is strained ... But it does possess mild and mellow merriment all the way. The performers are beguiling in a briskly artificial style, and there's an especially disarming screwball blandness about the manner of Miss MacLaine
"The Trouble With Harry" is solved when everyone finds out he died naturally.
As I started my article mentioning, that except for "Dial M for Murder" that may at least known by name, my five motion pictures are mainly unknown by the average fan of Alfred Hitchcock, but perhaps not anymore.