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My Year with Hitch
Great! Glad for the company!

I've updated the OP (and slightly screwed up the formatting - hopefully it's still readable) as I think I have the correct chronology now. I'm a stickler for stuff like that. I'm also going to try and watch the episodes of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' that he directed in the correct timeline too, but I haven't added those to the list. I'll just mention them as I go.

The first 'Lodger' remake is interesting, mainly as the plot is very similar and it stars the same leading actor - Ivor Norvello. The main change is the ending. It's a shame that the atrocious audio quality lets it down. The 1944 version has the same basic premise but is very much a Jack the Ripper film. Having never read the book, it's probable that all versions I've seen so far take different elements from it and style their film around those. The 1944 version is much more a psychological thriller (the documentary terms it a horror film, but I'm not certain I would go that far), delving into the mind of a killer. An interesting take, for sure, but I prefer the mystery approach that the first 2 films took.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page or on Facebook or Twitter
BONUS: 'Man in the Attic' [1953]
Source: Amazon Prime Video

This fourth iteration of the book 'The Lodger' is actually a virtual line by line remake of the 1944 film version. Here, Jack Palance plays Mr. Slade aka Jack the Ripper (although this version doesn't show us how he chose this name, as opposed to the original). Again, the couple with a room to let are a formerly wealthy family (more upper-middle than upper), but this time with a friendly dog, who's only purpose it seems is to gauge the Jekyll & Hyde nature of the newest guest. And, again, he can't stand those damn paintings in his room!

Daisy returns as the maid, but now we have Lily as the showgirl niece (at least one of her songs is the same, as is the phony French accent). No doubt noting the impossible cheekbones of Mr. Palance, she falls for him again, much to the chagrin of our friendly local Inspector. Perhaps to waylay the Inspector's amorous advances, she invites Mr. Slade along to their date to the 'Black Museum' - Scotland Yard's gruesome collection of criminal evidence. (What a charmer. He knows how to show a girl a good time!) This is one of the few occasions that the remake bests the original (which omitted Slade from this encounter) with some caustic back and forth between the rivals.

But, in the end, the Ripper can't help but to expose himself (his reasoning here for his atrocious acts is again changed, albeit still in the same ballpark as its predecessor). Before his final comeuppance, this version adds a short but thrilling horse and carriage chase, but the ending is slightly ambiguous (Hollywood take note: you could easily make 'Man in the Attic 2' without the audience crying foul).

Ultimately, it's as interesting a coda to the 1944 version as 'The Phantom Fiend' is to Hitchcock's 'Lodger', but still just a B movie. (Maybe B+...?)

The audio and video were fine - certainly watchable. Can I really stomach another Lodger clone? It seems churlish now to stop here. At some point over the next few days, I'll try and complete this side project with the 2009 version of 'The Lodger' starring Alfred Molina.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page or on Facebook or Twitter
Watch The Pleasure Garden yesterday.

It's amazing seeing Hitchcock develop his techniques in building suspense. Even here, in his oldest surviving film, we see his "bomb under the table" principle at work.
As for the film itself, I thought it was ok. I'll confess that I had a little trouble following it as after the first act, I struggled to tell the two lead actresses apart from eachother. I'm sure I will have liked the film better if I'd been able to differentiate the two better.

If I didn't know what film was coming after it, I probably would have enjoyed it slightly more.
Bonus: 'The Lodger' [2009]
Source: Amazon Video

To be honest, this was the version I was least looking forward to. A modern day interpretation set in Hollywood didn't really bode well. But, you know, I was pleasantly surprised. The opening credits claim it is based on the novel, but I imagine the word "loosely" could have been added here. (Disclaimer: I still haven't read the novel, but as the other film versions I've seen are fairly similar, I'll say this is a good bet.) There is a serial killer on the loose (the Jack the Ripper connection is revealed late in the film) and a mysterious stranger is looking for a room again. But then the film takes off in its own direction. Charitably, you could say there are two stories running simultaneously, but mostly the film follows the detective. 

The mystery element runs throughout this version. Who is the killer? (There are many suspects here - arguably too many). Who is the lodger? And, interestingly enough, is there even a lodger? There are few similarities with any other version - the lodger isn't even living in the same house. Still, much to my enjoyment, those damnable paintings of women with their staring eyes are still abominable to him. And he gets to burn something suspicious again (trousers on an outside grill. But still, it's something).

The ending is changed yet again, with even greater ambiguity. Nevertheless, it's entertaining, albeit not really a remake as such. Sort of like a re-imagining, if you will.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page or on Facebook or Twitter
Week 3: 'Downhill' [1927] - silent
Source: Criterion Channel, Filmstruck - streaming

After the thrilling 'Lodger', Hitchcock directs Ivor Norvello again in another melodrama. Here our hero goes to unbelievable lengths to keep a secret and save his friend's honor. At nearly 2 hours long, it stretched my patience, but the visuals kept my interest far longer than the plot did. There are several different acts as we follow the rise and fall of Roddy (mostly falls) and his travails with a succession of unlikeable women. Liars, gold-diggers, cheats - if a woman has an unsympathetic trait, you can bet Roddy will cross paths with them.

Visually, Hitchcock is occasionally a little too on-the-nose with a film titled 'Downhill' - Roddy goes down an escalator, down in a lift, down stairs, etc, between each act. Yet in other scenes, he will suddenly show you something that makes up for all the hand-wringing that makes you want to give Roddy a good slap. Early on, Hitchcock plays with light, shadows and silhouettes with beaded curtains. At a dance hall, the windows are thrown open to let in air and light, revealing the patrons to be ugly and grotesque, almost like vampires in a way. Norvello's sudden realization of his circumstances is excellent. Finally, when Roddy is delirious, Hitchcock has a ball with shaky POV camerawork and hallucinatory images. If only the rest of the story could have lent itself to similar scenes.

Once again, Hitchcock takes us backstage of a theater (were audiences at the time clamoring for these behind-the-scenes vignettes, or was this just a peculiarly Hitchcock peccadillo?). The set-up to reveal Roddy's new job is a masterful bait and switch. The ending is unsurprisingly happy but unsatisfying (I would have liked to have seen some form of comeuppance for the friend who seemed to have survived his misdeed unscathed).

The film was tinted with the majority of the scenes a sepia-orange, with occasional blue for night. During Roddy's hallucinations, we are treated to a sickly green tint, and it fits perfectly. The film looked immaculate, a top-notch restoration. The soundtrack was a solo piano score, also perfectly fine, especially during the dance numbers.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page or on Facebook or Twitter
Week 4: 'Easy Virtue' [1927] - silent
Source: DVD

Hitchcock tackles another tortured soul with a secret to keep - this time the oddly-named Larita. Her scandal - a divorce - dates this film even more so than 'Downhill', but still kept my interest a little more than its predecessor. Firstly, it's shorter, but more importantly, Larita shows greater personality here than the rather pathetic Roddy.

Laying low after her divorce court appearance, Larita meets John in the South of France. (Nice open location shots here, contrasting the claustrophobic family home setting in the second half of the film.) John is played by the same actor who was cast as Norvello's friend in 'Downhill', and I was almost picturing it as a sequel of sorts: this is what he did after his misadventures in 'Downhill'. Also making a return is the - shall we say - plain older actress whom tried to seduce Norvello previously, now playing John's disapproving mother. (She gets all the best shots - staring eyes, snide, furtive glances, etc.)

Why so disapproving? Because Larita brings a breath of fresh air to this dull and one-dimensional family. She also drinks, smokes like a chimney, has a trendy blonde haircut and daring clothes.  Even with all that going for her, though, Hitchcock (or the censors) couldn't let her have a happy ending, alas.

There's precious little Hitchcock magic in this one, unfortunately, and what there is takes place in some of the opening scenes. Using some of the same tricks he first tried in 'Pleasure Garden', Hitchcock cleverly films a POV shot through a man's monocle. Another (or possibly the same) swinging monocle dissolves into a pendulum on a clock. Later, during a marriage proposal by phone, we are left to deduce whether she said yes purely from the reactions of the telephone operator listening in.

Ultimately, it's a fairly light affair - less melodramatic than 'Downhill', but less visually entertaining. I watched the version from the Mill Creek 'A Legacy of Suspense' set (5 films per disc!) and though it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, it was no Criterion. There were no tints, and it was watchable enough that I could easily discern what was going on, but it showed its age - washed out, tears, specks, etc. The soundtrack was a small orchestra and it managed to fit the action fairly well (a little too dramatic in places, maybe) though was also scratchy in places.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page or on Facebook or Twitter
BONUS: 'Easy Virtue' [2008]
Source: Netflix

Based on the Noel Coward play, as was Hitchcock's version, here we see Jessica Biel step into role of Larita. Given the luxury of sound, we can hear Coward's witty dialogue (Disclaimer: Have never seen or read the original play, but I'm betting there's a lot of direct quotes) and with an American accent now, too. She's as brash as ever - in fact, more so, being a Grand Prix-winning race car driver, no less! But, rather than a divorcee, she's a widow, and the audience is left to ponder what her 'scandal' might be for the majority of the film.

Instead, this is more of a fish-out-of-water story. Larita obviously doesn't fit into this strange and dysfunctional upper class country family, with their village revues, fox hunts and the like. There is an overlong episode with a small dog, a risque can-can and Thanksgiving dinner that show that she's trying but ultimately failing to win over her new in-laws. Or, rather, her mother-in-law, played by Kristen Scott-Thomas. Whereas in Hitchcock's version, she was just a spiteful and overbearing mother, here we are offered a reason for her unpleasant attitude. It makes her less one-dimensional, I suppose, and gives her son John an incentive to side with her more often than his own new bride. Still, if felt shoe-horned in to me and largely unnecessary. 

The father, on the other hand, played by Colin Firth, has an unusual couldn't-give-a-sh*t attitude throughout the film. He is a veteran of the Great War and spends his days unshaven, half-dressed, smoking, and lobbing sarcastic remarks to his family. He is the only one who warms to Larita, and his opening up to her about the war is the best part of this film.

This isn't a remake, as such, of Hitchcock's film. Perhaps an early shot through a telescope mimics Hitch's shot through the monocle, but that might be a stretch. The film looked good, shot on location at various stately homes, but the music was a bizarre mix of contemporary and modern songs rerecorded to sound contemporary (a 1920's version of 'Sex Bomb', anyone..?) Entertaining overall, but non-essential.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page or on Facebook or Twitter
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

Now this is what we're talking about. Hitchcock really goes wild with experimental camera techniques in this one.
I was more impressed with his ability to lead the audience to believe something purely through visual cues. He puts us in the detective's shoes, in a way. His storytelling abilities are exquisite.

[I didn't manage to spot him in this one, did he have a cameo?]

My version was tainted with the odd song that had vocals. It was really strange to behold, especially as the lyrics were extremely on the nose. Then it jarringly switches back to regular silent film music. :/

If I could get my hands on a decent copy, I'd be showing this to many people as part of an "intro to silent films". I like how it manages to take the silent film trope of a letter being written to convey a lot of information, and use it as a plot device with clear visual communication of the consequences of said letter (or newspaper).
(01-26-2018, 06:49 PM)Zamros Wrote: My version was tainted with the odd song that had vocals. It was really strange to behold, especially as the lyrics were extremely on the nose. Then it jarringly switches back to regular silent film music. :/

That was my experience too. Not ideal!
"I live in the Tower of Flints. I am the death-owl."

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Every time I see this thread title, I think it's for a fan edit of this:

[Image: p35562_p_v8_av.jpg]

Seriously, though, I love Hitchcock too, and I'm glad you're doing this!

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