Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. United Kingdom, 1927. Gainsborough Pictures, Carlyle Blackwell Productions. Screenplay by Eliot Stannard, from the novel and play by Marie Belloc Lowndes. Cinematography by Gaetano di Ventimiglia. Produced by Michael Balcon, Carlyle Blackwell. Production Design by C. Wilfred Arnold, Bertram Evans. Film Editing by Ivor Montagu.
This early classic by Alfred Hitchcock shows the master of suspense to already possess a creative command of the camera, utilizing effective close-ups and point of view shots while emphasizing a sense of murky atmosphere that contributes as much to the experience as the plot does. A Jack The Ripper-like killer is strangling girls all over London and a landlady who is renting a room to a handsome stranger (Ivor Novello) tells her husband that she fears he is the man committing the crimes. Once they’re on to him, the couple forbid their beautiful blond daughter (June Tripp), who has become sweet on him, to spend any more time in his company, but she doesn’t listen and things get well out of hand before they are resolved. Gorgeous production design and costumes (Tripp plays a model and gets to show off some dazzling gowns) enrich a fascinating production that has some unforgettable images, the best of them Novello’s arrival at the house on a foggy night, his beautiful face half hidden by a now iconic scarf.