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The Jean Simmons Blogathon: Footsteps In The Fog(1955)

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Virginie over at The Wonderful World Of Cinema and Phyllis over at Phyllis Loves Classic Movies are co-hosting this blogathon celebrating Jean Simmons. Be sure to visit their blogs to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself. 

I’m writing about Footsteps In the Fog. This is quite an underrated film and contains one of my favourite Jean Simmons performances. This is the film that actually ended up making me a fan of Jean Simmons. I love the film very much. I hope that this post will encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to check it out.

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Jean Simmons as Lily. Screenshot by me.

The film is based upon the short story The Interruption by William Wymark Jacobs, which was published in 1925. The story focuses on a cook, who blackmails her master after she discovers that he has killed his wife. 

The film was directed by Arthur Lubin(best known as an Abbott and Costello director and as director of the Francis The Talking Mule films).

The film initially had a screenplay by Arthur Pierson, which was then rewritten by Lenore Coffee (a noted screenwriter who was twice nominated for an Academy Award) and Dorothy Reid(screenwriter,director and actress. Dorothy had also been the wife of the actor Wallace Reid, who had died in 1923 after becoming addicted to the morphine prescribed to him when he was injured in a train accident).

The final film script stays quite close to Jacobs story. New storylines added for the film include a second murder, the romantic element between Lily and Stephen, a second love triangle which involves Stephen, Elizabeth and David, and much more emphasis on Lily’s character. Originally titled Deadlock and then later on Rebound, the film would finally receive the title of Footsteps In The Fog.  

Footsteps In the Fog is an absolutely fascinating film for so many different reasons. For starters it was one of the last of the Gothic drama films to be made, and it was released at at time when these sorts of films were no longer really in fashion. The film is also notable for having been shot in Technicolor, rather than in Black and White, as was usually the case with films of this genre.I personally think that Black and White photography works best for Gothic films. I think that Black and White photography heightens the atmosphere more,and that it somehow makes you feel the eerie and oppressive atmosphere present in so many of these Gothic films. I have to say though that the colour photography works very well for this film. I for one love being able to actually see the colours of the period furnishings and clothes featured in the film.

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Lily loves danger. Screenshot by me.

The film is also notable and unusual due to the behaviour of Lily, who is played superbly by Jean Simmons. In other Gothic films the female characters are often the ones in peril and they either become victims, or they become emotionally manipulated and tricked by men.

In this film the female lead is no victim. It is actually Lily who manipulates and controls her situation. Lily is a very strong and determined character, and she also seems to get a weird thrill in staying with the man who she knows wants her dead. 

The film is also interesting because of the complicated characters played by Jean and Stewart Granger. Stephen and Lily are both extremely complex and intriguing people. Both characters have two very different sides to their respective personalities, and both do some very surprising things as the film goes on. Many scenes between Stephen and Lily are quite sexually charged, the pair hate each other with a passion, but they also greatly desire one another too. Lily in particular seems to thrive on this twisted relationship, as well as on the risk that comes along with it. 

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Stewart Granger as Stephen. Screenshot by me.

We see that Stephen is a cold and callous killer, and yet he also has our pity at certain moments of the film. Stephen can also be tender,warm,devoted and he is capable of great remorse. Our impressions and opinions of this man change several times throughout the film.  

At the start of the film we see that Lily is a shy, innocent, vulnerable and bullied young woman. Lily dreams of becoming more than just a maid and kitchen assistant. When Lily discovers Stephen’s dark secret she chooses not to run to the Police and report it, but instead to use that secret to her advantage. Lily blackmails Stephen and in return for her silence gets something she wants from him.

As the film goes on Lily becomes strong and dominant, she gains a position of authority, and she also gains power over Stephen. Lily is a tragic figure though because she starts to develop genuine romantic feelings for this killer. Jean does such a good job of conveying Lily’s changing emotional state and her feelings and desires. 

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Lily confesses what she knows to Stephen. Screenshot by me.

The film is set in Edwardian London. The story focuses on Lily(Jean Simmons)a young maid and kitchen assistant working in the home of Stephen Lowry(Stewart Granger).

Stephen’s wife tragically dies from Gastroenteritis, or at least that’s what the doctor believed when he gave a cause of death. Lily however knows that her mistress didn’t die of natural causes.Mrs. Lowry was actually poisoned by her husband. Lily saw Stephen do the deed and hide the bottle of poison he used. Lily goes to Stephen and tells him that she knows what he did.

In return for her silence, Lily tells Stephen to make her housekeeper and to allow her to keep Mrs Lowry’s jewels. Stephen agrees to her demands, but starts to form a plan of his own to kill Lily. 

Lily meanwhile is actually starting to fall in love with Stephen, in some scenes it seems to us as though he may be starting to care for her too, but the reality is that he wants her dead so that he can pursue Elizabeth(Belinda Lee)the daughter of his friend. Stephen’s plans to kill Lily go terribly wrong during a suspenseful sequence set outside in the thick, creeping fog that is drifting through the London streets. I’m afraid that I can’t say any more about the plot without spoiling the twists and turns that the plot takes from this scene on.

Jean and Stewart both deliver terrific performances and have a good chemistry. Their shared scenes are exciting and suspenseful. I like how some moments between them are played quite tenderly as the characters begin to develop some genuine affection for one another at times. 

                         Left to right: Belinda Lee and Bill Travers as Elizabeth and David. Belinda Lee as Eizabeth and Stewart Granger as Stephen. 

Both Jean and Stewart are lent solid support by Marjorie Rhodes as the bullying cook. William Hartnell as Lily’s brother in-law. Bill Travers as the solicitor, David, who is also in love with Elizabeth. Belinda Lee(an up and coming British actress, who would tragically be killed in a car crash in 1961, aged just 25 years old)as the beautiful and gentle Elizabeth, the lady who is the real object of Stephen’s affections.

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Lily is caught wearing Mrs. Lowry’s clothes and jewels. Screenshot by me.

The costumes and sets are all beautiful, the cinematography is stunning, and the atmosphere and tone of the film are suitably dark.

In a decade when Gothic drama wasn’t really the sort of film drawing in the big crowds, Footsteps In The Fog may well have seemed like something of an odd film to release. This film proved that such films had lost none of their power to shock and grip audiences. 

I think this film is one of the best films in the entire Gothic  film genre. It is atmospheric and very suspenseful. The sequence at night in the fog is very hard to forget because it is done so well, it makes you feel as though you are right there with Stephen on those dark, fog filled streets. The film brings to my mind the likes of The Man In The Attic, The Spiral Staircase, The Lodger and Gaslight(1940). 

I highly recommend this film to any fan of Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger and Gothic films. Have you seen this film? What did you think of the film and Jean’s performance?

 

 

 

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The Second Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon: Day One

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The big day has finally arrived! Over the next three days, a large number of truly wonderful bloggers will be writing about Barbara and her films. I will be your hostess today. Crystal over at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood will be your hostess on Monday and Tuesday.

We are so looking forward to reading all of the entries. Thank you for joining us to celebrate this remarkable actress.

I will update this page as often as I can today as the entries come in. 

Day One Entries

Palewriter gets things off to a great start with her reviews of The Thorn Birds and Christmas In Connecticut .

 

Poppity tells us about the time Barbara starred alongside Bogie in The Two Mrs.Carrolls.

 

Dubism writes about Barbara’s TV series The Big Valley.

 

The Midnite Drive-In takes a look at Forty Guns, another Western featuring our Barbara.

 

Caftan Woman joins the party with her review of Banjo On My Knee, the second of six films starring Barbara and Joel McCrea.

 

The Stop Button writes about The Purchase Price. 

 

Critica Retro writes about the little gem that is The Mad Miss Manton.

 

RealWeegieMidgetReviews writes about Barbara’s time on the TV soap The Colbys.

 

I write about one of Barbara’s most underrated films All I Desire. 

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The Second Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon: All I Desire(1953)

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This is my entry for the Stanwyck blogathon being co-hosted by myself and Crystal next weekend. Can’t wait to read all the other entries.

For this blogathon I’ve decided to write about one of Barbara Stanwyck’s less well known and less discussed films. It is a film about love, family, second chances and following your heart, wherever it may lead you.It’s a very underrated film and features an excellent lead performance by Barbara. 

All I Desire is a film from that master of soap and melodrama, the legendary classic era director Douglas Sirk. When most people think of Sirk’s work they usually associate his name with vibrant Technicolor films such as Magnificent Obsession or Written On The Wind, but he also made some films in Black and White and this film is one of them. 

This film isn’t one that instantly springs to mind when people discuss Douglas Sirk’s films, I think that is a real shame because it is a good film that deserves to be better known and discussed.

All I Desire may well be quite a predictable film, but it is never the less a very enjoyable film. Barbara Stanwyck’s performance is a big reason for this film working as well as it does in my opinion.

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Barbara as Naomi. Screenshot by me.

Barbara does a terrific job of conveying to us how much of a conflicted personality her character Naomi has.

Although Naomi craves excitement and danger, she also longs for a normal life as a mother and wife.

Dialogue isn’t really required in many of Barbara’s scenes in this film, her face tells us exactly what her character is feeling or longing for every moment she is on screen.

I especially love Barbara’s acting in the scene when her character watches her daughter act on stage, it is such a beautiful moment. Barbara was a very expressive actress, she inhabited her characters completely and this film is a good example of her ability to do that.  

The film is set in Edwardian era America. Naomi Murdoch(Barbara Stanwyck)longs to be an actress more than anything else. She abandons her husband and three children to tread the boards. Some years later she receives a letter from her second daughter Lily(Lori Nelson)asking her to come home to see her graduate and perform in the school play.

    Naomi returns to her family and receives different reactions. Screenshots by me.

Naomi agrees and is welcomed home with open arms by Lily. She also receives a warm welcome from Lena(Lotte Stein)who is the Murdoch’s loyal cook and cherished friend. Naomi receives the cold shoulder from her eldest daughter Joyce(Marcia Henderson)and from her estranged husband Henry(Richard Carlson).

Naomi also meets her young son Ted(Billy Gray) who can’t remember her very much. Joyce has had to become the mother figure to her two younger siblings, and she is very angry and upset that her mother thinks she can just come back into their lives and that everything will go back to how it used to be.

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Naomi and Henry find they still have feelings for each other. Screenshot by me.

Henry still cares for Naomi but has just about put his life back together again following her departure, he now has to try and work out just how he feels about her. Things are complicated by the presence of Sara Harper(Maureen O’Sullivan)who is a local teacher who loves Henry. Naomi must also cope with running into her former lover Dutch(Lyle Bettger) who wants to take up with her again. 

                       Naomi, Henry and Sara all look at each other during a party, and they can all tell how they feel about one another just by looking. Love this scene so much. Screenshots by me. 

As Naomi settles back in to her former life, she begins to see the emotional damage she has caused by leaving. Naomi realises that she wants this family life, but will her family want her to stay with them? Will she herself actually be able to settle down to small town life again after so long away? Can she resist the charms of her former lover?

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Naomi and Dutch Screenshot by me.

There is so much going on in this film that it is pretty remarkable that the film only clocks in at 1 hour 16 minutes long. The film doesn’t feel rushed, but I would have liked it to have lasted a bit longer. I always want more scenes between Henry and Naomi when I watch this. I also want to see more of what happens after that ending, as I don’t think this situation would be tidied up so neatly and quickly in reality. 

Barbara delivers the best performance in the film. The rest of the cast all deliver solid performances. Lori Nelson stands out the most from the supporting cast, she lights up every scene she is in. Lotte Stein is terrific as Lena and I love the mother daughter bond between her and Naomi. 

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Lori and Lotte. Screenshots by me.

I think the film does a pretty good job of allowing us to sympathise with all the main characters at times. The film also allows us to dislike the characters or disagree with them at times. Due to this the characters come across as very real, they are all flawed, all full of hopes, dreams and issues. Love is messy and complicated, as are people, and this film shows us these facts.

I highly recommend this film to fans of Barbara and Douglas Sirk. What do you think of the film? What do  you think of Barbara Stanwyck’s performance?

 

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Announcing The Stewart Granger Blogathon

Happy New Year to you all. I would like to invite you all to join me this April to celebrate Stewart Granger. Stewart Granger was born James Lablache Stewart, in Kensington, London, on the 6th of May 1913.Changing his name(we can’t have more than one Jimmy Stewart after all) to Stewart Granger, he would go on to become one of the biggest film stars of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. 

Stewart was one of the most intense and handsome leading men of the classic film era. With that distinctive voice of his, coupled with his smouldering good looks and intense presence, Stewart Granger is someone who you don’t forget in a hurry. 

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Stewart Granger in Footsteps In The Fog. Screenshot by me.

Stewart worked in his native Britain for much of his career. Gainsborough melodramas were the films in which he first gained fame. He would go on to become a big star in America too. He could play gentle and romantic men, as well as brooding and dark villains or troubled men. He was married to Jean Simmons for ten years. 

For this blogathon you can write about any of Stewart’s films or TV appearances. You can write about the films he made with Jean Simmons. You can focus on his British or his American film career. You can write a tribute to him. If you ever met or corresponded with him you can write about that experience too. If you have never seen one of his films before, why not take this opportunity to finally do so?

The blogathon will be held on the 13th and 14th of April, 2019. Please post your entries on or before those dates. I will accept just the two duplicates per screen title. You may post up to three entries each if you wish to do so. 

Take one of the banners below to place on your site to help promote the event. Let me know what you want to write about below. Check the participation list below to see which titles have been claimed. Have fun writing about Stewart and watching his films. 

The Participation List

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Caravan

Pale Writer: Love Story and Footsteps In The Fog

Pleasant Street: The Man In Grey

Realweegiemidgetreviews: The Wild Geese

The Stop Button: Moonfleet

Mikestakeonthemovies: The Secret Invasion

Dubsism: King Solomon’s Mines

Catftan Woman: The Last Hunt

MovieRob: Sodom And Gomorrah and The Secret Invasion

The Midnite Drive-In: North To Alaska

Poppity: Scaramouche and Fanny By Gaslight

Critica Retro: Salome

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: The Little Hut

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