Norwich Film Festival presents a serial killer Hitchcock classic with a twist
- Credit: (C) Norwich Film Festival
Silent Night – venture into the London fog with one of the greatest directors of all time at a special screening of a Hitchcock classic as part of Norwich Film Festival as it hosts Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger at the old Noverre Cinema.
A madman killing women in London, fog so thick you could slice it with a knife, a fearful atmosphere of suspicion and terror…if it sounds familiar, it's because Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog drew influence from the Jack the Ripper murders.
Directed by Hitchcock in 1927, this silent thriller is generally acknowledged to be the film where, ironically, he first found his distinctive voice.
British matinee idol Ivor Novello plays the eponymous lodger whose arrival at an anonymous boarding house in a London backstreet where he immediately begins to entrance the landlady's pretty daughter Daisy (June Tripp).
Daisy is also being courted by a Scotland Yard detective on the trail of the Ripper-style killer - known as The Avenger - who is striking fear into pre-First World War London as he stalks and murders young, fair-haired women.
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Daisy's mother Mrs Bunting (Marie Ault) and her father (Arthur Chesney) are immediately suspicious of new lodger Jonathan Drew thanks to his secretive behaviour and mysterious night-time excursions and share their fears with Daisy's policeman boyfriend Joe (Malcolm Keen).
Could The Avenger be under the terrified family's nose?
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Featuring Hitchcock's first director cameo (as a telephone operator), The Lodger features a host of treats to look out for as the story unfolds: there are the incredibly clever ways that the director expresses sounds, the famous "footstep" shots of the lodger pacing on a glass floor, the first symbolic Hitchcock staircase and his very first blonde heroine.
Norwich Film Festival will present The Lodger (PG) with live piano accompaniment by leading silent film accompanist and resident BFI Piano Player Stephen Horne at The Assembly House in Norwich on November 12 in what used to be the old Noverre Cinema.
There will also be a brief introduction to the film by British Film historian Dr Paul Firth from the University of East Anglia.
Craig Higgins of Norwich Film Festival said: "Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger was released 92 years ago on Valentine's Day. This silent splendour is often cited as the film in which this masterful director found his 'voice' as he distinctively weaved a combination of trick shots, intensity, suspense, thrills and dark humour to create one of the best silent films from that decade.
"It can be argued that this serial killer thriller also launched Hitchcock's career to new heights and was viewed as ground-breaking at the time of release.
"Silent films are the backbone of cinema and without them we wouldn't be where we are today in film as it allowed filmmakers of the time the opportunity to learn about storytelling, the importance of editing, camera work and so forth.
"Pairing moving image with sound was also an important part of the cinema going experience in the early part of the 20th century and we are delighted that we have this opportunity to screen a silent masterpiece with a live piano accompaniment as part of the 2019 Norwich Film Festival line-up."
* Tickets for the film on November 12 cost £10, under-25s £8 (plus booking fee), licensed bar from 6.30pm, film begins at 7.15pm promptly. The event is supported by The Assembly House Trust, a registered arts charity, which is also supporting another Film Festival event, a conversation with actor and comedian Michael Smiley on November 17 at 2pm. Find out more and buy tickets from www.norwichfilmfestival.co.uk
Pianists at the silent movies
In the 1900s, a trip to the cinema might have involved squeezing on to a wooden bench to watch a film projected on to something that looked similar to a bed sheet.
Cheap and cheerful (if you sat behind the sheet you'd be admitted for half price) there would often have been musical accompaniment which would sometimes veer off course and become a singalong for the crowd.
The best pianists would create an apt score as the film progressed (Harpo Marx only lasted for two weeks as a silent film pianist on account of the fact he only knew how to play two tunes) and would match music to the mood of the film.
In 1909, new legislation saw the old penny halls replaced by grand cinemas which had comfortable seats and, often, an orchestra pit. There was generic music used for many films - Fluffy Ruffles for comedies, the Wild Chase Gallop or Desert Monotony for Westerns, Hurry for battle scenes, Presto for sword-fights- and musicians were rewarded for hitting their cues from the silver screen.
Percussionists particularly enjoyed being sound of gun shot when required. The bigger cinema releases would have their own score - in addition to creating extra atmosphere, the music would also mask the clicking whir of the film projector.
Do you remember the Noverre Cinema at The Assembly House?
For more than 40 years, the Noverre served as a popular city cinema which screened a diverse range of films including non-commercial and arthouse releases.
Located in a former ballroom at The Assembly House in Norwich, the cinema took its name from the Noverre family who taught classical dance there during the 18th century.
Prior to the Noverre's opening, The Assembly House underwent a £70,000 renovation project and when it re-opened in November 1950 boasted music rooms, a banquet room and exhibition room and the arts cinema.
A raked auditorium with 272 sloped seats was installed in the well-equipped cinema which had two 35mm projectors, two 16mm projectors and modern sound installation.
The Noverre is fondly remembered for its Saturday morning kids' club, seating with plenty of leg room, showing no adverts before films and for not selling ice creams or popcorn. The most popular film it screened was Cabaret, which was shown on 11 different occasions.
The Norfolk and Norwich Film Theatre began showing films at the Noverre in 1966 before moving into its permanent venue, Cinema City on St Andrews Street, in 1978. The Noverre closed its doors on 23 December 1992 - you can still spot the entrance to the old cinema above the door to The Richard Hughes Cookery School close to the fountain.