Tag Archives: Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s coming home … Blackmail at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall

Alfred Hitchcock was born in the far east of London, in Leytonstone. So far east in fact, that it was Essex then, I think. But Hitch is still one of London’s most famous film directors, and it is fitting that one of his most famous films to be both set and filmed in the capital will be screening in his home borough of Waltham Forest this summer. The Barbican are showing the silent version of Blackmail, with Neil Brand’s tremendous score played by the Forest Philharmonic, at the Assembly Hall in Walthamstow, London E17.  Be there or find yourself kicking your heels in a West End Lyon’s Corner House, rejected and alone.

Blackmail is a classic crime thriller, laden with Hitchcock’s signature suspense tricks, about a nice young girl (Anny Ondra) who commits a violent act one night in dire circumstances, and has to live with the consequences. Famously shot as both a silent and sound film, Blackmail reveals Hitchcock as a confident director revelling in the themes of murder and guilt that would become his home turf. In classic Hitchcock style, Blackmail also climaxes with a setpiece at a famous landmark – one slightly closer to home than Mount Rushmore. Every film fan in London should see this film, and the best way to see it is like this, with an orchestra and Brand’s wonderful music.

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Hitchcock 9 update

Rescue the Hitchcock 9
Rescue the Hitchcock 9

I think the time is ripe for a quick update on the BFI’s Hitchcock 9 project, and a reminder that you can still donate to the restoration work. The BFI put out a statement this week saying that the restored Hitchcock silents will be screened in London next year as part of the London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. From what we’ve heard before, we can expect a variety of screenings around town, from large-scale outdoor events to more intimate screenings in smaller venues. Just the sort of thing to get Silent London all hot and bothered.  This will be followed in the autumn by a full Hitchcock retrsopective at BFI Southbank, which is cause for celebration in itself.

The BFI has also, excitingly, announced three of the composers who will be scoring the films. Avant-garde composer Tansy Davies is on board but has not selected a film yet. Recent graduate Daniel Cohen will be working on The Pleasure Garden and his score will be performed by Academy Manson Ensemble from the Royal Academy of Music. The songwriter, producer and composer Nitin Sawhney will be writing music for the London Symphony Orchestra to play alongside The Lodger, possibly the best known film in the group.

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Turn your cinema memories into art

The EMD Cinema Memories project
The EMD Cinema Memories project

We all have powerful memories of visits to the cinema – your first trip, as a child; the first time you saw your favourite film; your first cinema date; maybe even your first silent film. And if Alfred Hitchcock were here to share his memories with us, they would surely involve a few educational afternoons at the EMD cinema in Walthamstow, north-east London, where he watched silent films as a boy. We can’t all claim to have come away from the cinema as inspired as Hitchcock, but we all know what it’s like to stumble out of the foyer with images reeling around our heads, thinking: “I’ve got to see that again.”

Well, the EMD Cinema has fallen sadly out of use and into disrepair, but there is a thriving, celebrity endorsed campaign to get it up and running again. And the Save Our Cinema group wants to collect your cinema memories, not just of the EMD, but of other “characterful” independent picture palaces, all in the name of art. The stories will be collated and turned into an exhibition at the E17 Art Trail in September.

There are two strands to our special storytelling project – as well as written or recorded voxpops of YOUR OPINIONS, we’re looking for PERSONAL ANECDOTES about going to the pictures in a cinema with character. We hope to make sound and video clips of people telling their own stories, along with written pieces, photos, music and drawings. Whatever way you’d like to tell your story about why a distinctive cinema matters to you, we’re interested. If you have special memories of childhood matinees, first dates, first kiss!, wild nights at concerts or just a warm feeling about the place, we want to hear about it. If you missed the chance to visit the EMD before it was closed but you have first-hand stories of a cherished cinema somewhere else, please share them with us.

So if you have a cinematic story to tell, do get involved – you might even help to save Hitchcock’s cinema. If you want inspiration, here’s Ryan Gilbey, film critic of the New Statesman, showing us how it’s done. More details about the history of EMD Cinema can be found here, and details of the Storytelling project can be found on Facebook here. Maybe this is why they call it “awesomestow”.

To get involved, or to send your anecdotes, images, videos or audio clips, contact storytelling@savewalthamstowcinema.org, tweet @saveourcinema or send post to Save Walthamstow Cinema, 39-41 High St, London E17 7AD

The Lodger at The Prince Charles Cinema, 24 March 2011

The Lodger (1927)
The Lodger (1927)

The Prince Charles Cinema has announced its next trio of silent screenings and they are all classics, kicking off with Hitchcock’s best known silent film, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927). There’s very little Silent London likes more than a silent film set in London, by a London-born director – and The Lodger is a really fantastic film. This is how the PCC describes it:

Considered by Hitchcock as his first real film, The Lodger is a silent sexual psychodrama set in a foggy, gloomy London terrorised by a killer loosely modelled on Jack the Ripper. As blonde women are murdered around the city, a sinister gentleman takes up lodgings at the house of an elderly couple and is soon showing an interest in their pretty blonde daughter. A real sense of menace pervades the story and the visual inventiveness makes the film a real treat.

Yup, it’s pretty sinister, and Hitchcock is on fine form here – the beautifully designed intertitles are a particular delight, as is Ivor Novello’s wonderfully ambiguous performance in the lead role.

There is some bad news about Hitchcock’s silents though – these great films, including The Ring, The Manxman, Downhill and Blackmail, are in urgent need of restoration. To this end the BFI has launched a campaign called Rescue the Hitchcock 9 to raise funds for the restoration work. So if you go along to see The Lodger at the Prince Charles Cinema, and you enjoy it, perhaps you’d think about making a donation yourself. Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation recently contributed £275,o00, but you don’t have to give as much as that. For more details, look at the BFI website here.

The Lodger screens at the Prince Charles Cinema on 24 March 2011 at 8.45pm. Piano accompaniment will be provided by John Sweeney and tickets cost £10 or £6 for members. More details here.

Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.

Alfred Hitchcock