With only his third feature, Alfred Hitchcock became the “Master of Suspense,” chilling audiences with this tale of a city whipped into a frenzy by the crimes of a killer modeled on Jack the Ripper. Hitchcock also made his first cameo appearance here, though originally it was just to fill out a scene for which there weren’t enough extras. Besides his brief onscreen presence, other Hitchcock trademarks in the film are the plot about an innocent man (Ivor Novello) accused of a crime, the use of camera work to mirror the emotional tone of a scene and the insertion of sly religious imagery. From the opening shot of a murder victim, the blonde curls that attracted the killer’s attention encircling her head like a halo, to the shots of leading man Novello “crucified” by a lynch mob, the film is pure Hitchcock. The source was Marie Belloc Lowndes’ often-filmed novel. Executives at Gainsborough Pictures made Hitchcock change her ambiguous ending, fearing that audiences wouldn’t accept a matinee idol like Novello as a bloodthirsty killer.
Restoration reconstructed from the original camera negative and presented in collaboration with BFI National Archive, Park Circus Films, ITV Studios, and MGM.
About the restoration
Several hundred hours were spent on the removal and repair of dirt and damage. Digital imaging systems have enabled the film’s original tinting and toning to be reproduced to far greater effect than was previously possible. Particular attention was paid to the night-time sequences set in thick fog which are toned blue and tinted amber. This is a restoration by the BFI National Archive in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Network Releasing and Park Circus Films. Principal restoration funding was provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation, and Simon W Hessel. Additional funding provided by British Board of Film Classification, Deluxe 142, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, and Ian & Beth Mill.
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
In attendance: The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra