HItchcock’s Silent Films Offer

Champagne Hitchcock - BFI offer

You may have noticed how much we’ve been enjoying The Genius of Hitchcock season at the BFI recently (and should at least have played with the Rebecca soundboard). And now several more of the recently restored silent films are having their premieres, complete with soundtracks played live.

To celebrate this, the BFI are offering 25% off, if you buy any two full-priced adult tickets with the code SilentHitch. Book online, by phone (020 7928 3232) or in person. So take someone with you, or set yourself up for an awesome double bill (I am not convinced this works but it’s worth a go, right?)

It should be noted that there’s also a 50% offer running in conjunction when you book online, which is obviously better, but it doesn’t cover quite as many of the films.

Rebecca Sound Board – Hitchcock at the BFI

I am apparently completely powerless when it comes to trying to resist the draw of the Southbank and £5 tickets on a Tuesday to watch classic Hitchcock on one of the best screens in London: NFT1. The BFI’s Genius of Hitchcock season rolls on and last week I treated myself to Rebecca. The psychological noir thriller was Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film and received a total of 11 Oscar nominations.

I could go on about the dramatic acting, heavy-handed exposition, clever camera work, adorable dog, or the lesbian subtext that was so sub it passed me by, but instead I want to focus on how much we laughed. This is a film first released in 1940 and over the years the dialogue has aged somewhat. The characters are wonderfully curt with one another and what may have been seen as romantic 70 years ago comes across as slightly patronising now.

To celebrate the numerous lines we have been quoting since the screening I have put together Mild Concern‘s first sound board. Click on the various quotes below to hear lines of dialogue from Rebecca completely out of context. Rest assured, this is much more amusing for me than it is for you.

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The 39 Steps and The Lodger – Hitchcock at the BFI

In case you’ve somehow failed to notice the BFI is currently running The Genius of Hitchcock season at its home on the Southbank. Every single Hitchcock film is being shown on the big screen over the next few months. The BFI were kind enough to invite us down to watch Hitchcock’s early silent film The Lodger, newly restored by the BFI, and I even paid (a whopping £5 on a Tuesday) to watch a previously unseen by me classic The 39 Steps. Now read on for a little gushing and a few attempts at sounding intelligent.

The 39 Steps
Having only ever seen the comedy stage play before (a fantastic show in its own right) I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to appreciate the film properly and take it as seriously as I might had I not seen it as a farce first. I have to confess that as the film began I was giggling at some scenes that may have been intended to be serious as my mind flickered back to their theatrical comedy counterparts but as the film rolled on I realised that it was OK, Hitchcock had intended the film to be funny.

When you are watching two people on the run from the police struggling to make it over a fence hampered by the fact that they are handcuffed together there is nothing to do but laugh. Hitchcock is a man with a sense of humour and any reverence for his body of work shouldn’t get in the way of that.

The 39 Steps is Hitchcock through and through. A man find himself on the run for a crime he doesn’t commit. There are train rides and sexual tension alongside what turned out to be moments of genuine comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, all the better on the big screen, and only fell asleep briefly.

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
One of the joys of The Genius of Hitchcock is seeing some of his earliest silent films restored and with a newly written score. The Lodger is Hitchcock’s third finished film, made way back in 1926, and is the story of a young man suspected of being The Avenger a Jack the Ripper style serial killer.

What is remarkable is how happy Hitchcock is to turn the serial killer into a MacGuffin. Rather than this being a story about the killings themselves it is about suspicion, persecution, and a woman choosing between the man her parents want her to be with and the new man in her life with whom she shares a genuine connection.

The film was a delight. Hitchcock was surprisingly playful in his direction experimenting with editing, camera angles and title cards. So often when I think of early cinema I expect it to be an unsophisticated mess, forgetting that these were the films that discovered the techniques defining cinema to this day.

The film is rightly said to set up many of Hitchcock’s themes and styles. Again we have a man accused of a crime and forced to prove his innocence whilst falling in love, we have Hitchcock’s first on-screen cameo, and there is the subtle frisson of sexuality Hitchcock is such a fan of. Hitchcock him self called The Lodger the first real Hitchcock film.

The original score is for the most part perfect. It fits the tone and era of the film, managing to switch between sinister and playful several times within a single scene. There are only two weak points when the scores segues into slightly folksy modern ballads. The sudden presence of contemporary music was completely jarring and really took me out of the film. Other than these two flaws the film has been expertly restored and I didn’t fall asleep once.

The 39 Steps runs at the BFI until 25th August, The Lodger until 23rd August, and The Genius of Hitchcock continues at the BFI until October.

BFI’s The Genius of Hitchcock

As we have briefly mentioned before the BFI is currently running a very exciting series of films down on the Southbank (in London, everyone else keep moving); The Genius of Hitchcock season.

Mirroring London’s theatres celebration of Shakespeare The Genius of Hitchcock season forms part of the London 2012 Festival and aims to celebrate one of Britain’s greatest artists. The justification being that with the Olympic Park situated in Stratford the BFI have chosen to focus on one of East London’s most notable residents (Hitchcock, pay attention). Whatever the reasoning may be the result is all of Hitchcock’s works being shown on the big screen so who are we to argue?

Take a peek at the BFI website and marvel at the array of Hitchcockian delights on offer. The season runs from August to October and tickets for all three months are on sale now.

Hitchcock is a true master and this season offers the opportunity to both see personal favourite (The Birds, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, etc.), catch those classic which have so far escaped you (The 39 Steps, Rope, Dial M for Murder, etc.), and even catch some of his earlier, silent work. Alongside the screening are talks for anyone wanting to truly get their film-geek in full flow for Hitchcock.

Go! Buy tickets! Hitchcock is a genius and whichever of his films you prefer, they are showing it. What more do you want? It’s the perfect way to join in with Olympic fever without ever watching any sport.