Footsteps in the Fog (1955)

Footsteps in the Fog (1955)

“Another woman once thought she owned me. Don’t drive me too far!”

When a smitten housemaid (Jean Simmons) discovers that her widowed employer (Stewart Granger) secretly poisoned his wife, she blackmails him into giving her a higher position in his household — but his interest in a beautiful heiress (Belinda Lee) causes tensions in their uneasy relationship.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Blackmail
  • Cat-and-Mouse
  • Courtroom Drama
  • Historical Drama
  • Jean Simmons Films
  • Homicidal Spouses
  • Obsessive Love
  • Social Climbers

It’s been duly noted that the plot of this Victorian-era melodrama — starring real-life husband-and-wife Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons — occasionally “strains credibility”; yet its themes of blackmail, duplicity, obsessive love, and murderous spouses make for an enjoyably stylish thriller, one which is sure to appeal to fans of Hitchcockian cinema. Simmons’ lowly housemaid and Granger’s successful lawyer are seemingly worlds apart, but they’re united by their common quest for social ascendance: savvy Simmons deeply resents being ordered about by the head cook of the household (Marjorie Rhodes):

… while Granger secretly admits to marrying his dead wife for her money, and plans to woo another eligible young heiress (Elizabeth Travers) as soon as propriety allows.

While both are initially conniving, however, Simmons’ Lily Watkins eventually emerges as a sympathetic protagonist — and we can’t help cringing at the ill-founded loyalty she maintains for her murderous master.

Granger’s acting is as limited and campy as ever, but he’s well cast:

Meanwhile, Simmons demonstrates once again why she remains one of the unsung actresses of her time (c.f. her differently plucky turn-of-the-century role in 1950’s So Long at the Fair). Fine set designs and Benjamin Frankel’s score add to this suspenseful film’s overall period ambiance; and while it never reaches the heights of Hitchcock’s masterpieces (Arthur Lubin’s rather perfunctory directorial style prevents this), it’s certainly worth a look.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jean Simmons as Lily Watkins
  • A suspenseful Victorian-era narrative
  • Benjamin Frankel’s atmospheric score

Must See?
No, but it’s worth seeking out.


One thought on “Footsteps in the Fog (1955)

  1. First viewing. By the time this film was about half-over, I’d thought it’s probably not must-see stuff – but then the second half followed and I changed my mind.

    There’s the kind of movie watcher – maybe not a pure ff – who, while watching, tries to get ahead of the film and determine where it’s going. The kind who says, “I knew where it was headed in the first ten minutes.”

    Unless things are much too road-sign obvious, that’s not me. I like to give myself over to a film and let it take me where it wants to go – esp. if the ‘trip’ is intriguing.

    ‘FITF’ is a movie that apparently needs lots of set-up and unfortunately (in a way) it gets it. Which is why the first part seems little more than workman-like on the part of the director. It’s not dull exactly but it comes off a bit pedestrian and, during it, we get a few hackneyed bits – i.e., the head cook, who is prone to calling Simmons names…like “guttersnipe”. (Mrs. Park is the most jarring person in the film since she’s very much a stock character who doesn’t seem to have a single original thing to say.)

    But, once we’re beyond the film’s necessary basics, the plot construction builds progressively, with enough twists and turns (credible or not) to keep an audience riveted. (The less said about part two, therefore, the better.)

    The two leads are opportunists. Simmons may get our sympathy early on but she seems to learn from Granger that the only way to get what you want in this world is to be slimy – while appearing to be otherwise. (Of course, it’s easy to try to maintain sympathy for Simmons, but that’s because – well, she’s Simmons. But, when she falls for Granger, she falls for him completely – and he’s completely self-serving…which is what she herself becomes. …That’s all I’ll say about *that*. I kind of made a promise, after all.)

    This may be a film to be particularly caught up in on a rainy (if not foggy) afternoon. Ultimately satisfying for ffs.

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