Fog of Sexism

Turn-of-the-century London becomes Gothic and vicious in this murder tale. Footsteps in the Fog brings Stewart Granger into a role as a murdering misogynist, rich and pompous. He’s despicable.

Granger murders his wife. Then he murders again – yet another woman. He snivels at women and looks down at any lesser class, even though his money wasn’t earned; he married into it. As a screen villain, few devise something so elegantly unsympathetic without scorching credibility.

Footsteps in the Fog skirts the horror genre; Granger creates a capable monster of himself. It’s layered though, with Granger’s then real world wife Jean Simmons co-starring as a frantic, manipulative housekeeper, verbally abused for her status. While Fortress in the Fog ludicrously suggests sending Simmons to America for its “lack of classism,” the script still demands attention for this cause. Simmons finds her possible escape through Granger, so desperate for social acceptance, she’s willing to lie for and live with a known killer.

The tangled set-up brings with it a glorious, dark twist ending

The story becomes a game of control, Granger and Simmons quietly exploiting one another, both aware of the tactics, and both seeking an out. Simmons’ case draws empathy. Although crude and suggestively sexual, Stockholm Syndrome traps her. Footsteps in the Fog’s complexity creates a compelling statement on England’s snobbery and the after-effects. It’s universal too, rich versus poor, which at first steers into a fairy tale with Cinderella-like cruelty. Then, turns deviously adult.

Soon, Granger ends up in court. The veneer of fantasy disappears. Footsteps in the Fog ups the pressure with additional romance. Granger courts another woman, again for the status, ignoring her suitor – his own lawyer. The tangled set-up brings with it a glorious, dark twist ending where discrimination and prejudice call in their debt. This isn’t happy. For the era, it’s relentlessly morbid and even Shakespearean given the level of coldness.

Simmons isn’t freed by the end, not socially. No matter the outcome, she doesn’t ascend the ladder. She doesn’t strike it rich. Her defense of a killer will weigh on her psyche. Sexism of the period leaves Simmons damaged forever as she seeks another way to escape poverty. Footsteps in the Fog makes Simmons the star. It’s her story, not that of another screen killer, but a feminine perspective on a male-dominated society, from a screenplay by two women (Dorothy Davenport,  Leonore J. Coffee) who came into the industry during the silent era. Certainly, Footsteps in the Fog projects some personal grievances.

Video

Beautiful Technicolor shines in this transfer, with glowing costumes abound and rich flesh tones. Color density projects glamour and splendor on the screen, vivid in primary saturation to give Footsteps in the Fog a sheen of classic Hollywood.

Mill Creek’s source material sadly suffers. Damage and dirt persist, excessively so. Flicker happens in abundance. Significant scratches harm the print in spots. Misalignment causes heavy color bleeding in multiple scenes, robbing that great saturation quality.

The scan looks modern in terms of resolution given the visible facial definition. Sharpness remains high, picking up on wardrobe texture and environments. Production design lavishes materials on these sets.

Unfortunately, packed with two other films on one disc in the Noir Archive 2, grain structure enters a digital battle. Encoding can’t keep up (especially in fog) leading to massive blocking. Artifacts deflect fine detail. Shadows host more, further robbing Footsteps in the Fog of its texture.

Audio

DTS-HD mono presents some rawness in the highs. Listen as Granger murders a woman, with the rising horn section wobbly from age. However, while lacking power, drums and other accentuating lows smoothly resolve on this track.

Dialog carries natural, analog sound, pleasingly pure.

Extras

Nothing.

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Footsteps in the Fog
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4

Movie

Footsteps in the Fog came from two women writers and the result is a movie showing the desperation caused by sexism and classism.

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