Hitchcock’s Chess Suspense with Poker: Be Careful, I’ll Get You Yet
Sir Alfred Hitchcock, KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 1899 – 1980), the famous British filmmaker and producer pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades. He remains one of the most popular and most recognised filmmakers, and his works are still popular today. Hitchcock did a great deal to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from us) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else.
The Lodger movie marks the first time in which audiences encounter the mannerism which would make Alfred Hitchcock’s films famous.
A serial killer known as the Avenger has been killing blonde women in London. A young woman named Daisy, who works as a model, and her coworkers hear about the latest murder. Several of the blonde girls are scared and consider changing their hair color or getting wigs while Daisy doesn’t seem worried. She lives with her parents who rent out rooms in their home. Just recently they rented a room to a stranger. It doesn’t take long for the Lodger and Daisy to start to grow close. They become friends, and we see her spending more time visiting in his room. They play chess together, and display all the cinematic signs of an emergent romance. The Lodger acts oddly though, which causes Daisy’s mother to believe that he is actually the Avenger.
Here we see the Lodger, in an elegant smoking jacket, and Daisy, in a slinky dress with pearls, playing chess in front of the fireplace in his room. She drops a piece on the floor and bends down to pick it up, while he makes what looks like an ominous grasp for a poker… but when we cut back, she is replacing the chessmen, and he is calmly tending the fire.
The chess game proceeds. The lodger and Daisy exchange a sequence of glances suggesting a combination of seduction and uncertainty. The intimate close-ups suddenly end with a long shot as the Lodger and Daisy draw back from one another in response to a knock at the door. When her mother enters, Daisy’s expression is an unqualified look of disappointment, and she leaves the lodger’s room reluctantly.
“Be careful, I’ll get you yet,” the Lodger warns.
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