In Robert Altman’s acclaimed 2001 British mystery “Gosford Park,” Jeremy Northam played the famed singer-actor-composer Ivor Novello.
The real Novello, who was born in Wales in 1913 and died in London in 1951, made two of Alfred Hitchcock’s early silent films — the 1926 mystery-thriller “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” and 1927’s “Downhill,” which was Hitch’s first stab, so to speak, at the “wrong man” plot — a theme he would revisit over the decades.
Both films, which are among the nine surviving Hitchcock silent films recently restored by the British Film Institute, screen Friday evening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Leo S. Bing Theater.
“The Lodger,” which the Master of Suspense described as “the first true Hitchcock movie,” is a Jack-the-Ripper-style murder mystery. A serial killer who calls himself the Avenger is committing heinous murders on the fog-shrouded London streets. Novello plays a mysterious young man who seeks lodging at a boarding house and who could be the Avenger.
In “Downhill,” Novello plays a rugby star and well-respected student who is falsely accused of getting a girl pregnant, is kicked out of school and disowned by his wealthy parents. His life literally goes "downhill," and he ends up destitute in Marseilles.
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