Color, 1955, 89 mins. 48 secs.
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Starring Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons, Bill Travers, Belinda Lee, Ronald Squire, Finlay Currie
Indicator (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Sony (MOD DVD) (US R0 NTSC, UK R2 PAL) / WS (1.75:1) (16:9)

With Footsteps in the Fogthe Red Scare taking center Footsteps in the Fogstage in the 1950s, it seemed the classic thriller might have been in jeopardy with moviegoers favoring atomic monsters and espionage thrillers in keeping with the times. That turned out to not be the case, however, with filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, and a young Stanley Kubrick flourishing thanks to tightly scripted, traditional tales of murder and suspense. Often overlooked in this wave is Footsteps in the Fog, a Columbia acquisition made at Shepperton Studios with real-life couple Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons in a tale of homicide and psychological gamesmanship that still makes for solid chilly evening viewing.

On a rainy afternoon, well-to-do Stephen Lowry (Granger) buries his wife in a country churchyard while surrounded by friends and family. However, all is not as it seems as he returns home and, smirking, raises a glass to the late lady of the house. As it turns out, he poisoned her to death and now his lowly maid, Lily (Simmons), uses her knowledge of the hidden murder weapon to advance to head housekeeper... and perhaps take the place of the late mistress in other ways. Her romantic intentions are complicated by the fact that Lowry is more than capable of murder again and would rather marry someone of his own class, namely the elegant Elizabeth (Lee), but one fateful night in the fog leads to a twisted Footsteps in the Fogchain of events that will put more lives in jeopardy.

A Footsteps in the Fogmodest but very effective little Victorian thriller, Footsteps in the Fog plays the spooky melodrama game perfectly with plenty of clever twists and turns all the way to the very last scene (which is reminiscent of but far more satisfying than a certain element in Alfred Hitchcock's earlier Suspicion). The tight script, adapted rather closely from a story by W.W. "The Monkey's Paw" Jacobs, works as a fine showcase for both of its leading stars, who were in the middle of their decade-long marriage at the time. It would definitely make a perfect co-feature with films like Hangover Square, Pink String and Sealing Wax or So Long at the Fair with its rich atmosphere and finely turned performances.

Released bare bones on DVD in the U.K. as a pressed disc and in the U.S. as an MOD DVD-R, Footsteps in the Fog finally gets its due with Indicator's Blu-ray special edition from 2018. The transfer looks very solid throughout and much more textured and rich than the SD counterparts, especially the night and outdoor Footsteps in the Fogscenes. The color processing has always looked a little odd in a few scenes (especially around the 28-minute mark) but that's inherent to the way the film has always been. The English LPCM mono audio is first rate, not surprisingly, with optional English SDH subtitles. The film can also be played with "The Guardian Interview with Stewart Granger" from 1990, a 68-minute one-man performance at the National Film Theatre with a somewhat linear look at his life and career, from his most famous role in Scaramouche through his shoulder rubbing with other actors (including a fun early anecdote about being an extra alongside Michael Wilding). He's amusingly candid through much of it, including thoughts on his self-confessed arrogance, the complex "monsters" who ran studios in the golden era and his thoughts on the lack of current movie stars in the '90s apart from Julia Roberts, whom he refers to as "Carole Lombard plus!" Don't miss the bit about Ben-Hur, too. Footsteps in the Fog

In "Belinda, Goddess of Devon" (27m), Steve Chibnall, who refers to himself as Belinda Lee's biographer, explains how the magnetic actress's Devon background led to a very prolific acting career that spanned over 30 films in seven years before her untimely death in a car accident at far too young an age. Film scholar Josephine Footsteps in the FogBotting appears next for an analysis of the film in "Something in the Air" (26m30s) from the vantage point of the gaslight melodrama tradition, also touching on its production including the reticence of its stars to appear in a film directed by studio journeyman Arthur Lubin (essentially a proficient and successful director of comedy series). That in turn led to tensions between Lubin and Granger based on sheer principle rather than personality. Finally, "Gothic Imprints" (17m) features Kat Ellinger exploring the adaptable nature of the Gothic style to incorporating elements of noir and horror, with Footsteps in the Fog falling under the category of noir-inspired ones before Hammer kicked the horror side back into overdrive soon afterwards. Compact and articulate, this might actually be a good choice to watch first out of the extras as it lays the groundwork for everything else. A theatrical trailer and stills gallery are also included.

Reviewed on July 28, 2018.