Footsteps in the Fog (1955)
Who's the Boss
Another woman once thought she owned me. Don't drive me too far! - Stephen
As a thriller "Footsteps in the Fog" is solid, a little too far fetched in places and pedestrian in others but solid. But for what is really a serious thriller there is something darkly amusing about "Footsteps in the Fog", a tale of a lowly maid becoming the boss of her master because she uncovers his dark secret. And the pay off to this drama is spectacular as various twists turn this dark murderous tale on its head to deliver a brilliant ending.
Everyone thinks Stephen Lowry (Stewart Granger - Scaramouche) is a grieving widow, living alone in his large house with just his servants taking care of him. That is everyone except his maid Lily (Jean Simmons - Angel Face) who discovers his dark secret because he killed his wife, poisoning her to make it look like she died of gastroenteritis. With this knowledge she blackmails Stephen to make her the housekeeper where she exerts her authority not only over the other staff but also Stephen who finds himself trapped by another woman who controls his life like his wife did. When Stephen decides to move on and get engaged to Elizabeth (Belinda Lee), the daughter of his business partner, Lily doesn't take kindly to Stephen wanting another woman in his life other than her.
To be honest "Footsteps in the Fog" is not a great thriller because not a lot happens for long periods of time but there are three things which do, which make it well worth a watch. The first of these is when Lily exerts her authority over Stephen for the first time having discovered his murderous little secret. It is a wonderful scene where she nervously toys with him, explaining that she knows he poisoned his wife and then asks him to make her housekeeper to keep her quiet, almost marching him down the stairs to tell the other staff the news. It is a fantastic scene as we watch the shift in power, Stephen shocked as he comes under Lily's control, helpless to stop her from ordering him about.
Now the thing is to explain the other things which make "Footsteps in the Fog" worth watching would ruin the surprise but there is a nice scene halfway through where Lily and Stephen come to understand they are not that different to each other in the secretive way they manipulate people. And then we have the ending which throws several twists at us which whether intentional or not are darkly amusing. It means that whilst there are long periods where the story doesn't seem to go anywhere we get the almost dullness punctuated by these big scenes before delivering the fantastic ending.
Part of the joy of watching "Footsteps in the Fog" is the fact that we have actual husband and wife Stewart Grainger and Jean Simmons playing opposite each other and it is great. The edge that knowing each other gives their performances makes them sizzle, be it when Stephen forces himself on Lily or when she threatens him that no other women will live in the house with her. It is part of the reason why the ending is also terrific because of that chemistry. Grainger and Simmons are not the only ones who deliver good performances as the beautiful Belinda Lee is eye catching as Elizabeth although for my taste Bill Travers as her friend David is a bit too jokey.
What this all boils down to is that whilst for long periods of time "Footsteps in the Fog" doesn't really do much you then get a trio of big scenes which make it so worth watching. And trust me when you get to the darkly amusing and twisted ending you will be glad to have watched it.
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