The Complex Damsel

Throughout his film career, Hitchcock became infamous for casting beautiful, graceful women (often blonde) as the leading lady characters.  The Lodger and Blackmail were no exceptions to this rule- there is no denying that both June Tripp and Anny Ondra are gorgeous actresses.

However, there is far more to both of these women in the movies than merely their looks.  The characters Daisy Bunting and Alice White raise serious questions as the films progress.

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Daisy and Alice both manage to have two men wrapped around their fingers at the same time- for Daisy they are the Lodger and Joe, and for Alice they are Detective Frank and Crewe, the artist.  In neither movie, however, are the girls’ feelings ever really explicitly indicated, and the viewers are left to ponder how these women could so swimmingly transition from man to man without more pronounced expression of guilt or indecision.

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Not only do the viewers question the moral compasses of the ladies of The Lodger and Blackmail, but we question their ambiguous fates come the end of each film.

Daisy, we are fairly certain, will wed the Lodger and live happily ever after in his upper class home. However, the unsettling idea that Daisy is almost a replacement for his dead sister remains along with the question of how that could factor into their relationship.  The question also remains as to whether Daisy will go back to visit her family- will she descend from that upper class world where she so seems to belong to see the people who raised her?

Anny Ondra’s character meets an even more ambiguous end than Daisy’s- did she actually kill Crewe or did he die at the hands of the Blackmailer?  Could it be considered her fault that the Blackmailer died falling from the roof of the building?  Did the Blackmailer jump or did he fall, and would the answer change her guilt or not? Will she marry Frank?  Could Alice have convinced the police of her possible guilt in the crime? However, all of these unresolved questions stem merely from the end of the film. From the beginning we still have to ask- how far did Alice really intend to take her stunt with Crewe?  Did she meet him at the restaurant and go to his studio out of boredom or did she really like him?  How would Frank have reacted had the murder-issue not gone on?

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In the end, we must acknowledge that Hitchcock’s women are very, very complex characters with maze-like motives and morals.

 

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