(Cover Image & Source: The Lodger @ FictionFan’s Book Reviews)

…”The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” is a 1927 British silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June Tripp, Malcolm Keen, and Ivor Novello.

Hitchcock’s third feature film, it was released on 14 February 1927 in London and on 10 June 1928 in New York City.

The Lodger is based on a novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes, about the Jack the Ripper murders, and on the play Who Is He?, a comic stage adaptation of the novel by the playwright Horace Annesley Vachell that Hitchcock saw in 1915.

Originally, the film was intended to end with ambiguity as to whether or not the lodger was innocent. However, when Ivor Novello was cast in the role, the studio demanded alterations to the script. Hitchcock recalled:

“They wouldn’t let Novello even be considered as a villain. The publicity angle carried the day, and we had to change the script to show that without a doubt he was innocent.”

Ultimately, Hitchcock followed these instructions, but avoided showing the true villain onscreen.

Upon seeing Hitchcock’s finished film, producer Michael Balcon was furious, and nearly shelved it (and Hitchcock’s career). After considerable bickering, a compromise was reached and film critic Ivor Montagu was hired to salvage the film. Hitchcock was initially resentful of the intrusion, but Montagu recognised the director’s technical skill and artistry and made only minor suggestions, mostly concerning the title cards and the reshooting of a few minor scenes.

The result, described by Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto, is “the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death.” It would pave the way for his later work.

The Lodger introduced themes that would run through much of Hitchcock’s later work: the innocent man on the run for something he didn’t do. Hitchcock had clearly been watching contemporary films by Murnau and Lang, whose influence can be seen in the ominous camera angles and claustrophobic lighting. While Hitchcock had made two previous films, in later years the director would refer to The Lodger as the first true “Hitchcock film”. Beginning with The Lodger, Hitchcock helped shape the modern-day thriller genre in film.

lodger screeshots
Screenshots from the movie (Despina Kakoudaki)

Storyline

A serial killer known as “The Avenger” is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting’s daughter is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger… (full plot on Wikipedia)

My Review

…The first time I saw this silent movie, in the period when I was exploring silent movies of the 1910/1920´s era, I thought that it is nothing special, until I realized that the casting and the screenplay was everything but not usual in those times (today we are quite accustomed to the Sherlock Holmes and Poirot-type movie plots), and that the tension while watching it was quite unusual till the very end of this 68-minute long combination of mystery, crime and drama, that can be seen in later, typical Hitchcock´s movies (Rebecca, 39 Steps, Birds, Psycho etc.)…

Important influences on World of Motion Pictures

  • the first real Hitchcock´s movie with which he presented himself to the world of the 7th art
  • movie that started the thriller movie genre, and was soon followed by movies like Psycho, 39 Steps and Birds

 

You can watch the full movie on this link:

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

 

Information Sources:

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (EN Wikipedia)

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (IMDb)