The Lodger: A Story of the London fog

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
IMDb 7.3/10 – Rotten Tomatoes 95%

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‘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.” – IMDb

The Lodger is considered the first film of Alfred Hitchcock, by himself and universally because of the themes of an innocent man on the run, murder, and relationships between men and women are all evident here. A big difference between this movie, and Vertigo or Psycho is that this is a silent film. The only form of dialogue in this film is from title cards. With that being said, this is a well crafted silent film. The story is very clear, simple, but clear. The storytelling, acting and atmosphere are well done.

The plot is loosely based on a novel about the tales of Jack The Ripper. The concept is simple yet incredibly scary at the same time when you look who’s directing it. A serial killer is running around London killing blondes, and the director had an obsession with blondes throughout his long and successful career. This opening scene of the movie, begins with a blond falling victim to The Avenger. The towns people are all made aware of these killings and a description of him has been given in the newspaper. At a fashion club, with the headline “Tonight Golden Curls” the blondes learn of the most recent death and begin to fear for their life. One blond though doesn’t seem to worry too much and that is Daisy Bunting (June Tripp). Later on at Daisy’s house her parents rent a room to a man with a strong resemblance to The Avenger. The Lodger (Ivor Novello) was rather peculiar and kept to himself. All he asked for was bread, butter, a glass of milk and for all the pictures of their blond daughter to be removed from his room. With those things he will pay a months rent in advance. As the story carries on Daisy develops an attraction towards The Lodger, and he continues to be extremely strange. The Detective (Malcolm Keen) becomes jealous, and suspects that the lodger is actually The Avenger after piecing clues together. A few twist and moments of suspense are present in this film to help it become a good film.

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A great aspect of the movie is the storytelling. Hitchcock has a niche for telling stories visually quite masterful. Starting off here in the silent era surely helped his skill. Hitchcock once said “The silent pictures were the purest form of cinema…In many of the films now being made, there is very little cinema….When we tell a story in cinema, we should resort to dialogue only when it’s impossible to do otherwise.” This may be viewed as a correct theory or wrong depending on personal interest. When Hitch tells stories his camera placement is master class and shows the details that move the story in new directions. There is moments were dialogue could have been used to the film’s advantage though, thankfully the title cards came to the rescue to clear up any misunderstandings.

Well with all the praise being said above, this is a silent film from 1927 before color was in films, and slightly before the first “talkie”. This means the movie can become boring very quickly if someone isn’t into these kind of films. There is a version of this film with colored tints that help differentiate time and place. The story does have some great moments and is told to great effect with the camera, but I still struggled to stay fully conscious for the running time of an hour and thirty minutes. I love visual storytelling and appreciate silent films but sometimes it’s hard to make it through them. The Lodger does have some great scenes that are just burned into my memory. The bathtub scene may be my favorite, when The Lodger is lurking through the house towards Daisy while she’s in the tub.

Overall this is a decent film that pushed Hitchcock aka “The Master of Suspense” off in the right direction. Anybody interested in Hitchcock’s films or silent films should give this film a look! Fun fact; this is the first of many famous cameos that Hitch made during his career. He did this due to a lack of money for extras, so he actually has to appear twice!

Rating: ★★½ / ★★★★★

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“Does this lodger of yours mean any harm to Daisy?”

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