Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Lodger (1927)

I mentioned yesterday that TCM's salute to Alfred Hitchcock this month will include several of his silents. First up is The Lodger, tonight at midnight.

In London, a pretty blonde girl gets killed! Worse, it turns out that she isn't the first blonde girl to be killed recently; and she's killed in the same manner as the others. This can only mean one thing, which is that there's a serial killer on the loose. Obviously, this has all of London in a fright, as they'd be scared that the blonde they know could be next. And they want the police to do something about the serial killer. Into the London comes Ivor Novello. He needs a place to stay, and the Buntings have an extra room on the upper floor of their London house. It's a suitable arrangement for all, you'd think.

Well, unfortunately our Lodger is a bit strange. He keeps odd hours, and he has a thing against mirrors, turning them to the wall so that there wouldn't be any reflections. He also begins to take a liking to the Buntings' adult daughter Daisy, who just happens to be blonde. He even goes so far as to watch her in her bath through the keyhole! But, Daisy's already got a boyfriend in the form of police detective Joe, so it's natural for a policeman to be around the Buntings' house all the time. Anyhow, all of this means it's unsurprising that the Buntings slowly begin to wonder whether the man they've taken in as their lodger is in fact the serial killer that all of London is looking for.

The Lodger wasn't the first movie Alfred Hitchcock directed, but it is generally considered to be the first Hitchcock suspense movie. Is the lodger guilty? If not, will the vigilantes get to him before it's too late for the authorities to find the real killer? In this case, it's also a mystery, as we don't know at the beginning whether or not our lodger is actually guilty. Already this early in Hitchcock's career we can see him trying some new techniques. Most notable of these would be one in which the Buntings see their chandelier shaking, as the camera pans up, turns the ceiling transparent, and reveals to the viewer that the lodger is pacing back and forth in his room.

Overall, The Lodger is a pretty good movie that's worth watching for the story, which is made even better by its use of the camera. It also, I think, gets a little more attention than it otherwise would simply because it's Alfred Hitchcock directing. Hitchcock, for his part, would go on to do much greater things, but The Lodger is still a very worthy effort. It's received several DVD releases, but again they must be out of print as they're available at Amazon but not from the TCM Shop. Note also that The Lodger was remade in 1944 with Laird Cregar playing the lodger; Cregar's version has some key plot differences from the silent but is also worth watching.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone read this stuff? Your hobby borders on the obsessive/compulsive.

Judy said...

Hi Ted, I was lucky enough to see 'The Lodger' on the big screen last year - it is one of the 'Hitchcock 9' silents which have been spectacularly restored by the BFI. I hope it is the restored print which you are getting to see on TCM. Ivor Novello is excellent. The only downside of the restored version is that it has a new musical soundtrack which includes a song - I found the song quite offputting! But anyway it is great that these early Hitchcocks have been restored.