The Lodger (1927)

Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
June, Ivor Novello, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney
A landlady suspects her new lodger is the madman killing women in London.
  • Video Yesteryear Company:
  • Unrated Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 14 Feb 1927 Released:
  • 02 Apr 1994 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Marie Belloc Lowndes, Eliot Stannard Writer:
  • Alfred Hitchcock Director:
  • N/A Website:
The real Hitchcock is born5/10

This is the first real Hitchcock movie. The one in which he really starts to use all his abilities, although we can see that they are still not mature yet. It's very interesting because he makes a lot of experiments in this film, like the glass ceiling, and we see how hard he wanted, at the time, to really make his mark, to stand above the rest. Although the ending is not very good, the first 20 minutes of The Lodger are impressive, with Hitchcock slowly telling us (visually, of course) about the killer and his particularities, until the arrival of Ivor Novello. A must-see picture to any real Hitchcock fan
A compelling whodunit7/10

A stranger (Ivor Novello) in fog-bound London seeks accommodation from a family and they provide him with a small apartment upstairs. Their blond daughter is drawn towards this fascinating and somewhat mysterious gentleman. Her parents become suspicious of the intentions of the lodger and they live in fear of her safety. There is a serial killer abroad in the foggy streets and who knows? this stranger could be that maniac.

It is interesting to view an early Hitchcock film as far back as the silent era. I am surprised at the quality (despite a few scratches here and there). The addition of music is rather overdone in my opinion but it does fill in the empty silence and does add a dramatic effect. No doubt in the early days a capable pianist (below the screen) bashed out some impromptu music to fit the mood of each scene.

It is an uncomplicated story but that does not mean the guilty person is easily recognized (if at all!) Hitchcock likes to tease with a lodger who has shifty eyes, who paces the floor (what an original idea to photograph through a transparent floor), who has the wall pictures removed and who creeps out silently at night.

I feel that the atmosphere created is exceptional. Certainly a bit theatrical with exaggerated eye expressions but compelling nevertheless.

When you see a film of this vintage you realise how much film production had already advanced in the 20's and without the aid of all our recent technological contrivances.
It was the start of what came to be known as "the Hitchcock touch..."7/10
The film begins with the head of a girl in close-up... She is very blonde, and her curling hair fills the screen... She is screaming... Cut to a theater sign, announcing a show called "Tonight, Golden Curls." The lights of the sign are reflected in water... From that water the golden-haired girl is drawn out to land... She is no longer screaming... She is dead... Assassinated!

That scene was more than the start of a film... It was also the real start of suspense films in England...

"The Lodger," based on a novel by Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, was set in a Jack the Ripper-style murder wave in a foggy London... The victims were always blonde girls, always killed on the same day of the week...

While the whole capital speculates in contagious fear, a new lodger turned up at a peaceful boarding house... He wears a black cloak and carries a black bag...

There are other details which make us mistrust the mysterious tenant without, obviously, conclusive proof… So is he or isn't he the serial killer? Well, you have to see the film, and to follow a plot that was to dominate and control several of Hitchcock's later films: the concept of suspicion, the essential point for suspense…
A Story Of The London Fog10/10
With a savage murderer stalking the night, dark suspicion swirls about THE LODGER living in a London home.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) became a director of note with this silent film, his first thriller and only his third directorial effort, which shows the young Master's talents being developed in embryo. Based on the novel by Mrs. Belloc Lowndes and the tales of Jack the Ripper, Hitchcock was able to embroider upon the theme of mistaken identities and incorporate an intense chase sequence, both of which would become important elements in his later suspense films. He also made the first of his famous cameo appearances, twice actually, which would also become part of his trademark.

The film is well plotted and moody, told in an almost expressionistic style, relying mainly on visuals and a somewhat frugal use of title cards. The staging in the narrow, multi-level home is especially well managed, with characters on different stories interacting in the plot simultaneously.

Fans of the 1944 American remake with Laird Cregar may be surprised at its very different ending from this film. This is probably largely due to the fact that the earlier movie (including some very incongruous and never explained plot elements) was planned as a showcase for its star, matinee idol Ivor Novello, who plays the title role. Born David Ivor Davies in Wales, Novello (1893-1951) was the son of famed singing teacher Dame Clara Novello Davies. He found success on the stage at an early age and became a very popular actor-manager, playwright & composer, his most lauded song being the World War One patriotic tune 'Keep The Home Fires Burning.' Although he appeared occasionally in films, Novello's greatest renown came from his acting in the lavishly romantic stage plays he authored, his handsome good looks being especially appreciated by the ladies in the audience. A hint of his melodramatic stage persona, especially the use of his mesmeric eyes, can be seen in Hitchcock's film, projecting the actor into a virtual Epiphany during the most exciting sequence. Novello would also star in THE LODGER's 1932 British talkie remake.

The rest of the cast does well in support of Novello, especially Marie Ault & Arthur Chesney as his increasingly frightened landlords. Monosyllabic actress June flounces prettily as their flirtatious daughter; Malcolm Keen, whose character is done rather dirty by the script, plays the suspicious cop who loves her.
A very good early Hitchcock film8/10
A story loosely based on Jack the Ripper. In London a killer called the Avenger goes around killing blond-haired girls. Around this time Mr. and Mrs. Bunting take in a lodger (Ivor Novello). He's quiet but very odd. He takes a liking to their blond-haired daughter Daisy (June Tripp). But then the Buntings begin to suspect that he may be the Avenger and want Daisy as his next victim...

Hitchcock's first thriller and a very good one. Very few title cards are used--he uses images to carry the film. Sometimes it works but, more than once, I was confused. It was one of his first films though so this can be forgiven. It also moves a bit too slow. But it's still worth seeing.

You can see the beginnings of his later work peeking through and there are some sequences so well directed that they're stunning (the one where Novello and Tripp kiss is just SO beautiful). Also the acting is actually quite good by everybody--especially Novello. He was a box office draw in the 1920s and it's easy to see why. The man is not only a good actor he was undeniably beautiful. It's easy to see why he was once called one of the most beautiful men alive.

Novello was gay--I wonder if Hitch knew that. There are two lines in this film where people talk about his character--"Good thing he doesn't like girls" and "Even if he is a bit queer". These lines are quite interesting now--I wonder if they were put in on purpose or just happened to be written without anyone knowing. Interesting to think about...