Tuesday, February 27, 2007


London is terrorized by a serial killer that violently murders a pretty young blonde every Tuesday, and leaves a calling card that says simply "The Avenger" at the scene. At the home of one pretty young blonde named Daisy, a mysterious stranger decides to rent a room. As she starts falling for The Lodger, her boyfriend Joe, a cop assigned to the Avenger case, gets jealous. And suspicious.


Audiences who saw The Lodger in 1927 probably didn't know who the director was; although he had directed a film or two before this, Alfred Hitchcock hadn't had a substantial hit until this one. He has said that he considers this his "first true film". Audiences may have recognized the influence of German Expressionism that Hitchcock probably picked up from his two previous German co-productions. His use of light and shadow to convey ideas in lieu of dialogue is decidedly Murnau-esque.

It was Ivor Novello that people paid to see. He was already a successful singer and composer before appearing in movies. He was at the peak of his matinee idol status when he starred in two Hitchcock features in 1927 (this and Downhill). Novello's homosexuality was a something of an open secret, so perhaps Hitchcock was knowingly playing to pop culture with the dialogue:
JOE: Does this lodger of yours mean any harm to Daisy?
MRS. BUNTING: Don't be silly, Joe. He's not that sort.
JOE: Even if he's a bit queer, he's a gentleman.

Audiences in 1927 didn't know who Alfred Hitchcock was, but he's the primary reason we watch this movie today. It's impossible to watch it without being reminded of Hitchcock's subsequent work. It already has many of the elements that are associated with his signature style: mistaken identity, incompetent police, a tormented blonde, and relentless tension that threatens to break into violence at any given moment.

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