The Lodger -- The Silent Hitchcock

                               "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog" (1927) -- This is not the first Hitchcock film, but this was the first true Hitchcock movie because it's about a murder, it's a suspense thriller. A man's face distorted in a tea urn; Looking straight down a stairwell, we see a hand holding the rail, circling as a character descends the stairs -- We see all these kinds of impeccable visual ideas in this early silent Hitchcock movie.

                                 Hitchcock is obsessed with blonde virgins. In "Lodger", the impulsive character is played by  actress named June Tripp. The movie is about "The Avenger", who kills blondes every Tuesday (yeah, the idea looks preposterous even for a early silent Hitchcock flick). A mysterious stranger takes lodgings at the Buntings' house. Their girl Daisy takes a shine to him. The lodger leaves the house late Tuesday, and the next murder occurs. Daisy's boyfriend, a Scotland Yard detective suspects the lodger and arrests him. The lodger escapes with Daisy, is chased by a crowd and is almost killed by them (the plot is so simple). 

                               The early Hitchcock shines in most of the visual ideas, which has later metamorphosed into more mature and arresting visuals. In the film, when two men deliver newspapers in a van, their heads in the windows are like the pupils of eyes. We see the lodger walking up and down his room through a glass ceiling. The flashing neon sign "To-Night Golden Curls" is repeated throughout the movie, as a sign of the constant presence of The Avenger. 

                            At the end, The Avenger, is imprisoned, the hero and heroine kiss in the bright light, while the neon sign still flashes in the black night behind them. For the first half of the movie, the lodger is dressed in black and placed in shadows, so we don't like/trust him. After the murder, and the family suspect of him being The Avenger, the lodger is dressed in nice, light clothes and his room is bright, so we trust him. 

                          Hitchcock always maintained that his cameo roles were a bit of fun at first, and then it became a superstition. Finally, when the public expected it, he got them over with as soon as possible. This film has two Hitchcock appearances. First, he is seated in a newsroom as a extra -- a big enough guy to fill the space. Later, wearing a cap, he's seen leaning against the railings when the lodger is caught. 

                           If you can watch silent movies patiently, you will love this one. For Hitchcock fans, "The Lodger" is a must watch. 

The Lodger -- IMDb


Murtaza Ali said...

After reading your review, I am really tempted to watch this one. Of late, I have been watching some of Hitchcock's lesser known works (mostly non-American) like Frenzy (1972), Sabotage (1936), Marnie [(1964), American but quite different than his other '60s works)], etc. I must say that after watching these films, my respect for the Master of Suspense has become tenfold. Next in queue are Saboteur (1942), Blackmail (1929), Foreign Correspondent (1940)... and The Lodger (thanks to your review).

Arun said...

@Murtaza Ali, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, vast number of Hitchcock's movies still remain under-rated. If you haven't seen it, you should also add "The 39 Steps" and "Lifeboat."

aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar said...

nice one, would love to watch it