The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
The Lodger 1927 Poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by
Screenplay by Eliot Stannard
Based on The Lodger 
by Marie Belloc Lowndes
Starring
Cinematography Gaetano di Ventimiglia
Edited by Ivor Montagu
Production
company
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 14 February 1927 (1927-02-14) (UK)
Running time 80 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language Silent film with English intertitles
Budget UK£ 12,000

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is a 1927 British silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June Tripp, Malcolm Keen, and Ivor Novello. The film was released on 14 February 1927 in London and on 10 June 1928 in New York City. Based on a story by Marie Belloc Lowndes and a play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes, the film is about the hunt for a "Jack the Ripper" type of serial killer in London.

Plot[edit]

The film begins with the screaming visage of a young blonde woman, framed against a sheet of glass, her golden hair illuminated. She is the latest victim of a serial killer known as "The Avenger", who targets young blonde women.

That night, Daisy Bunting (June), a blonde model, is at a fashion parade where she and the other showgirls heard the news of the murder. The blonde girls are horrified; covering their hair with dark wigs or hats while Daisy laughs at their fears. She returns home to her parents, Mr and Mrs Bunting, and her policeman sweetheart, Joe (Malcolm Keen), who have been reading the details of the latest Avenger crime in the day's paper.

Later that same night a man, bearing a strong resemblance to the description of the murderer (Ivor Novello), arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting and inquires about the room they are renting. Mrs. Bunting (Marie Ault) takes him to the room on the top floor of her house which is decorated with portraits of beautiful young women, all blondes. The man is rather reclusive and secretive, which puzzles Mrs. Bunting. However she does not complain after he willingly pays her a month's rent in advance, and asks only for bread, butter, and a glass of milk and to be left in peace.

Mrs. Bunting leaves her new tenant and tells her husband the good news, showing him the small fortune she has been paid. Upon returning with the lodger's meal, she is surprised to find him turning all the portraits of the women around to face the wall, and he politely requests that they be removed. Mrs. Bunting enlists Daisy to remove the portraits, and upon first sight an attraction begins to form between Daisy and the lodger. The women bid him goodnight and return downstairs, where they hear the lodger's heavy footsteps as he paces the floor.

Over the course of the following week, the relationship between Daisy and the reclusive lodger gradually heats up, and Joe, newly assigned to the Avenger case, begins to resent the closeness developing between them. The following Tuesday, Mrs. Bunting is awoken late in the night by the lodger leaving the house. She is suspicious and searches his room in his absence, finding a cupboard that has been locked tight. In the morning, another blonde girl is found dead just around the corner from their house.

Joe and his fellow policemen, after weighing the latest clues, observe that the murders are moving towards the Buntings' neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bunting voices her fears to her husband that the lodger is the Avenger, and the two become fearful for Daisy's safety, agreeing to prevent her from spending further time alone with the stranger. Daisy remains oblivious to any danger, and the next Tuesday night, she and the lodger manage to sneak away on a late night date. Joe tracks them down, and confronting them, is told by Daisy that it is over between them. The heartbroken Joe is left to ponder his fortunes while the lodger and Daisy head home. As Joe sits, he begins to piece the events of the previous weeks together and convinces himself that the lodger is indeed the murdering Avenger.

With a warrant in hand and two fellow officers in tow, Joe returns to search the lodger's room. In the locked cupboard they find a leather bag containing a gun, a map plotting the location of the Avenger's murders, newspapers and a photograph of an attractive blonde woman. Taking the lodger's emotional reaction as an admission of guilt, Joe surmises this woman was the Avenger's first victim. The lodger is arrested despite Daisy's protests, but manages to escape and runs off into the night. Daisy follows and finds him, still handcuffed, coatless, and shivering in the fog. He explains that the photograph found in his room was his sister, a beautiful debutante who was murdered by the Avenger at a dance she had attended with her brother. He then vowed to his mother on her deathbed he would not rest until he had brought the killer to justice.

Daisy brings the lodger to a nearby pub to give him brandy to warm him, hiding his handcuffs with a cloak. The locals, suspicious of the pair, pursue them, quickly gathering numbers until they are a veritable lynch mob. The lodger is surrounded and beaten, while Daisy and Joe, who has just heard the news from headquarters that the real Avenger has been caught, try in vain to defend him. When all looks lost, a paperboy interrupts with the news that the real Avenger has been arrested. The mob releases the lodger, who falls into Daisy's waiting arms.

Cast[edit]

Alfred Hitchcock cameos: Alfred Hitchcock appears sitting at a desk in the newsroom with his back to the camera and while operating a telephone (3 minutes into the film). This is Alfred Hitchcock's first recognisable film cameo and was to become a standard practice for the remainder of his films.[1] Hitchcock's cameo happened because the actor who was supposed to play the part of the telephone operator failed to show up, and Hitchcock filled the breach. He also appeared toward the end of the film in the mob scene after the lodger is saved from the crowd.

Production[edit]

The Lodger is based on a novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes, about the Jack The Ripper murders, and on the play Who Is He?, a comic stage adaptation of the novel by the playwright Horace Annesley Vachell that Hitchcock saw in 1915 .[2]

Originally, the film was intended to end with ambiguity as to whether or not the lodger was innocent. However, when Ivor Novello was cast in the role, the studio demanded alterations to the script. Hitchcock recalled:[3][4]

Ultimately, Hitchcock followed these instructions, but avoided showing the true villain onscreen.[4]

Upon seeing Hitchcock's finished film, producer Michael Balcon was furious, and nearly shelved it (and Hitchcock's career). After considerable bickering, a compromise was reached and film critic Ivor Montagu was hired to salvage the film. Hitchcock was initially resentful of the intrusion, but Montagu recognised the director's technical skill and artistry and made only minor suggestions, mostly concerning the title cards and the reshooting of a few minor scenes.[5]

The result, described by Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto, is "the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death." It would pave the way for his later work.[6]

Hitchcock's assistant, Alma Reville, married Hitchcock on 2 December 1926, shortly before the film was released.

Significance[edit]

The Lodger introduced themes that would run through much of Hitchcock's later work: the innocent man on the run, hunted down by a self-righteous society, and a fetishistic sexuality. Hitchcock had clearly been watching contemporary films by Murnau and Lang,[1][7] whose influence can be seen in the ominous camera angles and claustrophobic lighting. While Hitchcock had made two previous films, in later years the director would refer to The Lodger as the first true "Hitchcock film".[8] Beginning with The Lodger, Hitchcock helped shape the modern-day thriller genre in film.[9]

Soundtrack[edit]

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Hitchcock's birth, a new orchestral soundtrack was composed by Ashley Irwin. The composer's recording of the score with the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg was broadcast over the ARTE TV network in Europe on 13 August 1999.

The first live performance was given on 29 September 2000 in the Nikolaisaal in Potsdam by the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg under the direction of Scott Lawton.

Restoration[edit]

The Lodger is a restoration by the BFI National Archive in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Network Releasing and Park Circus Films. Principal funding provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Film Foundation, and Simon W. Hessel.

The BFI National Archive presents the restoration of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger (1926), featuring a new score by Nitin Sawhney commissioned by Network Releasing in partnership with the BFI and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. This restoration is part of The Genius of Hitchcock, a major celebration of Britain's most influential and iconic filmmaker. From June to October 2012, the BFI celebrated Hitchcock's life and work with a complete retrospective of his feature films; gala events, including screenings of restorations with live music, educational projects and online initiatives.

Other adaptations[edit]

The novel was adapted for the CBS Radio series Suspense, turned into an opera in two acts composed by Phyllis Tate and has also been the basis of four other films:

Listen to[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lodger, The: A Story of the London Fog (1926)
  2. ^ Spoto, Donald (1999). The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock. Da Capo. p. 84. ISBN 0-306-80932-X. 
  3. ^ IMDB trivia
  4. ^ a b c Spoto, Donald pg. 85
  5. ^ Spoto, Donald pgs. 88–89
  6. ^ Spoto, Donald pg. 91
  7. ^ Spoto, Donald pg. 86
  8. ^ Richard Allen and Sam Ishii-Gonzales Alfred Hitchcock Centenary Essays pg. iv
  9. ^ Steve Bennett. "Thriller Fiction Genre definition". Findmeanauthor.com. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 

External links[edit]