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 the play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes, the film is about the hunt for a "Jack the Ripper"-like serial killer in London.

Plot[edit]

A young blonde woman, her golden hair illuminated, screams. She is the seventh victim of a serial killer known as "The Avenger", who targets young blonde women on Tuesday evenings.

That night, Daisy Bunting (June Tripp), a blonde model, is at a fashion show when she and the other showgirls hear the news. The blonde girls are horrified; hiding their hair with dark wigs or hats. Daisy laughs at their fears, and returns home to her parents, Mr and Mrs Bunting, and her policeman sweetheart, Joe (Malcolm Keen); they have been reading about the crime in the newspaper.

A handsome young man (Ivor Novello), bearing a strong resemblance to the description of the murderer, arrives at the house and asks about the room for rent. Mrs. Bunting (Marie Ault) shows him the room, which is decorated with portraits of beautiful young blond women. The man is rather secretive, which puzzles Mrs. Bunting. However he willingly pays her a month's rent in advance, and asks only for a little to eat. Mrs. Bunting is surprised to see that the lodger is turning all the portraits around to face the wall -- he politely requests that they be removed. Daisy comes in to remove the portraits, and an attraction begins to form between Daisy and the lodger. The women return downstairs, where they hear the lodger's heavy footsteps as he paces the floor.

The relationship between Daisy and the reclusive lodger gradually becomes serious, and Joe, newly assigned to the Avenger case, begins to resent this. The following Tuesday, Mrs. Bunting is awoken late at night by the lodger leaving the house. She attempts to search his room, but a small cabinet is locked tight. In the morning, another blonde girl is found dead, just around the corner.

The police observe that the murders are moving towards the Buntings' neighbourhood. Mrs. Bunting tells her husband that she believes the lodger is the Avenger, and the two try to prevent Daisy spending time with him. The next Tuesday night, Daisy and the lodger sneak away for a late-night date. Joe tracks them down and confronts them; Daisy breaks up with Joe. Joe begins to piece together the events of the previous weeks, 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. They find a leather bag containing a gun, a map plotting the location of the Avenger's murders, newspaper clippings about the attacks, and a photograph of a beautiful blonde woman. Joe recognizes this woman as the Avenger's first victim. The lodger is arrested, despite Daisy's protests, but he manages to run off into the night. Daisy goes out and finds him, handcuffed, coatless, and shivering. He explains that the woman in the photograph was his sister, a beautiful debutante murdered by the Avenger at a dance she had attended with Joe; he had vowed to his dying mother that he would bring the killer to justice.

Daisy takes the lodger to a pub and gives 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 have just heard the news from headquarters that the real Avenger has been caught, try in vain to defend him. When all seems 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. Some time later the lodger is shown to have fully recovered from his injuries and he and Daisy are happily living together as a couple.

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 and the radio dramatic anthology Hollywood Star Time (dramatic anthology), 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]