Alfred Hitchcock is considered a master at creating suspenseful movies. Most of his movies that I've seen have been some of his more popular movies made later in his career. I recently picked up a DVD set that features eight of his earlier movies that I haven't seen before like The Lodger.
A serial killer known as the Avenger has been killing blonde women in London. A young woman named Daisy, who works as a model, and her coworkers hear about the latest murder. Several of the blonde girls are scared and consider changing their hair color or getting wigs while Daisy doesn't seem worried. She lives with her parents who rent out rooms in their home. Daisy has been seeing Joe, a police officer and he is there with her parents when she gets home from work. Shortly after that, a stranger arrives wanting to rent a room. It doesn't take long for the Lodger and Daisy to start to grow close, which makes Joe jealous. The Lodger acts oddly, which causes Daisy's mother to believe that he is actually the Avenger.
The Lodger is based on the book by Marie Belloc Lowndes and was made done as Who is He?, a play. According to some research I did on the movie after watching it, a rather significant change was made to the story, mostly against Hitchcock's wishes. I think the story works the way it was done in the movie, though it would have been interesting without the change. The movie was shelved for a while before being released and ultimately becoming a hit. Other versions have been made and Hitchcock even turned down the chance to make a newer version of the movie. I just discovered that another version was released in 2009. I haven't seen any of the other versions of the movie.
Hitchcock began his career making silent movies. I have only seen a couple of silent movies and I don't generally like them, but I wanted to give The Lodger a chance. It is a bit different watching a silent movie since everything relies on the visuals instead of dialogue or sounds being able to help. The movie didn't have many of the title cards with text on them. I was expecting more of those before watching the movie. I was a little confused by a few scenes since there wasn't an explanation for why certain things happened. The plot is handled well and makes for an entertaining movie. A few themes are present that would turn up in several of his later movies.
The Lodger has a decent amount of mystery and a good amount of suspense. Many people consider this to be the first true Hitchcock movie since it is the first suspenseful thriller he made. The movie begins showing the discovery of the seventh Avenger victim, a sort killer sort of like Jack the Ripper. Some information about the killings is shared by showing newspaper clips covering the murders. The Lodger is very secretive when he arrives at Daisy's home, and he does act oddly at times, which adds to the tension and suspense. The expressions of various characters really helps to add to the suspense in certain scenes.
The movie has some very interesting visuals, which shows that Hitchcock had been interesting in using different things to enhance his movies. During one scene when the lodger is pacing in his room, the chandelier is shown to sway from his footsteps. Then the ceiling turns transparent and shows the Lodger pacing in his room, an effect that was created by shooting up through plate glass. Another scene features the handrail on the staircase in the house. The camera follows as the lodger's hand slowly moves down the handrail. That shot adds a lot of suspense and tension to what is going on. The suspense works very well and this is a wonderful example of Hitchcock's early work.
I have seen The Lodger described as a black and white movie and as a color toned black and white movie. There are color tones to most of the scenes in the movie, with only a few set in the house late one night being truly black and white. The scenes set outside at night have a blue hue and almost all of the interior scenes have a golden or sepia hue. One short scene late in the movie has a sort of pinkish hue that is kind of odd. I wasn't expecting the color hues before watching the movie, so that was a bit different and slightly distracting at first. I quickly got past that and was able to focus on the movie.
When The Lodger begins, it is established that Daisy has been seeing Joe, a police detective. They are shown spending a little bit of time together, but not much is shown and there certainly aren't any love scenes. Daisy and the Lodger are drawn to each other when they meet and they start to spend some time together. They are shown doing innocent things like playing chess for the most part. One scene has the Lodger talking to Daisy through the bathroom door while she is taking a bath. Considering when the movie was made, that scene was probably rather racy. Daisy does show some skin without being shown nude.
There are only a few characters in The Lodger, which ultimately works fine for the story. The development is a bit different since it is a silent movie. I had thought that Daisy was in some kind of musical show when I watched the movie at first. I discovered that she is actually a model when I did research on the movie. She is a young woman still living at home and she does help around the house when she isn't working. She does a few things that don't seem that smart because she acts impulsively. The actress playing Daisy is only identified as June. She does well with the part.
Daisy's parents are just identified as the Landlady and her husband in the credits of the movie. The Landlady is the one who starts to become suspicious of the Lodger. As the movie progresses, she gets more worried and tense around the Lodger. Marie Ault does well with the part, conveying a lot with her expressions. Her husband wasn't shown as much, so he didn't have as much to do. Joe is a police officer that has been dating Daisy. He doesn't care for the Lodger when he firsts meets him and he also gets suspicious later in the movie. He does seem too old for Daisy and comes across as a jerk at times. Malcolm Keene does well with the part.
There is a decent amount of attention given to the Lodger even though there is still a lot of mystery surrounding him. He isn't identifed by name. He first shows up fairly late in a swirl of fog after the latest Avenger victim has been discovered. He is drawn to Daisy, but he also continues to act strangely. He is an interesting character. Ivor Novello is good in the part.
Marie Ault - Landlady
Arthur Chesney - Her husband
June - Daisy
Malcolm Keen - Joe
Ivor Novello - The Lodger
Alfred Hitchcock - Director
The Lodger has been released in a few different DVD versions, some of which are of questionable quality. I have a four disc set that has twenty Hitchcock titles, including a few that are from the television show. The Lodger is part of that set, though it isn't the version I watched. I have a feeling the quality in that version is bad. I picked up Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection a few months ago, a set that has eight of Hitchcock's earlier movies. The copy of The Lodger that I watched is from this set. Over 1000 hours were put into restoring the movie and the picture quality looks wonderful.
The DVD has commentary with Patrick McGilligan, a film historian. There is a 1940 radio play that was directed to Hitchcock, a restoration comparison, two different scores interviews of Hitchcock by Peter Bogdanovich and Francois Truffaut and two featurettes. The Sound of Silence: The Making of The Lodger Featurette shares a lot of information on the movie and is very interesting. Several people, including Hitchcock's granddaughter, discuss the movie. Hitchcock 101 is very short and just focuses on his granddaughter talking about her relationship with him and her time taking a college course on his movies.
Hitchcock Movie Reviews
The Birds ~ Dial M for Murder ~ Family Plot ~ Lifeboat ~ The Man Who Knew Too Much ~ North by Northwest ~ Notorious ~ The Paradine Case ~ Psycho ~ Rear Window ~ Rebecca ~ Rope ~ Sabotage ~ Strangers on a Train ~ Suspicion ~ To Catch a Thief ~ Vertigo ~
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