Week two of #ProjectHitch is upon us and with it brings the most well-known of his silent era films,The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927).
I’m not even sure where to begin with this film, only to say that I adored it. As far as Hitchcock’s signature style is concerned, The Lodger is leaps and bounds ahead of last weeks film, The Pleasure Garden. Hitch did actually direct another feature film between the two but the 1926 movie, The Mountain Eagle is unfortunately lost to audiences, without a known copy of the film in existence. Without having been able to watch the film in between I can’t say what kind of advances his directorial style and vision may have undergone but I can say that to me, The Lodger really ‘feels’ like a Hitchcock film. The atmosphere, the tone, the character types and the inventive camera angles are exactly the kind of genius I have come to expect of ol’ Hitch. Not to say that The Pleasure Garden didn’t have some of that signature Hitchcock magic but it was definitely to a much lesser extent. It’s clear with The Lodger that he is coming into his own and creating a voice for himself and that (let me tell you) is such a fun thing to be able to watch unfold.
|One of our "golden haired" victims|
For those of you unfamiliar, The Lodger is based on the 1913 novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes about the famous Jack the Ripper murders. The film opens with a beautiful young blonde girl screaming dramatically as she becomes the seventh and latest victim of The Avenger Murderer, an unknown person who has been attacking “golden haired” women and leaving a note on their bodies with the words ‘The Avenger’. As the film progresses we are introduced to our core cast, Daisy and her rather annoying parents, her less than ideal boyfriend, Joe (who just happens to work for the Police) and, of course, our lodger (Johnathan), played by the incredibly handsome and charming, Ivor Novello.
|I mean, just look at that attraction!|
It’s clear from the start that we are meant to suspect, this mysterious Lodger as the killer and that sense of distrust permeates the entirety of the film. Ivor Novello was, to me, perfect casting. It didn’t matter how suspicious he was acting or what he got up to, there was always a part of me that wanted to like him. The chemistry between the lodger and Daisy was palpable as they began their flirtation, made all the more sweet by the annoyance it caused, the ever irritating, Joe. Unfortunately the remastered version of the film I watched, somewhat marred that initial connection between our leading man and lady with the inclusion of some terrible contemporary love song, that was not only offensive to my musical tastes but also just completely jarring. It pulled me out of the world of the film and made me feel like I was instead, watching a terrible music video. Similar jarring music appeared towards the end of the film but apart from those couple of upsets I found the soundtrack relatively inoffensive and mostly complementary.
Anyway, back to the actual story – Daisy and Johnathon continue to get closer despite the disapproval of the other people in her life as well as Johnathon’s continued suspicious behaviour (such as, late night outings and locked cupboards) and yet another golden haired victim is found. Daisy’s parents and Joe are both highly suspicious of the lodger and worried about his involvement with Daisy, so much so that Joe acquires a warrant to search his rooms, finding both a gun and a photograph of the first murder victim, who when pressed, the lodger claims was his sister, although; Daisy seems to be the only one to believe him. The others remain distrustful, a distrust that honestly seems a little unfounded. I understand why the audience should suspect Johnathon but as for the other characters, they seem to leap across reasonable deductions, making crazy accusations on highly circumstantial occurrences (obviously before the gun and photograph come to light) and having now done some research on the film, I understand why.
The film was originally meant to end on an ambiguous note, with the audience and the characters never quite sure if Johnathon was in fact The Avenger murderer or not but due to the casting of the much beloved, Ivor Novello, the ending had to be rewritten to make sure he came across as unarguably innocent (a similar occurrence would take place in Hitchcock’s 1941 film, Suspicion but we’ll get to that later in the year). The film instead, ends with a mob very nearly tearing the lodger limb from limb in true vigilante style before Joe saves him, having realised he’s made a mistake when he learns that the true murderer has already been arrested. I didn’t completely dislike the ending since I did enjoy the romance between the lodger and Daisy but I actually think I would have preferred the more abstruse ending that the film was originally meant to possess.
Overall, I ended up highly enjoying The Lodger. It has made me even more excited to see what other silent gems Hitchcock has to offer (as well as now wanting to check out more films with the beautiful, Ivor Novello).
|The handsome and mysterious lodger.|
Be sure to check back next week to see how I got along with Hitch’s next offering, the 1927 film, The Ring.