THE LODGER

(1927)
With Ivor Novello, June Tripp, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, Malcolm Keen
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White, Silent
Reviewed by JL

The Lodger     According to the Alfred Hitchcock himself, THE LODGER was "the first true Hitchcock film."  For the first nine years of his career (1925-34), Hitchcock worked for various British studios, churning out 16 features in various genres, only four of them (and a lengthy sequence from a fifth) in his familiar suspense milieu.  It's both surprising and impressive that THE LODGER, only Hitch's third film, would feature such a Hitchcock-ian plot line and contain so many of the trademarks associated with the director in later years.

     Based on the legend of Jack the Ripper, the film features Ivor Novello in a deliciously hyperbolic performance as Hitchcock's first "man on the run."  The tour-de-force opening sequence manages to present the exposition of the story without title cards, as we learn of the serial killer terrorizing London through glimpses of newspaper headlines, "crawling" electric marquees, and the police examination of a murder victim.  The entire film is, in fact, what Hitchcock liked to call "pure cinema," in that the story is told almost exclusively through images, many highly innovative, with only 18 title cards needed throughout the 91-minute running time.  In all, THE LODGER was the most complete display of Hitchcock's artistry until THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, his breakthrough film of 1934. 

     As for THE LODGER's availability on DVD, let the buyer beware.  There are numerous public-domain editions, all of them mastered from wretchedly inferior prints that are nearly unwatchable.  If you want a high-quality copy of the film, you'll need a multi-region DVD player and the German disc on the Concord label, the only version mastered from the world's only pristine print of the film (housed at the British Film Institute), and the only one to feature the film's original tinting. - JL

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