When I first read the general plot outline for today’s movie, I had to stop and think for a minute because this honestly sounded like a movie I had already reviewed. However, After going through my list, I found that, while similar, this is a different movie than the one I had earlier reviewed, Man In The Attic. I shouldn’t be too surprised though as there have been countless movies and books that are inspired by or parody the Jack the Ripper murders. So lets see how Hitchcock does with his own version of a serial killer as I watch today’s movie, The Lodger (1927).
The plot: A young blonde woman screams and as a crowd gathers around to where the screams where heard, they find the woman’s body and a note, marking her as the latest victim of the serial killer known as The Avenger. A reporter at the scene calls in his report and the presses quickly rush to print the story. That night, a young woman named Daisy Bunting is working a fashion show when she and the other showgirls here the news. All of the blonde showgirls get nervous and hide their hair underneath wigs or hats while Daisy laughs at them. Daisy heads home, where she finds her parents and her boyfriend Joe, who is a police officer, reading about the story. Later that night, a well dressed young man knocks on the door and when Mrs. Bunting answers it, he asks about the room she has for rent. She leads him up to the attic, where the room is, and when he sees it is filled with pictures of young blonde women. The man seems a bit disturbed but sits down and, after hearing how much the rent is, pays a month in advance and asks for some bread and milk. Mrs. Bunting heads down to the kitchen and the man places his small satchel in a cabinet and locks it. When Mrs. Bunting returns with his food, she sees the man turning all the pictures so they are facing the wall and he asks if she can have them taken out. Daisy comes upstairs to help remove the paintings and is intrigued by the lodger and as she is putting the paintings away with her mom and Joe, they hear the lodger pacing upstairs. The next day, Daisy brings the lodger some breakfast and an attraction starts to form between the two. After a few days, the lodger starts to become more sociable and is playing chess with Daisy. Joe shows up at the house and tells Daisy’s parents that he has been put on the Avenger case and wants to tell Daisy so Mrs. Bunting goes to get her. When Daisy enters the room, Joe tells her father that after he puts handcuffs on the Avenger, he will put a ring on Daisy’s finger, though Daisy does not seem happy about it. When Daisy walks away from Joe and heads back upstairs, Joe starts to get jealous of the lodger but Mrs. Bunting says not to worry. Late Tuesday night, the lodger sneaks out of the house but Mrs. Bunting hears him leave and, getting suspicious, goes to search his room and finds the locked cabinet that she can’t get into. The next morning, when the news reports another killing had occurred just round the corner, Mrs. Bunting believes that their lodger might be the killer. Joe shows up at the house, depressed that they were not able to catch the Avenger when they hear Daisy scream. Joe races upstairs and finds Daisy in the lodger’s arms and when he confronts the lodger, Daisy explains that she was scared by a mouse. Joe gets angry and warns the lodger to stay away from Daisy but Daisy gets angry with him and storms off. As they leave, the lodger tells Mrs. Bunting that if he is disturbed like that again, he will leave. Mrs. Bunting shares her suspicions with her husband and they decide to not let Daisy be alone with him anymore. The next day, the lodger attends Daisy’s show and after seeing Daisy modeling her dress, speaks to the store manager. Meanwhile, at the police station, Joe realizes that the Avenger seems to be moving in a specific direction and figures out where they should try and catch the killer. When Daisy returns home, her parents show her a package that came for her and Daisy is surprised to find the dress she modeled inside. When she tells them that the lodger had seen her wearing it but she didn’t think he would have bought it for her, her father grabs the dress and takes it up to the lodger’s room and tells him that he can’t have his daughter receiving gifts from strangers. That night, Daisy is taking a bath and the lodger speaks with her through the door and asks if she is upset about the dress. She tells him she isn’t and the two end up going out that night, much to the worry of Mrs. Bunting. As Daisy and the lodger sit on a bench after enjoying their date, Joe finds and confronts them and Daisy breaks up with Joe and asks that the lodger take her back home. As a heart-broken Joe sits on the bench, he notices the lodgers footprints and realizes they are similar to those of the Avenger. Back at the Bunting’s house, Daisy and the lodger are sitting together and start to kiss but the lodger pushes Daisy away and stands up only for Daisy to keep talking with him and the two end up kissing. Meanwhile, Joe shows up at the house with a warrant and two police officers and after finding Daisy and the lodger together, tells him he is there to search his room. Searching the room, Joe unlocks the cabinet and starts searching the lodger’s satchel. Inside, they find a gun, newspaper clippings of the murders and a map plotting their locations, and a picture, which Joe recognizes as belonging to the first victim. Daisy protests his innocence but Joe has the officers handcuff him and lead him out of the room. As they make their way downstairs, Joe tells the Buntings what happened and Mrs. Bunting faints and as the officers’ attention is turned towards her, the lodger manages to run out of the house. Daisy goes looking for him and finds him shivering on bench. When she asks him about the picture, he tells her that the girl was his sister and they were dancing at a her debutante ball the night she was killed. He had promised their dying mother that he would find the killer and bring him to justice. In an attempt to warm him up, Daisy takes the lodger to a nearby pub and orders some brandy for him, helping him to drink it as they are trying to keep the handcuffs hidden. After arousing the suspicions of some of the patrons, they leave but soon after, Joe and another officer come in and ask to use the phone so they can call in. When the patrons hear Joe’s description, they end up assembling as a lynch mob to go after the lodger. Joe calls the station and finds out that the real Avenger was apprehended red-handed and, realizing the lodger was innocent, goes with his partner to try and save the lodger and Daisy from the mob. The mob catches up to the lodger and start to beat him while Daisy tries to defend him. Joe and his partner arrive and try to rescue him but they are shoved aside by the mob until the newspapers, showing the Avenger has been captured are handed out, and the mob stops their attack. The next day, the lodger is resting in a hospital bed and Daisy is sitting there next to him as the doctor says he should make a full recovery. Some time later, the lodger and Daisy are shown to be a couple and they greet Daisy’s parents as the come to visit them, but when the Buntings are looking at a painting over the fireplace, Daisy and the lodger sneak off to share a kiss.
The Lodger (1927) met with high praise from recent critics, holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seemed to like this early showing of Hitchcock’s story telling ability and saw it as an indication of what he would become. This was Hitchcock’s third feature film and is significant for not only introducing several themes that would appear in most of his films down the road, such as an innocent man on the run and a fetishistic sexuality. Originally, the movie was supposed to have a more ambiguous ending, leaving you wondering whether or not the lodger was actually the killer, the studio demanded it be changed to a happier ending when Ivor Novello was cast, as they did not want him to be portray as the villain. Before the movie was released, Hitchcock married his assistant Alma Reville, who he had worked with before on other movies, and the two would stay married until the day he died.
This was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Ivor Novello (the lodger), June Tripp (Daisy), and Malcolm Keen (Joe) doing a great job with their roles. The story was really good and, knowing that this was one of Hitchcock’s earliest movies, I can see how this movie would be a basis for his later works. The movie didn’t have any special effects and there honestly wasn’t any real horror in it, as aside from the opening scene of the girl screaming, all of the murders happened off camera. Instead, Hitchcock focused on suspense and some misdirection to help set a great tone for this movie. Definitely a movie worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5