“It is possible this film is the finest British production ever made.” Bioscope, 1926
One of Hitchcock’s first identifiable films is based on the story of Jack The Ripper. As the suspicion that a neighbour may not be all he seems, the cat- and-mouse tension reaches almost unbearable proportion.
Made in 1926 for Michael Balcon’s new Gainsborough studios, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog was Hitchcock’s first thriller, and his first critical and commercial success. Coming shortly after his return from Germany, it draws heavily on the German expressionist tradition established in such films as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Der Cabinett des Dr Caligari, d. Robert Weine, 1919) and Nosferatu (Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens, d. F.W. Murnau, 1922). These films, which used stylised, angular sets, high contrast light and shadow to convey disturbed psychological states, were to be a major influence on the developing director.
The Lodger was written by Eliot Stannard from a popular novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes (sister of the poet Hilaire Belloc), and starred matinee idol Ivor Novello - who starred in Hitchcock’s next film, Downhill (1927) - as the mysterious lodger who falls under suspicion. Novello reprised this role in a sound remake directed by Maurice Elvey (1932). June Tripp, the young actress who starred as the landlady’s daughter, Daisy, was the second of a series of actresses who became blonde at Hitchcock’s insistence - the first was Virginia Valli, star of The Pleasure Garden(1925). Joe, Daisy’s policeman fiancé, jokes, "I’m keen on golden hair myself, same as the Avenger is". It soon became clear that Hitchcock had similar tastes.
The Lodger was a great success, and quickly established Hitchcock as a name director.
Hitchcock: "The Lodger was the first true Hitchcock movie… the first picture possibly influenced by my period in Germany… the first time I exercised my style. I took a pure narrative and, for the first time, presented ideas in purely visual terms…"
Truffaut: "A very good movie which showed great visual inventiveness. I really enjoyed it."
"Hitchcock’s most underrated movie." Kevin Maher, The Times
"One for Hitch fans, one for thriller fans, one for cinema fans. Do not miss." Wally Hammond, Little White Lies
"This restoration of Hitchcock’s 1926 silent melodrama offers a gripping prehistory not just of his own work, but the Hollywood thriller itself." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian