Week 3 of my year of Hitchcock leads me to watch The Lodger (A Story of the London Fog). As mentioned last week I am unsure if it was the third film Hitchcock directed but it is definitely an early one.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The basic storyline of this film is much simpler than the other two films which I watched. In essence it is a simple murder mystery… Blonde girls are being murdered by a man known as ‘The Avenger’ and whilst the hunt for him goes on a Lodger (played by Ivor Novello) moves into a house situated central to the where the murders are taking place. This Lodger is a strange creepy gentleman who although kind has a seeming fear of blonde woman. Ultimately the Lodger and the house-owners daughter fall in love causing her to reject her fiancée (who happens to be the policeman in charge of investigating the Avenger). As the film moves forward it becomes increasingly obvious that the Lodger is the murderer until a twist ending changes everything.

THE GOOD

The story of this film is an intriguing one that kept me on my toes and inrtugued throughout. It is perfectly paced with very tense moments and a perfect balance of title cards and visual story-telling.

Although not as experimental as last weeks Downhill there are a few features used that Hitchcock will adopt later most notably point-of-view shots from the murderer as he kills people and beginning the film with a close-up of a woman being murdered. This shot is something Hitchcock used in every film I have seen which involves a murder and is almost the same as the opening shot of Rope. The entire film is fantastic mix of tension and is so typically Hitchcock that it is the first film in which his auteuristic skills are honed.

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Other good points are the performances of the characters particularly that of Ivor Novello. As discussed last week Novello was sub-standard in his earlier collaboration with Hitchcock; however in this film he is perfectly suited to the part of a creepy gentleman; his appearance and nervous mannerisms are truly haunting and something which I will always remember from this film.

Perhaps the most Hitchcockian moment in this film comes from the mix of comedy and drama throughout to increase the tension. An example of such comes from the very slapstick moment of a man falling off a chair and not being able to stand up; this is shortly followed by a moment a great drama.

THE BAD

In terms of the bad sides of this film there are a few. For starters the film with all its pacing lacks a real protagonist, until the last half hour there was no-one that I cared for or wanted to succeed. This is probably due to the Lodger was the only character with personality and the main attribute of said personality was sinisterism.

Another point would be that every time a murder happened a title card would flash up reading ‘Tonight Golden Curls’ at regular intervals; this was strange and made out to be advertising some sort of theatre show as this is where we generally go but seems kind of contextless. I believe at the time it seemed like a great idea to move location and also emphasise that the Avenger is killing blonde woman but it just appeared nonsical and distracting.

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There is also an awful blue cast put on all the exterior which I presume is there to represent to the fog in a visual sense; at the time of release this was probably very effective as colour cinema was not yet popularised however to a modern day viewer such as myself it looked like cheap and terrible.

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CAMEO O’CLOCK

This film contains Hitchcock’s first Cameo and is the first time to which I can comment on him. As I do with every film I kept my eyes peeled for him but was unable to spot him so sadly resorted to a Google search! It appears his cameo is not as obvious as it would be in some later films. He sits in a newsroom near the beginning with his back to the camera as seen in the screenshot. Not the greatest cameo but the first of many to come!

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FINAL THOUGHTS

This film was good, enjoyable and tense, it was very structured and it is fairly obvious why it is known as Hitchcock’s first Hitchcock film – not sure if that make sense. Basically it was his first film which contains many stylistic features that he would become famous for. The film has many great moments and whilst more Hitchcockian than Downhill and The Pleasure Garden I do not think it has as many memorable moments especially when compared to the former. I therefore I award this film 3 Hitch’s.

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