Patsy Brand is a chorus girl at the Pleasure Garden music hall. She meets Jill Cheyne who is down on her luck and gets her a job as a dancer. Jill is engaged to adventurer Hugh Fielding and... See full summary »
A serial killer known as "The Avenger" is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting's daughter is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I wonder if this would be identifiable as a Hitchcock movie if it weren't identified as such. Maybe. It as a few innovative touches anyway although it's often a little primitive.
For one thing it's a theme -- a serial murderer in a comfortably bourgeois setting -- that Hitchcock would return to from time to time. "Frenzy," for instance, and "Shadow of a Doubt." But this isn't really typical in that the later Hitchcock would have complicated the story, or juiced it up, by having the innocent eponymous "lodger" guilty of something or other -- maybe just having a closet full of ladies' garments. As it is, he's made Ivor Novello a bit odd looking, given him effete gestures, more makeup than the other men, suggesting that he's gay. Other characters refer to him as "queer" (in the old-fashioned sense of quirky) and say of him that "he's not keen on the ladies." (Ivor Novello was himself gay.)
There's also a scene in which a sexy young girl is happily taking a bath while the lodger tries to sneak into the bathroom. Shades of "Psycho."
And when the lodger is pacing back and forth in his upstairs room, the family look up at the ceiling at the jiggling chandelier and the ceiling becomes transparent so we can see the shoes of the suspect. Oh, it's not "elegant," but it IS "original." Hitchcock was trying something new even then.
Then too, there is a scene in a kind of -- boutique? Is that the right word? A fancy dress shop where the heroine models. The prissy looking lodger is seated between two dolls in cloche hats -- I'm afraid I'm guessing again -- and one of them puts an unlit cigarette in her mouth, waiting for the smooth gentleman to light it for her, and maybe buy her that smashing dress too. But the lodger has noticed that -- well, to be frank -- the woman's bare KNEE is on display, the flapper! So, get this, staring straight ahead, he takes out his lighter, flicks it lit, and moves it to the side so she can reach it. Then he disengages himself, stands up, and walks off, to her irritation. It was not necessary to do the scene in that particular fashion but it's the kind of thing Hitchcock would dream up, a small but telling detail.
Hitchcock makes his cameo in the crowd of people trying to clobber the lodger, who is hung up on a fence by his handcuffs. (Christian symbolism? I doubt it.) Hitchcock's presence is clear enough in still shots but the print I saw was so old and scratchy half the scene was obscured.
Why didn't Hitchcock make an outright movie about Jack the Ripper instead of this one, with an innocent "Avenger." We never find out who or what the real murderer is avenging. Come to think of it, we never even see him. Maybe Hitch wasn't too fond of period pictures. The few that he made were anything but hits. Hitch making a movie set in 1885? What's next? Hitch remaking the shootout at the OK Corral? Hitch doing a biography of Moses? Nah. He had a pretty good sense of his talents and their limitations. When he misjudged them it was usually in the matter of technique, not subject.
Worth seeing. In fact, an interesting story.
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