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In late Victorian London, Jack the Ripper has been killing and maiming actresses in the night. The Burtons are forced to take in a lodger due to financial hardship. He seems like a nice young man, but Mrs. Burton suspects him of being the ripper because of some mysterious and suspicious habits, and fears for her beautiful actress niece who lives with them.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Merle Oberon fell in love with the film's cinematographer, Lucien Ballard, and they married the following year. Because of facial scars Oberon sustained in a car accident, Ballard developed a unique light for her that washed out any signs of her blemishes. The device is known to this day as the Obie (not to be confused with the Off-Broadway award). See more »
The police inspector says that a fingerprint was taken from one of the Ripper murder scenes, and the inspector himself carries a vial of fingerprinting powder. However, the Ripper murders took place in 1888; the first criminal identification from fingerprints took place in Argentina in 1892, and the British police did not adopt fingerprinting until 1901. See more »
Old Cockney Man:
"Murders being committed in our midst. Police inadequate. We intend offering a substantial reward to anyone, citizen or otherwise, who shall give information bringing the murderer or murderers to justice." Hmm.
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Mrs. Lowndes' evergreen tale of the Ripper finds a memorable exemplar in Laird Cregar
It's London's autumn of terror 1888 when Jack the Ripper stalked the slums of Whitechapel to eviscerate gin-soaked prostitutes and shake the capital of the British Empire to its foundations. John Brahm's movie opens on the gas-lit and fog-wreathed cobblestones, evocatively shot by Lucien Ballard, in this umpteenth recension of Marie Belloc Lowndes' evergreen chiller The Lodger (Alfred Hitchcock did a silent treatment in 1927, and Jack Palance would star in Man in the Attic in 1954 , to name but two of its closest cousins).
The crafty Mrs. Lowndes may have been the first to use that surefire scare tactic `the call is coming from inside the house!' The gimmick of her story is that the fiend has a respectable face and may have taken lodgings under a respectable roof while its respectable occupants remain oblivious but imperiled.
Brahm's choice of lodger is Laird Cregar, whose enormous bulk he was six-three and 300 pounds made him look perpetually 45, though he was only 28 when he died, shortly after making this movie. (His last, released posthumously the following year, was the somewhat similar Hangover Square, which Brahm also directed). The rooms he takes (including an attic `laboratory' complete with gas fire for his experiments) belong to Cedric Hardwicke and Sara Allgood, whose niece Merle Oberon, a music-hall star, lives there as well.
When Laird is invited to attend one of Oberon's can-can numbers, he rants and raves about painted and powdered woman and finally erupts: `I can show you something more beautiful than a beautiful woman,' whereupon he produces a photograph of his dead brother, who came to ruin through consorting with wicked women (there's the merest insinuation of syphilitic insanity). Clearly, the lodger has unresolved issues.
The Ripper legend and Lowndes' telling of it are so familiar it needs no retracing, save to note that George Sanders plays the smitten Scotland Yard Detective and that Brahm delivers all the expected chills. But then this German emigrant always fared better with the spooky and the Victorian than with the hard-boiled and American. The Lodger counts among his finer hours-and-a-half.
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