Considered the first Hitchcock picture molded in the suspense mode that would make him famous, the 1926 silent The Lodger presents a London obsessed with a recent string of murders enacted by a Jack the Ripper–esque predator of blonde women. He calls himself “the Avenger,” and when the elderly Buntings (Arthur Chesney and Marie Ault) begin to observe suspicious behavior from their new tenant (matinee idol Ivor Novello) — secretive walks late at night, a peculiar aversion to portraits of golden-haired women — they wonder if their awkward guest might not be the Avenger himself. With its haunting swaths of shadow, splendid visual tricks (the application of a plate-glass ceiling is especially memorable), and frequent use of what Dave Kehr terms “the confrontational close-up,” The Lodger looks every bit as good as the later Hitchcock films it resembles so strongly.
Sat., April 26, 3:30 p.m., 2014
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 23, 2014