Saturday, August 29, 2009

Alfred Hitchcock's silent film "The Lodger"

The Laserlight DVD containing “Sabotage” contains a bonus, the early Alfred Hitchcock silent film “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” (1927), originally from Vintage Films. The film, 90 minutes on the DVD (not matching any times given on IMDB) make it longer than the “main course”.

Like the other film, “The Lodger” seems timely now in the 21st Century. A young man (Ivor Novello) rents a room in a home in a small British village (or maybe London) and his behavior, while innocent, seems to match the stereotype of a "Jack the Ripper character" (“The Avenger”) stalking the town. He goes out into the fog; he keeps a picture of a blonde girl who may match the “profle” of the victims. The landlady and police become suspicious, create a confrontation and eventually arrest him; then with a plot twist with “the girl” he “escapes”.

The silent film paradigm requires, besides subtitles, the use of news headlines to convey the story, with lots of images of teletypes (1920s technology) and newspaper presses.

Imagine the concerns landlords can have today, that someone moving in to a building could be a criminal or terrorist, or could attract other dangerous elements. Once again, Hitchcock shows that problems that seem novel today have always been with “ordinary people”.

The music acore has a lot of Vienese schmaltz, and the little waltz sounds like Korngold to me. IMDB says that the original music score is by Ashley Irwin.

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