review for The Lodger on AllMovie

The Lodger (1926)
by Patrick Legare review

Described by Alfred Hitchcock himself as the "first true Hitchcock film," The Lodger is a suspenseful Jack-the-Ripper tale that features one of the master's most familiar themes: an innocent man who is blamed for a crime. In the case of this 1926 silent about a killer who targets blondes, that man is a mysterious lodger in a London apartment house played by British screen star Ivor Novello. The actor does a terrific job of casting suspicion on himself by alternating between being sinister and sincere. The plot is similar to that of 1941's Suspicion, but unlike the weak ending of that Hitchcock classic, The Lodger's conclusion is stunning: Novello being chased across town by an angry lynch mob that believes he is the killer. In only his third film, Hitchcock's creative style and willingness to innovate are already apparent. The story is carried entirely by its images, with only a minimal number of title cards used for dialogue. The director shot the opening scene as a combination of images that set up the entire plot and convey the terror of the situation, all with only a few words. In another chilling scene that shows the fright of the building's owners as they see a chandelier shaking, Hitchcock used a see-through Plexiglas ceiling to show that the movement is caused by the lodger, who nervously paces above them. The Lodger marked the first of Hitchcock's famed onscreen appearances, due to the fact that he was needed as an extra. He is seen in two spots, first as a man in a mailroom during the opening sequence, then again at the end as an onlooker to the mob scene.