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BFI (2012) - Then and now: The Lodger reviewed




Then and now: The Lodger reviewed

Sam Wigley, Friday, 10 August 2012

With The Lodger, Alfred Hitchcock’s early classic about a mysterious killer haunting the foggy streets of London, rereleased nationwide in a brand new BFI restoration, we sample this week’s reviews and dig out some of the original critical reactions to compare.

“It is part of the eternal youth in all human nature to like a baffling mystery,” wrote the critic for London’s The Stoll Herald on 7 February 1927. “That is why conjurors, magicians and their kind cast their spell of magic so successfully over the spectator. And the same in mystery stories of which The Lodger is a fine example.”

Back in cinemas nationwide in a brand new restoration, accompanied by a newly commissioned score by Nitin Sawhney, Alfred Hitchcock’s silent classic The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926) is the atmospheric story of a capital in panic, as a serial killer known as ‘The Avenger’ haunts the darkened streets preying on blonde-haired women.

One of the most popular British film stars of the day, Ivor Novello plays the mysterious boarding-house tenant who makes unexplained trips out at night – could it be he who is terrorising the ladies of London?

“Look into Ivor Novello’s haunted, kohl-rimmed eyes in Hitch’s most overtly Hitchcockian silent film,” writes Guy Lodge in this week’s Time Out, “and you can see generations of matinee idols coming full circle. Willowy and wounded-looking, Novello was the Robert Pattinson of his day, and his gracefully on-edge performance [...] is as intriguing as the director’s resourceful formulation of suspense techniques that would later become his bread and butter.”

In 1926, Alfred Hitchcock was not yet established as the famous Master of Suspense, nor even assoc...