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Hitchcock Annual (1996) - Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger, a Story of the London Fog (1926): a descriptive shot list




In his book-length interview with Francois Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock describes The Lodger, A Story of the London Fog (1926) as his first real "Hitchcock movie."1 It was his third feature, but both The Pleasure Garden (1925) and The Mountain Eagle (1926) were shot in Munich and had yet to be released to an English-speaking audience. The success of The Lodger created a market for the first two films. In many respects, then, it was Hitchcock's first film and certainly most of the critics and viewers have agreed with him that it was the one in which he initially developed the themes and style which define his individual signature as a director. It has a "wrong man" plot (where an innocent man is wrongly accused of a crime), uses the narrative twists and reverses usually associated with his tales of suspense, is full of moments of rather mordant humor and wit, and contains Hitchcock's first screen appearance — actually he appears twice.2

Hitchcock's silent movies have not received the critical attention of his later, more famous films, but The Lodger has attracted more critical commentary than most, and that includes a lengthy and comprehensive analysis by William Rothman in his Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze.3 Even though some critics find the other silent films more satisfying as films, for most students of Hitchcock The Lodger is the starting point of his career.

Initially there were some problems in getting the film released — the distributors found it "awful" or "incomprehensible" — but after some studio tinkering, it was finally received enthusiastically by the public and the critics alike.4 And when Hitchcock returned to Great Britain, almost fifty years and fifty films later to make Frenzy (another Jack the Ripper-like story), he was completing, as Rothman points out, a cinematic circle which had begun with The Lodger.5

In transcribing the shots for The Lodger I have followed the format used by Sidney Gottlieb in his shot list for Easy Virtue in the 1993 Hitchcock Annual.6 I share with Professor Gottlieb the concerns about consistency and find his focus on the relative size of the human figure a workable guideline for determining the designation of the shot. I also share with him the awareness that exactitude is not entirely possible, no matter what the guidelines. Since I use his formula, I am including his shot description list from the earlier shot record.

ELS: Extreme long shot; emphasis on great distance between camera and subject; human figure is small in the frame.

LS: Long shot; human figure is more prominent than in ELS, shown head to foot, but does not dominate background.

MLS: Medium long shot; comparable to what is often called a full shot; includes the complete human figure as the focal point within a setting.

MS: Medium shot; presents less than the entire human figure, usually from waist to head.

MCU: Medium close-up; includes head and shoulders of a human figure.

CU: Close-up; shows head of human figure.

ECU: Extreme close-up; gives a full-frame view of a part of a face, human figure, or object.7

Indications of direction in the shot list is always from the film viewer's perspective. When a camera set-up is repeated, I have cross-referenced it by shot number. In these particulars I also have followed Gottlieb's format.

When describing settings, in general I have tried to be fairly minimal in my entries. However, since The Lodger is a silent film and therefore relies exdusively on visual information to deliver its meaning, on occasion I have spent additional space describing decor and placement of set elements. For example, it is of some importance that the discolored places of the missing pictures of the young women on the walls of the Lodger's sitting room appear as a visual reminder of the Avenger's victims and their possible connection with the Lodger. So I have included mention of them from time to time.

The movement and facial expression of the characters also occasionally receive more than minimal attention. Again, the silent nature of the film places a heavy burden on the mimic qualities of the acting, and therefore I have strayed frequently from any attempt at a neutral description of their expressions and actions — which is largely impossible in any event — and have included evaluative descriptions, such as "angry," "happy," "concerned," and the like.

The time of the film (in minutes) provided in the bracketed notations which run through the record is included for the reader merely as a general guide to the duration of the shots. It in no way is meant to provide a conclusive time scheme.8

This shot list does not claim to be definitive. But until the multiple versions of the film with varying lengths which exist in widely scattered locations throughout the world have been collated in some sort of systematic way, this listing of shots of an easily accessible video version can provide a critical tool for film viewers.9


A Story of the London Fog

The title is superimposed over an expressionistic graphic with a man's shadow, his collar turned up and hat pulled down, in the upper right corner as a darkened V-shape. After the title of the film dissolves, a shutter effect slowly closes over the man's shadow and the screen darkens to black.


From the Novel by Mrs BELLOC LOWNDES

Scenario ....................... Eliot Stannard

Photography .................. Baron Ventimiglia

Assistant Direction ................. Alma Reville

Art Directors .... C. Wilfred Arnold and Bertram Evans

Editing and Titling ................. Ivor Montagu

Title Designs ................ E. McKnight Kauffer

The landlady ....................... Marie Ault

Her husband ................... Arthur Chesney

Daisy, a mannequin ..................... JUNE

Joe, a police detective .............. Malcolm Keen

The Lodger ................... IVOR NOVELLO



The director title is superimposed over the graphic above. After the director's name disappears, the shutter effect in the upper right slowly reverses to reveal again the shadow of the man wearing a hat with his collar turned up. [1.00]


1. CU. A young, blonde woman looks up and screams. FADE OUT.

2. FADE IN to sign: TO-NIGHT GOLDEN CURLS. Each of the four words flashes on then off. It is repeated four times.

3. MS. Ground-level shot of a murdered young woman who lies on her back along the riverside boulevard, The Embankment.

4. MCU. A frightened, older woman, eyes distended, covers the bottom of her face with her hand as if wearing a mask.

5. MCU. A bobby writes in his notebook.

6. MCU. A reporter also writes in a notebook. [2.00]

7. MCU. A crowd of spectators stare at the body.

8. MS. The bobby and the reporter look at the disturbed woman between them who points down.

9. MS (as in #3). The murdered woman lies in the street.

10. Sign (as in #2): TO-NIGHT GOLDEN CURLS. Flashes twice.

11. MS. Back of the reporter, old woman, and the bobby who leans down.

12. ECU. His hand opens the victim's coat, and pinned to it is a square of paper with a triangle marked on it and the words THE AVENGER written inside.

13. MS. The back of the crowd which surrounds the bobby, woman, and man. As they move off, they moves forward.

14. MLS. A soup and sandwich trailer with its side raised, the proprietor inside. The bobby and the woman move to it followed by the crowd.

15. MCU. The bobby gets a cup and hands it to the left.

16. MS. The reporter enters a booth and talks on the phone. [3.00]

17. MS. The bobby takes the cup from the old woman, gives her a purse, and waves to the proprietor as he exits.

18. MCU. The reporter reads from his notebook into the phone.

19. CU. The old woman talks to the crowd around the food stall.

20. TITLE: "Tall he was — and his face all wrapped up."

21. CU (as in #19). The woman covers the bottom part of her face with her hand and gestures to the crowd.

22. MS. A man in a cloth cap pulls his coat up over his face.

23. CU. The old woman looks horrified and points right.

24. CU. A distorted image of the man who has hidden his face is reflected in the window of the trailer. [4.00]

25. CU (as in #23). The old woman holds her face in horror.

26. MS. The man in the cap stands behind the frightened woman. The proprietor and then members of the crowd push and yell at the prankster. He drops his coat and argues with them.

27. MCU (as in #19). The reporter reads into the phone.

28. MS. Another reporter sitting at a desk holding a phone writes and then rips off a sheet of paper and hands it off-screen.

29. CU. The reporter talks into the phone in the booth.

30. MS (as in #28). The reporter at the desk continues to write.

31. MCU. Over the shoulder shot of a man sitting at a composing machine.

32. CU. His shoulder and hands are visible as he types.

33. MS. A "Mechanical Telegraph" types out a message.

34. DISSOLVE to CU. Mechanical typewriter types, letter by letter, a message. It reads: The seventh golden haired victim of the mysterious murderer known as the Avenger was discovered on The Embankment this evening. [5.00]

35. MS. Five men look down at the message.

36. CU (as in #34). The typewriter types: A woman witness describes the murderer as wearing a scarf covering the lower half of his face. [6.00]

37. MLS. Newspaper office, a reporter [Alfred Hitchcock] sits at a desk in the foreground talking on the phone as men wearing overcoats and hats enter to fill up the empty desks seen through a window.

39. LS. A press room with large rotary presses.

39. MLS. Giant rolls of newsprint locked into the press.

40. MLS. The presses run, paper feeds through them.

41. MLS. A workman on a cat walk with the presses behind him.

42. MS. Men work in the press room. A boy passes holding a newspaper sheet, a man picks up a bundle of papers. [7.00]

43. MLS. Newspapers carried aloft on a conveyor.

44. TITLE: MURDER. A white square moves back and forth over the word, dividing it into MUR and DER. The white letters against a black background change to bla...

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David Sterritt, film critic of The Christian Science Monitor, teaches at Long Island University (C.W. Post campus) and Columbia University. He is author of The Films of Alfred Hitchcock (Columbia University Press, 1993).


  1. Francois Truffaut, with the collaboration of Helen G. Scott, Hitchcock. Revised Edition (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 43-51.
  2. There is some controversy about Hitchcock's second appearance in the film as a member of the mob that catches the Lodger on the fence. John Russell Taylor, in his authorized biography Hitch: The Life and Work of Alfred Hitchcock (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), 83, claims that has been described as his second appearance is incorrect; it only contains an actor who looks like Hitchcock. Gene Phillips agrees and states that he went over the scene in a Movieola and found Taylor's observation to be true. see Gene D. Phillips, Alfred Hitchcock (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1984), 34. Other critics disagree. It certainly appears to be Hitchcock, however.
  3. William Rothman, The Murderous Gaze (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 6-55. Also of interest are: Lindsay Anderson, "Alfred Hitchcock," Sequence 9 (Autumn 1949): 113-24; Leslie Brill, "Hitchcock's The Lodger," Literature/Film Quarterly 11, No. 4 (1983): 257-65; and Ken Mogg, "Hitchcock's The Lodger: A Theory," Hitchcock Annual (1992): 115-27. General discussions of The Lodger also appear in Raymond Durgnat, The Strange case of Alfred Hitchcock: or The Plain Man's Hitchcock (Cambridge: MTT Press, 1978), 69-73; Gene Phillips, Alfred Hitchcock, 33-38; Donald Spoto, The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 5-10; and Maurice Yacowar, Hitchcock's British Films (Hamden: Archon Books, 1977), 31-41.
  4. See Ivor Montagu, "Working with Hitchcock," Sight and Sound 49, No. 3 (1980): 189-93. Montagu briefly discusses the editing he did on the film and mentions the work done by the American artist E. McKnight Kauffer on the decorative titles, which include the opening credits and shots number 44, 58, 82, 113, 254, 272, 506, 564, and 926. He reports that Hitchcock was required to re-shoot only a couple of the crowd scenes for clarity. Hitchcock also discusses the film's problems with Truffaut (Truffaut, 49, 51).
  5. Rothman, 6.
  6. Sidney Gottlieb, "Alfred Hitchcock's Easy Virtue (1927): A Descriptive Shot List," Hitchcock Annual (1993): 41-95.
  7. Gottlieb, 42.
  8. J.L. Kuhns has written perceptively about running times of films in his "Comments on 'Alfred Hitchcock's Easy Virtue (1927): A Descriptive Shot List," Hitchcock Annual (1995-96): 126-33. Sometimes the running time of The Lodger is given without length of footage or running speed, as in Jane E. Sloan, Alfred Hitchcock: A Guide to References and Resources (New York: G.K. Hall and Co., 1993), who says it is "approximately 100 minutes" (50). However, even when more information is supplied, it is often inconclusive. Three retrospective reviews of the film have cited various lengths and times. Richard Combs, "Lodger: A Story of the London Fog," Monthly Film Bulletin 43 (July 1976), 156, mentions the length as 5760 feet @ 16 f.p.s. or 96 minutes. Garth Pedler, "Garth's Vintage Viewing: 'The Lodger,'" Classic Images, No. 193 (July 1991): 18-26, states that the film was listed as 7500 feet (@18 f.p.s) or 112 minutes for the trade-showing in September 1926, but he also cites the restored version done by Britain's National Film Archive in 1983 as 6612 feet or 98 minutes. Herb Gorden, "Speaking of Silents: The Lodger" Classic Images 79 (January 1982), records that he looked at a version loaned to him by a film collector, a "grainy, eight-reel vintage release" which ran 7685 feet (42). He doesn't mention the running speed or time. Gene Phillips also lists The Lodger as 7685 feet long with a running time of "about 100 minutes." Only Pedler mentions the actual source of his prints. With such wild variations in length, speed, and times, it would be impossible to establish a definitive running time of the film without collating all of the known prints, a task far beyond the scope of this shot listing.
  9. The text of The Lodger used in this shot record is the Video Images (Video Yesteryear) version recorded in their "Video Accuspeed" flickerless recording system which the company claims duplicates the speed "at which the film was originally photographed." The video also has an original musical score played on the Hammond organ by Rose Rio. The running time for the film is listed at 125 minutes; the actual running time clocked out at 129 minutes.</private>