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The Lodger (1944)
Topic Started: Apr 22 2012, 09:20 PM (437 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Hitchcock's 1927 adaptation of the Marie Belloc Lowndes novel was remade in 1932, again with Ivor Novello, this time talking. That film, called The Lodger in England and The Phantom Fiend in the U.S., was not a success.

In 1943, Fox acquired the rights, assigned the property to writer Barré Lyndon and director John Brahm, and the result turns out - to my surprise - to be quite a worthy remake, and very unsettling. In fact, some of it's downright scary.

Fox set the whole thing in 1888, admitted that The Avenger was actually Jack the Ripper, and installed Laird Cregar as the mysterious Lodger who may or may not be cutting up prostitu... um, sorry, "actresses", Merle Oberon as the showgirl who lives downstairs, Cedric Hardwicke as the landlord, and reliable George Sanders as the Scotland Yard Dick on the trail of the Ripper. Then we get lots of foggy, dark streets and alleys, cockney accents, murders, suspicious behavior on the part of Mr. Cregar, an inability for any of the cast members to put two and two together and come up with a number between three and five, and - as with virtually every film set in Victorian England - a line of chorus girls dancing the Can Can.

I liked this movie more than I ever thought I would, it's not brilliant by any stretch, as Hitch's was, but that one was a psychological drama with a fairly sympathetic albeit oddball suspect, and this one aims for scares and gets them. The climax, set in the theatre with Jack the Ripper (the real one) on the run, is actually nail-biting time.

The Fox DVD includes a brief (16 min.) documentary on the film, commentary, and a lot of press materials. A beautiful print, too. Good movie, and it was remade a decade later. I'm a-gonna watch that soon.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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Bee tee dubya, a little movie sleight-of-hand... the film opens with the murder of a drunken woman named Katie at the blade of the Ripper. That's actually Annie, whom we see Merle Oberon giving money to midway through the picture. Darryl F. Zanuck liked the first cut of the film (no pun intended), but thought the sensational murder of Annie (the old, broken-down actress who wishes Merle luck on opening night) should be moved to the beginning to grab the audience. So they dubbed in somebody yelling "Good night, Katie!" when Annie walks towards her apartment and moved her murder to the opening of the film, postponing the Lodger's first appearance until a few minutes later in the film.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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AndyFish
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Recently binge watching a bunch of Universal's from the same period and then jumping over to this one I have to say I think I'm much more a B-Movie guy-- if we give this one the benefit of being an A-Picture which I think it is.

Universal really had the market cornered in the horror department, there are some worthy non U's -- Return of the Vampire from Columbia comes to mind, and while I did really like this a great deal the "lavishness" of some of it just turns me away-- the musical numbers, the soft focus on Merle Oberon each time she's on screen and just the overly melodramatic performance of Cregar take me out of it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fine movie and well worth your time, but it just isn't as much fun as the Unie's of the same period. I'm not sure why the musical numbers in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman or MURDER IN THE BLUE ROOM are perfectly fine but the ones in this one just take me out of it.
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