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It all has to start somewhere.
The Lodger is a 1927 silent film adapted from a 1913 novel by Marie Adelaide Lowndes. It was the debut feature of Alfred Hitchcock.
As the story opens, London is in the grip of a serial killer called "The Avenger". At the same time, Mr. and Mrs. Bounting's inn gets a new lodger by the name of Jonathan Drew. He fancies the Bounting's daughter, the blonde Daisy, who is already engaged to Joe, a detective. Over time, it's discovered that Jonathan has a few eccentric habits, including a preference for strolls on foggy evenings. Since The Avenger's favorite victims are blondes, Joe starts to suspect that Jonathan is the killer himself.
Other film versions of the story were released in 1932, 1944, 1953 (as Man in the Attic), and 2009 (set in the modern day).
This work features examples of:
- Creator Cameo: Hitchcock and a few other crew members got on camera for a scene where not enough extras were available, and the practice soon became a trademark of his.
- Deus Ex Machina: The Lodger is saved from a lynch mob by a paper boy delivering the news of the real killer's arrest.
- Executive Meddling: In the original novel, the Lodger is the Avenger. The studio didn't want the star, Ivor Novello, to play a serial killer, so they had the ending changed so that the Lodger was innocent. This wasn't too egregious, since it fits the common Hitchcockian theme of a man being falsely accused. Still, other adaptations, such as the 1944 version with Laird Creegar, follow the original story to great effect.
- Jack the Ripper
- Red Herring: The Lodger's not the killer.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The Avenger's killings bare a certain resemblance to the murders committed by a certain individual who was busy in Whitechapel in 1888.