Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Marie Belloc Lowndes, Eliot Stannard, Alfred Hitchcock
Photography: Gaetano di Ventimiglia, Hal Young
Cast: Ivor Novello, June, Malcolm Keen, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney
Very few silent movies that you see nowadays, particularly those with the greatest reputations, are ever actually silent—some, such as Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, with its score written by Chaplin himself, never were. And when you do happen to see one, the silence becomes positively intrusive, engendering a distracting kind of anxiety, which has to say something for how much music (leaving aside dialogue) contributes to the action of films, or at least our understanding of them now, and also makes one wonder about how the various live accompaniments back in the day colored the perceptions of a single film as it traveled from place to place. This Hitchcock silent, which I saw with its 1999 scoring, is no exception. Even if the music is a bit repetitive and not always synched perfectly to the action, it's charming enough and soothing for me just to have it there. I suppose this is all somewhat off the point. The Lodger is clunky as only a silent film from a director still learning his craft could be. At the same time, it's not hard to recognize the Hitchcock touches that would continue all the way to Psycho and beyond: screaming, terrified dames; a brutal serial killer who roams the streets of London knifing his victims (he strikes on Tuesdays); suspicion, anxiety, mistaken identities, questionable motivations, lust, jealousy, and a cameo by the director. The print I saw, transferred to a DVD for a circa 2004 product, was doubtless restored to some extent but remains old and damaged, losing detail to the point where occasionally faces are hard to make out. But it's worth seeing for anyone even casually interested in Alfred Hitchcock.