Monday, March 27, 2023

Next up: Hitchcock's 'The Lodger' (1927) on Tuesday, March 28 in Newport, R.I.

Ivor Novello stars in 'The Lodger' (1927).

Ready to move in: Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Lodger' (1927), which I'm accompanying on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, R.I.

Although it's not Hitchcock's first movie, it's generally regarded as the first true "Hitchcock" film, meaning it has elements of what became his signature style.

Among them: 'The Lodger' contains the first Hitchcock cameo, a trademark he would continue for the duration of his long directing career.

It occurs right near the start of the film, and might not be obvious because Hitchcock is only seen from behind, and he also has hair. Here's a quick preview so you'll know what to look for:

Lots more info in the press release pasted in below. If you're in the Newport area, I hope you'll join us to experience this film as intended: on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.

Yesterday saw a surprisingly healthy turnout for 'The Regeneration' (1915), an early drama that's part of our ongoing 'Silent New York' series at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H.

The film was included because it was shot mostly on New York's Lower East Side, then a warren of slums and tenements that housed many poor and newly arrived immigrants.

Because of that, I made that point that because none of the actors are remembered today, we should really regard the city itself as the film's star.

But I now realize that many people actually would have recognized the film's female lead if I had mentioned an extraordinary role she played long after the silent era ended.

Since I didn't say it then, I'll include it here.

Remember in 'Sunset Boulevard' (1950), there's a scene where faded silent star Norma Desmond (played by Gloria Swanson) plays cards with cronies from her glory days.

At the table are Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and...Anna  Q. Nilsson, who starred in 'The Regeneration' way back in 1915!

I'll have to remember that the next time I accompany the film.

Okay, here's more info on 'The Lodger.' See you when you check in Tuesday night at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, R.I.!

*   *   *

I scream, you scream, we all scream for 'The Lodger' (1927).

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Hitchcock's first thriller, 'The Lodger,' to screen Tuesday, March 28 at Jane Pickens Theatre

Creepy silent drama about killings in London marked legendary director's debut; to be shown with live music at historic Newport venue

NEWPORT, R.I.—A half-century of murder has to start somewhere.

And for movie director Alfred Hitchcock, it began with 'The Lodger' (1927), a silent thriller that stunned audiences when first released, and which contained many of his trademark touches.

'The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog,' will be shown on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theatre Film and Event Center, 49 Touro St., Newport, R.I.

The screening, the latest in the venue's silent film series, will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent films.

Admission is $15 per person; members $13. Tickets are available online or at the door.

'The Lodger,' shot in England and based on a story and stage play by Marie Belloc Lowndes, concerns the hunt for a serial killer in London.

British matinee idol Ivor Novello plays Jonathan Drew, a quiet, secretive young man who rents a room in a London boarding house. Drew's arrival coincides with the reign of terror orchestrated by a mysterious "Jack The Ripper"-like killer, who murders a blonde woman every Tuesday evening.

As the film progresses, circumstantial evidence begins to mount, pointing to Drew as the murderer. Suspense and drama escalate in true Hitchcock fashion as the viewer wonders if the lodger really could be the killer—and if so, what danger awaits the landlord's daughter, who is developing feelings for the mysterious stranger.

The all-British cast includes Malcom Keen, Arthur Chesney, and Marie Ault.

'The Lodger' introduced themes that would run through much of Hitchcock’s later work: an innocent man on the run, hunted down by a self-righteous society; a strong link between sexuality and murder; and a fixation on blonde women.

About 'The Lodger,' Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto wrote that for "the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death."

'The Lodger' also launched the Hitchcock tradition of making a cameo appearance in each of his films. In 'The Lodger,' Hitchcock appears briefly about three minutes into the film, sitting at a desk in a newsroom with his back to the camera and using a telephone.

The cameo appearance tradition, which continued for the rest of his long career, came about in 'The Lodger' when the actor hired to play the part of the telephone operator failed to turn up, and Hitchcock filled the role.

Some critics say 'The Lodger' broke new ground in the previously moribund British cinema, showing a truly cinematic eye at work.

In creating the movie, Hitchcock evoked contemporary films by German directors F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, whose influence can be seen in the ominous camera angles and claustrophobic lighting.

While Hitchcock had made two previous films, in later years the director would refer to 'The Lodger' as the first true "Hitchcock" picture. The movie has since been remade several times, most recently in 2009, in an updated version starring Alfred Molina and Hope Davis.

'The Lodger' will be accompanied by live music by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who performs at venues across the region and beyond.

"Films such as 'The Lodger' were created to be shown on the big screen as a sort of communal experience," Rapsis said. "With an audience and live music, they still come to life in the way their makers intended them to.

In creating music for silent films, Rapsis performs on a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra and creates a traditional "movie score" sound.

'The Lodger' will be shown on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theatre Film and Event Center, 49 Touro St., Newport, R.I.

Admission is $15 per person; members $13. Tickets are available online at or at the door. For more information, call the box office at (401) 846-5474.

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