Major Hitch before I thought he started doing major Hitch!
Scenario By: Eliot Stannard
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
The tone of The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog is akin to that of having a loaded gun in a room. As the audience we know that the gun is in the room, we know that the gun will go off at some point, the only question is of when said gun will go off. The answer in The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog is that the gun misfires, or maybe a better analogy is that when the gun does finally fire it turns out to be a water pistol. The film convinced me that a certain character was a certain other shady figure within the story of the film, and then I was proven wrong. The thrill of the story told by The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog isn’t in that twist, it’s in the build to that twist. The anticipation of the climax of the film is immense, and when what should be the films climax does happen it’s not a release, it’s the culmination of a movie-long misdirection that results in some amount of shock.
It’s also the climax where Alfred Hitchcock is at his best and at his worst in this film. The climax is an example of prime Sir Hitchcock in the way that it subverts what we as the audience expected to happen. The build to the finale made the actual finale so crystal clear in my head that when what I thought would happen didn’t happen I was surprised in the best possible way. If only the movie had ended with the unnamed lodger suspended over that gate or dead in the arms of Daisy. But the film does not end there, it keeps going to ensure that we are given a happy ending. Said happy ending is the worst of Sir Hitchcock. The ending of The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog is the equivalent of a studio ending. It’s an ending that does not fit with the tone of the film, and it works against the subtext that the penultimate moments of the film brought out.
When the mob turns ugly without provocation is when the true terror of the fog makes itself known. It’s apropos that we never really see the Avenger, the Jack the Ripper based serial killer of The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog. He ends up not being the true terror of the film, he is but a minor player compared to the power of a scared humanity. We see this in Daisy’s parents and her onetime boyfriend Joe who immediately jump on the idea of the lodger as the bad guy because it soothes their fear of the unknown. The mob that forms in the penultimate moments of the film acts out of fear. They allow their fear to control their actions and because of that an innocent man suffers. Up until the unfortunate happy ending rears its ugly head the subtext of The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog is powerful. However, that ending does rear its head, and happy though it may be that doesn’t make it a good or fitting end to the film.
The misstep that is the ending of The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog aside, it is a pretty great film. It shatters the idea I had in my head that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t show he was great until The Lady Vanishes. The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog is a different type of Sir Hitchcock, it’s thrilling and suspenseful, but it also plays with subtext in a way that is reserved for a select few of his films. It didn’t expect to enjoy The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog as much as I did, but I’m glad I did. The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog is definitely one of the early Sir Hitchcock films that people need to make the time to see.