“The Lodger” is a 1932 film directed by Maurice Elvey, and also known as “The Phantom Fiend” in some countries. It is a thriller based on the novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes, which was inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders.
The film takes place in London, where a serial killer known as “The Avenger” is targeting young blonde women. At the same time, a mysterious man calling himself Mr. Slade (Ivor Novello) rents a room from a family of landladies. The family has two daughters, Daisy (June Tripp) and her older sister, a model named Kitty (Marie Ault).
As the murders continue, Kitty becomes increasingly suspicious of Slade, who seems to have a strange fascination with the killings. She discovers that Slade goes out at night wearing a long dark coat and carrying a bag, which he claims contains a musical instrument. Meanwhile, Daisy and Slade become romantically involved.
Kitty contacts the police, who start to investigate Slade. As the evidence mounts against him, Slade confesses to the killings. However, in a twist ending, it is revealed that Slade is actually the brother of one of the victims, who was driven to commit the murders out of a desire for revenge. The real killer is still at large, and the film ends with Slade’s execution.
The film is notable for its innovative use of sound, which was still a relatively new technology at the time. It also features a memorable performance by Ivor Novello as the enigmatic Mr. Slade. “The Lodger” has been remade several times, including in 1944 by John Brahm and in 2009 by David Ondaatje.
Marie Belloc Lowndes, Miles Mander, Paul Rotha
Ivor Novello, Elizabeth Allan, A.W. Baskcomb