Lodger, The (1944)

The Lodger (1944), directed by John Brahm.

Another telling of the mysterious, very suspicious stranger renting rooms from a nice family during Jack the Ripper's reign of terror.

Hitchcock did a silent version adapted from the same book in The Lodger (1927). He owned the film rights and sold them back to the studio. His version adds the twist that the mystery man acts guilty but really isn't; this time it is pretty clear who he really is, although they try a bit of misdirection.

I've never seen such great London fog, making the studio sets plausibly realistic. Also good use of historical details: policemen on horseback and the nervous citizens' vigilance committees (early Neighborhood Watch).

The psycho-sexual nature of the murders bothered the censors, so text was added to suggest revenge as a motive. No way were audiences fooled in this case.

Giant, sad-eyed Laird Cregar is our killer obsessed with dance-hall singers (not prostitutes, as in history). In Merle Oberon he thinks he has found the victim to complete his work: the ultimate object of his lust and revulsion. He explains this to her -- in his own coded way -- and approaches slowly, pausing step by step, until we see his schizophrenic image divided into multiple mirror panes.

Dapper George Sanders is a witty, efficient policeman, less sarcastic than usual.

Vivid, dynamic photography by Lucien Ballard. We sometimes get the killer's point of view.

The director, screenwriter and both male leads returned to do it all again the next year in Hangover Square (1945).

Kino Blu-ray with commentary track. Some print damage in the form of vertical streaks.