I watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lodger" last night and was struck by the sophisticated visual style that he used in the film. Hitchcock borrows heavily from the German expressionists with regards to lighting and composition as well as using a tinting process, colouring the film in sepia and blue (depending on locations). The DVD release is from the newly released "Premiere Collection" and the film is accompanied by two modern scores. One is by Ashley Irwin and the other Paul Zaza. I preferred the Irwin score as it felt like an homage to Bernard Herrman's work with Hitchcock. At a few points I surfed between the scores to find some remarkably different choices and moods.
One of the things that made a huge impression on me was Hitchock's use of E. McKnight Kauffer as the title designer. I am very far from being an expert on silent pictures but I found that his title designs were incredibly evocative, dynamic and unique. Here are some of the images:
It shouldn't have surprised me as Hitchcock was famous for hiring the likes of Saul Bass and Salvador Dali to develop and produce titles or sequences in his films.
I really enjoyed this film although it does suffer from ending that is almost satisfying but ultimately disappointing and tacked on. Apparently Hitchcock would have preferred a much more sinister ending but was handcuffed by the producers to make it more uplifting due to the popularity of Ivor Novello, the actor playing the killer. Regardless I highly recommend this film and the Premiere Collection of discs. So often these old films are given poor releases by companies packaging public domain titles. Using dirty and damaged prints, the VHS tapes were recorded in extra long play modes and on DVD they are highly compressed in order to get two or more films on a single disc. Here they are presented with some love and extra features that make it much more enjoyable and enlightening.
A new version of "The Lodger" is due to arrive next year. The new film is written and directed by David Ondaatje, nephew of famous novelist Michael Ondaatje.