Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Lodger

Jack the Ripper is a popular subject for film makers and The Lodger (1944) is billed the Wellington Film Society as the third filming of Marie Belloc Lowndes's novel about the Ripper. The film stars the large, soft spoken Laird Cregar as "Slade" who arrives carry a small black bag and inquiring about rooms for rent on the night of the fourth murder. The audience is left in no doubt that Slade is the Ripper and the suspense surrounds how long it'll take the family of the house to figure out what we already know. And will Slade kill Kitty the showgirl or will her sympathetic personality win her a reprieve?

Apparently filmmakers of the time were squeamish about mentioning the word "prostitute" so this Ripper kills female entertainers, because some beautiful "woman of the stage" had led his artist brother astray, which in turn led to his early death.

While Laird Cregar is very watchable as the menacing but sometimes naive Ripper, the best line goes to George Sanders who plays the inspector from Scotland Yard who has invited Kitty for a private tour of the Black Museum and asks her to come to tea with his mother. Kitty ignores his question and asks a series of questions about various artifacts, when she gets to a large poker the inspector tells her a man used it beat his fiancee to death. Kitty asks why and the inspector replies "Probably because she wouldn't answer a perfectly reasonable question". Not the sort of pickup line you hear every day.

(According to Wikipedia the Black Museum was established four years after this film was made!)

Ian's rating: 3.5/5

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