Widely regarded as the first big screen thriller to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock, ‘The Lodger’ was made back in 1927, and has been beautifully restored with colour tinting with special live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
The film itself is a suspenseful thriller, as you might expect, telling the story of a young woman called Daisy, who takes in a lodger (played by matinee idol and composer Ivor Novello). Fear that runs through London as a series of murders are committed by a criminal who leaves a triangular card on each of his victims, marking himself 'The Avenger'. He soon takes a shine to Daisy Bunting, the daughter of the couple whom he rents a room off and love blossoms between the pair. Alerted by the lodger's dubious behaviour, Daisy's long-time admirer, a policeman named Joe, and Daisy's mother, notice that all of the clues to the Avengers murders point towards the lodger being the perpetrator.
Her other half, Joe, is a detective, and he gets suspicious of the aforementioned lodger, not least because a serial killer is on the loose. Even though the film was made very early in Hitchcock's career, the tell-tale signs, the mastery of suspense, and the wonderful framing, is all evident. The story was inspired by a story Walter Sickert (himself a less than credible suspect for many Jack the Ripper theorists) told writer Lowndes about his landlady, who was convinced that one of her lodgers who often went out at night was Jack the Ripper, and although there are substantial changes in the last exciting third, the film retains the basic outline.
Stephen Horne has long been considered one of the leading silent film accompanists. A house pianist at London’s BFI Southbank for thirty years, he has played at all the major UK venues and recorded music for many DVD releases of silent films. Although principally a pianist, he often incorporates other instruments into his performances, sometimes simultaneously.