The Lodger appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given its age, this proved to be a satisfactory presentation.
Of course, one shouldn’t expect a film from 1927 to look “modern”, and Lodger showed age-related issues. In terms of hues, the movie used monochromatic tints. Most of the movie went with a yellow-orange feel, while some exteriors opted for cold blues and the denouement chose purple.
The colors worked acceptably well. They never appeared especially vivid, but they showed no obvious problems. I thought the tints added nothing to the film but their execution seemed acceptable.
Sharpness also remained decent. Little of the film offered great clarity, but the movie showed reasonable delineation, with few obvious soft spots. Edge haloes and shimmering remained absent.
With a film as old as Lodger, print flaws became a nearly inevitable issue, and I did see a smattering of specks and marks. However, these remained decidedly minor, as they created few concerns.
Blacks were fairly dark and dense, while shadows appeared decent to good. Nighttime exteriors during the climax tended to seem a little too bright, but otherwise, those elements satisfied. For a 90-year-old movie, Lodger looked pretty positive.
As a silent film, Lodger enjoyed no “original soundtrack”, but the Blu-ray received a new score by Neil Brand. The disc presented this work via a PCM stereo soundtrack that worked well.
The score showed good stereo imaging across the front speakers, as the instrumentation offered nice delineation and localization. Quality also seemed fine, as the score showed smooth highs and adequate lows. Nothing dazzling occurred here, but the stereo track suited the film.
As we go to the set’s extras, the prime attraction comes from Downhill, the Hitchcock film that followed Lodger. It goes for one hour, 50 minutes, 59 seconds as it focuses on Roddy Berwick (Ivor Novello), a student whose life falls apart after he takes the blame for misdeeds he didn’t commit.
While we see connections to standard Hitchcock themes/motifs in Lodger, these seem less obvious in Downhill. The movie plays as more of a standard morality tale – and not a particularly interesting one at that.
Downhill moves at a glacial pace and never seems to go anywhere, partly due to the dull characters and overwrought stabs at drama. People will watch this because Hitchcock directed it, but it offers little cinematic value other than as a historical curiosity.
A handful of interviews follow. Film Scholar William Rothman chats for 32 minutes, 54 seconds as he covers cinematic techniques, themes and interpretation. Rothman brings us an engaging and insightful look at the film.
Next comes The Bunting House, a 17-minute, 42-second “video essay” by art historian Steven Jacobs. He looks at more themes and connections to other Hitchcock films, though he tends to emphasize the movie’s main location. Jacobs adds to what we learn from Rothman so he turns this into another useful piece.
Composer Neil Brand presents a 22-minute, 37-second piece in which he looks at the score he composed for Lodger. Though a little dry at times, Brand covers his work in a satisfying manner.
Some audio-only archival pieces follow. We get Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut (26:23) and Alfred Hitchcock and Peter Bogdanovich (19:42 and 20:58).
Across these, we get notes about Hitchcock’s life and career, with some emphasis on Lodger. All three segments offer good information and deserve a listen.
From July 22, 1940, we find a Hitchcock-directed radio play version of The Lodger. It lasts 30 minutes, 48 seconds and features Herbert Marshall as both the narrator and the lead and Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bunting.
The radio version offers a fairly substantial change from the movie, as it leaves out the boyfriend/detective character and comes with a delightfully “open” ending. Hitchcock himself appears on the air to explain the story’s lack of resolution. This becomes an enjoyable depiction of the tale.
Finally, the set includes a booklet. It includes two essays from critic Philip Kemp: one about The Lodger and another about Downhill. These add value to the package.
Often regarded as Alfred Hitchcock’s first “true film”, The Lodger offers hints of the director we’d come to know and love. However, it mostly tends to provide a slow, less than enthralling effort marred by some iffy casting choices. The Blu-ray provides pretty positive picture and audio along with supplements highlighted by the inclusion of another Hitchcock movie. Given its historical importance, all Hitchcock fans should see The Lodger, but they shouldn’t expect greatness from it.