The Lodger (1944)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Horror, Mystery

The Lodger (1944) Poster

A landlady suspects her new lodger is Jack the Ripper.


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16 October 2000 | Rrrobert
Slickly-made murder story
Though heavy hints suggest the "Jack the Ripper" murders, this name is deemphasised in the film. Here the killer is known mainly as "The Ripper" and possibly for censorship reasons his victims are identified in dialogue as "actresses" and "showgirls" but never "prostitutes".

Many of the victims are downtrodden cockney women who may once have danced or acted on stage but are now reduced to street busking and begging to support their rowdy drinking sessions in cosy East End pubs. Save for their career designation as given in the dialogue, the film is clearly suggesting prostitutes as victims, and the killer is shown to find showgirls immoral. (It is also important to note the great pains made by the script to show the victims as kind and generous and in no way deserving of their fate.)

In any event this is a well-made film with excellent black and white photography, good camera work and some interesting images. The film is foremost entertainment, it is not a detailed documentary of the "Jack the Ripper" crimes, nor is it a mystery. Only a rudimentary exploration of the killer's psyche is made, and much screen-time is lavished on showcasing song and dance numbers performed by Merle Oberon in her leading role as a gaily dressed showgirl. Indeed the police investigation takes second-place to the fluffy romance between Oberon's character and a police detective, and the final twist involving the killer's possible left-handedness a rudimentary boy's-own-adventure style plot twist.

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