BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Laird Cregar. I’d like to spend a minute or two dwelling on just how awesome he is as an actor. Hilarious in the screwball comedies he was cast in, Cregar was a very tall man of many hats and he never failed to deliver a memorable performance. He was an imposing figure for sure and the shadow he cast loomed over everything and everyone. Good thing, then, that he’s the villain in John Brahm’s The Lodger, easily the best film about the notorious Jack the Ripper.
It is also little wonder then that Vincent Price gave the eulogy at Cregar’s funeral when he unexpectedly passed away the same year this film was released.
Filmed in 1944, shortly before Cregar died of a heart attack after putting his body through some severe trials in an effort to lose weight for his role as Slade, this remake of Hitchcock’s silent film is actually quite better than anything that has come before it and since. And, at last count, Marie Belloc Lowndes’ novel has been remade a total of five times. The most recent was in 2009 with Alfred Molina, Hope Davis and Simon Baker in the lead roles.
Thankfully, Kino-Lorber has released The Lodger on blu-ray so that we can forgo any needless viewings of all the inferior versions of her novel and just concentrate on this one. This is a perfect pairing with Hangover Square, the final film in Cregar’s all-too-brief filmography.
It is a story about a bizarre series of murders in Whitechapel and the relentless pursuit of Bloody Jack, but – let’s be real – Cregar simply knocks it out of the park as the estranged Mr. Slade, a mysterious lodger in a London home who catches a stage actress’ eye, Miss Kitty Langley (Merle Oberon), as he comes and goes at all hours of the night.
Personally, I wanted Slade, who is hounded by the loss of his brother, to slip silently into the night. To a degree, he does exactly that. I mean Inspector John Warwick (George Sanders) might be hot on his heels, but Slade does exit the production without handcuffs being slapped on his wrists.
With the running metaphor of water pouring throughout the film, this foggy production is full of shadows and spine-tingling moments that I’m sure had audience members on the absolute edge of their seats. In one key sequence, the POV switches to that of the killer as he sneaks up on a former actress who has fallen on hard times. The sudden switch as she paws around her humble home is startling and, as it is never repeated again, damn effective in scaring the life out of viewers as her reaction to the discovery of the killer inside her home is indeed severely startling.
Between Cregar’s performance and director Brahm’s penchant for creating mood, it’s no wonder that The Lodger lives on.
Keep its torch burning, won’t you and pick up your copy of 1944’s The Lodger today.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 84 mins
Director: John Brahm
Writer: Barré Lyndon
Cast: Laird Cregar, Merle Oberon, George Sanders
Genre: Crime | Horror
Tagline: PROBING EYES that marked the woman he loved for death!
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's such lovely women as you who drag men down!"
Theatrical Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release Date: january 19, 1944
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: December 13, 2016
Synopsis: A landlady suspects her new lodger is Jack the Ripper.
Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - December 13, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Kino-Lorber presents The Lodger on 1080p with stunning results. This black-and-white horror film relies on atmosphere to carry its suspense and, as it is loaded with deep blacks and white grays, the shadows must be well defined. Thanks to the remastering effort, all shadows are leveled appropriately, making this film a great little thriller. Details are rich and textures are thick. The fog filled streets, busy throughout the production with ravishing details, is a viscous and vivacious entity on the screen. Skin tones are solid and black levels – never corrupted by the image – are magnified thanks to the fine efforts from the studio in salvaging this underappreciated flick. Kino gives viewers the choice of the original mono track or a slightly widened stereo mix for the release.
There are TWO commentaries. One is NEW and is recorded by by Film Historian Gregory William Mank and the other features Film Historians Alain Silver and James Ursini discussing the film and Cregar’s talents at length.
Kino continues to please genre fans with their release of The Lodger. They also don’t skimp on the supplemental material and provide the movie with two fascinating commentaries. There is a brief look at the making of the movie and, as Vincent Price was quite close to Cregar, a fun vintage radio show performed by him. A restoration comparison rounds out the collection. Overall, this blu-ray is a quality release from Kino.
- The Man In The Attic: The Making of The Lodger Featurette
- The Lodger Vintage Radio Show Performed by Vincent Price and Cathy Lewis
- Restoration Comparison