The Lodger

According to the aloof lodger of the title, he's just “an experimental pathologist” who needs privacy to do his work. The pathology he's pursuing dissolves ever-so completely into the fog-bound, shadow-strewn nights of London, circa 1888, and when the fog lifts and the shadows recede, his “work” has been left behind for all to see: the bodies of women, with their throats slit. Droopy-eyed Laird Cregar plays the ominous lodger-cum-Jack-the-Ripper, his porcine body looming like a bulky menace a he moves through the night, strewing panic like a pestilence. But this isn't just any night, but one created by director John Brahm and the great cinematographer Lucien Ballard-a crepuscular space of menacing alleyways and alcoves, suffused with the labored breathing of an unseen killer. The elegantly cheerful Merle Oberon, as Kitty the cabaret star, is almost enough to tame the wild beast. But to this the Ripper doth riposte: “When the evil is cut out of a beautiful thing, only the beauty remains.”

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