Alfred Hitchcock Collectors’ Guide: The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926), Part 4

by Brent Reid


  • Marie Belloc Lowndes’ best-selling 1913 novel has inspired many adaptations
  • Hitchcock’s classic 1926 silent was first and is still perhaps the best known
  • There has been a century of remakes on stage, radio, film and television
  • For the first time, examining every version and their available releases

Note: this is one of 200-odd pending Hitchcock articles. Any dead links are to those not yet published. Subscribe to the email list to be notified when new ones appear.

The Lodger, Part 1: Production, 2: Dispelling myths, 3: Home video, 4: Remakes

Ivor Novello and Elizabeth Allan in The Lodger (1932)

The Lodger (1932)


On the radio

Good Evening: AH on Radio – Charles Huck and Martin Grams, Jr.

During 1940-41, Hitch actually attempted his own remake of The Lodger, with colour and sound, but was ultimately unable to obtain the rights. This was well over a decade before his eventual remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. However, there were several other versions of Belloc Lowndes’ story associated with Hitch. He was promoted as having directed a 1940 radio adaptation starring Hitch regulars Herbert Marshall and Edmund Gwenn, who also featured in his about-to-be-released Foreign Correspondent. Coincidentally, the latter filled the role played by his own brother, Arthur Chesney, in Hitch’s film version. It’s pretty unlikely Hitch actually had anything to do with the programme though: according to the Radio Daily newsletter, he was unable to attend the broadcast and his appearance was apparently voiced by actor Joseph Kearns.  Nonetheless, the programme was pivotal in another sense: it led indirectly to the formation of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the show that cemented Hitch’s name and image in the public consciousness forever.

Another radio recording from 1947 had a more peripheral connection to the Master: it featured a couple of minor recurring Hitch actors supporting Peter Lorre, who starred in The Man Who Knew Too Much and Secret Agent. The latter film also featured Robert Montgomery, who starred in a 1948 radio adaptation.

  • CBS Radio Mystery Theater, May 13, 1974, (57min) – Kim Hunter and Michael Wager

Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play (2000, script) is a light-hearted three-parter also incorporating Sabotage and The 39 Steps. It’s oft-performed (Facebook/Twitter) and there are various excerpts and trailers on YouTube; here’s The Lodger portion:

German collective Hollywood on Air specialise in staging live readings of classic films adapted into radio plays and have a particular fondness for Hitch. Following performances of SuspicionVertigo and the expectedly Hitchcockian The Spiral Staircase, they turned their attentions to The Lodger. A 2018 studio recording (YouTube) is available on CD and MP3 in “3D sound”, no less, while the most recent of two 2019 performances can be enjoyed for free, along with many SWR TV news reports.

On the TV

There are two small screen remakes, but the first is long unseen. Armchair Mystery Theatre: The Lodger (1965) was an hour-long instalment of the 34-episode UK TV anthology series (1960-1965). I can’t even verify whether any episodes survive; can anyone help? It’s not to be confused with ITV’s 452-episode Armchair Theatre (1956–1974).

Both Belloc Lowndes’ novel and Hitch’s film remained perennially popular in Germany, eventually leading to Der Mieter (1967), a highly regarded and expressionistic TV movie starring Swiss-born character actor Pinkas Braun as the mysterious Mr. Quill. Unavailable for years, it’s recently been released domestically on streaming and DVD. The latter is barebones, with no extras save two unrelated trailers, and keine Untertitel.

Screenshots: Linde Fulda, Eva Zilcher, Pinkas Braun and Zilcher, Fulda and Zilcher

Thankfully, at least the cinematic retreads are (mostly) available…

The Lodger (1932)

The Lodger aka The Phantom Fiend (1932) with Ivor Novello and Elizabeth Allan, US lobby card

The Lodger aka The Phantom Fiend US lobby card; more, more

The Lodger – Lyz Kingsley

Ivor Novello reprised his Lodger role in a 1932 talkie remake by prolific British director Maurice Elvey, and it’s well worth a watch for fans of the original. This version, the second of several, has a third different ending, following on from those of the novel and Hitch’s film. In 1935, it was chopped down 85 to 64 minutes for US B-movie release and given the more lurid title of The Phantom Fiend. In this guise, it was often aired as part of a syndicated TV package in the 1950s and 1960s; for instance it was the opening episode of Terror! Theatre (1957), a short-lived Los Angeles horror anthology series. Its reissue title was also appropriated for the 1966 US reissue of The Return of Dr. Mabuse (1961), the first sequel to Fritz Lang’s famed trilogy featuring the eponymous villain.

Although The Phantom Fiend is actually copyrighted, sadly only a fairly poor quality transfer of the 63-minute US reissue edit is available on DVD from a number of supposedly-PD labels. I’m afraid exactly the same fate has befallen any number of very worthy films. Even the BFI Archive has only a 16mm scrap of the original; does anyone know if it even exists or is its faded shadow all that remains? The current best source for The Phantom Fiend abbreviation is in several humongous but dirt cheap, region free box sets from Mill Creek:

The Lodger (1944)

The Lodger (1944) US three sheet poster

US three sheet poster

Merle Oberon: The Lady Dances

This superior take on Belloc Lowndes’ story stars Laird Cregar in the titular role, with George Sanders as the detective tasked with catching the killer. Cregar had a brief but remarkable career, featuring prominently in many key Hollywood films of the early 1940s and was surely destined for even greater things. But it was cut short by his untimely death aged only 31, arising from adopting a drug-assisted crash diet for his following film. The equally superb Hangover Square (1945), released posthumously, stars Cregar in a similar role to that of The Lodger and reteams him with Sanders, again playing the ‘tec on his tail. In fact, it actually reunites no fewer than 21 creative talents from the previous film, including its director, John Brahm, and screenwriter Barré Lyndon. What’s more, it has a fine score by Hitch fave Bernard Herrmann and is based on the eponymous 1941 novel by Patrick Hamilton, who also authored the source plays for Rope and Gaslight.

Despite the appearance of many bootlegs, both Cregar-Sanders films are fully copyrighted. Especially beware the Spanish pirate BD-R of The Lodger from Mon Inter Comerz and Italian DVD from A&R Productions. These are all the legit issues.

Hangover Square aka Nelle tenebre della metropoli (In the darkness of the metropolis, 1945) Italian poster

Hangover Square aka Nelle tenebre della metropoli (In the darkness of the metropolis) Italian poster by Ercole Brini from its first post-war release

There are fewer, but ample, official releases for the lesser known Hangover Square:

Man in the Attic (1953)

Man in the Attic (1953) US poster

US poster

Jack Palance, with his craggy, ex-boxer’s features and omnipresent air of brooding menace, was here perfectly cast alongside Constance Smith, an ill-fated Irish actress. Her extremely promising screen career lasted barely 12 years, compromised by her troubled personal life, which ultimately ended in poverty and obscurity. Her star shone briefly but brightly and left us with many memorable performances, such as this one.

  • Fox 2-DVD (2007) w/A Blueprint for Murder (1953)
  • France: DVD Artus Films (2017)

This copyrighted 20th Century Fox film is now owned by Disney and the only two licensed DVDs have an excellent transfer from original vault materials. However, no end of bootleggers have ripped it off with substandard copies on DVD and streaming platforms. Discs include those from the US (Alpha, American Pop Classics, Film Detective, FilmRise, Medusa, Movie Classics, Mr. FAT-W, Reel, Remember When, Synergy, VCI), France (RDM), Mexico (Disconet), etc.

The Lodger (2009)

The Lodger (2009) US poster

US poster

After more than half a century since its last cinematic outing, the most recent remake came as a bit of a surprise. It’s a decent enough film in its own right, though perhaps overlooks some of the story’s innate strengths in its attempt to update it for modern audiences. However, it’s still well worth a look – but only after you’ve seen the foregoing versions. Lastly, here’s a 2015 Spanish homage to Hitch’s original.

The Lodger, Part 1: Production, 2: Dispelling myths, 3: Home video4: Remakes

For more detailed specifications of official releases mentioned, check out the ever-useful DVDCompare. This article is regularly updated, so please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

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Fr. Matthew Hardesty
Fr. Matthew Hardesty
24th July 2023 23:13

A new DVD of the 1944 remake coming July 28, 2023:

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