The Lodger
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock began his career in London in 1920, designing titles for silent movies, but within a couple of years was an assistant director.
During that early period of filmmaking in England, one gets the impression that you could be tea-boy one day, camera assistant the next, and screenwriter the next.
By 1924, Hitchcock was writing for Director Graham Cutts.
While working on 'The Blackguard', he had a chance to visit Germany, and witnessed director F.W. Murnau at work. Hitchcock was intrigued by new cinematic styles, and was influenced by Murnau, Lang and the German expressionist movement.
His boss, Graham Cutts, was becoming increasingly unreliable. He seemed to spend more time concerned with secret and complex affairs with a number of different women than he did on his films. One filming trip to Europe ended up being so dominated by women that he came back without a single foot of film.

As Hitchcock's star rose, so Cutts' career stalled. Hitchcock started directing, and when he came to make 'The Lodger' in 1927, Cutts was assigned as his assistant.
Cutts was not only resentful of the reversal of roles, but his directing style was very conventional, and he did not understand Hitchcock's strange angles and moody lighting.
He used the little influence he still had in the studio to persuade the head of distribution that Hitchcock's film was unreleasable.
The film would probably have died along with Hitchcock's career if studio partner Michael Balcon had not intervened.
Balcon was unsure about the film himself, but realized that it was part of a new cinematic style, so consulted Ivor Montagu, an intellectual, critic and respected founder of the London Film Society, and expert on Expressionist cinema.
Montagu was impressed, and suggested cutting the number of title cards as well as a couple of reshoots.
Hitchcock was reluctant to change the film. But eventually he followed the suggestions. Maybe he recognized that the suggestions were valid. But more importantly, maybe he recognized that by making the changes, he could rely upon the support of Montagu, that the film would be released, that Montagu's support might influence other critics, and that his career would not go the way of Cutts.

The film was a critical and commercial success.

Most importantly, 'The Lodger' introduced the themes that Hitchcock would pursue throughout his career, and which would become his trademark: suspense, suspicion, an innocent man accused, and a fetishistic sexuality.
He also made his first cameo, appearing at a desk in the newsroom. What later would become a trademark touch was in this first film a matter of necessity - the actor who was due to play the part failed to show up.

Paul Spurrier