The Tenant (1927)

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German title The tenant
Original title The lodger
Country of production Great Britain
original language English
Publishing year 1927
length 80 minutes
Director Alfred Hitchcock
script Eliot Stannard
production Michael Balcon ,
Carlyle Blackwell
for Gainsborough Pictures
camera Baron Ventimiglia
cut Ivor Montagu

The Tenant (OT: The Lodger - A Story of the London Fog or short: The Lodger) is a British thriller by Alfred Hitchcock from 1927. It is based on the novel Jack the Ripper or The Subtenant (The Lodger) by Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes . It is probably Hitchcock's best-known silent film .


The London police found a dead woman and found a piece of paper with the signature "The Avenger" written in a triangle. It is already the seventh blonde woman who has fallen victim to the "avenger". Witnesses describe the perpetrator as a tall, hooded man. The news quickly spread through the press.

A mysterious-looking man enters a house where the elderly Bunting couple lives with their daughter Daisy under the pretext of wanting to rent a room. He inspects the room skeptically and moves in. The pictures of blonde women in the room horrify him and he has them removed by the landlady. Daisy treats him with reluctance at first, but within a few days he becomes more and more popular with her. Daisy's friend Joe, a police officer, is meanwhile on the Avenger case. He hopes to catch the serial killer in his next crime. The tenant finds out about this, including the friendship between the two.

On the same night that Daisy has a stage appearance, the mother of the house watches as the tenant secretly goes outside. Then again, this time very close by, a woman is murdered, again with the note left by the “avenger”. Shortly afterwards, the tenant returns to the apartment while the old woman listens intently. The next day, Joe is angry when, startled by her loud screaming, he rushed to Daisy and saw her embracing the tenant. Daisy says she was just scared of a mouse. The old woman shares her suspicion with her husband that her tenant might be the murderer. When they then learn that the tenant has bought Daisy a dress, they warn him not to approach Daisy any further. The tenant draws triangles on a city map, the scenes of the murders. Again he leaves the house with Daisy, which is why the mother panics.

When the two are sitting on a bench and kissing, they are caught by Joe, the policeman, but she rejects him. Suddenly Joe also suspects that there is a connection between the tenant and the murders, he has his room searched. A pistol, a city map and a collection of newspaper articles about the murders are found in his pocket. But the tenant excuses himself that his sister was killed by the "Avenger". He escapes arrest after a brief period of confusion over the fainting of Daisy's mother.

He secretly meets with Daisy and protests that he swore to his mother after his sister's death that he would catch the killer. They go to a bar, but disappear again after their strange behavior (the tenant hides his arms with the handcuffs) has aroused the suspicion of the other guests. When Joe shows up shortly afterwards and calls the police station, the people from the bar hurry after the (supposed) murderer. But shortly afterwards Joe receives the message that the tenant is innocent because the real "Avenger" has just been caught in the act. At the last minute he can get him to safety from the angry mob who were about to lynch him. In the end, Daisy and the tenant are happily reunited.


“Alfred Hitchcock's thriller was first seen in 1999 in a carefully reconstructed and adequately viraged version. In this version, the film reveals itself to be one of the most important English silent films of all: In the economy of picture narration, Hitchcock goes far beyond the German role models, which he adapts with ease, and creates an extremely intense narrative flow that is clearly based on American cinema. "


The Lodger was Hitchcock's first thriller and the film that he himself would later call "the first real Hitchcock film". Hitchcock originally wanted an open ending that leaves the tenant's guilt or innocence in the dark. However, the production company did not want to allow its star Ivor Novello to be considered a murderer. So the script had to be adapted.

In The Tenant , many of the motifs and characters that recur in Hitchcock's later work are already hinted at. Above all, there is the basic motif of the innocent persecuted, which he has varied again and again over the decades up to Frenzy (1972). In addition, there is the dominant mother role and the fallible police officer who acts from personal motives. Typical Hitchcock elements and symbols appear here with a central meaning: The handcuffs with which the policeman first tied the girl (for fun) and then the (supposed) murderer; the staircase in the apartment, which symbolically connects the two levels of the film, the down-to-earth, real level of the family and the unknown, mysterious level of the tenant; Crosses, as crucifixes or as a shadow play on the tenant's face, as a Christian symbol of guilt and atonement.

As in the Maze of Passion , Hitchcock experimented with camera angles that were unfamiliar for British standards and with light and shadow plays. The tenant is strongly influenced by the narrative style of the expressionist German films of the 1920s that Hitchcock met in Berlin in 1925. The distributor and financier CM Woolf , who did not want to expose Hitchcock's first film to the British audience, also turned down the tenant . Producer Michael Balcon brought in the young screenwriter and film editor Ivor Montagu . After initial reluctance, Hitchcock sat down with Montagu and they decided on minor changes. Individual scenes were re-shot and the number of subtitles was reduced to a quarter. Hitchcock then had to admit that it actually made the movie better.

The film was enthusiastically received by the press and audience. In September 1926, after a press screening , Bioscope magazine wrote: “It is quite possible that this is the best British film ever made.” It premiered in February 1927. Hitchcock was now a star, also because he got it alongside to market the film itself - completely unusual for the British market at the time.

Further film versions of the material

The novel was filmed several times for the cinema, most recently in 2009 as The Lodger . Other film adaptations include The Lodger (Great Britain 1932, directed by Maurice Elvey, with Ivor Novello), The Lodger (German The Girl Murderer , USA 1944, directed by John Brahm, with Laird Cregar), Man in the Attic (The uncanny tenant , USA 1954, directed by Hugo Fregonese, with Jack Palance). The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) produced a television adaptation of the material in 1967 with Pinkas Braun in the lead role, directed by Wolf Dietrich.


  • Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes: Jack the Ripper or The Subtenant. Roman (original title: The Lodger) , German by Wulf Teichmann . Diogenes-Verlag, Zurich 1987, 236 pages, ISBN 3-257-20130-3 .
  • Paul Duncan, Jürgen Müller (Eds.): Film Noir, 100 All-Time Favorites , Taschen GmbH, Cologne 2014. ISBN 978-3-8365-4353-8 (pp. 58-61)
  • Robert A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky (Eds.), Joe Hembus : Alfred Hitchcock and his films (OT: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock) . Citadel film book from Goldmann, Munich 1976, ISBN 3-442-10201-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The tenant. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 28, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used