In hitchcock’s silent model of “the lodger” from 1927, the (no longer-pretty-yet) grasp of suspense inaugurated a model of his “incorrect man innocently persecuted” formula he’d later perfect in “the 39 steps” and “north by northwest.” john brahm’s remake goes in a decidedly special path: it’s no spoiler to mention that mr. Slade (laird cregar), who’s taken a room in the london domestic of a center-aged couple (sir cedric hardwicke and sara allgood), is in fact the killer. Enthusiastic about his late brother, who died after consuming himself to dying following a damaged coronary heart, mr. Slade blames the woman sex in its entirety for his premature passing.
So he’s taken to murdering random girls as payback. Cregar is 6’three” and over three hundred pounds however, as bodily enforcing as he's, his slade is the fragile male ego on two legs. Especially threatening to him is female sexual empowerment, and so when he watches the song-hall performer daughter (merle oberon) of his landlord and landlady prance about the stage, his face will become a contorted masque of toxic masculinity: he’s interested in her but hates her, lusts after her however wants to kill her. The male gaze has in no way been more weaponized than on this scene, and it’s a testament to brahm’s sophistication that he understood, in 1944 no much less, how the act of looking might be an act of violence — with the real killing that follows almost an afterthought.