…. Laird has topped all previous Hollywood bogeymen in his daring; his Ripper is a necrophile, who wants to tear Kitty apart with his knife, but somehow make love to her mutilated corpse. He proclaims, "I have never known such beauty as yours.... nor such evil in such beauty. Men will not look at you again as they did tonight!" His face starts to twitch, to quiver, as if he’s about to explode. Oberon agonizingly tries to scream; if she actually felt terror, nobody would be surprised. Sanders’ Scotland Yardsman bursts into the room to her rescue. He shoots, striking the Ripper on the left side of his neck, and the climax of The Lodger is on fire, Cregar’s rampaging Ripper running madly amok up and down the Victorian theatre, a caped, wild-eyed, gasping, bleeding monster, lurching up into the catwalks, the Hugo Friedhofer score exhorting his madness.
Broadway opening: "Without the aid of any fantastic makeup, he conveys intensity of evil fascination to his audience. None of his crimes need to be seen. His presence is sufficiently malign and revolting to make it almost painful to wait for his demise."
There’s one final wild-eyed close-up, one of the most haunting images in 1940s Hollywood. The demise finally comes with a burst of music, a crash of glass...and the Ripper throws himself through a window, falling into the “dark and restful” waters of the Thames.
(excerpt from Chapter 21, Laird Cregar: A Hollywood Tragedy - by permission of McFarland and Company Publishers)
The Ripper lunges across the catwalk, toward the camera...the light below the grillwork rippling over him, creating the bizarre Expressionistic effect of a rampaging were-zebra ...
A final attempt to kill Kitty – cutting sandbags that fall, rather like the Phantom of the Opera’s chandelier – fails. Sanders shoots him again and again, Laird’s Ripper taking more bullets, to quote the New York Times review, “than even Frankenstein’s Monster was ever asked to absorb,” seemingly possessed by Satan himself. Scotland Yard corners the Ripper high in the theatre. He’s gasping heavily, seemingly no longer human, a beast, his eyes wide and monstrously bright, reflecting the ultra-violet lights that Brahm and Ballard aim at them. As the New York World-Telegram would write of Laird after The Lodger’s
Laird Cregar Channels The Ripper